Bleeding Mexico : an analysis of cartels evolution and drug-related bloodshed
Drug-related violence in Mexico has increased exponentially in the last five years, killing near 50,000 people. Even though the country has been a producer of marijuana and opium poppy for nearly a century, it was not until the beginning of the new millennium that drug violence skyrocketed. Up until now, academic studies and policy papers have focused primarily on the political changes Mexico underwent over the last decade and on ingrained corruption as the central factors in explaining the increased violence. But such a jump in homicides rates, as well as the sheer brutality of the violence involved, also reflects the evolution of the country's drug organizations -- which went from being merely feared and ruthless drug producers and smugglers to far-reaching criminal empires that now dominate all aspects of the illicit drug underworld in the Americas. Many have become so powerful that they have formed their own armies of hit men and foot soldiers that operate like full-fledged paramilitary groups protecting their territories and smuggling routes to American soil. Further feeding the cycle of murders in Mexico is an increasing diversification of drug gangs' businesses, which now range from drug production and smuggling to extortion, kidnapping and human trafficking. Through an historical, spatial and statistical analysis, this study sets out to deconstruct the current wave of Mexican drug violence, show how it is spreading and why, and how that reflects the evolution of Mexican drug organizations.