Fewer Drugs In America Means More Problems for Mexico

Last week’s horrific killings at the Ciudad Juarez drug treatment center were front-page news in Texas. The murders are partly the result of what happens in a market when restrictions on supply are imposed in a related market.

It has become more difficult to ship drugs from Mexico to the U.S. because of increased border enforcement. This has decreased supply in the U.S. but increased supply in Mexico.

The increased domestic competition in Mexico has pushed prices down, resulting in a large increase in Mexican drug addiction and the violence associated with it. Sadly, I imagine that the new giant border fence will make shipping drugs to the U.S. even more difficult and result in still more addiction — and violence — in Mexico.


Seems like a fair equilibrium to me.


"Sadly, I imagine that the new giant border fence will make shipping drugs to the U.S. even more difficult and result in still more addiction - and violence - in Mexico."--

What an unbelievable statement.

Yes, America should just be compassionate and leave the border like a sieve so the violence and addiction can grow here. After all, why should Mexico be responsible for its own problems when they have America to use ?Put that on the "apology list" and provide for this problem in the amnesty that is planned.

Even better, why don't we just fly the surrender flag and be done with it ?


So it's "sad" that a country that produces dangerous drugs that incite violence and poverty will now be forced to deal with the consequences (namely, violence and poverty)? I'm a pretty liberal guy, but maybe you'll make a conservative out of me yet.


Another argument for the legalization of most drugs.


Daniel is not serious... Or is he the PR guy for the mexican drug cartels???

"Sadly, I imagine that the new giant border fence will make shipping drugs to the U.S. even more difficult and result in still more addiction - and violence - in Mexico."

I would rather they keep the drugs on their side... and if they decide to improve the gene pool by eliminating each other, so be it!


@TGood: He wasn't suggesting that the border control should be abolished. It was an inciteful observation and an unfortunate consequence of our border control. No need to be hostile.

Mexican Bound vacationer

Why not make it more worthwhile and mutually advantageous to all for the Mexican drug lords to go into a legitimate business. Isn't that what really happened in the US? Am thinking of Gotti's wife becoming a celebrity with a tv show and there are other examples known and unknown.


Supply in Mexico will go down when the drugs are rerouted to the US through a different means.

Then the killings and drug addiction problems will be reduced in Mexico.


TGood, I think he saying that the violence and addiction are sad. He's not saying its sad that we are building a fence.


Dont know if I agree.

Did prices go up in the US due to the border fence? Dont think so.

Or maybe you want to say that the supply diminished due to the border fence, but lower demand kept prices in check? I havent seen evidence of that in the news....

My gut says the violence we read about is for the same reason violence has escalated in Mexico: the Calderon government's crackdown on traffickers and the power vacuum it leaves behind for other criminals to fight over.

This fence will be as effective as any other fence in history. ie not at all

Richard St.George

! "Sadly?" Perhaps it were better if there were more addicts in the US than in Mexico, and narcos lives were saved if the border were more open. Fact is, Southern Californian IS Mexico. Whites and blacks here are a rapidly diminishing minority. The LAUSD, that is, the Los Angeles United School district is 70% Mexican. And 50% of those children are first time English speakers, in the euphemism of bureaucrats. The Southwest US IS Mexico.


We should fly the flag of surrender. The war on drugs was lost many, many years ago. It is an incredible waste of money in a time when people are concerned about deficits, it creates huge cash flows to illicit distribution networks, and spawns the violence refered to here. Most importantly, there has been no significant reduction in the rates of usage (on the contrary, they have climbed) since the inception of the "war". Other countries have decriminalized, and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that society suffers as a result.

Whatever your personal feelings about drug use, it is a clear economic & rational fact that we are throwing good money after bad on this nonsense.

Howard Tayler

I think the observation is interesting, as it shows the interconnectedness of our cultures and economies. I don't see it as an argument for or against dropping the border or for legalizing certain drugs.

Still... both of those options would have their own set of unintended side-effects, and hopefully somebody like Daniel will be paying enough attention to show us what they are in the event they get implemented.


Hey they just don't get it...It is time for Mexico to get serious about cleaning up drugs in their country. That would solve their problems as well as some of ours. I have no sympathy for them.


"The increased domestic competition in Mexico has pushed prices down, resulting in a large increase in Mexican drug addiction and the violence associated with it."

Do you have data to back up this statement? It seems counterintuitive that a DECREASE in drug prices (and therefore profitability) would result in INCREASED violence. I would expect, like with the US crack market in the 1990s, that increases in violence would relate to battles over market share ("turf") due to increased opportunity for profit, and would therefore correspond to HIGHER prices.

I also have to question the claim about increased addiction. Common economic knowledge indicates, and numerous studies substantiate, that demand for addictive drugs is extremely inelastic, and therefore consumption (and presumably addiction) should not respond materially to changes in price.


charles (#4) got it right. prohibition is what increases violence, not addiction per se.

Christopher Browne

I don't think the point was to say that no attempt should be made to reduce the US drug trade.

Rather, the article points out that this change has an adverse effect in Mexico, which seems to be fairly undeniable.

- There are doubtless Americans who don't care what evils take place across the border, so long as they don't seem to affect their neighborhood.

- Those that *do* care, at least somewhat, about people outside their neighborhood will realize that this is a troublesome problem not amenable to oversimplistic solutions.

Eric D.

I don't want to sound cold (I probably will) but what will be the result of the oversaturation of the market with drugs? Will the effect on increased supply extend to the fields where it's grown, perhaps forcing the closure of some (through whatever means...) and therefore decreasing supply and establishing another equilibrium point?


Like other black markets (e.g., rent control, illegal immigration) attempts to distort market equilibrium will encourage the use of new and existing channels of getting drugs into the U.S. other than by land across the desert such as on cargo on passenger jets and container ships or through corruption of U.S. border agents. As long as there is demand for narcotics in the U.S. combined with legal restrictions, drugs will still get into the U.S.


A related problem that I think is also an unfortunate direct consequence of improved border enforcement is the proliferation of marijuana plantations in our national parks (see http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/08/27/us/AP-US-National-Parks-Marijuana.html for an example). It would seem that it's easy to grow it openly in Mexico, but harder now to get it across the border, so the next best solution is to grow it in the U.S. in places that are hard to find. It would seem that our options at this point are to reduce demand, which hasn't happened and likely won't, tolerate the high costs in lives, money, and damage to our national treasures, or legalize it. As much as I hate to admit it, the last option is starting to look more attractive.