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Articles on Drug cartels

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A marijuana trafficker practicing his aim in the Guajira, epicenter of Colombia’s first drug boom, in 1979. Romano Cagnoni/Getty Images

Marijuana fueled Colombian drug trade before cocaine was king

Step aside, Pablo Escobar. New research shows it was poor farmers who helped turn Colombia into the world's largest drug producer when they started growing and exporting pot in the 1970s.
More than 35,000 people were killed in Mexico in 2019, the deadliest year on record. Violence has spiked as a result of the government’s ongoing assault on drug cartels. Leonardo Emiliozzi Ph / Shutterstock

Inside Mexico’s war on drugs: Conversations with ‘el narco’

A researcher who fled crime-beset Mexico returns to interview the drug cartels behind so much of the violence, asking 33 'narcos' everything about their lives, from birth to their latest murder.
Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador with the families of the 43 students who went missing in 2014 in Guerrero state. He has ordered a truth commission to investigate the unsolved disappearance. Reuters/Edgard Garrido

Mexico is bleeding. Can its new president stop the violence?

President López Obrador campaigned on some outside-the-box ideas to 'pacify' Mexico after 12 years of extreme violence. But so far his government has emphasized traditional law-and-order policies.
The MS-13 gang operates in Central America, Mexico and the U.S. But so far its efforts to get into the drug business have failed. Jose Cabezas/Reuters

MS-13 is a street gang, not a drug cartel – and the difference matters

Trump justice officials portray the Salvadoran gang MS-13 as a powerful drug cartel staffed with criminal undocumented immigrants. That's a dangerous mistake if you actually want to prevent violence.

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