The economic success of El Paso and other Texas communities might not be the result of good policies or good jobs, but rather the presence of so much drug money.
"No matter what people are getting paid to do in Texas-from selling cars on the floor of a luxury showroom to hammering nails into siding-the origin of a lot of the money in circulation is dubious at best. From this perspective, Texas is no different from any other so-called narcostate, funneling illicit profits from drugs, extortion, weapons, and human smuggling into the legit facade of a highly flexible economy that Kotkin calls for emulating. Could this be possible, and what might it say about 21st century American urbanism?
No need to look too far for evidence. In one recent court document, indicted cartel chief Vicente Jesús Zambada-Niebla alleged that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency cut a deal to protect the Sinaloa cartel in exchange for intelligence on rival organizations, giving us a lurid glimpse of the scale of this conspiracy. In a similar operation that has blown-up into a full scandal, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives supervised gunrunning to the cartels, briefing the DEA and at least one White House official along the way. The insane mission backfired when a U.S. border patrolman was killed with a weapon traced back to the operative."