Monday, 31 January 2011

Mexican Smugglers Catapulting Drugs Across Border

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Man is an incredibly inventive creature — almost especially, it seems, when his mind is bent to criminal purposes. Anyone who has seen the elaborate means convicts use to make weapons can attest to that. Thus it's no surprise that Mexican drug dealers are devising ever-more innovative methods of delivering their products to the U.S. 

Mexican authorities near the town of Naco, Mexico followed up on a tip from the National Guard operating on the American side and disrupted an operation which involved catapulting drugs across the border. The Mexican raid found 45 pounds of marijuana and an SUV at the scene.

Tucson-area Border Patrol agent David Jimarez observed, "I have not seen anything like that in my time before as a Border Patrol agent ... although we are trained to handle any kind of a threat that comes over that border."  The raid represents a small collaborative success between American and Mexican officials, although there is a hollowness to any victories against the drug cartels. More than 30,000 people have already been killed in this turf war — a number that approaches U.S. casualties in the Korean War.

The long drug war may also represent the climax of futility in drug enforcement. As long as people can make a great deal of money, they will find ways to bring in drugs. Aside from medieval devices such as catapults, drug cartels have used “mules” (human drug carriers who hide the drugs in every conceivable place, even the diapers of infants), ultra-light aircraft, remote-controlled planes, tunnels —  even submarines.

And it is not just illegal drugs which create this huge profit margin. It has become big business in America to smuggle cigarettes from tobacco-growing states into New York, which has enormous taxes on tobacco products. Even foreign nations are getting into the act. The Chinese, in a country that produces 200 billion cigarettes annually, have perfected ways of mimicking the holographs on cigarette packages that are intended to prevent counterfeiting brands. These Chinese cigarettes are flooding American markets, generating enormous profits for China at the expense of American workers and businesses.

The problem, of course, is the same with both illegal drugs and highly-taxed cigarettes: in a war of prohibition, inventive men will always contrive new ways to get their products to market, especially when their customers are actively collaborating in the process — thus making law enforcement an incredibly difficult, if not impossible, task.

In situations in which people wish law enforcement to succeed — when individuals do not wish to be victimized by crime — they work either individually (providing themelves with handguns, for instance) or with others (buying home alarm systems and various anti-theft devices) to thwart their attackers. Why? People don't want their homes invaded or their cars stolen.

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What happens, however, when neither the culprit nor the “victim” wants law enforcement to succeed?  What happens, for example, when young women want to sell sex? Prostitution laws throughout the ages have proven notoriously difficult to enforce. What happened when the U.S. government banned the sale of alcohol in 1920? Not only did this lead to a dramatic expansion of crime, but crime itself became increasingly sophisticated. Thompson submachine guns became affordable for criminals. Technology was used to make transport vehicles as swift as possible. People hatched new ways to make alcohol. In fact — Prohibition failed.

In the Soviet Union, where tens of millions found release only in drink, when alcohol was banned, soldiers and airmen began drinking anti-freeze.

Thus, the problems of illegal drug use, prostitution, or drunkenness are not cured by police, criminal courts, or prisons. The greater the number of petty drug dealers arrested, the higher the profit margin for the big boys; the more tobacco and alcohol are taxed with an eye to ending their social harm, the more likely that laws will be broken.

The cure for sins is almost never jail. Adultery was once a crime throughout America, and still is in many states — though no longer enforced. Indeed, punishing adultery with prison sentences is bad policy. Adultery, drug abuse, drunkenness, and sexual promiscuity are punished by the deeds themselves, as is all self-destructive behavior, and as sins they are punished by God. These crimes are cured by high moral standards. These “victimless” crimes are not nearly as prevalent in communities of highly religious people such as orthodox Jews and devout Christians, because social sanctions against such living sting much more (and thus are vastly better deterrents) than any criminal sentence.

Do Americans want to live without drugs, drunkenness, prostitution, and promiscuity? History has shown that the way to achieve that noble goal is not through passing the buck to government, but by having a society permeated by religiously-based moral standards. If Americans are deprived of that priceless weapon of condemnation of vice, they face a war they can never truly win.