Senator: Cartels control nearly half of Mexico

by WorldTribune Staff, January 31, 2018

Drug cartels are close to controlling as much territory in Mexico as Islamic State (ISIS) did at its height in Syria, according to a U.S. senator who recently visited Mexico.

Mexico’s drug cartels have enough cash to equip large armies, Sen. James Lankford said.

“Forty to 45 percent of Mexico is ungoverned or run by the cartels,” Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, told the Tulsa World newspaper on Jan. 29.

“ISIS at its height in Syria controlled 50 to 60 percent.”

Lankford said the cartels, swimming in cash from trafficking in heroin and fentanyl, are able to employ large armies to fight competing cartels and government security personnel.

Related: Meanwhile, in Mexico, the murder rate set records but compared to Venezuela it’s a safe haven, Jan. 30, 2018

“There are 15,000 fighters working for the cartels,” Lankford said.

Cartels were believed to be responsible for 75 percent of murders in Mexico last year. According to, Mexico recorded more than 29,000 homicides in 2017, for a rate of 22.5 per 100,000 citizens – up sharply from the previous year’s rate of 16.2.

“We’re seeing cartels that are more violent, and there are more of them,” Lankford told the Tulsa World.

The cartels also contribute significantly to the U.S. opioid crisis through the trafficking of heroin and fentanyl, the senator said.

“Four days ago, 100 pounds of fentanyl was seized coming into the U.S.,” Lankford said. “This is an enormous amount of fentanyl.”

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