George Graham

The Deadly Power Struggle We Seldom Hear About

drug lordsIt’s old news, I suppose, and not worth the U.S. mainstream media’s attention, but a battle is raging worldwide that we hear or read little about. This “war” is between various governments and the international drug trade.

You may have come across recent news reports on the war in Mexico, where drug cartels have killed more than 5,300 people, including police officers and politicians, while President Felipe Calderon’s government struggles to defeat them.

Both sides in that struggle are equipped with sophisticated American-made weapons, and the Mexican government seemed to be losing the war. But since President Obama’s election, the United States has joined Calderon in a crusade to wipe out the drug cartels, which have spread across the American border.

“International drug trafficking organizations pose a sustained, serious threat to the safety and security of our communities,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said recently. He was commenting on the DEA’s “Operation Xcellerator,” which targeted the Sinaloa cartel, a major western Mexico drug operation that has been expanding its reach into the United States. The operation resulted in the arrest of 750 suspected Mexican drug cartel members and seizure of more than 23 tons of narcotics. The Sinaloa cartel is one of several accused of kidnappings and murders within the United States in addition to the carnage in Mexico. As part of the operation, authorities made arrests in Chicago, Minneapolis, Boise, and even in northeastern Ohio, where the suburban community of Stow had became a conduit for criminals running cocaine.

Holder’s involvement in the crusade to defeat the Mexican drug cartels triggered news reports in the U.S., but when was the last time you heard about the drug trade in Turkey, Africa, Haiti, Columbia, or even Iraq and Afghanistan, which are in the news almost every day? Browsing the web, I’ve come across frightening accounts of a global drug trade that has co-opted and corrupted highly placed public officials and which, some of the reports claim, is abetted by large American corporations and even CIA agents. Afghanistan, opium production has “shot through the roof” in the years since U.S. forces overthrew the Taliban government, and Iraq is also emerging as a key player in the global drug trade, according to Agence France Presse. Many of the drugs being smuggled into and through Iraq to European and Middle Eastern markets are coming from Afghanistan via Iran, where the Islamic Republic is unable to patrol effectively the remote trafficking routes along its border with Afghanistan, AFP said.

Today, the Associated Press reported that a group of soldiers have assassinated Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira. According to the news item, this was not a coup, and no motive is offered for the slaying, but AP notes that Guinea-Bissau “has recently become a key transit point for cocaine smuggled from Latin America to Europe.”

Of course, I don’t know whether the Guinea-Bissau president’s assassination has anything to do with global drug trafficking. But I wouldn’t be surprised. Enormously wealthy drug traffickers have infiltrated political circles around the world, and – through bribery and intimidation – manipulate politicians to do their bidding. And that could have been the case even in an obscure and impoverished nation on the Atlantic coast of Africa.

Top photo shows Mexican police officers escorting detained men from a home in Mexico City, on the day eleven alleged hit men for the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel were captured. Lower photo shows Afghan cocaine.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for