The purpose of this post is to present very clearly what the market of force is down in Mexico.  This is a country where millions of folks have risked life and limb to illegally cross over into the US to make a better life and earn more money. So with that said, the market of force is certainly a factor down in Mexico because jobs are so tight.  Not to mention the ‘plomo o plata‘ concept where the cartels use fear and intimidation to impose their will on the people.

These statistics also show why corruption is so bad.  The cartels are extremely intertwined with government, police, military, and society, and are expert at wielding their money to get what they want.  The may not have morality on their side, but they definitely have peer pressure and cash on their side. Meaning ‘if everyone else is doing it, to include my uncle and my cousins, then I might as well too–or get the wrath of the cartels’.  Who knows, but I do know that the cartels seem to have no problem with sicario recruitment. Especially if they can get these recruits addicted to drugs or threaten to kill their families.

So with that said, what I wanted to do is present the employment options for a hired gun down in Mexico. Or what I call the ‘Market of Force’.  As with most market of force analysis that I have seen in war zones, the side that pays the most, tends to have no problems with recruitment.

Worse yet, the one factoid that really stood out to me, was found in this quote:

However, instead of presenting himself as a victim of circumstances, the sicario describes his frustrations with powerlessness and his ambitions for a different path from the work-saturated lives of his parents. Despite being a bright student who earns scholarships and starts college, he begins to do drug runs at an early age. At 15, he meets the current head of the Juárez cartel, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, and as a young man he decides to drop out of college and enter the police academy – under the sponsorship of the cartel.
The sicario describes police academies as training grounds for cartel operatives, where cadets on the cartel’s payroll would even go to special FBI-hosted training in the United States.
The penetration of drug organizations into government institutions goes even further, as the sicario describes his duties delivering money to state officials, using patrol cars to move drugs, the old pacts with local governments to not sell drugs within their cities, and the presence of top military officials at narco-parties. -From Borderland Beat’s Review of the book El Sicario

The cartels grab these kids when they are close to police academy age, and probably have no police record, and then they get them trained up in the methods of law enforcement, complements of the state. This particular sicario seems like he chose this more as a career move. This kind of thing happens with the military as well. Basically using state sponsored training in order to be proficient at defeating the state’s police or military, and most importantly, defeating competing cartels. Very smart. It also explains why the cartels are always stealing police uniforms or military uniforms, so they can conduct pseudo operations. This act also destroys the trust that the local populations have in their law enforcement or military units.

As to solutions?  The first step is always in the government. It must be purified of any cartel influence. The next step would be to purify law enforcement, and pay them an excellent salary. The military too.  Give them all the best training, the best salaries, and do everything you can to keep these groups funded and well led.  Mexico should definitely be front and center on the asset seizure game, and figure out ways of spreading the wealth amongst their police and military so that salaries are competitive with the sicarios. If not, they will continue to be negatively impacted by the market of force. You see the same thing happening in Afghanistan between government and the Taliban, you see the same thing in places like Iraq between the insurgency and the government, and you see the same thing in places like Somalia where fishermen and naval officers chose piracy because of the reward and poor economy. –Matt

As of 2010 entry level security guard salaries start at approximately $70 to $100 (840 pesos to 1200 pesos-rounded up) a week. People holding mid level positions can expect to make between $150 to $250 and high level security protection employees can expect salaries of $1000 to $2000 a month. –From eHow

The war has certainly exposed the weakness of Mexico’s criminal-justice institutions. Numbers are not the problem: with 366 officers per 100,000 people, Mexico is better supplied with police than the United States, Britain, Italy and France, among others. But it is badly organised and corrupt. Policemen earn an average of $350 a month, about the same as a builder’s labourer, meaning that wages are supplemented with bribes. Carlos Jáuregui, who was Nuevo León’s chief security official until March, reckons that more than half the officers in the state were being paid by organised crime. A policeman in Monterrey can be bought for about 5,000 pesos ($400) a fortnight, Mr Jáuregui reckons.
“Police are treated as second-class citizens,” says Ernesto López Portillo, head of Insyde, a Mexico City think-tank. They are kept that way by the constitution, which separates police officers from other public servants, meaning they do not qualify for the standard minimum wage and the 40-hour weekly work limit. Police forces are in theory overseen by internal investigation units, but their findings are secret and, in any case, Mr López Portillo estimates that fewer than 5% of forces have such a body. –From the Economist

A new video shows an interrogation of a man identified as Aldo Rivas Torres, who is believed to be a member of the criminal organization Los Zetas. The video is signed by The M’s.
The incident occurred in the municipality of Santiago Papasquiaro, located in Durango and it is believed that the video was recorded recently.
Four armed commandos dressed in military type uniforms point their weapons at the obvious distressed Rivas, while he details his work as a sicario where he confesses that he was receiving a monthly salary of about 15,000 and 20,000 pesos ($1,200 to $1,600 dollars).
He claims that he received direct orders from his brother Jesus Rivas Torres, who serves as an Captain in the Mexican Army, but is also involved with Los Zetas where he is the head of the organization in the village and receives a monthly salary of 500,000 pesos (about $40,000 dollars).-Borderland Beat

Most of the detainees wore military-style clothing, a woman of 16 years of age indicated that training had just started, that they had been sent to the training camp so they could learn how to fight in order to fight for a plaza soon. She also said that they were paid 8,000 pesos a month.- Borderland Beat

However, instead of presenting himself as a victim of circumstances, the sicario describes his frustrations with powerlessness and his ambitions for a different path from the work-saturated lives of his parents. Despite being a bright student who earns scholarships and starts college, he begins to do drug runs at an early age. At 15, he meets the current head of the Juárez cartel, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, and as a young man he decides to drop out of college and enter the police academy – under the sponsorship of the cartel.
The sicario describes police academies as training grounds for cartel operatives, where cadets on the cartel’s payroll would even go to special FBI-hosted training in the United States.
The penetration of drug organizations into government institutions goes even further, as the sicario describes his duties delivering money to state officials, using patrol cars to move drugs, the old pacts with local governments to not sell drugs within their cities, and the presence of top military officials at narco-parties. -From Borderland Beat’s Review of the book El Sicario

The Army is under authority of the National Defense Secretariat or SEDENA. It has three components: a national headquarters, territorial commands, and independent units. The Minister of Defence commands the Army via a centralized command system and many general officers. The Army uses a modified continental staff system in its headquarters. The Mexican Air Force is a branch of the Mexican Army. As of 2009 starting salary for Mexican army recruits was $6,000 Mexian pesos, or about $500 US dollars per month, with an additional lifetime $10,000 peso monthly pension. -From Wikipedia

Colombian Sicarios
A more overt reference to Sicarii occurred in Colombia since the 1980s. Sicarios, professional hit men adept at assassinating, kidnapping, bombing, and theft, gradually became a class of their own in organized crime in Colombia. Described by Mark Bowden in his investigative work Killing Pablo, the sicarios played a key role in the wave of violence against police and authorities during the early 1990s campaign by the government to capture and extradite fugitive drug lord Pablo Escobar and other partners in the Medellin cocaine cartel. Unlike their ancient namesake, sicarios have never had an ideological underpinning. Perhaps the only cause that they were attributed to was the opposition to extradition of Colombian criminals. Though Escobar employed sicarios to eliminate his enemies, these assassins were active more as independent individuals or gangs than loyal followers of a leader, and there were plenty of sicarios willing to serve the rival Cali cartel. Nevertheless, many died in combat against police forces, indicating that they were not all inclined to bend to the wind. Indeed, long before Escobar’s time, Colombia in particular had a long legacy of professional kidnappers (secuestradores) and murderers, whom he emulated.
In Spanish the word ‘sicario’ is used to refer to both killers who have specific targets and underling hitmen. In Italian, it means “hired killer, hired assassin, cutthroat”.-From Wikipedia