Southwest Border Violence: Issues in Identifying and Measuring Spillover Violence [June 9, 2011] [open pdf - 724KB]
"There has been an increase in the level of drug trafficking-related violence within and between the drug trafficking organizations in Mexico. This violence has generated concern among U.S. policy makers that the violence in Mexico might spill over into the United States. Currently, U.S. federal officials deny that the recent increase in drug trafficking-related violence in Mexico has resulted in a spillover into the United States, but they acknowledge that the prospect is a serious concern. The most recent threat assessment indicates that the Mexican drug trafficking organizations pose the greatest drug trafficking threat to the United States, and this threat is driven partly by U.S. demand for drugs. Mexican drug trafficking organizations are the major suppliers and key producers of most illegal drugs smuggled into the United States across the Southwest border (SWB). The nature of the conflict between the Mexican drug trafficking organizations in Mexico has manifested itself, in part, as a struggle for control of these smuggling routes into the United States. Further, in an illegal marketplace--such as that of illicit drugs--where prices and profits are elevated due to the risks of operating outside the law, violence or the threat of violence becomes the primary means for settling disputes. […] In conclusion, because the trends in the overall violent crime rate may not be indicative of trends in drug trafficking-related violent crimes, CRS is unable to draw definitive claims about trends in drug trafficking-related violence spilling over from Mexico into the United States."
CRS Report for Congress, R41075