Dealing with crime and violence in Mexico

Transcript of Question & Answer video with World Review expert Dr Joseph S. Tulchin talking with Dr Raul Benitez Manaut on rising drug crime and violence in Mexico.

Dr Joseph S. Tulchin:

We are talking today with Dr Raul Benitez Manaut of the National Autonomous University, UNAM, of Mexico City. Raul, lets talk for a few minutes about the ongoing problem of crime and violence in Mexico. What is your views of the government's ability to deal with crime in Mexico over the next year of few years.

Dr Raul Benitez Manaut:

Well, the Pena Nieto government has been successful against the violence and crime in the last two years but the crime has changed, the way that they are fighting the government, and they move geographically through the country.

In general terms the north of the country, the border states with the US, the case of Chihuahua and the case of Baja California, they are in better condition than in the past.

But the violence, the drug trafficking violence, goes to other states as in Chocan and Tamaulipas. This is very important because the many of the oil companies are trying to work in Tamaulipas in the coming years and the government needs to control the violence in that state.

Also, the president has many problems with the unions, the trade unions, because they are becoming very radical movements and they are trying to organise alliance groups, radical movements in some states in Oaxaca and the state of Guerrero and the president has many problems to control this radical movement.

But in general terms things are contributory violence between the success of the government with several key actions against the drug cartel but he has also many problems in other states like right now, Oaxaca and Reboha, the red states where they have many crises and they don’t know how to control it.

Dr Joseph S. Tulchin:

Raul, the foreign press, that is the press outside of Mexico, when reporting on crime and violence in Mexico, is concerned principally with what's called organised crime particularly as related to the drug traffic into the United States. Do you think that the Pena Nieto government and the local governors are formulating an effective strategy to combat that kind of violence?

Dr Raul Benitez Manaut:

Well, they designed the strategy with the US government support through the Merida Initiative.

The principle strategy is to catch the most important leaders of the criminal organisations. And with this, the problem is that if you catch the leader, the organisations are fragmented and this causes movement to other states.

And the problem now is that we have all the new cartels - as the Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel (Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación) in the state of Jalisco.

And Jalisco in the past was a peaceful state. The last 15 years it was a very peaceful state and very important state for the country and right now the new cartel is located in Jalisco because this strategy is designed by the US and the Mexican high top officials, the military and the police officials - only are going to destroy the bosses of the cartels, to control the money of the cartels. But the effect is against the population and it creates new violent territories for the cartels and they don’t find how to control this secondary effect of the strategy.

Dr Joseph S. Tulchin:

Right, so in your opinion the initial strategy of the Merida plan, as it is called, has not been entirely successful?

Dr Raul Benitez Manaut:

Yes, it is not entirely successful. And also we have many problems with the laundry of money because the way that they are cutting the money the US side and in Mexico it is very poor. And also with the arms trafficking because all the people know very well that the arms are coming from Texas and the Texas boom in arms is very important and they are under Mexican organisations and this will need support of the US government and they are trying to stop this trafficking of weapons and also to control the money because with the money the cartels they can work very well.

Dr Joseph S. Tulchin:

Right, following the money seems to be the key, not just for crime and violence in Mexico, but at least from our perspective in the United States, the issue of how to deal with terrorists and so on following the money seems to be a very useful strategy

Dr Raul Benitez Manaut:

Exactly, exactly, and we have had many problems for example, in the US side all the people are talking about there is a boom of heroin and in the state of Guerrero we are looking how the opium plantations for heroin are growing and they cannot control this.

Dr Joseph S. Tulchin:

Yes, well lets hope that in the future the various governors and the president can coordinate their efforts to try and contain the level of violence. Dr Benitez thank you very much.

Dr Raul Benitez Manaut:

Thank you very much Joe.

(photo: dpa)

  • Farmers in the southwestern Mexican state of Guerrero are increasingly seeding fields of poppies to cash in on the boom in heroin consumption in the US.
  • Guerrero is one of Mexico’s most violent states.
  • Mexican drug traffickers are now refining opium paste into high-grade white heroin and flooding the US - the world's largest market for illegal drugs.
  • Mexico produces nearly half the heroin found in the US, up from 39% in 2008, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, 2014. While Afganistan is the world's largest producer, it largely sends to markets in Europe and Asia.
  • Guerrero came to the world's attention in September 2014 when 43 college students disappeared. They are assumed murdered by the Guerreros Unidos.
  • Mexico's cartels control much of the illegal drugs trade from South America to the United States.
  • The cartels are growing in strength as a result of a boom in heroin sales in the US, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Mexico.
  • Mexico's largest and most powerful drug gangs are the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel.
  • Other influential and violent cartels are the Knights Templar, the Gulf cartel and the cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion.
  • More than 100,000 people have been killed or gone missing since Mexico launched its war against drug cartels in 2006.
  • The Merida Initiative is a partnership between the US and Mexico to fight organised crime and associated violence.