With Calderon, a New War on Mexico's Mighty Drug Cartels ; Mexico's New President Is Tackling Some of the Country's Toughest Problems, but What Will It Take to Succeed? Part 1 of Three

By Sara Miller Llana writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, January 22, 2007 | Go to article overview

With Calderon, a New War on Mexico's Mighty Drug Cartels ; Mexico's New President Is Tackling Some of the Country's Toughest Problems, but What Will It Take to Succeed? Part 1 of Three


Sara Miller Llana writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


They leapt off the helicopters in seconds: 35 Mexican soldiers, touching down softly on the soil and fanning out across a marijuana field.

As the men yanked out tidy rows of plants perched on a mountainside in the western state of Michoacan, other military choppers circled like hawks, ready to battle hiding snipers. Two hours later, the only hint of a narcotrafficking base was a smoldering fire.

It's a scene familiar in Colombia, but new here in Mexico. This small victory is part of President Felipe Calderon's massive military effort to crack down on one of Mexico's most entrenched problems: drug trafficking and organized crime. But as most of the helicopters pulled away, the sight of soldiers pulling up remaining plants one by one in this tiny field - one of 38 in this isolated region alone - underscored the enormity of targeting Mexico's vast illicit drug trade, which includes poppy fields, meth labs, and cash- flush criminals who control entire communities.

An escalating scourge

The number of drug cartel-related murders topped 2,100 last year, nearly double the average over the previous five years, and the problem is spilling over the border with the US, which asserts that 90 percent of drugs coming from Latin America enter through Mexico.

The more than 17,000 federal troops and police Calderon has deployed to the drug war's front lines so far are the stars of his mission to show that he's in control of the escalating scourge. He's lavished praise on soldiers - at one point even donning military fatigues to thank them. But it's not Calderon's willingness to deploy so many troops in a country wary of the military playing too prominent a public role that will determine success, say analysts. Real results, they say, depend on whether he can maintain a focus on the tougher, less visible fight to simultaneously root out corruption in local police forces and improve the court system.

"He is making decisions. But if you don't make reforms at all levels at the same time, it won't work," says Jorge Chabat, a drugs expert at Mexico City's Center for Economic Research and Teaching. "You can be very efficient capturing one criminal, and then he goes free because some judge was given some money. Or maybe you can capture the criminal, the judiciary works well, and then a drug lord escapes from a high security prison."

While the number of cartel-related murders across Mexico has increased from about 1,000 in 2001 to more than 2,100 last year, according to government figures, so, too, has the ferocity of the killings. Human heads were propped on a fence outside a government building in Acapulco. A mass grave was found. In the most gruesome incident, gunmen in September stormed a nightclub and hurled five heads onto a dance club in Uruapan, Michoacan.

Most of the bloodshed has been restricted to cartels, but police and journalists have also been targeted, and feuds have migrated from Mexico's northern border with the US to the entire Pacific corridor, as the dominating Gulf and Sinaloa cartels - as well as their subsidiaries - battle for billion-dollar routes and territory.

Time to send in the troops

Days after taking office Dec. 1, Calderon announced Operation Michoacan by sending 7,000 military and federal officers into his home state. "This is a very difficult battle,"said Army Gen. Manuel Garcia Ruiz, who heads Operation Michoacan, at the airfield of the Lazaro Cardenas Airport before a recent drug raid. "It will last as long as it is necessary."

Last month, a small group of journalists was invited to witness the raid in Michoacan, where choppers flew over mountains, cut with rocky ravines snaking through sparsely populated valleys. The marijuana field on which they landed was ringed with an irrigation system fed by a rushing creek and thousands of yards of tubing. Footpaths led to at least two other such fields and a recently abandoned shack, with half-eaten tamales littering wooden benches. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

With Calderon, a New War on Mexico's Mighty Drug Cartels ; Mexico's New President Is Tackling Some of the Country's Toughest Problems, but What Will It Take to Succeed? Part 1 of Three
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.