It’s business as usual in Mexico: rising death toll, corrupt officials, and a full-fledged cartel war. In other words, nothing new. It’s the same old thing.

Drug war

The Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) is warring with the Sinaloa Cartel. Technically known as the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel used to be known as the Matazetas (Zeta killers). The honcho of the Sinaloa Cartel is Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who is now in prison in Mexico. The problem is that El Chapo keeps escaping.

At stake is the port of Manzanillo, which is located in the state of Colima.

Manzanillo is important to CJNG because the port is where the cartel’s chemical precursors arrive. And without the precursors, the CJNG can’t make Ice (methamphetamines), which translates to no profit. Profit is the name of the game for drug cartels.

Cocaine and ice

The Sinaloa Cartel’s moneymaker is cocaine. Manzanillo is important to the Sinaloa Cartel as an export hub for tons of cocaine, which are shipped around the world. Plus, adding Colima to its territory would expand Sinaloa’s business opportunities. That’s why, in 2015, the Sinaloa Cartel publicly proclaimed its arrival in Colima. Of course, the cartel didn’t come right out and say it wanted more territory to make more money. Instead, the floated the idea that they were going to protect the citizens of Colima from the depredations of violent drug cartels, like CJNG.

In other words, Sinaloa was John Wayne in his white hat and CJNG was Lee Marvin in his black hat.

434 dead

It was a big, fat lie, of course. Violence erupted as the two cartels went head to head. 434 people were killed in a nine-month period, including Mexican security forces, small-time local criminals, local officials, the Secretary of Tourism and others.

Both cartels are adept at corrupting local, state and federal officials. There’s plenty of money available to grease palms. However, the CJNG doesn’t have the manpower that their opponent has. The Sinaloa Cartel has more men and more guns. Still, the CJNG’s propensity for violent confrontation must give even the Sinaloa Cartel reason to pause.

For example, last year the CJNG took on advancing federal troops, blockading roads and destroying banks and gas stations.

No end in sight

Local citizens believe the prevailing violence stems from a vacuum in Manzanillo: there’s no Big Boss to control the region and put the fear of God into anyone thinking about moving in. Most maintain that things will get back to normal when either the Sinaloa Cartel or the CJNG reaches an agreement with the government. Until an agreement is achieved, the bloodshed will continue.

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