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Mexico's Drug War

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Mexico's Drug War

Drug trafficking has become an increasingly growing problem in the world today. Illegal drug trade is a worldwide black market consisting of production, distribution, packaging, and sale of illegal substances. Although today's "War on Drugs" is a modern phenomenon, drug problems have been a common problem throughout history. The market for illegal drugs is massive, when we consider the estimated global drug trade value is worth $321 billion (Vulliamy). The most drug trafficking happens on the border between Mexico and the United States. Former Mexican President Felipe Calderon said, "Our neighbor is the largest consumer of drugs in the world. And everybody wants to sell him drugs through our door and our window" (Catholic Online). Mexico is the main foreign supplier of marijuana and a major supplier of methamphetamine to the United States. Mexico is responsible for 90% of drugs that comes from the southern border of the United States. Mexico has been a producer and distributer of illegal drugs for generations; the country now finds itself in a battle with powerful and well-financed drug cartels. The corruption in the Mexico, the trafficking of weapons and the violence has made it possible for cartels to keep operating.

Since 2006, when president Calderon declared the war on drug cartels, violence in Mexico has increased dramatically. The country has certainly seen a big rise in drug violence, with cartels fighting for control of major shipment routes. Mexican cartels have been tied to both human and arms trafficking, auto theft and kidnapping (Siddique). The drug business is a cycle between the United States and Mexico. Mexico sends the cargo and the United States sends the money, fueling the drug cartels. Drug cartels use the money to bribe government officials; they also buy weapons in the United States to perpetuate the violence in Mexico.

The Mexican government has sent troops to specific points where the violence is getting out of control. The government has made some gains, but at a heavy price. A total of 34,612 people have died in drug-related killings in Mexico in the first four years (Siddique). Most of these killing are between cartel rivals fighting for the control of territories. There are five cartels operating in Mexico: the Sinaloa, the Gulf, Juarez, Tijuana, the Zetas. The major cartels are the Gulf, Sinaloa and Juarez (Cook 21). Many of these cartels have joined together forming powerful alliances known as the "Federation" (Cook 17). The cartels work together, but they remain independent organizations.

Mexican Cartels are luring youngsters as young as 11 to work in their smuggling operations, attracting them with what appears to be "easy money" for doing simple tasks. Cartels recruit children, who are less likely to be suspects than adults and are easily manipulated by small sums of money, and face less severe penalties than adults. Kids are asked to smuggle drugs, people and weapons through the border. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety says, "They are U.S. citizens who speak Spanish and blends perfectly in the other side of the border."

There is not a concrete solution to dismantle the drug cartels. The United States has worked along with Mexico to fight and win the battle against the powerful drug cartels. They need to attack and stop the source of power. That source is the money. To stop the flow of money, the demand for drugs has to be stopped. Once the flow of money is stopped, the cartels will not be able to purchase guns and ammunitions from the United States.

In every country in the world there is some sort of corruption; Mexico is no exception. Corruption is the abuse of public power to gain benefits. Mexico has never had an honest, reliable, police force and this goes back to colonial times (Sordo). Citizen attitudes about police in Mexico may be part of the problem. In Mexico, corruption consists of a system of exchanges in which support for public officials is given in return for certain privileges. Mexican police are usually paid little, making them vulnerable to bribes and extortion.

The global drug trade is a $300-350 billion per year enterprise; Mexico's share is estimated to be $25-35 billion per year of the aforementioned total (Galen). In addition to dealing drugs, cartels are expanding their power by getting into the oil business. They steal from pipe lines that are underground, taking tons of crude oil and gasoline from Pemex-- Pemex is the governmental monopoly of gasoline in Mexico. This has created a huge income stream, as much as $715 million a year (Hawley). This gives the cartels the resources to bribe or to hire sicarios (hit men) to deal with those who do not want to cooperate. Cartels corrupt local public officials and top government officials to turn a blind eye to cartel activities or work directly with them.

Mexico developed the Clean House operation, which investigates all government officials that might be linked to cartels. Under this operation, Mexican investigators have arrested the former chief of the federal anti-organized crime for taking $450,000 from cartels. In December 2005, one-fifth of Mexico's Federal Investigative Agency officials were investigated for criminal activities (Hawley). DEA agents Enrique Camarena and Alfredo Zavala were kidnapped and tortured to death for raiding and seizing marijuana plantations. Months later, the DEA found the suspect of this crime and asked the Mexican cops to arrest him. The suspect left the country thanks to the police commander who delayed the raid (Kale).

Cartels also target small business like night clubs, restaurants, and local commercial stores. They ask the owner, "Plata o plomo?" (silver or lead) making them choose either to pay or to die from a gunshot. Each week, a drug lord collects their payments for the victims' protection. Mexican citizens are afraid to report crimes; they do not know who to trust anymore. In 2010, a citizen reported a drop house via the anonymous line, and the next day he was found dead in his house. In July 2010, a gunman ambushed a birthday party killing 17 people (Flakus). Some sources believe this mass killing was the result of the innkeeper not paying the extortion fee. Corruption among the local and top government officials has helped the cartels remain hidden and free from punishment.

Cartels "buy" not only government officials, but also professionals in different fields. Engineers of telecommunications were "hired" to develop a radio signal that could not be intercepted by government officials. This signal also intercepted radio signals from local police and agencies without detection, giving cartels

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