February 1, 2018

How to stop the flow of drugs into America

Allow me to be non-libertarian for a moment (it happens frequently) and I'll try to remember to  justify my position on drugs in another post. 

I was watching the new Netflix documentary Dirty Money.  In one of the episodes dealing with money laundering they pointed out an interesting wrinkle in the flow of drugs from Mexico into America and it gave me an idea of how to stop the flow of drugs into America.

Early on in the episode they point out that there is a vast effort to check vehicles coming into the United States; drug sniffing dogs, vehicle checks, big line ups of traffic. Going into Mexico it's so different you could almost classify the border as a rolling stop - slow down, wave and drive through.  There's little traffic, little spot checking and certainly no dogs.  But but that's how the people who smuggled drugs into America bring back the money from the sale of those drugs.

It occurred to me, why bother trying to stop the flow of drugs in, when it would be just as easy to stop the flow of money out of the country.  If the drug suppliers in Mexico and other countries don't get their payments back, they certainly are not going to continue to sell drugs into America.  If you let the drugs in but not the money back out you have created a disruption in the suppliers' profit and their operations.  

Granted the cartels would develop workarounds for that approach, but 3 kilos of marijuana apparently correlates to hundreds of pounds of bills in what was termed "street money" (i.e. $10s, $20s, $5s).  Even if the money is in $100 bills, and they can solve for the new approach quickly, the point is the disruption itself causes a change.

In addition, figuring out an effective way to detect money instead of drugs may not be so simple.  And proving that the money is dirty presents other challenges.  But these issues can be solved. Simply doing things the way they are being done now, is clearly not working well enough.  It's as though drug cartels have evolved to work around the current counter-measures and despite losses they are clearly making enough money to continue sending product into America.  So you have to change the approach.  And when they adapt to that, you change it again to something else.  It's like a football team only running one play the entire game and not expecting their opponents to figure it out and adjust to stop it.  By constantly changing what you are doing, you keep them off balance and dramatically improve your chances of winning.  

Stopping the money seems like a no-brainer. The money is what matters: no money, no selling.  No selling, no drugs.  The DEA should have more than one play in their playbook and every time they start to slow down on arrests and switch to a focus on one of the other approaches.  

Just saying.

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