David R. Henderson  

Mexican Drug Warriors Disguise Themselves as U.S. Marines for Operations in the United States

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Mexican Justice Department personnel are disguising themselves as U.S. Marines to take part in armed raids against drug suspects in the United States, according to people familiar with the matter, an escalation of Mexican involvement in battling drug cartels that carries significant risk to Mexican personnel.

Both the U.S. and Mexican governments have acknowledged in the past that Mexican law-enforcement agencies operate in the United States providing intelligence support to U.S. military units battling the cartels. The countries have described Mexico's role as a supporting one only.

In reality, said the people familiar with the work, about four times a year the Mexican Marshals Service sends a handful of specialists into the United States who take up local uniforms and weapons to hide their role hunting suspects, including some who aren't on a Mexico wanted list. They said agents from the Mexican Bureau of Investigation and Mexico's Drug Enforcement Administration play a supporting role, in similarly small numbers.


This is excerpted from a front-page article in the Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, November 22-23, 2014.

What nerve those Mexican government officials have. I hope Americans rise up and protest against their government's tactics.

I did alter the above excerpt somewhat. Specifically, I changed the names of the two countries involved.


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CATEGORIES: Regulation




COMMENTS (17 to date)
John Smith writes:

It is insane to imply that US and Mexico are roughly equivalent, whether you are seeing it from the US point of view or Mexico’s. Completely self-defeating post.

Roughly equivalent to a story about how you were with a 21 years old female and getting unwarranted grief from her parents. Except the plot twist is that you were actually with a 12 years old (you are your current age, not a young teenage yourself).

Your plot twist *is* the plot.

[Not that you can't object to the situation, but your method is not honest since it implies US and Mexico is the same]

john hare writes:

John Smith,

I disagree. David revealed the switch immediately after the post which takes care of the honesty portion of your objection. The post was a fairly clear examination of your (our) reaction to a role reversal in real life. If you were getting an emotional reaction reading the reversed excerpt, then you can see Mexican citizens getting a similar reaction to the real article. It does not have to be assumed that the US and Mexico are the same.

A few years ago I did a similar type post on private spaceflight vs NASA with the Shuttle timeline and budget updated 35 years at 2% inflation. Very interesting discussion.

MikeDC writes:

Somewhere Bryan Caplan is up in arms over this citizenist gobledegook!

Look, the enlightened governments of the United States and Mexico are some of the world's most gifted students of economics. Mexico knows perfectly well that the US internal security services have a comparative advantage in conducting drug raids. It's only natural for the Mexican government to consent to (and even seek out) US paramilitaries.

Just as its blindingly brilliant for the US to ensure its border remains completely open. That way, we can get a problem-free crop of immigrants from Mexico who will cause no expensive social or criminal problems here. And we can focus our scarce paramilitaries on stopping crime in places the populace simply isn't as civilized. Like Mexico.

NZ writes:

If you support globalism and open borders, and if you oppose nationalism, shouldn't you be applauding this--role reversal or otherwise?

In fact, you should be enthusiastic about drug prohibition, since this kind of international cooperation and line-blurring has been hard-coded into the War on Drugs since it began a century ago. I can think of no other set of policies that have more consistently required different nations all over the planet to work together and intermingle their institutions.

RPLong writes:

John Smith - I think you might be equivocating on the word "equivalent." It sounds like you have a good point if "equivalent" is to mean "equal in every conceivable way." Since Mexico and the United States are clearly not "equal in every conceivable way," we can safely conclude that any suggestion to the contrary is patently false. But who among us would suggest that Mexico and the United States are not equivalent with respect to the morality of a foreign military action within domestic borders? We need not sign on to "total equivalence" in order to sign on to moral equivalence. Your argument hangs on the notion that one level of equivalence implies a whole "package-deal" of every kind of equivalence.

MikeDC - I don't follow you. Your argument describes a couple of ways in which the governments of Mexico and the United States act to satisfy the best interest of their own citizens. That is clearly citizenism. Henderson's argument to the contrary must therefore not be.

Christophe Biocca writes:

Re "open borders people should be applauding this":

Given that open borders is built on the idea that governments have no basis for intervening in freely entered exchange, even if it occurs across national boundaries, the global enforcement of the US's drug policies (to stop trade) is precisely the kind of policy we'd oppose.

The only legitimate purpose of national boundaries (if you're a minarchist) is to delineate where your political authority begins and ends. Given that the US recognizes no such limitations to its power, they might as well be honest and redraw the map.

The truth is that humans everywhere live under US dominion. They're just subject to internal migration controls stopping them from moving to a nice part of the country.

NZ writes:

Christophe Biocca:

I think you've missed my point.

If it wasn't for the War on Drugs, the notions of open borders and anti-nationalism would not have anything close to the stature they enjoy today. You yourself might never have heard of them. I don't think you appreciate what drug prohibition has done to spread and popularize the globalist sentiment.

Sure, you may dislike the nitty gritty of how it's powered, but you can't argue with results. As I said, no set of policies ever before conceived has done as much as drug prohibition to bring the nations of the world closer together as one, with the increased freedom of movement that comes with it.

The "free exchange" version of open borders gets talked up a lot by libertarians, but they've never convinced anyone to implement it that way, and they probably never will. Thus, if you support the unrestricted migration of people across the globe--especially from crappier areas to nicer areas--and you actually want to see it happen, then Imperial Backwash is your friend. It's your most realistic option because it can actually be seen working! Haven't you noticed that following every anti-drug operation we conduct in some part of the world--Central America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East--we soon get a wave of immigrants from there? (That's over the angry opposition of most of the US! Their cries of "No" don't matter!)

Nothing has demanded as much imperialism as drug prohibition, and imperialism has been the biggest engine of mass immigration and anti-nationalist sentiment. It's easy to say "I like this" and "I don't like that" in an ideal world, but in the real world you should be applauding the war on drugs.

MikeDC writes:

RPLong,
When David says:

What nerve those Mexican government officials have. I hope Americans rise up and protest against their government's tactics.

He's clearly making a citizenist argument that the citizens of country A should protest that citizens/government officials of country B are being employed by the government of country A.

robert writes:

When I read this, I was happy that the United States is working with Mexican officials. I think teamwork to resolve a cross-border problem makes sense, and as long as all of the officers work in a professional manner, it should only help.

It is certainly much better than if the Mexican government was selling weapons to known and extremely dangerous criminal organizations.

As far as imperialism, I think it has to do more with precious commodities than a particular commodity, whether it is oil, drugs, gold, emeralds, etc. Are Venezuela’s and Argentina’s problems truly caused by the drug war? Are Afghanistan’s problems truly caused by the drug war?

RPLong writes:

MikeDC - Citizenism as I understand it is the belief that Govt A should hold a strong moral preference for the well-being of its own citizens. You're right that Prof. Henderson's call to protest may appeal to any protester who feels that the US govt acted contrary to its citizens' interests in the above example.

But they may also be protesting for some other reason. It is possible that some protesters may object to the military action despite agreeing that their own government acted in their own interests. That describes my view - I certainly believe that the US and Mexican governments were acting in accordance with what they feel are their constituents' interests, no matter how the story is told; And yet I still object.

Perhaps Prof. Henderson agrees with me.

Christophe Biocca writes:

NZ:

If it wasn't for the War on Drugs, the notions of open borders and anti-nationalism would not have anything close to the stature they enjoy today.
Demonstrably false, as the Progressive Era ushered in immigration restrictions, American Nationalism, and Prohibition (which quickly morphed into the war on drugs once alcohol was re-legalized), roughly in that order.

Your reasoning is just Post hoc fallacy. We have global communications and cheap air travel. Any set of policies that didn't stop those would also have high levels of immigration and anti-nationalism.

Haven't you noticed that following every anti-drug operation we conduct in some part of the world--Central America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East--we soon get a wave of immigrants from there?
Make a nation descend into civil war and the first thing you'll expect to see is refugees. That's not a good thing, since the only thing you've done is made people even more eager to leave.

By your reasoning, I should also support irradiating all other nations in the world, since doing so would increase net migration to the US (from what is now a uniformly poor rest of the world). Or just drag all the immigrants in at gunpoint.

There's a world of difference between making something legal and making it mandatory/strongly encouraged.

Christophe Biocca writes:

NZ:

Your argument would equally be applicable to emigration restrictions in the pre-collapse Soviet Union:

The "free exchange" version of allowing emmigration gets talked up a lot by libertarians, but they've never convinced anyone to implement it that way, and they probably never will. Thus, if you support the unrestricted emigration of soviet citizens across the globe--especially to nicer areas--and you actually want to see it happen, then Soviet Misery is your friend. It's your most realistic option because it can actually be seen working! Haven't you noticed that following every famine, every purge, every mass execution, in some part of the Soviet Union, we soon get a wave of would be emmigrants braving the cold/wilderness/machine guns to leave? (That's over the angry opposition of most of the US! Their cries of "No" don't matter!)

It's easy to say "I like this" and "I don't like that" in an ideal world, but in the real world you should be applauding how horrible life inside the Soviet Union is.

MikeDC writes:

RPLong,
I see and understand your objection. I object as well on grounds that I think putting military forces in a criminal justice role is generally ill-advised and that the "war on drugs" is generally bad policy.

But (and perhaps he will speak to this), I think David's post is arguing for a citizenist view of law enforcement, not arguing against a specific set of law enforcement policies. If it were the latter, the call would be to stop the policy, not stop enforcement of the policy with non-citizens (because to the universalist, the citizenship of the enforcer should be irrelevant).

I take him as saying, "only citizens should be enforcing the laws they enact".

NZ writes:

@Christophe Biocca:

You've got your history mostly wrong. Progressives supported immigration restrictions initially, but by 1965 all that was undone. Today it is the Right, not the Left, that is more likely to support immigration restrictions. American nationalism is also much lower now than in the past--and stronger on the Right than the Left.

Most glaringly, you've stated that alcohol prohibition morphed into the war on drugs, when in fact federal-level drug prohibition predates alcohol prohibition by 5 years or more.

You're right about creating refugees, of course, but my point is that this is not a surprise or an accident to policymakers. To them it's part of the plan: creating demographic equalization is one of the tools for dissolving differences between the imperial nation and the imperialized-upon nation.

It isn't a post-hoc fallacy either: globalism was expressly one of the foremost goals of the earliest drug warriors like Bishop Charles Brent and Hamilton Wright, whose patrons saw the cause of drug prohibition as a way to bolster America's stature as a political, diplomatic, and economic powerhouse on the global scale. Why do you think the Opium Conventions of 1909 and 1911 were organized by Americans but held, respectively, in Shanghai and the Hague?

I have no objections to your substitution with Soviet Russia, but it only underlines my point: something many libertarians support is, ironically, helped along in practice--indeed, largely made possible--by something many libertarians oppose.

Christophe Biocca writes:

NZ:

Most glaringly, you've stated that alcohol prohibition morphed into the war on drugs, when in fact federal-level drug prohibition predates alcohol prohibition by 5 years or more.

There's a half dozen ways to measure the slow beginning of the war on drugs, I just like to point to how quickly and successfully the people working on Prohibition pivoted towards drugs once the former collapsed.

You alse seem to confuse (perhaps purposefully) instrumental value and intrinsic value.

I support making immigration easier because I believe it benefits humanity and respects the rights of individuals to trade freely.

You're telling me to support the war on drugs, and other violations of fundamental human liberties, on the basis that it increases net migration. That's like telling someone who wants to live a long time (and therefore exercises) that he should run a marathon through the Sahara because "think of all the exercise you'll get!".

NZ writes:

The people working on Prohibition were the same people working on the war on drugs. (Anslinger, by the way, was more of a hired political goon than a teetotaling ideologue.) Going from alcohol to drug prohibition wasn't a pivot; alcohol prohibition was a side project from drug prohibition.

I'm not really telling you to do anything. My purpose was to point out something ironic about two contrasting libertarian beliefs. That is, the one thing you don't like is actually doing a lot of things to the world that you do like.

A better hypothetical analogy than your trans-Saharan jogger is the secular humanist who opposes war, but who (perhaps acknowledging a point made by Christopher Hitchens) can't help but appreciate the fact that thanks to America invading and influencing 3rd world countries, those countries' cultures are now much more secular and humanist.

NZ writes:

@Christophe Biocca: P.S.

My purpose was to point out something ironic about two contrasting libertarian beliefs. That is, the one thing you don't like is actually doing a lot of things to the world that you do like.
And, I should have added, the thing you like would never have happened at all--or at least not to anything near the extent that it has--if not for the thing you don't like.

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