Mexico, in its war on drugs, cannot fully rely on the very institutions – the police, customs, the courts, the prisons, the relatively clean army – most needed to carry it out, says the New York Times. The cartels bring in billions of dollars more than the Mexican government spends to defeat them, and they spend their wealth to bolster their ranks with politicians, judges, prison guards, and police officers. Entire police forces in cities across Mexico have been disbanded and rebuilt from scratch. Over the past year, Mexico’s top organized crime prosecutor has been arrested for receiving cartel cash, as was the director of Interpol. The cartels managed to slip a mole inside the U.S. Embassy. Those in key positions who have resisted taking cartel money are often shot to death, a powerful incentive to others who might be wavering.
Mexico is using American intelligence to track the traffickers and is awaiting a fleet of American helicopters and aircraft to pursue them, part of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid initiated by President George W. Bush and expanded by President Obama. American drug users are fueling demand for the drugs, and American guns are supplying the firepower wielded with such ferocity by Mexico's cartels – a reality acknowledged by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week. With the prospect of a quick victory elusive, a rising chorus of voices on both sides of the border is questioning the cost and the fallout of the assault on the cartels, the Times says.