Thousands of people have died since the Mexican government began a crackdown on drug cartels two years ago, but government officials say the violence is actually a sign of progress as trafficking gangs fight over smaller scraps of the drug business, the Associated Press reported March 11.
“This is not reflecting the power of these groups,” said Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora. “This is reflecting how they are melting down in terms of capabilities, how they are losing the ability to produce income.”
U.S. officials say that the Mexican crackdown has driven up the street price of cocaine and cut availability and purity. Methamphetamine trafficking also has been impacted, they say, although the Mexican gangs have increased smuggling of marijuana because of increased U.S. demand.
“The reason you see the escalation in violence is because U.S. and Mexican law enforcement are winning,” said Garrison Courtney, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “You are going to see the drug traffickers push back because we are breaking their back. It's reasonable to assume they are going to try to fight to stay relevant.”
Murders, kidnappings and assaults tied to Mexican drug gangs have increased on both sides of the border, but Mexican officials say that 90 percent of those killed are involved in the drug trade, and the spike in crimes like kidnapping is cast as a move by cartels to generate revenues as drug profits decline.
Despite the claims of progress, however, officials admit that the violence is likely to get worse before it gets better.
Cocaine demand in the U.S. has been on the wane, but the drug has become more popular in Europe, and Colombian suppliers have been bypassing the Mexican gangs to ship the drug across the Atlantic, often by way of Africa.