I haven’t studied the Mexican drug wars carefully, and it’s always dangerous to opine about drug policy on the basis of newspaper accounts.
That said, if it’s true that the Sinaloa group headed by Joaquín Guzmán Loera has more or less won the war for control of Ciudad Juarez, and if it’s also true that President Calderón said that his government continues to fight all drug trafficking organizations – including the Sinaloa group’s rivals – on an equal-opportunity basis, then it seems to me that Calderón (and the U.S. government, to the extent we are advising and supporting him) is making a huge mistake. Not all drug dealing is created equal, and taking down the Sinaloa group’s competitors necessarily strengthens Guzmán’s grip on power. Right now, he has enough armed force and money at his command to challenge the Mexican state.
Fighting “drugs” or “drug trafficking” is as meaningless as fighting “terror.” Real enemies have proper names. Two of the Sinaloa group’s rivals – the Gulf group and Los Zetas, which is more a private army than a drug-trafficking organization – pose comparable threats. Perhaps there are one or two more names that belong on that list. Mexican and U.S. enforcement should focus on those groups, and on the groups on the U.S. side of the border who handle their drugs, to the exclusion of every other drug trafficker in Mexico. And if Sinaloa is winning the war just now, then it ought to be at the top of the priority list. Any organization that is just dealing drugs, and isn’t shooting at cops and journalists and citizens, needs a good leaving-alone.