This 176-page report documents nearly 250 “disappearances” during the administration of former President Felipe Calderón, from December 2006 to December 2012. In 149 of those cases, Human Rights Watch found compelling evidence of enforced disappearances, involving the participation of state agents.
Mexico is the Latin American country that has bore the highest costs from the War on Drugs, suffering from high national rates of violence, corruption in state institutions, and an increase in the power of organised crime groups. As with other countries in the region, implementation of a prohibitionist drug law approach has had the adverse effect of increasing the number of people held in prison for minor drug offences. This page summarises the latest developments in the debate on drug law and drug policy in Mexico.
The story of the Mexican drug war has generally focused on the violence perpetrated by drug cartels and the apparent inability to bring so many criminals to justice. Unfortunately—while it’s true many have evaded justice—there remain many more people who use drugs and those with very low levels of involvement in the drug trade, who have been swept up in recent crackdowns.
Carlos Alberto Zamudio Angles, Lluvia Castillo Ortega
23 October 2012
The principal motivation for implementing this survey was the lack of existing information regarding the relationship between drug users and their social networks. There is a lack of quality indicators that provide detailed information regarding the consumption of drugs, particularly when faced with the traditional dichotomy of user-addict. This dichotomy fails to see the complexity of the consumption of illegal drugs and reiterates the notion that the drug using population will inevitably move into addiction, thus ignoring the diversity of existing patterns of consumption.
Mexico is currently undergoing one of the worst crises in its history in terms of violence and insecurity. This crisis is directly related to the strengthening of organized crime in Mexico associated with drug trafficking, the divisions within the leading drug trafficking cartels, and their diversification. All this has resulted in a bloody struggle to control the key markets for the trafficking routes. The response of the Calderón administration has been a “war on organized crime” with two key elements: the growing use of the armed forces in public security tasks, and legal reforms aimed at more effectively fighting organized crime and, in particular, those involved in the trafficking, commerce, and supply of drugs.
Beau Kilmer, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Brittany M. Bond, Peter H. Reuter
13 October 2010
The United States’ demand for illicit drugs creates markets for Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and helps foster violence in Mexico. Some government and media sources have reported that Mexican and Colombian DTOs combined earn $18–$39 billion annually in wholesale drug proceeds and 60 percent of all Mexican DTO drug export revenue comes from marijuana. These numbers have been cited to argue that legalizing marijuana in California would reduce Mexican DTOs’ revenues, thereby reducing violence.
Residents in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, are caught between the drug-related violence and the human rights violations committed by the security forces. The report focuses on human rights violations that occurred in Ciudad Juarez in the context of Joint Operation Chihuahua, which began in March 2008. The five cases described in the report involve acts of torture, forced disappearance and sexual harassment of women by Mexican soldiers deployed in Ciudad Juarez.
In August 2010, Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared that he would support a national debate on the issue of legalisation, reversing his previous stance on the subject. However, he underscored that he did not favour legalisation, particularly since the US and the international community maintained their prohibitionist approach. This IDPC Briefing Paper offers background information on the cannabis political debate in Mexico.
Over the years, the Mexican government has adopted increasingly heavy prison sentences and militarized drug policies to confront drug trafficking. The result has been an increase of vulnerable populations in Mexico’s prisons, but no impact on the drug trade or violence.
In August 2009, Mexico adopted a new law against small-scale drug dealing, which introduces some significant advances in key subjects, such as the recognising of and distinguishing between user, drug addict and dealer. However it still has significant flaws in continuing to treat demand and supply of drugs as a criminal and market phenomenon that are likely to undermine its successful application.