Mexico Still ‘Major’ Hemispheric Narco-State; Cartels Expand Reach
March 20th 2012 · 5 Comments
Mexico remains “both a major transit and source country for illicit drugs reaching the United States” and the Mexican government “faces significant challenges to reduce drug trafficking, stem violence, build institutional capacity, and strengthen the rule of law,” according to the US Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs’ 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR).
The INCSR was prepared in accordance with requirements under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. The 2012 INCSR, published this month, covers calendar year 2011 and is published in two volumes, the second of which covers money laundering and financial crimes.
The report states that Mexico’s transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) account for approximately 95 percent of the cocaine flow to the United States that transits the Mexico-Central America corridor from its origins in South America.
“Mexico is also a major supplier of heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine to the United States,” the INCSR states. “Mexico is also a source and destination for money laundering activity, and the US attorney general estimates that 64,000 of the 94,000 weapons recovered in Mexico over the last five years were traced from origins in the United States.”
“Since 2008,” according to the INCSR, “Mexican smugglers have significantly expanded their presence in Central America. Land corridors through Central America and Mexico are now the most significant transit routes for cocaine from South America. While the United States remains the primary destination for illicit drugs trafficked via Mexico, Mexican TCOs are expanding their operations in Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. Trafficking routes continue to evolve due to increased government interdiction and the TCOs’ efforts to supply these growing markets.”
While the State Department said “Mexico continues to aggressively combat drug trafficking, apprehending key TCO leaders and associates and seizing narcotics, weapons and bulk cash,” it also noted that “as government successes continue to affect the TCO’s narcotics-driven profits and drain their resources, they are increasingly turning to traditional criminal activities such as kidnapping, extortion, trafficking-in-persons, and domestic retail drug sales. As of October 2011, Mexico was on track to surpass 13,000 drug-related murders for the year, a 20 percent rise over the 11,583 committed in 2010. Notable declines in violence in the city of Ciudad Juarez were countered by increases in the states of Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Guerrero.”
It’s the State Department’s position that “the government of Mexico’s effort to capture or kill TCO leadership has resulted in multiple fractured organizations that fight over lucrative trade routes and seek to intimidate or control communities by killing or torturing security personnel, journalists and government officials.”
Coupled to increased border enforcement and counter-drug operations by the United States that has thwarted TCO cross-border smuggling and other criminal enterprises, Mexico’s cartels are becoming increasingly more violent and willing to confront US law enforcement, as Homeland Security Today has reported.
Despite Mexico’s “progress in its efforts to dismantle TCOs and their leadership,” the State Department said, “violence continues, domestic production and consumption of illegal narcotics increases, and illicit narcotics from South America pass through Mexico en route to markets in the United States.”
“For its part,” the INCSR says, “the United States continues to enhance programs on its side of the border to curb US domestic drug demand and inhibit the flow of arms and cash across the border into Mexico. The battle against organized crime requires a holistic approach, and the United States remains committed to working with the government of Mexico to strengthen the rule of law and the capacity of Mexican governmental institutions.”
The major illicit drug producing and/or drug-transit countries were identified as Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Belize, Bolivia, Burma, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
Of these countries, Bolivia, Burma and Venezuela have been designated as having “failed demonstrably” during the previous 12 months to adhere to their obligations under international counternarcotics agreements.
Countries and jurisdictions identified to be major sources of precursor or essential chemicals used in the production of illicit narcotics are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
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