PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractTwo of the most important players in the global drug trafficking trade are the United States and Mexico. Although global patterns of the drug supply chain have varied over the years, the direct connection and shared border between the United States and Mexico make for what is today an underground industry that earns hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. For instance, in 2009 Forbes Magazine named Joaquin "EI Chapo" Guzman Loera, head of the Sinaloa cartel, 701 st on its list of wealthiest individuals in the world with a net worth of over one billion dollars. Although Mexico's internal drug market has increased in recent years, by and large Mexico plays the role of producer and distributor, while the United States is the consumer in the supply chain. According to the DEA "No country in the world has more of an impact on the drug trafficking situation than does Mexico." In addition a 2005 paper estimated that Mexican drug cartels controlled approximately 70% of the narcotics that come into the United States. In 2009, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano testified before Congress that the Mexican drug trafficking organizations pose "the greatest organized crime threat to the United States" and expressed concern that the violence could spill over to the United States. While countries like Colombia and Afghanistan play a large role in the production of illicit substances and have experienced high levels of violence from drug traffickers at times, Mexico's close political, cultural, geographic and economic ties to the United States have caused the issue of the drug war to command increased scrutiny in American media. Newspapers, local and cable news programs, and online media outlets have dedicated increasing amounts of attention both to the violence in Mexico as well as to the underlying issues of drug policy and illegal immigration. The sensational nature of the episodes of violence involving beheadings, torture, and car bombs has also contributed to the increased coverage. The media attention surrounding the drug war has brought the issue of illicit drugs back onto the policy agendas of the United States and Mexico, although at different levels of government in the two countries. However, the debate over how to address these problems has undergone a paradigm shift in both countries, as the momentum for increasing penalties and funding for the drug war seems to have stalled, and new options are being seriously considered to reform many of the components of the war on drugs. The first part of this paper will examine the level of demand for drugs in the United States and the methods used in combating drug trafficking. The second part of this paper will review the effectiveness of the drug war in Mexico since 2006 based on its goals of establishing law and order, reducing corruption, and restricting the supply of illicit drugs. The final portion of this paper will address the domestic political consequences both in the United States and Mexico as a result of the drug war.
Degree ProgramHonors College