The Associated Press reports that there was a systematic review of 20 years worth of international studies recently published that concludes that when police crack down on drugs, violence almost always escalates. The studies have shown that violence will usually come as a direct result of heavier enforcement of drug policies, and the researchers have come up with several reasons for this. First, when a large and sophisticated drug operation or drug lord is taken out, a smaller and usually less sophisticated counterpart will rise in its place. In many cases when a top drug lord is taken out, there is a struggle of power to replace him that will inevitably end in violence. This trend can be seen throughout history; the murder rate rose as a result of both the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and the drug crackdown efforts of Mexican president Felipe Calderon when he took office in 2006 both triggered waves of violent black market activities.
When governments adopt tougher stances on drug eradication efforts, it also drives up the prices of the drugs due to the extra risk involved in trafficking coupled with the decrease in supply (and subsequent increase in demand). Drug trade becomes even more lucrative and profitable, albeit more risky, when enforcement steps up. There will never be a large enough army to sufficiently wipe out all drug use and drug trafficking. When politicians get tough on drugs, that’s when the violence rises. The recent murders, beheadings, kidnappings, etc. that have happened in Mexican border towns are a direct result of a stricter drug policy. We need to change the way we handle narcotics regulation soon, before more innocent bystanders are killed.