5 solutions for Mexico’s drug violence and security challenges

Coat of arms of Mexico. Español: Escudo Nacion...

Coat of arms of Mexico. Español: Escudo Nacional de México. Français : Armoiries du Mexique. 日本語: メキシコの国章。 Română: Stema Mexicului. Русский: Герб Мексики. Svenska: Mexikos statsvapen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once every 12 years there is a unique opportunity to reinforce the bonds between Mexico and the United States, when our presidential election cycles coincide. For Mexico, the July 1 elections will be a crucial moment that will set the tone for our future and define the US-Mexico relationship for generations to come.

Undoubtedly, one of the main concerns that has caused social unrest today is that of security. At this time, violence has made an impact in Mexico and threatens to escalate and surpass the US border. This challenge transcends my country and could have far-reaching consequences for Central and North American security. Unless we act now to solve these common issues, we are placing the future competitiveness and prosperity of the entire region at risk, and a good way to start is by focusing on Mexico’s domestic situation.

True progress requires a real strategy based on partnerships that recognize the failed efforts of the broken system we live in, and present bold initiatives that can guide our country’s security efforts. I believe there are five main points of action that we must follow in order to move forward on Mexico’s security challenges.

By Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexican presidential candidate
posted June 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm EDT

1.Eliminate the root cause of criminality

A woman is comforted while walking outside a drug rehabilitation center in the outskirts of Torreon, Mexico June 3 where armed gunmen left 11 people dead and at least 8 wounded. Mexico’s drug war has claimed more than 55,000 lives in less than six years. Leading Mexican presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto says Mexico’s security challenges threaten an entire region.

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Review – Drug Traffickers are restructured into 28 Cartels-ZETA

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 | Borderland Beat Reporter Chivis

From Zeta Weekly and  posted on BB Forum by Havana
Written by: Rosario Castro Mosso and Enrique Mendoza Hernández
Translated from Spanish


Traffickers are restructured

At the end of Vicente Fox’s term, Mexico had seven cartels, while President Felipe Calderon recognizes only 11 criminal organizations in 2011. Leaders of thugs converted into little bosses , divided and struggled for criminal control in the 32 states of Mexico. It is known, they are killing and denouncing one another. As are armed wings, are dedicated to all crimes: the movement of drugs, domestic sales in Mexican municipalities, kidnapping, extortion and trafficking in persons, without that the big mafias can not control them.
The federal government constant hits on the drug cartels have caused reorganization, admitted in May 2008 by the President of the Republic, Felipe Calderón.
Indeed, since December 2006, each time you stop a capo comes three or even 10 more trying to replace him. This multiplying effect has generated cell operation, usually as assassins, whose ambition and betrayal, end up converting into little “cartelitos” fighting for territorial control and expansion of drug trafficking.
Of the seven drug cartels operating in Mexico with the arrival of the Calderon administration in 2006, pruning has brought forth a multiplication by 400 percent. Currently governments are coordinated fighting at least 28 criminal groups.
Besides the large cartels, recognized by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), as the Arellano Felix, Colima, the Juarez, Sinaloa, the Gulf, the Millennium and Pedro Diaz Parada.
Now authorities and society must confront not only drug trafficking but the kidnapping of people, extortion of businesses, and murders committed by these cells empowered by thugs:
Los Zetas
Los Matazetas
Cartel del Acapulco
Gente Nueva
Cartel del Pacifico Sur
Cartel de Acapulco
Cartel de Guadalajara
Cartel del Centro Narco
Cartel de Jalisco Nuevo Generation
Cartel del Milenio
La Familia Michoacana
Los Caballeros Templarios
The Pelones
Los Gueros
La Barredora
Los Aztecas
La Linea
In Baja California, Three are Los Teos and independent groups of Guadalajara and Los Aboytes in the State of Mexico and the Anthrax in Sinaloa, and a number of criminal groups that the PGR announced in 2011, are on the verge of annihilation.  The truth is that of the 28 of the registered groups of drug traffickers ZETA , noticed during his “Message to mark the fifth year in office,” on December 8 in Monterrey, Calderon only recognized 11 cartels: Gulf, Zetas, La Familia, Pacific, New Generation Jalisco Cartel, La Resistencia, Beltrán Leyva, Arellano Felix Juarez, Knights Templar and La Barbie.

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Mexican Navy Takes Over Traffic Police in Top Port City

Map of Mexican drug cartels based on a May 201...

Image via Wikipedia

Authorities say the Mexican Navy has taken over traffic policing duties in the port city of Veracruz, which has been plagued by drug cartel violence.
Veracruz state Gov. Javier Duarte said in a statement Monday that two rear admirals are now the directors of traffic police in the neighboring cities of Veracruz and Boca del Rio.
The move is part of an effort to root out corruption from law enforcement and start from zero in the city of Veracruz.
In December, the police departments in both cities were disbanded and taken over by the Navy. Authorities said the departments had been infiltrated by the Zetas drug cartel. In Mexico traffic police are separate from other police departments.

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The Rise of Femicide and Women in Drug Trafficking

The Merida Initiative, a U.S. Counter-Narcotic...

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October 28, 2011

This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Andrea Mares

  • Until recently, men have dominated drug trafficking.
  • Government crackdowns on drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have noticeably increased women’s involvement in drug trafficking.
  • Drug trafficking affects women directly via their participation, as well as indirectly via sex trafficking, prostitution, and associations with DTO members.
  • Drug trafficking has increased the crime rate in Latin America, creating problems for the prison systems and unleashing a phenomenon known as “femicide.”

While men have predominantly run drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), women have participated in them since the 1920s. Their role may have appeared miniscule compared to that of their male counterparts, but they have played key roles such as drug mules and bosses. According to an interview with Howard Campbell, professor of anthropology at the University of Texas-El Paso, conducted by the Latin American Advisor, women, such as Ignacia Jasso de González (alias ‘La Nacha’) and María Dolores Estévez Zuleta (aka ‘Lola La Chata’) were prominent figures in drug dealing and trafficking in the 1920s and 1950s. [1]. Although women have been active in DTOs for many years, even at times taking on dominant roles, only in the past ten years have they become increasingly visible in the media. The notion that women do not regularly participate and are not affected by DTOs is demonstrably obsolete.

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Mexican Cartels “tortured and cook” American in Mexico

Counties along the w:Mexico-United States border
Image via Wikipedia

January 27, 2:12
Michael Webster

Depicted here (to view photo’s goto: www.usborderfirereport.com ) are five gruesome beheadings believed ordered and carried out by MDC’s in Mexico.
One of the most dangerous Mexican Drug Cartels (MDC’s) known as the Gulf Cartel orders kidnappings and murders of Americans. What most Americans do not know about is that Americans have been kidnapped and murdered on both sides of the Mexican U.S. Border by Mexican Drug Cartel orders. Case in point the feds arrested suspected cartel kidnapping murderous gang members who are accused of taking American victims from Texas to Mexico where they were tortured, held for ransom and in this case — killed. The trial for alleged kidnapping ring member Luis Alberto Avila-Hernandez started before U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane in McAllen Texas last week with out much fanfare or main stream media attention.

In still other cases the MDC’s have reached deep into the United States to kill Americans. MDC’s known member Jose Daniel Gonzalez was murdered on American soil in El Paso Texas. Gonzalez according to law enforcement was acting as an U.S. Government informant feeding important information about several Mexican Drug Cartel families to the feds. Continue reading

Narcotrafficking: Is Mexico a “failed State”?

The United States’ responsibility in a matter of hemispheric security

By Zidane Zeraoui, 7th May 2009

In order to make progress in the fight against narcotrafficking, the distribution of drugs, as well as the sale of arms and their exportation to Mexico, must be reduced, just as money laundering in the United States must be combated.

(Monterrey) MORE THAN A CENTURY AGO, Don Porfirio Díaz, president of Mexico from 1876 to 1911, said: “Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States”. His statement has never lost its validity in describing the interactions between the two countries. Indeed, today, barely three months since Barack Obama took office, relations between Mexico and the United States are the worst that they have been in the last four decades, despite Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to the country in late March, which was followed by successive visits by Janet Napolitano and Eric Holder, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, respectively, and finally, on April 16, by the president of the United States himself, Barack Obama.


There have been misunderstandings between the two nations ever since the Aztec country achieved its independence. We only need to be reminded of its loss of Texas (nearly 700,000 km2, or 270,000 sq mi) and, as a result of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, of another 1.36 million km2 , or 525,000 sq miles (California, Arizona, Nevada,Utah, part of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming). Furthermore, in both 1914 and 1917, the northern country occupied its southern neighbor. Continue reading

The Big Business of Organized Crime in Mexico

The Big Business of Organized Crime in Mexico

 February 13, 2008 | 2044 GMT

 By Rodger Baker

Mexican President Felipe Calderon told a U.N. representative in Mexico City recently that the deployment of the Mexican military in counternarcotics operations is only a temporary solution, and that he plans to phase out the military’s role in these efforts. In recent weeks, the military has launched a large-scale security operation in select cities along the U.S.-Mexico border, disarming local police forces and conducting sweeps and raids in an effort to strike back at the increasingly violent Mexican drug cartels.

Calderon’s comments address a standing question on both sides of the border: What is the best way to deal with cartel activity? Germane to that question is defining just what it is that the security forces are up against.

The violence taking place in northern Mexico — and leaking across the border into the southern United States — is viewed by some as the result of the actions of narco-terrorists, while others call it an insurgency. But for the most part, those charged with countering the problem refer to it as criminality — more specifically, as organized crime. Defining the problem this way shapes the decisions regarding the tools and policies that are best suited to fighting it.

On both sides of the border, the primary forces tasked with dealing with the drug cartels and the spillover effects are law enforcement elements. In a law enforcement operation, as opposed to a counterinsurgency or counterterrorism operation, the ultimate goal is not only to stop the criminal behavior but also to detain the criminals and amass sufficient evidence to try them in court. The need for such evidence is not always as pressing in counterterrorism cases, in which the intelligence case can be made without having to reach the stricter threshold prosecution would require. Since taking office, Calderon has involved the military more than his predecessors in what traditionally has been the realm of law enforcement. This has had positive results against drug traffickers, at the expense of occasional higher tensions between federal and local authorities.

Meanwhile, on the U.S. side of the border, the Bush administration’s war on terrorism appears much more pressing and therefore receives many more resources than the fight against illegal drug activity and border violence. This does not mean the United States has not devoted modern technological resources to battle drug traffickers along the border. In fact, it has devoted significant intelligence assets to assist in tracking and cracking down on the drug cartels, from collecting signals and electronic intelligence to offering training and assistance to Mexican forces.

In viewing this as mainly a law enforcement issue, rather than a military one, several additional problems are being encountered on both sides of the border — not the least of which is a significant lack of coordination. On the Mexican side, local law enforcement often is infiltrated by the cartels and does not cooperate fully with essential government agencies — a phenomenon not unheard of north of the border as well. On the U.S. side, the various counties along the border like to run their own programs, and there are issues of federal American Indian land and private land to consider as well. A similar split between federal and local regulations and enforcement occurs on the Mexico side, where drug laws are all federal, so local officials can make arrests but must hand over suspects to the federal police. Further, while there is some level of coordination between the Mexican and the U.S. sides, frequently there is a lack of communication or significant miscom munication, such that an operation on one side of the border is not communicated to the other side.

These problems exist in many places, but they are particularly sensitive on the U.S.-Mexico border. A miscommunication between the United States and, say, the Colombian government does not have the immediate impact as a similar miscommunication along the U.S. border. Moves are under way to increase the coordination of overall counterdrug efforts along the border, but the contentious issue of immigration adds a second layer to the problem. For the United States, while there apparently are similarities between what is happening in Mexico and previous counterdrug fights in Colombia — or even in Thailand and Afghanistan — the contiguous border consistently adds a layer of complexity to the problem.

The United States has experience shutting down major drug-trafficking routes. It significantly disrupted the Caribbean drug routes, using naval interdiction (though this shifted many of these routes to Mexico, accelerating the rise of the Mexican cartels). And there is plenty of global experience sealing borders. The Germans were quite effective at sealing the border after World War II, as were many of the Soviet bloc states. The problem, of course, with completely sealing a border is that it stops trade, something the United States is not willing to do. Therefore, if the United States cannot effectively seal the border without risking trade, it instead can channel the flow of traffic and migration across the border. But even by channeling the flow, it is extremely difficult to separate the illegal trade from the legal.

As we have mentioned before, there is a significant economic component to this trade, both legal and illegal. By some estimates, some $24 billion a year is transferred to Mexico as a result of the drug trade. This is essentially free money and needs to go somewhere, making it a substantial portion of the Mexican economy. While the Mexican government is keen to stop the violence along the border and among the cartels, in some ways it is less interested in stopping the flow of money. History has shown that countries with large-scale criminal enterprises — such as the United States in the 1920s and 1930s — get rich, given the tremendous pool of capital available for investment. This illicit money eventually works it way into the system through legal channels.

This is a fundamental aspect of the phenomenon we are seeing now. It is a classic case of organized crime. The Mexican drug cartels are, for the most part, organized crime groups. What distinguishes Mexican organized crime groups and others from revolutionaries, terrorists and hybrid organizations such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is the underlying principle.

In the global system, there is an economy of crime. It currently is built around drugs, but any item that is illegal in one place and legal in other and has an artificially inflated price quickly can become the center of the system. Human trafficking, smuggling and counterfeiting are cases in point, as was alcohol during prohibition. Products move from where they are legal (or at least not well-controlled) to where they are in demand but illegal. The money, of course, moves in the opposite direction. That money eventually ends up in the normal banking system. Organized crime wants to make money and it might want to manipulate the system, but it does not seek to overthrow the system or transform society. Insurgencies and revolutions seek to transform.

In the end, organized crime is about making money. Endemic organized crime leads to corruption and collusion, and in the long term often burns itself out as the money earned through its activities eventually moves into the legal economic system. When organized crime groups become rich enough, they move their money into legitimate businesses in order to launder it or a least use it, eventually turning it into established money that has entered the realm of business. This can get more complicated when organized crime and insurgents/guerrillas overlap, as is the case with FARC.

The problems we are seeing in Mexico are similar to those we have seen in past cases, in which criminal elements become factionalized. In Mexico, these factions are fighting over control of drug routes and domain. The battles that are taking place are largely the result of fighting among the organized crime groups, rather than cartels fighting the Mexican government. In some ways, the Mexican military and security forces are a third party in this — not the focus. Ultimately, the cartels — not the government — control the level of violence and security in the country.

As new groups emerge and evolve, they frequently can be quite violent and in some sense anarchic. When a new group of drug dealers moves into a neighborhood, it might be flamboyant and excessively violent. It is the same on a much larger scale with these organized crime cartels. However, although cartel infighting is tolerated to some extent, the government is forced to react when the level of violence starts to get out of hand. This is what we are seeing in Mexico.

However, given that organized crime tends to become more conservative as it grows and becomes more established, the situation in Mexico could be reaching a tipping point. For example, during the summer of 2007, the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels declared a temporary truce as their rivalry began to impact their business operations. As the competition among the cartels settles, they could begin to draw back their forces and deal with those members who are excessively violent or out of control. This is simply a way of assuring their operations. The American Mafia followed a similar pattern, evolving into an organism with strong discipline and control.

There is a question now as to whether the Mexican cartels are following the American model or imitating the Colombian model, which is a hybrid of organized crime and an insurgency. In fact, they might be following both. Mexico, in some sense, is two countries. The North has a much higher standard of living than the rest of the country, especially the area south of Mexico City. In the North, we could ultimately see a move in the direction of the American Mafia, whereas in the South — the home of the domestic guerrilla groups Zapatista National Liberation Army and Popular Revolutionary Army, it could shift more toward the Colombian model.

While the situation is evolving, the main battle in Mexico continues to be waged among various cartel factions, rather than among the cartels and the Mexican government or security forces. The goal of organized crime, and the goal of many of these cartels, is to get rich within the system, with minor variations on how that is achieved. A revolutionary group, on the other hand, wants to overthrow and change the system. The cartels obviously are working outside the legal framework, but they are not putting forward an alternative — nor do they seem to want to. Rather, they can achieve their goals simply through payoffs and other forms of corruption. The most likely outcome is not a merger between the cartels and the guerrilla groups, or even a shift in the cartels’ priorities to include government overthrow. However, as the government turns up the pressure, the concern is that the cartels will adopt insurgent-style tactics.

Organized crime is not street crime; it is systemic geopolitical crime. It is a significant social force, bringing huge amounts of capital into a system. This flow of money can reshape the society. But this criminal supply chain runs parallel to, and in many cases intersects, the legitimate global supply chain. Whether through smuggling and money laundering or increased investment capital and higher consumption rates, the underground and aboveground economies intersect.

U.S. and Mexican counternarcotics operations have an instant impact on the supply chain. Such operations shift traffic patterns across the border, affect the level of stability in the border areas — where there is a significant amount of manufacturing and trade — and impact sensitive social and political issues between the two countries, particularly immigration. In this light, then, violence is only one small part of the total impact that cartel activities and government counternarcotics efforts are having on the border.