Tag Archives | Mexico drug war

Mexico Drug Trafficking Organizations Threaten Country

Credit: Library of Congress

These excerpts are from a sobering report on Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) from the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress titled Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Rising Violence

The two big cartels are Sinaloa and Los Zetas. Sinaloa prefers to corrupt while the Zetas terrorize to get their way.


Sinaloa reportedly has a substantial presence in some 50 countries, including throughout the Americas, Europe, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. Often described as the most powerful mafia organization in the Western Hemisphere, Sinaloa is also reported to be the most cohesive.

Think about that. Sinaloa is bigger and more powerful than the American Mafia.

Los Zetas

Since February 2010, Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel have been battling in Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, and other Gulf territory for control of drug smuggling corridors. What is especially significant is that in order to fight Los Zetas, the Gulf cartel has allied itself with two former enemies—La Familia Michoacana (LFM) and the Sinaloa cartel—creating an environment of urban warfare with commando-style raids on state prisons, abduction of journalists, murder of police, and attacks on military posts. They have organized elaborate road blockades during their violent operations to prevent legitimate police from responding.

This is open warfare between criminal insurgencies. What’s happening in Mexico is a poisonous new hybrid combining criminal organizations and insurgencies.

The “kingpin strategy” backfired

A “kingpin strategy” implemented by the Mexican government has successfully “taken down” numerous top- and mid-level leaders in all the major DTOs, either through arrests or deaths in operations to detain them. However, this strategy with political decentralization has contributed to violent succession struggles, shifting alliances among the DTOs, a proliferation of new gangs and small DTOs, and the replacement of existing leaders and criminal groups by ones who are even more violent

Criminal diversification of the DTOs.

In addition to selling illegal drugs, they have branched into other profitable crimes such as kidnapping, assassination for hire, auto theft, controlling prostitution, extortion, money-laundering, software piracy, resource theft, and human smuggling. The surge in violence due to inter- and intra-cartel conflict over lucrative drug smuggling routes has been accompanied by an increase in kidnapping for ransom and other crimes.

Somewhere behind of of this is a worldwide network of corrupt banks and hedge funds that launder the money.

And the madness continues

Americans shot in Mexico were CIA operatives aiding in drug war.

CIA operatives in Mexico were attacked and ambushed by Federal Police while traveling in an embassy SUV with diplomatic plates. No one has yet explained why the attack happened, if it was accidental or a deliberate ambush.

The notion that a squad of federal police officers would attack an embassy car could be another blow to the developing trust and cooperation between American counternarcotics personnel and their Mexican partners.

Ya think? The really scary part is that police and military in Mexico can’t really be trusted. They might be clean or they might be working for a cartel.

Even more brutal leader takes over Zetas

A falling out between the leaders of the hyper-violent Zetas cartel appears to have put the gang in the hands of a brutal and feared gangster who has been blamed for an eruption of bloodshed in Mexico’s once relatively calm central states.

The Drug Trafficking Organizations are a serious threat to the stability and prosperity of Mexico and no one really knows how to stop them.

Must-read blogs about border security and the drug war

My latest for AZIVN, the new project from CAIVN, focusing on Arizona.

While the mainstream media can do an excellent job of reporting about what’s happening on the Mexico side of the border, and about the ever-escalating drug wars, there are a number of blogs that provide critical information and viewpoints you might not find elsewhere.

Narco News reports “on the drug war and democracy from all America.” They are the Granddaddy of the drug war sites, tend towards left-wing populism in their viewpoints, and over the years have broken major stories with their investigative reporting. They strive for original content and translate articles into multiple languages. Since many of their reporters are in Latin America, they often cover news not easily available elsewhere.

Narcosphere is a project of Narco News. It is citizen journalism with over 484 participants reporting on the drug wars, the related war of terror, police corruption, and more. Participants are screened first, comments are allowed, and it has a high signal-to-noise ratio.

Border Narcotics Intelligence focuses on “securing credible intelligence on Mexican drug cartels and human smuggling” with an aim towards helping and aiding law enforcement. Members can post on their own blogs, and the viewpoint is right-wing and about getting involved.

Borderland Beat covers the Mexican cartel drug war from a street level perspective. Reporting includes the latest raids by military and police, shootouts by cartels against each other, arrests of police for corruption, and the depressing number of dead, mutilated bodies on the streets of Mexico in the mornings. They reprint news and filter it from elsewhere so people will understand just how insane the violence and lawlessness is there now. They do not publish ultra-graphic photos and videos, but sometimes link to them (with warnings.)

Mexico’s Drug War is an “ongoing analysis of southwest border violence issues by an experienced intelligence professional.” Sylvia Longmire covers the drug wars from a high level strategic and tactical viewpoint. She believes that legalization needs to be discussed as it is a primary way the cartels could be crippled. She also thinks the violence will be spilling across the border into this country, something she discusses in her new book, to be released Sept. 27, Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars.

Border Reporter is Michel Marizco, a solo journalist in southern Arizona who has been covering the crime syndicates and associated corruption since 2005 and specializes in the Sinaloa Cartel. He reports for multiple Arizona newspapers and TV stations

Legalizing marijuana won’t kill the drug cartels

Sylvia Longmire in the New York Times.

Marijuana makes up 60 percent of the cartels’ profits, that still leaves another 40 percent, which includes the sale of methamphetamine, cocaine, and brown-powder and black-tar heroin. If marijuana were legalized, the cartels would still make huge profits from the sale of these other drugs.

Plus, there’s no reason the cartels couldn’t enter the legal market for the sale of marijuana, as organized crime groups did in the United States after the repeal of Prohibition.

The cartels are diversifying into other forms of crime like kidnapping, protection rackets, oil theft, and pirated goods, she says, and while decriminalizing marijuana and not treating casual users as criminals will help, it won’t stop the violence in Mexico or its inevitable spillover into this country.

Terror and the silenced screams: violence engulfs Tamaulipas

You can’t trust the police or the military either. The root cause of the current horrific violence seems to be that three cartels have declared war on the Zetas. The streets are beyond not safe. Cartels block intersections to hijack cars and rape women. The recent mass execution of those 72 migrants was not an outlier. Police stations are routinely attacked. The authorities are apparently powerless to stop it.

I say “apparently” because, as a long-time Mafia watcher in Chicago once remarked to me, some families are always getting arrested, other practically never. It’s not because one family is smarter. So, in part the authorities might not care much if a bunch of thugs kill each other saving them the trouble, it could also be they have a loose alliance with some of them.