Mexico U S Drug Trade Border the Challenges Essay

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Mexico U.S. Drug Trade Border

The challenges of an extremely volatile economy are significant in any culture or population but one of the starkest situations today is the extreme variation between the economies of Mexico and the United States, which shares a 3,000-mile long border. The variations of the economies are so extreme and poverty is such a challenge in Mexico that hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of people cross over from Mexico to the U.S., both legitimately and illegally to attempt to obtain income that is not available in Mexico, via legitimate employment. One of the most significant problems with this disparity is the fact the population of Mexico can and often does fall prey to one of the only ways to earn significant income, drug smuggling. The U.S. has an almost boundless demand for narcotics and Mexico's poverty and limited and strained infrastructure has an almost boundless ability to supply these narcotics. (Jenner 903-904) According to one U.S. border patrol officer, Renee Felix, in Nogales the problem began to be really bad for this small town, now considered the epicenter of the drug trafficking into the U.S. from Mexico and trafficking of weapons and cash back from the U.S., began in the 1970s (National Geographic, 2010-2011, S01E05). Economic changes and the growing strength of drug cartels in Mexico as well as increased violence and turf wars requiring increased funding are seeds to the problem. Awareness of the severity of the problem is also linked to an increase in U.S. border security attempts and the hard of crime war on drugs trends in U.S. law enforcement that began in the late 1980s and continues today and is also mirrored by a later but similar war on drugs in Mexico beginning in 2006 that has resulted in a massive government crackdown and an increase in violence and desperation. (Garcia 16-18) ("Shallow Graves…" 40)

Greater public awareness and demand for stricter laws and tougher enforcement dominate the situation and are creating more apprehensions and seizures and tougher tactics on the part of the criminals themselves. The serious interconnectivity between the economies of the U.S. And Mexico also serves as a standard for this phenomena as in times of economic challenge in the U.S., such as the current recession Mexico's economy suffers and criminals and would be criminals become more desperate for opportunities to both gain wealth and advantage over rivals. ("The Cartel Problem…" 13) Though human trafficking is also a sever social problem in both the U.S. And Mexico also often feeding larger illegal markets the drug problem is a dominant and dangerous aspect of the border challenges faced by both U.S. And Mexico today. Though there is also a good deal of evidence to suggest that illegal immigration and violence at borders is decreasing, possibly as a result of declining population growth and a growing economy in Mexico there seems to be no end to the drug related violence. ("Don't Look Now…")

Origins and Profits

Mexican drug cartels can also be traced to ties in Columbia where many drugs are grown and/or synthesized to sell, as well as a marked downturn in the cartel centrality of Columbia to Mexico. (LaFranchi 1)

"The kingpins of tomorrow are not just Colombian. Mexican cartels have grown in recent years, developing a $30 billion-a-year industry. They began as mules for the Colombians but have been flexing their own muscles. As much as three quarters of the cocaine that enters the United States goes through Mexico, the unforeseen consequence of a successful U.S. drive to close off other routes in the 1980s." (Schrieberg & Ross 37)

The Mexican cartels of today are the outgrowth of the Columbian cartels of the past and they are still linked as resources and connections intermingle between the nations as the Columbian cartels, weakened by a 1990s crackdown seek fertile ground for further operations. The astounding 300% profit margin associated with the drug trade is also a serious draw to individuals seeking a better way to make a living, and drawing in others who are often extremely desperate to do so. "Today, the global market for illicit drugs nets over $500 billion annually, roughly the size of Switzerland's economy. It is one of the top five largest industries in the world after the arms trade, accounting for at least one percent of the global economy. There are over 200 million drug users worldwide, representing three percent of the world population." (Jenner 905)

Fig. 1 International Drug Trafficking: A Global Problem with a Domestic Solution. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Summer2011, Vol. 18 Issue 2, p901-927, 27p Map; found on p909

The international drug trade is a huge economic entity comprising a global market but its largest players and the majority of drugs are trafficked between Mexico and the U.S. Heroin, Marijuana, Cocaine, Methamphetamines and nearly any other drug you can name, including illegal prescription drugs pass across this border frequently, despite astronomical expense and effort to stop such activities.

Mexican Drug Cartels

Though this is clearly not an exhaustive map, the map below shows a geographical breakdown of the drug cartels in Mexico.

Figure 2 Map of Mexican Drug Cartels. http://drugssinfo.blogspot.com/2011/05/mexican-drug-cartels.html

The drug cartels obviously dominate the geography and have more or less connection to arms and other smuggling as well as the also highly profitable human trafficking trend, where individuals will voluntarily pay many months wages to coyotes (smuggler guides) who ensure them safe passage across the U.S. border and often even to job sites all over the U.S. The coyotes and their parent organizations are more or less legitimate in the sense that they can be very good at their job or they can be scrupulous and self-serving, deserting groups of individuals in the desert to fend for themselves. Really it all depends on how much cash you can afford to pay, as to how the accommodations turn out. In the past these drug cartels have also dominated the legitimate business landscape of the nation with many links to major players in the banking industry as well as law enforcement, the military and many other significant infrastructural organizations in the nation. (Reynolds 44)

Effects on Mexican Population

Drug trafficking, its violence and its draw to economic betterment all serve to undermine the social fabric of Mexico. The individuals associated with high yield trafficking often seek out vulnerable peoples, poor peoples from all over the nation to act as mules (carriers of drugs across the borders) as well as to play other roles in the organizations. The challenge to the Mexican population, facing both daily violence as well as poverty and other significant social ills are many as crime, violence and fear tend to dominate the lives of many. The infrastructural infiltration of the cartels and their agents into corrupt police agencies, from the top to the bottom seeking to improve their payroll (often a very meager wage for a very dangerous job) is also serious problem in Mexico which also feeds fear as many are skeptical of the police and fearful of reprisal for information given to police about the illegal activities they witness and/or are involved in. Difficulties also arise in the fact that Mexico's law enforcement agencies are often regionally controlled and consolidation is a difficult task despite new attempts to do so by the current government. Many Mexican in turn deal with daily violence and when it is not occurring the fear of it. Additionally kidnappings for ransom, abductions for the slave trade and assassinations of political leaders all occur regularly in Mexico with military attempts to take on the role of law enforcement trying to curb the many challenges of daily violence but still in a fledgling state of change. ("Shifting Sands 48)

US Border Problems

On a daily basis drugs, guns and even sex slaves from Mexico are crossing into the U.S. across the long and tenuous border. Though illegal immigration may be declining the incidence of seizures of illegal contraband is staying relatively constant and many border guards, as is often mentioned in the National Geographic documentary series Border Wars it seems like the tougher they get the more desperate and volatile the smugglers get. Violence during smuggling operations across the U.S. border is a challenge to the U.S. because not only is illegal contraband and peoples slipping into the U.S. violence from the drug wars is also slipping into the U.S. As more and more cross border cooperation and American financing goes into continuing the supply of goods to the U.S. market. ("Shifting Sands…" 48) Many are also claiming that violence has slowed as a result of the new energy and collaboration tactics of the Mexican government as well as better cooperation between border agencies in the U.S. And Mexico but the violence frequently waxes and wanes only to surge in areas where rival gangs fight to claim or reclaim desired profit and power. ("Shifting Sands…" 48)

The U.S. also recently (2009) began to step up southward trafficking activities,…[continue]

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