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Mexico’s drug war

Marijuana PlantFighting among Mexican drug cartels has raged off and on for decades, but it reached a frightening new level in recent years. In response, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has dispatched more federal troops than any previous president, but with mixed results. Murders and kidnappings continue daily, and drugs still flow into the United States and elsewhere. Here are a few statistics about the ongoing war:

1. The Mexican government recently said that 22,700 people have been killed in drug-related violence since December 2006. That is more than the highest estimates of military and civilian deaths in the entire Afghanistan war.

2. The drug war has taken an especially heavy toll on Ciudad Juarez, considered the war’s new center. Estimates put the number of abandoned homes at more than 100,000. City businesses have also taken a hit. An El Paso Times report noted that extortion from cartels and local gangs have forced more than 10,000 businesses to close since 2008.

3. Supply. Heroin production in Mexico has increased by 342 percent since 2004, while marijuana production rose 59 percent in roughly the same period, according to a Department of Justice report.

4. Demand. Drug addiction in the country has increased by more than 50 percent since 2002, according to a Mexican health ministry report.

5. Drugs aren’t the only activity of organized crime in Mexico. Another is human trafficking. A 2009 State Department report estimated that 20,000 children from Mexico are victims of sex trafficking every year.