For the last six months or so, officials on both sides of the US/Mexico border have had their fingers crossed that the appalling violence perpetrated by Mexico’s warring drug gangs might be dying down. The new president, Peña Nieto, has a new, more conciliatory approach so, you know, maybe everyone will start playing nice…

No such luck. Intelligence from US officials suggests that the psychotic Los Zeta cartel and the well-established Sinaloas are in fact causing even more mayhem than ever.

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More than 1,000 people have been killed since Pena Nieto took over it turns out, and Los Zetas planning a bloody take-over of some crucial border towns. Well, as we say this week’s mag, the brutal fact of the matter is that servicing America’s drug habit is such an insanely lucrative business that any attempt to stop drug trafficking by force is doomed. In fact, I think that anyone who looks into the rock-bottom situation in poor Mexico will agree that the only way to save Mexico is to legalise all drugs.

Nieto has muttered something about a new anti-drug squad but the previous President, Calderon, tried that approach and it only made things worse. Much, much worse. And as Daniel Kalder makes clear in his interview with a Zeta hitman, the gangsters are 1,000 times more psychotic, better organised and — crucially — better paid, than any cop. They have submarines, drones and helicopters at their  disposal — not to mention politicians in their pockets.

Even President Molina of Guatemala (a tough-guy, once keen on military crack-downs) has come to the conclusion that legalisation is the only answer and is pushing for a debate across the Americas. But does Peña Nieto have the guts to join in?

Tags: International politics, Mexico, Peña Nieto