Avatar of admin

by

Drug Cartels Are Causing a Refugee Crisis

July 8, 2014 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Officials in the United States might be tempted to view the disturbing surge in young refugees as simply a border security issue. But the problem is far more complex than that — the drug cartels are now major players in Central American countries, driving vulnerable populations northward to the United States to enhance their own profits.

And America’s hardline prohibitionist drug war is only making things worse.

Although the growing power of the cartels is not the only factor accounting for this crisis, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson suggested in congressional testimony that the “push factor” of violence is important.

Drug gangs have gained control of major chunks of Central America, making honest economic activity perilous. Teenagers especially have few options if they are not willing to work for the drug lords. As Caitlin Dickson noted in the Daily Beast, for example, “by making these countries so dangerous and virtually unlivable for its poorest citizens, the cartels have effectively created an incentive for people to flee, thereby providing themselves with more clientele for their human smuggling business.”

The drug cartels are now major players in Central American countries, driving vulnerable populations northward to the United States to enhance their own profits.”

Since the cartels have seized control of human smuggling routes through Mexico, often charging refugees several thousand dollars for passage, the flood of undocumented immigrants significantly supplements the revenue that the drug gangs have long enjoyed from trafficking in illegal drugs. Would-be immigrants who can’t pay are pressed into service to carry drugs into the United States. And the surge of unaccompanied minors helps distract the already strained U.S. Border Patrol, making it easier for the drug lords to avoid having their products intercepted.

All of these problems have been building for years. As the Mexican government stepped up its attacks on the cartels, drug kingpins began moving many of their operations into Central America as early as 2008. Such geographic displacement is a recurring problem with the prohibitionist strategy directed against illegal drugs. Since the drug trade is illegal, its practice in the black market is enormously profitable, and traffickers go to great lengths to maintain their power and market share. Whenever pressure mounts in one arena, they simply relocate to another jurisdiction where the risks and problems are, at least temporarily, less imposing.

Central American countries already had some of the highest homicide rates in the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.