"Drug-related violence in Mexico has spiked in recent years as drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) have competed for control of smuggling routes into the United States. [...] President Felipe Calderón... [has] made battling the Mexican drug trafficking organizations a top priority. [...] In response to the government's crackdown, the DTOs have responded with escalating violence. [...] The government's intensified campaign against the DTOs resulted in changes in the structure of these criminal organizations. The seven major DTOs in Mexico have reconfigured. The fracturing of some of the most powerful drug trafficking syndicates and the reemergence of once powerful DTOs have led to bloody conflict within and among the DTOs. [...] In October 2007, [the U.S. and Mexico] announced the Mérida Initiative to combat drug trafficking, gangs and organized crime... To date, the U.S. Congress has appropriated a total of $700 million for Mexico under the Mérida Initiative. The program, which combines counternarcotics equipment and training with rule of law and justice reform efforts, is still in its initial stages of implementation. [...] This report examines the causes for the escalation of the violence in Mexico. It provides a brief overview of Mexico's counterdrug efforts, a description of the major DTOs, the causes and trends in the violence, the Calderón government's efforts to crackdown on the DTOs, and the objectives and implementation of the Mérida Initiative as a response to the violence in Mexico."
CRS Report for Congress, R40582