Mexico is a country under pressure right now with wars between the government and drug cartels, as well as between different cartel groups themselves. When Felipe Calderon came to power as the Mexican president in 2006, he declared a war on drug cartels in the country. To do this meant they would stop trying to catch and punish addicts that were dealing drugs to support their own habit. Rather, the focus turned to getting them into treatment for their addiction, while focusing on seizing the big dealers. The result of this is that many drug addicts have been channeled into treatment facilities, but it also has caused drug cartels to get desperate.
War in Treatment Facilities
In the city of Ciudad Juarez last year, just across the border from El Paso, TX, members of the Sinaloa drug cartel opened fire in a rehabilitation clinic. This was just one of many incidents by desperate cartel members. Over the year, numerous attacks were made on either former addicts that were no longer going to be dealing drugs, or on members of other cartels that were recruiting dealers in the clinics. The battlefield has moved from the streets into rehab facilities in Mexico.
Recruiting Recovering Addicts
Drug cartels are now trying to take over the treatment industry in certain cities of Mexico. Their goal is to recruit more drug dealers for their organized crime. Using intimidation, brainwashing, and force, cartels are able control those trying to get out of addiction. Some cartel members check themselves into rundown, unlicensed clinics, posing as patients. After a short time, the cartels take over the clinic and begin to try to convince the patients to go out and sell drugs. If they refuse, the patients are beaten or killed.
Some of these cartel members are successful in recruiting new dealers from rehab facilities. They have the perfect prey; people who often don’t have any close family or friends, are at a low point in their life, and feel they have no place to turn. They often have no money, no hope of a job, and they are easily convinced that they can do no better than deal drugs. With the threat of bodily harm, many people are easy to convince.
The whole situation in Mexico seems almost unbelievable. But many people don’t seem too worked up about it, and think that it is just a last ditch effort by the cartels to gain some power back. While the Mexican government knows their country has a problem with both drugs and crime, they are waiting out the effects of the decriminalization. Other countries, including the United States, are watching this state of affairs closely. Everyone wants to find a good solution to the drug problem, and there will most likely be things our country can learn from the way things are turning out in Mexico.