Mexico's Drug Cartels [Updated February 25, 2008]   [open pdf - 813KB]

"Mexico, a major drug producing and transit country, is the main foreign supplier of marijuana and a major supplier of methamphetamine to the United States. Although Mexico accounts for only a small share of worldwide heroin production, it supplies a large share of heroin consumed in the United States. An estimated 90% of cocaine entering the United States transits Mexico. Violence in the border region has affected U.S. citizens and more than 60 Americans have been kidnapped in Nuevo Laredo. In July 2007, Mexican drug cartels reportedly threatened to kill a U.S. journalist covering drug violence in the border region. The proposed Mérida Initiative would provide at least $950 million to combat drug and organized crime. […] Felipe Calderón has called drug violence a threat to the Mexican state. This report provides an overview of: Mexican cartels and their operations, including the nature of cartel ties to gangs such as the Mara Salvatrucha; Mexican cartel drug production in the United States; and the presence of Mexican cartel cells in the United States. Mexican cartels allegedly have used their vast financial resources to corrupt Mexican public officials who either turn a blind eye to cartel activities or work directly for them. Since 2005, the Mexican government has made numerous efforts to purge corrupt police. In December 2006, President Felipe Calderón launched operations against the cartels in 9 of Mexico's 32 states. He has pledged to use extradition as a tool against drug traffickers, and sent 73 criminals to the United States as of August 2007, including the alleged head of the Gulf Cartel. This report also examines potential policy approaches to the problem of drug trafficking and violence. Current U.S. and Mexican policy emphasizes interdiction and eradication."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34215
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