The figures, regarding drug trafficking in México

Lately, this seems to be the hot topic no matter the social sphere we come from. You hear about reckoning, artists involved in drug trafficking, songs most commonly called Corridos, drug related charity and a host of other features, but do we have any idea of what the drug represents as an organized operation? Above all, drug trafficking is a business. As such, it includes the production, distribution and sale of illegal substances. It is the world’s most profitable illegal activity and sadly has become very important regarding the income in Mexico, to the extent that the industry (according to some sources, though not sure), is bigger than the tourism industry. It is also the third largest source of revenue for the country (after oil and cash remittances from abroad).

Our country has always been important as a stopover and link between drug producers (mainly from South America) and the US market. Psychotropic drug use is very common in the US and according to some studies up to 7% of the population has, in some time of their lives, used drugs (this would mean more than 21 million people!).

To meet the demand, cartels have sought ways to get their goods into the United States, and they have resorted to hiding their cargo and to bribery. On the latter we can say that authorities’ corruption has reached a yearly figure of 23,400 million pesos, and an estimated 6% of household income goes to bribery. That figure accounts for someone that ‘bribes’ a police officer to avoid a traffic ticket, to customs bribes to smuggle goods. According to the organization called Transparency International we occupy the 64th place in the worldwide corruption list.

Since the government of President Felipe Calderon began, the position of the government has been of zero tolerance for drug trafficking. This policy, with the passage of time has been questioned and even criticized, since some say we are not prepared to fight the drug lords. Although major arrests have been made spanning the different cartels (over 11,000 since 2006) the deaths of innocent people and security forces (more than 2200 police and 3500 military officials, judges and journalists) are a high price to pay to fight against a hydra whose ‘head’ changes over and over again. The total number of drug related deaths reaches 28,000. The record number of deaths in a 24 hour period happened on June 11, 2010 when 86 people were killed at a rehab center in Chihuahua. A sad calculation is that every 48 minutes someone dies in a drug-related incident.

Regarding cash seizures, the highest to date is 205 million USD (the Zhenli Ye Gon case) and for drug quantities is 134 tons of marijuana (October 19, 2010). Government expenses on security have increased every year, and it is estimated that for 2011 it will amount to 2% of the GNP, up to 10 billion pesos.

Finally, there is an amazing number of websites that publicize news about drug trafficking in Mexico. If you do a Google search, you'll find more than 30 blogs that give a detailed account of the facts related to the drug war!

Article produced by the Editorial Team of "Explorando Mexico".
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