Mexico's Museum of Drugs

The Mexican military's Museum of Drugs, opened in 1985 in Mexico City, is now running out of exhibit space. Sadly, it's a private museum, open only to government officials, diplomats, and members of the army. The Washington Post's William Booth got a tour, accompanied by photographer Sarah L. Voisin. From the Washington Post:
Probably the best-known exhibit is the life-size diorama of a grower in the countryside guarding his crop. Montane flips a switch and a cassette player begins a bouncy narco-corrida, the popular ballads honoring the derring-dos of drug outlaws. In the corner, a mannequin lounges in his dark shades, a shotgun across his lap, beside a pile of empty Tecate beer cans. In front are beans on the stove and a bust of Jesús Malverde, a highwayman who legend has it was killed by authorities in 1909 and is revered as a patron saint of traffickers and a Robin Hood for the poor.

Around the corner, the exhibits show how drugs are smuggled, and here human ingenuity is on full display. There is dope hidden inside picture frames, logs, gas tanks, clay pots, tamales, concrete blocks, truck tires, soda cans, car bumpers, shoes, stuffed armadillos and a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

There is a kind of James Bond or Dr. Evil quality to some exhibits. An attache case confiscated from an outlaw surveillance team holds computer boards and other gadgetry to monitor cellphone calls. The cartels now employ their own fleets of semi-submersible submarines. On display is a large sea buoy with a coded beacon device the traffickers attach to huge payloads of drugs they can dump into the sea and pick up later. Also, apparently, the narcos now have their own line of clothes. There are dark blue polo shirts sporting a kind of family crest for the Zetas, a notorious cartel founded by former special forces soldiers that controls vast swaths along the Gulf of Mexico from Brownsville, Tex., to Cancun. The shirts, which appear to be 100 percent cotton, are emblazoned with a Z and the words: "Cartel del Golfo."

"In harsh reflection of reality, Mexico's Museum of Drugs outgrowing its space"


  1. “Semi-submersible submarine”? Really? Doesn’t that make it actually a “crappy, leaky, sinking boat”?

  2. It’s not so hard to obtain a permission to go to the museum. A few months ago I asked nicely via e-mail what were the requirements for a civilian. A military dude answered saying he just needed my name, my schooling level and a phone number. I’m not so sure if it would be so easy for tourists or foreigners to obtain this permit, but definitely is worth a try.

  3. Panama Hat: This is the second time I’ve had to reclaim my property from you.
    Indiana Jones: That belongs in a museum!

  4. I have never been very interested in owning a gun. Besides being an accident waiting to happen (sorry NRA nuts… guns do kill people) they are a silly thing to own, as it encourages people who know that you have one to think and feel that they need one to.

    But photo #17 changed all that!

    Florsie: I think you have some turd left on your face.

  5. I’ve been wondering: if most of the drug that goes through Mexico ends up in the USA, the number of drug traffickers in the USA must be at least as big there as in Mexico, so why is it that they are not such a notorious bunch there? Corruption in Mexico?, the USA authorities just don’t make such a fuss about it?, the USA pressures Mexico into doing something about it while they don’t, something else?

  6. the level of writing from actual, reputable media organizations as of late, i find horrendous.

    “shows the direction of drug trafficking from the south toward the United States.”
    i see MAYBE one arrow going to the US (might even just be baja california). the rest plainly point towards mexico, this makes sense given that this museum is in MEXICO.

    “He was responsible for the seizure of more than 8,000 pounds of marijuana and other drug findings.”

    i suppose one can seize “drug findings”

    “From 1976 to 2009, 636 Mexican forces have died in battles with the cartel”

    636 mexican forces died?

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