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April 3, 2011

New paper suggests business approach to the fighting the drug war

Professor Mark Osler has this notable new paper up on SSRN titled "What Would it Look Like If We Cared About Narcotics Trafficking? An Argument to Attack Narcotics Capital Rather than Labor." Here is the abstract:

As the failure of the “War on Drugs” becomes ever more obvious, alternative strategies are coming to the fore.  This article adds to that movement with a novel suggestion: That we cause drug networks to fail as a business through the tactic of focusing resources on the seizure of cash flow traveling back to source countries.

To date, federal narcotics interdiction has centered on restricting the labor supply to drug traffickers by incarcerating street dealers, mules, and middle managers.  It shouldn’t be surprising that this has not worked, because low-wage labor is in ready supply, and those workers are easily replaced.  Instead, we should leverage the skills we have gained in interdicting cash flowing to terrorist organizations and apply it to drug networks.  The result could be a self-financing law enforcement effort, a federal effort that is more consistent with the core values of federalism and a belief in markets, and an actual chance to succeed at the task of restricting the flow of narcotics.

April 3, 2011 at 07:01 AM | Permalink


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Thanks, but we have enough DEA/ICE agents seizing legitimate property and funds from innocent people under the pretense that it's drug money and refusing to give it back because of laws like this. Don't give them incentive to step up their efforts.

Posted by: NickS | Apr 3, 2011 10:32:07 PM

We've been targeting the money for years now. All those sheriff's deputies and state troopers watching southbound traffic on Highway 77 in Texas aren't looking for speeders or irresponsible lane changers--they're looking for people to search. Sometimes they hit the jackpot and find money, which they promptly seize, whether or not it's drug money.

It hasn't worked. We still have drugs in the United States.

Posted by: C.E. | Apr 4, 2011 12:45:15 AM

From this past weekend here is an interesting link about targeting (or not targeting) the money in the drug business.


The article suggests the bank was treated leniently because of insolvency/illiquidity issues. A commenter on the site where I found this article sarcastically asked if "Too Big to Fail" now also means "Too Big for Jail."

Posted by: Fred | Apr 4, 2011 6:22:17 AM

I don't think the author of this paper is fully informed. The forfeiture of funds for terrorist organizations is modeled on the tools used to fight the drug war. I don't think we want a "self financing" law enforcement. "Self financing" government workers have nothing to do with federalism or free markets.

The federal government is not a business that has a product, it's purpose is to protect the freedoms of the governed.

Posted by: beth | Apr 4, 2011 8:59:58 AM

Thanks for your share,thanks a lot.Good luck!

Posted by: Big pony | Apr 11, 2011 6:01:50 AM

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