Tijuana's Drug Boom Reflects Mexico's New Problem

Despite headlines devoted to bloody battles between Mexico's drug cartels, there is something even more dangerous happening in Mexico's cities, according to experts: a booming drug trade. With drug dealing inside Mexico up drastically, the effects are obvious in Tijuana, where the chief of police says arrests of petty drug dealers are up more than 400 percent.

The rise in dealing also means that there are more addicts. Mexico is struggling to cope.

Mexican drug enforcement officials say the rising levels of drug dealing and consumption in their country happened because the United States has placed more security at the border, meaning that drugs are harder to move across.

That's hard to prove. Experts say the price of drugs in the United States is still low — an indication that supply has not waned.

Another explanation is that the cartels have begun paying their mules with their product. The recipients become dealers in their hometowns, making heroine, cocaine and marijuana more availiable than ever.

Human rights activist Victor ClarkClark says there are an estimated 100,000 addicts in Tijuana, a city of 1.2 million. Tijuana has become a flourishing center for rehab clinics. Some are suspect at best. Clark says he recently helped to shut down one where young addicts were being physically and sexually abused.

In the end, the state has scant resources to spend on rehabilitation, and few of those on the street get help.

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