Drug-related violence has claimed 35,000 Mexican lives since 2006, and the level of bloodshed is still rising. With legalization not in the cards and an all-out crackdown unlikely to succeed, good options seem to be scarce.
Here’s a candidate, based on a strategy of dynamic concentration:
Mexico should, after a public and transparent process, designate one of its dealing organizations as the most violent of the group, and Mexican and U.S. enforcement efforts should focus on destroying that organization. Once that group has been dismantled – not hard, in a competitive market – the process should be run again, with all the remaining organizations told that finishing first in the violence race will lead to destruction. If it worked, this process would force a “race to the bottom” in violence; in effect, each organization’s drug-dealing revenues would be held hostage to its self-restraint when it comes to gunfire.
This is parallel to David Kennedy’s “pulling levers” strategy to deal with gang violence.
Would it work? Hard to guess. But it might. That’s more than you can say for any of the other proposals currently on the table.