Fahoum ’18: On the ongoing Mexican Drug War

Servando Gomez, a school teacher turned powerful drug lord, was arrested in Morelia last Friday. This arrest followed months of work by Mexican Intelligence in the Michoacan region, where Morelia is located. The Mexican police seized Gomez’s properties and arrested many of his associates prior to his arrest.

Gomez, also known as ‘El Profe’ (referring to his teaching career), evaded capture for many years, at the same time when various members of his gang and many of his rivals were killed or captured. The long chase after Gomez resulted in the vast growing bounty on his head which, at the time of his arrest, was equivalent to $2 million.

El Profe began his drug trade career as a small marijuana dealer. Soon after, he joined La Familia, a famous Michoacan gang, where he rose to senior levels until he decided to split from La Familia and form his very own gang, the Knights Templar.

The Knights Templar cartel managed to control a very large part of the lucrative methamphetamine business in the west of Mexico. However, this cartel did not only deal with drugs, it mixed its business with politics and took direct control over Lazaro Cardenas, the international port at Michoacan, and used it to make millions of dollars off the illegal trade of iron ore.

Mexico’s federal government saw Pena Nieto’s administration take back control over Michoacan. As a result, Gomez became Pena Nieto’s main target. Yet, this administration has been criticised for failing to capture the drug gangs, leading to the formation of several vigilante groups that want to tackle the dealers illegally.

This arrest comes almost a year after Joaquin ‘Shorty’ Guzman’s arrest, an infamous drug lord and the head of the Sinaloa Cartel. This famous arrest sparked the Intelligence’s plan to capture drug cartels, which resulted in the killing of Nazario Moreno and Enrique ‘Kike’ Plancarte, two of Gomez’s senior deputies.

“With this arrest, the rule of law is strengthened in the country and we continue to move towards a peaceful Mexico.” President Pena Nieto tweeted after the arrest, an action intended to ease the Mexican public’s anger regarding the abduction and murder of the 43 trainee teachers in September by corrupt police forces in cooperation with cartels.

As for the Pena Nieto Government, it seems as if El Profe’s arrest might create more harm than good. The state of Michoacan is known for being poor and violent, which is a great environment for vigilantes and drug cartels to create a deadly battleground.

El Profe wanted more than business, he wanted political power. But in politics, one gains as many enemies as friends, which leads to questioning the nature of El Profe’s arrest.