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More Than 22,000 Dead: Is Ex-Drug Czar John Walters to Blame?

The L.A. Times recently reported that more than 22,000 people have been killed in cartel-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown after taking office in late 2006. Now, after reviewing 20 years of scientific literature on drug-related violence, researchers at the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy issued a report finding that increased violence is the predictable result of a crackdown.

The former drug czar, John Walters, disagreed with their conclusion, claiming violence is a result of the cartels getting weaker. The Associated Press reports Walters “said the researchers gravely misinterpret drug violence. He said spikes of attacks and killings after law enforcement crackdowns are almost entirely between criminals, and therefore may, in a horrible, paradoxical way, reflect success.”

Walters himself has estimated that 60% of cartel profits come from marijuana. Yet while no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose, it’s clear that many thousands have been killed in prohibition-related violence. And despite billions of dollars in expenses each year, the trail of bloodshed, and 800,000 arrests per year, more than 80% of high schools seniors still report each year that marijuana is very easy or fairly easy to get. I guess John Walters and I have different definitions of success.


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