Colombia’s Drug Problem Isn’t US Responsibility

Colombia’s Drug Problem Isn’t US Responsibility

By Connor Borden, Staff Writer

With the drug trade spreading all around the world, it is understandable that countries are beginning to take drastic actions to solve this issue. While the issue is severe and requires a proactive solution, local rule of law still must be respected and observed while in the pursuit of justice. In recent years, the Colombian narcotics industry has been a source of ire not only for the central Colombian government and its people, but for the entire world. Historically, Colombia has extradited gang leaders to the United States so that they cannot corrupt or influence government officials, as they have in the past. However, now that the Colombians have been able to root out this problem, it should be up to them — not the United States — to deal with these cartel leaders on their own terms.

The governments of Colombia and the United States have cooperated over the years to arrest the violent leaders of these cartels. Yet the New York Times found that these notorious and malicious kingpins were given an average of seven and a half years in an American prison. Only one of the victims’ families was actually brought in to testify against them.

For comparison, small time dealers on the streets of the United States can often be sentenced to 12 years for selling less than an ounce of crack cocaine. The Colombian gang leaders kingpins were each responsible for the distribution of cocaine, the suspicious disappearance of numbers citizens and a multitude of murders in their pursuit of their drug fueled greed. The American courts could only pin drug conspiracy charges on the cartel leaders, regardless of their other crimes.

This does not feel like justice. It does not feel like a victory. The entire military operation and the trials feel as if they were rushed. And although the situation is dire in Colombia, the short sentences given to the gang leaders ensures a return to chaos in seven and a half years.

The United States should not have extradited these kingpins in the first place. At the very least, the U.S. should have allowed other nations to participate in the extradition of the leaders and subsequent trials. Plenty of other countries are affected by Colombian narcotics. It is unjust by nature to exclude other nations from enacting justice for enemies of their states as well as ours. However, now that the Colombians have retained control of their government, the United States should roll back its interference.

Because they are tried under the United States legal system, American lawyers and judges have total jurisprudence over the punishments for these cartel kingpins. One individual, Salvatore Mancuso, was found responsible for the murder or kidnapping of over 1,000 people in Colombian courts. However, because he was tried in the United States, he will only serve 12 years as opposed to the recommended 30 years-to-life sentence. This is one example within a wider issue of unintentional amnesty for some of the world’s most dangerous criminals — when the United States tries to swoop in and play the hero, they end up interfering with the genuine process of justice.

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