Mexico is creating a ‘monster’ by using the US counterterrorism strategy on drug cartels

8/13/15 Business Insider

1363368470_a0fdfdf230_zIn the nearly nine years since the start of the Mexican drug war, the cartels have been battered and crippled through a series of high-profile arrests and the deaths of high-ranking drug kingpins.

But despite these successes, the drug war continues to intensify and become even more brutal as new organizations form to fill the void.

Since the start of the drug war, the Mexican authorities have followed a kingpin strategy. The strategy held that targeting the leadership of cartels would render the organizations ineffective, thereby limiting the groups’ dangers.

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As Mexico Arrests Kingpins, Cartels Splinter and Violence Spikes

8/12/15 New York Times

Mexican_drug_cartels_2008For nearly a week, gun-toting masked men loyal to a local drug gang overran this small city along a key smuggling route. Police officers and soldiers stood by as the gunmen patrolled the streets, searching for rivals and hauling off at least 14 men who have not been seen since.

“They’re fighting over the route through Chilapa,” said Virgilio Nava, whose 21-year-old son, a truck driver for the family construction supply business who had no apparent links to either gang, was one of the men seized in May. “But we’re the ones who are affected.”

For years, the United States has pushed countries battling powerful drug cartels, like Mexico, to decapitate the groups by killing or arresting their leaders. The pinnacle of that strategy was the capture of Mexico’s most powerful trafficker, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, better known as El Chapo, who escaped in spectacular fashion last month from a maximum-security prison.

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How America’s War On Drugs Unintentionally Aids Mexican Drug Cartels

7/6/15 Huffington Post

drug dog sniffing suitcaseAs the United States government and vigilante groups continue to fight Mexican drug cartels with little direction, experts say there are unintentional consequences from the current war on drugs.

Sanho Tree, the director of the Drug Policy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, explained to HuffPost Live’s Marc Lamont Hill on Tuesday that the U.S. government’s drug war has been “an exercise in futility.” The prohibition of these drugs, Tree said, has only increased their value.

“Things like cocaine, heroine, marijuana — these are minimally-processed agricultural commodities,” Tree said. “They’re very easy to produce, these drugs. They’re very cheap to produce. There’s no reason they should be worth this kind of money that people are willing to kill, and torture and massacre over.”

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Mexican forces struggle to rein in armed vigilantes battling drug cartel

protest -- stroke -- resistanceCNN, 01/17/2014

The vigilantes came to violence-torn towns with a simple pitch: Join us and fight back before the cartel kills you. For some in the western state of Michoacan, long a flashpoint in Mexico’s drug war, it was an offer they couldn’t refuse.They toted guns and called themselves self-defense groups as they patrolled the streets, claiming they were forced to fight the Knights Templar cartel themselves because the state had failed to protect them. They took over several communities and sent a clear message to cartel members and authorities: Keep out.

But this week, the Mexican government stepped in, sending federal forces to the region and ordering the vigilante groups to lay down their weapons.

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Cartel Censorship Reaches Mexico City

newspapers thumbnailNewsweek, 01/16/2014

Like an unstoppable tsunami, the wave of drug-related censorship that has enveloped thousands of journalists in Mexico has reached the capital city, long a bastion of relatively open crime reporting, according a report released Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since former President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s criminal syndicates seven years ago, reporters in the provinces have adapted to the new rules of the game: no detailed reports on cartel activity, no mention of top echelon drug leaders, no serious investigations into executions. In hundreds of towns and cities across Mexico, journalists can do little more than regurgitate vague official press releases. For those who stray, threats, kidnappings, beatings and murder are not uncommon. According to Article 19, a press freedom group, 50 reporters have been killed since Calderon took office on December 2006.

But until recently, Mexico City-based journalists had largely been spared from the cartel demands that created a self-imposed censorship for most of the country. They often wrote about criminal organizations without fearing for their lives and the city itself was a bubble of relative calm. Now that’s changed. One of Mexico’s strongest cartels, the Familia Michoacana, has descended on Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl at the edge of Mexico City and silenced the press there, according to the report.

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Mexico protects wounded leader of citizen militia trying to fight off cartels

m16 gun closeupThe Washington Post, 01/09/2014

Fifty federal police officers armed with black assault rifles guard the gates of an exclusive private hospital in this cosmopolitan capital.

They are patrolling the polished stone lobby, standing sentry under palm trees, surveilling the Starbucks. Private security guards and local police man the doors, driveways and elevators.

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Mexican Cartels Become Web Savvy By Using Social Media For PR, Selfies

Twitter_256x256Fox News Latino, 11/05/2013

Only a few years ago, drug dealers were using pagers and pay phones to avoid detection from authorities in the illicit business. Now, with the advent of social media, many web-savvy Mexican narcos have joined the likes of Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber by using Twitter, Facebook and other online tools to run PR campaigns, post selfies, brag about their wealth and even target rivals.

Like any burgeoning business, Mexico’s drug cartels are using the web to conduct very successful public relations campaigns that put those of their counterparts in Colombia and Myanmar in the 1980s to shame.

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