United States counternarcotics initiatives in Mexico

Drug Policy Question of the Week – 7-28-10

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 7-28-10. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/2995

Question of the Week: Are the United States’ counternarcotics initiatives in Mexico working?

Drug war violence along the United States/Mexico border has been widely reported. A March 2010 report from the U.S. State Department calculated that,

“Between January and September 2009, there were 5,874 drug-related murders in Mexico, an almost 5 percent increase over 2008 (5,600).”

That’s a total of well over 11,000 for those two years.

That same report also estimated that,

“DTOs’ [drug trafficking organizations] annual gross revenue ranges between $15-30 billion from illicit drug sales in the U.S.”

A 2009 report from the Government Accountability Office reviewed the Mérida Initiative, a multiyear security assistance package for Mexico and Central America set in motion in 2007 by U.S President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderón. Under this initiative, Mexico was set to receive $1.4 billion in counternarcotics aid over several years, $400 million for fiscal year 2008 alone.

But another just released report from the GAO concerning the Mérida Initiative concluded that the Department of State, which oversees the program,

“generally lacks outcome-based measures that define success in the short term and the long term, making it difficult to determine effectiveness and leaving unclear when the Initiative’s goals will be met.”

The report went on to state,

“There are no timelines for future deliveries of some equipment and training,”

causing the Mexican government to express concerns about the pace of delivery.

So the short answer to this question is we don’t know if counternarcotics initiatives are working and won’t know until effective measurements of them have been put in place.

These facts and others like them can be found in the Causes of Death, Economics, and United States International Policy chapters of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.

Questions concerning these or other facts concerning drug policy can be e-mailed to mjborden@drugwarfacts.org.