Most analysts of drug policy and drug smuggling agree that successful interdiction has mainly pushed the problem around the Western Hemisphere, says National Public Radio. In a series on the “forgotten” drug war, NPR says that when U.S. authorities cracked down on Colombian smugglers in the Caribbean in the 1980s, the traffic – and savage violence – shifted to Mexico. There, drug gangs killed an estimated 2,000 people last year. The drug trade has also moved to Central America, where countries like Guatemala are turning into narco-republics.
Says John Carnevale, a top budget official under four drug czars: “We were very successful in the ’80s in stopping trafficking in southern Florida, and around the Gulf and the islands, in terms of cocaine especially and marijuana. We shut it down. But we opened up the whole Southwest border because we simply moved the problem from one location to another. And so, what have you accomplished at the end of the day? Probably not very much.” As long as there is a demand for drugs, he says, “People will figure out a way to bring it to market, especially with the profits that can be made.” Still, David Murray, an adviser to fedeal drug czar John Walters, points to numerous indicators of victory: lowered drug use among teenagers; record seizures of cocaine in transit zones; the disruption of domestic methamphetamine production; and the recent extradition of 15 Mexican cocaine cowboys to the United States.