Even More Mexican Corruption

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It takes a bit of “upping the ante” to be shocked by corruption in Mexico by drug cartels. But until now, the army has been seen as the uncorrupted hero in the mix. When local or even state authorities are found to be on the take, the military is called in to clean up the mess. They were the stopgap in the equation, the wall between having a serious drug problem, even epidemic, and being seen as a full-on narcoterror state. That may be changing.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported on the arrest of a former deputy minister of defense and three other high ranking officers in the Mexican army – three generals and a lieutenant colonel. Formal charges haven’t been released, but according to sources, they are accused of taking bribes from one of the drug cartels.

The scandal is high enough up the chain that President Calderon had to weigh in on the issue, saying, "I regret and condemn that a few individual members [of the armed forces], according to evidence found by the Attorney General's Office and the military prosecutors, have taken part in illicit acts. The only thing that is clear here is that my government won't tolerate illegal acts, regardless of who commits them."

This comes at a time when investors are becoming more and more worried about doing business with Mexico. Stability is the issue, and while politically things seem fine, the trend is toward ever more violence and corruption. Presidential elections come to Mexico in July, and drug violence is a front line issue there.

North of the border, most US citizens nod and shake their heads at the cartel influence in Mexico. States close to the border, however, know how easy it is for the violence to spill into their own backyards. With cartel influence now being seen corrupting small US towns along the border, residents in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico have come to realize that the border is more a line on a map than it is any protection from the crime spreading their way.

Cynics point out that the money driving the cartels’ power comes from the addictions in the US. In a sense, they say, we are getting what we deserve.

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