The Drug Wars in Mexico present some tough problems for the army leadership. There are actually several wars going on. The
overarching one is between the federal government and the various drug cartels.
Then there are a number of wars between the cartels over control of turf, and
therefore markets. Over the past year,
at least 2,000 deaths can be attributed to the drug war. In the border town of
Juarez alone, about 210 people have died in a turf war, which continues despite
a heavy infusion of federal agents and troops over the past couple of months.
police and troops have proven useful in the war, as they are usually stationed
away from their home areas, and are thus less likely to be subject to
corruption or intimidation by local drug gangs.
In some areas the drug cartels have either bribed or pressured the local
police into neutrality or even cooperation.
military has been taking an increasing role in anti-drug operations, a matter
which is somewhat troublesome, given the penchant throughout Latin America for
coups and other forms of interference with civilian rule. Nevertheless, the Mexican side of major
border crossings are beginning to look like military check points; troops,
machine-gun carrying Humvees, back up
border police. Meanwhile, military bases have very tight security at
their gates, and while traveling cross country one can spot seemingly random
troop patrols or trucks and Humvees, particularly in isolated areas or closer
to the frontier, and helping police man random check points along highways.
leadership has several things to worry about. First, they have to train and
motivate their troops for this new kind of war. Then they have to worry about
the danger of corruption. The drug gangs try to intimidate the troops, or bribe
them. Either action is bad for morale, and preparing the troops for this sort
of thing is difficult.