Pubdate: Sat, 22 Jun 2013
Source: Oregonian, The (Portland, OR)
Copyright: 2013 The Oregonian
Author: Les Zaitz
Series: Under the Curse of Cartels - An Oregonian Special Report


1914: The U.S. Harrison Narcotics Tax Act effectively outlaws opium 
products, creating a strong profit motive for smugglers.

1922: The U.S. bans heroin imports. Traffickers turn to poppy-growing 
areas of Mexico.

1940s: The U.S. reaches out to Mexico to supplement morphine supplies 
during World War II.

1960s-'70s: Mexican traffickers become more organized, acting as 
distributors for Colombian cartels to feed U.S. demand for cocaine and heroin.

1980s: The U.S. cuts off Caribbean cocaine routes and works with 
Colombia to take apart its cartels. Mexican cartels take control of 
Colombian cocaine, dramatically increasing profits by becoming the wholesalers.

1990s: Cartels thrive under Mexico's long one-party rule. Leaders 
mostly leave cartels alone in exchange for peace and power.

2000s: Violence explodes as new Mexican leadership cracks down on 
cartels and cartels compete for territory.

Now: Groups have splintered in recent years, making them difficult to 
track. The "cartel" label is misleading because the groups don't 
engage in price-fixing. The Mexican government calls them organized 
crime groups. The U.S. refers to them generally as cartels but also 
as transnational crime organizations (TCOs) or drug trafficking 
organizations (DTOs).

Cartels in Oregon

Law enforcement officials first saw signs that Mexican cartels were 
making inroads in Oregon about a dozen years ago, when drug raids 
began turning up dramatically bigger volumes of contraband. That 
signaled closer ties to cartels and their supplies.

Starting in about 2005, investigations increasingly traced Oregon 
trafficking organizations back to Mexico. Wiretaps captured 
traffickers here talking to bosses in Mexico or to Mexican drug 
suppliers working under the umbrella of cartels.

Also about that time, Mexican traffickers began setting up major 
marijuana grows in Oregon's vast rural areas, in part to circumvent 
tighter border security.

Investigators say traffickers are exploiting Oregon's close ties to 
Mexico, often following family and friends who've moved here. 
Mexicans have streamed to Oregon for agriculture jobs for generations.

The state also has a longstanding and rapidly growing Latino 
population. The 2010 Census counted more than 450,000 Latino 
residents -- nearly 12 percent of the state population, up from 8 
percent in 2000. The vast majority, 88 percent, trace their roots to Mexico.

Now, officials said, Mexican cartels are expanding their control of 
drug distribution networks in Oregon and across the U.S.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom