Border War Goes Both Ways


Last year, my pal James Verini wrote an extensive piece in Portfolio about the problem — and related policy hypocrisy — that allows the entire discussion of “border protection” to be exclusively focused on the drugs coming in (along with their attending violence) while ignoring the southward trafficking in the weapons that fuel that violence. Basically, no one here has been willing to admit that the United States is arming its adversaries in the self-proclaimed drug war.

Not any more. Newly minted Homeland Security Secretary has announced that, as the New York Times put it: “what leaves the country is as much a risk to their security as what comes in.” Now, there will be inspections going south. That won’t stop gun nuts and gun shows from selling customized Colts like the El Presidente (to add that personalized touch your gangland assassinations). And there won’t be enough resources to scrutinize. But it’s a good start, as evidenced by the fact that just a few hours before Napolitano arrived at the border for photo op, an American couple going south was stopped and found to be carrying 10 grenades; $122,000 in cash; a barrel for a sniper rifle; a cache of high-caliber ammunition; and their five year old child!

Joshuah Bearman has written about CIA missions, jewel thieves, deranged private investigators, aspiring Fabios, bitter rivalry among dueling Santa Clauses, and the metaphysical implications of being the world's greatest Pac Man player. His article for Wired became the movie Argo. More from this author →