Drug Trafficking and Control

Foreign Affairs Article

The Rise of Mexico’s Self-Defense Forces

Authors: Patricio Afura-Heim and Ralph Espach

Across Mexico, the lawlessness and carnage of the drug wars have given rise to scores of local self-defense forces aiming to defend their communities. The federal government may be tempted to disband and disarm these armed vigilantes, but until it can shape up its security sector, the local groups offer an imperfect but acceptable alternative.

See more in Mexico; Homeland Security; Drug Trafficking and Control

Foreign Affairs Article

The Cartel Crackdown

Author: Robert Bonner

Mexico is winning its death match against the drug cartels and rebuilding once-corrupt institutions in the process. But an election is approaching, and the candidates are calling for a truce. Mexico can take its place in the sun, but only if it wipes out the cartels for good.

See more in Mexico; Drug Trafficking and Control

Foreign Affairs Article

The New Cocaine Cowboys

Author: Robert Bonner

Mexico is currently suffering from the same sort of drug-related violence that plagued Colombia during the 1980s. Mexico and the United States can learn a great deal from Colombia's example, including that they must build law enforcement capacity and not rely solely on military force.

See more in Drug Trafficking and Control; Mexico

Analysis Brief

Colombia's 'Drugs and Thugs'

Under President Alvaro Uribe's "democratic security" initiative, data suggests security in Colombia has improved significantly. But the country remains the world's biggest producer of cocaine, the rebel group FARC controls many rural areas, and paramilitaries show signs of regrouping.

See more in Colombia; Drug Trafficking and Control

Ask CFR Experts

Is it part of the U.S. anti-drug policy to sell weapons to Mexico to combat drug cartels?

Asked by Zub Merch

Under the security cooperation agreement called the Merida Initiative, the United States provides military and law enforcement assistance to the Mexican government in support of efforts to combat drug cartels and organized crime. The United States and Mexico jointly developed this agreement in response to a substantial increase in drug-related criminal activity and violence on both sides of the border.

Read full answer

See more in Mexico; United States; Drug Trafficking and Control