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Mar-12-2012 21:28printcomments

Drug War-Related Homicides In The US Average At Least 1,100 a Year

Full extent of carnage unknown as US govt doesn’t track violent crime linked to War On Drugs.

Comparison of war casulties

(LAS CRUCES, NM) - The number of people murdered in the drug war inside the United States between 2006 and 2010 exceeds the US-troop death toll in the Iraq War since it was launched in 2003, according to a Narco News analysis of FBI crime statistics.

The US drug-war homicide tally also is nearly three times greater than the number of US soldiers killed in Afghanistan since the first shots were fired in that war in 2001, the Narco News analysis shows.

And that US drug-war murder total — nearly 5,700 people cut down on US soil over the 5-year period examined by Narco News — very likely undercounts significantly the extent of the bloodshed.

Vice President Joe Biden early this week while visiting Mexico made it clear, according to media reports, that “there is no possibility” that the United States would entertain the notion of ending drug prohibition, despite a growing call among Latin American leaders and citizens of those countries for a new course in the bloody drug war, one that includes a discussion of drug legalization.

This stubborn resistance against entertaining any other options beyond a fundamentalist adherence to prohibition for dealing with drug use in the United States is cloaked in an arrogant denial of the human costs of the drug war and the possibility that ending it would lead to less, not more, death.

The US, by some estimates now spends about $40 billion a year at home and abroad waging its war on drugs and has imprisoned currently up to 400,000 people on drug-related charges — the vast majority of them nonviolent offenders.

And Mexico, since late 2006, has seen more than 50,000 of its people slaughtered as part of this drug war — escalated by its current president, Felipe Calderon, who, with the assistance of the US government, has declared an all-out war on the “cartels.” The number of US citizens murdered in Mexico since Calderon declared his assault on the cartels has jumped from 35 in 2007 to 120 last year, according to the US State Department — and that count includes only murders reported to the US government.

But we are supposed to accept that the drug-war tragedy is playing out elsewhere, in the lawless lands of Mexico and Latin America at large, far outside the borderlines of the United States — the major magnet for illegal drugs because its citizens, by far, are the world’s leading consumers of that contraband. Or we are led to believe any misery spawned inside the United States by prohibition is locked up safely behind US prison walls because of this nation’s impressive dragnet system of law enforcement and justice.

That is the meme the status-quo wing of the drug-war debate, as it now exists, trumpets, syncopated only by dire warnings from a reactionary right wing of the danger of the “spillover” violence from that “other” land to the south, Mexico.

The United States, by contrast, if we are to believe the mainstream media, is playing the role of the mighty superhero of this drug war, working hard to fend off a potential invasion by barbarian cartels — who chop off heads and kill babies.

But neither the status quo nor reactionary elements of this debate, or the mainstream media for that matter, are correct, because the truth rests elsewhere, in this case with the uncounted dead.

The so-called liberal media contends they have examined crime rates along the border and in America overall, and they are down in recent years, evidence that there is no spillover effect from Mexico’s bloody drug war. The reactionary elements push back, though, claiming the liberal media is biased and twisting the statistics to protect the status quo, what they deem their liberal interests.

The focus on the actual effects of the drug war inside the United States, as a result, is lost and diverted to an endless game of political positioning and empty rhetoric devoid of verifiable evidence.

But here is the hard truth: The United States, despite its claims of openness and transparency when it comes to justice, does not track, in any systematic way, crimes related to the drug war. So we have no real way of knowing whether there is a “spillover” effect, what’s more the true extent of crime and death being caused inside the United States by our current policy of prohibition. In fact, it appears Mexico, despite all of its problems, has been far more honest in assessing that toll within its own nation because it at least publicizes, even if it massages, the actual number of homicides linked to the drug war.

A report released by the US Congressional Research Service in August of last year drives the point home:

Currently, no comprehensive, publicly available data exist that can definitively answer the question of whether there has been a significant spillover of drug trafficking-related violence into the United States.

… CRS analyzed violent crime data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report program. The data, however, do not allow analysts to determine what proportion of the violent crime rate is related to drug trafficking or, even more specifically, what proportion of drug trafficking-related violent crimes can be attributed to spillover violence. [Emphasis added.]

… In conclusion, because the trends in the overall violent crime rate may not be indicative of trends in drug trafficking-related violent crimes, CRS is unable to draw definitive claims about trends in drug trafficking-related violence spilling over from Mexico into the United States.

The hardened attitude exhibited by Vice President Biden with respect to the notion of ever considering drug legalization is a bit mind-boggling in light of the CRS report. How can he, or anyone in the pro drug-war camp, know whether adopting an alternative to prohibition would result in a better or worse fate for the country, if we as a nation don’t even measure the effects, in terms of crime and death, of the current, hugely expensive and bellicose approach?

This story is just getting started, go to for the narcosphere article in its full form.

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