Mexican Drug Cartels' Fear-Inducing Tactics

Latin America and the Caribbean

Increasingly, major U.S. news sources are covering the rapidly spreading violence in Mexico's border towns and throughout the country. Today, it made the front page of the Washington Post after a Mexican general, along with his bodyguard and his driver, was tortured and killed in Cancun last week. He had been there less than one week, recently recruited by Cancun's Mayor to "train and run an elite special forces police group." Despite Mexican President Felipe Calderón's attempts to push back the drug cartels and 'retake the streets' of many border towns creeping with cartel members and drug violence, the drug cartels are merely stepping up their violence in retaliation. A Reuters article covers a new tactic employed by Mexican drug gangs: breaking into police radio frequencies and issuing chilling death threats to cops while playing 'narcocorrido' music in the background. Once the death threats are issued, "no one can help them," according to one Mexican officer, and the officers who are named are often found dead within hours. While, according to the article, the drug cartels had infiltrated the radio after police executions in the past, the new tactic has terrorized the police force and many officers have taken early retirement as a result - or rely on their prayers for protection. As the trend so far has indicated, more weapons for and presence of the police and military has only led to escalating violence by the cartels and increasingly excruciating and fear-inducing tactics. If more and more police and high ranking military officers are killed in Mexico's drug-related violence, President Calderón is going to have a hard time finding honest and 'incorruptible' officers to fill the ranks, and the United States will have to closely monitor the police and military recipients of training and equipment allocated through the Mérida Initiative.