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The Mexican Drugs Cartels Essay

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Updated: Jan 15th, 2020

Mexico City is well known for drug trafficking which took place smoothly without any interference. The emergence of the Mexican drug cartels was initiated by Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, who was a Judicial Federal Police agent in Mexico in the 1980s.

The drug trafficking was easily achieved because he developed a well-established infrastructure that connected the drug traffickers in Columbia with those in Mexico (Grayson 2010).

The development of the Mexican Drug Cartel

The Mexican Drug Cartel developed and spread rapidly uninterrupted because it enjoyed protection by the Mexican government. This formed the basis for even more powerful and dangerous groupings, which resulted in increased crime activities.

In addition, these drug trafficking activities increased at a time when there were increased economic assimilations that paved way for trading with the United States (Stares, 1996). However, there have been tremendous political changes over the past few years like the decentralization of the Mexican political system, which disintegrated these powerful cartels.

The well-linked network between the Mexican drug traffickers and the Transnational Organized Criminals was disrupted leading to fierce competition to earn a good share of the lucrative illegal business. Moreover, the 1980s marked an important turning point for the Mexican Drug Traffickers, thanks to the single ruling party called the ‘Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)’, which shunned criminal activities.

However, bearing in mind that this ruling party was highly hierarchical and centralized, it served as a loophole for corruption and impunity as long as there were good payoff to those in power. For instance, the ‘Federal Security Directorate (DFS)’, which ensured domestic security benefited mutually from corrupt dealings with the drug traffickers by receiving huge payoffs while the cartel owners received tight security.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Mexican drug traffickers earned a substantial income from illegal cocaine trading, which made Mexico be branded as the ‘drug trafficking hub’ into the United States. Drug trafficking has continued to spread rapidly over the years in Mexico with the drug traffickers being independent individuals, drug cartels or groups, and even larger drug networks.

However, by the late 1990s, there had developed about four other drug trafficking cartels, which competed fiercely to gain control of the market that led to division and fights among the drug traffickers.

Apparently, Mexican drug cartels have dominated the illegal drug trading in the United States, as there is increased co-operation with the prisoners and street peddlers in the United States; moreover, drug trafficking has spread rapidly into other nations, to an extent that it has become a global issue (Grayson, 2010).

Disagreements among drugs cartels in Mexico

There was increased competition, which ended in conflicts among the major players in the market; this was as result of development of political pluralism, and partly because of reorganization of Mexico’s police force. This created more complex organizations that could not be easily regulated (Grayson, 2010).

However, the Mexican government has always sought control measures in an effort to fight illegal drug trading but unfortunately has failed due to corruption. As a result of these disagreements, there has arisen a tough war between the Mexican government and the cartel leaders and among the rival cartels as they fight for dominance in the market.

In the recent years, the Mexican government has taken disciplinary measures to all who plead guilty over such offences though it has not borne much fruits. Instead, more powerful and violent drug cartels have evolved and fight for control of the pathways used for trafficking of the drugs in the United States (Grayson, 2010).

Examples of the illegal drugs traded

Mexico’s drug cartels are known to control nearly 70 percent of the total traded illegal drugs in the United States. Among the major drugs traded include, cannabis sativa and methamphetamine as well as heroin. Additionally, it is estimated that 90 percent of the total cocaine supplied to the United States come from Mexico having been produced in Columbia.

This is estimated to earn them approximately $13.6 billion to $48.4 billion on yearly basis. Recent research findings reveal that the Mexican economy would drop considerably by 63 percent should drug trading be cleared completely (Randal, 2009).

Current cartels

Apparently, there are two major alliances of drug dealers in operation since February 2010; one composed of Tijuana cartel, Los Zetas, Juarez cartel and Beltrán-Leyva Cartel‎‎, and the other one made of Sinoloa cartel, Gulf and La Familia cartel (Randal, 2009).

Transnational organized crime (TOC)

It is also referred to as transnational crime, which is planned offense, practiced across national borders between states. Transnational organized crime is dreaded most because of its deleterious effect on national security affecting social, economic, and political development of the society.

Some of the planned offences include human trafficking, trafficking of firearms, drugs trafficking, money laundering, trafficking of migrants where the most prevalent one is peddling of drugs which attracts huge profits. There is a dire need for the governments to cooperate with UNODC in finding a solution to the impending problem as well as prevent further development of these offences (Fukumi, 2008).

The increased involvement in trade between nations because of modernization and globalization has paved way for more involvement in criminal activities. However, the ancient form of governance has ceased, replacing it with loose networks that are now dominant in the drugs trafficking.

It has been observed that these organized crime “groups involved in drug trafficking are commonly engaged in smuggling of other illegal goods” (Stares, 1996). Indeed, the fight against these well-established or organized gangs is an uphill task since these groups are deeply entrenched and are hard to dislodge.

Some of the recommendations to curb their operations may include use of electronic gadgets to fast track the criminals, carrying out impromptu inspections of people and vehicles, enacting tighter rules of disclosing criminal activities (Seelke, 2010).

The effect after government interference

This took effect when Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched war against drugs in an effort to combat the violent crimes that were committed by the drug traffickers. Both the military forces and the police came together to cut back the brutal murders as security was an issue all over Mexico. However, this has not borne much success as corruption of the government officers has led to the criminals being set free (Randal, 2009).

The current status of the state is that of an incompetent government which has no power over these criminals; indeed, the state is now in panic as brutal blood shedding and violence are the norm of the day as more powerful, wealthier and influential gangs of drugs have come up to bribe the police force leading to escalation of crime.

However, the government has not given up; it is determined to recruit more honest and reliable police and military forces to execute justice and good governance.

The government is also strategizing on setting up federal police troops who would campaign against drugs as a way of reforming the corrupt groups. The government has incurred a lot of expenses in quest for security and peace in Mexico. The war on drugs has so far adversely affected the economy of Mexico as the government tries to curb the impending crimes (Rakrf, 2008).

In addition, the Mexican government faces a great challenge of gaining confidence in the state as drug trafficking is so much entrenched in the peoples’ daily life as it brings much more food on the table than any other source of income.


It is quite clear that the fight against these forms of organized crimes will never end as long as the enacted laws have been breached or are not well established. The fight against its further penetration into the less prevalent areas has not been very successful. This may partly be attributed to lack of cooperation among states to prevent consumption of hard drugs, and partly because of corruption among government officials (Seelke, 2010).

More stringent laws should be enforced on the criminals and drug policies should be re-examined to ensure there is no loophole left for drug traffickers to operate.

On the other hand, the government should strive to provide the necessary machinery that is lacking in the society, which makes them result to crimes, as well as try to eliminate unemployment, under-development, poverty, over-population, tribalism, environmental deprivation and illiteracy (Stares, 1996).


Fukumi, S. (2008). Cocaine trafficking in Latin America: EU and US policy responses. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

Grayson, G. (2010). Mexico: narco-violence and a failed state? Jersey: Transaction Publishers.

Randal, C. A. (2009). The New York Times. Web.

Rakrf, J. (2008). . Web.

Seelke, C. R. (2010). Latin America and the Caribbean: Illicit Drug Trafficking and U. S. Counterdrug Programs. NY: DIANE Publishing.

Stares, P. B. (1996). Global habit: the drug problem in a borderless world. Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press.

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