Economics of Drug Policy and the Drug War

36. Money Laundering and Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations

"Mexico is a major drug producing and transit country. Proceeds from the illicit drug trade leaving the United States are the principal source of funds laundered through the Mexican financial system. Other significant sources of illegal proceeds being laundered include corruption, kidnapping, extortion, piracy, human trafficking, and trafficking in firearms. Sophisticated and well-organized drug trafficking organizations based in Mexico take advantage of the extensive U.S.-Mexico border, the large flow of legitimate remittances, Mexico’s proximity to Central American countries, and the high volume of legal commerce to conceal transfers to Mexico. The smuggling of bulk shipments of U.S. currency into Mexico and the repatriation of the funds into the United States via couriers or armored vehicles, trade, and wire transfers remain favored methods for laundering drug proceeds. Though the combination of a sophisticated financial sector and a large cash-based informal sector complicates the problem, the 2010 implementation of U.S. dollar deposit restrictions reduced the amount of bulk cash repatriation back to the United States via the formal financial sector by approximately 70 percent, or $10 billion. According to U.S. authorities, drug trafficking organizations send between $19 and $29 billion annually to Mexico from the United States, though the Government of Mexico disputes this figure. Since 2002, Mexico has seized a total of more than $500 million in bulk currency shipments."

"International Narcotics Control Strategy Report: Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of State Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, March 2014), pp. 161-162.

37. State and Local Spending on Prisons

"In 2003, 7.2% of total State and local expenditures was for justice activities – 3% for police protection, 2.6% for corrections, and 1.5% for judicial and legal services (figure 3).
"By comparison, 29% of State and local government spending went to education, 14% to public welfare, 7% to health and hospitals, and 4% to interest on debt."

Hughes, Kristen A., "Justice Expenditure and Employment in the United States, 2003" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 2006), NCJ212260, p. 4.

38. Historical Prices of Illicit Drugs

"In summary, prices for powder cocaine, crack, and heroin declined sharply in the 1980s and have declined more gradually since then, with periodic interruptions by modest price spikes that have usually persisted for a year or less. For d-methamphetamine, the pattern is broadly similar, but the price spikes appear to be larger and longer-lasting, particularly for 1989–1991. Marijuana prices have followed a very different pattern, increasing from 1981 to 1991, then declining through 2000 and increasing over the past three years."

Office of National Drug Control Policy, "The Price and Purity of Illicit Drugs: 1981 Through the Second Quarter of 2003" (Washington DC: Executive Office of the President, November 2004), Publication Number NCJ 207768, p. vii.

39. Economics - Data - 2008 - 4-11-10

(Costs of Juvenile Justice System) "Approximately 93,000 young people are held in juvenile justice facilities across the United States.1 Seventy percent of these youth are held in state-funded, post adjudication, residential facilities, at an average cost of $240.99 per day per youth.2"

Justice Policy Institute, "The Costs of Confinement: Why Good Juvenile Justice Policies Make Good Fiscal Sense," (Washington, DC: May 2009), p. 1.

40. Mexican Marijuana Imports to the US

"• Mexican DTOs’ gross revenues from moving marijuana across the border into the United States and selling it to wholesalers is likely less than $2 billion, and our preferred estimate is closer to $1.5 billion. This figure does not include revenue from DTO production and distribution in the United States, which is extremely difficult to estimate with existing data.
"• The ubiquitous claim that 60 percent of Mexican DTO export revenues come from U.S. marijuana consumption (Fainaru and Booth, 2009; Yes on 19, undated) should not be taken seriously. No publicly available source verifies or explains this figure and subsequent analyses revealed great uncertainty about the estimate (GAO, 2007). Our analysis— though preliminary on this point—suggests that 15–26 percent is a more credible range of the share of drug export revenues attributable to marijuana."

Kilmer, Beau; Caulkins, Jonathan P.; Bond, Brittany M.; and Reuter, Peter H., "Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico: Would Legalizing Marijuana in California Help?" International Programs and Drug Policy Research Center (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, October 2010), p. 3.