Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Exaggeration of the Day

LA's La Opinión reports that the Zetas are in the city, ready to hack it out with the gangsters from Sinaloa, the Gulf, and four other gangs. A police lieutenant named Alvin Jackson provided the following synopsis:
"Here in the city the cartels from the Gulf and Sinaloa and the Zetas are operating."

They are operating at a mid-level and at a street level"...

"The [antidrug] agencies that work in Los Angeles are competing with seven major Mexican cartels; two that he have detected, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, work in distribution in the area of the San Fernando Valley, West Side, Central, and South Central..."
The piece also collects quotes from an unnamed La Familia loyalist, who adds, "They're taking them to Mexico for executions, they train them there, it's their army".

I've written about his a few times in the past, but it's worth repeating: although there certainly are ample amounts of Mexican drugs in Los Angeles, and surely there are a handful of representatives of some of the most powerful gangs in Mexico, the context in which this is presented is quite misleading. When you talk about seven different Mexican drug gangs fighting it out for control of a city, the images that are called to mind are of car-bombs or mass executions. Yet, there is absolutely no reason to think that LA officials should spend much of their day worrying about that eventuality. Furthermore, any global smuggling network, a label that includes the suppliers of a huge quantity of drugs consumed in the US, will necessarily have to include local distributers. They, in turn, must have a relationship with the foreign suppliers. While these foreign suppliers often have deservedly scary reputations, their linking up with American street gangs to distribute their merchandise does not mean that the Mexican drug wars are going to be fought out on the streets of LA, or any other city. Until we have evidence of something more sinister, all that the people in the article are describing is a black-market supply chain, not the mass invasion of Los Angeles by Mexican drug thugs.

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