What started out as only small scale operations in homes and garages that were intended to support families later turned to greed and larger enterprises to support the enormous demand for narcotics unavailable in the United States. In the late 1970s, Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, a former agent of the Policía Judicial Federal (Mexican Federal Judicial Police – predecessor to Federal Agency of Investigation) and private bodyguard for hire used his many political connections from previous clientele to set up his own drug trafficking network, the Guadalajara Cartel, which would support and traffic the Colombian Cali Cartel’s cocaine to regions throughout Mexico and the United States. Soon after the enormous success of the Guadalajara Cartel, rival cartels in Mexico were formed for a growing demand of cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana, and heroin among many cities around the United States to satisfy the increasing amount of newly-formed addicts. This report is about the corruption and the globalization of Mexican drug cartels or drug trafficking organizations.
Drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) are some of the most powerful, influential, and well-financed transnational organized crime syndicates in the world. In Mexico, most of the land is divided into territories, each territory, including its people and politicians are controlled by specific DTOs. The trends that are commonly depicted with DTOs through media sources and interviews by former members are: brutality, greed, violence, corruption, envy, and savagery. There is a strong lack of loyalty in the drug trade in general, whether it is from greed or envy, there are no friends in this game. A missing leader does nothing to the organization, it will not halt as business is on the line, and a person is always expendable. There are numerous DTOs throughout Mexico and are largely responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of illicit drugs into the United States. Since 1970, DTOs in Mexico have grown to exponential power and wealth, controlling the Mexican military, high ranking politicians, businesses, and even the Catholic Church’s influence to some extent (Morris 2013). There are two current wars that are associated with combating the various DTOs in Mexico, U.S. War on Drugs and the Mexican Drug War; however, they are both viewed by the scholars, the media, and the public as scapegoats to the ever growing international drug trade and as well as helping the DTOs continue to increase expansion into new lands.
According to data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Europol, the annual global drugs trade is worth around $435 billion a year, with the annual cocaine trade worth $84 billion (Morris 2013). According to United States Department of Justice, Mexican Cartels take in-between $18-$39 billion annually (2011). Latin America and the United States could have spent that lost revenue on public service programs or have helped decrease unemployment in the respective nations. In Mexico alone, the illegal funds that are generated within the nation per year, if distributed properly, could take Mexico out of the “developing nation” status by the United Nations and slowly turn it into a regional power within Central America and a global power within the Spanish-speaking world. The United States, through decriminalization of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use could cripple the Mexican DTOs as it the most profitable drug at the moment.
In 2008, my family came from Sunday Mass to my grandparents’ home to talk to my many family members, as this was almost a family tradition. When I saw two men sitting by the side that seemed strangely quiet I asked my grandmother who they were and I was told just to ignore them. Some years later I heard one of the two had been murdered and through talking to other family members I learned the truth: they were cartel boatmen. The