International Development and Affairs, Culture, and Cross-Disciplinary Topics



Cartel Mexico: Continued Violence in 2017

Even after a two-year hiatus, the situation of violence in Mexico has continued. For those readers that have returned, thank you. For those who are just reading the “Cartel” series on AnthroPolitique, Welcome. “Cartel” is a series within AnthroPolitique that provides an overview of social, cultural, economic, and political situations surrounding organized crime networks, both present and past.

This week, we will return again to Mexico, taking a look only at the events that have occurred in the month of July 2017. “We are not even halfway through the month”, you may say. Unfortunately, in 2017, violence has left record murder rates in Mexico, with 2,186 murder investigations in the month of May 2017 alone and 9,916 in the first five months of 2017. As of today, July 11th, 2017, the following events have made headlines in relation to the ongoing drug and gang violence in Mexico:

In Mexico, massacre of family underlines surging violence
3 bodies found in condo parking lot in Mexico resort town


What does this mean?

Well first, it does not appear that either direct or indirect cartel violence has shied away from targeting families, religious leaders, students, and other innocent bystanders, in addition to any others that may be directly involved. What these particular headlines represent is the targeting of innocents – those that have either resisted the violence or are in some way linked indirectly to the events that have ravished Mexico since the crackdown on drugs under former President Felipe Calderon in 2006. While the rates of murder soar in Mexico, what is more, alarming is the number of “disappearances” that have continued since the disappearance of 43 students in September 2014.

As a glimpse of hope, I would like to highlight another article from the Los Angeles Times this week titled “One Mexican town revolts against violence and corruption. Six years in, its experiment is working”.

Inspired by this Cheran town example, next week we will take a look at how violence and terror from cartel conflict can be countered by breaking the link between crime, drugs, and politics.


For more information and alerts on Criminal Violence in Mexico, take a look at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Global Conflict Tracker:!/conflict/criminal-violence-in-mexico. Note that the current conflict status has been noted as “unchanging”.  

Identifying Victims of Mexican Drug Cartel Violence

For those who have taken even a slight notice to the media and affairs in Mexico, our neighbor to the south has been fighting a long-standing battle with ending drug cartels, and is facing a losing streak. As the case in any organization, criminal or otherwise, the use of violence is an option reaching a significant goal: obtaining power. Violence is an effective means of obtaining power and is frequently used to obtain strength through fear and coercion.

Closely related to U.S. pressure on Mexico to eradicate drug cartels, drug cartel violence increased dramatically, particularly against those outside of the drug cartel network. Despite U.S. anti-drug policy towards Mexico, the U.S. has directly exacerbated cartel activity and violence, such as in the ATF botching of Operation Fast and Furious. Failed efforts by U.S. organizations, which resulted in the release of assault weapons directly into the hands of Mexican crime organizations, have directly contributed to increased power and reach within the cartel network. Failed foreign intervention, in combination with a weak regulatory institutions both within Mexico and along the U.S.-Mexican border have left Mexico vulnerable to cartel influence via drug related violence and terrorism.

The “Cartel” series, within the Current Affairs section of AnthroPolitique seeks to provide readers with a snapshot of social, cultural, economic, and political situations surrounding global organized crime networks, both present and past. Rather than look at the role of states and governments in responding to cartel networks across the U.S.-Mexican border, this introductory post seeks to understand the situation in Mexico from the view of those effected: the victims.

Recognizing the role of the victim is essential  because as in the case of terrorism, the role of the victim plays a significant role in the ability of a group to obtain power through their “channel of violence”. The victims of Mexican drug cartel violence are therefore a key to understanding the extent of drug cartel power. The key to understanding the role of the victim as subjects of violence and terrorism can be understood through the following:

1. the means of murder

2. victim selection, and

3. victim identification following the act

For instance, the method of killing has switched from assault weapons to beheading. The use of beheading as a means of committing murder is not only horrific, but displays the deliberateness and calculated control of the killing itself. Furthermore, through beheading and mutilation of the bodies of their victims, the means of murder itself has prevented identification by both law enforcement officials and loved ones of the victims. Finally, victims subjected to cartel violence are increasingly innocent members of the society. The selection of innocent victims, as in more “traditional” terrorist attacks, represents absolute control at the hands of the cartel – with no one safe from it’s reach.

Keeping an eye on U.S.-Mexico relations and the fate of Mexico under uncontrolled cartel violence, we must not forget the victims who have lost their lives as a result.

Inspired by Marlon Bishop’s “Hello, I’m Calling from ‘La Mafia’” (NPR)

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: