On Monday, October 20, 2014, it was reported that twenty-two people were arrested for handling and transporting methamphetamine in Contra Costa County in California. The people involved were affiliated with Mexico’s Sinaloa Federation, which is a drug cartel that moves methamphetamine from Mexico to California with the help of another gang, the “Nitro Gang.” The Federal Bureau of Intelligence in Contra Costa County noted that it was the county’s largest meth bust ever. They recovered 500 pounds of meth, which is worth $18 million on the streets.
The Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are working together on a project called “Operation Road Trip.” This is a culmination of several meth investigations in California that has already led to a total of 67 arrests for the possession and distribution of 1109 pounds of meth. The meth recovered is worth $40 million, not including the $1.82 million in cash that has been recovered at the scenes as well.
Analyzing the numbers above, clearly the manufacturing, transporting, and the distribution of meth are all very lucrative businesses. Consider the 22-man cartel crew that was arrested this week. If they are to get away, they are all making tens of thousands of dollars (a cut of the $18 million) instead of doing hard time. The methamphetamine cooks are reeling in even more dough, as they keep a much larger slice of the $18 million than the drug mules. Finally, the owner, (the head of the cartel and its operations) is probably keeping upwards of half of the revenue.
When comparing the amount of money made by a cartel member in a shipment, and the amount of money the average American makes in a given week, (around $1,000) the numbers are not even close. We can see that a cartel member even on the bottom of the food chain makes what an average American makes in months of work, all in one shipment in a matter of days. These calculations help define how large-scale drug problems are a serious issue worldwide, all stemming from economics.
Since the demand for drugs has been pretty constant over the years, the best way to shut down the use of drugs is to cut off the supply. The serious problem is when deranged people realize that they can make tremendous amounts of fast money by building up the supply curve of drugs to reach the existing demand curve at the market equilibrium. The issue is reborn each time new groups of people are willing to put their skin on the line to make big money illegally.
As you know, federal law enforcement has existing punishments for the possession and distribution of methamphetamine. Possessing crystal methamphetamine is of course, a felony, and typically results in jail or prison time of some kind. The more meth confiscated at the arrest, the longer the prison sentence. Even an amount as small as 5 grams can earn a person a 10-year sentence in prison. Imagine getting busted with 500 pounds of methamphetamine on you. At that point, it can very quickly become a shootout, since a lot of criminals would rather die than rot in prison. In retrospect, a drug cartel is one of the most dangerous businesses out there; anyone involved must have a death wish.
Hernandez, Jodi. “22 Arrested, 500 Pounds of Meth Seized in California-Mexican Cartel Bust.” NBC Bay Area. NBC, 20 Oct. 2014. Web. 23 Oct. 2014.