By Steven Marcus
Starting in the 80’s and early 90’s when Don Johnson was the king of the Miami heat and Magnum P.I. was rockin’ the Hawaiian islands, there was an even hotter off screen drama taking place just south of the California border.
Cocaine in the mid 80’s and early 90’s was the rich man’s candy. Not to mention with the invention of crack, it became the poor man’s candy as well.
As Castro fell, and smuggling through South Florida became more difficult, the Columbians turned to a new well trained group of individuals; the Mexican cartels.(Macko, 1997) The Mexican cartels already had long experience at smuggling into the United States, since they had been the long time leaders in marijuana and heroin trafficking. At first the cartels would be compensated for their skills in cash, however as time progressed it became easier to just pay them in product. One cartel might receive as much as 50% of the product just for getting it into the United States.
This arrangement worked well for awhile, but as the 90’s picked up methamphetamine as a drug grew in both use and production.
The cartels grew so fast in size and power that they had to expand. This led to some serious turf wars between the cartels, as they battle for more power and territory. One of the largest disputes is between the “Federation” cartel and the “Los Zetas” cartel as they fight to posses the Mexico-Texas corridor. These battles are notoriously deadly, not just for the cartels but for civilians as well as the cartel members themselves.(Cook, 2007)
The first major retaliation by the Mexican government, against the cartels came on December 11th, 2006 when president Felipe Calderon Sent 6,500 federal troops to Michoacán to fight the cartels
The Mexican cartels are mostly divided by region, however in later years these “gaps” are being bridged. Of the cartels active in Mexico the most violently infamous are the “Sinaloa Cartel”, also referred to by law enforcement as the “Federation” or “Golden Triangle”, and its biggest rival “Los Zetas” also commonly referred to as the “Gulf Cartel”. As the battle over turf has progressed and with the Mexican government stepping up its anti-cartel efforts, these two cartels have been rumored to be discussing a truce.
Some of the lesser known cartels are; Tijuana Cartel, Juárez Cartel, and Cali Cartel.
Weapons are big part of the issue as well which again brings the United States into the battle. Approximately one sixth of the weapons reaching the Mexican cartels are coming from the us . And there not coming from the government as one might think, they are coming from the civilian population through the use of proxy-purchases, where a US citizen legally purchases a weapon, and then quasi-legally resells it to the a cartel member. (Cook, 2007)