Our Failed Drug War: U.S. Official Says Drug Traffic Will Return to Caribbean, But Does Not Acknowledge Policy Failures

 As American drug warriors increase the heat on Mexico and Central America, traffickers are not giving up.  Rather, they are becoming more sophisticated and looking for alternatives where the U.S. creates complications. More problematic than traffickers doing what they have been doing for years - matching anti trafficking initiatives with innovation --  is that the United States continues to ignore failures of the drug war.  

According to the Associated Press:

A top U.S. State Department official said Tuesday that drug traffickers may return to old Caribbean smuggling routes as law enforcement pressure builds against them in Mexico and Central America.

William Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement, said the Caribbean routes used to ship cocaine and other drugs in the 1970s and 1980s are the most logical for traffickers.

"I do not see it right now, but simple logic and common sense tells you that you probably are going to see it in the next two or three years," Brownfield said in an interview. "They are going to look for alternative routes."

The real issue here is not that traffickers are logical enough to develop alternative routes, but that U.S. officials are not logical enough to shift their strategies. And by shift, I do not mean focusing on the Caribbean instead of Mexico, but cutting demand by utilizing a rational, scientific approach to the war on drugs and treating addicts here. 

Brown, who was meeting this week with U.S. ambassadors in Latin America and their counterparts at the State Department in Washington, acknowledged the need to develop a multi-pronged approach, but his vision is narrow-minded.

"You cannot just do eradication, just do interdiction, just to laboratory takedowns ... You must address all aspects of the problem, and we cannot do it alone," said Brownfield. 

But traffickers do not just travel hundreds of miles to dump drugs in the United States. They follow a demand. Attacking the supply without acknowledging the forces that contribute to demand - our flawed justice and education systems, poverty, and addiction, to name a few -- is a backwards policy with unsurprisingly low results. And yet, the government continues to deny reason, and its own data, by enforcing an inefficient drug policy while a sensible one is in plain view. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at November 8, 2011, 2:17pm