Nevertheless, the Mexican government continues to tout its successes in fighting the drug war, especially its capture of major drug traffickers in the past year. High-profile arrests have included Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez and Sergio "El Grande" Villarreal, alongside the killings of Arturo Beltran last December and Antonio Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas in November. Last week a leader of La Familia in Michoacán, Nazario "El Chayo" Moreno, was also killed in a shootout, according to the government.
"What is very clear is that there is an important weakening of criminal structures," attorney general Arturo Chávez Chávez said Thursday. "There is no criminal organization that can be even remotely superior to the force of the state."
Aldo Muñoz, a political scientist at Mexico State's Autonomous University, is critical of the government's upbeat assessment of the drug war. While the number of top leaders taken down is one indicator of success, he says, so is the mounting death toll and the number of drug consumers in the country.