Two stories emerging in the last days shed light on the Mexican drug war. First the mainstream reporting of something already well-known to many; the US government has been backing the Sinaloa Cartel for over a decade, as it has risen to become the most powerful cartel on both sides of the border. This ties in with the supplies of guns that the FBI and ATF have been funneling to Sinaloa.
Secondly, the rise of armed self-defense groups attempting to protect the people from the cartels, given the widespread corruption of the Mexican police and army, and the inability or unwillingness of either to do their jobs. One such group seized the town of Nueva Italia to the west of Mexico city and drove out the Knights Templar cartel. However, this success has provoked the Mexican government to send in the army against them, who perhaps fear the prospect of armed citizens standing up for themselves more than the terrorism of the cartels. Some reports repeat accusations from the Knights Templar that the vigilantes are tied to other cartels, but in principle at least these self-defense groups are a most positive development.
Both these stories indicate how the state, whether the US or the Mexican version, cannot be clearly distinguished from organised crime, either on the theoretical or practical level. The US federal government is supplying guns and providing protection to Mexico’s biggest cartel. Meanwhile if you are unfortunate or foolish enough to get caught in possession of their product, the same US federal government may well throw you into the biggest prison system in the world, to be used as slave labour. Hypocrisy doesn’t seem a big enough word to cover it.