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What You Should Know / May 21, 2010

www.foreignpolicy.com -- Every year, the United States illegally imports more than 200 metric tons of cocaine, 1,500 metric tons of marijuana, 15 metric tons of heroin, and 20 metric tons of methamphetamines. The more than $50 billion it has spent on interdiction efforts over the past quarter-century have barely made a dent in this demand. The efforts have, however, altered the structure of the drug trade. The production of marijuana and heroin in Mexico through the 1960s and 1970s was the province of small-time operators, many of them family-type organizations, which could move drugs across a laxly policed U.S.-Mexico border without much risk of capture. But the cocaine epidemic and the advent of the U.S.-led "war on drugs" changed the nature of the business.

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