January 23, 2007
The Mexican government took a bold step in its recent offensive against the narcotics mafia on Saturday, extraditing four drug traffickers to the United States. The most important of them was Osiel Cardenas Gullen, boss of the Gulf cartel. The police and government agencies are so rife with corruption that it is often difficult to say whether they are serious about dealing with the problem. Until Mexico's Supreme Court reversed itself in November 2005, extradition of suspects facing possible life sentences or the death penalty was prohibited. At about the same time, President Calderon deployed 7,000 troops to Acapulco, which has faced terrible violence from drug traffickers over the past year, undermining the tourist industry. See Washington Post
It is gratifying that Calderon is facing up to the threat to public safety. The narcos in Mexico have tormented many towns and cities with unspeakable barbarity in recent years, including beheadings of police officers and informants. The threat to civilized life is almost on the same level as terrorism. A cooperative gesture such as this must be reciprocated in some meaningful way, and that probably means concessions on immigration policy. If so, I just hope that it is part of a broader reform initiative that leads toward greater bilateral economic cooperation, not just a short-term payback.