Thursday, December 02, 2010

AMERICA - Colorado and Mexican Drug Cartels

"In Colorado, Authorities Battle Mexican Drug Cartels' Business Plans" PBS Newshour Transcript 12/1/2010 (includes video)


TOM BEARDEN (Newshour): The violence of the Mexican drug wars may seem far away, but the drugs and the dealers that fuel them are close to home. Colorado Springs is best known as the home of the Air Force Academy and the Army's Fort Carson.

But this quiet, mostly conservative city of 400,000 is also a major distribution point for Mexican cartels.

Matthew Barden is the agent in charge of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration office in Colorado Springs.

MATTHEW BARDEN, Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration: This house was a -- a focal point of one of our recent investigations into a large methamphetamine organization.

TOM BEARDEN: He says Mexican drug cartels began exporting large amounts of methamphetamine after law enforcement began cracking down on production in the U.S. five years ago. Huge quantities of heroin and cocaine are also funneled through here.

MATTHEW BARDEN: The drug dealers that are sent from Mexico to run these cell organizations in small-town America, and their goal is to sell as much drugs as they can and make as much money as they possibly can.

TOM BEARDEN: Their business is fueled by drug consumption. The United States has one of the highest rates of illegal drug use of any country in the world. Drug use in Colorado Springs is on a par with the rest of the nation.

But what worries District Attorney Dan May is the fact that members of the Mexican cartels live and work in his city.

DANIEL MAY, district attorney, El Paso County, Colorado: We have had drugs flowing into our high schools. Unfortunately, in the last few years, we have seen heroin usage, in particular in a couple of our high schools, increasing.

There's no question that it goes back to the Mexican cartels. And we have actually made arrests of -- of Mexican cartel members directly supplying it to high school kids.

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