Mexican Government Returns Military Forces to Fight Against Cartels

drug traffickers fired upon military helicopters
AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

This week, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) published a decree ordering the armed forces to perform public security tasks for the next four years in opposition to cartels. The decree, ending in March 2024, requires the military to cooperate with the National Guard and police.

AMLO is returning to a model he criticized when first implemented by President Felipe Calderón in late 2006. The current president’s predecessors used the military extensively.

On the campaign trail, Lopez Obrador pledged to reduce violence by pouring money into social programs and creating the National Guard as the centerpiece of his security strategy. Approximately a year after the Guard’s creation, the decree marks a concession that his reforms are not delivering.

During the initial deployment of the National Guard, hyper-violent cartels continued their activities, and murder statistics are higher than ever. In March 2020, Mexico suffered 2,585 homicides–setting 2020 on track to break 2019’s all-time record. The Guard itself has fallen prey to repeat corruption allegations.

In 2019, Mexico had 35,588 murders, according to the Secretaria of Gubernacion (SEGOB) with another 5,000 reported missing. In 2011, at the height of military operations to combat the cartels, the murder rate count was 22,852.

Cartel tactics have shifted dramatically since 2011, even with military assets coming back to the field. Many also fail to recognize the quantum leaps and evolution of the cartels. In 2009, as the Gulf and Los Zetas Cartels split, leading to devastating terrorist tactics against innocent civilians, migrants, and local government infrastructure.

Today, some cartels operate as a parallel governments capable and willing to deliver food, enforce social distancing, and even flex power to secure the release of allies from official custody. The world witnessed in November 2019 as Ovidio Guzman, son of “El Chapo” Guzman, was released after his gunmen stormed military residential compounds and patrolled major city streets in SUVs with mounted machine guns until the AMLO administration relented.

Jaeson Jones is a retired Captain from the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division and a Breitbart Texas contributor. While on duty, he managed daily operations for the Texas Rangers Border Security Operations Center.

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