you can call it a
. while you may not hear about it every day, the drug violence occurring on the border between
is continuous and shocking. today, no exception with the gruesome discovery of five severed heads outside an
, intended to scare teachers into paying half their wages to cartels. our next guest says, like the drugs, the war is not only coming to america, it's already here, and it's much bigger than
. we're breaking it down with sylvia longmeyer, former senior
in border violence for the
state of california
she's author of "cartel:
the coming invasion of
." what is your -- what do you feel is the most important thing we have to understand?
the most important thing americans
need to know
is that the
is not just limited to the
. people who live in montana,
, illinois, they believe the
might as well be in china, but it affects everyone in every
state of the nation
because drugs are being pedaled on the streets in all of our communities. the last national drug intelligence report that just came out a couple of weeks ago says that the cartels are operating in 1,000 plus cities and communities. they're working with u.s.-based gangs to distribute those drugs, and it's happening right under our noses.
what if we legalize marijuana. what would be the percentage reduction in criminality and what have we created the drug issue as a
issue as opposed to a criminal issue?
it's hard to say, but because of the way that the
are evolving, experts believe that the income they're deriving from drug sales is now only 50% of all the income they make, because now they are resorting to kidnapping and ransom, extortion, even a petroleum theft, piracy of dvds, cds, and software. and of the 50% of their income comprised of drugs, some other experts say that maybe as little assist 25% of that is coming from the sale of marijuana. so it will have a short-term impact. however, they will still be making a lot of profits from the sale of methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin.
and the other thing, and i think the most compelling point you're making is even if you took the
away from the cartels, that they have achieved such a level of organization and power that they are able to wield power a la these extortion schemes with the murders at the
that have nothing to do with drugs.
sure. the power balance has shifted so much in
in the last decade. you know, before
, the government actually, they were the ones that were in control. and if the
stepped out of line, the government could make some arrests and say, we're the ones in charge. but that has all shifted. and now the cartels are the ones that tell the government what to do.
so what is the most intelligent way to engage this so we don't go off all yippy c yi ki yippie-ki-yay again, so we feel good about ourselves because we shot a bunch of people, but we didn't solve the problem.
i think part of the problem is that both the u.s. and the mexican governments continue to regard the cartels as just criminals. they've involved beyond that. they're not pure insurgency or terrorist groups, wbut they're a hybrid. and until we start looking at them as evolved beyond just criminals, it's like bringing a knife to a gunfight. our strategy to counter them and the
's strategy to counter them is treating them like they're just criminal punks and they're much more sophisticated than that.
and if you look at our counterinsurgency strategy, if we were using that, it seems like we would be blowing everybody in
to smith smithereens with drones and making matters worse.
some people think that that is the answer, is send a bunch of
special operations forces
in there to
. but that's not practical to do that. not only that, but the
on the ground. the number of mexicans who would approve of that has definitely grown over the last few years, but we have a long, negative history with
and we're very, very careful about keeping
out of there.
all right. listen, congrats on the book, sylvia.