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U.S. offers $5M for reputed cartel chief

The US offer of $5 million for the notoriously brutal drug chieftain of the Mexican Gulf cartel, Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, represents the US government’s continued obsession with the specific targeting of high-level narcotics operators. Although recognizing the danger and enormous influence men like as Costillo Sanchez have on the overall operations of their specific cartels, the termination and/or apprehension of such “big fish” will do little to undermine the overall continuity of operations of the cartel. The reasoning for such broad assertions is two-fold. First, the Mexican legal and penal system is inherently corruptible and largely incapable of restricting the continued business operations of imprisoned cartel bosses. This ineffectiveness continues to be displayed as international observers, including the US Drug Enforcement Agency, acknowledge the ability of incarcerated Osiel Cardenas, former and current head of the Gulf Cartel, to continue coordinating the daily operations of his cartel. His ability to impact the daily business ventures of Costilla Sanchez and other high-ranking Gulf Cartel members symbolizes the decrepit shape of the Mexican penal system. Further, as has been discussed in the May 3, 2006 WAR Report, Mexican judges and corrections officers are not above reproach but are, on the contrary, highly corruptible. Secondly, throughout the three-decade long, US-led international war on drugs, the US government, in conjunction with allies throughout the world, has targeted the perceived heads of international drug cartels. Such direct targeting, although advantageous for public relations purposes, normally results in the fragmentation of cartels, resulting in the outgrowth of several smaller and more disciplined organizations. The Colombian government has struggled with this dilemma since the killing of infamous Medell?n cartel boss, Pablo Escobar. Since his death in 1993, the Colombian government has witnessed the growth of several smaller, and occasionally more savvy, organizations, making the elimination of narcotics within their borders all the more difficult. This assertion is highly contentious throughout the US government, as it goes against the basic reasoning of US combat principles. In the abovementioned way, the war on drugs is very similar to the war on international terrorist organizations. Although the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is perceived as a victory in the US media, his death will do little to end the Iraqi insurgency, as the death of one will result in the promotion of dozens. Likewise, the arrest and/or death of Costillo Sanchez will most undoubtedly be portrayed as a victory for the US and its Mexican allies, although it may cause far greater troubles for the both governments. Several players representing various entities will fill the vacuum left by the elimination of Costillo Sanchez. The repercussions will likely be increased bloodshed and more audacious and deadly cartels to target. . Prosecuting the international war on drugs, whether in Colombia, Afghanistan , or Mexico requires the elimination of mid-level players in the various organizations. In conjunction with the specific targeting of mid-level operatives, an independent judiciary, free of corruption and/or intimidation, is an absolute necessity if the Mexican government has any hope of degrading and eventually eliminating cartel operations. Although the full implementation of the above recommendations is unlikely to curtail narco-trafficking enterprises, it may reduce substantially the ability of cartels to wreak havoc upon the Mexican populace and government.

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