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Cartel Wars Interfering With Drug Trafficking in West Texas

Is it possible that the violent wars going on in the south are stemming the free flow of illegal drugs? Are the cartels helping the government by engaging in too much violence to focus on the core of their business?

According to a recent news report, this is exactly what is happening in Juárez. Authorities even say it could be the reason for a steep drop in the amount of marijuana seized last year at “stash houses” in El Paso.

Reports last year from the West Texas Stash House Unit showed the seizure of roughly 4,200 pounds of marijuana. Total seizures in 2008 were 23,700 and in 2007, 41,000 pounds.

This drop in seizures is considered to be extraordinary as it was not uncommon in prior years for narcotic investigators to seize one ton of marijuana in a single raid. Authorities estimate there are hundreds of stash houses in El Paso. These houses are used to store drugs that are smuggled across the border before they are transported to cities throughout the nation.

The drop in stash house seizures is due in part to the challenges smugglers are facing as of late according to U.S. narcotics investigators. These challenges include law enforcement and the Mexican army, as well as enemy narco-traffickers in an ongoing war between the Juárez and Sinaloa drug cartels.

"Seizures are down, the prices of drugs are up, and further, the purity of cocaine is down," said Special Agent Diana Apodaca of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in El Paso.

Last year, roughly 2,900 people were killed in Juárez as a result of the fight for control of smuggling routes and street drug sales. Already in 2010, there have more than 100 slayings.

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