Table of ContentsAbstract *
Legality and Prohibition *
Drug trafficking and political power *
Sinaloa and the gomeros *
Operation Condor *
The Camarena affair *
Drug trafficking organizations *
The military in anti-drug activities *
Money laundering *
Drug seizure, destruction and use *
Drug traffickers’ corridos *
Media commonly presents Mexico’s drug scene as a perfect copy of
the Colombian model, ignoring, among other points, that drug
trafficking in Mexico began about sixty years before the Colombians
got an important share of the American drug market, the different
political systems in both countries, and the historical and
structural relationship of subordination of drug traffickers to
political power observed in Mexico. The lack of more academic
research in Mexico on drug-related problems is another reason for
replicating totally mechanically Colombian particularities to the
Mexican experience. And last, but not least, the U.S.A. government
discourses (both those made by McCaffrey, the U.S.A. drug
tzar, and the DEA) on drug issues in Mexico, and in many
other countries, have succeeded in imposing a kind of symbolic
domination. They have become, more than the Mexican government
discourse on the same subject, the official versions of what has to
be perceived and believed by the public opinion about the Mexican
Those discourses are never completely objective nor politically
neutral and have created some misunderstandings and frictions
between the two governments. Despite the overwhelming information
and common places generated by U.S.A. officials and reproduced
world-wide by the media about drug trafficking in Mexico, there are
still many questions that some social researchers are posing and
trying to answer. These concern in particular the historical
sociology of the phenomenon in the country, the U.S.A.-Mexico
relations on drug issues, the subculture of drug trafficking, drug
use, and the dynamics of the relationship between drug traffickers
and political power. The objective of this paper is to show a
synthetic, comprehensive vision of those drug-related problems in
Mexico since the end of the last
In the nineteenth
century and the beginning of the twentieth century, drugs such as
marijuana, opiates and cocaine were commonly used in Mexico, specially
opiates, basically for medical reasons. Laudanum and other opium
derivatives such as morphine and heroin, as well as pharmaceuticals such
as cocaine, coca wines and marijuana cigarettes were prescribed by doctors
and easily obtained in pharmacies, popular markets and even hardware
stores. The authorities were concerned about the quality of these products
and tried to protect the consumers. Addicts were considered as ill persons
not as criminals (1). There had
been some attempts to control laudanum, poppy and marijuana commerce since
1870, but they did not succeed (2).
In the first decade of the twentieth century, the U.S.A. government was
very active in the international arena, trying to convince other countries
to accept opium control and create special laws to punish the offenders.
The Shanghai Conference in 1909 for opium control was the beginning of the
U.S.A. diplomacy on drugs. The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, approved in
the U.S.A., aimed at controlling opium consumption, was a sort of founding
reason to expand American official perceptions and laws on drugs
world-wide. At that time, the Mexican revolution was taking place.
Revolutionary leaders in Mexico were more interested in political survival
than in controlling opium trafficking which was of, not an important or
special concern for them. Prohibition on one side of the U.S.A.-Mexican
border and legal commerce on the other created the conditions for drug
Poppy culture existed in Mexico since at least the last quarter of the
nineteenth century (1886) in the north-western state of Sinaloa, for
example (3). On
19 January 1917, congressman (Coahuila) Dr. José María Rodríguez proposed
an amendment to the fraction XVI of article 73 of the Constitution, which
gave powers to the Congress to dictate laws on citizenship,
naturalisation, colonisation, emigration and immigration, and general
health in the country. Among the reasons for the amendment was the concern
about alcoholism and the "selling of substances which poison the
individual and degenerate the (Mexican) race". He named opium, morphine,
ether, cocaine, and marijuana. The purpose was to stop "the abuse in the
commerce of these substances so noxious to health", to interrupt their
"immoderate or non-medical use". According to him, mortality had increased
because of the lack of official control on those drugs. In the discussions
about the pertinence of the amendment, diseases and alcoholism were the
main concern of other congressmen. Rodríguez was the only one to mention
drugs. The amendment was approved (4).
Most of the illicit drug trade was taking place through Mexicali and
Tijuana, in the territory of Baja California, governed by colonel Esteban
Cantú (1916-1920), suspected by the American authorities of controlling
opium trafficking. According to customs officials from Los Angeles, the
governor used wouldto resell through his father- in- law’s family what he
seized from drug traffickers (5). Addicts to
opium, or other drugs, were not very important in term of numbers, and
"moral entrepreneurs" (Becker dixit) like those in the U.S.A. did
not exist. In that context, , socongressman Rodríguez’s proposition seems
, in that context, more like a eugenic and public health concern than a
calculated strategy to diminish one of the governor’s illegal sources of
revenues, a decision to stop drug smuggling at the border, or a concession
to please the American government. It was obviously not a more complex
interest in a certain need of opium prohibition nation-wide. Years later,
poppy fields were particularly concentrated, besides Sinaloa, in some
other north-western states such as Sonora, Chihuahua and Durango.
Marijuana culture and commercialisation was prohibited in Mexico in
1920, poppy in 1926 (6). According to
Mexican officials an argument for this was "race degeneration" provoked by
these and other drugs, such as cocaine. Perception of the social and
political elites was mimed on the ideas created and reproduced by members
of the same social groups in the United States and Europe. Drug use and
abuse in Mexico was not a widespread phenomenon and the number of people
concerned was far from the figures of its northern neighbour. Marijuana
use was generally related to soldiers, criminals and poor people; opium
smoking to Chinese minorities; and morphine, heroin and cocaine to
artists, middle class and bourgeois degenerated individuals. Drug
traffickers’ main business was north of the border.
Drug trafficking and political
The most important illegal plants cultivated in Mexico were poppy and
marijuana. Coca plantations did not exist. For many decades opium
trafficking was the main source - but obviously not the only one - of
Mexican traffickers’ revenues, the source of their primary accumulation.
In the state of Sinaloa, people invented a special word, gomero (7), for opium
traffickers. As David Musto says, even though there were some marijuana
users in the thirties in the U.S.A., it was not until the sixties that
marijuana consumption was generalised (8). The American
authorities, especially Harry J. Anslinger, Chief of the Bureau of
Narcotic Drugs (BND), were concerned about marijuana use in the U.S.A.
There was a sort of marijuana hysteria in the media to which Anslinger
contributed. The Marijuana Tax Act, to control the transportation
and selling of the plant, was approved in 1937 (9).
In the thirties, marijuana production could be counted already in tons
in states like Puebla, Guerrero and Tlaxcala, and some of the alleged
owners of the crops living in Mexico City, such as "Lola la Chata", were
suspected of being protected by high ranking members of the anti-narcotics
At the same time, drug traffickers from the north-western region were
making fortunes out of opium smuggling, developing their routes through
Nogales, Mexicali, Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez. In Coahuila, according to
the investigation report sent by special agent Juan Requena to the Mexican
Department of Public Health, the most important opium trafficker, the
Chinese Antonio Wong Yin, was a compadre of governor Nazario Ortiz
Garza. Others were in close touch with general Jesús García Gutiérrez, who
was in charge of military operations in the state (11). Similar
situations were reported in a less precise way about governors from Baja
California (12) and
Chihuahua (13). Doctor and
General José Siurob, the Department of Public Health Chief, recognised in
1937 that anti-narcotic agents used to be paid with the drug they seized.
Once, he said, a governor sent some cans of opium to his office, but when
they were opened they contained only tar (14). There were
obviously different levels of perception about the need to control drug
trafficking and the seriousness of the drug control politics.
A political scandal of unknown proportions exploded in 1947 when
General Pablo Macías Valenzuela, ex-Secretary of War and Navy (National
Defense) and governor of the state of Sinaloa (1945-1950), was suspected
of leading a drug trafficking ring or protecting the opium traffickers.
The information was published by national newspapers such as
Excélsior and El Universal (15). According
to Jesús Lazcano Ochoa, Attorney General of Sinaloa in Valenzuela’s
government, the governor had never even seen opium in his life until he
showed him some samples seized from the traffickers (16). The
Attorney General added that the accusations were inventions of his
political enemies who also suspected him of having masterminded the
assassination of his predecessor, Col. Rodolfo T. Loaiza (1941-1944) (17), from the
Lázaro Cárdenas group. The scandal cooled off after a private meeting with
president Miguel Alemán, when he was on an official visit in Mazatlán,
Sinaloa, six days after the first note appeared in the press against
Valenzuela. The governor finished his term and became Commander of the
1st Military Zone (1951-1956) (18). It was the
first time the drug trafficking issue was used publicly and politically by
one power elite group against another.
In 1947, the year the CIA was founded, President Alemán created the
Security Federal Agency (Dirección Federal de Seguridad-DFS), a kind of
President’s political police, also with the power of intervention in drug
issues. That same year, drug policy, traditionally an attribution of the
Department of Health, was transferred to the Attorney General’s Office
(Procuraduría General de la República-PGR). Reports from the American
Embassy in Mexico to the Department of State in Washington remarked on the
unreliable backgrounds of the people put at the head of the DFS, suspected
of being involved or controlling drug trafficking. Among them, Senator
(Distrito Federal) and Colonel Carlos I. Serrano, the real chief and brain
behind the scenes, close friend of President Alemán (19).
It is important to note that, since the beginning of the drug business,
the best known drug traffickers in Mexico were related in special official
reports in Mexico and the U.S.A. to high ranking politicians. More
precisely, these politicians were suspected of being directly involved in
the illegal trade and even of controlling it. In that scenario,
free-lancers or outsiders would not have any chances to build up their own
networks and succeed in their efforts. The political system emerged after
the Mexican revolution was a state party system, a social pyramid with the
President at the top, concentrating powers over the legislative and the
judicial branches. Governors’ fidelity – most of them military officers
formed on the battlefields – was in many cases assured in exchange of a
certain liberty to do any kind of business. The limits were the
President’s will, their own entrepreneurial capacity, and their ethical
dispositions. In that context, drug trafficking was just another
profitable business that could be achieved by powerful members of the
"revolutionary family", because of the political positions occupied by
some of them at a given moment. Controlled, tolerated or regulated by
mighty politicians in northern states, drug trafficking seems to have been
a business that was developed from within the power structure, and drug
traffickers do not give the impression of having emerged as an early
autonomous specialised social group, but rather as a new class of outlaws
that depended closely on political and police protection and was banned
from political activity, according to recent U.S.A. and Mexican archives
and newspaper archives investigations.
Since the prohibition years in the twenties until 1947, governors from
northern states where illicit plants were cultivated seem to have had an
important and sometimes direct role in controlling drug trafficking and
traffickers. After 1947, the DFS and the Federal Judicial Police (Policía
Judicial Federal-PJF, depending on the PGR) as well as the army, became,
more than before, the institutions responsible for fighting against the
forbidden trade. Imputations on governors were transmuted into indictments
against members of those institutions, protecting governors from an
eventual political pressure because of drug affairs and leaving police
agents and the military assuming the consequences of the dangerous and
structural liaisons with drug traffickers. In a way, this new structure
created an institutional mediation between drug traffickers and the
political powers, groups who previously had a direct line of
communication. On one hand, the drug business grew very quickly during the
war years and did not stop in the aftermath. More social agents belonging
to the power structure placed in strategic positions where business was
booming had the possibility of making quick and easy profits, and so they
did. But, on the other hand, police agents and the military also had the
role of preventing drug traffickers from becoming completely autonomous or
getting so wild as to go beyond certain limits of socially and
historically tolerated violence. As long as the outlaws were politically
controlled, federal agents could get a piece of the cake, not so big as to
become autonomous themselves, and certainly not without sharing profits
with their superiors in the political structure. That was the rule in
order to secure impunity.
Sinaloa and the gomeros
For many reasons, the state of Sinaloa has become a paradigmatic case
in the study of drug trafficking in Mexico. Articulated since the end of
the nineteenth century to the economy of California and Arizona in the
U.S.A., the opium produced in that state followed the same route as
certain agricultural products that were exported via the Pacific railroad.
Chinese immigrants and local producers and traders, mostly but not
exclusively from the mountains of Badiraguato (a municipal division of the
state of Sinaloa) transported their merchandise to the border cities of
Nogales, Mexicali and Tijuana. Criminals by law, they were merchants, some
of them from wealthy families, peasants, adventurers, and middle class
people, living in cities and towns where everybody knew each other, who
decided to tempt the devil and tried to make quick money to get rich, to
capitalise their legal business, or to earn a living living (20). Those who
persisted and specialised in drug trafficking, those who became
professionals, were, most of the time, people from the mountains where
poppy fields bloomed. They created dynasties, transmitted their know-how
to the successive generations and succeeded in founding a source of
permanent drug trafficking leaders to manage the business nation-wide. In
the long term, they appear as a kind of oligopoly: they have been leading
the most important drug trafficking groups since the beginning of
prohibition; the power of the groups has not followed the six-year
political cycles; and they have never shown any interest in organizing
themselves in politics, as Carlos Lehder, Pablo Escobar and the
Extraditables did in Colombia.
There was an early process of "naturalisation" of drug trafficking in
some regions of Mexico. Anybody could be a trafficker. A brother, a
cousin, a friend, a neighbour, a friend’s friend. In rural areas with few
people in the villages it was very easy to know who cultivated illegal
plants. They needed legal cultures to survive, and illegal ones to live a
better life. An important and interesting reason to accept the coexistence
with traffickers was the absence of drug use and abuse, specially opium
and its derivatives. They produced for the market abroad, not for local
consumption, except perhaps for marijuana which was used for medical or
recreational purposes. Another reason was the level of violence. In small
towns, it was more difficult, although not impossible, to resort to
violence because almost all the inhabitants were related. There was room
for everybody in the drug business, so it was not necessary to fight to
death to get a share of the market. Traffickers’ ethics were more related
to the logic of the economy than to law or religion. Besides, in their
experience, police agents and the military, representing the state and in
charge of destroying illegal plants and chasing traffickers, were
sometimes really doing their job and other times promoting the business
and trying to make a profit like everybody else. Trust and respect became
relative values. Why then act according to the law if the authorities did
not or did so in an erratic way?
To commercialise opium, peasants from the mountains had to come down to
the cities. They chose to stay in neighbourhoods at the periphery, places
sharing both rural and urban facilities to make their stay more
comfortable, or the transition easier for those who wanted a new life. In
the saloons they frequented, alcohol, music and pistols were usually a
deadly combination. The reasons for the shootings were not always related
to drug affairs, but some traffickers began to use the saloons and the
neighbourhood in which they lived as battlefields. For that reason, in the
fifties, the press in Culiacán, for example, named the city "a new Chicago
with gangsters in sandals" (21). The
business had grown and so had the violence associated with it.
Confrontations in urban areas were between traffickers or against the
police in specific spaces, not everywhere in the city. In general,
innocent people were not touched. It was not a blind violence.
In the Culiacán press, there were also editorials asking the United
Nations for permission to cultivate poppy in Sinaloa, like in Yugoslavia,
India, Turkey and Iran. It would be a source of work and wealth, they
argued. Mexico, and Sinaloa in particular, was the only opium-producing
country in Latin America – and good quality – they added. Opium and its
derivatives were only used by Chinese minorities and some "degenerate"
rich people; the majority of the Mexican citizens were not affected, they
said. In an address to the Mexican government they advised it to use the
funds from poppy eradication in the fight against marijuana cultivation.
The latter was perceived as a plant whose use would make people
degenerate, drive them mad and lead them to crime.
The proposition was difficult to accept by the government, they said,
because campaigns against drugs depended on treaties with the U.S.A. The
director of the newspaper which published those editorials later became
Attorney General of Sinaloa (1951-1952) (22). A paradox
indeed, and a clear example of the different levels of perception of the
official drug policy designed by the federal government. It was also an
example of a higher degree of tolerance and pragmatism of important social
groups in Sinaloa, who knew first hand the meaning of the old illegal
business for the local economy. For the first time, newspapers from Mexico
City used the word "narcotrafficker" (23) as a more
legitimate designation for gomeros, commonly used by traffickers
themselves and by people who recognized them as a newly-forming social
group. The term was neither commonly used in the official discourse of
that time, nor widespread in the media, but was years later.
According to Mexican authorities, campaigns against drugs in the
fifties were so successful as suggest a "definitive liquidation" in
They were exaggerating, of course, thinking about the acceptance of the
U.S.A. government and the U.N. observers. Their strategy provoked the
immediate expansion of illegal cultivation in the states of Jalisco,
Nayarit and Michoacán. Tougher measures in one place created trafficking
problems in another: this was consistently observed throughout the years
of drug campaigns. Drug trafficking – mostly opium – via planes was so
intense that the Minister of Communications and Public Works decided to
suspend commercial flights in some airfields in Sinaloa, Sonora, Chihuahua
and Durango in 1953, and closed the Aviation School in Culiacán. A former
pilot and flight instructor at that time recognised having transported
opium on his plane very often; however, he said, national airline
companies (Aeronaves de México) had done it on a bigger scale. Miguel
Urías, a very important drug trafficker from Badiraguato was in charge of
selling the tickets to fly from Bacacoragua, a small opium-producing town
in the sierra of that municipality, to other places (25). The
official successful results of these campaigns were of merely rhetoric
It was estimated that there were three hundred clandestine airfields in
northern Mexico in the sixties. Interpol announced that Mexico had taken
the place formerly occupied by Cuba in the "transatlantic narcotic
trafficking". Sinaloa, Durango and Sonora were mentioned as places where
extensive poppy fields existed (26). Other
smaller plantations were destroyed in Michoacán, Guerrero, Durango,
Morelos, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Jalisco, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Baja California,
Estado de México, Zacatecas, etc (27). For the
PGR, Sinaloa was ranked first in marijuana and poppy cultivation (28). The most
impressive figures in the sixties were those concerning marijuana.
American soldiers’ and students’ demand for drugs had an immediate effect
in terms of Mexican offer. In 1966, the PGR reported the destruction, in
45 days, of three thousand tons of marijuana only in Chihuahua and Sinaloa
According to some American anti-narcotics officials from San Diego, 75 or
80 percent of the heroin and almost all of the marijuana introduced to the
U.S.A. came from Mexico (30). In 1968,
Look magazine estimated marijuana smuggling from Mexico to the
U.S.A. at around 3.5 to 5 tons per week (31). In 1969,
president Nixon launched "Operation Intercept" (32), translated
into meticulous car inspection for drugs at the border. This was the
beginning of a new era on drug politics in the U.S.A.-Mexico relations.
The marijuana boom created more quick fortunes than before. The number
of users and the number of new, younger and wilder players in the drug
business grew in an exponential way. The unwritten codes were broken.
Assassination of high ranking police officers was a sign of changing
times. Older drug traffickers, suspected of the killing of the chief of
the Judicial Police in Sinaloa in 1969 (33), refused the
accusations and blamed younger traffickers who did not respect the old
rules of the game (i.e. not to mess with a higher hierarchy of the police
forces and not to use the city as battlefield). They used M-1 machineguns
and .38 pistols. The 9th Military Zone Commander in Culiacán said things
were changing thanks to the active role the Army was playing, and
criticised agents of the PJF who "used to fight among themselves to come
to Sinaloa" (34), meaning
they wanted to be where the quick money was. Federal police agents were
qualified as "Attila’s Hordes" by the local press (35).
A new generation was emerging and trying to impose its own law. Decades
of drug trafficking and generations of traffickers had produced a new
breed of tougher players, richer and more powerful at a younger age than
their ancestors. They were more sure of themselves, they did not hide,
they moved to other new and respected middle-class neighbourhoods, drove
cars with American license plates and had many parties where
tambora, regional music, played for days; they were proud of being
drug traffickers. As for the rest of society, their attitude was a mix of
astonishment, fear, admiration and respect. If violence did not touch them
directly, they were not particularly worried and had no explicit and
public moral judgement against the traffickers’ way of life or business.
In the mid-seventies, the Mexican federal government launched the most
impressive military operation against drug plantations and traffickers
called "Operation Condor" (36). Ten
thousand soldiers under the command of General José Hernández Toledo, who
had participated in the 1968 students massacre in Tlatelolco and in
battles against universities such as UNAM, Nicolaíta and Sonora, were sent
to the sierra of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua to destroy the illegal
plantations. The PGR representative was Carlos Aguilar Garza. General
Hernández predicted the end of drug trafficking in six months (37). Despite the
use of defoliants and human rights violations, he did not succeed.
Instead, hundreds of peasants fled to other states; so did big drug
traffickers who continued their business and way of life. Aguilar Garza
became a drug trafficker himself years later and was assassinated in 1993.
Tons of drugs were destroyed, production was reduced, prices rose, but
drugs continued to flow into the American market, although in lesser
quantity of Mexican origin. Many villages in the sierra were deserted.
Hundreds of people were arrested, tortured and sent to jail, but not a
single big boss (38). The most
important group leaders moved to Guadalajara, Jalisco, and continued their
business on a bigger scale thanks to cocaine which they had already been
smuggling on a large scale since 1975, according to the DEA (39). The
military and political success claimed by the authorities was just a
mirage. In the long term, the social cost of the military operation was
more important for a large number of people, whose negative attitude
towards federal police and the military was reinforced, than the
spectacular destruction of illegal plants which made Mexican and American
anti-narcotics officials so happy and optimistic. According to both
governments, their collaboration – through DEA agents and their
counterparts, for example – had never been as good and efficient (40). This did
not last very long.
The Camarena affair (41)
At the end of November 1984, Mexican authorities discovered an enormous
marijuana plantation, called "The Buffalo", about 12 square kilometers, in
the state of Chihuahua. Twelve thousand people, or more, from different
Mexican states and even from Guatemala, worked there. Rafael Caro
Quintero, a drug trafficker from Badiraguato, was suspected to be the
owner. On February 7, 1985, DEA agent Enrique Camarena and Mexican pilot
Alfredo Zavala Avelar, were kidnapped in Guadalajara in different places.
Days later, John Gavin, the American Ambassador, and Francis Mullen, DEA
chief, said in a press conference that the discovery of the marijuana
plantation was due to American intelligence work, affirmed that
Guadalajara was the centre of national and international drug trafficking,
and gave some figures about drug groups, leaders and percentage of heroin
of Mexican origin introduced to the U.S.A. The Attorney General’s Office
and the Department of Customs decided to put political pressure on the
Mexican government. Operation "Stop and Seize" at the border, a sort of
remake of "Operation Intercept", was the strategy for pushing the Mexican
authorities to resolve the kidnapping case. DEA chief accused DFS agents
of having protected, and PJF permitted, Caro’s runaway from Guadalajara
airport. His words were reproduced in the Washington Post and
broadcast by the NBC. He lost his job.
About a month after the kidnapping, two half-buried bodies with torture
signs were found in the state of Michoacán. Four days before the
discovery, a hundred police agents from Jalisco had massacred some members
of a family living near the place where the bodies were found. The police
accused one of the deceased to be the kidnapper and executioner.
Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas, governor of Michoacán, pointed out the illegal
behavior of the neighbour state police and protested in a letter published
in the press. Officially, Camarena and Zavala were killed because of the
damage they had caused to the traffickers. They informed the authorities
about the "Buffalo" and certainly knew too much. Camarena was working on a
special assignment called "Operation Godfather", aimed at investigating
the activities of the Sinaloan Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo, the suspected
"Godfather" of drug trafficking in Mexico, the "boss of bosses". He was
also accused in the Camarena case, as was Ernesto Fonseca, from
Badiraguato, another "family" chief.
The honeymoon that had existed during "Operation Condor" became a
nightmare for the Mexican government when the DEA agent was killed. A lot
of information gathered by American anti-narcotics agents on Mexico
throughout the years, specially on the old special and dangerous
relationship between drug traffickers and DFS and PJF agents was delivered
to the media. The Camarena case was a catalyst, a special occasion to show
the level of corruption of Mexican police agents, and even politicians.
Some agents and police commanders, accused of protecting Caro, were put in
jail. DFS and Interpol-Mexico directors were removed. Caro was captured on
April 4, 1985, in Costa Rica, and sentenced on December 12, 1989, to 92
years in prison. Fonseca did not escape either. Félix Gallardo was caught
in Guadalajara on April 8, 1989. In May 1994, he was sentenced to 40
The Camarena case did not end with the incarceration of police agents
and big drug traffickers. The second chapter of the story began in January
1990 when NBC broadcast the program Drug Wars, based on the book
Desperados (1988) by Time journalist Elaine Shannon, whose
main source of information was the DEA. The TV series showed the story of
the good guys, DEA agents, against the bad guys, Mexican officials, police
and military. Mexican authorities felt offended and protested. Miguel
Aldana Ibarra, ex-chief of Interpol-Mexico said he doubted Camarena was
dead, added he might be living in California or Colorado, and accused him
of smuggling marijuana with his Mexican drug trafficker friends. Some
media controlled by the government reproduced similar versions. The White
House spokesman defended Camarena’s memory. On January 31, the Los Angeles
federal prosecutor formally accused Aldana, Manuel Ibarra Herrera,
ex-chief of the PJF, Humberto Alvarez Macháin – Caro’s family doctor –
Félix Gallardo, and Hondurian trafficker and Gallardo’s associate in the
cocaine business Ramón Matta Ballesteros, all of them involved in
Camarena’s murder. General Juan Arévalo Gardoqui, ex-Secretary of National
Defence, was on their waiting list. In 1992, DEA protected and paid
witnesses, recruited among Fonseca’s and Caro’s associate gunmen and
bodyguards, accused Rubén Zuno Arce, owner of the house in which Camarena
was killed, Manuel Bartlett, Secretary of Government, Enrique Alvarez del
Castillo, Attorney General, and general Arévalo Gardoqui, of having
planned the crime. Zuno, ex-President Echeverría’s brother in law, was
detained in the U.S.A. in 1989, judged and sentenced to life imprisonment
in 1992. In 1990, Alvarez Macháin was kidnapped in Mexico by policemen
paid by the DEA, delivered to DEA agents in El Paso, taken to prison,
judged, and finally liberated because of lack of evidence. Accusations
against high ranking politicians were never proven, but suspicions in both
For the first time in Mexico-U.S.A. relations, members of the political
elite were publicly linked to drug affairs by American authorities. This
was nothing new for many people in Mexico, especially in those regions
where illegal plants had been cultivated for decades and drug trafficking
had become an industry. Nothing has been proved throughout the years, but
it is also true that the Judicial power has not been efficient nor
independent from the Executive. Political opposition in a state party
system has been symbolic. The only political force the Mexican government
has ever listened to, in drug matters, is the U.S.A. government. Multiple
reports sent by American anti-narcotics agents to Washington since the
1910s show how much they knew and learned about drug production,
trafficking, and traffickers-officials relations in Mexico. The drug issue
has not always been a relevant point in the American political agenda. The
cumulative knowledge of anti-narcotics agencies has been used to put
pressure on Mexican governments when needed. The "war on drugs" declared
by President Reagan in the 80s, and continued during the Bush
administration, enhanced the power of "drug warriors" who did not hesitate
to use their information to damage the political elite image and
credibility. They waited until one of their agents was killed, but they
knew it long before.
When opium was prohibited in the U.S.A. it was legal in Mexico. Social
agents who commercialised it were criminals on one side of the border and
legitimate traders on the other. The circle was completed when Mexico
adopted similar laws. A new social category was born: the drug trafficker.
Alcohol prohibition in the U.S.A. (1920-1933) and the greater demand for
alcohol compared to opiates, marijuana and cocaine, made alcohol smuggling
much more profitable. Bootleggers were, by far, a larger, wealthier and
more powerful group. In Chicago, Al Capone (42), a cocaine
user himself, and his group of outlaws became the prototype of the
gangster, the entrepreneur of the underworld. He made investments in legal
business and financial contributions to political campaigns. He bought
policemen and politicians. He became a legend. In Mexico, known and famous
drug traffickers in the thirties such as Enrique Fernández, from Ciudad
Juárez, were soon compared to Capone by the press. Interim governor
(1929-1930) from Chihuahua, Luis León (Secretary of Agriculture under
Calles government, and of Industry and Commerce under Ortíz Rubio) helped
him get out of the Islas Marías prison (43). Some said
Fernández had made pacts with politicians. Shootings among traffickers
were Chicago style. The discourse on drug trafficking resembled that used
during the alcohol prohibition.
María Dolores Estévez, known as "Lola la Chata", was the most important
drug trafficker operating in Mexico City from the thirties to the fifties.
Captain Luis Huesca de la Fuente, ex-chief of the Narcotics Police, was
sent to jail, accused of having stolen the drug he seized and of having
protected la "Chata" (44). In Baja
California, Dr. Bernardo Bátiz B., Delegate from the Health Department,
suspected high ranking officials from the local government of protecting
traffickers and sending them to prison only when they became greedy (45). In the
forties, Max Cossman, associated to Harold "Happy" Meltzer – connected
himself to Mickey Cohen (46), from the
old Capone’s band, who was living in California –, was accused for the
murder of Enrique Diarte, an important opium trafficker operating in
Tijuana and Mexicali (47). According
to Harry Anslinger, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, from the Luciano – Lansky
group, and Virginia Hill negotiated with Mexican politicians to finance
poppy culture in the Northwest part of the country (48). Ernesto
Fonseca Carrillo, indicted in Camarena’s murder, began his trafficker
career in the fifties. In the sixties, Eduardo Fernández, Pedro Avilés and
Jorge Favela, were included in a large list of traffickers from Sinaloa
mentioned in the press. In the post-war years, traffickers from Sinaloa
became definitely the most important in the country. They began with opium
smuggling, and continued with marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines,
depending on the demand.
In the seventies, Pedro Avilés, Manuel Salcido Uzeta (the "Crazy Pig"),
and especially Miguel Angel Félix Gallardo, were the most common names.
Félix G. was born in the suburbs of Culiacán, Sinaloa’s capital. He
studied for a commercial career, but decided to work as a policeman. He
was assigned to the governor’s house where he became his family bodyguard.
The governor of Sinaloa Leopoldo Sánchez Celis (1963-1968) was his
godfather when he got married (49). According
to the DEA, Félix G., associated to Ramón Matta Ballesteros, the Honduran
contact with Colombians, became the number one cocaine trafficker in
Mexico starting in the mid-seventies (50). He lived as
a respectable and respected entrepreneur for many years. His relationship
with ex-governor Sánchez Celis (some said he was his protector)
facilitated his political and business contacts. He was a prominent
counsellor of Somex bank (Chihuahua) in 1979, and a shareholder and
distinguished client at the national level at least until 1982. In 1976
there was an arrest order against him in Tijuana, but nothing was done.
The charges were heroin and cocaine trafficking. He was protected by an
important narcotics official, said the DEA. Starting in 1971 he
accumulated at least fourteen arrest orders. He did business for four more
years after Camarena’s murder. He was himself godfather of the governor’s
son (Rodolfo) at his marriage, a dangerous liaison that caused Rodolfo’s
assassination when he was about to visit his godfather in prison. He had
been previously abducted at the Mexico City airport and tortured.
Like the Hydra, other heads appeared after one was cut, all of them
emerging from the same root. Caro’s brothers and relatives, Güero Palma
and "Chapo" Guzmán, the Arellano Félix brothers, and Amado Carrillo, were
important lieutenants on the waiting list or already leading their own
groups in different parts of the territory. They were all Sinaloans of
rural origin, except the Arellano brothers, who were urban, middle class,
and with a higher education. The empire was divided but the new groups
were not less powerful than the original despite their rivalries. The
northeast was controlled by Juan García Abrego (51), a
trafficker from Tamaulipas whose rise and fall followed the six-year
political cycle and became, according to Mexican and U.S.A. authorities,
the most important.
In 1993, Cardinal Jesús Posadas Ocampo and his driver were killed in a
shooting as they arrived at the parking lot of the Guadalajara airport (52). Posadas was
going to pick up Girolamo Prigione, the Vatican’s representative in
Mexico. The Attorney General, Jorge Carpizo, said that Arellano’s gunmen
had mistaken him for "Chapo" Guzmán because their cars were alike: same
model, same colour. Guzmán, who was not very far from there with his
people, repelled the attack and ran away under a rain of bullets. Minutes
later, some gunmen and one of the Arellano brothers took a regular flight
to Tijuana. The PGR could not explain why nobody tried to stop them.
Guzmán was caught the next month and sent to Almoloya high security
prison. The elder of the Arellanos, Francisco Rafael, was accused of
illegal arms use, detained in Tijuana in December 1993 and imprisoned in
Almoloya. Two of his brothers, Ramón and Benjamín, held secret meetings
with Prigione in December 1993 and January 1994, gave him a letter for the
Pope and told Prigione their version of the story. Benjamín said Posadas
was perhaps mistaken for Ramón by Guzmán’s gunmen. He added that while
Ramón was in Prigione’s house, the Vatican’s representative telephoned
president Salinas, went to his house (Los Pinos) and had a meeting with
the president himself, the Secretary of Government and the Attorney
General. The Arellano brothers were ready to surrender in exchange for an
arrangement. Prigione said there would always be certain unrevealed
aspects about Posadas’ murder. The brothers did not accept that and
decided to take a risk. The authorities did not clarify the situation.
Marcos, the leader of the EZLN, has the "intuition" that Posadas was
killed because he knew that some high ranking officials were implicated in
the drug business, information he was about to tell to Prigione (53). In 1998,
there are still important and influent clergy members, as well as numerous
social groups nation-wide, who do not believe the "mistake" theory and are
still waiting for a credible explanation.
Juan García Abrego was born in a ranch called "La Puerta", Matamoros,
Tamaulipas (54). He did not
finish primary school. He worked as a milkman and car thief before
entering the drug business with the help of his uncle, the legendary
smuggler Juan N. Guerra. One of his lieutenants, Prof. Oscar López
Olivares, who became an FBI informer, said he taught him even basic
distinction rules such as table manners, how to dress and the appropriate
way to show his Rolex. During the Salinas government (1988-1994) he became
the most important drug trafficker in Mexico. He smuggled tons of cocaine,
from the Cali group, to the U.S.A. A key person in his career was PJF
commander Guillermo González Calderoni. He led the team that killed Pablo
Acosta, a big trafficker from Ojinaga, Chihuahua, in 1987 (55). He arrested
Jaime Herrera Nevares y Jaime Herrera Herrera in 1987 (56), heroin
traffickers from Durango, and his alleged "compadre" Miguel A. Félix
Gallardo in 1989. According to an FBI infiltrated agent (SA 2620-OC) in
García Abrego’s group, González Calderoni was associated to García and
protected him at least since 1986. Calderoni was accused of "unexplainable
enrichment" in 1993. He escaped to the U.S.A. where he is at present in
the protected witness program. When the Mexican government tried to
extradite him, he revealed having done political espionage work for Raúl
Salinas - the president´s brother -, who was suspected himself of having
protected García Abrego. Raúl is now in Almoloya facing charges for
"illicit enrichment" and for the murder of his ex-brother in law, José
Francisco Ruiz Massieu, former president of the PRI. Swiss authorities
have "frozen" more than $100 million in Swiss bank accounts belonging to
Raúl under fake names. They suspect Raúl of money laundering for
traffickers. Calderoni sent a warning: if the Mexican government insisted
in extraditing him, he would "remember" more things (57).
García Abrego was captured in 1996 and immediately extradited to the
U.S.A.. According to Janet Reno, the U.S.A. Attorney General, Mexican and
U.S.A. officials agreed to say he was an American citizen, born in La
Paloma, Texas. President Zedillo justified his decision in a private
meeting with some congressmen, who leaked the information to the press. He
said García Abrego was a very dangerous character who could set up a
destabilising situation. The President’s spokesman later denied he had
ever said such a thing (58). In fact,
the drug leader did not act as a desperado while he was being searched
for. There were no bomb explosions or shootings against politicians or
innocent people. There was no speculation attack against the peso, nor a
flight of capital. A strange behaviour, indeed, for somebody whose fortune
was officially estimated (in fact, invented) to 10 billion dollars (about
3.48% of Mexico’s GNP in 1995, $5.7 billion less than the international
reserves, and $1.6 billion more than the oil revenues the same year). His
alleged destabilising power did not show up at all. The National Narcotics
Intelligence Consumers Committee (NNICC) 1996 Report stated: "In Houston,
García-Abrego was tried and convicted on 22 counts of drug trafficking,
money laundering, and operating a continuing criminal enterprise. He
received a sentence of eleven consecutive life terms in prison and was
fined $128 million. García-Abregos’s arrest and conviction, unfortunately,
had little effect on cocaine trafficking into the United States, as
elements of his organization remained intact. Moreover, any reduction in
territory and influence suffered by the Garcia-Abrego organization was
balanced by an increase in the power of the rival Carrillo-Fuentes
In the eighties, Amado Carrillo ("The Lord of the Skyes"), another
Sinaloan, Ernesto Fonseca’s nephew according to Mexican authorities, was
sent to Ojinaga, by the Félix Gallardo group, to work with Pablo Acosta (60). He was
suspected of having paid González Calderoni to get Acosta out of his way.
When García Abrego was extradited Carrillo took his place as number one on
the official list. He smuggled tons of cocaine in big planes, his
speciality. His group was based in Ciudad Juárez. The Arellano brothers
tried to kill him once in a Mexico City restaurant (1993). His main
problems began when General Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, the new chief of the
National Institute of Drug Combat (INCD), was accused of protecting
Carrillo for years (61). He was
forced to move from one place to another. The police said he travelled to
Russia, the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean. He went
frequently to Las Vegas (62), undetected
by the DEA. The Mossad paid no attention to him when he was in Jerusalem,
neither did Cuban authorities when he was in their territory.
Mexican Military Intelligence service documents, dated January 14,
1997, stated that Carrillo did not want to give up since he wanted to make
a pact with the government. He proposed to collaborate in
counter-acting disorganized traffickers, stop drug sales in Mexico and
direct them to the U.S.A. and Europe, help the country’s economy with his
dollars, avoid the use of violence, and act as an entrepreneur, and no
longer as a criminal. He wanted freedom to run his business, tranquillity
for his family, and 50% of his possessions. If his conditions were not
satisfied, he would make his offer to other countries (63). For
somebody who, according to the DEA, was the number one drug trafficker in
the planet and chased world-wide, he was very successful in keeping
himself invisible. His worst decision was to have plastic surgery in a
Mexico City clinic to change his face and take off excessive fat in order
to change his appearance. He died of post-surgery complications on July 4,
After his death, the police said he had been trying to settle in Chile
where he was buying property. He wanted to control drug trafficking
without the mediation of Colombians and to expand his business to
Australia. Carrillo’s career makes him one of the most entrepreneurial and
cosmopolite of all Mexican drug traffickers ever.
The Arellano brothers and their Tijuana based group, as well as some
other of Carrillo’s lieutenants started a new war for drug trafficking
control along the U.S.A.-Mexico border and also in Jalisco. The FBI put
Ramón Arellano on its top ten fugitive list on the Internet, and offered a
fifty thousand dollars reward for information leading to his apprehension.
Janet Reno offered a two million dollar reward for information about the
The FBI informed that : "Ramon Eduardo Arellano-Felix ( born in 1964) has
been charged in a sealed indictment in U.S.A. District Court, Southern
District of California, with Conspiracy to Import Cocaine and Marijuana.
Ramon Eduardo Arellano-Felix is believed to be one of the leaders of the
Arellano-Felix Organization (AFO), which is also known as the Tijuana
Cartel. The AFO is a drug gang known for their large distributions of
controlled substances and propensity for violence in enforcement of the
operation" (66). The Mexican
government sent the military to chase them in Tijuana, without success.
Their fire power is assured by young gunmen from wealthy Tijuana families
and from popular neighbourhoods in San Diego. The brothers have murdered
important police officials and tried to kill in November 1997 an
influential journalist in Tijuana, Jesús Blancornelas (he was seriously
wounded), whose magazine Zeta has given information about their
activities and protectors (67). Despite the
incarceration of an important group of their lieutenants in Mexico and the
U.S.A., the Arellano brothers are still free and running their business.
The military in anti-drug
Before 1947, the Health Department was in charge of the drug policy.
There were not many anti-narcotics agents to cover the whole territory.
Mexican officials used to talk about "campaigns" against drugs since those
days. What those agents could do to destroy the illegal plants was really
symbolic. In the thirties, there were people who proposed that the PGR
lead anti-drug activities. President Cárdenas refused and refrained his
support to health authorities. In the post-war years, the U.S.A.
government, worried about the probability of an increase in drug use among
soldiers returning home, as had been the case in other post-war
experiences, took a stronger leadership in drug affairs and tried to
influence other governments, especially of countries producing poppy and
marijuana, to reinforce their anti-drug policies. In 1947, President
Miguel Alemán decided the PGR would be in charge of the anti-drug policy.
At the same time he created the DFS, also with authority in drug matters.
In 1948, the Mexican government announced a "Great Campaign" to destroy
the illegal plants in the country: "The 1948 campaign involved the
military for the first time as a permanently assigned eradication
force...(but) only between 100 and 400 were assigned to support police
agents in the destruction of one third to one-half of the entire opium
poppy crop" (68). The
military, formally and legally under the command of the PGR in drug
affairs, were placed in a key position with special mediation, containment
or control, among producers and traffickers, the PJF, the DFS, and the
political power. There were more players in the drug trafficking camp.
From then on and for decades, the military’s hermetic attitude, the mutual
protection of political families from the state party, and the law of
silence, put the new mediators such as PJF and DFS agents in the centre of
the accusations of drug related corruption.
The objectives of the anti-drug campaign were not easy to achieve. The
territory was large and there were illegal plantations in many isolated
places. Destruction by hand, even with the military’s help, did not make
much difference in the amount of drug smuggled. In the sixties, the
Mexican government acquired airplanes, jeeps, weapons, helicopters and
spare parts from the U.S.A. The new technology helped to increase the
destruction of poppy fields. According to Richard Craig, "it also made
future campaigns more difficult as opium and marijuana cultivators, aware
of the increased probability of aerial detection, began concealing their
crops amidst legitimate ones and planting smaller plots in even more
remote regions" (69). After
Operation Intercept in 1969, the U.S.A. government political increased
pressure on Mexican authorities.. By 1974 it was said that Mexico was the
principal source of heroin for U.S.A. addicts. In 1976, five thousand
soldiers and airmen were involved in the anti-drug campaign (70). The number
was ten thousand in 1977 when Operation Condor was officially launched (71).
In 1986, President Reagan signed an important document concerning his
"war on drugs" policy (a "war" he had already declared in 1982 (72), the
National Security Decision Directive, which considers drug trafficking a
threat to U.S.A. national security, and permits the Department of Defence
to get involved in a wide variety of anti-drug activities, especially on
the Mexico-U.S.A. border. Some have regarded this policy as an important
element of the Low Intensity Conflict doctrine (73). The Mexican
government accepted immediately that scheme of perception. Every Mexican
president since Miguel de la Madrid (1982-1988) has repeated Reagan’s
basic idea. They have also said drug trafficking is a health matter and
their combat a "reason of state".
The Bush administration continued Reagan’s policy and intensified the
pressure on some Latin American governments to militarise the "war on
drugs". That was the case in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia (74). In Mexico,
things were different, but not for too long. On October 23, 1995, William
Perry, Secretary of the Department of Defence, and general Barry McCaffrey
– Commander-in-Chief of the U.S.A. Armed Forces Southern Command
co-ordinating all national security operations in Latin America at the
time, and confirmed by the U.S.A. Senate as the Director of the White
House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) on 29 February 1996 –
visited Mexican Secretary of Defence, general Enrique Cervantes Aguirre in
Mexico. Perry said Mexico and the U.S.A. already had political and
economic ties, but that the "third link" was lacking: the military. He
announced five co-operation areas, among them one concerning
anti-narcotics operations. By 1996, almost a thousand soldiers had
received special training in counter-narcotics tactics in the U.S.A. The
militarisation of drug combat and public security had just begun (75).
From November 1995, to September 1996, 72 soldiers were designated as
PJF agents in a "pilot experiment" in Chihuahua (76). They failed
in their mission to apprehend Amado Carrillo and were sent to fight the
EPR guerrilla group in Guerrero. Other military occupied leading positions
in the PGR structure, as high ranking officials, representatives in the
states, and PJF agents. General Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo was designated
chief of the INCD on 6 December 1996. He had been Commander of the 9th
Military Zone in Culiacán, and of the 15th Military Zone in Guadalajara,
two cities where many big drug traffickers liked to live. He lasted two
months in that position. On 18 February 1996, the Secretary of Defence
made an astonishing announcement: general Gutiérrez had been protecting
Amado Carrillo, and had been discovered and apprehended (77). He was sent
to Almoloya and sentenced to thirteen years for arms stocking and
transportation (78). Not
everything of which he was accused has been proven yet. There are still
many puzzle pieces that don’t fit. As many analysts warned and predicted,
drug corruption, or suspicion of corruption and involvement, would not
spare the military.
The placement of illicit money into the legal economy is an old
practice in the world of crime. At the end of the seventies and the
beginning of the eighties, drug traffickers deposited cases of cash in
American banks without any problem. They transferred the money to Colombia
or to fiscal paradises throughout the world. In 1986, the U.S.A.
government approved laws requiring banks to report every deposit of ten
thousand dollars or more (79). The United
Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and
Psychotropic Substances of 1988 proposed to consider money laundering as a
serious criminal offence, recommended national governments not to use bank
secrecy as an alibi to impede legal acts against it, and asked for
international co-operation. In December 1988, the Committee on Bank
Regulations and Supervision Practices, formed by central banks
representatives and supervising authorities from Belgium, France, Canada,
Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, Great
Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States, adopted a resolution
to prevent the criminal use of the bank system for money laundering
purposes. On July 1989, the G-7 and the president of the European
Community Commission established in Paris the Financial Action Task Force
to combat money laundering. They proposed 40 recommendations concerning
the enhancement of legal national systems, the reinforcement of the
financial system, and international co-operation.
A report of the Department of State in 1996 (80) remarked on
the inadequate controls of Mexico’s banking and financial system to avoid
money laundering. Mexico was perceived as one of the most important money
laundering centres in the Western Hemisphere. U.S.A. pressure on drug
production and drug related corruption would continue, sooner or later, on
legislation reforms. Mexican officials discussed the need for laws on
organised crime and money laundering since 1995. In 1995, working groups
from the PGR and the U.S.A. Attorney General’s Office met four times to
arrange co-operation agreements on law enforcement and mutual legal help.
PGR, INCD, and Army officials received assistance and technical advice
from the U.S.A. government. The federal Law against Organized Crime,
November 7, 1996, became the legal frame for the decisions taken by the
Secretariat of the Treasury and Public Credit concerning the "recycling of
resources of illicit origin" (81). The new
criteria obliged financial institutions to register "relevant operations",
meaning operations of ten thousand dollars or more.
In November 1995, Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, calculated that the
world’s money laundering was something between $300 and $600 billion a
year. In the U.S.A. the figure was $100 billion from drug trafficking (82). Richard
Small, from the Federal Reserve, said the U.S.A. was the first money
launderer in the world. He calculated a figure of $100-300 billion a year
for that country (83). PGR
officials estimated Mexican traffickers profits to be $30 billion in 1994
times the oil revenues the same year, 7.1% of the GNP, and almost five
times the international reserves). U.S.A. authorities figures were $8-30
billion a year circulating in Mexican banks in 1996 (85) (2.38-8.96%
of the GNP).
Since money laundering became a political issue, U.S.A. and Mexican
officials have frequently accused each other’s country of being a paradise
for this kind of illegal business. Impossible to calculate on a scientific
basis, speculations about the amount of dirty money circulating in the
local or world economy have been used as a political weapon. The U.S.A.
government has used controversial ways to prove money laundering
activities in other countries. A recent example was "Operation
Casablanca", a three-year undercover operation led by the U.S.A. Customs
Service, a "six-country money-laundering investigation involving Mexican
banks and drug-smuggling cartels" (86) from Cali
and Ciudad Juárez. For the Treasury Department, it was "the culmination of
the largest, most comprehensive drug money-laundering case in the history
of U.S.A. law enforcement.'' They arrested 112 people and seized $35
million in "illegal drug proceeds". The banks implicated were Bancomer,
Confía, and Serfín. People arrested worked for those banks and others such
as Banamex, Bital, Banoro, Banpaís, Banorte, Promex, Santander, Banco
Bilbao Vizcaya, Bancrecer, Interacciones, Unión, etc (87). U.S.A.
Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin said: "By infiltrating the highest levels
of ... international drug trafficking..., customs was able to crack the
elaborate financial schemes the drug traffickers developed to launder the
tremendous volumes of cash acquired as proceeds from their deadly trade''.
From the U.S.A. perspective it was a success. For Carlos Gómez y Gómez,
president of the National Bankers Association, it was not a proof of
banks’ policy but of individual deviant actions. U.S.A. officials from the
White House, the Department of State and even the DEA, said they were not
informed about the operation until the last moment (88). President
Zedillo replied it was a violation of bilateral agreements and sovereignty
added that he would try to have the U.S.A. agents extradited for trial in
Mexico. Trent Lott, the U.S.A. Senate majority leader, sent a tough letter
to Zedillo criticising his position and intention (90). Rosario
Green, Secretary of International Relations said confidence and
co-operation were damaged. She urged the parties to talk and re-establish
confidence and co-operation (91). Diplomatic
notes and protests from different social groups did not change anything.
The U.S.A. government maintained its position and would not assure that no
further undercover operations would be launched again.
Drug seizure, destruction and
Based on PGR, Army and Navy figures, it has always been easier to
calculate drug destruction than production. Eradication of marijuana since
the late sixties can be estimated at more than one thousand hectares per
year between 1970 and 1983, more than ten thousand in 1984, 1986, 1987,
1989 (92), and
more than twenty thousand in 1995 when cultivated hectares were estimated
to 21,573, and 9,498 the total amount of the harvested area (93). For the
same period, eradication of opium poppy plants were more than a thousand
hectares since 1967 with some peaks of more than ten thousand during
Operation Condor (1975-1977), in the aftermath of Camarena’s murder
(1985-1986) (94), and
continuing in 1995 with 15,389 hectares eradicated, 22,864 cultivated, and
7,270 harvested (95).
Cocaine seizures were symbolic – less than ten kilos – until 1970. They
represented more than a hundred kilos a year as of 1971, except 1979, 1980
and 1981, but more than four tons as of 1985, more than ten in 1987-1988,
more than thirty in 1989 and 1991, almost 50 tons in 1990 (96), and 46.9
tons in 1994-1996 (97). Cocaine
seizures (1994-1996) in states in order of importance were as follows:
Sinaloa (1994); Quintana Roo, Sinaloa, Chiapas, Baja California, Sonora,
and D.F. (1995); and Tamaulipas, Baja California, Veracruz, Durango, Baja
California Sur, and Chihuahua (1996) (98). The most
important marijuana seizures (1994-1996): Michoacán, Chihuahua, Sinaloa,
Durango, and Jalisco (producers); Oaxaca, Colima, Sonora, Baja California,
and Tamaulipas (trafficking) (99). Main poppy
producers: Guerrero, Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua, Nayarit in a second
level, and, less important, Oaxaca, in the limits with Guerrero and
Chiapas (100). Heroin
trafficking routes (1995-1996): from Jalisco, Guerrero, Nayarit, Sinaloa,
Durango and Michoacán to Baja California; from Sinaloa, Nayarit and
Michoacán to Sonora; and from Guerrero and Michoacán to Tamaulipas. The
detected routes for opium trafficking begin in Guerrero and D.F. to Baja
California. Tijuana, Mexicali and Ensenada, in Baja California, are the
more dynamic cities in heroin trafficking (101).
Methamphetamine seizures: Baja California, México and Jalisco, the most
important, but also Sonora, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Nayarit, Sinaloa and
Durango (102). Today,
the states of Chihuahua, Guerrero, Durango, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit,
Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Sonora and Veracruz, produce 99 % of drugs in Mexico (103).
The first national addiction survey in Mexico was made in 1988 (104) and
financed by the Secretariat of Health and the narcotics bureau of the
U.S.A. Embassy in Mexico. Marijuana, inhalants and tranquilizers were the
most important drugs, along with tobacco and alcohol. Compared to the
consumption in the U.S.A., the rate in Mexico was less than one tenth for
each drug and age group. A second survey was made in 1993 (105). Urban
population aged 12-65 years old (3.9% of the urban population) declared
having used illicit drugs, inhalants included, at least once. On the
northern border, Tijuana is ranked first in drug use. In 1988, cocaine use
was 0.14%, in 1993 it was 0.3%. Mexicali, Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez were
the cities where more patients attended by the Centros de Integración
Juvenil-CIJ (1995) declared having used cocaine. According to the 1993
survey, heroin use is very low. Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez are mentioned.
CIJ statistics include Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, Mexicali, Chihuahua,
Culiacán and Hermosillo. Marijuana use was 2.9% in 1988, and 3.3% in 1993.
Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez appeared again as the most important cities. CIJ
reports cases, not very sensitive at the national level, of
methamphetamine use in Tijuana, Mexicali, Culiacán and Toluca. Crack is
also rare and has been reported in Baja California, Estado de México and
The history of the business of the century, the social agents who made
it possible, their values and their mythology were aspects known only by
the drug traffickers themselves, some policemen and few others. Decades of
profitable commerce and impunity, or more precisely official protection,
as well as the expansion of the drug market and the number of traffickers
were the background that inspired some corrido norteño composers to
record, in a way no one had ever done before, the modern history of drug
trafficking (106). These
corrido composers expressed a point of view generally closer to
that of the traffickers themselves. Some composed by request and for
monetary reasons, while others simply interpreted common people’s
perceptions. Through their songs, they contributed to accelerating the
traffickers' process of self-consciousness. The first corrido about
drug smuggling dates from the late 40s and was composed by Manuel C.
Entitled "Carga Blanca", its subject was heroin smuggling. However, the
first traffickers’ corrido ever registered by the Mexico’s Authors
and Composers Society was created about 50 years after the prohibition of
marijuana and poppy, and was entitled "La Banda del Carro Rojo" (The Red
Car Band) by Paulino Vargas. The lyrics mentioned "a hundred kilos of
coca". The combination of music and oral history became the traffickers'
socio-odyssey, a symbolic production that challenged the official
discourse on drugs and drug traffickers – though not necessarily in a
conscious way – and marked the beginning of the end of the State monopoly
of such discourse.
The history of men and women working in the drug business along the
U.S.A.-Mexico border was the principal subject of the first
corridos. Later on, other musical styles such as the tambora
sinaloense and the mariachi were adopted as vehicles to tell
stories concerning the lives, deaths, adventures, and the ethical codes
shared by drug traffickers and other social groups living in the regions
where cultivation of poppy and marijuana pre-dated prohibition. Neither
local nor national demand was the principal reason for becoming an outlaw
or an entrepreneur in the drug business. Those involved produced for the
international market, mainly for U.S.A. consumers, due to the high prices
paid for marijuana, poppy and their derivatives. In the states of Sonora,
Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango, the cultivation of these plants became a
way of life for many families beginning in the early 1920s, particularly
in the mountains. The corrido norteño tradition was already a part
of their culture, so when new themes appeared they were immediately
assimilated as important elements of their social history. In fact, the
majority of the most famous Mexican drug traffickers, past and present,
were born in the Northwest, predominantly in Sinaloa. The history of drug
trafficking in Mexico cannot be understood without recognising the role
played by Sinaloans in the drug business. A great number of
corridos are, therefore, related to persons, places and stories
from Sinaloa. The tambora, a local and very popular style of music, has
also been adopted by composers who have introduced lyrics about drug
traffickers. And, last but not least, the exodus of Sinaloans to Jalisco
in the mid-seventies as a result of "Operation Condor," may explain why
mariachi, popular music from Jalisco, has also been used to tell
Given the criminalisation of some drugs traffic, one might assume that
traffickers would try to erase every single detail that might reveal their
operations. Instead, traffickers as a social group have been notoriously
conspicuous, a strategy that could be viewed as self-incriminating, if not
suicidal, under other circumstances. The self-confidence this strategy
suggests is not a product of the spontaneous discovery of an emblematic
identity, rather it is the product of a process of identity construction.
The traffickers’ self-consciousness developed in tandem with their
exploitation of the miraculous power of money which allowed them to
clearly discern what separates the legitimate from the illegitimate, and
to gauge the morality of different groups within conventional society.
The traffickers’ atomised and anonymous clandestine status of earlier
times has given way to the formation of a wider, more visible and
hierarchic group whose illegal economic activities are highly profitable
for those who succeed and remain alive and free. Corridos do not
reflect this period of transition: rather, their lyrics reflect the
group’s consolidation. Traffickers’ corridos contributed to
amplifying and projecting the self-esteem of the group, but they emerged
after the traffickers’ activities were already largely tolerated – that
is, officially protected – and when traffickers were socially recognised
and accepted by other groups. Colombians imported traffickers
corridos tradition to their country, with norteño and mariachi
music. They have also adopted some Mexican music traditions (108).
In Mexico, as in many other countries, drugs such as opiates, cocaine
and marijuana were commonly used, generally for medical reasons, until the
beginning of the twentieth century, when prohibition laws came into being.
An eugenic discourse to protect the "race" was developed to convince the
general public that the government was acting to preserve them from a
danger of which they were not conscious. Health officials exaggerated the
figures concerning drug addicts, repeating arguments heard in other
countries that were based on speculation and not on scientific research.
There was also a xenophobic argument in the anti-drug discourse.
Government officials accused Chinese immigrants of having imported poppy
plants and opium-use into Mexico. Most of the drug traffickers arrested in
Mexico in the aftermath of the Harrison Narcotics Act were of Chinese
origin. Chinese pogroms during the first three decades of the century
reduced their possibilities of consolidating organizations.
Drug trafficking in Mexico began as a response to U.S.A. opium demand.
Production areas and border cities were key places where a new social
group emerged. The business was profitable enough to attract the interest
of mighty politicians. People who tried autonomous strategies for
smuggling did not last very long or just survived modestly. Big business
needed official protection. Already at the start, drug traffickers
depended upon other political economy players. Every time there was a drug
scandal, governors from producer or border states were the first in line
to be suspected of being involved. Information from Mexican and U.S.A.
archives gives support to the idea that newspaper notes identifying
northern governors were well-founded. In the logic of the
post-revolutionary political system, governors’ freedom to do any kind of
business, legal or illegal, was limited by the president’s will and their
own ethical inclinations.
The power of the presidency, the monopoly of politics by the state
party, the subordination of the legislative and judicial spheres to the
executive, and the lack of organized political opposition, created the
conditions for developing drug trafficking from within the power
structure. Before the Second World War, not a single suspected governor
was ever formally accused or investigated. However, in the aftermath of
the war when disputes arose between elite political groups, the drug issue
was used to damage a governor’s image. Nothing was proved because there
were no formal accusations, nor any investigation, just political
negotiations. Suspicions remained in the public opinion.
Controlled, protected or tolerated by the political power, drug
trafficking continued to function under a new scheme. New social agents
were included in an official attempt to reduce drug production and
trafficking. There were more players in every camp, and more money.
Without any changes in the political system and a growing demand for drugs
in the U.S.A., it seems that PJF and DFS agents, as well as the military
who had more responsibilities in drug destruction campaigns, were
simultaneously fighting to contain drug trafficking, helping smugglers
supply the demand, controlling them to restrain their autonomy, and
getting a share of the profits – all this in exchange for their mediation
role between drug traffickers and the political power, their silence and
their disposition to serve as scapegoats to protect their political
masters. That mediation scheme was weakened when DEA agent Enrique
Camarena was murdered by drug traffickers and police agents who were on
their payroll. As a response to U.S.A. pressure, president De la Madrid
dismantled the DFS, a very important political elite’s protection shield.
Mexican Governors and secretaries of state were accused by U.S.A.
officials of being involved in Camarena’s murder and drug trafficking.
During the Cold War, the DFS espionage services were very useful for the
U.S.A. government. For many years DFS illegal activities were never
publicly criticised by the American government. U.S.A. drug policy and
Camarena’s murder changed the honeymoon. However, the PJF structure
remained, and so did another important element of the mediation scheme.
The formation of the most important drug trafficking organizations in
Mexico can be traced back to the 20s, when prohibition laws provoked an
immediate response from poppy cultivators in north-western states,
especially in Sinaloa. The region became the centre of drug business and a
source of trafficking expertise, a know-how transmitted through
generations. Born and raised among poppy and marijuana plants, some
north-western peasants and people of urban origin with leadership
capabilities were transformed into drug smuggling entrepreneurs (the
Sinaloans, for example). The demand for their products, and the police and
political protection, multiplied the number of producers in other regions.
However, time in the business and expertise, and perhaps more solid and
long-lasting political protection, were comparative advantages which made
these dealers more powerful than others (a kind of oligopoly), even today
and despite the alleged official support to a north-eastern organization
(Juan García Abrego’s) during president Salinas’ administration.
An important poppy and marijuana producer, and a transit country for
cocaine, Mexico’s illegal drugs users figures are not very impressive when
compared to those of the U.S.A., whose demand has usually been the main
incentive for Mexican cultivators and traffickers. The two national
surveys on addictions and CIJ data show changing and relative growing
tendencies in drug use, specially in the most populated cities, producer
regions and border cities. Supporting prevention and addiction treatment
policies would help to curb the actual trends and keep them at a
manageable level. National drug policy considers repression of drug
trafficking a more important and urgent issue.
On both sides of the Mexico-U.S.A. border, a popular tradition mixing
oral history and a certain style of music developed, starting in the
nineteenth century: the corrido. These versified stories about a
wide variety of events, usually written from a popular point of view,
became a sort of people’s newspaper. Drug traffickers’ corridos had
an immediate effect on the public of northern states when they appeared on
the popular music market in the mid-70s. Prohibited for a long time, drug
trafficking and traffickers were not perceived for many years as an
interesting or legitimate subject for corrido composers, although
there were exceptions to the rule. There used to be a certain composers’
moral self-control, a conscious or unconscious refusal to talk of an
illegal business, its history and social agents. In regions of
cultivation, trafficking places and border cities, perceptions were
transformed over the years. People learned to live with outlaws, who
became a part of the "normal" life. Stories about traffickers told in
corridos were also stories of conventional society which
simultaneously criticised their criminal behaviour and tolerated their
economic and social integration. Traffickers’ corridos succeeded
when the "normalisation" process was in the stage of consolidation.
Economic fortunes, legal entrepreneurial activities, and political
relations were elements of social respectability that could be achieved by
illegal means. These social transmutations were visible to many people.
Traffickers’ corridos reproduced parts of this process in a direct
and simple language.
According to common sense perception, drug traffickers in Mexico have
become so powerful that they have "penetrated" the protective shield of
official institutions whose purpose is to fight them. Historical research
in the Mexican case does not support the assumption of two separate
fields: drug trafficking and its agents, on one side, and the State on the
other. Moreover, since the beginning of prohibition, the illegal trade
appeared related to powerful political agents in the production and
trafficking regions. Cultivators and wholesale smugglers were not
autonomous players; their success depended on political protection. They
did not buy politicians; rather, politicians obliged them to pay a sort of
"tax". If they didn’t pay, their business was over. The power was on the
political side. Politicians decided who, when, where and how. Drug
trafficking was supported from within the power structure. How could drug
traffickers have penetrated a political structure that created and
protected them, a political structure they were subordinated to? They were
The strategies of political control on drug trafficking have changed
throughout the years. Before the 1940s, governors of producing and
trafficking states had the power to control illegal business in their
territories. After 1947, anti-drug agents and the military had direct
responsibility in fighting traffickers and the possibility of being
institutional mediators between traffickers and political power. Neither
traffickers nor mediators were autonomous: they were both subordinated to
political power. The cracking down of the ancient regime has provoked
cascade effects on the different levels of the power structure pyramid.
Lethal disputes among the state party political families have disrupted
the mechanisms of political control over institutional mediations between
traffickers and political power. Institutional mediators (police and
military) and traffickers can now be more autonomous than ever and capable
of playing for their own interests. A political pact for a democratic
transition would help to prevent the negative effects of a collapsing
system and increase the probabilities for keeping the social control,
under different conditions, of drug trafficking, considering the realistic
impossibility of eradicating drugs from the planet and stopping once and
forever the curiosity and appetite of human beings for mind-altering
- Luis Astorga, El siglo de las
drogas, México, Espasa-Calpe Mexicana, 1996, pp. 15-28.
- Ricardo Pérez Montfort
(coordinador), Alberto del Castillo y Pablo Piccato, Hábitos, normas
y escándalo. Prensa , criminalidad y drogas durante el porfiriato
tardío, México, Ciesas-Plaza y Valdés, 1997, pp. 152-54.
- See: Alfonso Luis Velasco,
"Geografía y Estadística del Estado de Sinaloa", en Geografía y
Estadística de la República Mexicana, t. II, México, Oficina
Tipográfica de la Secretaría de Fomento, 1889, pp.12-13, 20-46,
reproducido en Sergio Ortega y Edgardo López Mañón (compiladores),
Sinaloa: textos de su historia, México, vol. 2, Instituto de
Investigaciones José María Luis Mora, 1987, p.143.
- Congreso Constituyente 1916-1917,
Diario de Debates, t. II, México, INEHRM, 1985, pp. 641,
- General Records of the Department of
State, Record Group 59, 812.114 Narcotics/12-22, United States National
Archives II, College Park, Maryland. See also: Joseph Richard Werne,
"Esteban Cantú y la soberanía mexicana en Baja California", en
Historia Mexicana, n° 117, vol. XXX, julio-septiembre de 1980
(1), pp. 1-32.
- Diario Oficial, 03/15/1920;
La Farmacia, June, 1926.
- La Voz de Sinaloa,
- David F. Musto, "Opium, cocaine and
marijuana in american history", in Scientific American, July,
1991, pp. 24-27.
- John C. McWilliams, The
Protectors.Harry J. Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of
Narcotics, 1930-1962, Newark, University of Delaware Press, 1990,
- El Universal,
- Confidential Memorandum, Department
of Public Health, México, D.F., 06/16/1931, in Social Security
Historical Archive (AHSS), Public Health Fund (FSP), Legal Service
Section (SSJ), Box 28, file 6.; Report of Juan Requena to the Public
Health Department Chief, México, D.F., July 20, 1931, in AHSS, FSP, SSJ,
Box 28, file 6.
- Report of Dr. Bernardo Bátiz B.,
Sanitary Delegate in Baja California, to Dr. Demetrio López, Chemistry
and Pharmacy Service Chief, Department of Health, Mexicali, B.C.,
08/19/1931, in AHSS, FSP, SSJ, box 28, file 8.
- Report of Juan N. Requena...,
op. cit.; El Universal Gráfico (afternoon edition),
12/16/1937; La Prensa, 05/09/1936.
- El Universal, 02/23, 25,
- Excélsior, 11/14-17, 19, 22,
23, 25/1947; El Universal, 11/10-18/1947.
- Oral communication, Culiacán,
Sinaloa, June 1998.
- Manuel Lazcano Ochoa, Una vida
en la vida sinaloense, Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Talleres Gráficos de la
Universidad de Occidente, 1992, p.113.
- Roderic Ai Camp, Mexican
Political Biographies, 1935-1975, The University of Arizona Press,
1976, p. 195; La Voz de Sinaloa, 03/31/1951.
- General Records of the Department
of State, Report of the Assistant Military Attaché on the National
Security Police of Mexico (confidential, n° 4543), Embassy of the United
States of America, Mexico, D.F., 09/04/1947, Record Group 59,
812.05/9-447, U.S.A. National Archives II, College Park, Md.
- See: Manuel Lazcano Ochoa, Una
vida..., op. cit., pp. 198-247. The author was Attorney
General of Sinaloa three times: in the forties, the sixties and the
- La Voz de Sinaloa,
- El Diario de Culiacán,
02/08, 03/02, 06/18, 07/12/ 1950.
- Excélsior, 09/10/1956;
Novedades, 08/19/ 1957.
- La Palabra,
- La Voz de Sinaloa, 03/27,
04/02/1953; Efraín González, Crónicas de la aviación en Sinaloa,
Culiacán, Difocur, 1994, pp. 102, 109-110.
- Novedades, 03/17/1960; El
- El Universal,
- La Voz de Sinaloa,
- El Nacional,
- La Voz de Sinaloa,
- La Voz de Sinaloa,
- La Voz de Sinaloa, 06/18,
- La Voz de Sinaloa,
- La Voz de Sinaloa,
- For a detailed description of
Operation Condor see: Richard Craig, "Operation Condor". Mexico’s
Anti-drug Campaign Enters a New Era", in Journal of Interamerican
Studies and World Affairs, vol. 22, n° 3, August 1980, pp.
- Excélsior, 06/17/78,
06/04/1979; Proceso, 10/09/1978, n° 101.
- Elaine Shannon, Desperados.Latin
drug lords, U.S.A. lawmen and the war America can’t win, New York,
Viking, p. 115.
- R. Craig, "Operation..., op.
- The information for this chapter is
synthesized from numerous sources: E. Shannon, Desperados...,
op. cit.; Proceso, N° 420, 433-437, 439, 440-444, 449,
512, 599, 601, 603, 621, 672, 686, 689, 690, 692, 703, 704, 707, 708,
787, 816, 841-844, 854.
- See: Laurence Bergreen, Capone.
The Man and the Era, New York, Touchstone, 1996.
- Report of Juan Requena to ...,
- El Universal, April 14,
- Dr. Bernardo Bátiz B., Health
Delegate in Baja California, to Dr. Demetrio López, Chief of Pharmacy
and Chemistry Service, Health Department, Mexicali, B.C., August 19,
1931, AHSS, FSP, SSJ, box 28, file 8.
- Alfred W. McCoy, The politics of
heroin. CIA complicity in the global drug trade, Chicago, Lawrence
Hill Books, 1991.
- Harry J. Anslinger, William F.
Tompkins, The traffic in narcotics, New York, Arno Press, 1981,
- Novedades, May 14, 1962; Ed
Reid, La Bella y la Mafia, México, Editorial Diana, 1973.
- Proceso, n° 650.
- Again, the most important sources
for the reconstruction of criminal trajectories are E. Shannon, op.
cit., and the weekly magazine Proceso.
- See: Eduardo Valle, El segundo
disparo. La narcodemocracia mexicana, México, Océano, 1995; Yolanda
Figueroa, El Capo del Golfo. Vida y captura de Juan García
Abrego, México, Grijalbo, 1996.
- For a detailed analysis of Posada’s
case see: Fernando M. González, Una historia sencilla: la muerte
accidental de un cardenal, México, UNAM-Plaza y Valdés, 1996.
- Carlos Fazio, El tercer vínculo.
De la teoría del caos a la teoría de la militarización, México,
Joaquín Mortiz, 1996, p. 116.
- Eduardo Valle, El
segundo..., op. cit., p.131.
- Terrence E. Poppa, El zar de la
droga, México, Selector, 1990, pp. 277-294.
- Elaine Shannon, Desperados,
New York, Viking, 1988, pp. 418-19.
- La Jornada, September 23,
1994, March 29, 1995, June 23, 1995; Proceso, n° 58, March
- La Jornada, January 18,
- See: NNICC 1996 Report,
- T. Poppa, El zar..., op.
- La Jornada, February 19,
- Roy Godson, "Threats to
U.S.A.-Mexican Border Security", Testimony before the Committee on the
Judiciary, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims, U.S.A. House of
Representatives, April 23, 1997, p.5.
- Proceso, n° 1082,
- Reforma, July 8, 11, 15,
1997; El Financiero, July 6, 1977; The Miami Herald,
September 9, 1997.
- La Jornada, September 20,
- See the FBI’s home page:
- See for example: Zeta, March
- María Celia Toro, Mexico’s "war"
on drugs. Causes and consequences, Boulder, Lynne Rienner
Publishers, Inc., 1995, pp. 12-13.
- Richard Craig, "La Campaña
Permanente. Mexico’s Anti-drug Campaign", in Journal of Interamerican
Studies and World Affairs, vol. 20, n° 2, May 1978, p. 109.
- Ibid., pp. 109-110, 116,
- Richard Craig, "Operation
Condor"..., op. cit.
- Bruce Michel Bagley, "After San
Antonio", in Bruce M. Bagley, William O. Walker III, (editors), Drug
trafficking in the Americas, Miami, North-South Center Press,
University of Miami, 1996, p.61.
- Timothy J. Dunn, The
militarization of the U.S.A.-Mexico border, 1978-1992: low intensity
conflict comes home, Austin, The Center for Mexican American
Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, 1996, p.25.
- Bruce M. Bagley, "After...", op.
cit., p. 64.
- Carlos Fazio, El tercer...,
op. cit., pp. 178-189.
- Proceso, November 24,
- La Jornada, February 19,
- La Jornada, March 4,
- Report of special agent Harold D.
Wankel, DEA Chief of Operations, DEA, U.S.A. Department of Justice,
before the House Banking and Financial Committee. Regarding: money
laundering by drug trafficking organizations, February 28, 1996.
- Department of State, Report on the
International Strategy on Narcotics Control, Department of International
Narcotics Affairs and Law Enforcement, March 1996.
- Diario Oficial, November 7,
1996; March 10, 1997.
- La Jornada, December 1,
- Proceso, May 20,
- Excélsior, November 5,
- La Jornada, September 6,
- Dave Skidmore (AP), "112 arrested
in drug, money laundering bust", Boston Globe Online,
- La Jornada, 05/19/98.
- La Jornada, 05/28/98.
- El Financiero,
- The Washington Post,
06/10/98; Reforma, 06/09/98
- La Jornada, 05/29/98.
- See: María Celia Toro,
Mexico’s..., op. cit., p.19.
- Secretaría de Relaciones
Exteriores, México y Estados Unidos ante el problema de las drogas.
Estudio-Diagnóstico Conjunto, México, Formación Gráfica, S.A. de
C.V., May 1997.
- M. Celia Toro, Mexico’s...,
op. cit., p. 20.
- Secretaría de Relaciones
Exteriores, México..., op. cit., p. 104.
- M. Celia Toro, Mexico’s...,
op. cit., p. 33.
- Secretaría de Relaciones
Exteriores, México..., op. cit., p. 99.
- Ibid., p. 99.
- Ibid., p. 111.
- Ibid., p. 103.
- Ibid., p. 102.
- Ibid., p. 108.
- Ibid., p. 113.
- For more details on this survey
and the figures in this section see: Arturo Ortiz y Martha Romero,
"Panorama del consumo de drogas en México", in Ana Josefina Alvarez
Gómez (comp.), Tráfico y consumo de drogas. Una visión
alternativa, México, UNAM-ENEP Acatalán, 1991, pp. 349-376; María
Elena Medina Mora y María del Carmen Mariño, "El abuso de la droga en
América Latina", in Peter H. Smith (comp.), El combate a las drogas
en América Latina, México, FCE, pp. 86-99.
- Secretaría de Relaciones
Exteriores, México..., op. cit., pp. 27-29.
- See: Luis Astorga, Mitología
del ‘narcotraficante’ en México, México, UNAM-Plaza y Valdés,
- Oral communication, James
Nicolopulos, Los Angeles, Ca., 06/05/98.
- Luis Astorga, "Los corridos
de traficantes de drogas en México y Colombia", in Revista Mexicana
de Sociología (RMS), n° 4, 1997, pp. 245-261.
About the authorLuís Astorga, sociologist, is
a researcher at the Institute of Social Research of the National
Autonomous University of Mexico, (IIS-UNAM)He is currently working on the
project "Traffic and drug traffickers in the Mexican northern borders",
and is a network member of the MOST/UNDCP Project "Economic and Social
Transformations connected with the International Drug Problem". He is the
author of Mitología del "narcotraficante" en México (UNAM-Plaza y
Valdés, 1995) and El siglo de las drogas, México (Espasa-Calpe
The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors
and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO.
The designations employed and the presentation of material
throughout the publication do not imply the expression of any opinion
whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any
country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning its
frontiers or boundaries.