As Washington's bloody "War on Drugs" continues and thousands of innocent people are killed in Mexico, the violence is beginning to affect the United States directly and American children are the latest to get caught in the madness. The intensity of the violence is causing some Christians and law enforcement officers to rethink their beliefs on the criminalization of drugs.
"They call [the children] the 'expendables,' " said Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS), who described the name that members of Mexican drug cartels have for children who are being used to help run drugs, act as lookouts and other services to keep the illegal drug trade running, according to Reuters.
"Cartels would pay kids $50 just for them to move a vehicle from one position to another position, which allows the cartel to keep it under surveillance to see if law enforcement has it under surveillance," McCraw said.
As the drug gangs' power increase, their use of children has increased, as well. Children can be easily manipulated with small sums of money and since they face less severe penalties if caught, they are highly prized by organized crime leaders, McCraw explained.
McCraw says the state of Texas is joining a program initiated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection called "Operation Detour," in which officers believe that talking to children and parents at schools will deter the influence of the Mexican drug gangs.
It is yet to be determined what the program will cost oor if it will be have any effect.
The war on drugs has been costly on both sides of the border.
According to several estimates, including one provided by Fox News, there have been over 40,000 drug war-related deaths in Mexico since 2006.
The U.S. Government has contributed billions of dollars to the Mexican government's effort to combat drug cartels, but violence has increased, with 15,000 Mexicans being killed from drug war activities in 2010.
In March, The Associated Press revealed that CIA drones had been secretly aiding the Mexican government in the war on drugs for over two years. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the overall cost of the U.S. government's war on drugs is over $25 billion per year, which does not include costs of clandestine activities, such as the use of CIA drones.
The extreme cost of the drug war and the violence it has wrought in Mexico, as well as fears that violence will be duplicated in the U.S., has led some to call for decriminalization of drugs, including Christian law enforcement officers.
Kyle Vogt, a Christian and former Military Police Officer who is also a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), said that current policies are to blame.
"The reason that we see all this violence and crime in our society is simply because we have used a policy of prohibition over a policy of regulation and control," Vogt said in a YouTube video. "[But] we really aren't regulating drugs in this country at all. The cartels are."
He added: "We've said, for safety, we're going to give the regulation of dangerous substances over to people with no moral background whatsoever. The bottomline for them is the dollar. And if you get away, they'll kill you in a heartbeat – as we've seen in Mexico and throughout our country and throughout the world."