Cartels, Conspiracies, and Camarena

An in-depth analysis of the 1985 murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena and the various conspiracy theories relating to his death, as well as the rebuttal to many of those theories in the newly published true crime novel Someone Had to Die. Subsequent seasons will also discuss other conspiracies, historical anomalies, and peculiar events and occurrences.

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Episodes

5 days ago

In this abbreviated, Father's Day Episode, I discuss a few of the topics focused on in the last few months and add new information or perspectives.
Specifically, I look at the "final" results from the Mexican elections and discuss the near super majority of the MORENA party in Mexico's Congress. I also examine the continuing responses by the Mexican markets to MORENA's dominance in the elections. 
I also discuss institutional reforms proposed by AMLO, which President-elect Sheinbaum seems to support.
I also consider recent data indicating that 2023 was the first year in many to experience a decrease in the number of drug overdoses and propose possible explanations for that change.
Finally, I look at recent reports that both El Mayo and El Mencho are close to death and consider the potential ramifications if one or both of these cartel leaders passes. 

Saturday Jun 08, 2024

Mexico's national elections on June2 were historic in many respects.  Most significantly is that Mexico elected its first woman, and first Jewish, President, and did so by an unprecedented margin.  
In this Episode, I discuss the election and look toward Mexico's future by discussing the reaction of the Mexican markets to Mrs. Scheinbaum's election and evaluating how her presidency could impact Mexico's relationship with the United States. I also consider how outgoing President Lopez Obrador could influence Mexican policies even after he leaves office.
Finally, I try to distill the myriad factors to assess potential changes in the Mexican government's efforts to combat the cartels.     

Sunday Jun 02, 2024

On June 2, Medico is likely to elect the first female President in a North American country. In addition to electing a President, the elections will fill the 628 seats of the bicameral federal Congress, eight state governorships, the Mexico City mayorship, and more than 20,000 local offices.
In this Episode, I consider the Mexican elections by looking at the two primary candidates for the presidency and their positions on key issues.  I also look the violence in the lead up to the elections, and the role of the cartels in the electoral process.  Finally, I address AMLO's role as the outgoing President, and what it says about Mexico's democracy, today and in the future.  

Sunday May 19, 2024

The efforts of Mexican cartels to launder the hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit profits in the U.S. have been a focus of law enforcement and regulators on both sides of the border.  In this Episode, I discuss an analysis of those laundering efforts published in the Journal of Illicit Economies and Development.  
The article, among other topics, details incidents of corruption at the highest levels of the Mexican government. The article also discusses the money laundering statutes in the United States. 
The article provides a case study of money laundering by Los Zetas through the quarter horse racing industry in the U.S.  The authors then present several examples of systemics corruption in the Mexican government at the state level. 
Finally, we discuss the six proposals for reform the authors suggest might assist in stemming the flow of illicit funds into the U.S.  

Sunday May 12, 2024

Last week, the DEA presented its annual National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA). In this Episode, I discuss some of the more significant observations in the NDTA. 
Specifically, I look at the NDTA's description of the Sinaloa and Jalisco Cartels, including their leadership structures, drug trafficking patterns, international presences, and other illegal activities.
I also present the NDTA's findings on the illegal drug threats in the United States, identified by seizures and overdose deaths.  

Sunday May 05, 2024

The use of social media has become an integral part of the operation of Mexican cartels and has expanded their reach and influence in new and profound ways.  
In this Episode, I look at the narrative themes in the cartel's social media presence, as well at the specific operational strategies and objectives fueled by social media. 
I also examine the Combating Cartels on Social Media Act of 2023, a bill currently pending in Congress.
Finally, I discuss current trends in cartels' social media use, and the propaganda "boosts" often unintentionally provided to cartels by news and other media outlets.
 

Sunday Apr 28, 2024

This last week, news reports highlighted the arrest of Abraham Oseguera Cervantes (alias "Don Rondo"), the older brother of CJNG leader El Mencho.
In this Episode, I discuss not only Don Rondo's arrest but also the arrest of other relatives of El Mencho, including another brother (El Tony Montana), his son, daughter, and wife.
Specifically, I discuss the often overly dramatic and misleading press reports surrounding these arrests and I examine the utility of this approach, one that has been used by the U.S. and Mexican governments, as well as those in other Latin American countries.  

Friday Apr 19, 2024

Earlier this month, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the implementation of Operation Border Spike, which it called the next step in the CBP's strategy to combat fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.  Operation Border Spike begins with a focus on the Nogales, Sonora plaza and the plaza's boss.  
In this Episode, I give a brief overview of the city of Nogales, and then focus on the elements of Operation Border Spike, as announced by CBP.  I then provide a brief history of the man at the head of the Nogales plaza -- Sergio Valenzuela Valenzuela.   In particular, I look at Valenzuela's rise to power and his close relationship with CDS leader El Mayo Zamabada.  

Friday Apr 12, 2024

One of the more profound impacts of the Cartel wars has been the focus on the violence in many areas of the country, and corresponding diminishing attention to Mexico's rich and diverse history, culture, and economy.
In this Episode, I look at this concept through the lens of Ciudad Juarez. Specifically, I examine the city's fascinating history, as well the rise and fall of the Juarez Cartel.  Next, I look at the current Cartel battles for control of the city and the economy in Juarez today.
Finally, I put a human face on the cartel influences in Juarez by looking at the tragic impact the violence has had on the children of Juarez, their education, and their families.   

Friday Apr 05, 2024

I frequently get asked what I the major issues in the fight against the Mexican cartels and the fentanyl crisis.  In response, in addition to other issues, I often talk about the demand for illegal drugs in the United States and elsewhere and the economic realities in much of Mexico that precipitate participation in the cartels. Recently, I read two interesting and compelling articles that add to the analysis, and I discuss each in this Episode.
The first article presents five policy areas Presidential aspirants should address in connection with the fight against the cartels.  Those policies points are foreign policy changes, strategies to deal with the cartels, southern border strategies, declare the cartels narco-terrorists, and a uniform domestic anti-narcotic strategy.  I look at and discuss each of these policies.  
The second article discusses the Mexican military's unique role within the Mexican government and the risks to democracy presented by that role.  In this Episode, we look at the critical features of the Mexican military highlighted by the article and the ways in which those features impact the war on fentanyl and efforts by both Mexico and the United States, separately or bilaterally, to combat the cartels.   

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