Containing the Spillover Effect: The Use of Rule of Law to Combat Drug-Related Violence in Mexico

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  I. INTRODUCTION   II. DRUG VIOLENCE IN MEXICO AND THE SPILLOVER      EFFECT      A. Mexico's drug violence      B. DTO-related violence threatens U.S. national         security  III. A WEAK RULE OF LAW IN MEXICO      A. The connection between a weak rule of law and         increased violence      B. The Mexican criminal justice system   IV. REBUILDING RULE OF LAW THROUGH MEXICO'S      CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS AND MERIDA INITIATIVE      A. Mexico's judicial reforms attempt to rebuild rule of         law      B. The United States" efforts to rebuild rule of law in         Mexico through Merida    V. CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS AND MERIDA HAVE NOT      RESTORED RULE OF LAW IN MEXICO      A. Difficulties implementing judicial reforms in         Mexico      B. The Merida Initiative and the one-size-fits-all         dilemma      C. Other factors indicating an evasive rule of law   VI. REVISITING RULE OF LAW: LESSONS LEARNED FROM      TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE MODELS      A. The Middle Eastern model: The use of         international partners, green zones, and judge         advocates      B. The Guatemalan model: The case for hybrid         tribunals  VII. CONCLUSION 

I. INTRODUCTION

"If you see dust in the air, don't worry because we are cleaning the house." (1)

The United States leads the world in demand for illicit drugs, with Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) as its leading supplier. (2) When Mexico's ex-President, Felipe Calderon, took office in December 2006, he deployed fifty thousand troops to wage war on DTOs in Mexico's most violent cities. (3) In November 2012, just one month before Calderon was due to leave office, the death toll related to criminal violence in Mexico had reached a staggering 57,449, (4) seven times more casualties than endured by all members of the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. (5)

Mexico's war against DTOs has been criticized as unsuccessful, (6) and is expected to mar Calderon's presidential legacy. (7) Nevertheless, Mexico's newly elected President, Enrique Pena Nieto, has vowed to advance a security strategy against organized crime. (8) As a result of continued enforcement efforts, cartel violence is expected to plague Mexico and will inevitably impact the U.S. southwestern border and other regions where DTOs are active. (9)

Primarily, this Comment focuses on the use of rule of law as a means of eliminating DTO related violence. Strengthening rule of law and reforming the Mexican criminal justice system is just one facet of a larger effort to eliminate the threat of DTO violence on both sides of the border, however, other efforts are beyond the scope of this Comment. (10)

Part II of this Comment provides a brief background of Mexico's drug-related violence and its effect on U.S. national security interests. It will also consider a new approach to defining spillover violence that is relevant to the threat that DTOs present.

Part III introduces the rule of law concept and analyzes how the implementation of rule of law (or lack thereof) can influence the level of violence in society. These theories are applied to Mexico's criminal law system to examine some of the judicial deficiencies that have weakened rule of law in Mexico and permitted unprecedented violence to flourish.

Part IV examines specific Mexican and U.S. efforts to use rule of law measures to reduce violence in Mexico and ultimately protect U.S. national security. These measures include the 2008 Mexican constitutional reforms that overhauled the criminal justice system and the enactment of the Merida Initiative, a $1.9 billion appropriation designated to aid Mexico's drug war and support Mexico's recent constitutional reforms. (11) However, an analysis of the societal impact indicates that these approaches are failing.

Part V presents alternate rule of law strategies that combine recent advances made in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guatemala and are relevant to Mexico's current conditions. …