“Cartels Fracture in Mexico As Drug Kingpins Fall, And Violence Surges”
The New York Times, August 13, 2015, p.A4
“For years, the United States has pushed countries battling powerful drug cartels, like Mexico, to decapitate the groups by killing or arresting their leaders. The pinnacle of that strategy was the capture of Mexico’s most powerful trafficker, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, better known as El Chapo, who escaped in spectacular fashion last month from a maximum-security prison. … And while the arrests of kingpins make for splashy headlines, the result has been a fragmenting of the cartels and spikes in violence in places like Chilapa, a city of about 31,000, as smaller groups fight for control. Like a hydra, it seems that each time the government cuts down a cartel, multiple other groups, sometimes even more vicious, spring up to take its place. … While the large cartels are like monopolies involved in the production, transportation, distribution and sale of drugs, experts say, the smaller groups often lack international reach and control only a portion of the drug supply chain. They also frequently resort to other criminal activities to boost their income, like kidnapping, car theft, protection rackets and human trafficking. And while the big cartels have the resources to buy off government officials at the national level, the smaller gangs generally focus on the local and state levels, often with disastrous consequences for communities. … Recent government data shows that the national murder rate has been steadily declining since its peak in 2011, which the government cites as evidence that its approach is working. Despite the decline, many areas of the country continue to be shaken by violence as smaller groups of traffickers battle to fill the vacuum left by the deterioration of the large cartels.”
Quickie analysis: While unfortunate for Mexico and Mexicans, this phenomenon is not exactly new and takes some time to sort out.