Global Security Headlines

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mexico: Where the Bullets Are

credit: AP

Welcome to Mexico

The 1960 movie "Where the Boys Are" about college spring break has been replaced with "Where the Bullets Are" for those university-age youths still considering heading south of the US border this month for romp and revelry.

The US State Department issued a travel alert and is working with colleges and universities to warn students before embarking for Mexico. State also has a web page devoted to a safe spring break abroad.

Safe travel has always been an global security issue. Indeed, for corporations, some personnel are provided security briefings and afforded special insurance packages to compensate the hazardous journey abroad. Travel intelligence is an important business in our dangerous world.

Mexico's Drug War Out of Control

credit: AP/Eduardo Verdugo
The underlying cause for concern is the out of control drug war now at the gates of and spilling over into the US that threatens the survival of the Mexican nation-state.

Indeed, as we have previously commented, US security planners actually ponder a rapid and sudden collapse of its southern neighbor.

Mayor José Reyes Ferriz of Ciudad Juarez, the epicenter of drug lords battling for the supply routes to the United States, has his family across the border in El Paso, Texas, to protect them from persistent death threats. His police chief resigned on February 20 to comply with drug lord demands or face a police officer dead every 48 hours. Other chiefs were merely assassinated.

The Sinaloa cartel (Gulf cartel), the Beltran Leyva organization and the Carrillo Fuentes organization (also known as the Juarez cartel) have contributed to 6,000 drug-related deaths last year in the Mexican state of Chihuahua where Ciudad Juarez is.

Last week President Felipe Calderon ordered 5,000 Mexican army federales into Ciudad Juarez by air and land to wrest control from the drug lords and restore a semblance of order. Unfortunately, many times, the drug lords and their cohorts are dressed as federales, too.

The massive buildup is only a band-aide to the root cause - the profitability of supplying narcotics to meet US demand. A recent report estimates drug profits at $50 million to $70 million in protection payments from farmers and another $200 million to $400 million from "taxing" drug processing and trafficking in 2008 on top of the multi-billion dollar enterprise.

US Security Impact

The Mexican drug battle royale is not confined within its borders. From assassinations in Phoenix, Arizona, to related violence across the border to El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, border state governors fret the spillover effect. Texas has already made emergency plans as a consequence.

Travel warnings for spring breakers is a symptom of the larger problem confronting Mexico and the US. Many believe the drug war has to be tackled on a social, economic, and security front to avoid a narcostate on the US southern border and the attendant consequences of a collapse of order in the hemisphere's third most populated country.

Get your International Policy books today!

No comments: