Drug cartels have been linked to corruption, killings and a spike in drug-related violence in Mexico. In a four-month investigation, NPR found evidence that the Mexican army is colluding with one of Mexico’s most powerful drug mafias. NPR correspondent John Burnett shares what he uncovered in Mexico. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.
CONAN: And in your stories, you’ve described a battle taking place between two factions fighting for control over the border city of Ciudad Juarez, La Linea and the Sinaloa cartel.
BURNETT: That’s right. Let me also just add something to your intro to our conversation here. What we’ve been reporting this week is that elements of the Mexican army appear to be compromised in this fight against the cartels. We’re really not saying that the army as a monolithic institution is completely committed to one side.
CONAN: Well, that’s what I was going to say. Is it fair to say that in fact one of these cartels has bought more of the Mexican army than the other one?
BURNETT: That’s exactly right, yeah. And where we did found most of our evidence and certainly spent most of our time, myself and producer Marisa Penaloza, was in Ciudad Juarez, which has been called Murder City. It’s the -has the highest homicide rate in Mexico. It’s ground zero of the cartel war.
And we went into federal court to look at testimony in the U.S. We interviewed former law enforcement officials in the U.S., in Mexico, talked to dozens of folks on the ground there, and came away with a very strong belief that elements of the Mexican army are colluding with the Sinaloa cartel, which is locked in a battle for the territory of Juarez. That’s really a very valuable smuggling corridor into the U.S., as we know, and that the army has been used by the Sinaloans, which is Mexico’s largest, richest and oldest drug cartel. They’ve been using the army to help them defeat the Juarez cartel, which is also known as La Linea, sort of the local mafia that’s been there for decades.
For the full interview, click here