May 14, 2005
The article in this morning's LaCronica,
a Mexicali newspaper, was titled Policia sorprende
a los sanfelipenses. Police surprise the citizens
of San Felipe.
The article went on to describe a dragnet operation that
harvested thirteen people suspected of trafficking contraband.
This was the result of a one and a half month surveillance
of the town, aided by intelligence supplied by the State
police's vehicle ownership and seat belt check-stops.
The police concentrated their efforts on four colonias
in San Felipe --Gavilanes, Centro, Arcos and Zona Comerical.
Seventy seven agents, twenty patrol cars, two police
dogs and a helicopter were involved in yesterday's arrests.
Drugs discovered on the principle perpetrator among the
thirteen were 100 grams of cocaine and 30 grams of "ice"
A different article in the paper listed the volume of
drugs captured in various northern Baja cities and towns
during the last four months. Tijuana hosted about 6 tons
of police-detected contraband and 1,919 people were consequently
'detained'. Mexicali confessed to nearly 5 tons and 700
people detained. Ensenada reported a little over 4 tons
and 416 people were arrested. Tecate had a modest 60 kilos
and 105 people were investigated. And what of San Felipe?
Three and three quarter tons of contraband were uncovered
in the last four months and 34 people were arrested.
San Felipe is not a large town. Possibly 20,000 citizens,
many of them seasonal. It's staggering to think that over
60% of the police-detected drug volume of Tijuana, a city
of 1.2 million people (110 times the size), was found
in San Felipe in a four month period. The math would suggest
that if San Felipe matched Tijuana in size, the police
would be uncovering 1,236 tons of contraband a year here.
And since it's well known that only a small percentage
of drugs actually falls into the hands of the police,
the mind reels at how much is really flowing through this
port town. Only recently, as reported by LaCronica, the
AFI (Agencia Federal de Investigacion) discovered 142
kilos of marijuana bricks on the shores of San Felipe.
There were no arrests because the packages had been abandoned.
The streets of San Felipe need to be cleaned. This diminutive
port has three drug rehab centers and two AA meeting halls,
the number of substance abuse facilities generally seen
in towns ten times the population size. The problem here
is obviously extensive and immediate. Treatment centers
are ineffectual because the patient returns to the same
environment that facilitated his or her problem to begin
with. It is the environment that has to be cleaned, not
its victims. Attacking the effects rather than the cause
is a lot like believing weaponry has nothing to do with
wars. Possibly it doesn't, but it certainly has something
to do with casualties. Without weapon manufacturers, where
would war be? Without crack labs and growing fields, where
would San Felipe's drug problem be?