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The Mexican Drug War / April 14, 2010
By Pancho Montana


Hey there drug war fans, I got some statistics to throw your way. While you gringos pay attention to the unemployment rate and foreclosure statistics, we here in Mexico track the national kill count—how many people died, who suffered the losses and where the action went down. The latest numbers were just released: they are compiled by the federal government, so they are not 100% accurate. For starters, the body count should be higher. But hey, with over 20,000 dead, the situation looks bad enough to me, whether they fudged the numbers or not.

Kill count

  • 22,000+ Killed since start of war against narcotraffic, from Dec. 2006 to Mar. 2010 (when president Calderon started his term).
  • 3,300+ Killed from Jan. to March 2010.

Arrests w/breakdown by cartel*

  • 121,000 Narco-arrests since 2006.
  • – 27% Gulf Cartel/Zetas.
  • -24% Pacific/Sinaloa Cartel.
  • -17% Cartel de Juarez
  • -14% Beltran Leyva
  • -13% Arellano Felix

*no specific number given

Shootout count

Violence has been on the rise because of territorial realignment, fragmentation of the cartels and internal restructuring .  Law enforcement agents of all branches (state, federal, military) have now become targets for sicarios.

  • 1,286 Firefights counted form December 2008 to March 2010.
  • 977 Narcos against authorities.
  • 309 Narcos against narcos.

Casualties by region

  • 6,757 Official narco-related deaths in Chihuahua since Calderon started his term
  • (4,324 From the city of Ciudad Juarez alone)
  • 3,136 In Sinaloa, the cradle of narco-traffickers.
  • 1,826 In Guerrero.

Intelligence: Cartel on Cartel warfare

Cartels team up on the Zetas: The new phase of the war appears to be an offensive to exterminate the Zetas by an alliance between the Sinaloa Cartel, the Gulf Cartel and the Michoacan Family. They claim to be doing this because the Zetas corrupted the business and preyed on the civilian population, which brought too much attention and became bad for business. So they are looking to go back to the old days. Civilians are getting war-weary and accept don’t mind this “social cleansing” campaign so long as the kidnappings, car thefts and extortions stop.


The Sinaloa Cartel expands territory: They are taking advantage of the chaos to exterminate their other rivals, like the Beltran Leyva. In the last couple of months they started turning the Nayarit riviera and Acapulco into the usual macabre circus act of decapitated bodies, bullet-ridden cars and piles of charred bodies. The DEA is Sinaloa Cartel’s #1 admirer and PR Agent and it claims that El Chapo Guzman is winning the war against Vicente Carrillo Fuentes and his Juarez Cartel. That means Sinaloa is the lord of the routes into the US.

The Sinaloa Cartel appears to be using the violence to consolidate territory, secure and expand shipment routes and some cross-border access—then start moving product into America. War or no war, they got a job to do.

West side calm: In the Pacific they have an alliance in Michoacan with the Milenio Cartel and the Family; And in Jalisco, with the old school capo Nacho Coronel. But Oaxaca, Guerrero and Nayarit are pretty much controlled by what remains of the Beltran Leyva Cartel.

The importance of the Pacific lies in all of its many ports–this means they can receive container ships full of the necessary ingredients to make synthetic drugs, or receive cocaine from South America. Control of the Pacific is vital to ensure reliable imports of product into the country.

The in-land routes serve to move the drugs closer to the border, which they do by hiding the goods in trailer trucks masquerading as fruit transport or whatever they think of, whatever regularly goes to and from the border towns.

Of course, the air and the sea can still be used to move drugs inside the country, but the main destination is always the United States: market número uno.

Border cities see the most action: The jewel cities of the drug trade are the border towns: Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo. Border cities are important for the cross-border highway access and non-stop flow of traffic: cars, trucks, tourists and semis—all provide a lot of space to stash dope. Anybody who controls these cities has a gold mine, and the Sinaloa Cartel is craving them real bad.

That’s why Ciudad Juarez has been turning into an ever-worsening blood-bath: ever since El Chapo sent his sicarios to capture the plaza in 2008, it’s been 2 years of going from bad to worse to worse-than-bad. (Remember, more than 4,000 people have been killed here over the past two years.)

The last jewel left unsnatched appears to be Tijuana, the main plaza of the Arellano Felix Cartel, which now has total control of the border. So don’t be surprised if it starts going to hell again. It’s just business, Mexican Drug Cartel style.

Pancho Montana is an eXiled Special Mexican War on Drugs Correspondent.

As a native of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, located in northern Mexico, Mr. Montana lives in Gulf Cartel territory. That means the streets belong to the Zetas, a paramilitary organization trained by the Yankees and hired by the Gulf Cartel to keep things civilized and business booming.

Read more of his stuff…


Add your own

  • 1. Jim  |  April 14th, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Hey Pancho, love your stuff but do you think you could cite something here.

    Don’t die and stay high.

  • 2. RecoverylessRecovery  |  April 14th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    The ONLY thing that will DESTROY these drug cartels is U.S. intervention.

    Specifically, we need to get Goldman Sachs to sell these people forward option swap DERIVATIVES. Or get them to invest in U.S. real estate.

    If THAT doesn’t KILL ‘EM ..NOTHING will.

  • 3. Omar  |  April 14th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    You lazy journalist, you call yourself correspondent? what about the kids shootings, in schools in the north states, about the family that was massacred- children included- in a military post this weekend, the police from michoacan that openly admits that it can no longer keep up with the thugs? the U.S. consulates for fuck`s sake? no theory or insight on that uh?, any theory for why i’m such soggy butt wipe? sorry for my dookie english.

  • 4. aleke  |  April 14th, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Yeah sorry mate, I believe you, but I KINDLY ASK YOU to cite this. could you provide your sources, PLEASE?

  • 5. aleke  |  April 14th, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    haha i’m PRETTY SURE i added in PLEASE, but AOJKAY

  • 6. Mx?  |  April 14th, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    What insight? All this: the specific targeting of cops and soldiers, the recent civilian casualties as a result of the intensification of combat, not to mention the ever-increasing bodycount.

    Sadly, all of this is related to the Goverment´s war against the cartels; and the cartels are not exactly helpless, buying and corrupting the same authorities meant to detain them and sending them after rivals, which creates more bad blood between the main actors, betrayals and vendettas being the order of the day.

    The other factor is money: drug money is a LOT money, and most of it ends up being used in the local economy. So, why stop it?

    Why the US isnt serious about fighting drug trade has many theories: The CIA sponsors and encourages narco-traffic to fund black ops, or quite simply its leave enough money for everyone involved: from the colombian peasant stepping on coca leaves to the american customs official who turns a blind eye to certain mexican trailer trucks.

    One thing to take in mind is that during the past global economic meltdown the only available liquidiy in the market (available physical REAL money) was drug money, it was the only thing that kept it from completely breaking down. But maybe Im exaggerating.

    That´s my little insight. There´s too many factors that affect the drug trade in different ways. Detentions in one state create bloodshed in another.

    Take Central American countries for examle, the countries that have become transit points for colombian cocaine before entering Mexico have now started being contested by the various mexican cartels there and the traditional colombian traffickers who operated there are part of the fight.

    The problem in Mexico is not the problem OF Mexico, but of many nations that share its same burden, from producer countries to transit and destinataries, the narco problem is an international one.

  • 7. Mx?  |  April 14th, 2010 at 7:03 pm there, cited , article is in spanish.

  • 8. Antonio B.  |  April 14th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Anyone got any info on the little town of Nogales Arizona? I was just wondering what news has been coming out of there and the Organ Pipe Cactus State Park. Its a beautiful place really. When your not stepping around human carcasses and spent shells from automatic rifles.

  • 9. Dejo  |  April 15th, 2010 at 2:39 am

    I was taken aback by the sheer number of deaths until I remembered how large Mexico is. I wonder if the media there is overdramatizing this “war.”

  • 10. Dejo  |  April 15th, 2010 at 2:40 am

    I’d just like to add that if there ever comes a time to rightfully use the term “police action” then this is it.

  • 11. Mac  |  April 15th, 2010 at 8:41 am

    They can never stop the supply as long as there’s demand. And they can never stop the demand either. So this shit will only continue, since no faction seems strong enough and capable of getting a complete monopoly.

  • 12. Davy  |  April 15th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Okay obviously Mexico has some high homicide rates but lets put it into perspective its a huge country of over 110 million and barring some cities like Tijuana,Juarez,Chihuahua etc it is relatively safe.

    Just compare it to some other countries in the Americas like the following which are 2008 homicide rates per country:

    Rates of homicide per 100,000

    Canada 1.2
    Peru 3.2
    USA 5.2
    Argentina 5.2
    Uruguay 5.8
    Chile 8.1
    Costa Rica8.3
    Paragua 12.2
    Nicaragua 13
    Panama 13.3
    Mexico 14 (2009 rate)
    Brazil 22
    Belize 34.3
    Colombia 38.8
    Guatemala 42.5
    El Salvador (Where i live)51.8
    Honduras 60.9

    Statistics taken from the united nations office on drugs and crime.

    Yes there are problems in Mexico but don’t believe all the hype its a fantastic country with great people.

    For those who can read Spanish this is a good article “violence in Mexico in perspective”

  • 13. RecoverylessRecovery  |  April 15th, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Mexico might NOT take first place on your Homicide Rate List, but unfortunately it’s definitely *#1* on the list of “Places Where They Skin Your Face Off and then Sow it onto a Soccer Ball”.

  • 14. Crazy Person  |  April 16th, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Damn, this drug war’s bad for business. Americanos are gettin’ fatter and fatter, especially the chicas. Gone are the days when we used to (way the fuck back in college,) go to Tijuana, pay the owner of some fucking nightclub $500, (that’s $50 for ten guys,) bring down some tourist chicks, and just have a blast for the fucking night. The strippers only added to the fun.

    Also we could get all you can eat $5 tacos from the street vendors, and those tacos were fucking good, not like Taco Bell or Del Taco shit. They were natural.

    And now, it’s all gone. There’s a ton of money in recreating shit like that, but I don’t know if it’s possible with all the cartels. Especially if someone can “liberate” a local mansion, clean up a bit, and bring in some fine mamacitas. You can never have too many chicas at a party, every fucker who partied knows that.

    I’m noticing lots of Latinos writing here, any opinions on the recreation, guys?

  • 15. bink  |  April 20th, 2010 at 8:09 am

    I predicted about 3 years ago that the race card would be pulled out and used to create divisions in this country. This is designed to protect the Wealthy and powerful Elites from the spreading anger towards them for looting our nation (and they continue to loot it today in front of our faces). The real evil perpetrators of chaos and evil and divisions within humanity are those behind their gated communities. Not one of them actually works but they are parasites upon the peoples of the earth. Not one of them anyone can tell me earned their money and wealth in a moral and ethical way.

    I’m getting sick of hearing people on the left and right attacking each other. This only benefits those that are instigating it in the first place.

    The NSA of the USA is on top alert and is completely controlled by ONLY a few people at the top. They are doing to the Americans what they have been doing all over the planet the last 60 years….which is fomenting violence, toppling governments, starting wars, starting civil wars. All for the profit of those few men at the top. And all for their power structure.

    People need to wake up. The truth is all around you. We are not the enemies of one another. The real enemy hides behind power and controls all media news, corporations, government politicians, and the top financial institutions that make up the federal reserve.

  • 16. FrankMcG  |  April 20th, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Crazy Person chose his name well.

    Del Taco is delicious.

  • 17. fajensen  |  April 23rd, 2010 at 5:04 am

    The Mexican government should face reality, nationalize the drug market and use the proceeds to wipe out (literally) the competition!

  • 18. FrankMcG  |  May 7th, 2010 at 11:17 pm


    OR they could just continue taking a cut from cartels to look the other way while making token arrests to keep the U.S. war on drugs gravy train aid coming in.

  • 19. reko  |  May 21st, 2010 at 6:35 am

    if the US stop complaining and just bring their military into the situation, that would end everything about cartels in Mexico

  • 20. US military  |  June 1st, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Fuck you reko, I don’t wanna deploy to that shit ass country. Use your own fuckin soldiers.

  • 21. John Murphy  |  June 19th, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Email me at Is Monterrey safe for holiday? Business friends have invited me.

  • 22. Zenai  |  November 29th, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    How accurate is all this information???

  • 23. Englishman in Mexico  |  February 20th, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    For all of you Americans reading these postings and wondering how safe Mexico is, why not check out the murder rates and violent crime statistics in your home state on the following website

    If you do the Maths you may be surprised to learn that many of the states in the good ol’ USA have higher murder rates per capita than Mexico has over the past 4 years!! When you take into account that around 50% of the killings have occurred in the Northern states with a common border with the US and the majority of victims are either working in the drug trade or the security forces, then the risk to visitors is minimal.

    I live in Yucatan, after moving here last July and feel safer here than in my home town in England. In 2010, there were 10 crime related deaths in Yucatan state, not exactly a blood bath is it?

    There are some atrocious, violent crimes being carried out here and guess what ….. it is great for selling papers and boosting viewer ratings, so the media have a field day and paint a distorted image of a generally peaceful country. Don’t be a sheep and believe every area in Mexico is in the midst of a drug war, because it isn’t…investigate the area you are thinking of going to, see what the security issues are and make an informed decision.

    For many Americans, you will be statistically far safer in most cities in Mexico than you will be in most cities in USA!!

  • 24. Erick  |  March 7th, 2011 at 5:34 am

    OK @reko us millitary wont solve anything you do realize what los zetas are? they are G.A.F.E in other words they are elite special forces its kind of like the green barre in U.S. they were trained by U.S marines and also trained by the Kaibiles (other special ops in honduras) they also took other lessons on different countries like columbia and 2 others which i forgot. This makes them deadly, a normal foot soldier in the mexican army woulnt be able to detain them only the federal police which have recived the same training can get close to capture them. However due 2 all the corruption in mexico every federal municipal or authority is corrupt they let the cargo in for a share of the cargo. Calderon (the president) is also corrupt. The mafia put him in power, 2 all mexicans remmeber that election when the president refused to be bribed what happened to him? he got assasinated. The mafia influences the government at highly rate. Its like big buisnesses in the united states (before) like andrew carnegie steel industry oil refinary all could looby and change the legistation by corruption!. The only way this will end if only they legalized the drug or to pay offiials what they deserve so they can acually do their job instead of letting the drug in!

  • 25. manuel  |  April 21st, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    are u idiot…
    i live in cancun since 1992, here aren´t zetas. None I meet have dead, none have problems with narcotraffic…

    the image of your soldiers is from 1900 or when your mother born, in the age of bethoveen, look at this url

    copy and paste

    this another link

    copy and paste, in the picture your soldiers are fat, that´s not mexican soldiers from this time

    may be we haven´t moderns planes, tanks or submarines, we don´t need that, we very good soldiers, rudes, etc…

    learn spanish, y try to speak english..not by force, I don´t want to be ignorant… so you may put real information…

  • 26. Hemel  |  June 27th, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Drug itself is a medicine.But medicine sometimes cause death

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