Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

Visit Douglas Farah's
author page at

Press Releases

Mexico Finally Rises Near the Top of the Agenda
For those of us who have been watching Mexico's death struggle with the drug cartels, the sudden surge in official interest is both welcome and overdue.

It is particularly welcome because it both acknowledges the depth of the problem and the danger it poses to the United States directly (as well as the Mexican state), while also at least nodding to the fact that the United States itself bears a significant burden of responsibility for what is happening.

What is no longer in debate is that Mexico is at war, and the war is having severe spillover effects across the border. (For a graphic look at how and where the killings occur, as well as links to important stories, see interactive map and other resources at the Los Angeles Times.)

As DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano stressed in her recent Congressional testimony, Aiding the Mexican government's fight against drug cartels is a top priority that demands the "utmost attention" of U.S. security officials, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday, announcing new steps aimed at preventing the spillover of violence into the United States.

As is clear elsewhere, if there is chaos, systemic corruption and government weakness, it is inevitable that other groups besides just the drug traffickers will seek to take advantage of the situation. This is as true of other organized criminal activities as it is of terrorist and other non-state actors.

As the Wall Street Journal writes, the cartels may have grown too powerful for the state to control. While President Calderon clearly chafes at the suggestion Mexico could become a failed state, it is clear that significant pockets of the country are under the control of drug trafficking organizations, not the state. This opens significant opportunities for opportunistic groups to form alliances of convenience for use of that territory.

While the corruption, violence and associated problems in Mexico have been chronicled, the fact remains that the United States is one of the largest cocaine markets in the world, providing the financial remuneration that empower the cartels.

Just as disturbing, and much more complicated because of the internal U.S. politics around the Second Amendment, is that many of the most lethal weapons the cartels acquire come from the United States, particularly the hundreds of gun shops along the border.

This has led to the ironic situation of the U.S. government making contingency plans, including possible use of DoD personnel and resources to bolster border security should the violence spill over in a more sustained and damaging way.

The DEA and other USG agencies are taking the threat seriously, as shown by the recent takedown of important Sinaloa Cartel assets, largely inside the United States.

As the Colombia experience shows, these wars against independently financed, non-state groups can take years. But the Colombia experience also shows that significant progress can be made when both the host country and the United States agree on a plan and generate the resources necessary to tackle a ruthless enemy. The most significant danger, both in Mexico and the United States, is to underestimate the resources and commitment of the drug traffickers to impose their will, regardless of the human toll.

Organized Crime, Terrorism and the Banking Crisis
What is Missing in the Terrorist Threat Assessment
Maintained by Winter Tree Media, LLC