If you're asking yourself what it is about Mexico that makes it so screwed up, well, there's one thing to keep in mind ...
The Money and Guns Come From America
It really bugs me to see things like cocaine use made light of in American movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, because 90 percent of the coke you buy passes through Mexico on the way to your nose. Depending on who you ask, the cartels make between $20 billion and $64 billion a year selling their drugs stateside. Pot legalization in Colorado and Washington might have cut as much as $3 billion in cartel profits, but that's a drop in the bucket -- coke and meth are the money-makers, and no one's about to lobby for their legalization.
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Almost no one.
In an upside for the corporate persons Smith & Wesson and a downside to capable-of-bleeding persons across Central America, all that drug money doesn't stay in Mexico. A shitload of it runs right back across the border, to the 6,700 American firearms dealers who operate near the border. Nearly half of all gun dealers in the United States are at least somewhat dependent on the Mexican gun trade for their livelihood. Huh, you never hear about that in the NRA commercials, do you? And when you hear people complain that you need bigger walls along the border to keep the drugs and immigrants out, they don't seem nearly as concerned about the river of lethal iron flowing south.
See, in Mexico, it's illegal to buy weapons -- there's one legal gun store in all of Mexico City, and you can only buy with permission from the military. So while the USA is fighting over what to do with assault weapons, guns of every kind are flowing into Mexico and killing us. But approximately 0 percent of the American gun control debate by either side has anything to do with Mexico, because who cares, right?
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Well, no one except arms manufacturers, who have 127.2 million reasons to care.
For example, in political circles, there was all kinds of outrage over the ATF's "Fast and Furious" program (aka "selling guns straight to cartels to see what happens"). The scandal was focused on the Border Patrol agent who was killed by those smuggled guns, but there was nary a word about how many Mexican civilians died by those weapons. But hey, their names were hard to spell, and they weren't pale enough for their pictures to share well on Facebook.
And can you imagine the rhetoric from politicians if, say, seven people in Arizona were murdered by a cartel ambush? But move that crime less than one mile south, and it barely makes a blip. That's the magic of a border -- it lets everyone believe that what happens on the other side will never, ever be their problem. In reality, you can't build a wall big enough to make that true.
Related Reading: For another side of the drug war, why not read about the experiences of an undercover agent fighting the cartels? If you're more interested in the dealing side of the drug war, we've got that story too. Have a tale of your own to tell Cracked? Reach us here.