The Dallas Morning News

Last year organized crime-related violence killed more than 11,000 people in Mexico. The number is likely to rise to more than 13,000 this year. While the overall murder rate in Mexico remains below that of Brazil or Colombia, there are parts of Mexico where violence has become particularly cruel and ever-present. The killing of 52 people in a casino fire in Monterrey a few weeks ago highlights this crisis.

The nature of the violence, however, has changed. When Mexican President Felipe Calderon started his offensive in 2006 against the organized crime groups that traffic illegal narcotics to U.S. consumers, he did so largely to prevent a few large trafficking organizations from challenging the government’s authority. His goal was to break these groups into smaller entities and limit their threat to national security.

Today these groups are increasingly fragmented, divided and decentralized. The Mexican government, supported by U.S. intelligence, has succeeded in arresting many of the top leaders of the trafficking organizations and making it harder for them to operate. Today these groups are probably far less cohesive than they once were, but that has also made them much more violent.