WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading a cabinet-level delegation, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, to Mexico City for a two-day conference that will focus on ways the United States and Mexico can “break the power” of drug-trafficking organizations.
The talks come just one week after the execution-style killing of three people, including two American citizens and their unborn baby, linked to a U.S. Consulate in Mexico. Since Dec. 2006, there have been 18,000 killings in Mexico, with no end in sight. According to the Justice Department, Mexican cartels now operate in 230 American cities.
“Officials have already shown they are not serious about breaking the power of Mexican drug cartels, since they have refused to acknowledge the unrivaled role marijuana prohibition has played in lining the pockets of these murderous gangs who are now—by all indications—targeting Americans for assassination,” said Aaron Houston, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The only way to ‘break the power’ of these gangs is to regulate marijuana and remove it from the criminal market. According to our own government, the cartels make 70 percent of their profits from marijuana sales in the U.S. It is unconscionable that officials continue to support a policy that funnels billions of dollars to groups who are now murdering Americans.”
During a visit to Mexico City in March 2009, Secretary Clinton said the United States has a “co-responsibility” to confront Mexico’s growing violence because “our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade.” Former leaders of Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia have all called for an end to prohibition in order to stem the violence. In December 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that growing numbers of U.S. and Mexican officials say privately that regulating marijuana may be the only solution to the current crisis.
“No policy will ever extinguish the demand for marijuana,” Houston said. “Officials need to do the right thing by acknowledging prohibition’s role in this horrific carnage, and finally ending this failed policy.”