The Evolution of Los Zetas in Mexico and Central America
The United States has diplomatic relations with 194 independent nations. Of these, none is more important to America than Mexico in terms of trade, investment, tourism, natural resources, migration, energy, and security. In recent years, narco-violence has afflicted our neighbor to the south-with more than 50,000 drug-related murders since 2007 and some 26,000 men, women, and children missing. President Enrique Pena Nieto has tried to divert national attention from the bloodshed through reforms in energy, education, anti-hunger, health care, and other areas. Even though the death rate has declined since the chief executive took office on December 1, 2012, other crimes continue to plague his nation. Members of the business community report continual extortion demands; national oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) suffers widespread theft of oil, gas, explosives, and solvents (with which to prepare methamphetamines); hundreds of Central American migrants have shown up in mass graves; and the public identifies the police with corruption and villainy. A common fear of the elite and growing middle class is kidnapping. In 2012, Mexico recorded 105,000 cases; in 2013, the country led the world in abductions, surpassing such volatile nations as Afghanistan, Colombia, and Iraq."