Legalize Street Drugs: Mexico's Salinas

Michelle Lodge
Ricardo Salinas

Ricardo Salinas, the second richest man in Mexico, told CNBC Monday the sale of illicit drugs should be legalized.

“We should stop prohibition,” said Salinas, chair and CEO of Azteca TV, when questioned about the drug trade that is causing violence and gang-related deaths in Mexico.

“In America, they did it [Prohibition] very well. They had Prohibition, found out it didn’t work,” he said.

Salinas did not specify which illegal drugs he believes should be made legal.

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(Voters in California will decide in November whether to legalize marijuana; the state already collects tax revenue on the sale of medical marijuana).

He also said drug trafficking has created an identical problem.  “It [Prohibition] created this very powerful mob. The crime problem was so big, they decided to legalize alcohol again, so they stopped Prohibition.”

Mexican Billionaire Ricardo Salinas

He added that the drug war in Mexico results in about 30 drug-related deaths a day, but it doesn't affect the average citizen. "You know how it is in the media and the television," he said. "If you get 10 people dead in Acapulco. It gets reported. It isn't representative, but it does exist."

When the violence in his country is reported, Americans may come away with an erroneous impression, Salinas said, that Mexico is an undesirable locale. “It is safe to travel and invest in Mexico,” he added.

Salinas is visiting the United States assessing potential new business opportunties. He said he was not concerned about proposed financial regulations that could affect business with more government control or intervention. "There are always risks, of course," he said.

"I think business is done on the buy side, not the sell side," he added. "Buying now represents a lot of good opportunities. I think we should focus on those."