|Winning the War on Drugs|
"El Ponchis" or 8th-grader, Edgar Jimenez is a 14 year old hitman for a Mexican drug cartel. He was recently caught by Mexican authorities and will join the growing list of detained children who were once employed by drug cartels to murder people. Not surprisingly, one psychologist has already classed Jimenez as a “psychopath”.
I don’t recall having ambitions to join a drug cartel when I was 14 years old and I certainly never imagined I would cut off some stranger’s head. There really must be some extenuating circumstances for young kids to behave in such a barbaric manner. But let’s not procrastinate here. These kids and indeed, much of society are victims of a bloody but futile crusade known as the "War on Drugs”.
What did we really expect to happen? What was the outcome we envisaged when we freely let fanatical anti-drug zealots, religious nutters and ruthless, agenda driven politicians have their way without any formal scrutiny? Where were the evaluations? Why didn’t we take notice of the prison population explosion or the incredible level of street violence that grew each decade?
We watched on as drugs ripped apart communities. We didn’t help those ravaged by addictive drugs but instead, sent them to prison. We broke up families and incarcerated millions without caring for one moment if what we were doing was actually productive. There were only token attempts to address the underlying problem. Drugs were public enemy number one and the only approach was to be "Tough on Drugs”. But the "War on Drugs" and "Tough on Drugs" were not what it implied - it was a war on people.
Why is the carnage caused by the drug war so oblivious to our leaders? Amazingly, it took many, many decades of worsening problems before they took notice of scientists and experts. But they even misused this scientific data and research to spin their own reasons for continuing their assault on drug users. Still, evidence through careful research was making the news and this led to the introduction of Harm Minimisation. Our experts and medical professionals were finally allowed to propose evidenced based programs that dealt with the realities of drug use and offered a humane, medical approach. Unfortunately, we had already endured almost a century of propaganda and most of the public didn’t know any better so any new ideas that made our leaders nervous were ceremoniously dumped, all with just one shriek of being ”Soft on Drugs”.
Even in countries like Australia, global drug policies have created a wartime environment. Military style police units smashing up homes, paramilitary dog squads placed at train stations and government sanctioned, “Stop and Search” laws are not conducive with a civil society in times of peace. Locking up family members who suffer an addiction or choose to use relatively harmless drugs will not lead to a more cohesive community. The constant drone that we need to attack drug use in a war like manner hasn’t reduce drugs in our communities. Instead, like any war, it has produced massive casualties, especially children.
The emergence of killers like 14 year old Edgar Jimenez is the result of our fanatical efforts to stop drug use. But it doesn’t stop there. All over the world, governments create the situation where violence and societal disarray are commonplace. Driven by political greed, the public are told how necessary the drug war is but there is very little effort to address the fallout. Nearly 30,000 drug related deaths in Mexico isn’t even enough to stop the government continuing their failed strategy. In the US, daily occurrences of inner city violence and murder fuelled by drug gangs isn’t enough. Terrorists funding their activities with inflated profits driven by drug prohibition, isn’t enough. So why would hundreds of kids running around cutting off people’s heads be enough either.
Teenage Cartel Hitman Is a U.S. Citizen
By Elspeth Reeve
The floppy-haired 14-year-old turned, like any other modern teen, to YouTube to make his confession. But unlike a typical 8th-grader, Edgar Jimenez's was confessing to beheading people for a Mexican drug cartel for the price of $2,500 each. A hunt for the boy ensued, and this week, Mexican authorities nabbed the "hit boy" known as "El Ponchis" at an airport; he was en route to Tijuana, where he and his teenage sister were planning to sneak into San Diego. Why? He's an American citizen.
Jimenez was arrested Thursday night, suspected of working for Pacific Sur, a gang that splintered off from the notorious Beltran Leyva cartel. The teen was paraded in front of news cameras, even as police guards wore masks for their own protection, yet another symptom of the persistent horrific violence that has plagued Mexico since the start of its drug war. As an American citizen, Jimenez will get "all appropriate consular assistance," CNN reports.
But shockingly, Jimenez is not unique as a child participant in this violence. Drug cartels--like their fellow fans of beheadings, Al Qaeda--are increasingly leaning on kids and women to help them maintain control over large areas of the country. Here are a couple of accounts on offer in the media as outlets attempt to contextualize.
Gangs Recruiting More Kids
"The number of young people aged 18 and under detained for drug-related crimes has climbed steadily since President Felipe Calderón launched his assault on cartels in 2006," reports The Telegraph's Harriet Alexander. "Figures from the Attorney General's office show that there were 482 arrests of under 18s in 2006, and 810 in 2009. The tally this year is set to be even higher." A psychologist says Jimenez is a "psychopath," and that kids like him "like to kill, to steal, and they don't need to conform to society because they are mistreated and become very hostile from a young age." But The Houston Chronicle's Dudley Althaus points out that other teens have also been arrested for drug killings:
Several Laredo teenagers were convicted in 2007 for carrying out killings on behalf of the Zetas, the violent organization entrenched in Nuevo Laredo and other towns along the South Texas border. One of those teens, Rosalio 'Bart' Reta, killed his first victim at age 13 and might have murdered more than 30 others before being captured.
Gangs Recruiting Women, Too
The Guardian's Jo Tuckman and Rory Carroll add, describing a taped confession of a women who said she worked for the Zetas "killing taxi drivers, police officers, innocent people and children." Photos of "her severed head in an icebox" were posted online a couple days later. The "number of women imprisoned for federal crimes, most of which are drug-related, has quadrupled in three years," a study found. Women are pulled into the cartels by their husbands or boyfriends.
Violence So Pervasive It's Changing the Language
Fox News' Steve Harrigan writes about his own experience in the area. "'Narcofosa' is a word I heard for the first time in Juarez. Narco means workers for the drug cartels and fosa means grave. We were standing in a mass grave where 20 narcos had been buried outside of Juarez. Because many of the bodies were decapitated, identification is unlikely. So the bodies are just put in unmarked graves in one section of the cemetery known as the narcofosa or 'the graves for the headless.'"
WikiLeaks Docs Show U.S. Frustrated with Mexico's Drug War
the Los Angeles Times' Tracy Wilkinson writes. "In contrast to their upbeat public assessments, U.S. officials expressed frustration with a 'risk averse' Mexican army and rivalries among security agencies ... The cables quoted Mexican officials expressing fear that the government was losing control of parts of its national territory and that time was 'running out' to rein in drug violence." One cable says: "Official corruption is widespread, leading to a compartmentalized siege mentality among 'clean' law enforcement leaders and their lieutenants. ... Prosecution rates for organized crime-related offenses are dismal; 2% of those detained are brought" to court.