Mexican federal authorities have associated rising violence with drug trafficking since the beginning of the 20th century – dating back to 1917, when the Mexican Constitution prohibited drugs, with the goal of preventing violence.
And, so, when Mexico’s former President Felipe Calderón first declared a formal war on drugs in 2006, his decision had a long history.
The U.S. government supported this war with a US$3.4 billion military agreement, called the Merida Initiative, which began in 2007 and lapsed in 2021.
The plan’s tactics – including the Mexican military’s targeting and killing of drug cartel leaders – did not quell the rising violence, which continued to spread and intensify over the past 16 years.
Mexico has tried to address this rise in drug cartel activity and crime with different measures, including sending 128,000 Mexican soldiers to fight drug cartels and other criminal groups in Mexico’s streets – a violation of Mexico’s original Constitution that prohibited the use of the military for police work within the country.
In October 2022, Mexico approved a constitutional reform that allows the military to carry out domestic law enforcement through 2028.