Drug War

Drug War Results, Part DXXIII

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In Nuevo Laredo, reports The Dallas Morning News, the Zeta cartel has become a state within a state:

We had such a ball

The "police" for the Zetas paramilitary cartel are so numerous here—upward of 3,000, according to one estimate—that they far outnumber the official force, and their appearance further sets them apart.

Most are teens sporting crew cuts, gold chains and earrings, with shorts worn well below the waist and cellphones pressed to their ears. These "spotters" seem to be everywhere, including elementary schools, keeping tabs on everything and everyone for the area's most dominant drug cartel….

The omnipresent cartel spotters are one aspect of what experts describe as the emergence of virtual parallel governments in places like Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez—criminal groups that levy taxes, gather intelligence, muzzle the media, run businesses and impose a version of order that serves their criminal goals.

"President (Felipe) Calderon's war on drug cartels has been such an abysmal failure that entire regions of Mexico are effectively controlled by non-state actors, i.e., multipurpose criminal organizations," said Howard Campbell, an anthropologist and expert on drug cartels at the University of Texas at El Paso.

"These criminal groups have morphed from being strictly drug cartels into a kind of alternative society and economy," Campbell said. "They are the dominant forces of coercion, tax the population, steal from or control utilities such as gasoline, sell their own products and are the ultimate decision-makers in the territories they control."

As the Zetas impose taxes, they also produce tax exiles:

A Mexican dentist said he tired of paying a weekly extortion fee of 800 pesos, about $70, in Juarez, and, after suffering a beating for nonpayment that almost killed him, he made the move to El Paso.

He now runs a clandestine clinic in his El Paso home, using his car to pick up patients at a distant location and discreetly driving them into his garage, where he welcomes them to his office.

"Whether you agree, or disagree with this war, one thing is clear. This will go on for years," the dentist said. "This clandestine office is Plan B for now."

Elsewhere in Reason: Brian Doherty interviews Howard Campbell.

NEXT: Revving Up for the Ron Paul Run

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  1. So the drug cartel acts in the open and the dentist has to go underground to conduct his business.
    I don’t know wether to laugh or cry!

    1. Make any business difficult enough to engage in, you’ll drive it underground.

    2. El burro amarado y el tigre anda suelto…

    3. Se?or! I could lose my license to practice…Mexican Medicine.

  2. non-state actors, i.e., multipurpose criminal organizations

    I don’t think he knows what “state” means.

    1. It means this:

      [T]he dominant forces of coercion, [who] tax the population, steal from or control utilities such as gasoline, sell their own products and are the ultimate decision-makers in the territories they control

      Oh.

  3. Yay! This means we’re winning the drug war, right?

  4. Sounds like the dentist just needs to contract with another private army for defense.

    1. IOW Where’s Hannibal Smith when you really need him?

      1. Probably making mortars out of discarded toilets in a Montana ranch house.

        I hope BA can handle the milk in Mexico.

    2. So, he goes to the Gulf Cartel. “No beatings, yes? I specifically requested no beatings.” “Well, fewer beating. And less severe. Trust us. You’ll be very happy with your service.”

  5. criminal groups that levy taxes, gather intelligence, muzzle the media, run businesses and impose a version of order that serves their criminal goals.

    By damn, I think they’ve got the hang of it!

    1. Throw in some eminent domain takings, and they’re a sovreign state!

    2. I’d like to see them begin to hold elections.

      1. Elections are over rated.

      2. I’ve never really found voting to be all that essential to the process.

      3. Elections serve their purposes.

    3. Once they get some nukes they’ll be hands-off from US Military perspective and then sovereign state. One thing any armed outfit learns is without nukes USA will send Predators, with nukes USA sends Jimmy fucking Carter.

      1. ummm pakistan??

      2. No one’s tried that shit on the border of the U.S., though. We might just glass that shit to be safe, and deal with the consequences.

  6. Thank GOD we are all willing to pay this price to keep the dope out of the hands of children! If we let up, then 5-year olds will be shooting up on the playground and then fucking like rabbits!

    1. And of course we mean our children, not those little brown urchins who live south of the border. We don’t really give a fuck what happens to them.

  7. Other than legalization (which would take a long time), the only way to beat these guys would be to declare martial law and level these cities. Mexico’s fucked.

    1. i think you meant to say, “I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure. “

      1. Close enough.

  8. Most are teens sporting crew cuts, gold chains and earrings, with shorts worn well below the waist and cellphones pressed to their ears.

    Nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  9. Or, imitate “Buy American” with a “Get High American” PR campaign.

    Limit your pot to Northern Californian. And have we really tried to grow coca domestically? I’m sure it could grow in south Florida.

    1. Or we’ll find some analog to prop up with a protectionist racket. I see ADM introducing high-fructose corn-coke within days of the go-ahead.

  10. It’s more than teenagers in crew cuts, and not just in the Northern states.

    In Jalisco (where Puerto Vallarta is) and Nayarit (next door):

    – Some/many official police are in the pay of the Zetas.

    – Some other official police are in the pay of other cartels.

    – The Zetas equip their own, direct men, with aftermarket police uniforms AND vehicles and radios.

    If you see a cop, in uniform, driving a police car, not only do *you* have no idea who he’s working for, but unless he’s known personally by other cops, *they* have no idea who he’s working for either, or even if he’s a real cop.

    A simple incident involving a person of interest to the police or cartels could result in identically uniformed and equipped “police” showing up on behalf of at least three different organizations, maybe to start shooting at each other.

    I heard say there was a big police chase after a suspect driving north, out of Jalisco/PV. As soon as he passed the border into Narayit, the Narayit cops rammed the Jalisco police cars to stop them, to let the suspect escape. But like all such stories, its just hearsay as far as I know.

    What’s not hearsay is the bunk about how the violence is only in the north. There are executions, kidnapping, cartel-operated highway roadblocks, random murders, and half buried headless bodies strewn all over the place from PV to Guadalajara to DF to Cancun.

    1. GLOBAL WARMING DID IT!!!

  11. Check out the doc “El Sicario” for a lengthy on-camera confession from an alleged cartel hitman with 20 years experience in the field. He draws out diagrams and everything, all in some hotel room near the US border.

    One claim, of many, is that cartels will notify local police of an intended kidnapping in advance — so they’ll leave town and let them get to work.

    Another: that every state governor in Mexico is paid off with drug money. Along with professors, lawyers, the military, and other members of the professional class.

    But can you trust the confessions of a sociopath? An intriguing film, regardless.

  12. Doug Sahm did it!

  13. As somebody who lived in Mexico for a about a year recently, I gots to tell you that projecting American cultural norms on other countries–and then calling those countries deficient for not meeting them?

    Ain’t a real good picture of what’s going on.

    “Most are teens sporting crew cuts, gold chains and earrings, with shorts worn well below the waist and cellphones pressed to their ears. These “spotters” seem to be everywhere, including elementary schools, keeping tabs on everything and everyone for the area’s most dominant drug cartel….”

    On the other hand, that sounds to me like just about anywhere in LA east of PCH.

    1. w/e venice beach is west of lincoln so pretty much all of LA.

  14. The difference between a criminal cartel and a government is that the criminal cartel is more open about being criminals.

  15. Most are teens sporting crew cuts, gold chains and earrings, with shorts worn well below the waist and cellphones pressed to their ears.

    When did Nuevo Laredo move to the Jersey short?

  16. What’s gonna happen to drug cartels once drugs are legal? Will they simply leave the market? What happened last time around?

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