Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations

Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) pose the greatest crime threat to the United States and have “the greatest drug trafficking influence,” according to the annual U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) National Drug Threat Assessment.

These organizations work across the Western Hemisphere and globally. They are involved in extensive money laundering, bribery, gun trafficking, and corruption, and they cause Mexico’s homicide rates to spike. They produce and traffic illicit drugs into the United States, including heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, and powerful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and they traffic South American cocaine.

Mexican DTO activities significantly affect the security of both the United States and Mexico. As Mexico’s DTOs expanded their control of the opioids market, U.S. overdoses rose sharply to a record level in 2017, with more than half of the 72,000 overdose deaths (47,000) involving opioids. Although preliminary 2018 data indicate a slight decline in overdose deaths, many analysts believe trafficking continues to evolve toward opioids.

The major Mexican DTOs, also referred to as transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), have continued to diversify into such crimes as human smuggling and oil theft while increasing their lucrative business in opioid supply. According to the Mexican government’s latest estimates, illegally siphoned oil from Mexico’s state-owned oil company costs the government about $3 billion annually. Mexico’s DTOs have been in constant flux.  Read the full description here.