(DALLAS MORNING NEWS) — By RICARDO AINSLIE
By most accounts, the so-called kingpin strategy — the oft-decried tactic of taking down top cartel leaders — in Mexico’s drug war has generated significant violence, as would-be successors vie to fill the leadership vacuum. In fact, in a recent Dallas Morning News article a U.S. agent says, “We all thought we were doing the right thing, but truth is we didn’t fully anticipate the violence, and that’s on us.”
But this strategy isn’t the problem. If you have the head of the Zetas in your sights, it’s a no-brainer that he has to be taken down.
What is “on us,” as co-sponsors of law enforcement actions against organized crime in Mexico, are three failures of the imagination that continue to haunt both countries.
First is the failure to understand the depth and complexity of Mexico’s criminal networks. Had they done their homework, law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border would have discovered that each of the big cartels included many smaller groups, each linked by a vague common cause of making illicit money by whatever means. There is a complex and ambitious hierarchy at work, extending from neighborhood gangs that steal cars and sell drugs on the streets to the drug trafficking organizations that we call cartels. They are highly sophisticated transnational businesses whose profitability must be the envy of every major American corporation.