HomeNewsAnalysisCartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars
ANALYSIS

Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars

MEXICO / 30 SEP 2011 BY NATHAN JONES EN

Despite its inflammatory title, "Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico's Drug Wars" is a thoughtful text, which warns not of a literal invasion of cartel gunmen, but of the insidious spread of corruption over the border.

Take the book's presentation with a grain of salt and keep in the back of your mind that the publisher needed a “sexy” title in order to sell books. Then read this colloquially written primer, and appreciate its achievement in addressing a broad and controversial topic in plain language.

This book is an excellent introduction for someone new to the subject of Mexican drug trafficking. It makes up for its lack of depth in specific topics with its breadth on large policy questions, including discussions of legalization/regulation of marijuana, and revisiting the U.S. legislation (the Tiahrt Amendment) that ties the hands of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in its efforts to prevent the flow of guns south.

In an interview with InSight Crime, Longmire clarified her view that “invasion” did not mean a “war of the worlds” style invasion of the U.S. by Mexican cartels. Rather, the invasion she refers to is the subtle and insidious growth of Mexican drug cartels’ corrupting influence on U.S. law enforcement, and a slow increase of spillover violence.

Longmire is a former intelligence analyst with the U.S. Air Force who has become a consultant on Mexican security issues and asylum cases. Appropriately, her most important contributions are in describing the “tactics, techniques and procedures” of Mexican cartels. Particularly enlightening is her chapter on kidnapping, which details the actual procedures used to kidnap, both in the U.S. and in Mexico. She contrasts Mexican cartel procedures with those of Colombian criminal groups, concluding that the Mexican cartels use higher levels of violence and are more erratic.

However, her discussion of Los Palillos, a spin-off kidnap cell of the Arellano Felix Organization, is illuminating in describing the how of kidnappings but lacks the who. The majority of Los Palillos kidnap victims were targeted AFO members in the United States following an internal feud in 2002, according to the New York Times. Leaving out this crucial point threatens to contribute to the alarmist rhetoric on spillover violence. The average American, uninvolved in trafficking, is still not a target.

Longmire argues for the exploration of “regulatory options for the production, sale and distribution of marijuana in the United States.” This is surprising given her earlier New York Times op-ed piece headline “Legalizing Marijuana Won’t Kill the Cartels.” In the book she develops a more nuanced position which includes demand-side strategies like “public awareness campaigns for underage and adult marijuana users.” While Longmire overemphasizes the importance of border security as part of the problem, the book provides an accessible primer to the policy issues involved in the deteriorating Mexican security situation, and its implications for the U.S.

"Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars," Sylvia Longmire, Palgrave Macmillan.
Released September 27

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

CHILE / 25 AUG 2021

A series of seizures and drug raids across Latin America have revealed how previously niche high-strength marijuana products are establishing…

MEXICO / 29 OCT 2012

According to a study which used Google searches to map the activity of drug cartels in Mexico, these…

MERIDA INITIATIVE / 13 OCT 2011

InSight Co-director Steven Dudley talks to Southern Pulse Director Sam Logan about the capture of Carlos Oliva…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…