U.S. drug users are paying ruthless Mexican kingpins nearly $14 billion annually for their meth, heroin, cocaine and especially marijuana –money that helps fund an unprecedented bloody turf war that’s threatening Mexican institutions, White House drug czar John Walters told the Dallas Morning News. Walters called pot the “bread and butter,” “the center of gravity” for Mexican drug cartels that every year smuggle tons of it through the porous U.S.-Mexico border. Of the $13.8 billion that Americans contributed to Mexican drug traffickers in 2004-05, about 62 percent, or $8.6 billion, comes from marijuana consumption.
Walters expects violence to increase in coming months as powerful cartels feel squeezed and their profits threatened by Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s strategy, which includes deploying more than 30,000 soldiers across the nation in an effort to dismantle the cartels’ organizational structures, create internal strife, and disrupt their distribution routes. Walters called on Congress to approve the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative, which would have the U.S. provide increased services and equipment to help Mexico take on cartels.