Mexico increases their drug war death toll to 28,000

In the past four years Mexico has lost more than 28,000 lives in Felipe Calderon’s war on drug. The new number adds approximately 3,000 murders to the drug cartel violence tally, according to the Mexican Center of Investigation and National Security (Cisen).

While the murder rate is closing in on the 30,000 mark, National Intelligence Chief Guillermo Valdes says the high number of deaths is a small victory in the war on drugs and the fact remains that cartels are losing many high -ranking members.

During an “anti-drug strategy” speech with President Calderon, Valdes spoke with other senior officials hoping to discover new methods that can break the stranglehold cartels have inside Mexico.

The meeting also produced one idea that many in America found shocking – the possibility of legalizing drugs as a way to curtail the violent industry. President Calderon said personally he was opposed to legalizing drugs, but indicated his administration was open to a debate on the topic.

“You have to analyze carefully the pros and cons and the key arguments on both sides,” Calderon explained.

Since the drug war began under President Calderon, the National Intelligence Chief, Valdes, said there was at least one major clash a day (963) between security forces and drug cartels. So far the Mexican police have confiscated about 85,000 weapons, 34,000 vehicles and more than $400 million in cash.
Even though these numbers are impressive, Valdes knows there is a lot of work left before the government can take control of the organized crime issue.

“With regard to the aim of establishing conditions for peace and recovering control of regions affected by organized crime, we have not achieved what we wanted. Violence is growing,” he states.

One new priority Valdes explained they would focus on was the money laundering problem. He admitted the government needed to ensure that local institutions (banks) did not give into the corruption that comes with the drug cartel money.

Currently the Mexican government does not have control of the local and state police forces, as many of these officials have been paid off by cartel members under the threat that they or their families will be killed if they do not comply with the cartel leaders.

And the corruption does not stop with the government, this past July, Federal Police arrested five employees of Pemex (Mexico’s main gasoline provider) who were working with the Los Zetas to steal petroleum products clandestinely in the State of Veracruz. Early reports estimate the cartels managed to skim approximately 45 percent of the production.

“It was obvious from the first moment that these criminal organizations were involved in a very lucrative enterprise with little risk,” said Samuel Villa, an analyst with the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, “Any other activity would have been more dangerous.”

One thing to keep in mind is the more threatened the cartel leaders feel the more desperate they react.

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