Americans are facing one of their deadliest foes in recent history: not ISIS, but opioids, painkillers that are highly addictive and killing thousands of Americans annually. Drug overdoses took the lives of 64,000 people in 2016, with two-thirds related to opioids. Congress has taken a good first step, providing the ...

President Donald Trump invoked the deadly deeds of the violent street gang MS-13 in his State of the Union address, and again this week when addressing law enforcement officials at the White House. He spoke of closing loopholes to keep members of the Salvadoran gang out, and he has also ...

As the U.S. public-health system struggles to alleviate the scourge of opioid addiction that killed more than 50,000 Americans in 2016, a variation on the theme is the ramifications of this class of drugs as chemical weapons. Among the drugs at the forefront of the health crisis are the highly ...

The brutal battle against the Cali Cartel enters a new chapter in the war on drugs, with the Season 3 premiere of the Netflix series Narcos on September 1st. It follows the previous seasons that tracked the life and eventual demise of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The Drug Enforcement ...

Homicides in Mexico surged by 255 percent from 2015 to 2016, and extortion cases increased by 30 percent, according to a recent American Enterprise Institute report. In cities previously identified as success stories – Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, for example – violence has returned to record levels. This year, the ...

Mexico was ranked the most-worsened country this year on the Fund for Peace's Fragile States Index (FSI), tying with Ethiopia for the bottom spot. Although Mexico has long faced violence, corruption, and organized crime, these problems all worsened during the past year, countering a decade-long trend of increasing stability there. ...

Mexico’s stability affects the U.S., and U.S. policy has an effect on its southern neighbor’s stability. The recent Fund for Peace Fragile States Index showed Mexico worsened in terms of stability during the past year. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with the former chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, ...

As the Trump Administration proposes cutting aid to Central America – and as American, Central American, and Mexican leaders met in Miami last week to discuss development and security in the region – The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder asked Michael Shifter and Ben Raderstorf of the Inter-American Dialogue why Central ...

Central America, particularly the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, is notorious for violence and drugs. The region acts as a transit point for drugs going from South America to the United States, and the flow of drugs northward shows no signs of easing as U.S. demand ...

Heads of government from Central America, Mexico, and the United States convened in Miami on June 15 and 16 to discuss security in the Americas, while the Trump Administration plans to cut aid to Central America. “President Trump has made clear our commitment to this region by requesting an additional ...

Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was one of the world’s most notorious narcotics traffickers, and Steve Murphy was one of two U.S. drug enforcement agents who brought him down. Working with his DEA partner Javier Peña and a special Colombian police unit, known as the DIJIN, Murphy was also instrumental ...

Kidnappings in Mexico continue to increase, particularly in the states of Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Morelos, Puebla, Zacatecas, and Tabasco.  Although the Interior Ministry reported a 2.1 percent drop in 2016 compared to 2015, the methodology—or lack thereof—leaves a lot to be desired.  Statistics, like those reporting homicides, are hidden or ...

Mexico’s homicide rate is surging. Government and independent sources are reporting an up to 18 percent increase for 2016, compared to last year. This comes on the heels of a multi-year decline in criminal violence in many parts of the country. It has been more than six years since Mexico’s ...

Earlier this month, a police truck burned on the side of the road in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, with meter high flames melting the interior and the four bodies, three of them murdered federal police officers, that lay inside. Like so many gruesome crime scenes across Mexico, this one marked a fault ...

The increase in violence over the last year has spread evenly across Mexico (as shown in Figure 1 below) which compares state-level intentional homicide rates per 100,000 residents for the first ten months of 2015 (X axis) and 2016 (Y axis). There are a few states where homicide rates have ...

“Narcos” is the Netflix fictionalized series that traces the rise and fall of one of the world’s most notorious narcotic traffickers, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. (Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t finished the series, you may want to save this article for later!) As the head of the Medellin Cartel, ...

“Narcos” is the Netflix fictionalized series that traces the rise and fall of one of the world’s most notorious narcotic traffickers, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. (Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t finished the series, you may want to save this article for later!) As the head of the Medellin Cartel, ...

After 10,500 unaccompanied minors crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, seeking asylum in October and November, many asked, what kind of parents would send their children on such a dangerous journey to an uncertain future?  Well, when you’re from the world’s most violent region not at war, the cost-benefit calculus changes.  In ...

The problems plaguing the Northern Triangle—Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—are plenty, but for retired DEA Agent Michael Vigil one stands out among the rest. “Drug trafficking is synonymous with violence and the Northern Triangle is not exempt to this rule,” he explained.  Even more problematic, the resulting violence is not ...

The so-called Northern Triangle in Central America—namely, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras—has been depicted as one of the must dangerous and violent regions in the world.  International organizations, human rights groups, politicians, and even churches and other religious entities, not to mention journalists and members of academia, contribute extensively to ...

Does the deteriorating security situation in Mexico affect us here in the U.S.?  Is it really a U.S. national security issue?  If Mexico continues on a downward spiral, as long as you’re not vacationing there, does it matter?  The answer is a big yes.  We share a long 2,000-mile border ...

For almost a decade, the Mexican government has deployed the latest version of a much longer effort to address the growing threat of Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs). Previous phases in this effort produced two phenomena: on one hand, the strengthening, sophistication, and territorial expansion of DTOs; and on the other, ...

In the last scene of the movie Sicario, children in Ciudad Juarez play soccer as their parents cheer from the sidelines.  Gunshots are heard in the distance.  Everyone pauses.  And then the game continues. Despite being fiction, this scene symbolizes what is true for people living in Juarez, and many ...

There was a sigh of relief when the Mexican government successfully re-captured drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman last week.  El Chapo, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, is arguably the most powerful drug trafficker in the world, exporting volumns of illegal narcotics globally and spreading violence in its wake.  However, ...

Pablo Escobar’s childhood dream was to be a millionaire by the time he was 22.  It is unclear if he met that specific goal, but at the height of his wealth, Escobar was worth $30 billion, money he earned as a Colombian drug lord.  In its new series, Narcos, Netflix ...