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Mexican Drug Cartels and Human Trafficking Essay

Mexico is located in Central America and this geographic location has made it a favorable staging and transshipment point for drugs and human trafficking to US from Mexico, South America, and elsewhere.

Mexico has been a major supplier of cannabis and methamphetamine, though it also traffics other drugs like heroin and cocaine to US. According to the Mexican government, there are about seven drug trafficking organizations operating in the country, which include Gulf, Sinaloa, Juárez, Tijuana, Valencia, Millennium, and Colima cartels (Cook, 2007).

For a long time, Mexico has been reported with high rates of human trafficking with the most vulnerable groups being women, children, indigenous persons, and undocumented migrants. These people are usually tricked with promises of well paying jobs but the motive of their traffickers is mainly commercial sex.

Those who resist on realizing the trick are beaten up, robbed, and raped by the gang members. Others are forced to work in factories or agricultural sector. Mostly, human trafficking is associated with drug trafficking and in most cases it is carried out by gangs in drug cartels (Cook, 2007).

Mexico Drug Cartels

Mexico drug cartels refer to the drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. There are seven cartels operating in the 31 Mexico cities and the federal district, Mexico City, the major ones being Juarez, Sinaloa and Gulf cartels. The Juarez cartel operates in 21 states, Sinaloa operates in 17 states, Gulf operates in 13 states, and Tijuana operates in 15 states among others.

They are well founded and stable organization with leaders and good communication channel which makes their operations very efficient and counter narcotics operations very difficult in Mexico. These cartels are able to do their operations freely due to the isolated and rugged terrain in Mexico and the prevalent corruption in the Mexican law and judiciary (Cook, 2007; Shanty, 2008, pg 332).

Currently, the Mexican government has prioritized fight against drug trafficking and this has resulted to capture and death of many cartel leaders. When the leadership position in such cartels remain vacant, there are always wrangles when filling the positions or even to control the drug market. As a result, several cartels have formed alliances due to power wrangles and partly for prison negotiations.

It has been reported that Gulf and Sinaloa cartels use personal enforcer gangs to violently control trafficking routes in the United States.

Since drug trafficking brings back a lot of revenue, these cartels have been able to corrupt their way through the government official such that they either allow them to carry out their business freely or even join them in the business. Statistics shows that wholesale operations of illegal drug may amount revenue of $13.6 to $48.4 billions annually (Cook, 2007).

Mexico drug cartels have existed for a long time but they have recently been growing stronger due the termination of the Colombia’s Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s and closure of Florida cocaine transit route. They have now dominated the market of illegal drugs in the United States. Though they mainly produce and transit Marijuana and methamphetamine, a large amount of heroin in the US passes through Mexico.

A Transnational Crime

The Mexican cartels have not only been operating in Mexico but throughout the United States and every consequence directly or indirectly affects the associated countries. For instance, the Tijuana Cartel, which was headed by Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, is considered one of the most violent drug trafficking organizations and is linked with hundreds of homicide cases.

Felix killed a DEA agent Enrique Camerena; his members have been on the FBI most wanted list and ended up in life imprisonment or in the police bullet (Shanty, 2008, pg 333). Since the Mexican government changed their status quo concerning drugs and started giving the drug cartels pressure, the drug cartels have resulted to use of violence to force their way (Rollins, Wyler, and Rosen, 2010).

Drug trafficking organization has become a security interest for the last decade since they have grown in size due to northward flow of illicit drug and availability of market and weapons from the south. Since the inauguration of President Felipe Calderón’s in 2006, drug related murders and kidnapping have increased as the cartels counter act on the presidents vow to fight drug cartels and corruption (Zhang, 2010).

Mexican Drug Cartels on Drug and Human Trafficking

Human trafficking in Mexico has been a common scenario as culprits get promises of good jobs only to find themselves in forced labour and prostitution. This has been rising since the Mexican government started fighting drug cartels seriously and it is projected that they are the same organization carrying out human trafficking.

Since President Calderón’s prioritized fight against drug cartels, attention to other kinds of crime seized and this has given enough room for human trafficking to grow at very alarming rate. In the recent year, human trafficking in Mexico has been very profitable to these guns giving them annual revenue of about $6.6 dollars.

By 2010, it is projected that over 100 000 women will be trafficked out of Latin America on prostitution basis (Graham, 2010). Reports from Mexico says that due to the pressure exerted on the drug cartels by the government, they have resolved in other means of getting revenue and the major one has been human trafficking alongside kidnapping and extortion (Llana, 2010).

Effects of globalization and technology and information revolution on drug trade and human trafficking

War on drugs has played a major role in the rising human trafficking in Mexico since it has dominated the news headline leaving issues related to human trafficking in darkness (Graham, 2010). Globalization and technology and information revolution has reduced the world in to a cyber space thus; people can communicate effectively regardless of their location.

It has therefore been very easy for the cartels to carry out their crimes effectively since they can communicate effectively. Globalization has also lead to influence of one state by the other since sovereignty of nations no longer operate and immigration is common and this has helped Mexico cartels to transit drugs easily across the borders (Bunker, 2003).

The availability of information concerning drugs, their revenue and availability on the internet globally has given the interested culprits information on how and where to find them thus acceleration the rate of expansion of this sector.


Mexico has become so vulnerable to the effects of drug and human trafficking, which has become a transnational crime. It has been difficult top eradicate drug cartels in this nation due to their influence on the government officials as a result of large pools of money they are getting from this illegal business.

Efforts to eradicate have only resulted to strengthening of the group as they try to counter attack and in the process of finding other means to supplement their business.

Furthermore, the presence of drug cartels in Mexico has been a pool of war amongst themselves as they fight to control the drug channels in Mexico. The Mexican government ought to be open-minded in the fight against drug and human trafficking as they work hand in hand with other nations since they cannot make it on their own.


Bunker, R. J. (2003). Non-state threats and future wars. New York: Frank Cass & co. Web.

Cook, C. W. (2007). Mexico Drug Cartels. . Web.

Graham, M. (2010). Human trafficking begins to eclipse drug trade in Mexico. Web.

Llana, S. M. (2010). M. Web.

Rollins, J. (2010). . Web.

Shanty, F. (2008). . Volume 2. California: ABC-CLIO. Web.

Zhang, Y. (2010). U.S.-Mexico Cooperation on Counter narcotics and Transnational Crime. Web.

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"Mexican Drug Cartels and Human Trafficking." IvyPanda, 28 May 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/mexican-drug-cartels-and-human-trafficking/.

1. IvyPanda. "Mexican Drug Cartels and Human Trafficking." May 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mexican-drug-cartels-and-human-trafficking/.


IvyPanda. "Mexican Drug Cartels and Human Trafficking." May 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mexican-drug-cartels-and-human-trafficking/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Mexican Drug Cartels and Human Trafficking." May 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/mexican-drug-cartels-and-human-trafficking/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Mexican Drug Cartels and Human Trafficking'. 28 May.

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