National Drug Threat Assessment 2010

The Dept of Justice has published an update on one of our longest wars, declared by President Nixon at a press conference on 17 June 1971 (more explicitly to Congress here).  Only the War on Poverty (declared by LBJ on 8 January 1964) has run longer.  (I have not found a date for first use of  “War on Cancer”; it was not used by Nixon in 1971).

Excerpt from the Executive Summary of the National Drug Threat Assessment 2010 (red emphasis added):

Overall, the availability of illicit drugs in the United States is increasing.1 In fact, in 2009 the prevalence of four of the five major drugs–heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine)–was widespread and increasing in some areas. Conversely, cocaine shortages first identified in 2007 persisted in many markets.

… Although drug use remained relatively stable from 2007 through 2008, more than 25 million individuals 12 years of age and older reported using an illicit drug or using a controlled prescription drug (CPD) nonmedically in 2008. Each year, drug-related deaths number in the thousands, and treatment admissions and emergency department (ED) visits both exceed a million. These and other consequences of drug abuse, including lost productivity associated with abuse, the impact on the criminal justice system, and the environmental impact that results from the production of illicit drugs, are estimated at nearly $215 billion  annually.

Mexican DTOs {drug trafficking organizations} continue to represent the single greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States. Mexican DTOs, already the predominant wholesale suppliers of illicit drugs in the United States, are gaining even greater strength in eastern drug markets where Colombian DTO strength is diminishing. The extent of Mexican DTO influence over domestic drug trafficking was evidenced in several ways in 2009.

… National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) analysts estimate that the overall threat posed by illicit drugs will not diminish in the near term. Although NDIC believes that sustained shortages of cocaine will persist in some U.S. markets in 2010, the availability of heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana will increase, largely the result of increased production of the drugs in Mexico. The growing strength and organization of criminal gangs, including their alliances with large Mexican DTOs, will make disrupting illicit drug availability and distribution increasingly difficult for law enforcement agencies.

Comment on this from “Consequences and costs“, Chet Richards (Colonel, USAF, retired), March 2010:

With this amount of money at stake, and with the level of violence that the Mexican drug cartels routinely employ, we might rephrase the National Drug Threat Assessment 2010 report’s conclusion as:

“Mexican {cartels} continue to represent the single greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States.”

We have to choose where to use our limited resources, and our survival as a free and democratic country rests upon our choosing wisely.

Perhaps after a few more years of expensive failure, we will test limited legalization of drugs.  We might take the first step soon:  “California will vote on legalization of marijuana in November“, Sacramento Bee, 25 March 2010.

For more information about the War on Drugs

  1. Mexico: Examining Cartel War Violence Through a Protective Intelligence Lens“, Stratfor, 14 May 2008
  2. Crime and Punishment in Mexico: The big picture beyond drug cartel violence“, posted at Grits for Breakfast, 18 May 2008
  3. Mexican Cartels and the Fallout From Phoenix“, Stratfor, 2 July 2008
  4. Drug cartels ‘threaten’ Mexican democracy“, Financial Times, 13 July 2008
  5. State of Siege: Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency“, John P. Sullivan and Adam Elkus, Small Wars Journal, 19 August 2008
  6. Mexico: The Third War“, Fred Burton and Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 18 February 2009
  7. When the Mexican Drug Trade Hits the Border“, Fred Burton and Ben West, Stratfor, 15 April 2009
  8. The Long Arm of the Lawless“, Fred Burton and Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 25 February 2009
  9. La Rubia y La Droga – Notes From an Unknown Planet“, Fred Reed, Fred on Everything, 30 March 2009
  10. U.S. military outreach to Mexico likely to upset … Mexicans, McClatchy Newspapers, 15 March 2009 – Any situation can be made worse by stupidity; our rulers are on the job. 
  11. Afghanistan south“, Patrick Buchanan, MSNBC, 6 March 2009 — A solution
  12. The Role of  the Mexican Military in the Cartel War“, Stephen Meiners and Fred Burton, Stratfor, 29 July 2009
  13. Desertion, Low Morale, and Readiness: Assessing the Mexican Army’s Involvement in the War Against the Cartels and its Impact on Capabilities for Traditional Responses“, Alejandro Schtulmann, RGE Monitor, 29 September 2009
  14. Mexico: Emergence of an Unexpected Threat“, Scott Stewart, Stratfor, 30 September 2009
  15. Meddling Where We Oug
  16. Meddling Where We Oughtn’t  – Yet Again“, Fred Reed, 2 March 2010
  17. Drug Wars“, Frontline, first broadcast on PBS 9-10 October 2000 — esp see their chronology of the War on Drugs

Posts on the FM website:

  1. Another urban legend that will not die: the CIA is the world’s major drug dealer, 17 July 2009
  2. “Drug cartels ‘threaten’ Mexican democracy”, 24 July 2008
  3. One of America’s few wise men tells us about Mexico, 6 May 2009


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