As Mexican drug cartels have grown in power and influence, they’ve also branched out. It is widely believed in Mexico that the cartels gradually took over the ports and customs facilities over the past 15 to 20 years.
Now Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO to his supporters) has a bold and controversial plan to counter cartel influence and corruption in the ports: Legislation is being drafted to soon pass over control of ports and customs from the civil servants in the Transportation Ministry to the hands of the military. The story was first reported by Deutsche Welle (DW).
AMLO has made it his vow since taking office to tackle corruption, drug and arms trafficking, and illegal timber and mineral trading. Because the civil government institutions, including the ports and customs services of Mexico’s maritime infrastructure, were under the cartel’s influence, he felt it was time to act.
DW quoted Raul Benitez Manaut, a security expert at the Centro de Investigaciones sobre America de Norte (CISAN), a think tank, who said that it is well known that the ports and customs have widespread corruption. The cartels have gradually diversified their business operations from drug trafficking, murders, and kidnapping, into legitimate businesses ranging from logging, mining, and real estate.