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Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed more than 28,000 people, the government reported this month. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

Thursday, August 5

In Ciudad Juarez, eleven people were killed in various incidents across the city. In one case, a 20-year old woman was shot dead as she walked with a 4-year old girl, who escaped unscathed. In another incident, an apparent extortionist was shot and killed after a shoot-out with security guards. Drug trafficking organizations across Mexico are also involved in extortion.

Friday, August 6

In Matamoros, at least 14 inmates were killed during a clash between rival gangs inside the prison. Troops from the Mexican army were eventually sent into the facility to restore order. It is unclear which groups participated in the fighting, but much of the recent violence in the Matamoros area been the result of fighting between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas Organization.

Saturday, August 7

In Mexico City, thousands of journalists marched to protest the killings and disappearances of journalists due to prohibition-related violence in the country. Similar protests were planned in Sinaloa and Chihuahua. Over 60 Mexican journalists have been killed since 2000. This year, the Committee to Protect Journalists says that 10 journalists have been killed, and many face daily threats to their lives and harassment.

Sunday, August 8

In Ciudad Juarez, over 200 armed federal police officers raided the hotel where their commander, Salomon Alarcon,  was staying. After blocking off the streets to prevent his escape, they detained Alarcon at gunpoint, accusing him of having planted drugs on officers to force them to become involved in extortion plots. The officers found weapons and drugs in his hotel room. The officer was held captive until the Federal Police Commissioner General agreed to suspend him pending a full investigation into the allegations. It was later found that Alarcon was on the payroll of the Sinaloa Cartel.

Also in Ciudad Juarez, two federal police officers were shot dead as they walked in plainclothes through the center of the city at night. A large police operation was immediately launched, but no arrests or confrontations occurred.

In Palomas, Chihuahua, three severed heads were discovered in the main plaza as locals left Sunday mass. A charred SUV with the headless bodies was discovered south of the town. A note left with the bodies indicate that the victims were extortionists who were killed by a rival criminal organization. Last October, the mayor of Palomas was kidnapped and found murdered.

Monday, August 9

At a forum in Puerto Vallarta, Mexican authorities said that drug-trafficking organizations pay an estimated $100 million in bribes monthly to municipal police officials. According to Public Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, this estimate is based on officer perceptions and on a list of payouts to police officers that was seized during recent operations. He also said that 20% of municipal police officers make less than $79 a month, and 60% make less than $317 a month.

In Morelos, seven people were killed in prohibition-related violence. Among the dead were three men who were decapitated in the town of Ahuatepec. In Ciudad Juarez, police discovered the dismembered body of an officer.

Tuesday, August 10

In Morelos, 10-12 heavily armed men ambushed a police convoy carrying a high-profile prisoner to jail. Two officers and the prisoner were killed in the ambush. Mario Alberto Chavez Traconi, 54, was known as the King of Fraud. The ambush occurred after the police convoy was cut off by SUV's and the gunmen attacked the police officers with assault rifles.

Total Body Count for the Week: 146

Total Body Count for the Year: 6,994

Read the previous Mexico Drug War Update here.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Drug Wars in Mexico

This article says; "Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government."


Is someone suggesting that the drug laws of the United States are to blame for this debacle going on in Mexico?  What would happen if the US eliminated drug laws entirely? What about just Marijuana?


Mexico also has prohibitionist drug policies. But, I guess that has nothing at all to do with the violence in Mexico! What would happen in Mexico eliminated prohibitionist drug laws?

McD's picture

Facing the Truth

Yes, I'm afraid, not only is someone suggesting that the US drug laws are to blame for Mexico's most serious current ills, but the fact is exactly that - it is entirely the fault of the US. If the US eliminated all drug laws, which it couldn't do without permission from the UN, then this problem in Mexico would disappear overnight. If it were just cannabis (the proper, grown-up word for 'marijuana') then half of the problem would disappear overnight.

The only reason other countries have drug laws is because they were bullied into adopting them by the US, using UN instruments. America is the problem.

Drug trafficking, by

Drug trafficking, by definition, is an international problem. Yes, Mexico has prohibitionist drug policies and they are the reason for the escalating violence in Mexico. However,


1. the majority of the drugs in Mexico go to feed the huge demand in the US. Even if drugs were legal in Mexico, this would not solve the problem of drug-traffickers, gangs and violence because the demand and the profits come from the US, and that would remain unchanged. There would be less clashes between police and drug cartels, which would be nice, but the cartels would continue to fight for their share of the US market.

2. America's War on Drugs and conservative leanings are not likely to cease anytime soon.

3. American foreign policy towards Latin America has always been: you're either with us or against us, now tow the line or there will be problems. This makes it very difficult for Mexico to have a policy of anything but prohibition, because the US would not allow it.

4. As long as there is American demand and American prohibition, there will be Mexican drug cartels taking advantage of the opportunity to make huge profits trafficking drugs to America, whether it is legal or illegal in Mexico.


So, yes, American drug laws and American demand play a HUGE role in the drug wars of Mexico.

McD's picture

End of an Era

"America's War on Drugs and conservative leanings are not likely to cease anytime soon."

I disagree. I believe the War on Drugs is over now and I don't believe it's possible for America to afford itself the  'conservative leanings' it has indulged in - and been tolerated for - in the past. Not only are things changing, but they have already changed immensely and very quickly. I believe the appointment of Yuri Fedatov to the Boss job at the UNODC is the clearest indication of America's inability to sustain its previous (War on Drugs) position. It couldn't be a clearer admission of defeat or a more obvious means of getting someone else - a fall guy - to take the heat. Open your eyes Mr/s mlharrisfl.

"Four slightly different usages for "fall guy" arise. The origins of all four are probably different. The usages are:
    1.    Scapegoat (innocent). [implies the same as 3]
    2.    "Betrayed confederate" (guilty scapegoat); here one criminal (willingly or unwillingly) is arrested and sacrificed, while the rest of the criminals go free. [implies the same as 4, sometimes 3]
    3.    Dupe, the fool; the butt of jokes.
    4.    'One who takes on the responsibilities or workload of others' (see Gary Martin, below). Possibly used in the worker-bee, gruntwork sense. No foul play implied."


See for details.

La Tenebra y el Crimen Organizado hermanados

El cambio de partido en el poder en la república mexicana fue bueno en el sentido de que se demostró que la democracia y la pluralidad eran posibles. El sicarismo ya existía y la prueba es la balacera en la que murió el Cardenal Posadas supuestamente por viajar ostentosamente en una limusina con lo que quedó tácitamente prohibida la ostentación. En el primer sexenio del PAN llamaron la atención las ejecuciones que de manera cotidiana se sucedían en los lugares conflictivos de la república. La estructuración semioficial del crimen organizado basada en la aleatoriedad sistémica se estaba consolidando. Es difícil distinguir tenebra y crimen organizado, los jóvenes que sienten natural prestar servicio en la tenebra del fascismo se ven envueltos en el crimen organizado que depende del secreto y de la oscuridad para funcionar como tal. Algunos lugares del norte de la república estan abandonados y la gente busca refugio en el país del norte, no optan por quedarse en su país y tratar de cambiar las condiciones de vida. A todos nos consta que el gobierno no combate hasta el exterminio el fenómeno del sicarismo, las policías y el ejército sólo responden a las provocaciones. Si el dinero sucio es el principal sustento para que el país salga adelante pues es necesaria una solución económica para que el crimen organizado no se vuelva una necesidad política. Es necesario el trabajo conjunto de la población para des-hermanar la llamada tenebra, el condicionamiento social, del crimen organizado. Es tiempo de romper tabúes y hablar de los hilos que nos mueven, ese amaestramiento de la población. Si el control en la práctica no es ejercido por la gente y las figuras políticas dicho control se puede contaminar al perderse en la nube de la invisibilidad. Aquí no cabe el diálogo con los sicarios ni pactar con los delincuentes. El crimen organizado no debe existir en un escenario de paz, bienestar, legalidad y progreso. Todos tenemos derecho a este escenario para nosotros y las generaciones venideras. Trabajemos para conseguirlo, no nos quedemos callados. El sistema necesita ser exorcisado. 

There is an irrefutable

There is an irrefutable connection between drug prohibition and the crime, corruption, disease and death it causes. If you are not capable of understanding this connection, then maybe you're using something far stronger than the rest of us. Anybody 'halfway bright' and who's not psychologically challenged, should be capable of understanding, that it is not simply the demand for drugs that creates the mayhem; it is our refusal to let legal businesses meet that demand.

No amount of money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safer; only an end to prohibition can do that. How much longer are you willing to foolishly risk your own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?


Right on, right-on, righton>it says it all!!!

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