Mexican Government Goes 'All In' on Drug War

The paradox of Mexico is that it is, at once, a country yearning for modernity and yet inextricably tied to ancient superstitions.

Curiously, you'll find traces of both the modern and the mystical in the government's response to an increasingly vicious drug war. Since it began in January 2007, Mexican President Felipe Calderon's valiant battle against drug cartels has cost nearly 8,000 lives, caused U.S. military analysts to label Mexico a "failed state," and produced a backlash against Calderon's National Action Party (PAN) while breathing new life into the down-and-out Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

The modern piece of this puzzle is that Calderon's army is reportedly receiving world-class training at the hands of U.S. Special Forces, who are schooling Mexican soldiers in counter-insurgency strategies. The results so far have been encouraging. The government has announced a series of high-profile arrests of major drug suspects -- three last month, in fact.

One of the latest narcos to fall was Vicente Carrillo Leyva, one of Mexico's most-wanted criminals and allegedly the second-in-command of the powerful Juarez cartel. The Attorney General's Office of Mexico had named Carrillo Leyva to a list of the country's most-wanted narcotics suspects and offered a reward of 30 million pesos ($2.1 million) for his capture.

Clearly, the Calderon government is all in on the drug war, and -- whether the skeptics believe it or not -- it's in it to win it.

There is even evidence that the cartels are running scared and getting desperate. When they're not throwing grenades into crowds, they're staging mock protests against the military and plotting to manipulate the political process in the hopes of dealing the PAN a major blow in the July midterm elections.