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Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies UC San Diego Peer Reviewed Title: Drug Trafficking Organizations and Counter-Drug Strategies in the U.S.-Mexican Context Author: Astorga, Luis, Universidad Nacional Autónoma
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Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies UC San Diego Peer Reviewed Title: Drug Trafficking Organizations and Counter-Drug Strategies in the U.S.-Mexican Context Author: Astorga, Luis, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Shirk, David A., University of San Diego Publication Date: Series: Evolving Democracy Publication Info: Evolving Democracy, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UC San Diego Permalink: Keywords: drug policy, drug trafficking, organized crime, public security Abstract: The proliferation and impunity of organized crime groups involved in drug trafficking in recent years is one of the most pressing public concerns in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. While the vast majority of this violence remains concentrated within Mexico, it has raised very serious concerns among U.S. observers about possible spillover into U.S. communities along the border. In response to these trends, Mexico and the United States have taken significant measures to try to address the phenomenon of transnational organized crime. However, this pattern accelerated greatly during the Fox and Calderón administrations. This chapter explores two fundamental questions pertaining to Mexico s ongoing public security crisis. First, why has Mexico experienced this sudden increase in violence among trafficking organizations? Second, what are the current efforts and prospective strategies available to counter Mexican drug trafficking networks? In the process, we explore the development of Mexico s drug trafficking organizations and identify and consider the merits of the three conceivable scenarios for managing drug use complicity with traffickers, confrontation of traffickers, or changing the paradigm for regulating drug use all of which have inevitable undesirable effects. escholarship provides open access, scholarly publishing services to the University of California and delivers a dynamic research platform to scholars worldwide. USMEX WP Drug Trafficking Organizations and Counter- Drug Strategies in the U.S.-Mexican Context Luis Astorga and David A. Shirk Mexico and the United States: Confronting the Twenty-First Century This working paper is part of a project seeking to provide an up-to-date assessment of key issues in the U.S.-Mexican relationship, identify points of convergence and divergence in respective national interests, and analyze likely consequences of potential policy approaches. The project is co-sponsored by the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (San Diego), the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center (Washington DC), El Colegio de la Frontera Norte (Tijuana), and El Colegio de México (Mexico City). Drug Trafficking Organizations and Counter-Drug Strategies in the U.S.-Mexican Context Luis Astorga and David A. Shirk 1 Si la perra está amarrada/ aunque ladre todo el día/ no la deben de soltar/ mi abuelito me decía/ que podrían arrepentirse/ los que no la conocían ( ) y la cuerda de la perra/ la mordió por un buen rato/ y yo creo que se soltó/ para armar un gran relajo ( ) Los puerquitos le ayudaron/ se alimentan de la Granja/ diario quieren más maíz/ y se pierden las ganancias ( ) Hoy tenemos día con día/ mucha inseguridad/ porque se soltó la perra/ todo lo vino a regar/ entre todos los granjeros/ la tenemos que amarrar As my grandmother always told me, If the dog is tied up, even though she howls all day long, you shouldn t set her free and the dog the chewed its rope for a long time, and I think it got loose to have a good time The pigs helped it, wanting more corn every day, feeding themselves on the Farm and losing profits Today we have more insecurity every day because the dog got loose, everything got soaked. Together all the farmers, we have to tie it up. La Granja (Teodoro Bello), Los Tigres del Norte Overview The proliferation and impunity of organized crime groups involved in drug trafficking in recent years is one of the most pressing public concerns in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico 1 The authors thank their research assistants Carlos Castañeda, Judith Dávila, Elisse Larouche, Ángela Bacca Mejía, and Nicole Ramos, as well as their colleagues Tani Adams, Sigrid Arzt, John Bailey, Howard Campbell, James Creechen, Robert Donnelly, Kathleen Frydl, Chappell Lawson, Matthew Maher, Eric Olson, Andrew Selee, Randy Willoughby, and the editors of this volume for the helpful comments and conversations that improved this chapter. During the drafting of this piece, the authors benefited in various ways from the coordination and support of the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, the Colegio de la Frontera Norte, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. The data presented here also reflect the research of the Justice in Mexico Project, and the generous support of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The authors take sole responsibity for any errors and conclusions offered. 1 borderlands. These groups have perpetrated increasingly brazen, spectacular acts of violence that have resulted in thousands of deaths. From 2001 to 2009, there were more than 20,000 killings attributed to drug trafficking organizations (or DTOs), with the extreme levels of violence in 2008 and 2009 contributing to more than half of these. 2 While the vast majority of this violence reflects internecine conflicts between organized crime groups, at least 1,100 police officers and soldiers died in the line of fire from 2006 to Moreover, while the vast majority of this violence remains concentrated within Mexico, particularly the central Pacific coast and northern Mexico, it has raised very serious concerns among U.S. observers about possible spillover into U.S. communities along the border. In response to these trends, Mexico and the United States have taken significant measures to try to address the phenomenon of transnational organized crime. Over the last three decades, Mexico has relied heavily on the armed forces to combat drug trafficking, deploying troops for crop eradication and other counter-drug operations, enlisting military personnel in civilian law enforcement posts, and utilizing soldiers in other day-to-day order maintenance functions, as is well documented (Camp 1992; Celia Toro 1995; Turbiville 1997; Flores Pérez 2009; Moloeznik 2009). However, this pattern accelerated greatly during the Fox and Calderón administrations, which 2 The Trans-Border Institute (TBI) maintains a database of drug killings reported by Reforma newspaper at the Justice in Mexico project website (www.justiceinmexico.org). See also: Moloeznik (2009). 3 The Mexican attorney general s office released official figures in August 2008 that identified DTO-related violence as the cause of deaths for more than 450 police officers from December 2006 and June From June 2008 to September 2009, TBI recorded more than 700 additional police deaths. 2 deployed tens of thousands of troops throughout the country. In terms of efforts to reduce the violence, the militarization of domestic public security in Mexico has brought mixed results, at best. Mexico s military enjoys ample public confidence, but lacks the legal mandate and training for domestic law enforcement and criminal investigations. At worst, as Moloeznik (2009) suggests, militarization has produced a dramatic increase in human rights violations, contributed to corruption and defection among Mexican military personnel, and unnecessarily escalated the level of conflict and violence. Still, given the dysfunctions of civilian law enforcement agencies, Mexican officials appear to be at a loss for any effective alternative strategy. For its part, the United States has sought to assist Mexico by channeling aid, in the form of training and equipment, through the Mérida Initiative. The Mérida Initiative will provide Mexico with $1.4 billion in U.S. equipment, training and other assistance from 2008 through 2012, on top of the more than 4 billion that Mexico spends annually combating drug trafficking. 4 In parallel, the United States has also deployed additional manpower and money to its southwest border in an attempt to stave off a possible cross-border overflow of violence from Mexican organizations. Thus far, the major successes of these efforts include a steady stream of arrests and extraditions targeting organized crime, as well as record seizures of drugs, guns, and cash. However, progress on the metrics that really matter reducing the availability, consumption, or psychotropic potency of 4 Chabat (2002) indicates that Mexico spent about $100 million in counter drug efforts in 1991, $500 million in 1995, and $1 billion by An inquiry to the Mexican Embassy found that the allocation designated explicitly for counter-drug spending in Mexico s federal budget for the 2009 fiscal year was $4.3 billion. These figures do not necessarily include other ancillary or indirect expenditures attributable to drug-related activities, such as state and local expenditures to arrest or incarcerate offenders for petty drug crimes, or narcomenudeo. Chabat (2002) p drugs has remained illusive for both countries. 5 Indeed, by some accounts, despite a nearly forty year effort to wage the war on drugs, drugs are more accessible, more widely utilized, and more potent than ever before. 6 This chapter explores two fundamental questions pertaining to Mexico s ongoing public security crisis. First, why has Mexico experienced this sudden increase in violence among trafficking organizations? Second, what are the current efforts and prospective strategies available to counter Mexican drug trafficking networks? In the process, we explore the development of Mexico s DTOs, with particular emphasis the relatively stable equilibrium among such groups in the 1980s and the subsequent fracturing of that arrangement. We also identify and consider the merits of the three conceivable scenarios for managing drug use complicity with traffickers, confrontation of traffickers, or changing the paradigm for regulating drug use all of which have inevitable undesirable effects. The Evolution of Drug Trafficking in Mexico Mexican drug trafficking organizations have roots dating back to the early twentieth century, when laws in the United States and worldwide began to prohibit the production, distribution, and consumption of alcohol and psychotropic substances. At the time, Mexico was a low-level supplier of drugs, and Mexican smugglers mainly trafficked in homegrown marijuana and 5 Reuters (2007) and Walsh (2009). 6 Use of the drug war metaphor dates back to the Nixon administration, which made important administrative changes notably the creation of the Drug Enforcement Administration to reorganize agencies and prioritize counter-drug efforts. The Obama administration has steadfastly avoided use of the term war on drugs. Brooks (2009). 4 opiates grown in areas that today remain important production zones. Most notable is the Golden Triangle region where the northern states of Durango, Chihuahua, and Sinaloa meet, though south coastal states like Michoacán and Guerrero remain important areas for production. Traffickers like the notorious Enrique Diarte moved illicit drugs through Mexicali and Tijuana in the 1940s, in leagues with U.S. organized crime figures like Max Cossman. Meanwhile, around the same time, Enrique Fernández Puerta became known as the Al Capone of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico s largest border city, through his activities as a bootlegger, counterfeiter, and drug trafficker and helped lay the foundations for the production and transit of drugs into the United States. 7 Over time, Mexican DTOs grew and flourished thanks in part to the balloon effect, in which changing market dynamics and enforcement efforts displaced and redirected drug flows. By the 1970s, the emergence of the U.S. counter-culture movement and the breaking of the French connection for heroin trafficking in the late-1960s produced a significant increase in demand for illicit drugs from Mexico. Meanwhile, greater U.S. consumption of cocaine in the 1970s and 1980s led to the rise of powerful Colombian DTOs, which moved the Andean-produced drug into Miami via the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. As U.S. interdiction efforts in the Gulf gained ground, the Colombians increasingly relied on Mexican smuggling networks to access the United States. Later, with the disintegration of Colombia s major DTOs in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mexican DTOs began to play a larger role in controlling smuggling routes into the United States. 8 By 1991, Mexico reportedly accounted for an estimated tons of cocaine and roughly a third of all heroin and marijuana imported into the United States. 9 7 Astorga Almanza (1999). 8 Celia Toro (1995). 9 Gerth (1988), Miller (1991). 5 Major drug trafficking operations came to fruition in Mexico with auspicious timing. On the one hand, Mexico was experiencing intense processes of economic integration that opened new channels of commerce with the United States. The same factors that boosted legitimate economic activity in the NAFTA countries the new global economy, in general also benefited the illicit economy (Friman and Andreas 1999; Naim 2006). As is well documented, in this context, small, highly flexible, and loosely constructed global networks of criminals and terrorists can now share information, transfer and launder funds, and ensure just in time deliveries of contraband with astounding agility. 10 In a flatter, borderless world, illicit non-state actors can outmaneuver and even challenge states, using the same financial and physical infrastructure, technologies, and organizational models of globalization, as made painfully obvious by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States (Nicaso and Lamothe 2005; Van Schendel and Abraham 2005; Naim 2006; Glenny 2008). On the other hand, many scholars have also pointed the importance of the structure and integrity of state institutions as a factor that shapes the behavior of illicit organizations. As Campbell (2009) notes, states and illicit or illegal activities are not separate, distinct fields of social action, but are tightly intertwined in a dialectical relationship. 11 As is well documented, for many decades Mexico had in place a highly centralized power structure that was not only permissive, but protective of organized criminal activities (Astorga Almanza 2007; Flores Pérez 10 Andreas and Snyder (2000), Andreas (2001), Andreas and Biersteker (2003), Ganster and Lorey (2005), Schendel and Abraham (2005), Sheth (2005), Townsend Gault and Nicol (2005), Zureik and Salter (2005), Glenny (2008). Moisés Naím, Illicit: How Smugglers, Traffickers and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy. (London: William Heinemann, 2006) 11 Campbell (2009), p. 9. 6 You are reading a preview. Would you like to access the full-text? Access full-text Figure 1. Number of Drug-related Killings in Mexico, Sources: Data for from Marcos Pablo Moloeznik, Principales efectos de la militarización del combate al narcotráfico en México, in Renglones, No. 61, Sept Mar. 2010, Guadalajara: Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, A.C., Data for compiled from Reforma in Justice In Mexico Project Narcobarometer Database (www.justiceinmexico.org). 41 Figure 2. Estimated Number of Drug-Related Killings in Mexico, by Month, Source: TBI database of drug-related killings reported by Reforma newspaper. Note that because these figures draw on weekly estimates, there is overlap across some months. 42 Works Cited: Andreas, P. (2001). Border Games: Policing the U.S.-Mexico Divide. Ithaca, Cornell University Press. Andreas, P. and T. J. Biersteker (2003). The Rebordering of North America: Integration and Exclusion in a New Security Context. New York, Routledge. Andreas, P. and T. Snyder (2000). The Wall around the West: State Borders and Immigration Controls in North America and Europe. Lanham, Md., Rowman & Littlefield. Aranda, J., G. Castillo, et al. (2009). Ejecutan a general que preparaba estrategia antinarco en Cancún. La Jornada. Mexico City. Astorga Almanza, L. A. (1995). Mitología del narcotraficante en México. M *xico, D.F., Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México : Plaza y Valdés Editores. Astorga Almanza, L. A. (1999). Drug Trafficking in Mexico: A First General Assessment. Management of Social Transformations (MOST). Paris, France, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Astorga Almanza, L. A. (2002). The Field of Drug Trafficking in México. Globalisation, Drugs and Criminalisation. Final Research Report on Brazil, China, India and Mexico. UNESCO- MOST-UNODCCP. Astorga Almanza, L. A. (2003). Drogas sin fronteras. México, Grijalbo. Astorga Almanza, L. A. (2007). Seguridad, traficantes y militares : el poder y la sombra.. 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Drug War Zone: Frontline Dispatches from the Streets of El Paso and Juárez. Austin, University of Texas Press. Cardoso, F. H., C. Gaviria, et al. (2009). The War on Drugs is a Failure. The Wall Street Journal. Castillo, G. and A. Torres Barbosa (2003). La historia del cártel del Golfo La Jornada. Celia Toro, M. (1995). Mexico s War on Drugs: Causes and Consequences. Boulder; London, Lynne Rienner Publishers. Center, N. O. R. (2009). General Social Survey. Retrieved April 9, 2009, from Cervantes Gómez, J. (2008). Guerrero: sospechan de narco en masacre. El Universal. Mexico City. Cervantes, J. (2009). El PRD exige remover jefes policiacos en Guerrero. El Universal. Mexico City. Cervantes, J. (2009). Matan a presidente del Congreso de Guerrero. El Universal. Mexico City. 43 Cervantes, J. and A. Covarrubias (2009). Cónclave del perredismo en Guerrero para limar asperezas. El Universal. Mexico City. Chabat, J. (2002). Mexico's War on Drugs: No Margin for Maneuver. 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