Narco wars heat up Mexico, Kenya

Michael Fitzgerald By Michael Fitzgerald

As the scourge of drugs spreads, it causes more extreme reactions from government officials desperate to stop it. Except when they’re not.

Mexican Marines with an alleged leader of the Zetas drug cartel earlier this month. (Credit: Reuters/Bernardo Montoya)

The Mexican state of Veracruz took over the police force of Veracruz, a city of nearly 700,000 people on Mexico’s Gulf Coast, a notorious port of entry for drugs. Veracruz laid off all 900 police officers and 100 administrative personnel for their corruption and incompetence. Navy Marines replaced them, and will act as the police force until new officers can be trained.

The state takeover comes after drug gangs dumped 35 bodies in the tourist area of Boca del Rio in September. The next week, another 32 bodies were found in cartel “safe houses,” according to the Latin American Herald-Tribune.

It’s the second time this year that the state of Veracruz has disbanded a police force in an effort to root out corruption and complicity with drug cartels. That comes as part of a national effort by Mexico to improve its police forces.

Meanwhile, Colombian drug lords are moving into Kenya, and some government officials are being accused of helping it, including a Kenyan member of Parliament who made the U.S.’s Drug Kingpin list in June.  The Kenyan activist, journalist and former government minister John Githongo, writing with colleague Ndungu Wainiana, highlights the growing drug problem in Kenya in an article in The Star, a paper in Nairobi. They also question why government officials are challenging their anti-drug organizing work.

The article details the recent seizures of more than a ton of cocaine in Kenya and sounds an alarm for Keyna’s very polity:

The corruption that comes with drugs is unlike anything else. Forget procurement scams, security sector air supply fiddles and the like.  Drugs eat up governance institutions starting with police, customs and immigration and then move up the food chain into the judiciary, revenue authorities and then into parliament and always make a move to be on the right side of State House or right inside it.

At the end they made a poignant appeal:

Keep in mind that if you can afford to buy this paper and have teenage children they are the preferred clients of this seemingly untouchable class of narco-entreprenuers that infect our society, politics and economy. We cannot say we have not been warned.


Straight to the Source