Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Drug War/Anti-Immigrant Hypocrisy

Don't you love when officials get slapped in the face with their own hypocrisy?  I have posted numerous times about border patrol agents and national guard down near the border getting caught trafficking drugs while the general attitude promotes the stereotypical Mexican drug trafficker.  Just recently, the biggest villains in Maricopa County have both had their hypocrisy exposed.

Just recently 3 of Sheriff Arpaio's deputies were arrested for their involvement in drug trafficking.  One is suspected of having been corrupt for ten years.  Arpaio knows that drugs are trafficked by cops and other government officials, but turns a blind eye.  Meanwhile, he acts as though Mexican immigrants are the criminals (some are, but obviously some police are too).  To top it off, he often portrays his officers as saviors of people held captive by human traffickers even as those officers also keep the same folks captive in their custody (and/or transfer them to detention or have them deported).

Senator Russell Pearce's son has gotten into trouble a lot, but the most recent news is that he violated his probation by smoking pot and will serve a year in prison.  This is likely a light sentence for such a thing.  Of course the Pearces, or mormons, or white people are not tinged with the stereotype of drug addicts, nor as law breakers.  Mexicans are said to be the problem.

As I have pointed out before, the media tends to be a lot more understanding of the pressures involved in being an official down at the border and getting caught up in drug dealing.  The big drug traffickers have the money to offer relatively low-waged border patrol agents.  These agents are just parents who want to provide for their family.  They're vulnerable to corruption because things are hard economically.  Yeah, and isn't that the case for Mexicans too?  Somehow we can just picture Mexicans as particularly devious and having no qualms about getting involved in drug dealing, whereas white people/US citizens give some resistance but cave in out of desparation.  We should also consider that there is a wide range of involvement in the drug trafficking industry from the people heading the cartels, the folks who torture and murder others, to the small time pot dealer who could easily be your friendly neighbor who wouldn't hurt a flea.  The thing about being a cop or an agent or a national guardsman is that these folks have the legitimacy and the tools they need to give them access to that which wouldn't be possible for other folks.  They can cross the border unquestioned, they can use their authority and gun for criminal uses.  They've been empowered to be even better drug traffickers than those without the uniforms and badges.

We must also acknowledge the ways in which the drug trafficking scene is so much more violent due to the involvement of the government.  Recently there have been massive demonstrations by Mexican citizens demanding that the military remove itself from the war on drugs.  It's making things worse.  Of course the Mexican government is corrupt, and they're likely fighting certain cartels in favor of other cartels.  Weapons and training (such as torture and murder) are provided directly or indirectly (though of course quietly) from military to cartels.  People defect to the cartels because they pay better.

An overarching theme here is that drug trafficking pays better than most other jobs.  In situations where people are hurting for money (such as poverty especially south of the border but also in the US) on top of the social pressures of showing you can purchase expensive things (particularly here in the US) and people getting into huge amounts of debt, how can anyone expect that people will steer clear of drug trafficking?  If the state did not prevent people from (re)obtaining the means of subsistence (such as land), then they would have alternatives to these activities.  If drugs were not illegal, there wouldn't be so much money in it, and there wouldn't be so much violence involved.  If people were not so alienated and beaten down in their daily lives, there would be less demand for drugs in the first place.

See also: National Guardsmen Caught in Drug Smuggling Bust
Ex-ICE Officer Charged in Drug-Smuggling
Authorities bust major marijuana smuggling ring
Ex-ICE Officer Charged in Drug-Smuggling