Mexican Drug War
The Mexican Drug War (also known as the Mexican War on Drugs;
Although Mexican drug trafficking organizations have existed for several decades, their influence increased after the demise of the
Federal law enforcement has been reorganized at least five times since 1982 in various attempts to control corruption and reduce cartel violence. During that same period there have been at least four elite
The U.S. Congress passed legislation in late June 2008 to provide Mexico with US$1.6 billion for the
Due to its location, Mexico has long been used as a staging and transshipment point for narcotics and contraband between Latin America and U.S. markets. Mexican bootleggers supplied alcohol to the United States gangsters throughout the duration of the
During the 1970s and early 1980s,
This was easily accomplished because Mexico had long been a major source of
Transporters from Mexico usually were given 35% to 50% of each cocaine shipment. This arrangement meant that organizations from Mexico became involved in the distribution, as well as the transportation of cocaine, and became formidable traffickers in their own right. In recent years, the
The balance of power between the various Mexican cartels continually shifts as new organizations emerge and older ones weaken and collapse. A disruption in the system, such as the arrests or deaths of cartel leaders, generates bloodshed as rivals move in to exploit the power vacuum. Leadership vacuums are sometimes created by law enforcement successes against a particular cartel, so cartels often will attempt to pit law enforcement against one another, either by bribing corrupt officials to take action against a rival or by leaking intelligence about a rival's operations to the Mexican or U.S. government's
While many factors have contributed to the escalating violence, security analysts in Mexico City trace the origins of the rising scourge to the unraveling of a longtime implicit arrangement between narcotics traffickers and governments controlled by the
The fighting between rival drug cartels began in earnest after the 1989 arrest of
The dominant party
In the year 2000 Vicente Fox, from the right-wing PAN party, became the first Mexican president not to be from the PRI party (that ruled Mexico for 70 years); his presidency passed with relative peace, having a crime index not too different to previous administrations, and Mexican public opinion was mainly optimistic with the regime change, with Mexico even showing a general decline in homicide rates from 2000 to 2007. One of Fox's administration's strongest criticisms arose from its management of the
During this time, the Mexican criminal underworld was not widely known, as it later became with president Calderon and his War on Drugs. Key components of the upcoming conflict started to occur, like the Sinaloa Cartel attacks and advance on the Gulf Cartel's main turf in Tamaulipas.
It is estimated that on the first 8 months of 2005 (between January and August) about 110 people died in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas as a result of the fighting between the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels. The same year, there was another surge in violence in the state of
On December 11, 2006, the newly elected
The government was relatively successful in detaining drug lords; however, drug-related violence spiked high in contested area along the US border such as Ciudad Juárez, Tijuana, and Matamoros. Some analysts, like US Ambassador in Mexico Carlos Pascual, argued that this rise in violence was a direct result of Felipe Calderón's military measures. Since Calderón launched his military strategy against organized crime, there was an alarming increase in violent deaths related to organized crime, more than 15,000 people died in suspected drug cartel attacks since it was launched at the end of 2006." More than 5,000 people were murdered in Mexico in 2008, followed by 9600 murders in 2009, 2010 was violent, with over 15,000 homicides across the country.
By the end of Calderón's presidency his administration statistics claimed that, during his 6-year term, 50,000 drug related homicides occurred, however later revelations showed that more than 120,000 murders happened as result of the his militaristic anti-drug policy.
In 2012, newly elected president Enrique Peña Nieto, from the PRI party, emphasized that he did not support the involvement of armed American agents in Mexico, being only interested in military training of Mexican forces in counter-insurgency tactics. Peña stated that he planned to deescalate the conflict, focusing in lowering criminal violence rates, as opposed to the previous policy of an attacking drug-trafficking organizations by arresting or killing the most-wanted drug lords and intercepting their drug shipments.
However, in the first 14 months of his administration, between December 2012 and January 2014, 23,640 people died in the conflict.
In 2013 Mexico saw the rise of the controversial
A great part of Peña Nieto's strategy consisted in making the Mexican
Despite the new government's planned strategy changes, during the first two months of the new presidency the violence between drug trafficking organizations have sustained the same levels as previous years.
However, on January 30, 2019 President López Obrador declared the end of the Mexican war on drugs, the President stated that he will now focus on reducing spending, and direct its military and police efforts primarly on stopping the armed gasoline theft rings —locally called
This strategy of avoiding armed confrontations while drug organizations still have violent altercations has risen controversy. One of the strongest critics of the new estrategy and a firm proponent of continuing the armed struggle, is former right-wing President
Mexico is a major drug transit and producing country. It is the main foreign supplier of
Although Mexico accounts for only a small share of worldwide heroin production, it supplies a large share of the heroin distributed in the United States.
Since 2003 Mexican cartels have used the dense, isolated portions of U.S. federal and state parks and forests to grow marijuana under the canopy of thick trees. Billions of dollars’ worth of marijuana has been produced annually on US soil. “In 2006, federal and state authorities seized over 550,000 marijuana plants worth an estimated 1 billion dollars in Kentucky’s remote Appalachian counties” Cartels profited from marijuana growing operations from Arkansas to Hawaii.
A 2018 study found that the reduction in drugs from Colombia contributed to Mexican drug violence. The study estimated, "between 2006 and 2009 the decline in cocaine supply from Colombia could account for 10%-14% of the increase in violence in Mexico."
The prevalence of illicit drug use in Mexico is still low compared to the United States; however, with the increased role of Mexico in the trafficking and production of
As the United States of America is the world's largest consumer of cocaine, as well as of other illegal drugs, their demand is what motivates the drug business, and the main goal of Mexican cartels is to introduce narcotics into the US.
This has led to a surplus of cocaine which has resulted in local Mexican dealers attempting to offload extra narcotics along trafficking routes, especially in border areas popular among low income North American tourists.
Drug shipments are often delayed in Mexican border towns before delivery to the US, which has forced drug traffickers to increase prices to account for transportation costs of products across international borders, making it a more profitable business for the drug lords, and has likely contributed to the increased rates of local drug consumption.
With increased cocaine use, there has been a parallel rise in demand for drug user treatment in Mexico.
One of the main factors driving the Mexican Drug War is the willingness of mainly lower-class people to earn easy money joining criminal organizations, and the failure of the government to provide the legal means for the creation of well paid jobs. From 2004 to 2008 the portion of the population who received less than half of the median income rose from 17% to 21% and the proportion of population living in extreme or moderate poverty rose from 35 to 46% (52 million persons) between 2006 and 2010.
In 2012 it was estimated that Mexican cartels employed over 450,000 people directly and a further 3.2 million people's livelihoods depended on various parts of the drug trade. In cities such as Ciudad Juárez, up to 60% of the economy depended on illegitimate money making.
A problem that goes hand in hand with poverty in Mexico is the level of schooling. In the 1960's, when Mexican narcotic smugglers started to smuggle drugs on a major scale, only 5.6% of the Mexican population had education beyond the six years of basic school.
More recently, researchers from the
However, teachers unions argue that they oppose reforms that propose teachers being tested and graded on their students' performance with universally standard exams that do not take into account the socio-economic differences between middle class urban schools and under-equipped poor rural schools, which has an important effect on the students performance. Also, teachers argue that the legislations are ambiguous, only focus on the teachers, without touching the