“In the Mexico we want, there is no room for corruption, for cover-ups, and least of all for impunity.”
– Enrique Pena Nieto
The Mexican Drug War primarily refers to the conflict between the Mexican government and the drug cartels of Mexico, which began in 2006 and continues today. Mexican cartels have been the primary traffickers of illicit drugs into the United States for many years, and as various cartels’ power grew, so did money laundering, corruption, and drug-related violence in Mexico. Most of this violence is perpetrated against civilians, who are routinely caught in the crossfire between the military and cartels or else are threatened, extorted, or callously murdered by cartels. Currently, there is no clear end to the conflict in sight.
- The Mexican government is supported by its military, federal, and local police forces, with the aim of bringing an end to drug trafficking and drug related violence.
- The major drug cartels are supported by street gangs and paramilitary groups in the fight against the Mexican government, but they also frequently fight against rival cartels.
- The United States has given almost $2.5 billion in funding through the Merida Initiative to help with equipment, training, resources, rebuilding, intelligence, and technical assistance. The US has also increased border security on their side of the border.
- 11 December, 2006 – President Felipe Calderón sends 6500 soldiers into the state of Michoacán in an attempt to curb drug-related violence there. This action is thought to be the first major retaliation by the government against the drug cartels and the beginning of the Mexican government’s ongoing war on drugs.
- 20 January, 2007 – Drug lord Osiel Cárdena Guillen of the Gulf cartel is extradited to the US.
- 25 June, 2007 – President Calderón fires 284 federal police commanders due to corruption.
- 29 December, 2007 – The entire police force in Playas de Rosarito, Baja California is disarmed due to corruption charges.
- The drug-related death toll in Mexico stands at 3000 in 2007.
- May, 2008 – Mexico’s director of investigation for organised crime, federal police chief, two bodyguards, and the commander of Mexico City’s investigative police force are all killed in succession.
- 30 June, 2008 – The Merida Initiative is signed into law, which guarantees Mexico $US1.6 billion in funding and assistance over the course of three years.
- 15 September, 2008 – Eight people are killed and over a hundred injured during Independence Day celebrations, when hand grenades are thrown into a crowd.
- 17 September, 2008 – Over 200 people involved with drug trafficking are arrested across Mexico, the US, Guatemala, and Italy in Operation Solare.
- 02 November, 2008 – Federal police chief Víctor Gerardo Garay resigns, and is then arrested and charged for protecting the Beltrán-Leyva cartel.
- 06 November, 2008 – The Mexican army makes the largest weapon seizure in Mexican history.
- 17-19 November, 2008 – The ex-director and chief of Mexico’s Interpol Office are arrested for links to drug cartels.
- 2008 – At least three high-ranking cartel members are arrested throughout the year.
- The death toll stands at 6200 by the end of 2008.
- 15 February, 2009 – Seven tonnes of cocaine is intercepted by the Mexican Navy and US Coast Guard.
- 20 February, 2009 – The police chief of Ciudad Juárez resigns after drug traffickers threaten to kill one police officer every 48 hours, until his resignation.
- 24 February, 2009 – US authorities raid drug warehouses in California, Minnesota, and Maryland and arrest 755 people involved with the Sinaloa cartel.
- 27 May, 2009 – 27 high-ranking officials, including ten mayors and a judge, are arrested on corruption charges.
- 2009 – At least nine high-ranking cartel members are arrested and three are killed.
- The death toll count for 2009 is 9600, according to the Mexican government.
- 5 March, 2010 – The Mexican Red Cross stops treating gunshot victims after getting caught in violent crossfire.
- 31 May, 2010 – A mass grave with 55 bodies is found near Taxco, Guerrero.
- 24 August, 2010 – 72 bodies were discovered in Tamaulipas, all believed to be migrants killed by the Los Zetas cartel.
- 18 October, 2010 – 105 tonnes of US-bound marijuana is seized in Baja California.
- 9 November, 2010 – Customs seizes 113 kilos of marijuana at the International Airport of Mexico City.
- 3 December, 2010 – Mexican authorities capture a 14 year old hitman, with 300 confirmed kills.
- 2010 – seven high-ranking cartel members are arrested and three are killed.
- The death toll climbs to 15,200 in 2010.
- January, 2011 – The Mexican government claims approximately 34,612 citizens have been killed in the four years since the start of the drug war.
- April, 2011 – An estimated 177 bodies are found across 40 mass graves in San Fernando, Tamaulipas.
- The death toll hits 1400 in April alone, the highest of any month so far.
- 9 May, 2011 – The Mexican government disarms all police forces in the state of Tamaulipas due to corruption allegations in 22 of the state’s 43 cities.
- 14 May, 2011 – 249 bodies are found in mass graves in the state of Durango.
- 9 June, 2011 – The US Government arrests 127 US Customs and Border Protection agents suspected of collaborating with Mexican drug cartels.
- 14 July, 2011 – A 120 hectare marijuana plantation is found in Baja California by the Mexican army, only 320 km south of San Diego, CA.
- 25 August, 2011 – 52 people are massacred in the Monterrey casino attack.
- August, 2011 – 140 schools close and over 600 teachers quit their jobs after money-related threats from drug cartels; 75,000 children stop attending school.
- 2011 – approximately eight high-ranking cartel members are arrested.
- 11 January, 2012 – Mexico’s Attorney General claims over 13,000 people were killed in drug-related violence in 2011.
- 31 August, 2012 – Eduardo Arellano Félix of the Tijuana cartel is extradited to the US.
- 01 December, 2012 – Enrique Peña Nieto succeeds Calderon as President of Mexico in a general election, depsite claims of fraud and media bias.
- 13 May, 2013 – Gulf cartel leader Aurelio Cano Flores is sentenced to 35 years in prison and becomes the “highest-ranking Gulf cartel member to be convicted by a US jury in the past 15 years.”
- 06 June, 2013 – The Mexican Army rescues 65 kidnapped migrants in Tamaulipas.
- 01-06, December 2013 – 85 bodies are found in mass graves in Jalisco.
- 2013 – seven high-ranking cartel members are arrested and another three are killed.
- 22 February, 2014 – Joaquín Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa cartel and Mexico’s most wanted drug lord, is arrested.
- 2014 – Four high-ranking cartel members are arrested and another four are killed in 2014.
- 12 July, 2015 – Leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquín Guzmán escapes from a maximum security prison through underground tunnels.
- 08 January, 2016 – Joaquín Guzmán is re-captured.
- 23 February, 2016 – Alfredo Beltrán Leyva pleads guilty to charges of participating in an international narcotics trafficking conspiracy before a US District judge, and within a year, is sentenced to life in prison.
- 19 January, 2017 – Mexico turns Joaquín Guzmán over to US authorities.
- 29 January, 2017 – 22 Sinaloa cartel members are arrested and two killed in the joint Mexican-American Operation Diablo Express.
- 14 March, 2017 – A mass grave containing 250 skulls is found in Veracruz – the largest to date.
- Now -Violence in Mexico continues to be a daily occurrence, with signs that 2017 will become the deadliest year on record. Clashes between government forces and cartels continue and show no signs of abating.
How You Can Help:
- Anyone’s Child – Anyone’s Child is a campaign that connects families across the globe, whose lives have been affected by poor drug laws, and helps them campaign for strict drug regulation in order to bring the drug market into government control.
- Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad – The Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity is a Mexican grassroots campaign that focuses on mobilising people to demand change from the government in order to stop the war on drugs and resulting drug related violence.
- Transform – Transform is a “charitable think tank” based in the United Kingdom, that works globally with media, governments, and other charities and NGOs to advocate for drug policy reform to move towards ending the war on drugs.