‘Drugs and Violence: Mexico’s Addiction’

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Waves of killings blamed on drug cartels are continuing to sweep Mexico. Mexican political scientist Eduardo Guerrero Gutierrez examines the reasons for the violence and the prospects for the future.

This BBC dispatch from security analyst Eduardo Guerrero Gutierrez, published September 3, 2010, includes maps of the cartels’ main areas of influence and examines patterns of Mexican violence. 

From the article:

A particularly frustrating aspect of the government’s war against organised crime is that – despite its high cost in terms of human lives – the war has not led to the decline of kidnappings, extortion and human trafficking.

In addition, frequent arrests of drug lords have had three highly detrimental effects: an increase in the number of criminal organisations (given the divisions that these arrests cause within a cartel); higher levels of violence; and territorial expansion of organised crime (which involves the invasion of new spaces).

Waves of violence

What are the main patterns of Mexican violence?

In general, it is a selective type of violence led by rival organisations and police and military authorities, driven by the chronic instability of criminal networks (to which the government has contributed significantly), and their ability to retain and win routes and territories for drug trafficking.

Some 162 municipalities out of the 2,456 that exist across Mexico account for 80% of the total number of killings – and within that figure the violence is concentrated yet further.

Ciudad Juarez has seen 20 percent of the murders, while three other cities, Culiacan, Tijuana and Chihuahua, account for 16 percent.

Nationally, there were two periods of dramatic and sudden increase in drug-related killings between January 2007 and August 2010: the first from April 2008 to November 2008, when killings rose from 200 to over 700 per month.

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