Re: What are the solutions to the problem of organized crime and the violence associated with it in Mexico?
If by complete eradication you mean a military operation or targeted extrajudicial killing, then I disagree. The state needs to have some level of moral authority and even the criminals must know that there is some fairness when they are arrested. If the government just tracks them down and kills them, then they will have no moral authority (they will be seen as criminals themselves) and the gangs will shoot it out every time. A policing strategy with a focus on anti-corruption reforms is part of what is needed. As I see it the change in Mexican Organized Crime (as with American Organized Crime) has more to do with a changing world than the strategies the Mexican Government has employed thus far. The drying up of the cocaine market has changed things more than anything else.
Re: What are the solutions to the problem of organized crime and the violence associated with it in Mexico?
By eradication, I believe the operations must take down the heirarchy of the traffickers, to include complicit LE, and Gov. The players are well known. I agree with having a moral approach, but after complete dismantling of these orgs. These guys have gotten away with what amounts to atrocities for far too long. To me, it would be immoral to show any mercy to these guys. Like I said before, there is no morality or code like American Mafioso. These guys torture and kill kids, women, and LE. They have no morality whatsoever. I'm not talking about the low level guys. Eradicate the big fish. I agree with you on the smaller orgs, and how they can be put in relative check. But IMO, the big fish need to be taken out with extreme prejudice, to show the populace, what happens if they attempt to become huge organizations. Unless the corrupt gov officials are gone, arresting and trying these guys is a joke. Fight fire with fire. After the job is done, then reintroduce a moral approach. I think this way is too entrenched in the culture, to deal with gracefully. Either way, there's no easy approach. JMO great insights Anon....your posts have definitely sparked thoughts, and discussion here!
Thanks, and I agree that the big fish must be arrested and extradited. I believe in the kingpin strategy to a point. When you are boxing you want to land shots to both the head and the body. Taking out Mencho and Mayo, in particular, should be a major objective. Calderon has no real strategy other than to arrest the kingpins and deploy the military to their territories. EPN did more of the same, but there was some movement towards structural reform. So far AMLO is doing more of the same.
BTW, the government made them huge organizations and if they had their way it probably still would be one huge government run drug trafficking operation where the only killings happened in quiet out in the desert somewhere. This wasn’t really ever sustainable though, particularly these days. Now anyone can make meth and move it, which will lead to people who don’t think they have the right to move it to kill them, or local sales, or extortion etc.
Truthfully, as interesting as a thread as this is, I don't think there is anyone on the forum capable of offering an adequate solution to Mexico's problem. Were it that simple, things would have been solved decades ago.
This is especially true if any suggestion includes the use of violence or the arming of the citizenry.
The US has wide availability to firearms through which citizens can 'defend themselves' yet still has murder rates higher per capita than several active war zones. (Ukraine, Syria, and Libya are notable examples.)
Further to this, I think we have seen that armed resistance by civilians in Michoacán was doomed from the start. This is because violence begets violence, and when you kill a man or a woman or a child, someone close to them will pick up a weapon in order to avenge the person they loved. (This is how the autodefensas surely got their start in the first place, and it is no different in any other theatre of conflict. Granted I also understand this is a vast downplaying of the events which led to their formation, but I think the basic functions are the same even if I agree they were left with minimal options other than to pick up arms.)
This is especially true in situations of war. So to the people suggesting the US military or even a coalition enters Mexico and begins targeting criminals and god forbid, airstrikes in civilian zones, then I feel compelled to ask, when has this ever produced positive results?
If one is to consider criminal deviancy in Mexico an insurgency, then I think there are many clear historical examples of the fact conventional military tactics cannot possibly win a fight against an insurgent force. I.E. Vietnam, Russians in Afghanistan, coalition forces in Afghanistan, coalition forces in Iraq, coalition forces in Libya, the horrendous bombardments of Israel in Palestine, the list goes on.
The people who are hurt the most by tactics such as these are by and far the civilian populace. At which point you risk accomplishing the opposite of your intent and actually offering cartels some validity. (I.E. when a US air strike hits a Yemeni wedding of 50 people including children to take out two combatants who might not even be there, how quickly do you think the insurgent force gains local support?)
My final and perhaps most applicable point on the violence front again comes back to the US since I understand most commentators here are from there. Guns again, are widely available to the civilian populace, and murder rate aside has it done anything to stem criminal deviancy there? Organized crime and street level crime is not only alive and well, it is rampant in the US. Perhaps more than any other developed country I can think of. So I'd love to hear a well thought explanation on how gun availability is meant to solve this issue considering it has clearly worked so well for the US.
Economically, there are great steps to be taken here. In Nuevo Laredo the Zetas have mostly driven out local businesses, and in cities once regarded as tourist hotspots like Cancun or Baja, foreigners are now becoming afraid to visit. The ramifications of this are bad for the country at large, but good for the cartels if only in the sense they have a much broader pool of recruits to pick from.
Low wages specifically for police and military also contribute. Police make what, $75US a month? A low level Halcón is paid perhaps $500 - 1,000 biweekly (when they are paid at all. At the very least the promise of this is appealing to anyone who has never made much more than $20 - 70 per month.)
A friend of mine in Guadalajara who works in a law firm makes only $200 US per month. If put in that same situation yourself with a family to provide for, which decision do you think you might make? People must survive and when there are little job opportunities available, or at least jobs that do not pay enough to make ends meet, you are forced to look elsewhere. This is simply the nature of survival regardless of how us privileged persons north of the border might view it.
Sociologically speaking there are many factors to be considered too. The most obvious one is that the public has little to zero trust for law enforcement and the military as already stated the world over. There are extensive articles, books and reasons why that isn't exactly an unreasonable feeling. However, I think it's important to also understand why that trend will continue to be a problem and is in it self something hard to surmount.
Chechnya is perhaps the best comparison for this. Similarly to in Mexico and even on a broader scale, the Russian military has been accused of vast atrocity in Chechnya against civilian populaces. This including artillery bombardments, extortion, kidnapping and disappearances of fighting aged males with no provable links to insurgency, etc.
Horrifying as this all is I think it stems pretty standardly from anger. When you are in a conflict zone wherein the enemy blends so easily back into the local populace, it is easy to become disillusioned with the very people you're trying to protect. Impossible even to not see them all as the enemy, and so when you have a situation where you're out on patrol and someone from some unknown roof top somewhere kills a friend of yours or makes an attempt on your life before melding into the backdrop of the city, it's difficult to know where to place those emotions. I think this sort of scenario is what results in so many reports of military torture and extrajudicial killings. This also comes back to why I feel violence or the promotion of violence of any kind in this scenario is the wrong answer. (This includes you people who cheer when criminals are tortured or murdered, any criminal who reads that will only become further convinced they are on the right or at least a necesarry path. On a personal note I just find it disgusting to see people happy when a 17 year old boy has his head cut off because he made or was forced into some bad choices.)
The police corruption issue of course draws back to wages and the obvious struggle of being put between a rock and a hard place when you have mafiosos proving without a shred of doubt they know where you and your family lives. Because of this reasonably well calculated network of distrust among everyone even remotely involved in that life or with close proximity to it, I doubt things will change any time soon - perhaps not even in our life time.
Revenue - sort of?
In terms of money, people often state aside from the silly notion more weapons will solve anything, that legalization of drugs will also end cartels. Unfortunately, as anyone who has been researching them or organized crime at large will know, that couldn't be further from the truth.
For many organizations, especially those that have been fractured and no longer hold connections with major drug suppliers such as those in Colombia and Peru, drugs have become a secondary, sometimes even minor income stream.
I believe Los Caballeros Templarios were making more money illegally mining iron ore than selling drugs were they not? And smaller factions of the CDG like Los Metros and also the CDN seem to make more money extorting businesses and kidnapping people for ransom than they do selling drugs.
At the core of it, criminal deviancy is not something you can 'solve'. Criminals will always always always find a way to make money illicitly somehow and some way and further to this criminals will always exist. I think the real issue that should be first addressed before anything else is mitigating the violence which has swept the country.
Things have steadily continued to get worse ever since the drug war was introduced in Mexico, for a 'drug war' is in it self doomed to failure as any armed conflict is - no one wins in these scenarios, and civilians as stated above take the brunt of the suffering.
Perhaps the worst thing Mexico has done to tackle criminal insurgency was to remove the heads of organizations who could have been considered calculating, intelligent, and reasonably restrained - the sort of business minded individuals who preferred to keep a low profile. Removing these individuals has only paved the way for the more power hungry and erratic, lesser experienced lieutenants to take charge, which as we have all seen has led to countless fractures among groups and which has also contributed to a severe uptick in disappearances, gruesome video executions and a conflict that seems to have no end.
I wish there was some magical singular solution to this problem.
But unfortunately, life is full of 'grey areas', and no singular approach will ever solve a situation like this. The root cause as well is no easy thing to define, for it is also a multi-faceted issue the likes of which is difficult to comprehend on a simple internet forum. Were it so easy, again, I think Mexico would be in a much better position.
Anyways... This is long enough, even though it should have been a lot longer and better constructed.
The good people of Mexico are now realizing that Calderon was right. The violence rose when the military began using the big guns and started breaking up the cartels. Then, after less than 2 years the death toll began to fall - and kept falling until the end of his term.
The people got soft and voted in Nieto (PRI) who basically stopped what Calderon was doing and went back what the PRI does, political corruption.
The death toll began rising shortly after, and has continued to rise ever since. AMLO is possibly the worst kind of president for Mexico right now.
Maybe he should have won in 2012 and Mexico could have found out then that he's useless as a CIC. Hell, AMLO has been pretending to be president since 2006 - he could say whatever, but this is real now and I think he's still pretending like he's the mayor of D.F..
Criminals have no respect and fear nothing of the current administration.
You can't play "nice" to psychopaths. They've got to bring in superior tactics and firepower. They're only up against people with machine guns in pickup trucks.
Yes....the Mexican Gov in its current form is basically just an extension of the cartels. I believe EPN took 100's of millions of dollars from Chapo, and other DTO's. I'd bet Calderon, and Fox did as well. Because of the corruption, collusion, and impunity granted to the players of all levels, the whole thing just morphed into a failed state. Mexico, must seek outside help. I don't think the US should have the Point on this. Too much room for future corruption I always have said, Chapo and the others couldn't move that kind of weight here without complicit Gov officials on both sides of border. The whole thing must be torn down to the core. Corruption is prevalent in any Gov, but Mexico, IMO is even more corrupt, than most African dictatorships. The corruption reaches from the Peak to the base. It'll take decades to completely change, but to save the next generation, the Cartels, and their complicit Gov, LE, and Military benefactors, must be exterminated. JMO
Podrido- I mostly agree with you, except for a few key points.
1) The US does not have homicide rates higher than active war zones. The US homicide rate is approximately 5 per 100,000. That is slightly high for a first world developed nations, but it is ultimately pretty low, especially compared to Mexico which is, I believe, 34 per 100,000.
2) The Kingpin strategy, along with attacking all levels of criminal activity, is necessary. A state can not be openly corrupt and retain its legitimacy. Obviously it shouldn't be surreptitiously corrupt either, but that is, perhaps, unavoidable.
Excellent synopsis of the RICO act and it's effects on organized crime in the US. Within 5 years of of that law finally being utilized it decimated the mafia and made them reevaluate the way the did business. Violence shot down by roughly 90%.
CRUSH YOUR ENEMIES! GRIND THEIR BONES INTO DIRT! MAKE THEM REGRET THEY WERE EVER BORN!
If the US is 5 per 100,000 here is what I found on some of the most well known countries effected by extensive war at the moment, with the addition of a few not in my original post.
Yemen - 4.8
Ukraine - 4.3
Syria - 2.2
Lebanon - 2.2
Libya - 1.7
Chechnya - 1.1 (Currently. Was around 8 - 10 during war time.)
Palestine - 0.7
I think this would lend to say the US does in fact have homicide rates higher than active war zones and I think the wide availability of guns certainly lends to that. (I think it's worth noting I'm a gun owner myself from Canada, since I know how much of a divisive topic that can be in the US, not to assume you are from there however. I think gun ownership is fun, but controlling who can have them is a necessity.)
I have 21.5 - 25 per 100,000 for Mexico, which is still unbelievably high imo.
I don't mean to imply the fighting of crime is unnecessary. I mean only to say that removing the people who were more level headed has pushed Mexico into a state of seemingly irreversible turmoil. Things were of course bad prior to that moment, and hindsight is 20/20 so it's easy to see now that was a mistake, but I think it can still be something of a learning experience. Even if that unfortunately comes at the cost of tens of thousands of lives.
I do not claim to be any sort of an expert in this field, but to me the clearest answer to curbing criminal deviancy lays not in removing those who hold a tight leash on their most psychopathic underlings (not immediately at least). But in dealing with the root cause of the issue, to that effect you can drain the cartels of their most important resource, which is personnel.
That being said, I think a better way to put it is that I think the execution of events was flawed. Most people side with the opinion of 'cutting the head from the snake' for example.
I think the majority of people feel this is a good way to go, as many cultures and organizations are lost without strong leadership. (Iraq after the fall of Saddam is perhaps a good example, as would be North Korea without the Kim regime.)
This logic cannot be applied to criminal deviants however, as the root cause of criminal deviancy is rarely a need for strong leadership as is the case in political circles wherein parties vy for strong leadership to guide them into their ideal political world.
Strong leadership in criminal circles is only typically desired or attained by factors of brutality or cunning that lends to the organizations growth and hence, the wealth of its members. One forgets though when they apply the idea of taking out the biggest fish that they are birthing a hydra, because you have so many big egos or people who are unstable that think they should be boss once the person holding them in check is gone. I.E. power vaccuum which leads to further violence.
If you focus on the body of the snake instead of the head, it finds it self unable to gain any traction or produce any new heads. Again, I reiterate, we will never be free of criminals.
But when faced with criminality on such a nationwide scale it's clear that a much bigger problem is the cause of why this continues to happen - why people continue joining the ranks of cartels despite knowing they could very well end up on the wrong side of a chainsaw.
These issues are mostly economic, I think. Low wages are perhaps the greatest contributor, as well as the loss of businesses which could provide much needed jobs.
Education is an obvious one too, I think people who are relatively uneducated are prone to seeing violence or anger as solutions to problems, or criminality as a reasonable pursuit for them. (Though this doesn't take into account the small percentage of people who enjoy those things.)
Pro-Narco media is another major problem. There is so much to consume in Mexico and abroad, I myself have an extensive collection of Narco rap and corridos - well over 500 songs without exaggeration. As a whole I think Western culture has spent a long time glorifying criminals whether that has been intentional or not. People for example look to figures like Al Capone as people they want to be, and this is the same in Mexico, only the lack of a rule of law makes it a lot easier for people to cross into that lifestyle. Here in Canada and the US a lot of impressionable youth and would-be criminals are held back by the fear of prison and becoming social pariahs.
Mainly though really, I think the economic issue is the biggest cause. People need to survive, and if you are able to give them an out - a way they can still provide and enjoy a good quality of life without needing to steal or do wrong by others, I think you would see a great improvement. At which point, once membership begins to wane and people become uninterested you then remove the heads of the organizations because you no longer have such a great risk of fracturing and further violence.
Japan is also an interesting example in how they approach organized crime, though I don't know a whole lot about that yet. I do know they treat the Yakuza with some validity as semi-legitimate taxable organizations and work hard to educate their populace and give them good jobs. They also don't focus so heavily upon branding a gangster image as such a status symbol as we do here in North America (of which Mexico is part.) As a result, one finds the Yakuza and other deviant groups like the Bosozoku have been rapidly dwindling in size over the years.
Re: What are the solutions to the problem of organized crime and the violence associated with it in Mexico?
Podrido- Excellent analysis. One thing though, it may be factually accurate that the US has a higher murder rate than some active war zones, and yet still misleading. The vast majority of killings in a war zone aren’t going to be labeled as homicide. Regardless, I generally agree with you. There is room for debate about the kingpin strategy. I think we both agree that it could have been handled better, and the ultimately the GOM created their own mess. These kingpins were allowed to get powerful in the first place by the same government that later wished to destroy them.
I think that is a valid point in regards to the vast majority of killings in a war zone. Granted, I would also wager that criminal actors are most active in a situation of institutional instability. (Albania for example, as well as Serbia during the break up of Yugoslavia. Chechnya also had a very strong organized crime culture during both of their wars; they're sometimes called the Obschina if anyone is interested in checking them out. Libya too is a great example.)
I think that, and the political turmoil that leaves tensions so high which then translates into non-military political violence is what lends to those statistics, but I could be wrong. Because of that I find it hard to be able to justify a peace time country coming near to any sort of war zone murder stats especially if we are considering a war time country to be at their weakest in regards to handling crime. A peace time country has no excuse in that regard and very much points to other factors being the nature of the problem. I do agree there is the potential for those statistics to be misleading though, as you say.
For curiosities sake,
India - 3
Canada - 1.6
China - 1.0
France - 1.0
United Kingdom - 1.0
Japan - 0.28
United States - 9.08 (Median between 1930 - 1935, lending to my economic suggestion.)
I certainly agree with you that it would have been best had they not been allowed to grow so powerful to begin with and that the GOM made errors in that regard, but I think that can also be a center of debate too if one considers that the majority of those organizations began as simple marijuana/opium farmers.
Marijuana is a much lower risk form of trade and doesn't often attract the sort of violent, erratic behaviours you see in the cocaine trade. It's a lot easier to tolerate as a result, which is why it has also done so well in Canada. People aren't too concerned with marijuana traffickers, it's fairly harmless and most people don't see any logical reason other than religious for it to be illegal.
By the time they shifted to cocaine and other synthetic drugs they were already too well entrenched, especially culturally in the rural zones. I don't think really it could have been avoided in that regard, which is why I also say this is an issue too complex to be solved here; but even the root of why people began cultivating marijuana in the first place is perhaps economic, it was a good way to earn a living when other crops lacked.
But any time you see a DTO shift to cocaine or meth like that violence spikes. (Miami FL for example had a homicide increase of 70% from 1979 - 1980 alone.)
I'm not sure I agree with that if by 'burning the body' you mean the widespread killing of criminals. Mexico has been trying that since 2008 and it has resulted in a protracted conflict.
The best solution imo is the one which gives Mexico's people what they want, which is an end to violence and the fear of their loved one's disappearing. Permitting the military/police the same ability as the cartels to become death squads is only going to and has only made things worse and not just because of gunfights in city streets (wherein civilians are constantly caught in the crossfire). But also simply due to a lack of unity among criminals which leads to widespread territorial warring as we see now.
Admittedly, it's very easy to see that sort of high tensity, high violence situation as acceptable if you aren't someone who has to live with it.
Podrido- why are you using the average murder rate in the US from 1930-35? In the US the murder rate is very close to our all time low. I don’t have it in front of me, but I’ll check it when I can. I believe it is around 5 per 100,000. It is fairly low, and the homicides that do occur are generally relegated to a few outlier cities (Baltimore, St.Louis, Detroit, Flint, Camden, DC, New Orleans etc.) Further, many homicides in the US are the result of drunk driving and other negligent homicides. As a developed country, the crime rate in the US is a bit high, but it is lower than it has been historically and overall it isn’t all that high compared to the rest of the world.
I agree 100% with the rest of what you have written. As to “burning the body”, for me that means indictment and prosecution of the organizations for the crime of organize crime in and of itself. Definitely not extra-judicial killing. I think justice must be served, not vengeance. Violence does beget violence. Justice begets justice.
The bigger Drug Cartels make more money, and flex more power than the Mexican governments - city, state, or federal.
Not only do they pay better to attract skilled fighters, they'll recruit anybody desperate - which is a huge sector of the population.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPPGMNOLaMwoutube.com/watch?v=mPPGMNOLaMw AMLO still can't recruit enough people for his "national guard" - who wants to drive around in full assault gear, in the baking heat, to ambushed by a hidden enemy with better intelligence and the same or bigger weapons.
No one wants to play for the losing side.
The only thing that will stop them is death from above. Follow their little convoys of pickups and suv's by satellite and take them out. Give the people something to believe in, and a reason for kids NOT to join the cartels.
Most Mexicans just want the bad people to go away - permanently.
There will never be enough prisons (or money) to contain the cancer of crime that's spreading through Mexico. It's going to be ugly, but the sooner the better. Mexico is already asking for international help. Amlo is the worst president Mexico could have right now.
I added the example of the 1930 - 1935 homicidal rate only as a means of showing that economic downturn results in a boom in criminal activity.
Mostly just to draw a parallel between that (the great depression) and the fact that there are frequently stories coming out of Mexico and from my own friends who live there that they struggle to make ends meet with the wages provided to them, so I thought it might be a reasonable comparison. (My friend who works in the law firm in Guadalajara making $200/mo was the most striking to me. She had said that's a pretty decently paying job and yet still has to live with multiple roommates in order to get by.)
Admittedly I did not expect that they would consider things like manslaughter as part of those statistics, the figure I found for 'intentional homicide' also appears to be about 5 for the US. True though that it doesn't appear to be high for the rest of the world, on average the world strikes around 5 per 100,000 as well. I think though it's right to take into account that different areas of any country will be better or worse than others for any number of reasons be they social or political. The same can be said for Mexico too, of course.
I agree with you as well. A multi-pronged approach is definitely the preferred method, you can't allow those who are already involved in that lifestyle to run rampant and conduct themselves as they please at the expense of others.