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The Mexican drug cartels evolved as a result of US domestic and foreign policy as well as a tradition of Mexican smuggling into the United States. Historically, the United States has instituted a foreign policy program focused on keeping destabilizing forces as far away as possible from its shores. The foreign policy can best be described as fighting threats to US interests in other countries, the further they are the better. Because of internal political necessities, many times, US foreign policy focuses on a specific problem preferring to deal with the unintended consequences at a later date. The evolution of the Mexican drug gangs were precipitated by three specific problems; (1) endemic drug consumption in the United States, (2) a social foundation of corruption in Mexican society, and (3) a US foreign policy of fighting external threats as far away as possible from the US homeland.
Discussion and analysis of the Mexican drug cartels have traditionally misused the term “cartel” to identify the drug gangs. The use of the term “cartel,” is an offshoot of its use during the United States’ targeting of the Colombian Cali and Medellín cartels. Before we can discuss the rise of the Mexican drug cartels, it is important to understand that the use of the term drug cartel is a misnomer. Instead of cartels, they are drug trafficking gangs, or organizations.
A cartel is an association of manufacturers or suppliers that artificially control pricing through restricting competition. For example, OPEC controls both the supply, packaging and the distribution of oil on the world market thus controlling the price of oil. The Mexican drug organizations, for the most part, do not control the manufacture or distribution of the illicit drugs but instead act as conduits from the source to the final destination. It is true that some of the Mexican drug traffickers have embarked in the cultivating or manufacture of the narcotics and have started to create alliances with end user distributers, but they do not control the entire pipelines of the cocaine, heroin, marihuana or methamphetamine markets. Understanding this distinction is important in order to understanding the evolution of the Mexican drug gangs into the criminal enterprises they are today.
Instead of drug cartels, they are in fact drug gangs. Understanding them as gangs makes understanding their modus operandi into criminal enterprises beyond the illicit drug market, for example human trafficking and extortion, easier to comprehend. It also makes it easier to understand the constant evolution of the gangs as part of an ever changing loyalties among the criminals that evolved from the Guadalajara drug cartel into over 20 drug gangs and two-to-three drug trafficking organizations operating in Mexico today.
Drug trafficking is a complex international phenomena involving the national and international politics of many countries. The evolution of the Mexican drug cartels can be traced back to two very specific nexuses. The first is that the drug cartels evolved directly from three individuals in Mexico. They are Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo “Don Neto,” Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo and Rafael Caro Quintero. However, it is important to understand that although Félix Gallardo and Caro Quintero are considered part of the three that founded the Guadalajara cartel, it was Don Neto who actually ran the operation.
The drug gangs, even today trace their lineage directly back to these three individuals because of “blood relations” among all of them. Although the three were called the Guadalajara cartel, because they operated out of that city, they were in fact all from Sinaloa. In addition to the three, Mexico has had many drug smugglers, each controlling their own routes into the United States. Each of them ran heroin and marihuana individually through the territories they each controlled.
The Mexican Federation
It was the Colombian Cali cartel that organized the individual smugglers into a loose-knit “Mexican Federation” of smugglers that allowed them to provide the Cali cartel with the necessary infrastructure to smuggle the large quantities of cocaine needed to replace the Florida route the US government was choking off. The choking off of the Florida routes was the second specific nexus that gave rise to the Mexican drug trafficking organizations.
One of the Mexican smugglers, Pablo Acosta Villarreal, operating in Ojinaga, across the border from Presidio, become the most successful smuggler for the Colombian cartels. He smuggled for the Medellín cartel. Medellín was the one created by Pablo Escobar.
Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo “Don Neto” had a nephew named Amado Carrillo Fuentes who caused him a problem with Rafael Caro Quintero because both were romantically pursuing a 17-year old woman. As a result, Don Neto sent Carrillo Fuentes to Chihuahua to work with Pablo Acosta. Don Neto wanted to resolve the problem between Carrillo Fuentes and Caro Quintero and doing so saw the opportunity to increase his share of the Colombian cocaine market by having Carrillo Fuentes learn about Pablo Acosta’s smuggling operation for the Medellín cartel.
As a result of this action, Amado Carrillo Fuentes eventually took over Pablo Acosta’s smuggling operation and made direct contacts with the Medellín cartel, He eventually founded what became known as the Juárez cartel. When Pablo Acosta was killed by a cross-border operation by US officials, Rafael Aguilar Guajardo took over the Acosta operation until Amado Carrillo Fuentes killed him a few years later. Thus the Pablo Acosta smuggling operation gave Amado Carrillo Fuentes the necessary resources to build the Juárez cartel and bringing it directly under the control of the Sinaloenses. Amado Carrillo Fuentes eventually smuggled Colombian cocaine for the Cali cartel as well, making him the only smuggler to smuggle for both the Cali and Medellín cartels.
Meanwhile, the Cali cartel’s loose-knit Mexican Federation, composed of various drug gangs each began to brand themselves into smaller drug trafficking organizations as the Colombians were disseminated by US operations in conjunction with the Colombians. They each organized themselves under the smuggling routes they each controlled. Thus the Gulf cartel, the Colima cartels, among others began to formalize into drug trafficking organizations.
As complex as the phenomena of the drug cartels in Mexico is, there are specific triggers that resulted in the evolution of the Mexican drug trafficking organizations. Although, “cartel” is not the appropriate terminology to describe the Mexican drug gangs, in order to maintain consistency with the rest of the body of works about Mexican drug trafficking, the word “cartel” will also be used herein as well. However, when you see the word “cartel” substitute with the word “gang” and the analysis will make better sense to you.
As you read about the “triggers” keep in mind that the Mexican drug cartels evolved through familial, or blood ties directly from the Guadalajara cartel, all from family members originating in Sinaloa. Mexican and US officials have historically targeted the heads of the drug gangs as “trophies” to showcase to their respective constituencies. Attacking the heads of each drug trafficking organization for “trophies” has led to the multiplier effect that has resulted in the splintering of the gangs and the rise of the violence as each new splinter fights the others for control of the hundreds of years old smuggling routes into the United States.
As previously discussed, specific “triggers” show how the Mexican drug cartels evolved. The first trigger and the nexus to the Mexican drug cartels is the rapid growth of the Columbian cocaine traffic into the United States in the 1970’s. Two Columbian cartels; the Cali and Medellín, focused on cocaine smuggling, were targeted by the United States and as a result violence dramatically increased in drug smuggling operations.
Prior to the Columbians, Mexican drug trafficking into the United States went through two broad periods; the opium and marihuana trade that was dominated by Mexican smugglers working independently of each other in smaller scales. Opium was introduced by Chinese immigrants in California in the late 1800’s. Opium was followed by morphine and other opiates. Morphine became popular during the US Civil War. As a result of Prohibition, marihuana consumption in the United States rose dramatically because alcohol had become too expensive. By the 1960’s, use of psychedelics, marihuana and amphetamines were in widespread use in the US. In addition to the Mexican smugglers, a cocaine market, initially legal and ultimately made illegal, originated from Bolivia and Peru.
After World War II, drug trafficking organizations started to become more professional and organized. At this point in time, drug trafficking into the United States, from Mexico, was predominantly the trafficking of marihuana and opium along with heroin. Mexican smugglers used old smuggling routes between the United States and Mexico that had been created shortly after the US and Mexico formalized their respective borders. Each of the Mexican smugglers controlled their own smuggling routes. However, as early as the 1970’s, Columbian traffickers “piggybacked” cocaine loads on Mexican heroin and marihuana loads. These piggybacks supplemented the cocaine entering through Florida. As Florida was closed off by US officials, the piggybacks increased in size.
The “father” of the modern day drug traffickers is Pablo Escobar. Escobar created the business model for today’s violent drug trafficker. The “plata o plomo,” or “silver or lead” smuggling model allowed for only two possible outcomes, submit to the will of the smuggler and benefit from their money or die opposing them.
In the 1970’s two Columbian brothers named Rodriguez Orejuela and José Santacruz-Londoño moved away from petty crimes and began distributing cocaine. José Santacruz-Londoño established the US distribution of cocaine in the United States, while the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers concentrated on developing cocoa-processing labs in Columbia and Peru. They formed the Cali cartel, which specialized in mass distribution of Columbian cocaine.
In 1975, Pablo Escobar also moved away from petty crimes and began to develop his own cocaine operation. Eventually the Pablo Escobar operation become known as the Medellín cartel. The Cali and Medellín cartels were organized as businesses, compartmentalized but with a centralized management at the top. Unlike the Cali cartel, that invested in the Cali economy, Pablo Escobar horded his money. The Cali cartel bought off Columbian officials and the community while Pablo Escobar put bounties on those who interfered in his business operations.
Both Columbian cartels used routes through Florida to smuggle drugs into the United States. US foreign policy ignored the Columbian cartels until they became a threat to US foreign interests. Because of the rise in terror, by the Pablo Escobar’s Medellín cartel, the Columbian government began to target both cartels at the behest of the United States.
Although Mexican drug smugglers were operating at this time, they were nothing more than small time operators trafficking individually in marihuana, opium, heroin and some cocaine. They were disorganized and predominantly focused on opium and marihuana.
Nonetheless, Richard Nixon declared a “war on drugs” in 1971. Although the commission he created under Raymond Shafer unanimously recommended decriminalizing the possession of personal use marihuana, Nixon ignored the recommendation and kept marihuana as a prohibited drug. Opium plantations, mainly in the Sinaloa region and marihuana in Durango, Guerrero and Chihuahua were dominated by small growers in the three areas.
In the mid 1970’s, Mexico launched a coordinated military operation against the drug growers in four Mexican states. The operation became known as Operación Condor. The military operation focused on eradicating marihuana and poppy fields. This was the first time Mexico recognized drug trafficking as a national security problem and the Mexican military was tasked with eradicating the problem. The task was to eradicate the cultivating farms and ignore the smuggling operations. The thought was that if cultivating was eradicated then the smuggling operations would die off on their own.
The Condor Operation was very successful. It resulted in the second trigger that gave rise to the Mexican drug cartels. Marihuana and opium farmers, left without the ability to feed their families, fled the mountains, along with the drug traffickers. This event gave rise to the Culiacán, Sinaloa traffickers. The flow of drugs continued through the smuggling routes into the United States.
Mexican drug smugglers kept on smuggling by taking advantage of their small unorganized operations and a 2,000-mile border. Because of the continued pressure on the marihuana growers by government officials and the low profits, relative to cocaine, the Mexican drug smugglers were eager to work with the Columbians. They had the infrastructure and the experience that the Columbian needed as the United States chocked off the Florida routes. As a result, the Cali cartel helped the disorganized Mexicans into forming a “crime federation” of some of the major Mexican drug smugglers. This loose-knit organization became known as the Mexican Federation. The Mexican Federation was a loose coalition of smugglers smuggling Columbian cocaine along their established routes.
The Mexican Federation eventually took over the Colombians and began to create mini-cartels along their respective smuggling routes.
Likewise, the Medellín cartel saw the Mexican pipeline as a solution to their Florida problems. Carlos Lehder and Juan Matta Ballesteros worked through Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo to smuggle Columbian cocaine through Mexico.
The third trigger is a combination of the Mexican smugglers that evolved from smuggling marijuana to running Columbian cocaine into the United States as well as US foreign policy. One of the most prolific drug smugglers was Pablo Acosta Villarreal, “El Zorro de Ojinana.” Pablo Acosta operated out of Ojinaga Chihuahua. Ojinaga is a rural Mexican town across the border from Presidio Texas, also a rural community in the United States.
On April 8, 1986, Ronald Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive Number 221 where he declared that “the international drug trade threatens the national security of the United States by potentially destabilizing democratic allies.” Reagan’s national security directive was aimed at Mexico’s drug smugglers and the Columbian drug cartels. Smugglers, like, Pablo Acosta in Mexico and Pablo Escobar in Columbia were the third trigger in the rise of the Mexican drug cartels.
The US Anti-Drug Act, besides enhancing drug penalties in trafficking and consumption also started a certifying program for countries that were involved in drug trafficking into the United States. The certifying program applied pressure on Mexico to participate in drug interdiction programs as dictated by the United States. In addition to the certification program, Mexico, like other countries including the United States were still recovering from the worldwide recession that had started in 1973 as a result of the oil embargoes.
Additionally, Mexico’s economy was also suffering from dwindling oil reserves. As a result, the administration of Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado began to reposition the Mexican economy under the neoliberalism economic model. By 1986, Mexico had joined GATT and had embarked on launching free trade policies that resulted in NAFTA in 1991.
The opening of the Mexican economy further exasperated the plight of the Mexican farmers (campesinos) who suddenly found themselves without the ability to compete against international agri-business conglomerates. The populations of the cities of Cd. Juárez and Tijuana exploded as a result of migrating rural populations in search of jobs in the maquila industries.
Additionally, under US pressure to choke off drug smuggling routes, the administration of Miguel de la Madrid once again declared drug trafficking a national security problem and mobilized the Mexican military against drug trafficking. Ultimately this resulted in the murder of DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Salazar in February of 1985. Also, the continued pressure on the Columbian traffickers forced them to look for alternate routes away from Florida through Mexico.
These combinations of events, the third trigger, started the evolution of the Mexican opium and marihuana peddlers into international drug traffickers.
At this point there was one Mexican drug cartel, the Guadalajara cartel led by Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo (Don Neto), Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo and Rafael Caro Quintero. Although dubbed the Guadalajara cartel because it was their base of operations, the three traffickers came from families that originated from the Golden Drug Triangle centered in Sinaloa. Pablo Acosta controlled one of the most significant “plazas” or “pisos” smuggling route into the United States.
Plazas or pisos (floors) are used interchangeably by drug traffickers to describe a fluid decentralized conduit operated by one of the drug gangs as a smuggling route into the United States. Plazas signify a territory controlled by a gang through intimidation and bribery of officials through which drugs enter the United States. The drug traffickers pay the plaza holders fees for transiting the drugs through the territory. Many times, multiple drug traffickers have loads in the same smuggling attempt, each paying the plaza holder for access to the route, transportation and delivery on the US side of the border.
Although the plaza holders did not cultivate or package the drugs they nonetheless benefitted financially from the use of their routes. They were also not organized into cartels or associations, instead each worked independently providing service to any drug trafficker willing to pay them. The plaza holders remained relatively free from US and Mexican antidrug operations because both governments focused on eradicating cultivation instead of smuggling routes. Pablo Acosta benefited greatly from this and his conduit to Columbia’s Cali cartel.
With continued pressure from the United States against Pablo Escobar’s Medellín and Cali cartels’ routes through Florida, a Columbian by the name of Hélmer “Pacho” Herrera, who had connections to various Mexican smugglers, helped the Cali drug traffickers to team up with Mexican smugglers to keep the cocaine flowing into the United States. On the Medellín side, José Rodriguez Gacha, also known as “El Mexicano,” a Columbian pig farmer established routes through Mexico for Pablo Escobar.
One of the original founders of the Guadalajara cartel, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, “Don Neto” sent Amado Carrillo Fuentes, his nephew to Ojinaga to work with and learn about Pablo Acosta’s operations. Carrillo Fuentes was sent to Ojinaga because he and Rafael Caro Quintero had an ongoing lover’s quarrel over 17 year-old Sara Cosío. Don Neto wanted to keep the peace with his associates.
In 1987, Pablo Acosta was killed by US officials and Rafael Aguilar Guajardo took over Acosta’s smuggling operations. The United States continued to demand showcase arrests of high-level drug traffickers in order to show successes in the ongoing war on drugs. Thus, in 1989, Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo was arrested and incarcerated by Mexican officials. He became a significant target for US officials because of his participation in the murder of DEA Agent Kiki Camarena. The three primary traffickers, Fonseca, Félix Gallardo and Caro Quintero operated independently of each other but in cooperation through two major smuggling routes into the United States, one on the Pacific side of the country and the other on the Gulf of Mexico side.
On April 12, 1993, Amado Carrillo Fuentes killed Rafael Aguilar Guajardo and thus the Juárez cartel was born. Carrillo Fuentes became known as the “Lord of the Skies” because of his use of aircraft to smuggle drugs into the United States. The arrest of Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo forced the drug confederacy known as the Guadalajara cartel to divide the country into sections to keep the profits rolling in and the violence in check. A meeting was held between the traffickers and the country was divided among themselves. Amado Carrillo Fuentes retained the Juárez cartel. The Tijuana cartel was given to Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo.
At this point in time, Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, also known as the “El Chapo Guzman” was nothing more than a street level smuggler working for the Guadalajara cartel. Héctor “El Guero” Palma and the five Beltrán Leyva brothers were also barely above street level traffickers. El Chapo, La Palma and Ismael Zambada were given control of the Sinaloa cartel by Don Neto. This was the fourth trigger.
The arrangements started to disintegrate almost immediately because Félix Gallardo was being blamed for the unwanted attention and pressure by US law enforcement because of the murder of DEA agent Enrique S. “Kiki” Camarena Salazar. Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo and Rafael Caro Quintero, although in agreement to kidnap Camarena did not want him killed. It was Félix Gallardo that was blamed for Enrique Camarena’s murder. Camarena’s death was also the impetus for Chapo’s rise from an underling to the leader of the Sinaloa cartel.
The Tijuana route under the Arellano Félix brothers controlled the Baja California routes. The Carrillo Fuentes family controlled the Chihuahua routes and became known as the Juárez cartel. The Sinaloa cartel controlled the smuggling routes through the Pacific side of Mexico. Infighting among the loose-knit groups soon fragmented into various gangs because of continued pressure brought on by US and Mexican drug interdiction operations.
Felipe Calderón’s War
In 2006, Felipe Calderón launched another offensive against the Mexican drug organizations. Calderón escalated the pressure against the drug smugglers and continued to focus on the leadership in an attempt to end their operations in Mexico. The drug smuggling crackdown escalated the violence in Mexico and resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. The United States worked closely with Mexican officials in this latest escalation of the drug war.
As a result of this crackdown, the Mexican drug organizations, under intense pressure, further fragmented into various smaller cartels each taking advantage of the void in leadership and attacking their competitors. From this, the Zetas, the Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG also known as the Matazetas) and the Los Caballeros Templarios, “Knights Templar,” on offshoot of the La Familia Michoacana, among others, took control of some of the smuggling routes and criminal activities of the fragmenting drug trafficking gangs.
In late 2015, Mexican officials acknowledged that the drug cartels have fragmented into various smaller cells made up of the remnants of the larger cartels. Tomas Zerón, director of the Criminal Investigation Agency of Mexico’s Attorney General, argued in June of 2015, that there are only two major Mexican drug trafficking organizations left. According to Zerón, Chapo Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel and the Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) are the only two major drug trafficking cartels in Mexico with structure and organization left.
Unfortunately, the government pronouncement ignores the intelligence information that indicates that the Jalisco Nueva Generación is an armed wing of the Sinaloa cartel. The Jalisco Nueva Generación are fighting remnants of the other cartels in support of Chapo Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel. Remembering that the drug traffickers have always been gangs and that Chapo Guzmán escaped prison in the middle of 2015, it stands to reason that he is reconciling his control over the drug trafficking business in Mexico. The Jalisco Nueva Generación is likely one of his tools to bring the gangs back in line under his control.
It is important to note that regardless of the number – their leadership, modus operandi and organization is derived from the original Guadalajara cartel and the familial links between all of the leadership that is centered in Sinaloa.
Today, Mexico remains a major supplier of heroin into the United States and the largest supplier of methamphetamines and marihuana. In addition, it is estimated that over 90% of the cocaine entering the United States now transits through Mexico. Several officials agree that drug trafficking accounts for about three to four percent of Mexico’s GDP and provides about half a million jobs in Mexico.
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Los Barrio Aztecas – not a significant drug trafficking organization
Cártel de los Beltrán Leyva
Los Caballeros Templarios Guardia Michoacana
Cártel del Centro Narco – not a significant drug trafficking organization
Cártel de Colima
La Familia Michoacana
Gente Nueva – not a significant drug trafficking organization
Los Güeros – not a significant drug trafficking organization
Cártel del Golfo or CDG
Cártel de Guadalajara
Cártel Independiente de Acapulco “CIDA” – not a significant drug trafficking organization
Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación aka matazetas
Cártel de Juárez
La Linea – not a significant drug trafficking organization
Cártel de Oaxaca or Pedro Díaz-Parada or Cártel del Istmo
Cártel del Pacífico Sur – not a significant drug trafficking organization
Los Pelones – not a significant drug trafficking organization
Cártel de Tijuana
La Resistencia or Cárteles Unidos – not a significant drug trafficking organization
Cártel de Sinaloa or Cártel del Pacifico
Cártel de los Valencia or Cártel del Milenio
Infographic Notes: (for the attached infographic)
1. Amado Carrillo Fuentes and Miguel Angel Rodríguez Orejuela eventually developed a close friendship.
2. A lover’s quarrel over a 17 year-old woman between Rafael Caro Quintero and Amado Carrillo Fuentes resulting in Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo “Don Neto” to send his nephew, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, to work with Pablo Acosta Villarreal. This action eventually allowed Amado Carrillo Fuentes to create the Juárez cartel and link up with the Medellín cartel to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
3. Amado Carrillo Fuentes killed Rafael Aguilar Guajardo and took over the Pablo Acosta smuggling routes.
4. After the arrest of Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo “Don Neto” for the murder of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena Salazar in 1985, Don Neto divided his operation into three smaller drug gangs. Amado Carrillo Fuentes headed the Juárez cartel. Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo headed the Tijuana cartel. The Sinaloa cartel was reorganized under Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera “El Chapo”, Héctor Luis Palma Salazar “El Güero Palma” and Ismael Zambada García “El Mayo Zambada”.
5. The Colombian Cali cartel organized various Mexican drug smugglers into a loosely-organized group called the Mexican Federation.
6. At least two high-level former US federal agents and several Mexican journalists have documented that Rafael Caro Quintero was on the payroll of the CIA. It has been alleged that Caro Quintero was protected by the CIA in order to keep him from revealing secret CIA operations connected to worldwide drug trafficking and the Iran-Contra affair.
7. The four Beltrán-Leyva brothers worked closely with El Chapo until they blamed El Chapo for the arrest of Alfredo Beltrán Leyva. They split from the Sinaloa cartel in 2008 and formed their own cartel.
8. The Colima cartel, founded by the three Amezuca-Contreras brothers originally trafficked Columbian cocaine into the United States. In 1988, they focused on methamphetamines eventually becoming known as the “Methamphetamines Kings.” They eventually become a branch of the Sinaloa cartel.
9. Carlos Rosales Mendoza was a close friend and associate of Osiel Cárdenas Guillén
The drug lords
1. Miguel Angel Rodríguez Orejuela
2. Gilberto José Rodríguez Orejuela
3. José Santacruz-Londoño
4. Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria
5. Francisco Hélmer Herrera Buitrago “Pacho” or “H7”
6. José Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha “El Mexicano”
7. Juan Ramón Matta-Ballesteros
8. Carlos Enrique Lehder Rivas
9. Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo “Don Neto”
10. Rafael Caro Quintero
11. Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo
12. Pablo Acosta Villarreal “El Zorro de Ojinaga”
13. Amado Carrillo Fuentes “El Señor de los Cielos”
14. Rafael Aguilar Guajardo
15. Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera “El Chapo”
16. Héctor Luis Palma Salazar “El Güero Palma”
17. Ismael Zambada García “El Mayo Zambada”
18. Alfredo Beltrán Leyva “El Mochomo”
19. José de Jesús Amezcua Contreras
20. Juan García Ábrego
21. Osiel Cárdenas Guillén
22. Arturo Guzmán Decena “Z1”
23. Carlos Alberto Rosales Mendoza
24. Nazario Moreno González “El Chayo”
25. Armando Valencia Cornelio “Maradona”
26. Pedro Díaz-Parada
But who on this side of the border in El Paso is their channel? When the Gandara clan is caught with a garage full of weed, it makes you wonder if the neighbor down the street is on the plata side of the equation.
it is remarkable how few drug-related killings happen in El Paso. Wonder why?
The US is not the only consumer of drugs. Even if the US were to stop consuming drugs, the cartels or drug gangs would not dry up and die.
Drug cartels would depend more heavily on other markets. Mexico is becoming more and more a consumer of drugs. Did you catch the YouTube phenomenon of “El pasesito”? Wealthy Mexicans were snorting coke and sharing the vids. These people will not end up in 9-5 jobs. They will also depend more heavily on other illicit revenue streams such as human trafficking, extortion, etc.
You’re smarter than this, Mr Paredes. Quit over simplifying the issues.
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