The investigation into the Gerardi operation demonstrates the degree to which Mexico has become a vital actor not merely in the US cocaine supply chain, but in the global drug trade. For a gang dedicated to moving South American cocaine to Europe, there was no inherent need for a Mexican connection, but the centrality of Mexican traffickers to the global trade drew the Gerardis to forge links with Mexican traffickers as early as 2002. The freedom of movement available in Mexico also made the country a logical center of operations following the Gerardis' exit from Colombia. While the Gerardis were investigated by US and Italian authorities, and forced to flee Colombia because of government pressure, there is no evidence of similar heat in Mexico.
Similarly, Mexicans have popped up in drug trafficking investigations around the world. For instance, three brothers from the Pacific state of Sinaloa received a death sentence in Malaysia, after they were arrested in a methamphetamine processing lab in the Asian nation that lies some 8,000 miles from Mexico’s borders (their case remains in the appeal process). In similarly remote Australia, the government fingered Mexican gangs as the nation’s foremost cocaine suppliers. Mexican gangsters have operated in South America for years, and have also popped up in Africa, a staging area for shipments that later make the leap to Europe.
The most important structural factors driving the Mexican groups’ relevance to the global trade include the nation’s proximity to the US, the world’s largest cocaine market, and the weakness of Mexico's criminal justice institutions. As a result of the first factor, Mexican gangsters have grown fabulously rich and have established deep logistical networks emanating from South American producer nations, qualities that are useful in trafficking cocaine anywhere around the globe. Thanks to the second factor mentioned above, the Mexican gangs have long enjoyed a significant degree of impunity. Because it is relatively unlikely that arrests will interrupt drug-smuggling operations, the Mexican organizations can thrive for years, if not decades, and in so doing accumulate vast amounts of institutional knowledge and personal relationships that are invaluable in carrying out illicit activities.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Cosa Nostra in Mexico
Here's a piece of mine about an Italian smuggling network operating in Monterrey. Highlights: