Mexico recently arrested 10 members of a hit squad that had come to the capital, Mexico City, to make war on another gang. As the Wall Street Journal details:
Since coming to power three years ago, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has dispatched thousands of Mexican soldiers to try to take back large swaths of territory controlled by the traffickers. But the sharp increase in violence has led some analysts to question whether Mexico is capable of defeating the traffickers.
The violence truly has been horrific, as not only the body count rises but also the brutality of the killings – it’s now almost common practice to torture victims before executing them. Two episodes from American history come to mind as parallels: Chicago during Prohibition and New York and the mob during some of the later decades of the previous century.
The situation in Chicago solved itself when the revenue generating substance in question was legalized; what little progress was made before then came courtesy federal involvement. The New York mafias were relegated to obscurity only after immense amounts of pressure from the FBI, involving years of slowly tightening the screws on the mob.
Unfortunately neither of these situations brings much hope for Mexico. First, it’s unlikely cocaine will be legalized in the United States anytime soon. Second, in both New York and Chicago it took the presence of pooled resources from outside entities to eliminate the criminal element. Neither NYPD nor Chicago PD were able to take on the criminal gangs – it took the FBI, representing the combined power of the entire country, to bring the situation under control. In Mexico the entire country is under siege, so there is no greater force coming to the rescue.
Finally, it’s important to note that while the profits reaped by the mafia and the Chicago gangsters were generous, when compared to the standard of living of the populace they were not as extreme as what the gangs in Mexico currently reap.
What’s the solution? I’m not sure.