Last weekend, Mexico’s most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was arrested after spending 13 years as a fugitive since escaping from prison. In an email interview, David A. Shirk,a political science professor and director of the Justice in Mexico Project at the University of San Diego, explained the state of Mexico’s prison system today and whether a Mexican prison could hold Guzman now. WPR: What is the overall state of Mexico’s prison system in terms of its ability to humanely and securely house prisoners? David A. Shirk: Like other prison systems around the world, Mexico’s prison system suffers from […]

The arrest of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman this weekend was remarkable not only for its images of a long-sought drug kingpin finally captured, but also for its display of close U.S.-Mexican security cooperation. Only last week, the Washington Post was reporting on an apparent pause in the relationship. After Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto was elected, Joshua Partlow wrote, “diplomats lost access to Mexican ministries, working groups stopped meeting and U.S.-funded training programs were put on hold.” But behind the scenes wheels were moving, with American agencies working closely with Mexican counterparts in pursuit of Guzman, the head of the […]

Over the past few decades, violence in Mexico has reached horrific levels, claiming the lives of 70,000 as criminal organizations fight each other for control of the drug trade and wage war on the Mexican police, military, government officials and anyone else unlucky enough to get caught in the crossfire. The chaos has spread southward, engulfing Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Americans must face the possibility that the conflict may also expand northward, with intergang warfare, assassinations of government officials and outright terrorism in the United States. If so, this will force Americans to undertake a fundamental reassessment of the threat, […]

Sometime after 2009 the U.S. government, concerned about the number of suspicious flights that were landing in Honduras, expanded its intelligence-sharing with the government of the Central American country to include aerial interdiction efforts. On two occasions in July 2012, however, the Honduran air force shot down planes suspected of drug trafficking. In neither case did the suspect planes’ occupants threaten Honduran air force aircraft, but all aboard died in both incidents. As a result, in mid-August 2012, the U.S. Southern Command suspended its intelligence-sharing with the Hondurans on aerial interdiction until the following November, when strict procedures had been […]