Systemic corruption due to drug war activity south of the border keeps the drug cartel fires lit and the acid vats ready for intrepid journalists who expose secrets that might derail the intricate and exploitative system perpetuating America’s drug hysteria, one that includes a quid pro quo system resembling an ad hoc business co-op with Mexico. Other than greater death tolls and profits, little has changed in the US-Mexico drug war since John Gibler provided a few gritty details in his 2011 book, To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War:
Who would believe…that the warden of a state prison would let convicted killers out at night and loan them official vehicles, automatic assault rifles, and bulletproof vests, so that they could gun down scores of innocent people in a neighboring state and then quickly hop back over the state line and into prison, behind bars, a perfect alibi? …Prison director Margarita Rojas Rodríguez…left instructions for the prisoners to be allowed back inside without a fuss. [Kindle pp. 7-8]
…impunity cannot hold without silence. Hence Mexico has become the most dangerous country in the hemisphere for journalists…whose labor requires voice…How many of those murder cases have been solved? Not one. How many of the disappeared journalists have been located? Not one. [Kindle pp. 19-20]
THIS IS WHAT THEY DO NOT WANT YOU TO SAY: The Mexican army and federal police have administered drug trafficking for decades. Drug money fills the vaults of Mexico’s banks, enters the national economy at every level, and, with traffickers’ annual profits estimated at between $30 billion and $60 billion a year, rivals oil as the largest single source of cash revenue in the country. (And Mexico is not the only place where this is so.)…The federal police forces are the main recruitment center for mid-level drug-trafficking operators. The army and the state police are the main recruitment centers for the enforcers, the paramilitary units in charge of assassinations, and the armed protection of drugs and mid- and high-level operators…people working for the various illegal narcotics businesses have directly infiltrated more than half of the municipal police forces in the country. During the seventy-one-year reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party…the Mexican army controlled the division of territory for drug production and trafficking routes, allocating sub-divisions to local franchises, colloquially called cartels. A given territory under a cartel’s control is known as a plaza. […]
High-level federal officials in United States government know all of this and go along with the theatrics, because, among other reasons, the U.S. economy is also buoyed by the influx of drug money. The defense industries profit handsomely from arms sales to armies, police, and the drug gangs themselves; the police are addicted to asset forfeiture laws; prison guard unions are addicted to budget increases; and the criminalization of drugs has proven a durable excuse to lock people of color in prison in a country still shackled by racism. [Kindle pp. 24-26]
…when approving or covering U.S. aid to the Mexican federal government, such as the $1.4 billion Mérida Initiative. U.S. officials and the press routinely neglect to mention that the Mexican army and federal police very often are drug traffickers… [It is] estimated that the drug organizations’ control over human trafficking along the border brings them another $3 billion a year…The report calculates that drug gangs participated in 30 percent of the recent kidnappings while soldiers and police made up 22 percent of the nation’s kidnappers. [Kindle p. 30, 35]
U.S. intervention in Mexico is simultaneously a grounded historical fear-and-loathing in the population…the insistence of U.S. politicians on an ideological commitment to prohibition that seeks to veil prohibition’s use for social control…Essentially prohibition has been a technique of informal American cultural colonisation.” [Kindle p. 42, 43, 53-54]
Journalists and researchers penetrating the drug war netherworld might want to do a bit of homework first. In Mexico and across the world it’s been a record year for murders of journalists. Anthropologist Jeremy Slack’s recent book, Deported to Death, Appendix, “A Note on Researching in Violent Environments,” provides some useful survival tips.