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Mexico: Cartels, Corruption and Cocaine: A Profile of the Gulf Cartel

NCJ Number
Global Crime Volume: 9 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2008 Pages: 248-261
Stephanie Brophy
Date Published
August 2008
14 pages
In profiling the “Gulf cartel,” one of Mexico’s most powerful organized crime groups, this study analyzed the cartel’s power in the international system, the effects globalization has had on its operations, the threats it poses to the state, and the obstacles the state faces in countering such transnational organized crime groups.
The Gulf cartel is a major organized crime group in Mexico whose primary interest is drug trafficking. It operates throughout Mexico and has established ties with street and prison gangs in the United States. Mexico’s Office of the Attorney General of the Republic has stated that the presence and violent activity of the Gulf cartel exceeds that of the other organized crime groups in Mexico. One of the ways in which the cartel is able to operate relatively freely in Mexico is by corrupting or intimidating law enforcement officials. Technological advances, a key component of globalization, allows Gulf cartel drug traffickers to be in constant communication, which enables them to change trafficking routes if they suspect their plans have been compromised. Advancing technology also facilitates money-laundering operations, as does the deregulation of financial markets. The opening of national borders for trade, another feature of globalization, is also being exploited by drug traffickers. The Gulf cartel has successfully subverted government institutions, particularly at the State and local levels. Focusing U.S. aid programs to Mexico on transforming structures, incentives, and controls within law enforcement and judicial institutions may be the best way the United States can assist the Mexican Government in weakening the power of the cartels and weeding out corrupt officials. Simultaneously, the Mexican Attorney General must be supported in pursuing the removal of the enormous economic and firepower of the cartel and recovering the control of territory it currently controls. 80 notes