By BBCFor the past five years, Mexico has been engaged in a bloody confrontation with drug gangs. Mexican political scientist Eduardo Guerrero Gutierrez looks at how the struggle is going and the implications for Mexico's presidential election in July. The past year has been one of light and shade in the fight against organised crime in Mexico.
The violence of the drug cartels, against one another as well as against the security forces and innocent citizens, continues to dominate the headlines. Five years after President Felipe Calderon launched his crackdown on the gangs, there have been some 50,000 drug-related killings. The number of murders in 2011, estimated at around 16,700, is 9% up on the total for 2010.
However, a more detailed analysis suggests that the level of violence has stabilised, especially given that from 2009 to 2010 killings jumped by 60%. Indeed, the past year saw an improvement in some of the cities worst hit by organised crime. The main example is Ciudad Juarez where killings in 2011 were down some 40% compared with 2010. Given these figures, it no longer seems justified, if it ever were, to call Juarez the world's most dangerous city.
2011 was marked by the increasing confrontation between two criminal gangs. On the one side is the Pacific Cartel (also known as the Sinaloa cartel) headed by Joaquin Guzman Loera, El Chapo or Shorty. He is one of 11 Mexicans who are on the multimillionaires' list compiled by Forbes business magazine. On the other are Los Zetas, originally the "armed wing" of the Gulf Cartel.