PEMEX, the major oil developer along the Mexican Gulf, has reported that cartels siphon about $1B in oil annually, reselling it on the open market to fund their insurgency. This tactic has escalated to include the kidnapping of PEMEX workers, possibly to further infiltrate the company. It was recently reported that cartels may be using IED's to attack the Mexican military, suggesting that the techniques of full-scale insurgency developed in Iraq are now finding their way to Mexico.
Of particular interest are cartel incursions into the United States. The DEA is tracking cartel networks across the major cities of the southern United States. Americans have been indicted smuggling weapons south across the border. Arrests of compromised Customs and Border agents has increased 40% in the past year. Agents say that substantial cartel violence in the US is only a matter of time. The US DHS has submitted plans to deal with cartel incursions into the United States.
Recently, Pinal county sheriff, Paul Babeu, states that Mexican drug cartels control parts of Arizona. "We are outgunned, we are out manned and we don't have the resources here locally to fight this," said Babeu, referring to heavily-armed cartel movements three counties deep in Arizona. Even Phoenix has seen ongoing cartel violence.
It's important to understand that the Mexican narco-insurgency is possibly the most direct threat to the stability of American communities, far more so than any of our foreign wars. Immigration laws will not work, just as drug laws have failed to stem the flow of drugs across US borders. Legalization of drugs is perhaps the most obvious solution, though it's not without its own costs. In all likelihood, near-term management will take the form of increased troop deployment to southern states, coupled to advanced enforcement technologies. For example, Wired recently reported that the FAA is considering how to integrate drones into US airspace. Certainly the landscape of the America's southern states is shifting to include a more violent and militarized gang presence.