Bill Torpey - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
When U.S. law enforcement officials last month busted a Mexican drug cartel moving tons of dope and millions of dollars, they announced it in Atlanta.
The distribution ring stretched from Colombia to New York to Italy, but the operation’s key hub was Atlanta. Long a commerce and transportation center for giants like UPS and Delta Air Lines, Atlanta tags itself as an “international city.” This time, it embodied that definition in an illicit way.
Federal drug agent Jack Killorin calls Atlanta “the new Southwest border.”
“All the things that make this area attractive to perfectly legitimate businesses make it attractive to drug smugglers: transportation, good communications, population, even good climate,” said Killorin, who heads the Atlanta high-intensity drug trafficking area task force, or HIDTA. “It’s a city with deep attachments to other areas. It has population connections to other cities. It has social connections.”
Mexican distribution rings supply about 90 percent of the cocaine, 80 percent of the methamphetamine and half of the marijuana used in the United States, estimates Rodney G. Benson, the agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration office in Atlanta. A huge proportion of the payload headed for the Atlantic seaboard, the Southeast and the Midwest flows through Atlanta’s interstates, a federal report said this year.
The transformation of narcotics trafficking to the Mexican networks started shifting in the 1990s. Experts say it’s a combination of population shifts, supply chain improvements, product development, criminal outsourcing, even the North American Free Trade Agreement.Spotted here