Mexico's war against narcotics and the criminal syndicates that traffic in them not only looks bad on the surface, but compared to Colombia in the '80s and '90s, the situation is even more desperate and terrifying. Since mirroring the policies that Nixon and successive US presidents pioneered, and enacting its own War on Drugs, Mexico's rates of rape, torture, murder and assassination have skyrocketed, as has the business of illegal narcotics. Juárez, what used to be a rollicking party town for Americans and Mexicans alike, now has a murder rate that exceeds both Baghdad and Kandahar—combined.
Gangland is a first-hand examination of the rise of the Mexican drug cartels, and traces their origins, evolution, and how they've grown in lock-step with the failed narcotics policies of North America. Warring amongst themselves as much as with the authorities, the cartels have earned their reputation for violence and intimidation with daylight gun battles, corpses hung from overpasses and coolers full of severed heads. Their power has escalated thanks to a police force that's often seen to be corrupt or incompetent, a government barely in control of itself, and military personnel serving within their own borders who must cover their faces to keep their families safe from the long, ultraviolent arm of the cartels. Stuck in the center of this maelstrom are the vast majority of Mexican citizens seeking only peace, prosperity and security, and finding little to none in their homeland.
Two questions dominate Mexico's drug war: Who's in charge, the government or the cartels? And how deeply have the cartels infiltrated the United States and Canada? One thing is clear: the War on Drugs has failed, and soon, so may Mexico.