Saturday, July 23, 2011

Macro Changes in the Drug Trade

The 1990s are often pointed to as the decade in which the center of gravity in the trafficking world switched from Colombia to Mexico. You often see it described as a product of the Colombian and American governments' pressure on the groups operating there, and though that surely played a role, I think it was also because access to the American market is a scarcer commodity than the cocaine itself. The Mexicans had the ingredients to the secret sauce.

In any event, I read articles like this, about the seizure of 850 tons of precursor chemicals in Querétaro (which doubled the already substantial amount captured under Calderón), or this, about the 700 percent increase in labs in Mexico over the past two years, and I wonder if we are in the middle of another switch to Mexico as a producer country. I further wonder, and I'd have to think about this for a while, what that would mean regarding the criminal gangs in Mexico. Do producers present a qualitatively different threat from smugglers? You'd think that, out the need to be more static, they'd be more interested in corrupting law enforcement and politicians.

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