1
Chapter 1
The “Perfect Storm”
Drug Trafcking in the Mexico
U.S. Trans-Border Region as an
Unrecognized Opportunity to
Strengthen Public Administration
Donald E. Klingner
Preface
It is easy to see the impact of the “drug wars” on everyday life in Mexico. e media
are full of sensational accounts of abductions, assaults, and murders in cities along
the U.S. border such as Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and Nogales, and in others that are
located on major northsouth trafficking corridors along the Caribbean and Pacific
Contents
Preface ...................................................................................................................1
A History of Drug Trafficking and Public Policy in Mexico and the United States ......3
e Complexity of Relations between Mexico and the United States .....................6
e “Perfect Storm”: An Unrecognized Opportunity to Build Governance
Capacity ................................................................................................................8
e Organization of is Book ...........................................................................13
References ...........................................................................................................14
2 ◾  Using the “Narcotrafico” Threat to Build Public Administration
coasts, such as Veracruz and Culiacán (Vulliamy 2010). In areas known as major
drug-trafficking routes, highway checkpoints are guarded by truckloads of soldiers
masked to reduce the risk of reprisals against their families by the drug cartels and
billboards threaten those convicted of kidnapping with 70 years in prison. Even
in areas that remain relatively safe, people are concerned about the threat drug
trafficking and related violence poses to Mexico’s traditional values, sense of com-
munity, and family structure.
Drug-related violence in Mexico became commonplace beginning in 2005,
and increased dramatically between 2008 and 2012 (Shirk 2010; Stratfor 2012a)
despite—and perhaps also because of—massive efforts of the U.S. and Mexican
government to stop drug trafficking. It is concentrated in a few key states critical
to the drug trade such as Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero, and Sinaloa (Stratfor
2011). In Mexico, it poses a disproportionate threat to civil servants, police, and
women under 18. Officials and citizens in the trans-border area fear that cross-
border drug trafficking and violence will spill over into the United States (Stratfor
2012a,b).
Being an American public administrator who works closely with counter-
parts in Mexico doesnt help either. At least until recently, most Mexicans con-
sidered themselves innocent bystanders in the “drug wars,” hostages to insatiable
U.S. demand for cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and other drugs. Now,
even as indisputable evidence of Mexicans’ active participation in the drug trade
continues to emerge and as its fundamental negative effects on Mexican society
are irrefutable, revelations confirm the U.S. government’s active complicity (or
even guilt) in arms trafficking and money laundering, albeit as unanticipated
negative consequences of its efforts to combat transnational criminal organi-
zations (TCOs). For example, the ATFE (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms, and Explosives) initiated a program (called “Fast and Furious”)
designed to track the flow of illegal weapons to the Mexican cartels that resulted
in the release of hundreds of firearms in Mexico, many of which have been sub-
sequently used against that country’s citizens. A similar operation by the DEA
(U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency) was designed to allow agents to trace the flow
and laundering of drug money (Realuyo 2012). Understandably, Mexicans are
both deeply troubled by the “perfect storm” and aghast at U.S. complicity
witting or unwittingin the violence, corruption, and social disruption it has
produced in their own country.
is chapter will (1) review the recent history of drug trafficking in Mexico
and policies of Mexico and the United States against it, (2) put this history
and public policy within the complex historical context of the relationship
between these two countries, (3) suggest why this “perfect storm” represents an
opportunity too important to waste to build governance capacity on both sides
of the border, (4) propose some steps for doing so, and (5) present this books
organization.

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