• Mexico

    Overview of drug policies, drug law and legislative trends in Mexico

    Mexico is one of the Latin American countries that has borne the highest costs from the War on Drugs, which has led to high rates of violence, corruption in state institutions, and the increased power of organised crime. As in neighbouring countries, the implementation of prohibitionist drug laws in Mexico has raised the number of people imprisoned for minor drug offences. This page summarises the latest developments in the debate on drug law and drug policy in Mexico.

  • Mexico’s worsening war without a name

    The “war on drugs” has morphed into a new rash of killings in Mexico
    International Crisis Group
    Thursday, June 15, 2017

    The deadly violence of well-organised, business-minded criminal groups in Mexico risks being aggravated by government inaction, corruption and bombastic U.S. rhetoric – exactly what caused the problem in the first place. Murder rates have hit a record high. Over the first four months of 2017, three murders took place every hour to reach a total of 8,705, about half of which can be attributed to organised crime. The path to this grisly statistic advanced through various stages. The first was the militarisation of the “war on drugs” in 2006 by former President Felipe Calderón, triggering clashes between criminal organisations and state security forces. Then came strategies aimed at taking down “kingpin” cartel leaders and at splintering criminal organisations, both of which aggravated the violence and reinforced ties with corrupt state institutions.

  • Mexico's disappeared

    The enduring cost of a crisis ignored
    Human Rights Watch
    February 20, 2013

    This 176-page report documents nearly 250 “disappearances” during the administration of former President Felipe Calderón, from December 2006 to December 2012. In 149 of those cases, Human Rights Watch found compelling evidence of enforced disappearances, involving the participation of state agents.

    application-pdfDownload the report (PDF)

  • Disproportionate penalties for drug offenses in Mexico

    Study shows that federal resources are dedicated to the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of minor drug-related cases
    Catalina Pérez Correa Kristel Mucino
    Monday, November 12, 2012

    The story of the Mexican drug war has generally focused on the violence perpetrated by drug cartels and the apparent inability to bring so many criminals to justice. Unfortunately—while it’s true many have evaded justice—there remain many more people who use drugs and those with very low levels of involvement in the drug trade, who have been swept up in recent crackdowns.

  • First Survey of Illegal Drug Users in Mexico City

    Carlos Alberto Zamudio Angles and Lluvia Castillo Ortega
    Colectivo por una Política Integral hacia las Drogas (CUPIDH)
    October 2012

    The principal motivation for implementing this survey was the lack of existing information regarding the relationship between drug users and their social networks. There is a lack of quality indicators that provide detailed information regarding the consumption of drugs, particularly when faced with the traditional dichotomy of user-addict. This dichotomy fails to see the complexity of the consumption of illegal drugs and reiterates the notion that the drug using population will inevitably move into addiction, thus ignoring the diversity of existing patterns of consumption.

    application-pdfDownload the Survey (PDF)

  • Drug Laws and Prisons in Mexico

    Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America

    Mexico is currently undergoing one of the worst crises in its history in terms of violence and insecurity. This crisis is directly related to the strengthening of organized crime in Mexico associated with drug trafficking, the divisions within the leading drug trafficking cartels, and their diversification. All this has resulted in a bloody struggle to control the key markets for the trafficking routes. The response of the Calderón administration has been a “war on organized crime” with two key elements: the growing use of the armed forces in public security tasks, and legal reforms aimed at more effectively fighting organized crime and, in particular, those involved in the trafficking, commerce, and supply of drugs.

    application-pdfDownload the chapter on Mexico (PDF)

  • Reducing Drug Trafficking Revenues and Violence in Mexico

    Would Legalizing Marijuana in California Help?
    Beau Kilmer, Jonathan P. Caulkins, Brittany M. Bond, Peter H. Reuter
    RAND Occasional Paper
    October 2010

    The United States’ demand for illicit drugs creates markets for Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and helps foster violence in Mexico. Some government and media sources have reported that Mexican and Colombian DTOs combined earn $18–$39 billion annually in wholesale drug proceeds and 60 percent of all Mexican DTO drug export revenue comes from marijuana. These numbers have been cited to argue that legalizing marijuana in California would reduce Mexican DTOs’ revenues, thereby reducing violence.

    application-pdfDownload the document (PDF)
    application-pdfAppendixes (PDF)

  • Abused and Afraid in Ciudad Juarez

    An Analysis of Human Rights Violations by the Military in Mexico
    Maureen Meyer
    Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) / Center Prodh
    October 2010

    Residents in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, are caught between the drug-related violence and the human rights violations committed by the security forces. The report focuses on human rights violations that occurred in Ciudad Juarez in the context of Joint Operation Chihuahua, which began in March 2008. The five cases described in the report involve acts of torture, forced disappearance and sexual harassment of women by Mexican soldiers deployed in Ciudad Juarez.

    application-pdfDownload the document (PDF)

  • Cannabis in Mexico

    An Open Debate
    Jorge Hernández Tinajero & Leopoldo Rivera Rivera
    IDPC Briefing Paper
    August 2010

    In August 2010, Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared that he would support a national debate on the issue of legalisation, reversing his previous stance on the subject. However, he underscored that he did not favour legalisation, particularly since the US and the international community maintained their prohibitionist approach. This IDPC Briefing Paper offers background information on the cannabis political debate in Mexico.

    application-pdfDownload the briefing (PDF)

  • Drug Laws and Prison in Mexico

    Over the years, the Mexican government has adopted increasingly heavy prison sentences and militarized drug policies to confront drug trafficking. The result has been an increase of vulnerable populations in Mexico’s prisons, but no impact on the drug trade or violence.


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