Know your dealer

The variety itself is almost intoxicating. Like a sommelier’s list of rare vintages, the underground, illegal pharmaceutical buffet beckons users into the local facet of the “Drug War.” But could a dangerous conflict really derive its fuel from a service this enticing and available, and treated with such high-end exclusivity?  

“Good evening, I have some quality ‘soda’ or ‘white’ at quantities of 20s, 40s, quarters, and of course the traditional ‘8-Ball,’ if you’d like. I also carry some brown, aka tar, or perhaps you’d be interested in some Adderall to spice up the night? I’ve got X, too, and you can wind down the night with these quality Zs. And, of course, I offer the greenest, most potent ‘bud’ of the season.” 

Whether you justify your drug use based on environmental and cultural custom, or simply as self-medication, it’s likely that the illicit substance of your choice traveled much farther than the distance to your house from your “dealer’s.” And who is this unlicensed prescription-writer, a sometimes-friendly, usually “legit,” and seemingly trustworthy person? The typical dealer is one of thousands of low-level American foot soldiers of the bling generation whose connection to Mexican or Colombian drug cartels is no more than a Hispanic surname. The network of distribution on the supply side of the “Drug War” is at once so vast and so local that almost any import drug is just a phone call away. If you’re interested in scoring but don’t know where to begin, close your eyes, pick out a random person in a random crowd, and it’s likely the “six degrees of (drug) separation” will hook you up in no time.

The U.S. faction of the Drug War is largely consumer-side, and most Americans’ biggest risk is getting some “bad stuff” or overdosing. You can control your level of involvement; your Mexican counterparts unfortunately do not enjoy that degree of autonomy. According to Kristin Bricker, contributor to the popular Narcosphere website (, fewer than one out of 35,000 Americans suffers a fatal overdose from drugs imported from Mexico each year, compared to the one out of 20,000 Mexican nationals killed in the turf struggle in Mexico in 2008 alone. That year, just over 50 percent of America’s meth was imported from Mexico, and about 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the U.S. passed through our southern neighbor. We reportedly grow more pot than we import, although some of that may be cultivated by drug cartels operating out of Smokey the Bear’s sights in our national forests; recent estimates put our Mexican pot import at 15-25 percent of our consumption.

The rough estimates of total drug-cartel related deaths in Mexico (rough in the sense that many bodies go missing but are unreported for fear of retribution) are as follows: 2,700 in 2007; 6,612 in 2008; and 6,600 in 2009 (again according to Narcosphere). Mexico-based newspaper El Universal reports that the range of casualties could be anywhere from 13,000 to 15,000 deaths in the last three to four years. And if you were wondering if these people died from having “too much fun” at a party or nightclub, you may want to reevaluate your appreciation for that next “joint” or “line.”  

Certainly the hip-hop generation’s iconic-drug-dealer-turned-rapper is accepted by the mainstream youth, not as a counter-culture figure but almost as a job position for which you’d be lucky to qualify. Countless songs and music videos are suffused with this thug / drug dealer mentality, while unconsciously denying where the product originates. You’d think that once the youth in America realize the toll of drug use on the Mexican population, consumption would subside, but it hasn’t to date. Most low-level drug dealers in American suburbs have no idea beyond their connections (usually one or two upper-level guys above them) and choose to be unaware of the gun-toting narco-traffickers beheading dealers and civilians across the border. But, hey! We all need an escape, right? If you smoke a joint, the terrorists in the Middle East really win nothing, but as long as there is a demand for illegal drugs in America, innocent Mexicans will shed blood. That is a rap song yet to be popularized at “good parties” throughout American suburbs. •

Baldemar Villarreal is a Texas-based writer, music composer/producer, philosopher, and socio-political commentator with a bohemian aftertaste.  

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