Cartel, 2012, 26 X 48” Rolled dollar bills, rolled marijuana joints, brass small caliber shells and encaustic on board.

(Detail)


Discourse

Mexican drug cartels generate, launder and remove approximately $64 billion dollars from the United States each year. The U.S. and Mexican governments have been criticized for their unwillingness or slow response to confront the various cartels' financial operations, specifically those funded by marijuana, cocaine, heroine and gun traffic.

American efforts at controlling the demand side, consumption of drugs, are largely the domain of law enforcement even though treatment programs are shown to be seven times more cost effective and produce lower recidivism that lockup.

Drugs like cocaine, heroine, and marijuana — are agricultural commodities, similar to growing cantaloupes and strawberries, cheap to produce and in high demand. The American War on Drug keeps the prices of border commodities inflated by restricting flow across the boarder.

The United States has focused its efforts on the decriminalization of drug use spending countless billions of dollars in efforts to eradicate the supply of drugs.  Efforts of interdiction and law enforcement have not been met with decreases in the availability of drugs in America. Apart from being highly costly, drug law enforcement has been counterproductive.  (Berkley.edu)

The Cartel flag represents one aspect of illegal commerce and the intertwined relationship between the United States and Mexico. The traditional American blue star field is replaced by the Mexican national green color to represent the close relationship Mexico and America share. Small caliber bullet shells are used to represent the violence that comes to all states where drugs are a part of the underground economy.

The alternating stripes are filled with neatly rolled dollars suggest commerce and a tool for snorting cocaine. Marijuana joints are alternate stripes, it is loosing value as legalization advances in America.