Mexico's Drug Trafficking Organizations: Source and Scope of the Rising Violence [June 8, 2012] [open pdf - 857KB]
"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 such as the widely reported massacres of young people and migrants, 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 have been slightly more than 50,000 homicides related to organized crime from December 2006 through December 2011. It has also been suggested that the targets of the drug trafficking-related violence in Mexico have changed. In 2010, several politicians were murdered, including a leading gubernatorial candidate in Tamaulipas and 15 mayors. While fewer local officials were killed in 2011, there is concern that political violence could spike in 2012 in advance of presidential and congressional elections slated for July. Over the past few years, Mexico has come to be regarded as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, with 10 reported killings in 2010 and another eight in 2011. […] This report provides background on drug trafficking in Mexico: it identifies the major DTOs; 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
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