WEST BOUNTIFUL – Utah law enforcers will have to be particularly vigilant in stopping its youngest residents from getting into drugs and the drug trade now that a bordering state (Colorado) has legalized illicit drugs (marijuana),” Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson said.
The sheriff spoke to members of the Bountiful Breakfast Exchange Club last week, explaining some of the history of the Mexican drug cartels and how they affect Utah.
“I don’t want to paint a doomsday picture. Utah is still one of the safest states,” Richardson said, “but it will be harder to enforce drug laws now that our bordering states are going this direction.”
The demand for drugs in the United States drives the economy in other countries, Richardson said. Ninety percent of the drugs produced by the the cartels in Mexico is consumed in the United States.
“The demand for drugs is so high they fight (among themselves) to supply drugs to us.”
When law enforcement in this country pushed hard against those manufacturing methamphetamine in this country, nearly shutting down its production, the Mexican drug cartels stepped in to fill the gap. The price of drugs on the street skyrocketed.
Before he was killed in 1993, Columbia’s major drug lord, Pablo Escobar was making $30 billion to 40 billion a year and spending $20 billion of it on creating new organizations in Mexico.
When he died, his successor wasn’t strong enough to run the whole machine and it fell apart. The Mexican cartels took over at that time, Richardson said.
Richardson said they continued to grow stronger until, in 2006, Mexican President Vicente Fox made an agreement with the United States to jointly fight the cartels. Three hundred military personnel from Mexico were trained in this country as special forces operatives for anti-drug work. Richardson said when they returned to Mexico they were courted and hired by the drug cartels at much higher wages.
“They then knew how our military works and were able to use that against us. That’s how the Los Zetas (one of the Mexican drug cartels) was born,” Richardson said.
He likened trying to kill the cartels to trying to kill a starfish. If you cut off a limb, it grows back.
“You have to kill them in the spider stage, when you can step on them and squash them,” he said.
Richardson said the drug cartels are going after gang members in schools in the United States. Such members can then sell drugs to an entire high school.
Law enforcemers are also targeting schools, “to keep the drug cartels in the spider stage.”
Several programs have been initiated, or will be within the next year, to educate kids about drugs and the cartels, he said.