Friday, January 20, 2017

Chapo's extradition: México admits that it has lost the war on drugs

Mexican drug lord Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán has been extradited from Mexico to the United States even though he is Mexican and there are countless pending charges against him there. The extradition is a telling admission by the Mexican state that it has no confidence in its ability to keep him jailed or put him on trial.

He had escaped from prison twice already, and would undoubtedly have done so a third time because the Mexican state is not able to guarantee that its own agents follow its orders. I say "state" because it is the *apparatus*, not just the politicians (supposedly) in charge right now.

A decade ago, at the behest of the United States, the Mexican government (the politicians) launched an all-out war on drugs. To make a short story even shorter, drugs won.
This is what losing a war on drugs looks like.
They won because thanks to U.S. guns and U.S. money, the criminal gangs had sufficient resources and firepower to implement a policy known as "plata o plomo," the bribe or the bullet. As a cop, soldier or public official, if you do NOT accept the bribe, you get a bullet. The other reason drugs won is the Mexican government has followed a strategy of capturing the heads of the cartels. The results have been those of the Greek myth of Hydra. Every time you cut off a head, three more grow back.

So after the leaders are captured the organizations are shattered and now you have several fragments of those formerly large cartels fighting each other all over the country for control of territories and markets. And instead of being focused just on drug trafficking, the criminal gangs have expanded to extortion, kidnapping, human trafficking and more.

Extraditing Chapo Guzmán does nothing except re-enforce this dynamic, making things worse for the population, as more and more of the country becomes, in essence, a failed state, where the government no longer exercises a monopoly on coercive violence.

As for the people of the United States, this is another nail in the coffin of due process of law and judicial fairness. First, the actions Chapo Guzmán will be tried for took place outside the United States. But U.S. courts have no compulsory powers outside the U.S. borders. Meaning that even if at the very moment he was being accused of impaling babies on bayonets, he was, in fact, in a cathedral with a chorus of angels singing hosannas, Guzmán has no way, no right to compel testimony about this in his defense. He can demand the angels be ordered to testify all he wants, but the judge can't make it stick.

Second, the evidence against him will undoubtedly be based on subornation of perjury. His alleged sidekicks and subordinates will offer testimony against Guzmán in exchange for more lenient treatment. Further, they will perjure themselves by denying the exchange under oath and denying they have any expectation of lenient treatment, should the question ever be asked.

Third, should he ask for a jury trial, he will be denied one in any meaningful sense. The evidence and testimony that will be offered will be about another country, with traditions and conditions totally outside the experience of the jurors. And then he will be punished for exercising his right to as jury trial with a much more severe sentence than he would have received had he pleaded guilty.

And because he is a despicable, murderous drug lord and Mexican to boot, nobody, not even the ACLU, will say anything in defense of due process or just plain decency and fairness, further dooming the rights of us all.

Oh happy day.

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