Canada and Mexico: Drug cartels, gang warfare: a new security risk?
This week’s must read on Canada, Mexico and the drug cartels: The Globe and Mail on what law enforcement officials and economists have been predicting for over a decade: a North American “river of drugs” means not just increased crime but a “national security risk,” for Canada.
The RCMP in British Columbia have linked a series of gang murders – 43 in 2008 and over 10 since the start of 2009 – with Mexico’s war on drugs. Prices for substances such as cocaine are soaring, as rival cartels fight for a dwindling supply. The theory? The more aggressive the Mexican government’s actions to end its criminal drug trade, the more the cartels react. More violence, less supply, which then squeezes out smaller gangs and dealers, resulting in fights about distribution here in Canada.
In Mexico, in the last two years, under President Calderon’s “war on drugs,” more than 7,000 people have been killed. Mexico, the supplier, and the U.S. and Canada, the market, are now linked in this “underground” NAFTA.
The Globe also points out that Mexico is Canada’s number one source country for asylum seekers for the past three years – 15,000 refugee claimants in last two years, with an 11% acceptance rate.
Last December, the Guardian’s Ed Vulliamy reported from ground zero – Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez – his descriptions of the “feral slaughter” between drug war lords and their gangs makes for chilling reading in light of this morning’s latest “targeted shooting” in Vancouver.
So does his analysis of the narco-capitalism that drives the violence as per “Almargen” an investigative media service: “The cartels don’t need to control the streets, because they cannot, so they franchise them, get other people to kill and die, and collect taxes and commissions.”
In January, local papers carried a Daily Telegraph (David Blair) piece with what sounded like both an ominous and fanciful headline, “U.S. Army fears collapse of Mexico” – classic Telegraph fare citing military sources, specifically, a “Joint Operating Environment” report by the U.S. high command. The thrust of the report as reported by Blair in his lede: “The United States may be forced to intervene in Mexico to prevent its ‘rapid and sudden collapse.'” Now, at least one Washington think-tank (Council on Hemispheric Affairs) again raises the notion of Mexico as a potential “failed state.” Disastrous news for Canada. How will we respond?