Here are some statistics to put the drug war in context:
Killings in Mexico are trending up after a decline
The number of homicides in Mexico peaked in 2011 and then declined for three years. But the latest statistics show the trend reversed in 2015. Estimating how many homicides are related to drug violence is an imprecise science, but leading newspapers in Mexico estimate that since 2006, organized crime-style homicides account for 40% to 50%.
Mexico is NOT the deadliest country in the Americas
The grisliness of some of the drug cartel violence in Mexico -- beheadings, mass killings, torture -- gets a lot of attention. While there are some hot spots of violent activity, Mexico's homicide rate is actually closer to the middle of the pack than the top, compared with other nations in the hemisphere.
Many kingpins have fallen, but the smuggling industry survives
The Mexican government points to evidence of its successes in the war on drugs: The leadership of the biggest cartels has been captured or killed (or recaptured, as in the case of serial escapee Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
). Critics of the so-called "kingpin strategy" say the focus on the bosses has only created more factions of traffickers.
U.S. demand for drugs changes little
The United States is the biggest market for Mexican drug cartels. The conversation on drugs has evolved in the past 15 years to include legalization of marijuana, the toll of innocent victims in Mexico, and the amount of money earmarked for fighting the drug war. But while the demand for drugs fluctuates