In times past there was a prevailing wisdom that the violence stemming from the drug war equated to just one drug dealer killing another and after they finished killing each other off, things would go back to being peaceful and all would be well— this theory is no longer valid. The escalated violence and corruption the cartels are exhibiting today are quickly eroding Mexico and its democratic institutions to the point that they have caused a serious shift in the entire geopolitical landscape and represent the greatest threat to national security to both the U.S. and Mexico.
One of the more disturbing aspects of the narco-insurgency in North America is the effect it is having on the free press in Mexico. Our own history has proven that exposing the truth in a free press has done more for positive change in government and corporate accountability in our nation than perhaps any other single component, but that simply does not fit in the world of terror that the narcos create and perpetuate. Hardly a single Mexican media outlet in the country operates freely and without fear when it comes to reporting on the narcos and their activities.
The narcos have succeeded in removing nearly all investigative reporting in the Mexican media. Even if reporters are allowed to, or brave enough to, they often remove their bylines, reveal very few facts and almost never name the perpetrators. There are numerous reported cases of media intimidation in the U.S. as well. Newspapers from San Antonio and Dallas have pulled reporters back to as far as New York to get them away from the threats made on them for reporting on cartel activity.
So the question becomes how do you fight against an enemy if you don't even know who he is? Can you imagine going after the Gambino crime family having never mentioned John Gotti's name? So what comes out in the press is essentially body counts and highlights of the brutality prominently displayed by the warring groups that wish to send their messages of fear to authorities, rival gangs and the public at large.
By killing rivals in barbaric fashion—beheading, burning alive and torture, the message is—"This is what happens when you are with the wrong gang"— by killing law enforcement agents the message is—"This will happen to anyone who opposes us" and by killing top government officials, the message is—"We can get to anybody" and to the public who sees the decapitated, burned and tortured remains, the message is— "No one is safe."