Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mexico's drug war

Seized ammunition from members of the Pacifico drug cartel.

It's perhaps useful to remember that the war on drugs is largely an economic phenomenon. The violence that has broken out is largely a result of government attempting to stand in the way between supply and demand. As the following articles show, we're now reaping the whirlwind:

The Washington Post: A Test of Faith in Mexico's Drug War

Beyond the reach of the U.S. and Mexican governments in their fight against drug traffickers is an intimate, complex world of communal violence and crippled institutions. At the center of the drug war is Michoacan, a rugged, rural state in the southwest where all forms of traditional authority -- city hall, the military, police and even the Catholic Church -- have been unable to protect the people against the assassinations, kidnappings and extortions associated with the narcotics trade.

...President Felipe Calderón deployed 5,500 additional soldiers and federal police officers to Michoacan last month after an ascendant cartel called La Familia, which cloaks itself in religious extremism as it dismembers enemies, killed a dozen federal police officers and stacked their tortured bodies next to a highway. Soldiers and federal police retaliated by arresting two top lieutenants last week, as La Familia leaders attended church services in nearby Apatzingan. On Friday, La Familia hit men mounted an ambush against a convoy of federal police as they traveled down the main highway, wounding two officers.
The New York Times: Mexico’s Drug Traffickers Continue Trade in Prison
Mexico’s prisons, as described by inmates and insiders and viewed during several visits, are places where drug traffickers find a new base of operations for their criminal empires, recruit underlings, and bribe their way out for the right price. The system is so flawed, in fact, that the Mexican government is extraditing record numbers of drug traffickers to the United States, where they find it much harder to intimidate witnesses, run their drug operations or escape.

...Although Mexican prisons call themselves Centers for Social Rehabilitation, “Universities of crime would be a better name,” said Pedro Héctor Arellano, who runs the prison outreach program in Mexico for the Episcopal Church.

Mexico’s prisons are bursting at the seams, with space for 172,151 inmates nationwide but an additional 50,000 crammed in. More arrive by the day as part of the government’s drug war, which has sent tens of thousands to prison since President Felipe Calderón took office nearly three years ago.
The New York Times: Mexico Drug War Causes Wild West Blood Bath
One sign of the desperation to end organized crime in this border town is that the good guy on the police recruitment posters is not a clean-cut youth in a smart police cap, but a menacing soldier in a black mask and helmet carrying a heavy machine gun.

The poster is the government’s answer to a different sort of sign left in late January at the bottom of a monument honoring fallen police officers: a hand-scrawled list of 22 officers, 5 of whom had already been gunned down in the street. The sign warned that the others would also be killed “unless they learn.” In all, eight police officers have been assassinated here this year and three are missing.

Even by the Wild West standards of this dusty desert town, where drug dealers have long smuggled their cargo across the Rio Grande and the unsolved killings of women drew international attention, the last three months have been a blood bath, officials say.

A turf war among drug cartels has claimed more than 210 lives in the first three months of this year. Many of those killed were young gunmen from out of town. The number of homicides this year is more than twice the total number of homicides for the same period last year. Several mass graves hiding 36 bodies in all have been discovered in the backyards of two houses owned by drug dealers.

At the height of the violence, around Easter, bodies were turning up every morning, at a rate of almost 12 a week.
Mother Jones: We Bring Fear
The military has again flooded northern Mexico, ever since President Felipe Calderón assumed office in December 2006 with a margin so razor thin that many Mexicans think he is an illegitimate president. One of his first acts was to declare a war on the nation's thriving drug industry, and his favorite tool was to be the Mexican Army, portrayed as less corrupt than the local or national police. Now some 45,000 soldiers, nearly 25 percent of the Army, are marauding all over the country, escalating the mayhem that consumes Mexico. In 2008, more than 6,000 Mexicans died in the drug violence, a larger loss than the United States has endured during the entire Iraq War.

Since 2000, two dozen reporters have been officially recorded as murdered, at least seven more have vanished, and an unknown number have fled into the United States. But all numbers in Mexico are slippery, because people have so many ways of disappearing. In 2008, 188 Mexicans—cops, reporters, businesspeople—sought political asylum at US border crossings, more than twice as many as the year before.
Launched in the name of preventing mayhem and death, the drug war has brought...mayhem and death. It's what happens when you try to interfere with the forces of supply and demand, that are forever trying to search each other out.

1 comment:

Nathaniel said...


Mexico is reeling the shade of drug cartels. These drug cartels are carrying out attacks on police outposts. Several police officers have been killed in the recent violence. President phelipe couldron has asked to police recruitment cells to step up hiring process so that more police officers will be deployed to contain the drug menace.