Mexicans are the ones to worry about
Mexican drug cartels have effectively taken over control of the U.S. illicit-drug market from the Colombians, bringing their turf wars to the doorstep of their major customer, USA Today reported Aug. 18. Mexican traffickers have used the profits earned as smuggling middlemen to finance their campaign to take control of the illicit trade, experts say.
"With the successful dismantling of some of the biggest cartels in Colombia, it was only natural that the Mexicans, who had for years had close contacts with the Colombians and knew the routes and the business, would take over," said Jorge Chabat of the Center for Economic Research and Teaching in Mexico City. "Now, they are fighting among themselves."
"Today, the Mexicans have taken over and are running the organized crime, and getting the bulk of the money," agreed U.S. drug czar John Walters. "The Colombians have pulled back."
The U.S. drug trade is estimated to be a $142-billion annual business. As Mexican groups battle for control of the industry, violence has grown along the U.S.-Mexico border. Governors in both New Mexico and Arizona have declared emergencies along their borders with Mexico amid a rising wave of trafficking, violence, and illegal immigration. A recent shootout between traffickers in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico -- which neighbors Laredo, Texas -- involved high-powered rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, and bazookas. "There really is a feeling that you can get away with murder in Nuevo Laredo," said Michael Yoder, the U.S. consul general in the city.
Walters worries that the violence could eventually move north. "The killing of rival traffickers is already spilling across the border," he said. "Witnesses are being killed. We do not think the border is a shield."