Experts: Capturing Cartel Leaders Increases Violence, Does Not Reduce Flow of Drugs
Since the 1990s, U.S. strategy in the war on drugs has included massive sting operations focused on the top leaders of cartels. The unintended consequences of these takedowns, argues some working in the sector, is that cartels fragment into smaller groups who then war with each other, perpetuating and even increasing inter-group violence that spills over to violence against civilians and activists. And instead of decreasing production and flow of drugs, production and places like Colombia reached an all-time high in 2017. As “El-Chapo’s” trial ends, these experts fear that the glamorous headlines consistently fed by the arrest of cartel leaders will further entrench a failed strategy. Anti-drug campaigns, they argue, in addition to working on security, must become demilitarized to the greatest extent possible while working on economic development and address the structural conditions that perpetuate cartel power.