Drug cartels in Mexico have taken over some addiction treatment programs and are using them to recruit addicts into their operations, sometimes under threat of death, the Washington Post reported Feb. 4.
Many of Mexico's treatment programs are unlicensed, making them easy to exploit. Cartel members reportedly have checked into the programs posing as patients, then recruited patients as hit men or smugglers. Legitimate staff members are often scared off by threats from these moles.
The revelation may explain why warring cartels have sometimes launched violent attacks on addiction rehabilitation programs. “The rehabilitation centers are an extension of the battlefield,” said Mexican drug expert Edgardo Buscaglia. “There are no refuges anymore.”