The dope trade is booming in our own backyard and it seems Arizona is open for business.
According to ICE nearly a quarter of the drugs and more than half the cash linked to cartels is funneled through Arizona.
"We lost the drug war a long time ago," said former Mesa Master Police Officer Bill Richardson.
Richardson has worked to stop the flow of narcotics into Arizona for more than two decades.
"It's evolved from the point of a mom and pop operation, to where they measure their profits by tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars," Richardson said.
It seems organized crime has free reign in Arizona. Smugglers are carting in a seemingly endless supply of drugs and laundering an estimated $2 million a day back to Mexico.
"They're extremely good at what they do. We give them credit for brewing beer and making tequila and running border town brothels. But I don't think we've ever given them the credit they deserve from the standpoint of legal operations and illegal operations," Richardson said.
The problem of cartels isn't unique to Arizona. What is unique, is how comfortably they operate here.
Other border states like Texas and California have changed their individual strategies in the war on drugs. Both now have systems in place that allow information to be shared within their own state, giving them a more unified front.
"The other states are way ahead of us. We are the weakest link in the border chain," Richardson said.
Richardson believes it's all about politics. He said over the past seven years the state has focused its resources on going after undocumented immigrants and ignoring the threat of organized crime.
"Chasing dishwashers and chasing car washers has become very politically popular. It's also been packaged and marketed by people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Sheriff Paul Babeu. It's been used to facilitate their political careers," Richardson said.
CBS 5 asked Babeu if that's true. The Pinal County Sheriff said he stands up to enforce all the laws.
"In Pinal County we haven't gone after one dishwasher or waiter or landscaper. When we go after the criminals, I go after the most serious criminals, the cartels, the human smuggling. Sheriff Joe is his own sheriff he can do what he wants. His focus has been to enforce all the laws as well. He chooses to go about it in a very different way," Babeu said.
Copyright 2012 KPHO(Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Wednesday, May 22 2013 2:29 PM EDT2013-05-22 18:29:48 GMT
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