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Quest for Integrity: The Mexican-U.S. Drug Issue in the 1980s

NCJ Number
Peter Reuter; David Ronfeldt
Date Published
75 pages

This study examined the problem with the flow of drugs between Mexico and the United States during the 1980s.


The study found that the two main impediments to establishing an effective drug control policy between the United States and Mexico during the 1980s resulted from Mexico's exercise of its traditional nationalist concept of sovereignty and corruption among all levels of government officials in Mexico's drug control program. These impediments resulted in tension between the countries during the 1970s and 1980s and ineffective drug control efforts. The main focus of this study was to assess the effectiveness and political aspects of Mexican drug control efforts in the 1970s and the 1980s. Information for the study was obtained from interview with U.S. and Mexican government officials, and from review of an extensive body of literature that examined the interaction of the two countries with respect to drugs. The report begins with an historical review of drug production in Mexico followed by a discussion of how corruption and smuggling are embedded in Mexico's law enforcement apparatus. The study also examines Mexico's national security apparatus and doctrines which played an important role in forming the country's response to its drug control problem during the 1980s. The report concludes with an examination of United States' concerns regarding the integrity and effectiveness of Mexico's drug control programs. Tables, appendix, and references