Fail: The War on Drugs

Narco-smuggling sub shows continued futility of current strategy.

Posted: 02/16/2011 04:56 PM EST
Drug-smuggling Submarine

Did you hear about the huge drug-smuggling submarine the Colombian army discovered in a river 275 miles southwest of Bogota on Sunday? It’s pretty amazing.

 A 99-foot-long fiberglass vessel with two diesel engines, air conditioning, and a 16-foot periscope, the “narcosub” can carry eight tons of cocaine and a crew of six from Bogota to the coast of Mexico—a nine-day trip, completely under water the whole time. It cost an estimated $2 million to build. (Oh, and this isn’t the first example of an underwater vessel being used to smuggle drugs.)

To me, this is more evidence of the futility of the war on drugs, the wrong-headed policy of trying to combat narcotics trafficking at all. Whatever methods and technology various governments (mainly the U.S. government, who funds most other governments’ efforts in this arena) come up with to stop the international flow of drugs,  dealers will come up with newer and better methods and technology to traffic them. This is because people want to do drugs. And as long as drugs are illegal, procuring them will cost enough money to make it worth any enterprising criminal’s while.

A nine-day trip inside a fiberglass tube with five other full-grown adults, underwater the whole time? It reminds me of the scene in Godfather II when Michael sees the Cuban revolutionary blow himself up in the army jeep, and knows the government is going to fall. You can’t fight that kind of commitment. 

The war against drugs costs us so much. Not only in money, but in lives ruined by unjust, unnecessary imprisonment, and in the lives lost to violence. Its time to try another way.    


Image:  LUIS ROBAYO/AFP/Getty Images