In an interview shortly before his latest arrest by Mexican authorities, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán stated that his Sinaloa Cartel exists to serve a simple, and striking, market demand for drugs. While global anti-drug policies tend to embrace the military language of war and enforcement, Guzmán’s comment hints to the underlying business logic driving the global drugs trade. Cartels today boast over a quarter-billion customers and over $300 billion in annual revenues, according to Tom Wainwright, and they are increasingly organized along the lines of Fortune 500 companies complete with human resource, outsourcing, and corporate responsibility functions. With cartels resembling multinationals, might economics and business theory hold the key to their demise? And ahead of a special UN General Assembly session on narcotics, can policymakers harness market forces to disrupt the narcotics industry?
Tom Wainwright’s new book, Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel, will be available for purchase and signing from the Book Cellar after the program.