For years, decades of hawkish policies on drugs have led discussions on popular media, institutional analysis and general punditry on Mexico. The dominant narrative is that we simply are not hard enough on cartels. However, historically, those with the most to gain from extremely punitive actions are the upper echelon of cartels themselves, politicians with links to defense industry or unpopularity issues, and groups fostering foreign intervention for control of regional resources.
In Mexico, two administrations advocating fiercely for a comprehensive war on drugs: targeting cartels, connected gangs and deprioritizing the usage of security resources for day to day crime, which while not glamorous, is what also affects most people in quotidian Mexico.
The point person, Genaro Garcia Luna, was in charge of defining strategy and coordinating multi agency efforts between the US and Mexico border. He outlived 3 Mexico presidential administrations (Fox, Calderon, and Peña Nieto) while also being present for 3 US presidential administrations as well (Trump, Obama, Bush).
So much was his clout, that Garcia Luna frequently and openly disclosed links to the CIA, FBI and DEA in his private, post-government efforts. He was a man who had set disorder and chaos into Mexico, all while claiming the opposite. And, he did so at the likely behest of the two or three individuals with the most to gain: Felipe Calderon and El Mayo Zambada. At least, that is what New York prosecutors are claiming when, in late November, Garcia Luna was charged with corruption, conspiracy and lying to immigration authorities over links to the Sinaloa Cartel.
The arrest would have been impossible to conduct when Garcia Luna was a close US collaborator as a member of any of the three administrations. However, as a civilian, with Lopez Obrador’s anti-corruption campaign just getting into rhythm, Garcia Luna may not be as lucky as when the very first allegations of his collaboration with mid-level and high ranking Sinaloa cartel connections were emerging.