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Click here for more about the drug war in Mexico.

Mexican Drug Cartels Go Global

The Dallas Morning News reported on July 22, 2009 that "Mexican drug traffickers are branching out as never before - spreading their tentacles into 47 nations, including the U.S., Guatemala and even Colombia, long the heart of the drug trade in Latin America" ("Mexican Drug Cartels Branching Out Across Globe"). The article, written by AP reporter Juan Carlos Llorca, suggests that the escalation of Mexico's military-run drug war shoulders much of the blame for this dispersion of the country's drug cartels, but it also suggests that the cartels "are trying to get closer to the source of supply and take over the transport" - in other words, the expansion of which the article speaks results both from the interdiction efforts that necessarily follow prohibitionist drug policies and, perhaps primarily, a desire on the part of Mexican cartels to stage something of a drug trade coup.

Indeed, the article discusses an "investigation that included dozens of interviews with officials and experts in seven countries[, which] found that the Mexican mobs increasingly buy directly from the cocaine-producing Andes and have begun using distant countries to obtain raw material for methamphetamine." According to Jere Miles, who leads a unit "that tracks money laundering for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement" (ICE), "The belief is that the Mexican[ cartels] are trying to get closer to the source of supply and take over the transport." The article additionally notes a link between the cartels' increasingly global presence and Mexico's 2007 ban on "the import and export of" certain chemicals - pseudoephedrine and ephedrine - used to make methamphetamine.

Llorca's article too often blurs the important distinction between "Mexicans" and "Mexican cartels," but it nevertheless provides useful insights into Latin American drug trade politics. Though his main points are summarized above, Llorca also provides further details about drug traffickers' sophisticated strategies, discusses the impact that Mexican cartels' expansion efforts have had on other countries, and informs readers of the interdiction efforts governments are utilizing to dampen the cartels' successes. Though Llorca does not explicitly make the point that global drug prohibition plays a major role in the increasing violence, corruption, and instability associated with transnational drug trafficking, interested parties are encouraged to read between the lines and connect those dots themselves.

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