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Podcast: When the 'War on Drugs' got literal, and how it could end
September 28, 2016 / 8:46 PM / a year ago

Podcast: When the 'War on Drugs' got literal, and how it could end

The War on Drugs, declared during the Nixon administration, has become a shooting war. Every year brings new atrocities. More than 40 teachers massacred in Mexico under circumstances that are still unclear in 2014, entire towns held hostage.

Members of the Colombian Navy stand guard on top of a seized submarine built by drug smugglers in a makeshift shipyard in Timbiqui, department of Cauca February 14, 2011. Colombian authorities said the submersible craft was to be used to transport 8 tons of cocaine illegally into Mexico. REUTERS/Jaime Saldarriaga

And drug cartel weaponry has gotten deadlier. In 2015, a Mexican army helicopter was shot down in the state of Jalisco. The local cartel used a rocket-propelled grenade to do it.

And for years, drug gangs have worked on their navies, moving from cigarette boats to homemade submarines. They have air forces, as well, and fight pitched battles against the army in Mexico and other places.

But things are changing. Marijuana is legal in a few U.S. states, stripping the gangs of a form of currency, or at least devaluing it. The Colombian rebel group/drug smuggling operation the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) says it’s going straight. The leader of one of Mexico’s most notorious cartels, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is in prison again. Maybe he won’t escape this time.

But despite efforts to declare victory that span more than four decades, violence remains a hallmark of this very big business.

War College speaks with Gabriel Stargardter, a Reuters reporter based in Mexico City about a war where the battle lines are in constant flux and it’s unclear what victory even looks like.

The views expressed in this article are not those of Reuters News.

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