Small Wars Journal

‘El Chapo’ is Contained. The Drug War is Not.

‘El Chapo’ is Contained. The Drug War is Not. By Adam Taylor – Washington Post

… Guzmán may be gone, but the cartels are not. Gladys McCormick, an expert in Mexico’s political violence at Syracuse University, told Today’s WorldView in an email that while there are no longer any major drug lords to focus media or political attention on, cartels have shifted to a horizontal leadership akin to multinational corporations.

They have also expanded their businesses beyond drugs, McCormick explains, into other spheres like human trafficking, even semi-legal enterprises like mining. These two developments mean that it has become far harder to hinder cartels by taking out one person or one area of their business. They are largely an adaptation to government anti-cartel policies.

“Since Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón declared the start of the Drug War in 2006, both the US and Mexico’s security forces have aggressively pursued what is referred to as the kingpin strategy: they go after the 'head’ with the intent of weakening the ‘body,’ ” McCormick wrote. “After a decade of this approach, policy experts concur that it has failed and, if anything, has worsened the Drug War.”

While there was once seven main cartels, there are now as many as 20 smaller and midsize groups. In the two years that Guzmán has been in prison, there has been a record-breaking amount of murder in Mexico. In 2018, much of the worst violence centered on the central state of Guanajuato; notably, gangs were fighting not for drugs, but for stolen fuel.

Five out of six of the world’s most violent municipalities are now in Mexico, according to one recent report. In Mexico City, a capital once spared from the worst violence, the recent kidnapping and murder of a college student has raised concerns that violence from organized crime is spreading, rather than shrinking…

Read on.