While there is such a thing as ‘narcocultura,’ this article is not about that. This is going deeper, and farther back in history. Our own Coriolanus has already touched on this before.
There’s a lot more to the narco-insurgency in Mexico than just drugs and crime. While greed certainly plays a large role (Hint: it plays a large role in any conflict, whether ethnic, religious, or ideological), it doesn’t cover everything.
Many of the cartels are regional in nature. It would be perhaps a step too far to call them strictly ‘tribal,’ though family does tend to play a large role. Most of the leadership of the major cartels have been related by blood. But the ties are more to particular states or regions, the most notable being Sinaloa.
Sinaloa State is largely mountainous, being centered on the Sierra Madre. Historically, mountain people have been difficult at best to conquer; see the Afghans and Scottish Highlanders for only two examples. The native tribes of Sinaloa were no different. From the 1500s to the 1700s, there were multiple rebellions and wars between the Spanish and the native Yaquis, Pimas, Mayos, and Acaxees.