The question is will “El Barbas’ ”death have any lasting impact on reducing cartel-related violence and reducing the flow of drugs into the United States. On the first point, there may be some hope, but not for the right reasons. Here’s the rub: drug traffickers are peace-lovers at heart, because peace means no competition for customers and profits. With Beltrán Leyva out of the way, “El Chapo” Guzman can expand his business and keep moving up the list of Forbes magazine’s wealthiest people. Meanwhile, the U.S. drug consumers who are padding his bank accounts can rest assured, there will be plenty more drugs available in the days to come.
When something is demanded inelastically, it means that a one percent increase in price will be met with a less-than-one percent decrease in demand. Addictive, illicit drugs are often examples of goods with inelastic demand. While a monopolist will never supply a good on the inelastic portion of the demand curve, competition will. It is not unlikely that the illicit drug industry is pricing drugs on the inelastic portion of the demand curve.
Therefore, if authorities artificially shift the quantity supplied leftward, it may increase illicit drug industry profits. This is depicted graphically below (click to enlarge).
It is in this manner that drug interdiction efforts may actually benefit the drug industry. It is important to note that under this scenario, fewer drugs will be consumed in the period of interdiction, even though the industry is better off. We could imagine that increased drug-industry profits might actually increase its capacity for violence against the government, concluding the reasons for the above predictions.
Corrections notes as a piquant possibility that one method of reducing the quantity of drugs sold in the United States might be to help form a cartel or monopoly supplier. As outlined above, a monopoly supplier will artificially restrict supply, gaining higher profits. It could be that the formation of a monopoly will cause a smaller quantity of drugs into the market, as depicted below (click to enlarge).