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The terrible toll of Mexico's war

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 17 May 2012

There is a war under way which is threatening the stability and security of a nation of almost 110 million people.

It is not a war between the armies of nation states.

It is a war being waged in Mexico between rival criminal syndicates for control of the lucrative drug trafficking trade into the United States and is one of the most vicious and brutal conflicts in the world today.


While there are no official figures for the number of deaths, the Mexican government estimates that more than 40,000 people have been murdered since 2006.

Thousands more are said to be missing.

The majority of the deaths are presumed to be members of the two largest drug cartels, Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation or Cartel, both considered to be among the most powerful and violent criminal syndicates in the world.

However, among those killed over the past several years are Mexican military personnel, police, politicians, lawyers, journalists and US Government officials.

The slaughter is increasingly indiscriminate.

Last week more than 50 mutilated bodies were found dumped next to a highway, with spray-painted messages warning of further violence.


The savagery of the conflict is shocking.

It is common for authorities to find dozens of bodies each week, often decapitated and bearing signs of torture before a grisly death.

In one particularly grotesque incident, nine bodies were hung by the neck from a bridge over a major highway in a blatant display of brutality.

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About the Author

Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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