Just another note about crime

Crime makes headlines in Boquete Panama and because there was none here just a few years ago. The headlines echo throughout the community and the world. Over the past months in Boquete there has been one well publicized assault and few burglaries, not much more. In conversations with representatives of the DIJ, the local detectives, I have learned that very little crime is reported to them and they are actively involved in pursuing and capturing perpetrators.

The purpose of this note is not to urge complacency, in fact groups like Alto al Crimen in Boquete are offering solutions to reduce crime in Boquete. However neither the DIJ, Alto al Crimen nor you can resolve the underlying causes of crime.

Crime is everyplace, one curious statistic comes from the United States.


The war on drugs has made the US the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world and it effects not only Panama but most of the world.

The appetite for drugs in the US causes crime in Boquete Panama. Because of it’s geographic location Panama is a transshipment point for copious amounts of drugs moving north. It has been said Panama is a money laundering center for the profits that return south. It is also clear that the abundance of drugs in Panama has created the same need for cash for those here who develop a need for drugs. This drives some local crime, it also drives illegal immigration to both Panama and the United States. The axiom in good capitalism, is follow the money.

The solution is painfully simple, infrequently discussed and needs to come from the major marketplace the US. If you want to see a significant reduction in crime in Panama, talk to the US government. Remove the huge profits from drug sales in the US and the transport of illegal drugs through Panama will come to a screeching halt. Reduce the profit motive to sell drugs and the number of people using drugs will drop.

Dear Congressman,

Declare a victory in the war on drugs. Legalize all illegal drugs and offer them through legal channels. Tax recreational drug sales heavily, like alcohol and cigarettes both dangerous drugs, both legal, both taxed. The illegal drug market would be forced to sell for less than the legal drug market and it would implode.

Do this and use the revenue to reduce the national debt, do this and stop building prisons. Do this and the narco capitalists profiting from drug sales will need to find jobs and police can focus on other things, do this and crime will plummet. Do this and drug usage will drop since the profit incentive to addict people will evaporate. The war on drugs is a joke, the ramifications of this joke is worldwide crime, worldwide poverty and a prison population that makes the US the largest jailer in the world.

Stop fearing that a percentage of the population is going to be stoned and unproductive; they are already. By not putting those drug users in prison the US can go a long way toward solving its budget problems. The coca farmers of Bolivia can grow a legal cash crop, the poppy growers of Afghanistan will not hate the US, the large California Marijuana economy can go public and provide tax revenue and hemp for fiber again.

As prohibition failed, the war on drugs failed. The effects this time are world wide and we in remote Panama are suffering for the insanity of a series of laws in the US that were all enacted for political reasons in the twentieth century.

Decriminalize drugs, save the economy and cut the crime everyplace including Panama. Dry up a source of revenue for organized crime and terrorists, turn a sows ear into a silk purse.

If you believe this will happen in our life time I have clear title to all the islands in Bocas del Toro, I will sell it for $1 a meter if you can wait until the ink on the documents dries.


  1. Mike Tidd says:

    You are so correct. The “War On Drugs” has caused far more problems that it has even come close to solving. The Latin countries are also correct in saying it is a user problem here in The States.

    I don’t take drugs and never have but I have supported making the stuff legal. Regulate it, tax it and use the money for education and prevention. The Dutch have it right. We should give it a try.

  2. Billie Seaton says:

    I agree 1000%. Too many people in power benefit from the illegal drugs and that is why it will take a long time to make legal. You cannot control what people want to put in their own bodies

    If they legalized marijuana I would use it – I have never seen anyone using just marijuana violent but alchohol- definitely. If they legalized cocaine, crack, methampetamines or heroin I would never use it. I know from first hand experience how devastating these drugs are to peoples lives.

    They could also use the money from the war on drugs for education, training or helping people addicted to hard drugs that genuinely want to stop & break their addictions. They could pay mothers or fathers with children under the age of 18 to stay at home and actually raise their children and oversee their welfare. They could provide decent housing, food and clothing to the underpriviledged.

    Instead they continue with their stupid war on drugs that has failed and is instrumental in making things worse for people that already have difficult lives.

    The Declaration of Independence was written on paper made from hemp.

  3. A good argument well put, Lee. Unfortunately, the War on Drugs seems to have developed into a self-perpetuating industry.

  4. Just like the War on Terrorism

  5. Bob: I have said for a long time, well at least since 9/11, that the “War on Terror” will end one year, four months and six days after the “War on Drugs” is declared a success and the DEA is disbanded.

    It’s a sad reality that crime in the US is big business…for law enforcement and corrections facilities that is, and there’s a huge vested interest in keeping it that way.

    Just think of what could have been done that was beneficial to the US had the trillions of dollars that have been spent on the “War on Drugs” been used for something like, oh let’s say, maintaining the infrastructure of the country so that bridges don’t collapse?

    Of course if there was no “War on Drugs” siphoning off billions of dollars from the economy the right wing conservatives would be clamoring for a reduction of taxes rather than spending the money maintaining the country on such “socialistic” programs as roads and bridges, or perhaps making sure that in the country that feeds the world none of its citizens go to bed hungry at night. But I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for any of that to happen.

  6. Bjorn Sefeldt says:

    I have never used any illegal drugs , never will, whether made legal or not.
    Having had a younger brother who got in to MJ at age 13, thrown out of a couple of colleges for use, being arrested for smuggling a couple of times…and he never held a job (he couldnt)….I do not agree with making them legal….I`ve been to close to a person (now dead, he died 10 yrs ago) who used it like it was legal….if it had been legal he would not have been better off, just worse.

    just my 0.02

  7. Richard,
    You are right on target

  8. Balsamo says:

    Notice that the Netherlands regulates drugs consumtion very well and youth doesn’t consume it as much as in the countries where it is forbidden…Because something available is less appealing to youngsters than something that is forbidden.

    But to be effective, it should be legalize worldwide or you’ll developp drug tourism, as in Holland…

    Consumtion is one thing…the thing that kills here is more the business…
    Majijuana is sold 2.5$ a pound by the peasant…look at the final consumer price…You just can’t fight a business that is so lucrative, it’s pure propaganda…But it could easely dissappear if there is no money to be made out of it.

    Note that the Koffee shops that sell MJ pay huge taxes, oh and The Netherlands is one of the best performing countries in the developped world with a very low unemployment.

  9. Bjorn Sefeldt says:

    Netherlands is changing their tune and are restricting drug sales more than before….
    also, look at Joran Van der Sloot….and what he just did….under what influence?

  10. Howard Hill says:

    Your suggestion is so logical and would save incalculable amounts of taxpayer money and human heartbreak; ergo, it will never fly.

  11. This is a note posted on another local bolg however it may be usefull to the Boquete area.
    I was hoping that maybe u could publish this information for me. About a week ago my home was broken into in Guayabal de Boqueron, and among other things 4 solar panels were taken off the roof (in the rain, no less) They are Kyocera 135 watt panels, so I am hoping that the thieves will be trying to sell them to the highest bidder without traveling too far…….of course I have taken the convention logical steps and gone to the police, and made denuncias and all that, but as I am 0-3 with the local judicial system here, I dont have high expectations….One time, I did all their work for them, and just put it all on their desk, expecting them to take the final steps which I could not, and they did nothing……….so if u could publish this as far and wide as possible, I would greatly appreciate any help whatsoever……my e-mail is treedoc2002@yahoo.com and my ph. # is 6525-1845

  12. To the comment from the lady that said her family ruined their life on drugs.
    The drugs were illegal and it did not stop them.
    No one in the US gov has the strength to agree with this. Anyone with over a 80 IQ knows that the war on drugs is a joke. They will continue to build more prisons and spend billions for nothing.

  13. Although the US has more people incarcerated for longer times, for lesser offenses than other country in the world, including the now defunct USSR, the above statistics of number of incarcerated drug offenders is somewhat misleading. Close to 70% of re-incarcerated felons are parolees caught with a dirty urine. Initially, they may have been imprisoned for a drug offense but if caught with alcohol in their urine they are returned to prison for completion of their original sentence.

    Interesting facts:
    “The United States has the highest prison population rate in the world, 756 per 100,000 of the national population, followed by Russia (629), Rwanda (604), St Kitts & Nevis (588), Cuba (c.531), U.S. Virgin Is. (512), British Virgin Is. (488), Palau (478), Belarus (468), Belize (455), Bahamas (422), Georgia (415), American Samoa (410), Grenada (408) and Anguilla (401).
    According to the American Corrections Association, the average daily cost per state prison inmate per day in the US is $67.55 (ed. $24,655.75 per year per inmate!). State prisons held 253,300 inmates for drug offenses in 2007. That means states spent approximately $17,110,415 per day to imprison drug offenders, or $6,245,301,475 per year.

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