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Institute for Policy Studies
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  • February 24, 2014

    The Street

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    "He said we need to focus on citizen security which was a smart move," argued Sanho Tree, drug policy fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.

    "Focus on kidnapping, extortion -- these things where other criminal elements as well as drug traffickers have expanded -- and Sinaloa wasn't really into that as much as the others. Sinaloa as a cartel was actually less violent than the others, although they're perfectly deadly, so why go after Sinaloa? Simply because of volume? Many people argue that you go after the Zetas, the Templars, some of these other cartels that use violence as their one and only method of control, whereas Sinaloa's always been -- they'd much prefer to give you a bribe over a bullet. But if you don't take the bribe they'll definitely use the bullet."

    Still, Tree argued, "If you're stuck with drug traffickers it seems to me that's the kind of drug traffickers you'd want. You can induce better behavior amongst these criminal elements by going after the most problematic ones."


  • February 20, 2013

    HuffPost Live

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    Sanho Tree: Al Capone and his gangster buddies weren't machine-gunning each other because they were drunk from the effects of alcohol -- they were killing each other for the right to distribute alcohol under Prohibition, and as soon as we re-legalized alcohol, the machine-gun massacres stopped. And change is happening . . . just this year, you have many heads of state -- who are actively serving heads of state, not retired -- who are calling for an end to the drug war. 

  • January 4, 2013

    Al Jazeera English

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    SANHO TREE: If you want someone to stop doing something, it's important to understand why they're doing it to begin with -- and forced eradication models around the world treat these farmers as mere criminals . . . so you force these families into food insecurity . . . If forced eradication teams come in and destroy your livelihood in the space of an hour, you're left with a panicked situation: How do I feed my kids next week, next month, next year? And what is the one crop that these people know how to grow, for which there are willing buyers, that's relatively easy to transport, unlike heavy products like pineapples?  

    So they're going to re-plant. So that's a recipe for failure. Whereas under the Bolivian plan now, each family has a regulated plot, 40 meters by 40 meters, that gives them some food security, and a reasonable but modest income. With that you can save a little money, and you can diversify local economies.

    INTERVIEWER: . . . What about the gains for the drug traffickers who want to bring the coca into the export markets?

    SANHO TREE: Bolivia only contributes less than 1% of the cocaine that is imported into the United States. . . . Contrast that with Columbia, the U.S.'s main ally in the region, which provided 90% of the cocaine imported into the U.S. a dozen years ago, and now after years of the forced eradication policies, provides 95% of the cocaine imported to the U.S.

  • November 18, 2012

    BBC News

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    This month, two US states voted to legalise, regulate and tax marijuana. From advertising and marketing to drugged-driving enforcement, we ask what's ahead.

    "It's a tipping point for sure," says Sanho Tree, director of the drug policy project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

    "If these two states go ahead and legalise recreational use and the sky hasn't fallen, that opens up more political space."

  • November 7, 2012

    NOW Magazine (Toronto, Canada)

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    Certainly it’s an open question whether it’s in Canada’s interest to spend an unknown amount of money on anti-smuggler actions in the Caribbean. Sanho Tree, an analyst at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, says high seas interdiction led years ago to the drug cartels’ transporting merchandise overland through Mexico and other Central American countries, creating upheaval, corruption and deaths.

    Most of those caught on drug-smuggling craft by the U.S. are the “expendable” small fry who don’t have a lot of info about their employers to share with the feds, he tells NOW. “The drug cartels expect to lose a certain amount [of merchandise] through interdiction. It’s the cost of doing business.”

  • October 22, 2012

    washingtonpost.com

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    Last month, the presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala – all three conservatives who have diligently fought the drug war alongside the U.S. – sent a letter to the Secretary General of the UN asking for a fundamental reevaluation of international drug policies. All three have talked about ending drug prohibition and exploring regulatory alternatives because the drug war provides an astronomical “price support” to drug traffickers against which many governments cannot compete.

  • October 22, 2012

    The American Prospect

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    "Romney has cited few concrete differences between his foreign-policy vision and that of the president beyond calling for astronomically higher defense spending and saying he would not 'apologize for America.' Analyst Sanho Tree summarizes Romney’s approach: 'Me too, but I'll be even more belligerent because Obama is a wimp.'”

  • October 3, 2012

    The Atlantic

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    "Under the PRI there were tacit agreements. You bribe away officials, you don't engage in turf battles, and so on," said Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies. "This doesn't work in the long run. You have to deal with rule of law and these illegal groups. But that's a long process and [Calderón] didn't have the institutions to do that."

  • October 3, 2012

    The Atlantic

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    At the root of the issue is the overhaul of earlier approaches to Mexico's drug war.

    But when Calderón used Mexico's military to take on the country's powerful and well-armed drug trafficking organizations, he had little sense of what the consequences of a full-on war would be. "Under the PRI there were tacit agreements. You bribe away officials, you don't engage in turf battles, and so on," said Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies. "This doesn't work in the long run. You have to deal with rule of law and these illegal groups. But that's a long process and [Calderón] didn't have the institutions to do that."

  • June 8, 2012

    Al Jazeera

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    This is supposed to be a law enforcement programme [within the State Department]. What kind of law enforcement gets to play judge, jury and executioner in a matter of minutes? This is summary justice, on injustice in this case. - Sanho Tree, the director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies

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