On December 11, 2006 Felipe Calderon, as the first significant act of his presidency, sent the army to his home state of Michoacan. He claimed that it was to regain control of territories lost to the drug cartels, and indeed, a new cartel had started operating in Michocan. But the fact that he won the election by the slim margin of 0.6% and his main rival declared himself the legitimate president of Mexico surely influenced him.
In the beginning, the war proved a success by all objective measures: in 2007 the homicide rate decreased to its lowest level in recorded history and murders in Michoacan went down by more than 40%. Not that it mattered much, all the while the government was losing the psychological war—the use of torture and beheadings became common in executions carried out by drug cartels as they sought to protect their turfs and intimidate the population.
And then 2008 rolled around and the Sinaloa Cartel decided to take advantage of the weakening of the other cartels and the corruption that is endemic in Mexico to gain control of the drug trade…
|Sources: Homicide data from INEGI, population data from CONAPO.|
2009 estimate based on execution rates