Drug Law

Dept. of Justice Coy About Mexican Drug Cartel Numbers

| by Marijuana Policy Project

By Mike Meno

In 2009, the National Drug Intelligence Center’s annual drug threat assessment report stated that Mexican drug cartels operated distribution networks in at least 230 American cities.

This year, the annual report describes how the cartels have since expanded their influence, how they operate in nearly every region of the continental United States, and how they are “active in more cities throughout the country that any other [drug trafficking organizations].”

But, intriguingly, something is missing: the updated number of how many cities in which the cartels now operate. Why wouldn’t the NDIC, which is part of the Department of Justice, make the new number public?

A DOJ spokesman told Mother Jones that no “hard figure” was included because the agency was “in the throes of reanalyzing” its data, but admitted that the NDIC predicts the number will increase when it’s released in another month. Or longer.

Keep in mind that Mexican drug cartels are making up to 70 percent of their profits from selling marijuana in the United States and have become so brazen in their violent tactics that they are now assassinating American citizens.

If the cartels control distribution in more cities in 2010 than they did in 2009, it’s because marijuana prohibition has enabled them to. When the DOJ finally does release the updated number of cities in which cartels operate (however shockingly high it might be), the need for a legal, regulated market should be clearer than ever.