The Justice Department National Drug Threat Assessment 2010 has finally been released. (http://www.justice.gov/ndic/)
It’s normally released on Feb 1, which made me wonder about the delay; at a quick glance it looks pretty standard to me – it continues to warn of increased Mexican domination of US distribution, as the Colombians lose clout. Mexican drug cartels are the only drug traffickers who have a presence in every single US “region” (the US is split into 9 regions in the report.)
I’m going to read through this closely tonight for anything spectacular, but in the meantime, a couple of things caught my eye. 1) There is no map breaking down which Mexican cartels work where in the US, as there has been in years past. That could mean several things: the US authorities think it’s irrelevant to the media and public; the authorities are working on the assumption that these gangs/cells are not as firmly tied to the cartels as once thought, and will work for whoever pays most. With the cartels in Mexico in such disarray these days, the latter would seem more likely.
2) Marijuana eradication in Mexico was down last year. The report paints this as bad news, but it may actually be good news. Eradication in most of Mexico is a grindingly slow, tit-for-tat process. The narcos grow a marijuana patch, the army burns it down. If the soldiers have to eradicate the same patch a few months later, it means eradication totals increase, but it also means the narcos are winning, because they’ve regrown the same patch. But if the patch is still destroyed, the eradication tally goes down, and the authorities are actually winning.
At least, that’s how the Mexican army rationalizes it, and it makes more sense to me than the way the Justice Department interprets it.