Media Reports Mexico’s Drug Toll, But What About US?


Esquire columnist John H. Richardson wonders why the American media obsess on the death toll of the Mexican drug war (11,000 so far) while all but ignoring the human toll of our own drug war. He writes, “So far as I can tell, nobody has even tried to come up with a number. Until now. I’ve done some rough math, and this is what I found: 6,487. To repeat, that’s 6,487 dead Americans. Throw in overdoses and the cost of this country’s paralyzing drug laws is closer to 15,000 lives.”

Richardson explains that he came up with the numbers based upon a formula from Neill Franklin, a former commander of Maryland’s Bureau of Drug Enforcement, who contends that half to three-quarters of all murders are related to narcotics. Richardson writes, “In 2007, the last year for which hard numbers are available, 16,425 people were murdered. Since our most recent Census said that 79 percent of the country is urban, I cut out the rural Americans – although there’s plenty of drug use there, too – and came up with 12,975 urban homicides. Low-balling that number at 50 percent, I arrived at a rough estimate of 6,487 drug deaths. Using 75 percent, the toll rises to 9,731.”

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