Mexican Drug Cartels
Moving north, we encounter Mexico's various drug cartels, which vie for control of the country in a continuously escalating drug war that threatens the lives of an ever-increasing number of Mexicans and Americans. In 2008, more than 6,000 people in Mexico were killed in drug-related violence [source Lacey].
Between January 2000 and September 2006, the Mexican government reported that 79,000 people were arrested on drug charges, although the vast majority were minor drug dealers. There were, however, 15 cartel leaders, 74 lieutenants, 53 financial officers and 428 hitmen among the total [source: Congressional Research Service]. Police corruption has grown so widespread in some cities that the police force had to be entirely rebuilt from the ground up. Huge numbers of soldiers in the Mexican military, while considered less corrupt than the regular police force, have quit and gone to work for cartels in the past few years -- an estimated 100,000 in the past seven years alone [source: Lacey].
Of course, drug trafficking isn't the extent of the crimes committed by Mexico's drug cartels. Kidnapping, money laundering, human trafficking, arms trafficking, bribery, theft, torture and murder are also rampant. Beheadings are growing increasingly common. Machine guns, grenades and even ground-to-air missiles are quickly becoming the preferred weapons of choice.