2010 August 07 Saturday
Drug Cartels More Powerful In Mexico

Brenda Walker points to an LA Times story about comments made by Mexican President Felipe Calderon where Calderon describes the growing challenge of the Mexican drug lords to the Mexican government.

“Their business is no longer just the traffic of drugs. Their business is to dominate everyone else,” Calderon said. “This criminal behavior is what has changed and become a defiance to the state, an attempt to replace the state” by exacting war taxes and taking up arms more powerful than those used by outgunned government forces.

Mexico City has a lot of kidnapping and extortion going on. The crime is about more than just drugs.

Another LA Times story reports on the scale of the cartels.

Reporting from Mexico City — Nearly four years after President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led crackdown against drug traffickers, the cartels are smuggling more narcotics into the United States, amassing bigger fortunes and extending their dominion at home with such savagery that swaths of Mexico are now in effect without authority.

The groups also are expanding their ambitions far beyond the drug trade, transforming themselves into broad criminal empires deeply involved in migrant smuggling, extortion, kidnapping and trafficking in contraband such as pirated DVDs.

Read the second article in full. A US government has issued travel warnings for a growing list of Mexican states. The fight with the drug cartels is not seen as a threat to the stability of the state.

What the US could best do for the benefit of both the United States and Mexico: Build a huge border barrier and heavily man the border with agents to stop the drug and people smuggling. The US government should do far more extensive searching at the legal crossing points while simultaneously putting a stop to all illegal crossings. Then track down and deport all Mexican criminals in the United States as a prelude to deporting all illegal aliens in the United States.

The drug cartels would have far less power if they couldn't use Mexico's physical proximity to the United States to smuggle large amounts of drugs into the United States.

On the bright side, Brazil and Honduras are much worse. That's why the worst places exist: To make bad places look good by comparison.

From 2007 to 2009, the murder rate jumped from 10 to 14 per 100,000 people. That's still low compared with countries such as Brazil, with a murder rate of 22, or Honduras, with 60.9.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 August 07 04:28 PM  Mexico

Mark said at August 7, 2010 5:39 PM:

Diversity is... oh I give up.

Wolf-Dog said at August 7, 2010 5:51 PM:

But isn't it true that the main income of all drug cartels in South America comes from the American drug addicts? To be exact, probably $100 billion dollars are spent by American drug addicts to import these substances. I am risking my life by saying this, but what if American scientists invent a cheap legal medication that will free people from drug addiction? This would bring an end to the reign of drug cartels.

Stephen said at August 7, 2010 7:18 PM:

What the US could best do for the benefit of both the United States and Mexico...

...is to decriminalise drugs.

What you're seeing is the rise of criminality due to prohibition-era styled criminalisation of consumer goods, except you've moved the criminality next door to your neighbour's house.

Randall Parker said at August 7, 2010 8:30 PM:


We aren't going to criminalize drugs because parents live in fear of their kids getting involved with abusing drugs. I know parents who have fought that battle or are fighting it now. Decriminalization is anathema to them.

So big border barriers and heavy drug law enforcement around the US border makes the most sense.

James Bowery said at August 7, 2010 11:22 PM:

Wolf-Dog: Before that happens, maize will be genetically engineered to produce drugs and kill the profits.

A.Prole said at August 8, 2010 3:51 AM:

It's too late.Should have been done 30 years ago when there was a chance. Instead stupid bastard Reagan (inexplicably hailed as a 'saint' by some very dumb 'conservatives'), indulged the Mexicans with an 'amnesty' ie effectively rewarding them for illegal border crossing and thus encouraging even more to come.

no i don't said at August 8, 2010 5:46 PM:

Marihuana and cocaine are already legal in Mexico. Of course the quantity is limited to personal use. It comes down to around 5 well-forged joints; don't exactly remember how many grams of coke, though.

Contemplationist said at August 17, 2010 4:52 PM:


Have you fallen so far from the libertarian tree that you don't even mention drug legalization
as a possible solution to this problem? Full legalization + regulation, should immensely cut down the power
of the cartels and hence ease the pressure on the border, both from illegal aliens as well as from the
cartels. No?

Randall Parker said at August 17, 2010 9:40 PM:


I start out from the position now that libertarian positions are suspect because the libertarian foundation of assumptions about human nature are so wrong.

Parents (and grandparents for that matter) are deeply opposed to drug legalization. They have a lot invested in their kids and don't want their brains fried. Massive border barriers and thorough checks of every vehicle crossing the border are closer to the realm of the politically possible.

Full legalization: I think the costs of drug legalization are underestimated by the libertarians. Lots more people frying their brains. The parents have it right. I'd like to see some other Western nation try legalization first and we can see what results before we try it ourselves.

Besides, a border barrier would have other benefits.


I just want to slow the decline.

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