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In 2006, Mexico's president Felipe Calderon declared a war on drugs. This was in response to the growing power of Mexico's cartels, who had acquired vast wealth from the proceeds of drug trafficking. In 2012, corruption and violence had proliferated, and yet the Mexican government claimed that they were close to a turning point in the war. By late 2016, officials remarked that there were only two major cartels left, after Mexico had pursued a strategy of decapitation by killing and arresting cartel bosses. This strategy of splitting large cartels into many more little cartels resulted in yet more bloodshed. The first half of 2018 saw record breaking homicide rates.

Is there any evidence that the Mexican state is winning its war against the cartels? Specifically, is there any evidence that the nation's divide and conquer strategy is working, or even viable?

  • Since Covid-19 disrupted the drug trade (as every other trade), I would not be surprised if some politicians will claim this reduction is the result of their drug-fighting actions... @JonathanReez: or shut down all your trade/borders. – SX welcomes ageist gossip May 17 at 22:37
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    I am curious about what the comparison of Mexico's internal drug-use problem is to the Cartels' shipping drugs to the US. Winning the war on drugs within the US has always been not possible, because the (unfortunate) vast user base doesn't want the drugs to end and is lucrative enough to ensure that the Cartel's exist. But is "winning the war on drugs" from Mexico's viewpoint ending the Cartels' shipping of drug's North, or fixing an internal drug problem? – CGCampbell May 29 at 23:24
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Personally, I don't think so. The Mexican Drug war has been going on since December 2006 (though the overall War on Drugs implemented by the United States has been going on much longer). While several drug cartels have been eliminated, such as the Knights Templar Cartel that was destroyed in 2017, many cartels still exists and multiple gangs continue to get power from drug trafficking. These cartels include:

I could go on, but long story short, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the Mexican government is winning this war. Victories simply end with a power vacuum that gets replaced with another power crime organization. At this point, the best way to win the war on drugs seems to be legalization. One thing that has hurt cartels was the legalization of weed in the United States since before then, weed counted for 15 to 30 percent of annual cartel profits. However, as the war is being fought now, the Mexican government doesn't seem to be winning and Andrés Manuel López Obrador declaring the war is supposedly 'over' has been met with criticism and not recognized by many other people in the Mexican government.

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