Photo: Mexican police remove plastic bags containing the dismembered bodies of journalists, in Boca del Rio, Mexico, Thursday, May 3, 2012.
CHICAGO, May 7, 2012 — This is the third in a series of articles (here and here) on street gangs and drug lords. Associated Press reported the dangers of reporting on drug cartels in Mexico. Journalists and photographers are being brutally tortured and murdered just for doing their jobs.
Reporters and photographers are trying and dying to get stories out.
The American media is relatively mute on the menace of major street gangs and drug lords in our cities.
The media reports the body count or the numbers of wounded. They do not report on the people who lead criminal entities. There is no in depth reporting on the organizations, their structure, hierarchy, or leadership. They report on gangs and drug cartels as if they were amorphous faceless organizations.
The war on drugs and the ever-evolving war on gangs are not failing for the disingenuous reasons you are led to believe. The academics, progressives and libertarians, profiteers in the rehab industry, race baiters, experts with no expertise, and of course politicians who will say anything are all lying to the media and American public.
The given reasons for failures are distortions, fabrications, or outright lies. When people have no clue, they must prove they are intelligent, justify their expertise and grant money, and have a need to be smarter than everyone else. They make stuff up.
The wars on drugs and gang violence were lost for two reasons: metrics and politics.
Whenever you fight a war you need some type of metric to determine results. In war it is body counts, enemy casualties, POWs, and real estate taken and held. In law enforcement, unfortunately, it is heads. Heads are arrests. The more heads the more successful the war. This was really wrong and narrow.
When you are forced to measure success by heads you only get the little guys to generate numbers. The small dealers and middlemen are the soldiers of the drug trade. You do not get the major distributors, financiers, importers, or cartel leaders. You rarely get Mr. Big.
The same holds true for street gangs. The leadership hierarchy rarely gets knocked out.
One of the best tools law enforcement has to destroy organized criminal entities is the long-term investigation. Long-term investigations can take years or even decades to come to fruition. When they do, the leadership hierarchy falls like dominos and the organizations are thrown into chaos, severely weakened or crumble. These investigations do not generate a regular stream of numbers.
It is hard to justify spending millions or billions of dollars for comparatively small results, even though taking down the leadership has major consequences for drug and major gangs organizations. Just like it did for traditional organized crime.
Politicians and bureaucrats wanted to see a bang for all the bucks they spend. Law enforcement works for and is funded by the bureaucrats and politicians. They gave them what they wanted.
The drug business is willing to lose large quantities of product as the cost of doing business. For every kilo they lose an exponential amount gets through. Dope is cheap to manufacture, especially in third world countries. The same holds true for people. For every one arrested there are more to take their place.
Street gangs are ever evolving. Like traditional organized crime, they are always recruiting young people. They start them out in petty crime, and bring them through the ranks.
The political reason is the most dangerous. In the 1960s there was billions of dollars anti-poverty money floating around. Some of it was targeted at gang prevention. Social workers, community organizations, and clergy allied themselves with the gangs and the politicians to grab that money.
The gangs got larger and stronger while getting credibility and immunity for being part of “social change”. Politicians were eager and greedy to get that money and spread it around. It made them look magnanimous. The major gangs who directly or indirectly received these funds were immune from most law enforcement activity.
The gangs also became politicized. In Chicago, for example, it is not unusual for the Democrats to utilize street gangs to get out the vote or work the streets up to and on Election Day. Some gang leaders turned to social or political activism as a ploy for credibility and immunity. It worked very well.
The ministers, social workers, community organizers, national organizations, racial or ethnic groups, even reporters, columnists, enable and abet these criminal organizations. They portray them as victims of society instead of people who made free conscious choices to become criminals.
The media has ignored this.
Editors and publishers are afraid of any backlash from the so-called community, which are usually a vocal minority of politically or socially connected whiners and complainers. They are doing a great disservice to the larger public they claim to serve.
In Mexico reporters are literally dying to get the stories out. In America they are suppressing the stories to appear noble, racially and ethnically sensitive, and politically palatable.
Children are still being murdered in our streets. Poison is still being sold. The gangs are growing in strength and power. The drug lords are getting wealthier.
In Mexico journalists are being murdered for reporting the truth. Something is very wrong in American journalism.
Peter V. Bella is a retired Chicago Police Officer, freelance journalist and photojournalist, cook, and raconteur. He likes to be the irreverent sharp stick that pokes, prods, and annoys. His opinions are his and his alone.
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