Mexico's Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Rising Violence [August 3, 2012] [open pdf - 867KB]
"Violence has been an inherent feature of the trade in illicit drugs, but the violence generated by Mexico's drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in recent years has been unprecedented and remarkably brutal. The tactics--including mass killings, the use of torture and dismemberment, and the phenomena of car bombs--have led some analysts to speculate whether the violence has been transformed into something new, perhaps requiring a different set of policy responses. According to government and other data, the best estimates are that there were slightly more than 50,000 homicides related to organized crime from December 2006 through December 2011. Some analysts see in this year's data about Mexico's organized crime-related homicides the possibility that the violence may have peaked or reached a plateau, if it has not begun to decline. Many observers maintain that the steep increase in organized crime-related homicides in recent years is likely to trend down far more slowly. […] This report provides background on drug trafficking in Mexico: it identifies the major DTOs; examines how the organized crime 'landscape' has been altered by fragmentation; and analyzes the context, scope, and scale of the violence. It examines current trends of the violence, analyzes prospects for curbing violence in the future, and compares it with violence in Colombia."
CRS Report for Congress, R41576