The Cartels

The Story of Mexico's Most Dangerous Criminal Organizations and Their Impact on U.S. Security

by George W. Grayson


Roughly 50,000 people died in Mexico's drug wars between 2006 and 2011.

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November 2013


Pages 328
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Security Studies/General

An up-to-date examination of Mexico's version of the "War on Drugs" that exposes the evolution of major cartels and their corruption of politicians, law-enforcement agencies, and the Army.

What can President Enrique Peña Nieto do to curb the narcotics-induced mayhem in Mexico, and what would be the consequences to the United States if he fails? This book analyzes Mexico's transition from a relatively peaceful kleptocracy controlled by the Tammany-Hall style Institutional Revolutionary Party/PRI (1929–2000) to a country plagued by rural and urban enclaves of grotesque violence. The author examines the major drug cartels and their success in infiltrating American and Mexican businesses; details the response from the Obama administration; assesses the threat that the continuing bloodshed represents for the United States; and emphasizes the constraints on America's ability to solve Mexico's crisis, despite U.S. contributions of intelligence, military equipment, training, and diplomatic support.


  • Documents the origins of Mexico's drug industry to explain today's situation involving a graft-ridden Army, suborned police, ruthless capos, unethical office-holders, and U.S. security forces
  • Emphasizes the threat that the widespread criminality represents to the United States, as well as the constraints on Washington's ability to solve its neighbor's crisis
  • Exposes the linkages between elected officials, particularly governors, and the underworld
  • Illustrates the challenges that will remain, even if the cartels were shattered, by the presence of a human infrastructure of 500,000 men, women, and children skilled in kidnapping, extortion, torture, murder for hire, human smuggling, and dozens of other crimes
Series Description

Praeger Security International

As the world gets "smaller" through technology and globalization, the security risks we face grow and multiply.

International security in the 21st century is not a topic that can be adequately addressed in nightly news soundbites or online articles intended to be relevant for 24 hours or less. Comprehending these complex issues requires insight from foreign policy specialists, diplomats, military officials, peace scholars, historians, and security experts—participants and observers on all sides of each conflict. This series provides the tools for understanding security issues in our uncertain, unstable world.

Written by subject experts and well-known researchers, the books in the Praeger Security International series give readers access to carefully considered and highly informed viewpoints on the critical security issues that threaten to destabilize our world. With titles authored by diplomats, first responders, economists, journalists, civil servants, military leaders and combatants, legal experts, psychologists, and other knowledgeable specialists, these books offer in-depth reflections, thorough analysis, and international perspectives that are unavailable in mass media. These titles represent an invaluable resource for students and researchers as well as anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of the complex issues that affect our lives and future.


  • Provides reliable, comprehensive information on all matters relating to security that is ideal for students, teachers, researchers, and professionals
  • Offers insightful commentaries written by a diverse group of scholars and experts who provide interdisciplinary treatments of newsworthy events and important historical occurrences
Author Info

George W. Grayson, PhD, is professor emeritus at the College of William & Mary; associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Philadelphia, PA; and senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC. He has lectured at the U.S. Department of State, the National Defense University, the Naval War College, the U.S. Northern Command, and universities in the United States and Mexico. Grayson has briefed top U.S. policymakers and has served as a foreign observer at six Mexican presidential and gubernatorial elections. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Executioner's Men: Inside Los Zetas, Rouge Soldiers, Criminal Entrepreneurs, and the Shadow State They Created; Mexico: Narco-Violence and a Failed State?; and Mexico's Struggle with 'Drugs and Thugs'.

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