By Michelle Cardenas
LEAP students enjoyed another amazing World Affairs Council event, this one featuring author and journalist: Ioan Grillo. During this event, SHSU students and alumni had the opportunity to learn about Grillo and his most recent book titled “Blood, Gun, Money”.
Specializing in crime and drug cartels in Mexico, Grillo delivered an informative and thought-provoking run-down of the drug war the United States is currently battling.
After a brief introduction by Jahan Jafarpour…
…Ioan Grillo and moderator Ronan O’Malley took the stage. The conversation began with a striking question about the fentanyl crisis and its effect on Americans. Grillo explained how fentanyl is one of the deadliest synthetic drugs on the market, and how its potency can be fatal at minuscule doses. Due to its cheap production costs and easy transportation across the border, fentanyl has become extremely accessible and profitable.
Grillo went on to explain how America is experiencing a revolution of illegal drugs that’s killing thousands of people. He compares the current drug revolution to the crack epidemic that took place in the late 1980’s. According to Grillo’s data, the number of current overdoses on Fentanyl is 21 times higher than the number of overdoses on record for 1988, the peak of the crack epidemic. He then discussed the multi-faceted conditions that allow such a crisis, such as corruption in Mexican officials and the strong presence of organized crime.
Ioan Grillo spent much of time discussing the Mexican cartel and its impact on civilians and the United States. A concerning point in this discussion was the amount of heavy weaponry transported to Mexico from the United States. According to Grillo, many gun traffickers have easy access to weapons here in the United States, which they purchase without a paper trail. Due to the violence and cartel wars that have erupted, the journalist mentioned the possibility of naming the different Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. However, many issues could arise, one of which is the justification of asylum on the border. He concluded by assuring us that the war on drugs and violence is just now beginning, and that the only way to stop this war is government involvement and strict policies.
The conversation then moved on to a Q&A session, where many interesting topics were discussed. Olivia, a fellow LEAP Ambassador, asked a question about the media’s role in raising awareness of drug crises.
We each then had the pleasure to speak to Ioan Grillo after the event and get our books signed…
…as well as learn a little more about his approach to reaching a resolution to end this drug epidemic we are witnessing.
To fit the theme of tonight’s event and the region primarily discussed, we headed to Ninfa’s; a restaurant specializing in Mexican cuisine. We all enjoyed traditional Mexican dishes, including tacos al pastor, mole, and enchiladas de carnitas. Everyone was extremely satisfied with their dishes and enjoyed their flavorful entrees.
This was a great opportunity to get to know SHSU alumni (Victoria McClendon-Leggett and Bianca Saldierna), meet with new students who haven’t done many LEAP events, as well as learn more about the pressing issues affecting our country’s health.