Drug Production and Trafficking in Mexico


Drug Production and Trafficking in Mexico

According to the U.N. Drug Report of 2009, Mexico is the second cannabis producer in the world (after Morocco).  Moreover, according to the Mexican Secretary of Defense, half a million people were linked to the illegal drug trafficking and 7 million hectares were dedicated to the production of cannabis.[1]  Furthermore, Mexico is the principal transit route of cocaine, accounting for 90% of the cocaine smuggled into the U.S.

The profits generated by the illegal drug business are very large.  Nevertheless, due to the illegal nature of the business, together with the lack of transparency and objective methodology of current studies, it is almost impossible to know the exact profits generated by the drug trafficking business.  However, some estimates are cited below:

13.8 billion U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
18 to 39 billon National Drug Intelligence Center, U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Threat Assessment
25 billion Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
17.9 to 28.3 billion David T. Johnson, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Department of State
25 to 40 billion David Robillard, Director General of Kroll Mexico

Due to the illegal nature of the business, it is very hard to know the exact figure of profits generated by drug trafficking.  These estimates do show that a large quantity of money is brought back to Mexico from the U.S.  The profits can be used to corrupt government officials and sustain a war between the different cartels or against the Mexican Government.  Furthermore, we should take into consideration that Mexico is a country with high levels of vertical inequality, where more than 12% of the population lives under the poverty line and 60% of the population lives under some level of poverty.  By taking this into consideration, together with corruption, we can see how drug trafficking is not only a matter of national security, but also a socio-economic factor.

The current situation in Mexico is critical.  There are struggles on all fronts:  the cartels are violently fighting each other in order to gain control of an increasing local and international drug market; the government is fighting against “organized crime,” which has no head, structure or hierarchy and that, due to poverty and corruption, is very well immerse within Mexican society.  President Calderon is fighting a war that is poorly organized, looking to legalize a weak Government that is supported only by a faithful army, which is trying to control the ongoing violence in several states.  However, in many cases, the soldiers are causing violence to the civil society, which finds itself immersed in a national fight against an international problem.  Finally, Mexico’s closest “ally” (i.e., the United States) is not only increasing the demand for illegal drugs, but also supplying drug traffickers with the necessary money and arms in order to perpetuate this “war.”

[1] Statement made by Guillermo Galvan, Mexican Secretary of Defense (SEDENA), August 7, 2009, Mexico.


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