Narco State: Wilson Center says Mexico’s government defeated by cartels

Organized crime and violence that for decades have reproduced like a virus throughout Mexico, reaching the spheres of national sovereignty and governability, outline the increasingly worrying situation of defeat in which the Mexican state finds itself.

“(The state) lacks the necessary operational, functional and efficiency capacities to discourage and inhibit the constant territorial and functional expansion of powerful organized crime organizations, dismantle them and bring their leaders to justice,” said a newly published article by the Mexico Institute of the Wilson Center.

The text warns that the Mexican state is “technically defeated” because the pacification and recovery of order have long been beyond its capabilities. The reported pointed to a bleak future for Mexico, as it assured that to regain control and rebuild institutional capacities, it will probably take several decades.

This “defeat” has resulted, according to an article written by security specialist Ricardo Márquez Blas, in a progressive loss of territorial control to the detriment of the cartels in different areas of the country: “To the already well-known pax narca now we must add deeper degrees of perversion and involution of the social order: narc sovereignty and governability”.

Specific cases of this loss of governance and control have been seen in different areas of the states of Sinaloa, Michoacán, Jalisco, Guerrero, and Tamaulipas. In these regions, organized crime has not only managed to impose municipal presidents, deputies, and governors; it has also taken control of essential economic activities.

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To mention a few examples, in municipalities of Guerrero, the “La Familia Michoacana” cartel controls everything from the marketing of basic products to public transportation, while in different areas of Michoacán different criminal groups extort producers and impose quotas for lemon and avocados.

In the case of the Sinaloa Cartel, it is known that it has imposed traffic schedules on the population and controlled the prices of alcoholic beverages in the entity. Not far from Mexico City, in the “Magic Town” of Valle de Bravo, different reports indicate that the “Michoacan Family” has taken control of gas distribution, cargo transportation, public transportation, different tourist services, and even the sale of chicken.

According to the security report of Monday, May 23, published by the Mexican government, the Mexican state’s operational force to combat organized crime totaled 249,651 elements, of which 205,794 were deployed and 43,857 were available or assigned to various support activities.

“This means that in two years the operational force to fight organized crime increased 43.1%; the cash deployed increased 35.5% and the number of elements available or in support of operations by 85.6%”, the article pointed out.

However, the considerable increase in elements deployed in recent years has not necessarily translated into more arrests. In some cases, it has even been the opposite. According to official data, between 2018 and 2021, the number of members of the army in public security duties increased by 63.7%, but arrests fell by 19.6%.

“If the arrests carried out by the Army in the initial 41 months of the last 4 six-year terms in the municipalities of Badiraguato (Sinaloa), Guadalupe and Calvo (Chihuahua), Tamazula (Durango) and Canelas (Durango) are compared, a significant fall of the same”, pointed out the author.

“The number of detainees in those municipalities reached 70 with Vicente Fox, 101 with Felipe Calderón, 122 with Enrique Peña and 28 with Andrés Manuel López Obrador,” he added.

These problems of crime and insecurity, warned Márquez Blas, have reached a level of seriousness that has transcended the spheres of political will and definition, as well as the design and implementation of an adequate and efficient security strategy.

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