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  • INSIDE: NARCO WARS

INSIDE NARCO WARS FACTS

According to the Department of Justice’s National Drug Intelligence Center, Mexican and Colombian Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO’s) amass some $18 to $39 billion in wholesale drug profits annually. It is their belief that this money is then “bulk” smuggled outside of the United States via the Mexican border.

The United States – Mexico border has become a major conduit for illicit drugs that enter the United States. According to the U.S. State Department, 90% of the cocaine consumed in the U.S. passes through Mexico on its way to the U.S., 65% of which crosses the U.S.- Mexico border. Mexican marijuana remains the most widely available marijuana in the U.S. market.

According to the DOJ, Mexican Cartels, referred to as Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO’s), “control most of the U.S. drug market,” maintaining distribution channels or distributing to other channels in some 230 U.S. cities and towns.

It is understood that there are some 6 major Mexican drug cartels that control the majority of illicit drug trafficking from Mexico to the United States. They are the Sinaloa Cartel, the Tijuana Cartel, the Gulf Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Cartel, Los Zetas, and La Familia.

The influence illegally smuggled U.S. guns have on the drug violence in Mexico is still not well understood. And the numbers tossed around have become quite controversial. According to data provided to National Geographic by the ATF, 90% of the guns submitted by the Mexican government to be traced by the ATF in the United States from 2006 through 2008 are traced to various sources within the United States. That amounts to some 15,870 guns out of 17,633 submitted by Mexico. BUT that doesn’t account for all of the crime guns the Mexican government has seized.  According to statistics provided June 9, 2009 by the Mexican Attorney General’s website, 34,768 crime guns were seized during the same 2006-2008 period. If we take the Mexican government’s numbers as fact, then the percentage of crime guns originating in the U.S. is around 45%.

The Colt .38 Super confiscated from drug capo Alfredo Beltran Leyva’s SUV upon his arrest was traced to the X Caliber gun store in Phoenix, AZ, U.S.A. An AK-47, 7 additional pistols and $900,000 worth of cash was also found.

Once the U.S. Government shut down the illicit drug corridor running through Florida, Colombian traffickers began to form partnerships with Mexican traffickers and run cocaine through Mexico.  One of the main traffickers in the 80s, Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, was finally put away in 1989. 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Priority="37" Name="Bibliography" /> <w:LsdException Locked="false" Priority="39" QFormat="true" Name="TOC Heading" /> </w:LatentStyles> </xml><![endif]--> write his memoirs, accessible in excerpts in English or in more detail in Spanish here.  He also has a website.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the alleged head of the Sinaloa Cartel, and #701 on Forbes’s list of the world’s billionaires, got his start in the drug trade as air and logistics expert for Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, according to the DEA.

According to University of San Diego’s Transborder Institute, there were 5,153 drug-related killings in Mexico in 2008. In the state of Chihuahua, where the border city of Juarez is located, there were 1,649, 32% of the national total.   As of July 3, 2009, there were an additional 3,054 drug-related deaths in Mexico, 896 of which happened in Chihuahua State.

The city of Juarez, the second-busiest port of entry into the U.S. and the northern terminal for the primary Mexican vehicular arterial, the Panamerican Highway, is an ideal staging area of drugs trafficked into the United States. In Mexico’s war on drugs, Juarez has become the country’s deadliest city and homicide rates continue to rise. August 2009, with 300 deaths, was the deadliest month in history.  There have been 3,000 deaths in Juarez since January 2008.

An ICE and DEA informant was aware of the torture and murder and burial of various individuals while collecting information on the Juarez Cartel.  The case is known as the “House of Death,” because these operations all took place at one cartel safe-house. The informant was a former highway police officer before he became involved with the Juarez Cartel.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Phoenix, Arizona is a regional and national distribution center for illicit drug trafficking due in part to its well-developed highway system.  It’s large size - it is the fifth largest city in the United States – and sprawling development is also convenient.

Phoenix, AZ ranks number two in the world in kidnapping, behind Mexico City. In 2008, there were 368 kidnappings and in 2007, 358.  This is a jump from an annual average of around 250 from 2003 to 2006.

Since December 2006, Felipe Calderon has mobilized 45,000 Mexican military troops to fight the drug traffickers.

Since the mobilization of military personnel to combat the drug cartels, reports of human rights violations are on the rise, according to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission. In  2006, there were 182 reports. In 2007, the figure rose to 1,230.  Through July 2009, there have been over 2,000 complaints.

According the non-profit organization Human Rights Watch, very few human rights violations by the Military are punished.

Mexico is one of the deadliest countries in the world for journalists to work.  In 2007, it was ranked just second behind Iraq as the deadliest country in the world for journalists. Cuidad Juarez is one of the most dangerous cities for a journalist in Mexico.  In a Reporters without Borders 2008 Press Freedom Index, Mexico ranks 140 out of 173 countries – just ahead of Russia and below the Philippines.

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