Violence in Mexico is nothing new, but recent increases of criminal activity in formally calm cities have pointed to an increased security threat to both the Mexican and American governments. On Thursday, November 24, 26 Mexican men were found bound and gagged inside abandoned vehicles in Guadalajara, a city in central Mexico. A message from cartel members was left in one of the vehicles, but the Jalisco state police chief refused to reveal the contents. This was merely a day after 16 men were found dead inside vehicles in Mexico’s Sinaloa state. These incidents serve as another signal of an increase in mafia violence, and the brutality of that violence, within the country, and create worry among both Mexican and American officials.
Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city, and has not typically served as one of the major battlegrounds of the Mexican drug war. However, the recent escalations of violence in the city are evidence of cartel’s seeking to expand their influence in areas that are already claimed by rival cartels. The escalating violence in Guadalajara is a consequence of this, as the Zetas seek to assert authority in a city under the dominant criminal power of Mexico’s Western coast, the Sinaloa Federation. Authorities have claimed that the Zeta’s might be seeking to expand their influence into Guadalajara in order to increase their profits in the Mexican methamphetamine industry in the vacuum left after the death of a local Sinaloa drug boss.
As cartel leaders have been killed in Calderon’s war against drugs, cartel loyalties have shifted and factional fighting within the cartels has increased. The divisions within the cartels lead to increased competition between the groups, which in turn lead to increased criminal activity that affects the civilian population. Not only does this danger the lives of Mexican cities, but it will also prove to be economically damaging to the Mexican economy. The criminal activity has occurred in the midst of well publicized national events, such as the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the largest book fair event in the Spanish speaking world. The bodies from the aforementioned incidents were found on Wednesday and Thursday, only a few days before the event, and Mexican officials were worried about the toll this would take on the event’s crowd. Because of cases like this, tourism has declined due to the outpouring of violence within Mexico. This weakens the Mexican economy, which in turn deteriorates the government’s ability to adequately work against the cartels, thus augmenting the power of the cartels and prolonging the drug war.
Furthermore, a weak Mexican economy and government obviously means increased security and economic risks for the United States. This would mean more illegal immigrants crossing the border seeking economic relief, violence increasing in American border cities, decreased tourism in said border cities, an increase in drug traffic across the border, among other risks. Therefore, an increased American partnership with Mexico is recommended in order to avoid long term negative consequences. This has already been initiated, as seen by the American government sending unarmed drones into Mexico to gather intelligence about cartels. Operations like this should be continued, and increased in accordance to the need, in order to effectively combat the growing power of Mexican drug cartels.