El Blog del NarcoExclusive HS News Contributor
Narco Blog: Journalist ~New President Will Change Mexico’s Anti-Drug-Policy
Photo: Mexico drug violence
The winner of the July 1 presidential election will change Mexico’s anti-drug strategy, British journalist Ioan Grillo said in an interview with Efe. Grillo, whose book “El Narco: Inside Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency” (Bloomsbury Press, 2011) comes out this week in France, criticized the security policy implemented by President Felipe Calderon, whose term ends in December.
“I believe that the narcos, as a whole, are not being destroyed by the force of arms of the current government” in Mexico, Grillo, a freelance writer who has covered Mexico for 11 years for a variety of U.S. and British media outlets, said.
The book, which examines the history, structure and future of Mexico’s drug cartels with a journalistic approach, is different from other works that focused on leading drug traffickers or cartels, looking at the social aspects of a phenomenon that has been incubated for nearly a century.
The approval by the United States of the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act, which regulated the trade in opiates, led to the creation of a black market for drugs and turned Mexico into a prime supplier of illegal drugs.
Over time, drug trafficking became a kind of “movement” in which tens of thousands of people participated and earned a living, the journalist said.
Today, drug trafficking is “at the center of the most important conflict in Mexico since the revolution (of 1910-1917),” sparking a “low-intensity war” that left 47,515 people dead between December 2006 and Sept. 30, 2011, Grillo said, citing official figures.
Calderon’s strategy of putting the army in the streets to deal with drug traffickers in Mexico’s most violent areas has failed, the British journalist said.
Despite producing “results in terms of arrests, searches (of criminals’ residences) and seizures” of arms and drugs, “it has a fundamental problem, which is that every time (the authorities) kill or capture a capo, they cause more violence,” Grillo said.
As a social phenomenon, drug trafficking “has been immune and has expanded its reach in terms of business and influence during the six-year term” of Calderon’s administration because of the continuous and easy replacement of enforcers by other killers, Grillo said.
The United States also shares a good deal of the responsibility for what is happening because the money, arms and alliances between U.S. officials and drug traffickers have had dire consequences for Mexico, Grillo said.
U.S. intelligence agencies are involved in a “shadow war” against Mexican criminals, creating “very serious ethical problems,” the journalist, who interviewed some undercover DEA agents for his book, said.
Efforts to clean up Mexico’s police departments and create a unified police command for the 32 states are noteworthy, but it is a “generational project” that will take years to yield results, the journalist said.
Grillo’s book came out in the United States in October and hit bookstores in the United Kingdom at the end of 2011. It is being released in France this week and will come out later in Italy and Poland, but there is no publication date yet for the Spanish edition.