Desert Invasion - U.S.

Expert Details Scope of Border Drug Flow

By Jim Forsyth,

One of the leading experts on Mexico and Mexican border issues in the US says illegal drug shipments from Mexico into the US is now a $20 billion a year business for the Mexican economy, making it the country's third largest source of income, behind oil and money sent home by Mexican citizens living legally, and illegally, in the United States.

Dr. John Mason Hart, a professor at the University of Houston and the author of several books on US Mexico relations, told a San Antonio business group that is a powerful incentive for the Mexican government not only not to stop illegal drug trafficking, but to actively support it by sponsoring military incursions into the US to support drug smuggling, something the Mexican government has repeatedly denied.

"The Mexican economy would collapse if vigorous action were taken, or at least there would be a very serious crisis, if you would cut off one fourth of their foreign earnings," Hart told Downtown Rotary Club.

Hart says to feed the habits of 17 million US drug users, the two rival drug export cartels now fighting for control of the lucrative smuggling route through Nuevo Laredo provide 90% of the marijuana smoked in the US, in addition to 90% of the between 180 and 320 metric tons of cocaine consumed in the US....

Hart says the most common method of transporting drugs into the US from Mexico is to pay poor Mexican farmers $75 to transport the drugs in backpacks to seven landing strips along the border, and then pay pilots $30,000 per trip to fly 1200 pound payloads into the US in small planes which fly 50 yards above the ground to avoid AWACS detection, to arranged drop off points in the US....

He says when a Mexican general who makes the equivalent of $25,000 a year can make one million dollars by 'looking the other way,' at the border...

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