The United States is the world's most lucrative drug market and the fight to supply it is unrelenting [source: Moore]. In fact, the problem shows signs of getting worse. In June 2011, Mexican officials seized a fleet of much larger narco tanks. Instead of modified pickups, these began life as three-axel equipment trucks with the capacity to transport 20 heavily armed goons [source:Johnson].
But there is hope. With more than a billion dollars from the Merida Initiative still appropriated to arm Mexican law enforcement entities with the equipment and training, the hope is that civilian security forces can assume some of the burden that has fallen to the Mexican military. This redistribution of responsibilities should prevent the military from being stretched thin by having to fight the cartels as well as manage its traditional role of defending the country against external threats [source: U.S. Department of State].
Of course, as long as the U.S. demand for illegal drugs remains high, combating the supply portion of this supply-and-demand cycle will be difficult. To put U.S. consumption into perspective, consider that in 2009 more than 11 percent of the population over 12 years old reported using marijuana [source: Department of Health and Human Services]. That's a lot of dope.
Until the demand for illicit drugs is brought under control, suppliers will do whatever they can to fill that very specialized, very lucrative niche. These hyper-modified vehicles are just one of the symbols emerging from an ugly and protracted fight. With so much at stake, and with law enforcement struggling to manage the trafficking crisis in Mexico, the cartels will likely continue to employ narco tanks and other aggressive methods.
More Great Links
- Beith, Malcom. "The Last Narco: Hunting El Chapo, the World's Most Wanted Drug Lord." Grove Press. 2010.
- Burnett, John and Marisa Peñaloza. “Mexico’s Drug War: A Rigged Fight?” National Public Radio. May 18, 2010. (June 14, 2011) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126890838
- "Colombia Captures Drug Smuggling Submarine Capable of Transporting 8 Tons." Fox Latino News. Feb. 15, 2011. (June 14, 2011) http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2011/02/15/colombia-captures-drug-smuggling-submarine-capable-traveling-mexico/
- Department of Defense. "Military Casualties." June 2011. (June 15, 2011) http://siadapp.dmdc.osd.mil/personnel/CASUALTY/castop.htm
- Ellingwood, Ken. "In Mexico City, crowds protest drug violence." Los Angeles Times. May 8, 2011. (June 15, 2011) http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexican-violence-protest-20110509,0,5580937.story
- Guerrero, Maurizio. "In Mexico, an Unstaunched Flow of Money." The Washington Post. Oct. 29, 2008. (June 15, 2011) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2008/10/28/AR2008102801374.html
- Hanson, Stephanie. "Mexico's Drug War." Council on Foreign Relations. Nov. 20, 2008. (June 15, 2011) http://www.cfr.org/mexico/mexicos-drug-war/p13689
- Johnson, Tim. "Drug gangs using homemade 'narco tanks.'" Miami Herald. June 6, 2011. (June 15, 2011) http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/06/06/2254271/drug-gangs-using-homemade-narco.html
- Llana, Sara Miller. "Mexico quietly decriminalizes drug use." Christian Science Monitor. Aug. 24, 2009. (June 16, 2011) http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2009/0824/mexico-quietly-decriminalizes-drug-use
- Llana, Sara Miller. "Mexican drug traffickers' latest weapon: 'monster' narco-tanks." Christian Science Monitor. June 7, 2011. (June 15, 2011) http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/Latin-America-Monitor/2011/0607/Mexican-drug-traffickers-latest-weapon-monster-narco-tanks
- Marosi, Richard. "Ultralight aircraft now ferrying drugs across U.S.-Mexico border." Los Angeles Times. May 19, 2011. (June 15, 2011) http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/19/local/la-me-border-ultralight-20110520
- McShane, Larry. "Mexican drug gangs create armored 'narco tanks' dubbed 'Los Monstruos' - the Monsters." New York Daily News. June 7, 2011. (June 15, 2011) http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-06-07/news/29651263_1_mexican-drug-armored-vehicles-drug-gang
- Moore, Solomon. "How U.S. Became Stage for Mexican Drug Feud." New York Times. Dec. 8, 2009. (June 15, 2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/us/09border.html
- "Police Find Mexican Traffickers' Narco Tank." CNN. May 24, 2011. (June 16, 2011) http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/24/police-find-mexican-traffickers-narcotank/
- Ramsey, Geoffrey. "Second Car Bomb in Mexico Fuels 'Narco-Insurgency' Arguments." InSight. Jan. 24, 2011. (June 15, 2011) http://insightcrime.org/criminal-groups/mexico/juarez-cartel/item/464-second-car-bomb-in-mexico-fuels-narco-insurgency-argument
- Richter, Paul. "U.S. may drastically boost funding to aid Mexico's war on drug gangs." Los Angeles Times. Sept. 4, 2010. (June 15, 2011) http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/04/world/la-fg-us-mexico-20100904
- "The World's Most Powerful People." Forbes. (June 15, 2011) http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/20/power-09_Joaquin-Guzman_NQB6.html
- "The World's Billionaires." Forbes. (June 15, 2011) http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/10/billionaires-2010_Joaquin-Guzman-Loera_FS0Y.html
- "Thirty Years of America's Drug War." PBS. (June 15, 2011) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/drugs/cron/
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Results from the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Volume I. Summary of National Findings." (June 12, 2011). http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k9NSDUH/2k9Results.htm
- U.S. Department of State. "Narcotics Control Strategy Report Volume 1: Drug and Chemical Control." March 2011. (June 12, 2011) http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/156575.pdf
- U.S. Department of State. "2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report." March 1, 2010. (June 12, 2011) http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2010/vol1/137197.htm
- Wueger, Diana. "Mexican Drug War Gets More Fierce." UN Dispatch. May 17, 2011. (June 12, 2011) http://www.undispatch.com/mexican-drug-war-gets-more-fierce
- Wyler, Grace. "EL MONSTRUO 2011: The Mexican Drug Cartel's Purpose-Built Tank." Business Insider. May 11, 2011. ( June 15, 2011) http://www.businessinsider.com/el-monstruo-2011-the-latest-weapon-cartels-are-using-to-fight-mexicos-drug-wars-2011-5