Beto O`Rourke in Dealing Death and Drugs

On Drugs: 2008 crackdown cost 1,623 lives in Juarez

Violent death isn't a new phenomenon in Juarez. But 2008 was different. For the 15 years before 2008, the average number of murders per year in Juarez was 236. Then 1,623 people were murdered in 2008.

2008 was different in another way. People weren't just murdered: they were brutalized. Tortured. Maimed. Dismembered. One at a time. 1,623 times in all.

Not only were young and middle-aged men dying--the presumed profile of the cartel workforce--so were women, pregnant mothers, the elderly and young children.

This spike in violence was linked to two wars that had just been announced. The first was President Felipe Calderon's war against the cartels. The second was Chapo Guzman's war against the Juarez cartel for control of the valuable transit route leading from Juarez into the U.S. drug market, valued between $63 and $81 billion. These two narratives made it easy to dismiss the awful bloodshed as nothing more than settled scores amongst cartels.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 13-4 Nov 29, 2011

On Drugs: 2008: National debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics

In 2008, Juarez was caught in a hemispheric vise between supply and demand. North America consumes illegal drugs, Mexico supplies them. When there is interference between the supply and demand, people start dying.

Thinking about what city council could do to help. I asked whether we should more aggressively address the issues related to demand and prohibition. I listened to the answers, and then offered an amendment, to encourage "an honest, open, national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics."

It was an artless, and even inaccurate amendment to a larger resolution (I only learned later that marijuana is not a narcotic, even though it was precisely that drug that I felt people would be most open to debating), but it got the point across.

The resolution passed unanimously. Later in the day, Mayor John Cook surprised us by vetoing the resolution, he cited a concern that we'd be "laughed out of Austin and D.C." when we went begging for our allotment of state and federal funds.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 15-6 Nov 29, 2011

On Drugs: Low price of pot means low crime rate

Once marijuana [is smuggled across the Mexican border] to El Paso, it is valued at $240 a pound. The [raw drugs] are typically transported to stash houses where they are consolidated, repackaged, and shipped to markets nationwide. That's where the real profits are. Street values of drugs in El Paso are much lower than in larger markets where most of the product transited through Juarez is headed.

The El Paso region's role in the drug trade is mostly limited to warehouse and distribution to other larger, more profitable American markets. This is similar to El Paso's role in the maquilla sector, where goods are manufactured in Juarez then shipped to El Paso for distribution to U.S. markets. The relatively low value of the retail drug trade in El Paso might be one reason that the murder rate here is so low compared to other, more lucrative destination markets. The average murder rate for [U.S. destination] cities was 16 murders per 100,000 in 2010; in El Paso it was 0.8 per 100,000.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 36-7 Nov 29, 2011

On Drugs: Mexico estimates US pot market at $3B; US says $14B

The Mexican government estimates that the cartels take of the marijuana market in the U.S. is between $750 million to $3 billion. For cocaine, they estimate between $1.65 billion to $4.8 billion. Heroin brings in between $300 to $700 million and methamphetamine between $160 million to $480 million.

The United States government is much more bullish about the revenues made Mexican drug cartels, estimating that Mexican cartels bring home between $15 billion to $30 billion annually from illicit drug sales. At one point, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy estimated that more than 60 percent of the cartels' revenue--$8.6 billion out of $13.8 billion in 2006--came from U.S. marijuana sales. They retracted those estimates in 2010, but continue to assert that marijuana is the top revenue generator for Mexican drug cartels.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 42 Nov 29, 2011

On Drugs: War on Drugs expanded from $371M in 1971 to $48,700M today

On June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared war on drugs. "Public enemy No. 1 in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive." He asked for an additional $371 million from Congress to "conquer drug abuse in America." His funding request included new dollars for the treatment, prevention, education, eradication and stepped up law enforcement of existing drug trafficking laws. Nixon ended his declaration detailing the federal government's new role in ending drug abuse by stating, "The final issue is not whether or not we will conquer drug abuse, but how soon."

Our federal drug-war budget has ballooned from Nixon's $371 million request to $15.6 billion dollars within 40 years. State and local governments spend an additional $33.1 billion annually towards drug enforcement.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 63 Nov 29, 2011

On Drugs: Supply-side enforcement should raise drug prices, but fails

The hope behind supply side law enforcement efforts (eradication and seizures) is that if law enforcement seizes enough product, it will limit supplies of that product in American markets. Limited supplies will then force drug dealers to increase their price or decrease the purity or do both.

The reality is just the opposite. The U.S. really ratcheted up the war against cocaine in the 1980s. These efforts were largely successful in shutting down the Florida peninsula as a trade route for cocaine into the United States.

According to the logic behind law enforcement supply-side strategies, cocaine should now be incredibly expensive. there have been increases in the price of cocaine from 2007 to 2011 that law enforcement in the U.S. and Mexico point to as a sign of their winning the battle against Mexican cartels, but the prices are nowhere close to the all-time high in the early 80s. Not only is cocaine much less expensive since its heyday in the 1980s, it is also purer. ˙˙

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 66-7 Nov 29, 2011

On Drugs: Enforcement efforts make illegal drugs profitable & deadly

In addition to the drug war having no appreciable impact on curbing drug access and drug abuse, the market for illegal drugs in the United States has created a sizeable underground economy that has killed over 45,000 people in Mexico as part of the price of doing business. And the horrors aren't confined to Mexico; daily shootings in American inner cities are largely attributable to drug turf disputes. U.S. efforts to disrupt the flows of illegal products into the United States have created do using current drug war strategies is to wipe out the huge profits to be made in the market for illegal drugs. In fact, it is these very efforts by law enforcement that have made selling illegal drugs so profitable.
Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 68-9 Nov 29, 2011

On Drugs: 2009: US arrested 758,000 adult citizens for pot possession

In 2009, the United States arrested 758,593 of its own adult citizens for merely possessing marijuana. That a negotiation of goods for money--between two consenting adults--can result in the arrest of both parties, is stunning.

These arrestees are now permanently scarred and marked in the systems of justice, employment, and social standing. Their chance of becoming productive members of society is now diminished. And the alternatives of crime and illicit activity become more obvious.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 89-90 Nov 29, 2011

On Drugs: Regulating drug market would bring in billions of revenue

The cost to prosecute marijuana prohibition is not cheap. Nationally, is close to $9 billion annually. On the other side of the ledger, states could expect to collect almost $3 billion in new taxes and the federal government nearly $6 billion if marijuana was taxed at rates comparable to alcohol and tobacco.

As governments at all levels desperately search for services to cut and revenues to raise, a rational policy of regulation and taxation of marijuana sales could provide much needed help. Think of the number of local police officers, federal agents, judges, court personnel, prison guards and parole officers involved in attempting to uphold this prohibition against marijuana. Regulating and controlling the market would reduce the police power of the government for what is widely recognized as a trifling crime, allow it to focus resources on greater need, and generate additional tax revenue.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 92 Nov 29, 2011

On Drugs: Legalization closes "gateway" effect of marijuana

A popular theory is that marijuana is a "gateway drug," meaning that the use of this drug will lead to the use of other, harder drugs. To buy marijuana in the U.S., you must purchase it from an illegal drug dealer. There is a good chance that the same dealer is also selling other, harder drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. It is in his interests to get you to buy these other offerings.

If you buy dope in a coffee shop in Amsterdam,˙where marijuana is decriminalized, you can only add a coffee or a hot chocolate to your order. In the U.S., your choices often include an array of toxic recreational drugs. It is no wonder that in the Netherlands the lifetime prevalence of cocaine use is 2 percent while in the U.S. it is 16 percent. The Dutch have effectively closed the gateway from marijuana to other drugs.

Regulate marijuana and you remove other more pernicious options from the 42 percent of Americans who try marijuana in their lifetime.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 94 Nov 29, 2011

On Free Trade: $70B in legal trade passes through El Paso to Mexico

The El Paso/Juarez trade corridor is essential to the North American economy. More than $70 billion in legal trade passed through regional ports of entry last year, almost 20 percent of all U.S./Mexico legal trade. El Paso/Juarez is the second largest trade corridor after Laredo on the U.S./Mexico border.

Like its legal counterpart, the Juarez corridor is a prized staging area for the North American black market.

From slaves bound for the underground U.S. sex trade to migrant farmworkers and maids headed for U.S. fields and subdivisions, Juarez is a logical point of entry for all manner of illicit commerce.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 25 Nov 29, 2011

On Principles & Values: Represents El Paso, world's largest binational community

El Paso is where Latin America and North America meet to form the largest binational community in the world. It's the point at which the 400-year-old Camino Real del Tierra Adentro--after having passed through Mexico City, Durango, Chihuahua, & Juarez-- crosses into present-day U.S. territory, continuing north through El Paso and on to New Mexico.

At first drive through, El Paso can feel like a richer, if more staid, suburb of Juarez, and Juarez can feel like a more exciting, if poorer suburb, of El Paso.

But the cities have each other. El Paso is over 500 miles from the Texas state capital and light-years from Washington D.C.; Juarez is the same distance, for all practical purposes, from Mexico's centers of power and population. So far away from the interest and focus of the state or feds, isolated from other major cities by hundreds of miles of barren desert plateau, the conjoined communities have long relied on each other in the development of their commerce, families and culture.

Source: Dealing Death and Drugs, by Beto O'Rourke, p. 9-10 Nov 29, 2011

The above quotations are from Dealing Death and Drugs
The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan

by Beto O'Rourke
Click here for other excerpts from Dealing Death and Drugs
The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan

by Beto O'Rourke
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