Even as world leaders talk of the effectiveness of the war on drugs, the fighting rages on in Mexico. Homicides among rival cartels are a daily occurrence at this point, and tens of thousands of people have died because of the Mexican war on drugs in the last 4 years.
The discovery of two tanks this week in Mexico illustrates the lengths these cartels will go to in order to claim their territory. The tanks are described as armored with one inch thick steel plates and are air conditioned and can hold up to 20 men. The tanks have sniper holes for their gunmen to shoot from, and other tools such as a gadget to dump oil and nails on roads. Locals call the tanks los monstruous; the monsters.
The tanks were seized from a warehouse near Cuidad Camargo by soldiers after a shootout with cartel gunmen in that area. A number of other similar vehicles have been found along the Mexican/U.S. border in the last few months, as they have been the weapon of choice recently by drug cartels to fight off other cartels.
A Deadly War
The drug war in Mexico claimed at least 34,000 lives between December 2006 and December 2010, and some estimate the number to be as high as 40,000. At least 976 people have been killed in the metropolitan region of border city Ciudad Juarez since the beginning of 2011. (1) Not only is the war claiming the lives of drug cartel members, but also reporters, military personnel, police officers, politicians, and human-rights activists.
The groups are fighting for control of drug trafficking routes mainly into the U.S. The United States has sent help in the form of military personnel to guard the border, but the traffickers continue to find innovative ways to smuggle in the drugs.
An End to the War
Many people are pushing Mexican president Felipe Calderon to find a way to end this war between cartels. Some would like to see the decriminalization or legalization of drugs in order to take away the cartel’s power. Some feel that taking away all enforcement of drug laws will leave the cartels with nothing to fight about. But others know that the violence will continue, even if certain drugs are made legal in the United States or any other country.
Calderan’s administration has also worked on education reform and addressing the social and institutional causes of drug-related violence. It might take some drastic measures, however, to undo the learned violence that has been so prevalent in the country. This is not a problem that a simple change in the law or some enforcement technique will solve. It will take a carefully laid out plan that involves both stopping the violence and preventing others from joining their ranks to finally end the violent environment that has taken over Mexico.