drug war

In honour of the airing in the US on Sunday of the final episode of Breaking Bad, the hit television drama that lifts the lid on the dark world of crystal meth, here are five things worth knowing (and dropping at your next dinner party) regarding the global trade of the illicit drug. (With a deep bow to Wonkblog, the New Yorker, and Slate, all of which have done extensive plot analyses)

1. North America dominates the world of methamphetamine. And those Mexican cartels are indeed hard at work.

According to the UN Office of Drug Control’s 2013 World Drug Report, North America accounted for 54 of the 88 tons of methamphetamine seized worldwide in 2011, the latest figures available. Leading the pack in North America was Mexico, where the cartels have turned mass producing crystal meth into a fine art. Read more

 

John Paul Rathbone

Last month, gunmen dumped 35 dead bodies on the streets of Veracruz, one of Mexico’s busiest Gulf ports, just a short distance from where the country’s state attorneys were due to hold a convention. Last week, another 32 dead bodies were found stashed in Veracruz houses.

And last weekend, the nearby university town of Xalapa hosted an offshoot of the Hay literary festival – a genteel and ruminative gathering of the kind that Harry Eyres writes about in his weekend FT column “The Slow Lane”. It is also the kind of discrepancy that is becoming increasingly common as Mexico grinds through the fifth year of its “drugs war”. Read more