Old Mexico Would Make A Good Choice For The 51st State

Ed Raymond

Among religious wars, drug wars, civil wars, genocides, and dozens of other kinds Planet Earth remains a dangerous, fascinating place.  The Shiites and Sunnis of Iraq and Afghanistan continue to kill each other with car bombs and AK-47s. Thirty people were killed in Baghdad this morning with two car bombs. The Mexican drug cartels are using every evil method known to man to intimidate, maim, terrorize, and kill each other and innocents to gain market share in the United States. After all, U. S. druggies consume 50 percent of the world’s major drug products  costing us $65 billion. Religious and civil wars can be particularly nasty but nothing is nastier than a hustle for money. Muslims have been doing terrible things to each other for almost 1500 years to gain political and economic supremacy, but the Mexican drug cartels in just a half century have developed killing and maiming to a high art. They even communicate through the bodies they leave, headless or otherwise, on the streets, bridges, and in Mexican homes in cities large and small.
   If the body is missing one finger it means the victim pointed at someone and was a snitch. If one or both legs are missing that means you had the temerity to br a traitor to your cartel. A corpse with missing tongue means you are a gossip about cartel business or said something to somebody you shouldn’t have said. If a body has a hand cut off it means the victim stole drugs or money from the cartel. Ordinary people just disappear. Others meet horrible ends. A San Fernando farmer’s son was kidnapped and held for $10,000 ransom. The farmer paid everything he had to the cartel–$5,000. They sent him the upper half of his son’s body. If you have something personal against someone in Mexico hundreds of “sicarios” (assassins) are available for as little as $80 per kill.

The Zetas And
The Sinaloans

   I have been keeping a file on the drug wars since Richard Nixon started them 40 years ago. My problem is I’m on a huge pendulum, swinging between complete decriminalization of drugs or shooting all drug dealers, large or small, on sight. How can a society stop a person from shoving the white stuff up his nose or shooting it up to gain some kind of Nirvana? The search for excitement, the escape from boredom, and the resulting addiction is overpowering for some.
   The ratio of users of alcohol and drugs is about the same. Twenty percent of American drinkers consume 80 percent of the alcohol sold here. About one percent stay completely bombed.  The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) estimates that about three million Americans, only one percent of the population, consume 80 percent of the illicit drugs, while twenty percent consume the rest. We know alcohol prohibition didn’t work. Been there, done that.  Prohibition  brought us both Al Capone and Joe Kennedy.
   I have been using an article in the July 2, 2012 New Yorker by William Finnegan called “The Kingpins:The Fight For Guadalajara” to fill out my file for this column. There isn’t much doubt that Mexico has become a “narco-state.”  When retiring Mexico President Felipe Calderon started his war against the cartels in Juarez he brought in 2,500 soldiers and police (Mexico has over 2,000 different police agencies) in 180 military trucks, six helicopters, and three C-130 Hercules airplanes for logistical support. It was called Joint Operation Chihuahua. The government forces lost the battle.
   The rival drug cartels had turned the city into a chamber of horrors. In Cecilia Balli’s article “Calderon’s War” the Zetas and the Sinaloans were doing this to each other to gain supremacy: “Decapitated heads were delivered to doorsteps in ice chests, corpses were dangled from bridges over major thoroughfares, and videos of decapitations appeared on YouTube. In one bizarre message a victim’s face was sewn on to a soccer ball. Cartel members were kidnapped and tortured by rivals, and their interrogations often ended with the “tiro de gracia,” the beheading.”
   The Zetas control the drug markets in Western Mexico while the Sinaloans dominate the Eastern Mexico markets. Both cartels have gone into the amphetamine business since the DEA has concentrated on putting meth dealers out of business in the U.S. Mexico is currently the world’s largest meth producer, making meth second only to marijuana. Both cartels cook meth on an industrial scale, importing the necessary materials from Asia, particularly China. To give an idea of all of the meth available in the world, Iran shut down 126 meth labs last year and hanged 22 producers. The Czech Republic shuts down an average of 400 labs a year.

The Current Drug War
Deaths In Four Years:
55,000 And Climbing

   For the first time since 1979 when we started to track drug deaths, the U.S. killed more people with legal and illegal drugs (37,485) in 2009 than we lost in auto accidents (36,284). We lose a person to drugs every 14 minutes. Prescription drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax, and Soma now kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine.
   But in Mexico the innocents are killed right along with the “guilty” who are associated with the drug cartels. The largest mass grave due to the drug war, efficiently dug by big backhoes, was discovered in San Fernando, Mexico. Mexican authorities said that 122 of the 177 bodies found in the grave came from passengers pulled off buses on the major highway to the United States. Most victims died of blunt force trauma tied to a sledgehammer found at the site. Very few were killed with a gun. One bus with all passengers is still missing in the area. In one incident Zeta cartel gunmen attacked the small city of Miguel Aleman, across the border from Roma, Texas, used grenades and rifle fire to burn down three car dealerships, an auto parts store, a furniture outlet and a gas station. In Tamaulipas, Mexico, 34 grave sites were discovered scattered around the farming town after Mexican Marines had established a camp for ground and helicopter patrols.

Self-Rule Prisons

   Most Mexican prisons are run by the “autogobierno” method, which is known as “self-rule.” Many druggies from both cartels are in prison but they often determine what their life in prison (if they survive!) will be like. A recent NBC News story out of Acapulco, a famous resort town now fading slightly, revealed, to no one’s particular surprise, some interesting and very unusual prison “items”: Two peacocks described as pets, two fighting cocks (legal in Mexico), 19 prostitutes living in cells, 100 new plasma TVs, two sacks of high grade marijuana, several bottles of alcohol, and many knives.” The prisoners in the Sonora jail raffled off an air-conditioned luxury cell, equipped with refrigerator and DVD player.
   When Zeta prisoners offered to paint the Catholic chapel in the Saltillo Prison the prison chaplain told them not to because the leaky roof would soon ruin the paint job. No problem. The inmates repaired the roof first and painted the chapel all in one day. The Zeta cartel is perhaps the most powerful in the country and is known for the practice of beheadings.. Many members started out as soldiers in special forces units.The Mexican National Human Rights Commission reported that 37 percent of Mexican prison have self-rule, and both the Zetas and the Sinaloans run most of them. If under self-rule, inmates manage most internal functions such as controlling keys, janitorial duties, and assignment of inmates to cells and dormitories.
   Saltillo is a minimum security prison and operates as such. Inmates communicate with people outside of the prison without restriction. When families visit they often sell handicrafts in the prison yard while picnicking, and then spend some time in the chapel praying together. In one prison the Zetas operate stores, run a strip joint, and serve whiskey under their own label! In other prisons the Zetas build workshops and then charge the inmates for using them. In self-rule prisons the inmates often enforce attendance at flag raising and other ceremonies, insist that prisoners attend education classes, and protect inmates from in-house robberies.

Why Has The War
On Drugs Failed?

   The consumption of drugs by U.S. druggies in just ten years has increased dramatically: opiates up 35 percent, cocaine up 27 percent, pot up 8.5 percent. Why don’t Latin American farmers grow soybeans and corn? Cocaine sells for $3,000 an ounce while corn sells for about $6 a bushel and soybeans about $10 a hundredweight. Why not grow something that at the retail level is double the price of gold? If cocaine were legalized a kilo (2.2 pounds) worth about $2,000 would sell profitably for a rather small markup. but the criminalization of drugs and cartel “business” expenses forces the wholesale price up to $20,000 per kilo in this country, where it retails for more than $100,000.  The price of one gram of pure cocaine on the street is now $177.26 according to the DEA. It’s cheaper than ever although the DEA has spent up to $25 billion a year to make it scarce!
   There are so many corner drug salesmen in every U.S. city that today they make less than minimum wage. Perhaps we should call the cartels “job creators.” Ten years ago big city corner dealers could make $30 an hour. Evidently their union is not very strong. Our very stupid drug laws often turn a $200 illegal corner drug transaction into a three-year prison sentence costing society over $100,000. Over 50 percent of American citizens believe that at least pot should be legalized. Our jails are jammed with over 500,000 minor drug dealers learning how to commit real crimes. In 2010 we arrested 1.64 million for drug offenses. Washington, D.C. and sixteen states have legalized “medical” marijuana. Perhaps if all members of Congress used it as a sedative or a counter to legislative brain “freeze” their approval rating would be higher.

Why Not Invite Old
Mexico To Become
The 51st State Next
To New Mexico?

   Poor Mexicans have come to the United States in the millions in the last half century, often recruited to pick our tomatoes and lettuce and kill our chickens, cows, and pigs. Our corporations claim our workers will not do that “scut” work. We know Americans will do anything if the money is right. Those corporations our Supreme Court has deemed to be people have only two interests–the bottom line and cheap labor, regardless of where it is on the planet. Mexico has become such a dysfunctional narco-state in the last generation that wealthy Mexicans are now moving to San Antonio, El Paso, and Tucson to survive and are running their businesses in Mexico by phone and airplane. Ten percent of San Antonio homes are owned by wealthy Mexicans in gated communities. Many Maseratis and Porsches are seen on the streets. In Mexico the wealthy drive Chevy junkers or have to travel in black armored SUVs. I think if a vote were held in Mexico accepting an invitation to join us as a state the vote would pass. It would help both countries solve several major problems—drugs, immigration, our oil dependency, and many economic problems. The richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, lives in Mexico and has to hire thousands of security guards to keep his body in one piece. Even he might like a break from such pressure.
   According to the American Legion magazine, because the Zetas and the Sinaloans have formed mini-armies and are now equipped with mortars, sophisticated sniper weapons, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, bazookas, land mines, and armored assault vehicles, the cartels outgun the Mexican military. The cartels have built 100 ft. submarines capable of delivering eight tons of cocaine to our shores. The magazine also claims that the U.S. Joint Forces Command has plans to handle the “descent by Mexico into chaos which would demand an American response.” Other Latin American countries have asked the U.S. to help plan a regional defense against the cartels. But this is a war that can’t be won.
  One should continue to ask our politicians why we are continuing to waste blood and billions on another failed state, Afghanistan 7,000 miles away, when we have a more terrible Taliban on our Southern border. Which is more important, particularly when we lost the Afghan War ten years ago? I choose Mexico as one of our states over Afghanistan.