My friend, Al F., mailed me an article from The Washington Post he thought I would find interesting. The headline -- "Mexican drug cartels muscle in on lucrative movie and music piracy business."
Now, that is not news for those of us who have been talking about the drug lord involvement in copying and selling DVDs and CDs. The Economist has been running similar warnings for the past three years.
But this story was a bit different. The Mexican police conducted a raid on the largest counterfeit DVD and CD operation they have yet encountered. They walked away with 12 tons of movie discs. They also confiscated 1000 DVD burners.
Anyone who has visited a local market in Mexico -- or walked along the streets of any major Mexican city -- knows how common pirated movies and music are. They are almost everywhere. And they cost next to nothing -- compared to legal copies.
And almost everyone is now aware that the vast majority of the contraband copies are made by the drug operations and the profits go back to drug bosses to help finance illegal drug sales. They are brazen enough to stamp some of the copies with a stallion or a butterfly -- depending on which drug operation is involved.
They are also master marketers. I walked through Melaque on Wednesday and saw a copy of the current Pirates of the Caribbean in the flea market and a copy of Water for Elephants in a souvenir shop. Both films are still in the theaters in Mexico. Both are of uncertain parentage.
The pirating has become so bad that legitimate distributors have generally stopped trying to sell legal copies in Latin America. What is the point? It is Gresham's Law in cinematic clothing.
I really do not have a moral horse to ride on this issue. If people want to buy from drug lords, I have no objection -- just as long as they are willing to answer the underlying moral issues.
And one of those issues is this. If they are willing to put dollars in a drug lord's pocket for a bit of entertainment, would they also be willing to support the legalization of drugs in The States and Canada? Perhaps putting that rebellion to a good purpose that could help reduce the number of drug deaths on both sides of the border.
Note: If you would like a darkly amusing take on the drug wars, take a look at The Interview.