As illustrated by the unprecedented violence in Mexico, drug trafficking groups have evolved to not only pose significant challenges to that country, but to governments and societies across the Western Hemisphere, including the United States. Crime Wars: Gangs, Cartels and U.S. National Security surveys organized crime throughout the Western Hemisphere, analyzes the challenges it poses for the region and recommends the United States replace the “war on drugs” paradigm with comprehensive domestic and foreign policies to confront the interrelated challenges of drug trafficking and violence ranging from the Andean Ridge to American streets.
The result of a yearlong study by the Center for a New American Security, Crime Wars provides some elements of such a strategy, including recommendations for the U.S. government to: renew political and military outreach to Latin American states; enhance efforts to strengthen state institutions throughout the region; and better attack cartels’ financial networks. At the same time, domestic policy should aim to disseminate better intelligence among law enforcement, federally fund additional campaigns to diminish drug demand and safeguard U.S. communities against gang recruitment. Only by dealing with transnational crime in a comprehensive manner will societies in the hemisphere be able to mitigate its impact.