Blowback in Mexico’s Drug Wars
MEXICO – Drug trafficking has existed in Mexico for decades. But trade in illegal narcotics did not seriously threaten Mexico’s stability or provoke conflict with the United States until the mid-1980’s, when Colombian cocaine began to flood across Mexico to the US. By that time, Mexican police institutions were in a state of decomposition, making them fertile ground for the drug traffickers to corrupt. And so they have.
The dismantling of Colombia’s Cali and Medellin cartels in the 1990’s created a vacuum that Mexico’s cartels were able to fill, ultimately consolidating their position in the drug trade. Still, the levels of drug-related violence in Mexico remained relatively low.
This “dealers’ peace” can be explained by the Mexican government’s policy of tolerance, which sought a degree of equilibrium between the drug cartels and the state in terms of trafficking routes and the territories that the cartels infiltrated.