Mexico's Drug War: Defined by Corruption

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Mexico's Drug War: Defined by Corruption

The following publication is rife with manipulation and corruption of Mexico's highest regarded political positions and jurisdictions. Former Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado officially declared drug trafficking a national security threat in early 1988. The United Nations estimate that 70% of the drugs flowing into the United States comes directly from Mexican drug trafficking cartels. Mexican cartels rely heavily on bribes and corruption as a means to infiltrate the Mexican political system. To the Mexican cartels, bribes and corruption is viewed as nothing more than, "the cost of doing business". A study by the National Autonomous University in Mexico City found that cocaine traffickers spend as much as 500 million a year on bribery. This calculates to almost $1,000 dollars in payoffs for each Kilo of smuggled cocaine. Mexico's efforts of eradicating its deadly but lucrative drug industry have been severely bound by the rampant manipulation and corruption of the Mexican political system. A high level of corruption in Mexico remains as one of the most significant obstacles from eradicating the illicit drug trade operations and bringing a resolve to the ongoing drug war. As long as corruption continues to dominate the Municipal and Judicial systems of Mexico, it will remain a "failed state". And Mexico's search of achieving a prosperous and stable democracy will continue to elude them.

As drug trafficking in Mexico expanded, so too did the Mexican drug enforcement. Mexico tripled its anti-drug budget between 1987 and 1989, and tripled it once again in the 1990s (Andreas 1998). The increasing presence of Mexico's drug enforcement has lead to higher drug related arrests and more frequent large-scaled drug seizures. Mexico's increasing numbers of drug enforcement officers has also increased the regularity of Mexican cartels bribery solicitations as Ginaluca Florentini and Sam Peltzman suggest in their 1995 book The Economics of Organized Crime, "the more [it creates] incentives to invest in corruption and manipulation of the deterrence agencies themselves." This basically implies as Mexican cartels are faced with stronger resistance (which has failed), it has actually only increased the capacity (cash flow) of cartels to "tax" or bribe Mexican officials. The increasing arrest numbers, referring back to earlier, are by most accounts nothing more than political rhetoric allowing Mexico to maintain a healthy relationship with the United States. Behind the inflated and sometimes fabricated numbers, in reality, the Mexican drug trade along with widespread corruption is thriving in the midst of Mexico's heightened drug control efforts. To me, this is a clear indication of a failed attempt on the part of Mexican police forces to adequately indentify and apprehend the major drug trafficking leaders but rather settling for higher arrest statistics and a healthy relationship with the United States.

The organization of police forces in Mexico is complex; each police force has a different level of jurisdiction and authority, and those levels often overlap (Library of Congress 2003). The Mexican drug cartels rely heavily on infiltrating and corrupting the local level officials, allowing their illegal products to travel safely through Mexico and eventually into the United States drug market. Local officials are easily targeted because their pay is typically poor (US $285-400 month), and are more likely to accept bribes to protect the cartels illicit interests. Mexican Law enforcement personnel are often presented with a choice from the Mexican cartels, "Plata o Plomo"; meaning they can either accept a bribe (plata meaning silver) or they will be killed (plomo meaning lead). The cartels well-paid bribes and limited options have instigated fierce competition within law enforcement agencies across Mexico. Violent conflicts often erupt between the police operating...
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