Mexico’s Drug Cartels: Musical Chairs or Atomization?

Mexico’s Drug Cartels: Musical Chairs or Atomization?

Mexico is not known for its start-up ventures, whether in legitimate business or in organized crime. What Telmex and Televisa are to the world of legal commerce -- unrepentant monopolists or oligopolists, ruthlessly opposed to new players in their respective industries -- the Sinaloa cartel and the Zetas are to the nation's underworld.

Yet that appears to be changing, at least in the criminal realm. The past 12 months in Mexico have been marked by a more significant upsurge of previously unknown groups than at any point in recent history. Among the new gangs: the Resistance, the New Generation Jalisco Cartel, the Independent Cartel of Acapulco and the Pacific South Cartel.

And while these bands were virtually unknown on a national scale a year ago, they are already capable of serious mayhem. The recent bloodshed in Acapulco, which includes the kidnapping and murder of 20 Mexican tourists last year and the decapitation of 15 people in early January, is attributed to the latter two groups. Members of the Resistance were recently arrested outside Guadalajara with a rocket launcher in their possession, and, in a tactic new to the region, have set up blockades to impede pursuit by authorities.

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