Mexico is in the midst of its most violent confrontation with drug traffickers, with an estimated 28,000 people killed since President Felipe Calderon declared war on drug cartels soon after he took office in late 2006.
But drug trafficking has long gone on in Mexico, and for many decades operated under the eye of the government, according to analysts. Mexico changing politics has, in effect, changed the way drug cartels operate.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century. After 71 years in power, the party finally lost the presidency in 2000.
From the 1960s through the ’80s, organized crime was intertwined with the government, according to Diego Enrique Osorno, a Mexican journalist and author of the recently published history, The Sinaloa Cartel.
“In this period, you have to remember that the PRI had control of everything,” Osorno says. The PRI controlled the press, the oil fields, politics and even the narcotics trade.