The Drug Cartels of Mexico: Where they came from where they are going

The Drug Cartels of Mexico: Where they came from where they are going

Everything you wanted to know about the Mexican drug wars but were afraid to ask.

Well not really, but in this post I am putting up information to help put the drug wars of Mexico into perspective. As many sites have posted tens of thousands of people have been killed in the Mexican drug wars, some sites post the numbers at over 100,000 dead. San Carlos has not been exempt from the violence.  Drug dealers and their safe houses have existed in San Carlos for years, lots of them, and over the course of time I will post stories on that subject.

In the very first video posted below, Rodrigo Canales shows how the Mexican Government has completely fumbled its approach to dealing with civil society in relation to drugs and cartels. In comparison the major drug cartels have been far more successful in engaging society as a whole than the government and it is no wonder why. Where government has failed to provide jobs, security and much needed infrastructure in Mexico’s rural populations, the drug cartels have filled the void.

This very enlightening Ted Talk on The Deadly Genius of Drug Cartels, Mexico in particular, will demonstrate how the perception of drug cartels in Mexico as faceless goons is a fallacy. Drug cartels have a widely successful business model that the Mexican Government itself could learn from. The amount of money drug cartels control is truly staggering when compared to businesses such as Microsoft. At this link Canales is interviewed on a New Zealand radio Program posted on November 19, 2013 very recent indeed.

The below lecture is in English titled: The Deadly Genius of Drug Cartels

Rodrigo Canales



Edgardo Buscaglia

Edgardo Buscaglia is an academic scholar who has published much information on how drugs used to be controlled in Mexico and how and why the Mexican Government lost control over the cartels they once were masters of. Read this New York Times article published in May of 2013 in which Buscaglia gives a clear no nonsense almost Noam Chomsky-esque explanation of what he describes as the state power vacuum that now exists in Mexico.


Below is a lecture given by Edgardo Buscaglia called The Paradox of Repression.
This you tube video is posted on the you tube channel of  Casa de America: Casa de America is a public consortium based out of  Madrid. with the aim of promoting better understanding between the peoples of Latin America and Spain. It is in Spanish but it well worth listening to. I may eventually translate it into English but will look for another Buscaglia interview in English with the same topic but in the mean time if you speak Spanish I highly recommend this lecture, it is a must see. Below the video I will  describe themes that Bucaglia so eloquently touches on.

This lecture is in Spanish. I have tried to paraphrase Buscaglia’s comments in the paragraphs below the video

   The political process in Mexico was once controlled by one political party for over 70 years. The PRI party, because of its ability to win elections through authoritarian means was able to control drug cartels. The PRI governments through the decades drew up the borders for the cartels. Divided up control over trade routes and distribution. With PRI’s ability to keep wining presidential elections authoritarian rule served both the party and the cartels well.  When Vicente Fox, from the PAN party, broke the strangle hold over PRI’s dominance the following fragmentation of the political process led to the loss of control over the one party state. Political campaigns and election reform became more democratic and the electoral process itself more transparent. There are now several political parties that compete in the electoral process and Buscaglia contends that the process itself has become corrupted by drug cartel wealth. So there has been a reversal of roles in Mexico where political parties and police forces who once controlled the cartels have now been infiltrated and corrupted by the cartels and the vast amounts of wealth they have to wield.

Just watch the video by Rodrigo Canales to see how well the cartels have branded themselves to the impoverished of Mexico. It is no wonder why so many side with the Cartels when the government has left so many behind.

Cartel diversification. It is not only drugs that they transport and sell. Cartles now control 22 different types of criminal behavior  in Mexico. Drugs are only one part of the  equation of cartel criminal activities that include human trafficking, arms trafficking, contraband, extortion,  copy write pirating, and organ trafficking to name a few. The enormous amount of money garnered from these criminal activities have allowed these Mexican cartels, such as, Las Zetas, La Familia Michoacana, The Knights Templar, The Mata Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel to infiltrate institutions not only in Mexico but in over 50 countries throughout the world, including Germany and Spain. Cartel wealth is used to form legitimate legal businesses all over the world such as finance, mining and construction.

The huge mistake that Felipe Calderon made when he simply declared a war on drugs in 2007 was to throw more soldiers and more police against the cartels. This strategy alone could never work against the cartels when you consider their massive wealth completely in tact and virtually untouchable by inept and corrupt government agencies. In response to the government the cartels simply retaliated with more corruption and more violence hence you have this paradoxically vicious cycle of violence that is now self perpetuating. It is unclear still if the current administration will do anything different from the last. The equation is simple

More police & more soldiers from Government = More corruption & more violence from Cartels.

Consumption is not the only culprit. Many believe that consumption in the American and European market is much to blame over the violence that has erupted in Mexico but what must not be forgotten is that there was plenty of consumption before there was a major problem with violence in Mexico so consumption in the U.S can no longer be blamed as the only factor. Also many believe that legalization will be the panacea for drug cartel violence in Mexico. Buscaglia refutes this at the end of his lecture and contents that when Mexico’s elite class start suffering as much as the working class and poor are suffering now, then and only then will Mexico really begin to deal with the problem of the Cartel violence, which must be dealt with through the creation of successful civil organizations such as the ones created in Italy to deal with the organized crime problems that country has faced in the past.

The video below is an interview with Buscaglia conducted by Carmen Aristegui on paramilitaries in Mexico.

This video is an interview with Buscaglia that offers insight on what happened in Italy in the 80’s and how Mexico could learn from how Italy dealt with their problems with organized crime.


Adella Navarro Bello

Adela Navarro Bello co publishes, ZETA a weekly news paper in the border town of Tijuana. ZETA has published many stories on government corruption and the drug wars. ZETA had been nearly shut down by threats and assassinations within its staff and publishers from Mexican drug cartels but they have not backed down as a truly independent media source that has not been corrupted by government money. At least not the governments they have written against, which is every government that Mexico has had in power since they started publishing. In this recent blog post titled,  Pena Presidential Ornament,  Adela takes a well justified shot at the new president of Mexico Pena Nieto. Bello explains that in the last 25 public appearances Pena Nieto has given he has completely ignored or glossed over the question of drug violence & security in Mexico. It would seem like the new PRI administration really has nothing new to offer Mexico and it will be business as usual for a while longer.


Pena Nieto & Obama skirting the issue of drugs and violence in Mexico y U.S.

I am posting once again this link to the May meeting between Barack Obama and Pena Nieto. This economist article shows Mexican president Pena Nieto and Obama essentially skirted the issue of drugs and violence in their meeting last May.





Musicians Capitalize on the violence & suffering caused by the drug wars

A good friend of mine has sent me some information on a new film by Israeli photographer Shaul Shwarz that opens in Miami and New York called “Narco Corrido”. This Aljazeera America story talks about how musicians are cashing in on the glorification of drugs and violence. Check out the link below.


“With an AK-47 and a bazooka on my shoulder / Cross my path and I’ll chop your head off / We’re bloodthirsty, crazy, and we like to kill.”

4 Responses to The Drug Cartels of Mexico: Where they came from where they are going

  1. Thanks for taking time to express in English the difference between our cultures. I will look at the video suggestions later on. Makes me stomach turn. Corruption = peace and silence, transparency and choice = violence and surveillance, oh what a lovely future if you can stand it.

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