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Drug Cartels And Human Trafficking Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 4271 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The following essay will discuss all the factors that might have contributed to the corruption of the Mexican government and how this corruption has influenced society. It will be evaluated how drugs and violence have not always been a problem to our society. Therefore I decided my research question to be: how has the Mexican government been influenced by violence and drug trafficking from 1994 to 1995? Mexico is located in North America, to the south of The United States and north of Guatemala. [1] The first thing you picture when you hear “Mexico” is a colorful country, with years of traditions, and tasty food, people with their Mayan heritage and beautiful architecture. Indeed, it is a beautiful place full of people that love their country more than anything else, proud of their nationality, heritage, and teachings from their ancestors, yet it is shameful that they have been forced to leave their country or live in it fearfully. I am concerned about the Mexican government’s involvement in corruption, which caused residents instability. In addition, many have questioned themselves if it is worth to continue fighting over corruption, when even authorities are involved in violence and drugs? How can we trust the higher institutions that were created to protect society? Politicians, and powerful people have been involved in illicit businesses and many believe that it is the main reason why drug business is part of the black market. Therefore should drugs be legalized to find a solution or not? This essay will rely on this question.

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Section 1: Origins of drugs traffic

Before the Mexican Revolution, which occurred on November 20, 1910; the United States and Mexico had no border security whatsoever, they used the border as a trading system without any other interest. For many years Mexico struggled with drugs coming in and out of its country, but drug issues had not always been a problem, due to the fact that the Mexican government was then concerned with politics, so drugs were not considered a threat to the government. After the Mexican Revolution, its citizens were migrating to the United States. Some were escaping from persecution, and others decided that Mexico was not economically sustainable anymore; therefore they took their money to the United States.

The political system established after the Mexican Revolution was a state party system. Smuggling was developed from within the power structure where the President is at the top and surpasses legislative and judicial powers. Some of the most powerful carteles [2] , which are groups of drug traffickers; are related to high ranking politicians [3] .

In 1969, Richard Nixon, President of the United States, declared war on drugs, as the problem was certainly increasing. Colombia, which was the major producer of cocaine, smuggled it through the Caribbean, as the U.S began to persecute them because it was becoming an endless issue. Therefore Colombian drug cartels needed another solution. An alliance was made with the organization of Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo [4] , who was later arrested. Business was controlled at this point mainly by four major carteles: The Tijuana Cartel, the Sinaloa-Sonora Cartel, the Juárez Cartel and the Gulf Cartel, controlled seventy percent of drug leaking to the United States. [5] 

In the 1980s, millions of drug loads brought from Colombia were crossed to the United States through Mexico. In 1994, new laws over the border were established; three law enforcement operations to stand guard were set up. The first Operation Hold the Line in El Paso, Texas; the second was Operation Safeguard in Arizona; and the third was Operation Gatekeeper in California [6] . All of them had a military system that would stop illegal drugs, yet it did not work. [7] 

The acceptance at the beginning of the drug trade in Mexico was because they did not use drugs; other than marijuana which was used for medical purposes. In Mexico the production was only for the market abroad. Another reason was the level of violence. In small towns violence was not present because almost all the inhabitants were related. There was room for everybody in the drug business, so it was not necessary to fight to death to get a share of the market. Later, police agents and the military, representatives of the law, in charge of destroying illegal plants and chasing underground markets, were doing their job or promoting the business and trying to make a profit like everybody else.

Drug issues in Mexico are far from ending. One of the main factors is that illegal substances are an easy way to gain money. For a small amount people can get exceedingly high earnings, which makes this business very attractive. In Mexico, as well as most of all Latin America, most of the population do not get a good education or attend to school. Culture and traditions incite people to stay home helping with the chores; hence when they are trying to get high paying jobs they are not hired since they do not have a career or skills. Women are constantly hired at sweat shops while men are hired in machineries or farm-related jobs. Therefore when they see an opportunity of getting a better paying job, with little effort but at high risk; they usually accept the job.

Everyone is susceptible to get involved in the drug cycle, which is selling drugs or buying drugs for consumption, or both; we live the danger daily. To succeed against this war we must work together to avoid further progress. Moral values are what can prevent society to fall into corruption. Moral values are the set of beliefs everyone is raised with, for instance, honesty, justice, respect, among others. They help society determine what is wrong and what is good; the problem with drugs is that we cannot see the reality of why drugs are seen badly, therefore there is no legalization and others benefit from this financially.

Section 2: Government corruption

According to Tony Payan [8] , “Drug trafficking is the most profitable organized crime in the world.” Since the earliest 1990s, drug sellers used several modus smugglandi [9] . This means several ways of trespassing drugs. The main way of introducing drugs to its biggest buyer the United States; was by using trucks that carried goods from Mexico, these had special hidden compartments moreover this could not be done without the aid of the border officials.

Drug traffickers offer incredible amounts of money that are really hard to resist. American as well as Mexican police officers accept without much hesitation. By nature we always want more, and the major reason for corruption is greed.

Once someone gets involved, you cannot get out unless you are dead. Illegal businesses do not purport moral values or respect; everyone does whatever it takes to have power no matter what even if it is the wrong way to do it. Carteles operations implement respect through violence; and this led to “the dirty war” in Mexico’s struggle.

Carteles obviously have political influences behind them. From the very start, back in the 1980s; we noticed that Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo was a former police officer. Later, he used his political influences and was able to get Colombian drugs smuggled into Mexico.

At the Mexican and American border drugs would not be able to cross the border without the help of American officers. Officials themselves carry tons of drugs, and the majority never gets caught. This business uses elaborated ways to avoid from being caught. Since the 1990s many underground tunnels from Mexico to the United States have been discovered although those discovered could be considered a few to the real number. [10] 

Money laundering became a political issue since the 1970s, when illegal substance’s money was obtained through political channels. This illegal business was profitable enough to attract the interest of mighty politicians. Big business needed official protection. U.S.A. and Mexican officials have frequently accused each other’s country of being the right place for this kind of illegal business. Speculation about the amount of dirty money circulating locally or worldwide was used as a political weapon. The U.S.A. government used controversial ways to prove money laundering activities, especially dealing with Mexico since money from drugs were washed in the United States and elsewhere.

In the late 1980s, money laundering [11] started to be considered a serious criminal offence. Mexico was perceived as one of the most important money laundering country moreover it increased by the pressure of organized crime.

In Novembre of 1995, the Unites States Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, calculated that the world’s money laundering was something between $300 and $600 billion a year. PGR, which is Procuraduría General de la República [12] officials estimated Mexican traffickers’ profits to be $30 billion in 1994.

Since the beginning, drug traffickers depended upon other political players. Every time there was a drug scandal, governors were upfront to be suspected of being involved. Governor’s freedom to do any kind of business, legal or illegal, was limited by the president’s will and their own ethical inclinations. When disputes between elite political groups arose, they involved politicians in the drug issue to damage the governor’s image. Political and social stability was in danger, society’s trust was damaged therefore their willingness to have a voice or be part of political activities faded away. People not getting involved in politics had a negative effect since they should have taken part in political actions; this corresponds to the economic and intellectual developments. If people wanted changes in their community, in their society, they should have get involved carefully selecting who they want to be represented by, yet inconsistencies in political actions were always persistent.

The power of the presidency, the monopoly of politics by the state party, and the lack of organized political opposition, created the conditions for developing drug trafficking from within the power structure. Controlled, protected or tolerated by the political power, counterfeit goods continued to function under a new scheme.

Section 3: Government and narcos war

The Mexican Government decided to take actions over the drug cartels. Since the prohibition on production and usage of narcotics in the late 1990s, this was having a major impact on society’s corruption. Obviously, both sides had an elaborated plan to achieve their objectives. Yet this was very hard, due to the money and corruption encountered in politics.

But, how did the drug business became so predominant in Mexico? Well this is very simple mostly they were attracted by the easy way to get rich, in addition to a comfortable way of earning a living by simply hiding from authorities and bragging about them. The initial smuggling systems started by transporting drugs in the Pacific road, but later when it brought attention from legal authorities, they used the border cities of Nogales, Mexicali and Tijuana [13] . Violence by criminal element affects many parts of the country, both urban and rural areas.

The Mexican government had several ways to fight drug cartels in 1994 and 1995.Mexican officials discussed the need for laws to combat organized crime and money laundering since 1995 [14] . The major problem in this conflict dealing with drugs was that it became a war in the border between Mexico and The United States of America, which involved both Mexican and American authorities. According to Vicente Sánchez Munguía [15] , the Mexican’s government only solution was to use military forces to defeat these activities.

As Sánchez stated, the major problem found was that the drug cartels engaged in many ways by penetrating the judicial institutions and corrupted many state officers. So, this raises the question on: how are we able to trust state institutions? In 1994 and 1995 the major cause for an increase in drug traffic was the accumulated neoliberal pressure [16] , which affected public health and education, along with their infrastructure. It impacted the economy in such a way that since 1994 the Mexican Peso [17] suffered devaluation.

Francisco Gil-Diaz [18] suggested that Mexico had several reasons that allowed the devaluation. In 1994 there was instability in Mexico’s economy since President Carlos Salinas de Gortarí he kept a very low fixed rate band of taxes. After Ernesto Zedillo was elected president at the end of 1994, he decided to increase the fixed rate band of taxes. Mexico did not have enough foreign reserves to maintain the process which the previous government had instituted. In addition, the Mexican peso crashed and the United States decided to intervene due to the fact that they had a lot of money invested in Mexico; they started by buying pesos in the open market in order to increase the currency value.

One of the major causes for Mexican authority’s corruption in 1994 and 1995 was the fact that during the crisis, the Mexican government found it hard to continue paying its officers, so at the moment when carteles offered them attractive sums of money they accepted without hesitation, being that, they were suffering an economic crisis as well.

Section 4: Drug cartels and human trafficking

The fall of the Mexican Peso, made drug cartels to look for other ways to replace the money of the merchandise they did not sell or produced. Along with drug traffic another series of problems arose. One of them was human enslavement. In 1994, the Mexican government started to take serious actions towards the problem. The main target for drug cartels were women and children with scarce resources since they could be used for any type of work by only providing them food and shelter. Later they decided to use them for sexual purposes; these included selling women to the best paying buyer, prostitute them, and in the case of children sell their virginity; which brought them higher profits. Women were as well used as drug loads to the United States. They were also used for traffic of organs. The Mexican government found itself in a serious problem, drug cartels did not only used the border to trespass and sell drug but also did it with humans.

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Many have argued that it is better to traffic drug rather than a human life, since humans can be used for many purposes that damage their integrity and life. We got to a point as a society where we destroyed ourselves. By nature we must live in groups, but if we are constantly fighting, we are unable to achieve harmony and be successful as a society.

Another problem present in human trafficking is that not only the women and children were stolen, but that they also sold themselves. According to Amnesty International, a human-rights watchdog; six out of ten women are reckoned to suffer sexual abuse during their migration through Mexico.

They saw this as the only way of having bread on the table for their families every day. In many families the children that prostitute themselves are the money providers of their own houses. So, why kids are sold for prostitution instead of parents working? It is a shame that society has come to a point where there are no moral values or respect whatsoever towards laws but mainly family.

The problem for the Mexican government war against drugs was that drug cartels are always one step ahead; as Melissa Graham mention in her research called “Mexico’s New War: Sex Trafficking”. Whenever the Mexican police captures major leaders in the drug business, these people are quickly replaced.

Section 5: Violence in Mexico

In 1994, NAFTA [19] gave more opportunities for Mexican citizens to obtain more jobs without needing a high school or university diploma. Women started to get involved at the Maquiladoras, at first their way of life improved but later violence increased. Several women were killed at Ciudad Juárez [20] , since it was the location of the powerful Cartel de Juárez. [21] 

Certainly the murder of these women constituted a sign of power, and domination. As the government tried to combat violence it became worst. Carteles utilized violence for the purpose of seeking respect and implement fear. The battle to control the drug trade knows no boundaries. They suppressed society, so that no one stood against them, therefore they controlled the population; they believed it is the only way to be noticed. Violence is a well developed technique for obtaining power.

Violence appeared to be present everywhere in the Mexican and American border, since drugs and crime are interrelated. One major factor for carteles violence in Ciudad Juárez, is called machismo, which according Michel Newton [22] “is the behavior of the man who believes himself superior to women, and it manifests itself in forms ranging from casual insults to, according to some, ritualistic murder”. Machismo is imitated by children later on, and so this becomes a way of life.

As Robert Rowell Palmer the author of “A History of the Modern World”, said “In the 1990s there was an increase in population in a more industrialized Mexico. Human costs of social problems were malnutrition, disease, infant mortality, limited schooling, illiteracy, and lower life expectancy for all but the elite”. The Mexican government ignored all these problems and just continued ignoring or supporting the lucrative business of drugs.

Mexican reporters and journalists instead of informing people about the terrible crimes in the country, and analyzing this problem reflecting reality; did not focus on it because drug violence dominated the media since they were threatened, kidnapped and killed by drug dealers and harassed by the government. Media is an influential technique used by governments to control people’s mind, it is a persuasive technique since it is believed that they are the voice of justice but they are absolutely unbiased. Report levels of violence were significantly higher than those tracked by media accounts, which were previously the only source of information available. Mexican authorities were cautious in reporting and publishing statistics on the number of drug related homicides, in the 1990s.

Notorious corruption and power through years of controlled elections left citizens distrustful of all politicians. As Rodrigo Labardini [23] said: “drug trafficking has created somehow a state of fear, where actions from carteles the same as government’s strategies have caused violence”.

Despite industrialization and expanding international trade, the difference between rich and poor, increased in Mexico during the 1990s. Now a new problem was invading Mexico’s society. The poor stole from the rich, and the rich from the poor by high rate of taxes; the worst part was that children were a high percentage of the smugglers. They were educated to believe that this was their job, and that there was nothing wrong with it. They grew with no respect to human life. Eventually these children become the leaders with sufficient experience on the business.

The illegal businesses brought the trafficking of weapons, which were used to implement respect and power. It came to a point that carrying weapons was essential to survive. They used them for extortion and intimidation to obtain what they desired. The only solution for violence is to implement more education and communication in Mexico in order to achieve a verbal and serious negotiation.

Drug-related problems can’t be solved immediately, but we could do more to prevent them with better education and care. There should be better election and higher demands for police officials. Officers must have an appropriate training to combat violence and drug traffic in the future.

As Rodrigo Labardini, “police bodies are chased by politicians that demand efficiency from them; population demands end of corruption, and cartels want police officers to work with them”. He concluded that the only way to stop drug trafficking is “To achieve an improvement in militarism, in order to secure the border and people’s life; and regarding the intensive combat to drugs, international influences are necessary, their interventions are needed since they are not corrupted as Mexican officials. A plan is substantial that evaluates median and long terms like prevention of consumption to hard drugs, education, knowledge of the law, alternative crops, formation of a trustable and an effective police department”.


Mexico is indeed a beautiful country, but several factors like drug traffic, money laundering, corruption on higher institutions, and human trafficking along with violence, have made of the country a fearful one. The government alleges a war against illegal businesses but they have been attracted to these businesses therefore preventing disclosure.

New generations have no respect and have new improved ways of evading laws, and as time passes they dominate the country. This has been Mexico’s greatest struggle of all times since it is a war against corruption. Corruption can be solved by values through education, for society and police officers. The idea of drugs being legalized is an ongoing debate, which is affected by culture and idiosyncrasy. Every person has a personal opinion on this theme depending on their ideologies, yet is it better to focus on facts rather than ideology which are biased. Our contribution to the eradication of the side effects and drug traffic itself is to promote values, and awareness of corruption.

Imagine if the followings years after 1994 and 1995, corruption, violence and human trafficking increases; Mexican society will live highly unsecured in this country, therefore they will decide to migrate as their only solution. If moral values and respect are not followed anymore, imagine our society’s ideals, we will become more greedy always looking for more even if the way of obtain things is the right or wrong way to do so.

To prevent the consequences of drug trafficking, I certainly think that drugs have a solution just as alcohol and tobacco had. Even though drugs are linked to the government since they have economic benefits, a serious analysis on how society is affected, makes us think the following: “should drugs be legalized worldwide?”


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