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Colombian and Mexican Drug Cartels 

Drug cartels are criminal organizations developed with the primary purpose of promoting and controlling drug trafficking operations. They range from loosely managed agreements among various drug traffickers to formalized commercial enterprises. The term was applied when the largest trafficking organizations reached an agreement to coordinate the production and distribution of cocaine. Since that agreement was broken up drug cartels are no longer actually cartels in the proper sense of the word, but the term stuck and is now popularly used to refer to any criminal narcotics related organization.

Drug shipments operate in many countries, including ColombiaBrazilTrinidad and TobagoJamaicaDominican RepublicMexicoAfghanistan and South Asia. Some cartels are even establishing themselves in U.S. cities like New YorkMiamiPhoenixHoustonAtlantaCharlotteSacramentoLos Angeles, and San Diego.

Colombian Drug Cartels 

Colombian cartels is a generic term that usually refers to three, usually rival, criminal organizations involved in Illegal drug trade in Colombia:

  • Medellín Cartel
  • Cali Cartel
  • Norte del Valle Cartel

It sometimes also refers to other, lesser-known criminal organizations:

  • North Coast Cartel
  • Bogota Cartel
  • Caqueta Cartel
  • Llano Cartel

Other organizations in Colombia involved in drug trafficking include:

  • Black Eagles
  • AUC
  • ELN
  • FARC

Mexican Drug Cartels 

Mexican cartels (also known in Mexico as: La Mafia, Narcotraficantes, or simply as Narcos) is a generic term that usually refers to several, usually rival, criminal organizations involved in Illegal drug trade in Mexico:

  • Beltrán-Leyva Cartel
  • La Familia Cartel
  • Gulf Cartel
  • Juárez Cartel
    • La Línea
  • Sinaloa Cartel
  • South Pacific Cartel
  • Tijuana Cartel
  • Los Negros
  • Los Zetas
  • Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion
  • Cartel Independiente de Acapulco

Several other are lesser-known criminal organizations:

  • Colima Cartel
  • Guadalajara Cartel
  • Milenio Cartel
  • Oaxaca Cartel
  • Sonora Cartel

The Mexican Drug War is an ongoing armed conflict taking place among rival drug cartels, who fight each other for regional control, and Mexican government forces who seek to combat drug trafficking. Although Mexican drug cartels, or drug trafficking organizations, have existed for a few decades, they have become more powerful since the demise of Colombia's Cali andMedellín cartels in the 1990s. Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market in the United States. Arrests of key cartel leaders, particularly in the Tijuana and Gulf cartels, have led to increasing drug violence as cartels fight for control of the trafficking routes into the United States.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that the wholesale of illicit drug sale earnings range from $13.6 billion to $48.4 billion annually. Mexican drug traffickers increasingly smuggle money back into Mexico in cars and trucks, likely due to the effectiveness of U.S. efforts at monitoring electronic money transfers.


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