Extradition to the United States. For years, major Colombian drug lords feared it. “Living by the motto ‘Better a tomb in Colombia than a prison cell in the United States,’ [Pablo] Escobar unleashed a wave of car bombings and assassinations that forced the Colombian government to water down extradition laws.” Extradition between the United States and Colombia was banned until 1997, and in recent years, it seems that heads of Colombian drug cartels once again have something to fear. According to a recent CNN article, more than 1,300 of Colombia’s top crime bosses and their most dangerous enforcers have been extradited to the United States to face trafficking charges there. The article states that the “beauty” of these extraditions is not their “power to stop drug smuggling.” (Apparently the evidence is minimal that extraditions have any direct effect on drug trafficking). The “beauty”, according to William Rempel, is that extraditions in Colombia “continue to splinter the leadership of trafficking gangs, keeping them in a perpetual state of rebuilding. In short, extradition disorganizes organized crime.”
As a result, Mexico, a country that is experiencing some of the worst drug violence in the world, is beginning to show more willingness to extradite some of its major drug lords accused of trafficking offenses in the United States. However, currently there are only about a dozen Mexican drug lords in various stages of extradition. Some law enforcement officials who advocate for making extraditions easier between the United States and Mexico say “there is no prison anywhere in Mexico or Colombia that puts these guys out of business like U.S. prisons.” On the other hand, critics point to the fact that increased extraditions to the United States means increased federal prosecutions. Increased federal prosecutions and more convictions, in turn lead to expensive extended incarcerations and a possible strain on the system. Do you think Mexico should continue to embrace extraditions of drug smugglers to the United States if they are accused of federal trafficking offenses? Do you think extraditions could significantly impact the horrible drug violence that organized cartels inflict on Mexico? And is it possible that there are any factors that could possibly not make this policy as effective in Mexico as it has been in Colombia?