The issue with drug trafficking: Mexico’s crisis is U.S. crisis, too

I’ve heard several people express the idea that if we as a nation are not careful, Mexico’s drug crisis might spill over into the United States.

The problem is it already has.

There is no uniquely Mexican drug crisis. We are experiencing the American drug crisis.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, recently proposed that Mexican cartels be labeled terrorists. He cited how the U.S. could then address the threat they pose under different legislation.

Anyone whose money and/or material assistance could be traced to the cartels would be tried with treason.

Arturo Sarukhan, the Mexican diplomat to the U.S., was quick to point out that this would require the nation to arrest any bribed border officers or even cocaine-users—having labeled them as traitors.

I’m not sure if I’m comfortable assigning the label of terrorist to any group we want to take action. But I also think that we’ve touched on an important topic.

In order for the Americas to end the drug war, we need to dramatically re-label the conflict. This is not only a Mexican struggle, nor a Colombian one. The crisis is fueled by American consumers.

Mexico’s drug cartels exist to smuggle illegal drugs into the U.S. from South America. While there are few major growers in Mexico, they are essentially drug runners.

The U.S. is the No. 1 cocaine consuming nation in the world. It’s natural that the massive cocaine and marijuana farms in South America try to ship to the U.S.

The cartels are native to Mexico and most of the marijuana that crosses the border is grown there.

Drug problems in the U.S. precede Mexico’s struggles, however.

Before crackdowns in the 1970s and ‘80s, cocaine and other drugs grown in South America were flown in or carried by boat.

Our demand for cocaine and marijuana drives a multi-billion dollar business. Blocking one avenue only forces them to find another.

Restricting smuggling by air and water forced the growers to reroute through Mexico. Indirectly, we created the Mexican cartels.

As a society, we need to start thinking about how our lifestyles impact other nations. We need to understand that when we consume nearly half of the world’s cocaine, we are fueling a violent and illegal empire with vast political and social power.

When we feed the problem, we need to stop pointing fingers and start offering solutions.

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