Magazine article Insight on the News

Don't Let McCaffrey Stand in Your Way

Magazine article Insight on the News

Don't Let McCaffrey Stand in Your Way

Article excerpt

A little more than a year ago drag czar Barry McCaffrey forecast that the use of new so-called "designer drugs" and methamphetamine would explode. The retired Army general also predicted that one result of the increase would be to see the major international narcotraffickers slowly lose their grip on the drag trade. After all, he surmised, any amateur could cook up methamphetamine and produce designer drags with little difficulty as long as they had precursor chemicals. Who will need the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, then?

For the administration there was a certain mixed joy in McCaffrey's argument. At least the federal government wouldn't have to bother too much with troublesome border interdiction or suffer lectures from drag warriors about the need to take on Mexican narcobarons. Warning at the time that the logic of McCaffrey's argument was flawed, news alert! quoted from various classified intelligence reports taking issue with the retired general's assessment. The leaked reports suggested the business-savvy Mexican drag cartels -- as ever -- were one step ahead of the market and were preparing for an upswing in methamphetamine abuse.

"The Mexicans have the capability of dominating the market by controlling chemical purchases, methamphetamine production and costs," one leaked assessment read. Another added that through large-scale production, the Mexican drag lords would be able to push aside small-time, homegrown American competitors -- and with their increasing control of drag distribution in the United States right down almost to retail level, Mexican narcotraffickers also would have a built-in advantage in selling the highly destructive drag.

And what do you know? McCaffrey was wrong and the boys at the El Paso Intelligence Center, the information-sharing facility for federal law enforcement, were right. That is judging from the classified 1998 overview of the Los Angeles Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, or DEA. "There has recently been an alarming increase in the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine within the Southern California area," reads the overview prepared by acting agent-in-charge Ruth Beaver.

Furthermore, the Mexican organizations, with their "financial backing and good sources for the acquisition of precursor chemicals" dominate the market, accounting for "80 percent of the total methamphetamine production" in the state. Beaver emphasizes that Southern California serves as the "hub by which criminal groups transport methamphetamine throughout the United States. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.