Mexico is in the midst of its most violent confrontation with drug traffickers, with 28,000 people killed since President Felipe Calderon declared war on drug cartels after he took office in late 2006. National Public Radio, in the last of a six-part series, says that drug trafficking in Mexico for many decades operated under the eye of the government. Mexico changing politics has, in effect, changed the way drug cartels operate.
From the 1960s through the ’80s, organized crime was intertwined with the government, according to Diego Enrique Osorno, a Mexican journalist and author of the recently published history, The Sinaloa Cartel. George Grayson, a professor at the College of William and Mary, says the PRI covertly cut deals with the criminals to allow a particular trafficker to operate in a particular part of Mexico. The drug war has dominated Calderon’s term; despite his declarations to the contrary, there are few signs that he’s winning. Whoever wins the 2012 elections is expected to take a new approach toward the cartels. Many voters may hope for a return to the days when the PRI let organized crime run drugs unfettered up to the U.S. border, but kept the violence off the streets.