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The Protracted Approach of Mexican Drug Cartels and the Limitations of Government Action

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2018,31 May 2019

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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This study examines the respective US and Mexican governments approaches to combat the Mexican drug cartels and identifies limitations of the institutional systems employed therein. Complex and dynamic adversaries with extensive organizational networks that stretch across the globe, the cartels exploit the bureaucracy of systems designed to combat them. Applying a theoretical lens to the situation further highlights the respective governments inability to influence the protracted approach of the cartels. Examining this approach through Mao Tse-Tungs protracted war characteristics as the criteria for analysis illustrates the cartels ability to function as economically superior enterprises thriving in a multi-billion-dollar industry. Interpreting these ideas as a protracted business model focused on improvisation, innovation, and constant adaptation and flexibility, reveals that the international boundaries designed to stop the cartels exist only as a geographical delineation for them. This study begins with a description of the context and environment. Following are three chronological case studies, reviewing the actions of the cartels and the governments between 2000 - 2006, 2006 - 2012, and 2012 - 2016, respectively. It concludes with future implications of continuing the war on drugs by incorporating approaches that consider 1 long term actions against the cartels as competitive corporations 2 delegating and delineating operational command and control, combined with long term funding plans, to the tactical level and 3 government actions targeting the reduction of demand for the services the cartels provide.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law

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