Eliminating Cartel Leaders had ‘Little Effect’ on Mexico Violence: US

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During testimony before the US Senate, a top military commander said that the targeting of drug cartel leaders did not have an apparent positive effect in Mexico, an unusual admission by the US.

US Northern Command leader General Charles Jacoby told the Senate’s Armed Services Committee that Mexico had successfully killed or captured 22 out of 37 of Mexico’s most wanted drug traffickers, as identified by the Mexican government. He added that such results had “no appreciable effect,” as violence continued to increase in Mexico. The country saw a 10 percent rise in homicides linked to organized crime between 2010 and 2011, finishing the year with nearly 13,000 murders.

Jacoby declined to give a personal assessment of the current security situation, noting only that violence had risen in 2011 and “trailed off as the year concluded.” He described the current homicide statistics as “unacceptable.”

InSight Crime Analysis

Jacoby’s admission comes amid signs that violence levels may at last be stabilizing in Mexico, as homicide rates grew more slowly in 2011 when compared to previous years. And as analyst James Bosworth points out, Jacoby’s statement may also be interpreted as partial recognition by the US that the metrics used to judge success in the drug war — counting how many cartel leaders have been killed or captured — do not necesarily reflect overall improvements in security.

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