Free Trade’s Body Count

The drug violence in the border between the US and Mexico continues to claim lives. Thousands yearly are murdered in turf wars among the numerous gangs competing for the lucrative US market. One of the main problems has been the NAFTA “free trade” agreement that has made it easier for drug smugglers to bring their product to American cities. Without substantial economic reform and the rejection of the WTO, the drug situation will continue to spiral out of control.

The governor of the Mexican state of Chihuahua claims that American intelligence controls much of the drug trade into the US. Such accusations are quite common in the developing world and, more recently, in the US. Increasingly, the relation between US intelligence agencies in Afghanistan and the resurgence of the heroin trade in Europe has been convincingly detailed (Arsenault, 2010).

This paper is not original. Rather it is a synthesis of important statistical arguments mad concerning the connection among NAFTA, the economics of immigration, the drug cartels and the resulting budget crisis in the US. All of these are tightly related, albeit unspeakable in polite society. Worse, the American oligarchy seems to have deliberate disarmed and de-funded police while using private security for themselves. The clear and blatant disinterest in closing the border and the equally potent interest in making police-work impossible suggest a policy of planned chaos.

The nature of the drug trade into the US is the act of getting the crop from Central or South America into Mexico and, from there, into the American market. Due to the immensely lucrative American market (which is an issue of itself), Cartels have developed sophisticated and devious methods for getting product over the border. Methods such as tunneling under border fences into safe houses, using densely vegetated parts of the river for cover, the use of isolated areas on the border and, as is well known, the use of human “mules,” has long been highly effective for decades (Burton and West, 2009).

What mediates this flow of people and drugs across the border is the involvement of US gangs, usually of Latin background. The Mexican mafia works closely with gangs throughout the American South to bring drugs into the US. Well armed forces are increasingly consolidated terror units comprised of Mexican-American gangs, Mexican organized crime, gangs from Mexico proper and the cartels themselves. Increasingly, they overlap, but they are quite distinct and war against each other for the privilege of supplying alienated Americans with drugs.

The Trans-Border Institute of the University of San Diego claims that the drug-related murder rate in Mexico has skyrocketed over the last 10 years. From 2006-2011 there were 50,000 murders carried out by Mexican organized crime (speaking generally). 2008 saw a 150% increase in cartel-financed slayings in Mexico. In 2011, the Institute reports that in Mexico and along the border, about 47 murders were committed each day on average (Molzhan et al, 2011).

The death toll on the US-Mexican border cannot be determined with perfect accuracy. Numbers are difficult to corroborate because the dead are are criminals, gang members members or otherwise unidentifiable. These deaths, whatever the number, come from drug gangs, Mexican mafia lords, corrupt soldiers, underpaid policemen and violence among migrants, and estimates go as high as 20,000 since 2006.

The Institute details several important reforms that are critical in improving the war against this sort of crime. There is a lack of meaningful oversight on how US money to Mexican anti-drug units in her police force is spent. The misuse of funds and the diversion of arms to gangs has done little but given aid to narco-terror.

Police tactics south of the border need to be changed. Mexican police and militia, when restoring order in regions torn by drug violence, use tightly focused, massed forces against the cartels. Yet, their opponents use a guerrilla approach featuring dispersed and decentralized networks of armed men and safe-houses that make mass-forces an unsuitable formation (Cronin, 2010). In short, the Mexican response to drug violence has been poorly configured and overwhelmed by officialdom. That only about a third of drug related violent incidents are even investigated is a direct consequence of these failures (Molzhan et al, 2011: 25ff).

The Border Patrol service, especially in its work along the Rio Grande, is one of the most dangerous and thankless jobs in government service. Undermanned and underfunded, border patrol agents are highly vulnerable. From 1992 to 2012, about 200 members of the Border Patrol have been killed in the line of duty (CPB, 2013). In a 2013 report sponsored by the Houston Chronicle, Border Patrol agents are vulnerable for three interwoven reasons. Most alarmingly, the Mexican military are often used against US positions. Mexico City blames this on organizations posing as military and using high caliber weapons. However, the Patrol contends unofficially that certain military units moonlight as bodyguards for the better-paying cartels (Sexton, 2012).

Since the Patrol is underfunded, mental fatigue and low morale is an issue. Outside of the criminal liability of Washington DC for this, the heat and stress lead to breakdown. The result is that 30% quit in the first 18 months of service. Worse, attacks from illegals are regular, though strangely absent from the American press. Guns, rocks, and other projectiles are used against agents with the implicit idea that it will not be punished. They are usually correct (Heibutzki, 2013). The fact is that NAFTA has made retribution into Mexico somewhat awkward.

The US House of Representatives, though its Natural Resources committee, issues a report on the dangers of patrolling this border, now a war-zone by any definition. Government agencies other than the Patrol, including Fish and Wildlife, have actively interfered with Border operations. The Committee officially calls this border a national security threat of the highest order. Terrorism, drugs, illegal human trafficking and environmental degradation are just a few of the major crises affecting the border region. The bickering among government agencies ensures that no coordinated response is forthcoming. In 2010, the Committee, after substantial research and hearings, released its summary report that states, among other things:

Escalating violence along the US-Mexico border, particularly on federally owned lands, is a result of the Border Patrol’s restricted access due to bureaucratic regulations from Washington D.C. As a result, these federal lands and corridors have been targeted by drug smugglers, human traffickers and murders that threaten human safety and cause environmental degradation. The Border Patrol’s inability to effectively monitor federal lands along the border also leaves the U.S. vulnerable to potential terrorist attacks (NRC, 2010).

If that is not enough, the Minority Report goes on to make extremely serious charges against the DOI, charges coming close to treason and sabotage:

Documents show that the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service have consistently and actively taken steps that prevent the Border Patrol from securing our nation’s borders on federal lands. According to internal memos, DOI officials have asserted that the Wilderness Act of 1964 trumps border security legislation passed by Congress. . .The Department of the Interior is hindering border security efforts on federal lands by preventing the use of motorized vehicles, requiring DHS to complete lengthy and expensive environmental analysis, and at times literally locking out Border Patrol agents to prevent their access to some areas (NRC, 2010).

Now, in 2014, the same situation remains. What was once dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” is now a matter of public record. The Committee also threatened to file federal charges against the guilty parties, which, predictably, did not lead to a single bureaucrat packing for the Caymans. More specifically, the last paragraph of the Committee report officially charges DOI with conspiracy, fraud and extortion. That the elite’s response has been a collective yawn surprised no one.

It is abundantly clear that the elites in the US have not been overly anxious to harm the cartels. Police forces, constantly under attack by an irresponsible media, shrinking in size and facing substantial budget cuts, have been hamstrung by ideological regulations that have cost the lives of law enforcement and civilians alike. Since criminals outgun and outnumber police by a huge margin, it is surprising that the numbers of police brutality figures are as low as they are. In Los Angeles, there are about 9,800 police officers including bureaucrats and those otherwise not on the street. The majority are non-white. In the city alone, there are over 400 gangs with a membership at roughly 45,000 individuals.

There are about 30,000 gangs in the US with a membership estimated at 1.4 million active members. They are militarized. Since 2009, gang membership has increased by 40%, with most of the recruiting coming from recent immigrants from Latin America. They are encouraged to get employment in the military or law enforcement fields. They have their own intelligence services, training methods and codes. In Mexico, the Los Zetas narcotics cartel has taken the next logical step: openly confronting law enforcement and defeating them in open combat (FBI Threat Assessment, 2011).

The cartels, like the gangs, are fully militarized. Attacks on Mexican army and police positions feature armor, aircraft and sophisticated intelligence and reconnaissance. Criminal groups like the Gulf Cartel own large portions of land along the border under shell companies. Violence among the cartels and their employees has escalated, killing many Mexican and American law enforcement officials. Running guns and drugs are major sources of income for the cartels while serving their interests in other ways (McNeill, 2009).

Gangs of all sorts have a disciplined structure, an entire language of their own, and, when things get rough, the ACLU will run interference. Gangs and cartels are consolidating their forces both in the US and across the border. According to the FBI, gangs have formed disciplined paramilitary units, have infiltrated law enforcement, are awash with cash. In California, the ratio of law enforcement to gang membership is 1:8. In Texas, it is between 1:4-6. The FBI report states:

Gang members armed with high-powered weapons and knowledge and expertise acquired from employment in law enforcement, corrections, or the military will likely pose an increasing nationwide threat, as they employ these tactics and weapons against law enforcement officials, rival gang members, and civilians. Associates, friends, and family members of gangs will continue to play a pivotal role in the infiltration and acquisition of sensitive information.

Yet, the police have no voice. They seem to lack the outrage that any other group so targeted would show. Daily, police are shown on the media as thugs beating up innocent non-whites for no reason. The FBI continues:

Conversely, limited resources and budget cuts have reportedly constrained many law enforcement agencies’ ability to target and dismantle gangs in their jurisdiction. law enforcement officials nationwide report that budget issues have affected their agency’s gang unit or task force and subsequently their ability to combat gangs in their region (Threat Assessment, 2011).

Yet, the ACLU states that all of this is a figment of the FBI’s imagination. In an active campaign to protect gang members, the elite organization opines,

Overreaction to gang problems, which is driven by the assumption that those who associate with known gang members must be involved in criminal activity, even in the absence of concrete evidence that this is the case. This includes illegal mass stops and arrests, and demanding photo IDs from young men based on their race and dress instead of on their criminal conduct.

The ACLU then advocates “control” over the police lest they be too “brutal” to gang members. They also advocate dismantling police intelligence units and to reduce physical force against criminals to the absolute minimum. They advocate, instead, that “the community” spy on the police to keep them in line.

The fact that police departments seem helpless to defend themselves against this level of contempt and open obstruction shows that the police are far from powerful. The inability to fight back against gangs is not the fault of the police, but what is today open disregard of federal statutes and obstruction of justice. The media-driven climate makes it impossible to compete with disciplined gangs that do not need to follow the law.

The fact that the ACLU is financed by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institute shows, yet again, that these policies are backed by the elite of society. From the Committee report above, constant media attacks on police, and statements like the ACLU’s above, there is substantial prima facie evidence that the elite are protecting and profiting from these gangs. Motive is certainly present, as is opportunity.

In terms of the economic relations between the US and Mexico, there is a clear connection between the 1994 NAFTA agreement and the increase in both drugs and violence in the border region. The conservative journal World Net Daily, relying on testimony from American Border Patrol agents, makes a clear linkage between free trade and the massive subsequent increase in drug-related violence.

Since NAFTA forced many small farmers out of business, many of the dispossessed have shifted to more lucrative crops. Free trade here means that monstrous agricultural combines compete against small farms. As Mexican farmers have been squeezed out of their land since the passage of NAFTA, the flood of illegal immigration to the US has increased. Falling wages, the instability of the peso, and the general economic chaos in Mexico has also played a powerful role in encouraging mass immigration, especially in a North American governed by NAFTA rather than actual governments.

Drug gangs normally use illegals as mules to bring product into the US. Since the migrants need the money and protection, they are an easy mark for the cartels to manipulate (WND, 2005). As mentioned above, the Mexican security administration has a poor track record in this war. As Mexican soldiers were trained for anti-drug duty, many of these elite commandos soon took far more lucrative positions protecting the cartels and their allies.

Integrated economies, in this climate, means that the drug trade has fewer obstacles in moving products. Colombian and Peruvian cartels have made alliances with their counterparts to the north to create an empire that no single government can seem to defeat. Since a low estimate of the yearly profit from the drug trade is about $15 billion, buying politicians and judges is easy. NAFTA has forced Mexican wages down, making bribery that much easier.

On the left of the political spectrum, the argument is the same. The environmentalist web-journal Green Left has also blamed NAFTA for the increase in the drug trade from Mexico. Like World Net Daily, Green Left holds that Mexican farmers cannot compete with well-subsidized and financed American Agro-Conglomerates like Con-Agra. As Mexican land laws were liberalized, it became easy for poor peasants to lose their land. In a powerful passage that is in full agreement with more conservative analysis, Green Left states:

NAFTA has had bad consequences for workers in all three participating countries, but it is in Mexico that NAFTA has caused the most devastation.
Meaningful investment in public services has become almost non-existent. The economy is locked into a pattern of subsistence wages for the majority and obscene profits for the corporate ruling elite and foreign interests.
Workers’ share of the gross domestic product is lower than at any time in modern Mexican history — a statistic that reveals the true nature of the NAFTA project. By undermining the Mexican economy, NAFTA has greatly strengthened the drug cartels, which thrive on social instability (Rowland, 2010).

As the Mexican economy implodes, the cartels remain the only true beneficiary of NAFTA south of the border. Overall, the economic results of NAFTA in Mexico has been nothing short of disastrous. Under the circumstances, the cartels have a huge and motivated pool of unemployed poor Mexicans to choose from. Cartels and gangs have the ready cash to pay soldiers well, while the Mexican government remains mired in corruption, despite billions in US aid.

Money laundering is another, less violent, result of NAFTA and the trade it has fostered. According to the Wilson Center, about $25 billion in money is going from the US to Mexico every year, and only about .2% of this is being seized (Lee and Olson, 2012). Even more, about 30% of the federal prison population is currently made up of non-citizens (Camarota, 2004). The issue of crime alone makes the current enforcement of immigration laws in desperate need of reform.

After years of promoting NAFTA, the New York Times has finally given in, calling the agreement they once extolled as a series of “false promises.” Local Mexican firms have been dismantled in the face of Canadian and US competition. Thousands of farmers have lost their land, and millions of others are in dire poverty as the result of cheap food being imported from the US. Mexican firms now get their supplies from abroad, given the lower prices available from American suppliers. Wages have gone down in all sectors but the drug trade (Malkin, 2009).

The costs of not securing the southern border of the USA are substantial. In 2002 for example, illegal immigrants cost the federal government $26.3 billion in Medicaid, treatment for the uninsured, WIC and food stamps. Social Security and Medicare lose about $7 billion a year due to illegals. While amnesty would increase immigrant tax paying ability, it would increase costs all the more, about 118% of what they are now. The National Bureau for Economic Research (cited in Camarota, 2004) concluded that illegal immigration, especially from the unskilled, has a substantial negative effect on American wages across the board.

If amnesty were to be extended today, the cost would hover around $2.6 trillion to the US economy (Rector 2007). This might be a low estimate, because the typical number of 12 million illegals in the US might be low. In addition, if the families of newly amnestied illegals also come into America, the economic impact will be far worse.

States spend roughly $6,950 per household yearly on illegal immigrants. These reflect the costs of welfare programs, crime and incarceration. This seems unfair considering the immigrants who have legally satisfied their documents could only access a limited number of benefits as mentioned in the reforms of the 1996 welfare laws (Greenberg, et al, 2002, 27).

Fox News reports that the children of illegals cost the taxpayer $600 million yearly in Los Angeles County alone. Los Angeles county Supervisor Michael Antonevich estimates that overall immigration costs Los Angeles County about $1.6 billion in 2010, and this number is increasing. The fact that children born to illegals are automatically American citizens makes this number a bit difficult to calculate, but often, having children in the US is a means to solidify the illegals position in their new country. In fact, Antonevich estimates that this money, that spent on illegals, comprise almost a quarter of all Los Angeles welfare payments.

The Heritage Foundation estimates the overall cost of absorbing illegal immigrants is far higher than what is normally reported. In its 2013 report, the overall welfare burden (for all people living in the US) is about $900 billion, including Medicare and Social Security. The problem is that educated households pay more in taxes then they receive in benefits. Less educated households are the opposite. Uneducated households pay about $11,000 in taxes yearly, while getting almost $50,000 in state benefits on average. This includes a large amount of immigrants from Latin American. Illegals, if they contribute $4200 in sales taxes yearly, would also absorb about $27,000 per family in benefits (Rector, 2013).

Lawful immigrants from Latin America serve the US no better. They receive about twice the amount of welfare benefits that illegals do. Partly, this is because the welfare system automatically covers all children born to immigrant parents in the US, regardless of their status. Without a high school diploma, legal immigrants take in about $20,000 yearly in benefits while paying about half of that in taxes.

The New York Times reports that California in general, and LA County in particular are entering a severe budget crisis, at least in part due to these unbalanced payments. California is now in the worst fiscal crisis in her history, and both Sacramento and local governments are slashing welfare benefits. Up until now, California and other states hit by illegal immigration have been artificially kept afloat though federal subsidies. That age, however, is over. Due to both legal and illegal immigration, California, though containing 12% of the US population, accounts for about 30% of all Americans on welfare.

There are roughly 3.5 million illegal households in the US. About 40% are living under the poverty line, and their average income, according to rough estimates, is about $38,000 almost half what legal immigrants and the native born make. This $38,000 of course, is not subject to income taxes. Half of illegal households do not have anyone with a high school diploma. About 75% have a high school diploma or at least a few years of high school.

Medicare and Social security are “direct benefit” programs, meaning that one need not prove need to receive benefits. This also includes unemployment payments and workers compensation. In 2010, the federal government alone spent $1.33 trillion on these non-means tested benefits. Today, the money is simply not there at the state or federal level. For those households with no high school diploma, the amount of direct payments received is about $14,000. These households pay about $6,000 in federal taxes.

Among lawful immigrants, the numbers are $12,000 and $7000 respectively. For illegals, they receive very little in direct benefits. This, however, should be ignored because, quite often, legal immigrants from the same country apply for benefits for the sake of those who do not qualify. The figures also do not show the benefits received from just the children of these immigrants, who, of course, are automatically qualified to receive direct payments. On the other hand, means tested welfare costs per illegal household is about $5,000, while the cost of educating them in the public school system is almost $14,000 yearly. It is estimated that “public goods” such as police or fire protection cost about $4,000 yearly per illegal household (Rector, 2013).

More than anything else, illegals hurt the poorest Americans. Since the number of illegals have increased the share of Americans without a high school diploma, low wage jobs are getting scarcer. It is true that, in most sectors of the US economy, immigration takes jobs away from natives. For example, in positions that require management skills, native unemployment in this field sits at around 250,000. However, the number of recently arrived immigrants hired in this field is about 200,000. this is because the newly arrived are willing to work for less. In the business or financial world, there are about 144,000 unemployed natives.

Recent immigrants have filled 110,000 of these positions. In health care (that is, doctors and nurses, not support staff), the numbers are more depressing. Native unemployment in this field numbers about 65,000 people. Yet, since 2000, immigrants have filled over 175,000 positions in this field. These numbers are not a coincidence. They prove a deliberate policy of employers to fill these jobs with immigrants who are considered to be more docile and demand less pay (Camarota, 2007).

It is not difficult, given the above, to connect NAFTA, immigration and the American budget disaster. The elite demand cheap labor and benefit from a racial mixture which creates distrust and serves as a barrier to any common action. While police are attacked and gangs proliferate with minimal resistance, the elite have private security and gated communities. The wealthy and powerful have not reached their position by virtue and restraint. Their moral relativism is strategic and profitable. The problem is that thousands of lives are sacrificed as a result.

Part of the problem is that, while the US has the capacity to enforce border laws, Mexico is clearly losing its own drug war, which means more trouble for the US. There is, as the Wilson Center puts it, “institutional disparity” between the two countries. Hence, immigration issues are only being addressed by one side of the border – the US side. NAFTA, the regulations that govern trade among North American states, deals with the free movement of people, not just products.
There can be no question that American capitalism benefits from the cheap labor coming across the border. In 1996, Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez publicly advocated a totally open border. The same idea was pushed by the American Competitiveness Council (Edwards, 2007).

It comes down to three issues. First, the purely economic need for cheap labor, including highly skilled labor. Second, for the Regime to have a large, militarized, reserve army of Hispanics to stop white American nationalism. This cannot be understated. Finally, to have a massively increasing pool of voters to destroy any right wing party at the polls.

No modern elite in the modern era has ever received their positions of power by being stupid or moral.



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Fox News (2011) Welfare Tab for Children of Illegal Immigrants Estimated at $600M in L.A. County

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Matthew Raphael Johnson

Matthew Raphael Johnson is a scholar of Russian Orthodox history and philosophy. He completed his doctorate at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1999. He is a former professor of both history and political science at the University of Nebraska (as a graduate student), Penn State University and Mount St. Mary’s University. Since 1999, he was the editor (and is presently Senior Researcher) at The Barnes Review, a well-known renegade journal of European history. Dr. Johnson is the author of eight books. Six are from Hromada Books, "Sobornosti: Essays on the Old Faith;" "Heavenly Serbia and the Medieval Idea;" "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality: Lectures on Medieval Russia;" "The Ancient Orthodox Tradition in Russian Literature: "The Foreign Policy of Mass Society: The Failure of Western Engagement in the Middle East;" and "Officially Approved Dissent: Alasdair MacIntyre’s Strategic Ambiguity in His Critique of Modernity." And two published by The Barnes Review, "The Third Rome: Holy Russia, Tsarism and Orthodoxy;" and "Russian Populist: The Political Thought of Vladimir Putin."