Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More evidence Mexican drug war strategy is working, as violence shifts southward

But now Guatemala and Honduras are in the eye of the storm; drug legalization "not an option," says United Nations agency, which takes a swipe at Canadian usage too

*Updated Apr. 2, 2013*
Critics of Mexico's 62 month old war against the drug cartels, launched by president Felipe Calderón in December 2006, might want to take note of a report published today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. UNODC claims that due to increased pressure by Mexican security forces some cartels have moved their operational centers to Central America, resulting in a precipitous increase in violent crime in the region, including kidnapping, torture and murder. The international drug monitoring agency reports that the escalating violence presents a "grave risk to daily life," and "has reached alarming and unprecedented levels." UNODC warns that in addition to international cartel operatives, about 900 local crime gangs with some 70,000 members operate in Central America.

The report notes that ever increasing quantities of U.S.-bound cocaine pass through Central America before arriving in Mexico, rather than directly from the country of origin (frequently Colombia). About 90% of all cocaine ultimately delivered to the United States crosses the border it shares with Mexico. The Mexican government thus faces a paradox. Although cartel operatives have been flushed out of the country and chased south across Mexico's border with Guatemala, the relocated narcotics traffickers now ship their products north for temporary warehousing in Mexico, before eventually forwarding them to the U.S. The UNODC report suggests that this could only be accomplished with the cooperation of corrupt local police forces. One more compelling reason to maintain the Calderón National Security Strategy, based heavy upon the use of federal military units in drug interdiction.

UNODC's head, Viena Hamid Ghodse, says that the legalization of drugs "is not an option" and would only exacerbate incipient regional conflicts in Central America. The agency also noted that drug consumers in Canada share responsibility for violence wracking the area.

Apr. 2, 2013 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reports that Mexican drug cartels continue to expand their sphere of influence throughout Central America. The Sinaloa Cartel of El Chapo Guzmán and Los Zetas are the most powerful, UNODC says, although the Gulf Cartel and Familia Michocana are also present. Cartel bosses have threatened elected political leaders in Guatemala and Honduras in an effort to intimidate them. UNDOC once again says that aggressive pursuit by the Mexican (and Colombian) armies have forced traffickers to relocate key operations to Central America. In the case of Mexico, that strategy was implemented by former president Felipe Calderón in 2006, and is being closely adhered to by new president Enrique Peña Nieto.

Why call it "decriminalization" when clearly it's legalization?: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/no-sense-in-saying-decriminalization.html#more.
U.S. rebuffs Guatemalan call to consider drug legalization: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/us-rejects-guatemalas-proposal-to-open.html.
Drugs float ashore in Playa del Carmen: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/drugs-float-ashore-on-playa-del-carmen.html.
Honduras "invaded by drug traffickers": http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/honduras-invaded-by-drug-traffickers.html.
"Almost bankrupt" Guatemala calls for U.S. help: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/almost-bankrupt-guatemala-calls-upon-us.html.
Guatemalan army joins drug war: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/guatemalan-army-joins-drug-war-we-have.html.
U.S. Peace Corps flees Honduras: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/peace-corps-exits-honduras-in-face-of.html.
Why the Calderón strategy has been the right one: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/calderon-strategy-has-been-right-one.html.
Why the L.A. Times (and some others) just don't get it: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/why-la-times-just-doesnt-get-it.html.
Why López Obrador drug war plan would be disastrous for Mexico: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/lopez-obrado-repeats-promise-to-pull.html.


  1. So Mexico's strategy against the drug cartels is "working" because the problems the cartels cause are now appearing in neighboring countries? Shouldn't the goal be to eliminate the cartels, not merely move them farther south and have them become someone else's problem? And, since that neighboring someone else is more than likely a smaller country with fewer resources and less police and military, isn't it likely that the cartels, and their violence, will flourish there? I don't think that handing your problems off to your neighbors equates with dealing with those problems effectively. Perhaps the UN would like to join in finding an actual solution, and perhaps the US and Canada should fully own their roles in this problem.

  2. Your points are well taken, Darin, and exactly the same occurred to me when I posted this. But I don't blame Mexico for the net result; it has every right to push out the drug cartels, even if they end up in someone else's backyard. The problem is international in scope, as your comments suggest. Drug trafficking is not mere domestic crime, as some have argued, and local police forces alone never will be able to stop it (due to corruption, impotence or otherwise). And nothing will even begin to change until the U.S. and Canada get their drug consumption under control.

    All this said, I'm convinced of two things: First, legalization is not the answer, at least not the answer for the kind of world in which I want to live. Second, from a purely strategic perspective, Mexico's National Security Strategy adopted by president Calderón is working better than any other tactic which is immediately available on the table.