Along the U.S./Mexico border, parts of the wall are only a few feet high, making it easy for cartels to smuggle drugs into the U.S.
The center for drug smuggling in Arizona is Nogales, the New York Times reports. On a nearly daily basis, smugglers can be seen with backpacks scaling fences to bring illicit drugs across the border.
Col. Frank Milstead, head of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said, “This is a day-in and day-out fight. I can’t tell you that a day goes by that we don’t actually interdict somebody smuggling some sort of drug into the state.”
A concern for law enforcement officials is that cartels will strengthen and attempt to penetrate the U.S.’s legal marijuana markets. However, with marijuana legalization creating a large decrease in demand for cartels’ black market marijuana, it’s more likely that their strength and efforts will diminish.
Legal recreational marijuana is already a reality in four states, and deputy campaign manager for Arizona’s Prop 205, Carlos Alfaro, suggests that those states have seen a reduction in marijuana seizures by Border Patrol agents.
In a period of four years, spanning from 2011 through 2015, drug seizures made by Border Patrol agents fell 39-percent. In Tucson, Arizona, which is one of the most prevalent smuggling corridors in the U.S., a drop in drug seizures of 28-percent is noted. Arizona legalized medical marijuana use in 2010 and has one of the most successful medical marijuana programs in the U.S.
Tucson Sector Chief Paul Beeson stated that, “Cartels are seeking to increase market share in other controlled substances, notably heroin and methamphetamine.” But marijuana is still the most prevalent drug confiscated at the border.
“Now cartels have competition,” said Alfaro. “They have to compete with legitimate businesses in the U.S.”