EspañolMexican cartels have long surpassed Colombian organizations in drug-smuggling and distribution operations in the United States, and continue to dominate these illegal markets, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
On November 4, the DEA released its 2015 Drug Threat Assessment, which provides a “comprehensive assessment of the threat posed to the United States by the trafficking and use of illicit drugs.” The report argues that Mexican cartels “pose the greatest criminal drug threat to the United States.”
While Colombian organizations continue to supply “wholesale quantities of cocaine and heroin,” they send the shipments to Mexican and Dominican groups, who then assume responsibility for further transportation and distribution in the United States.
DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg says in the report that Mexican drug cartels have settled down in strategic regions of the United States to a create a vast network that facilitates the trade of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana across the country.
The DEA believes the most dangerous national and local gangs in the United States have forged alliances with Mexico’s organized-crime groups to secure a steady supply of drugs that they then distribute and sell all over the country.
The main Mexican criminal organizations operating inside the United States include the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel, Jalisco Nueva Generación (Jalisco New Generation Cartel), Gulf Cartel, Juárez Cartel, Familia Michoacana, Los Cabelleros Templarios (Knights Templar), Los Zetas, and the Sinaloa Cartel. These groups control drug trafficking across the southwestern US border and are moving to expand their share of the drug market, particularly in heroin, the report explains.
The Sinaloa Cartel, led by the fugitive Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, is the most active illegal-drug supplier in the country, according to the DEA. However, the agency notes that the Jalisco Nueva Generación “is quickly becoming one of the most powerful cartels in Mexico and in some cases rivals Sinaloa Cartel trafficking operations in Asia, Europe, and Oceania.”
“There are no other organizations at this time with the infrastructure and power to challenge Mexican cartels for control of the US drug market,” the report states. The DEA further notes that the Colombian FARC guerrilla has managed to forge alliances with the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels to expand the smuggling and distribution of cocaine in the western region of the United States.
The DEA claims that Miami has become the arrival destination of choice for heroin and cocaine shipments that come from South America through the Caribbean. Authorities say these shipments arrive hidden in airplanes, cargo ships, fishing boats, and even luxury yachts.
The report also highlights Boston, Massachusetts, as a distribution hub where many local criminal groups are increasingly dealing with, and receiving cocaine directly from, Mexican organizations based in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas.
The DEA believes Mexican cartels pose the most significant threat in Chicago, Illinois, where these organizations continue to dominate the wholesale distribution of cocaine, methamphetamine, Mexico-produced marijuana, and heroin.
Similarly, Mexican cartels use the Los Angeles area as a strategic hub to facilitate the movement of drugs north and west and ship drug profits back to Mexico.
The report further claims that Mexican gangs are showing increasing interest in establishing distribution hubs in northeastern US cities, such as Philadelphia, as a way to bypass traditional hubs in the southeastern United States due to law enforcement pressure.
DEA Contradicts Mexican Government
Even though the Mexican government insists that no drug-related organized crime operates in Mexico City, the DEA report contends that at least five cartels are currently dealing in the Mexican capital: Sinaloa, Los Zetas, Beltrán-Leyva, Gulf, and a cell of the Caballeros Templarios.
The DEA’s statements echo the claims made in an article in the Wall Street Journal in September, which reported that the agency had detected the presence of the Gulf, Sinaloa, and Los Zetas cartels in Mexico City.
As for criminal activity in other Mexican states, the DEA says that the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel has become the country’s fastest growing criminal organization, expanding to Nayarit, Colima, Guerrero, Veracruz, and Michoacán.
By Bernardo Vidigal Over the last months, several public hearings concerning the ride-sharing app Uber took place in Brazil. It was a great opportunity for Uber to showcase its plans to change how people move across cities, even though the main focus of the hearings were bills trying to ban the service. Brazilian Students for Liberty (Estudantes Pela Liberdade) showed up in most of them and made the case for freedom of transportation. The first one took place on August 10 in São Paulo, where the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB) Councilman Adilson Amadeu lost his cool and verbally assaulted Darwin Ponge-Schmidt, an underage Estudantes Pela Liberdade (EPL) member. Had bystanders and the police itself not intervened, Amadeu would likely have brought fists to bear on the young man. During the debate, Amadeu, author of the bill trying to ban Uber in São Paulo, became visibly upset when Ponge-Schmidt pointed out that there is a difference between legality and morality. The councilman replied: “That little dipshit over there was hired to come and talk nonsense. They hired you, didn’t they?” Ponge-Schmidt then took the stage. “You have claimed that someone paid me to be here," he began. "I’d also like to know how much money Sinditaxi [union] paid every councilman to secure a unanimous front against Uber during the first vote of the bill [on June 30].” At that point a ruckus broke out in the room, putting Ponge-Schmidt's physical security in peril. The police escorted the young man out of the building and EPL called off its demonstration. On August 28, EPL arrived early for the hearing in the Minas Gerais legislature. From the outset, taxi drivers harassed the organization's representatives despite calls for restraint from their own colleagues. The confrontation became so heated that the legislature’s police intervened to guarantee the activists' safety. They had to remain under police protection during the entire debate, after which the officers escorted them out through the building's back door. According to early estimates, 400 taxi drivers were protesting against Uber in Minas, but the state legislature later confirmed that around 1,000 showed up. Meanwhile, the EPL delegation had around 11 representatives, along with nine other activists from partner organizations. Thaiz Batista, a EPL Executive Board member, took the stage to defend Uber, citing examples of other apps that once upset the apple cart and also faced attempts to ban them, such as the popular messaging platform Whatsapp. After the debate in Minas, taxi drivers continued to harass me and Executive Board member Lucas Borges. When the activists headed home from another event that evening, a taxi driver tried to prevent a colleague from transporting us, because we had endorsed Uber in the hearing. It's now unsafe for me to use taxis, because I publicly expressed my opinion. And these are the same people who said that we can't use Uber, because there is no way to guarantee that Uber cars are safe. On September 9 in Rio de Janeiro, taxi drivers also tried to shout down EPL local coordinator Rafael Kovashikawa, who was nonetheless able to question the taxi cartel and make the case for freedom of mobility in his city. In Vitória, the debate was less heated. EPL sent five representatives who were able to make their case in the city's town hall. Unfortunately, most public hearings were not productive at all. Most taxi drivers refused to listen to different points of view. They even turned their backs on Uber's spokespeople when they took the stage. But EPL has stated that it will not back down from this fight: “Students for Liberty and all its leaders will remain firm in our defense of a free society and a free transportation system. We will keep spreading our ideas, because we know that only ideas can save us from the obscurantism of those who still employ violence to impose their points of view.” Bernardo Vidigal is the programs associate for Students for Liberty Brazil (Estudantes Pela Liberdade). Follow @bernardovidigal.