Feb 16, 2015
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Violent drug-trafficking organizations (VDTOs) in Mexico produce, transship, and deliver into the United States tens of billions of dollars worth of narcotics annually, but their activities are not limited to drug trafficking. VDTOs have also engaged in human trafficking, weapon trafficking, kidnapping, money laundering, extortion, bribery, racketeering, and assassinations. In an effort to clarify the scope and details of the challenges posed by VDTOs, a RAND team conducted a Delphi expert elicitation exercise, the results of which offer an assessment of the contemporary security situation in Mexico through the lens of existing RAND research on related issues. The exercise centered around three strands of prior RAND research on urban instability and unrest, historical insurgencies, and defense-sector reform. Although this prior research was not designed specifically for the study of Mexico, all three areas offer applicable insights. Assessment scorecards from these projects were used to obtain input from the expert panel and to guide the resulting discussion. The goal was not to break significant new ground in understanding the dynamics of drug violence in Mexico or to offer a qualitative assessment of these dynamics, but rather to provide an empirically based platform for identifying key areas that merit further investigation.