'Since 2008, the seven main drug cartels have emerged as an existential threat to Mexico's future. Cartels like Los Zetas, which recruit members from Mexico's Special Forces and federal police, behave like organized paramilitaries, not ordinary criminals. They generate perhaps $30 to $40 billion a year in illicit profits. And the price has been horrendous. Between 2007 and 2012, around 47,000 Mexicans were killed in the drug war. Some estimate that the true toll is over 60,000.
When we think of torture, beheadings and assassination, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia come to mind. Many Americans and Canadians would be surprised to learn that these are commonplace in Mexico, a country many associate with beaches and margaritas. Yet the situation in Mexico has deteriorated so badly that one Juarez mayor and a newspaper publisher took up residence in Texas, while one journalist took refuge in Canada.
As neighbors, we should be concerned. But there's even more to it than that: The drug cartels pose a direct threat to American and Canadian security.'