International Law

Are Criminals Winning the Mexican Drug War?


The number of people who have died in an ongoing effort by the Mexican government to crack down on the country’s drug dealers now substantially exceeds the number of U.S. soldiers who have died in the Iraq war, and it isn’t yet clear that Mexican authorities are winning.

There were some 2,000 drug-related killings in Mexico in 2006, and 2,600 in 2007 following stepped-up law enforcement efforts, according to U.S. Department of State estimates. Meanwhile, media reports say another 1,100 or so have died this year, putting the total deaths from the Mexican drug war so far at about 5,700, reports Reuters.

Since the war in Iraq began, more than five years ago, the total number of U.S. soldiers killed is 4,079.

Among those who reportedly have died within the past six months in murders linked to the Mexican drug trade are lawyers assassinated at their law firm, well-known musicians and the country’s police chief, as discussed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts. The situation in Mexico is also blamed for a growing number of kidnappings for ransom, both there and in the United States, as criminals look for new work that won’t put them as much at risk of being arrested or killed as drug-dealing.

The country has a history of police corruption and, given the escalating violence, honest law enforcement officers may be too intimidated to do their jobs, fearing that their own government cannot protect them, the news agency writes. “That climate of fear was highlighted this month when the U.S. Border Patrol reported that three Mexican police chiefs serving along the frontier had crossed into the U.S. and asked for political asylum after receiving death threats.”

Other sources, according to Reuters, say there have been five such asylum requests.

Drug dealers in Mexico reportedly are the biggest supplier of cocaine to the United States.

Previous coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Top Mexican Police Official Murdered at Home in Latest Drug-Related Killing”

ABAJournal.com: “6 Slain at Mexican Law Firm, 7th Victim Dies Later”

ABAJournal.com: “Mainstream Musicians Murdered in Mexican Drug Violence”

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