crime reductionMexico: A Nation Wracked by Drug Violence and Addiction

In 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto replaced Felipe Calderón as President of Mexico, and the change in presidential administration has brought about a major shift in the way that the Mexican federal government is fighting that nation’s war on drugs. Señor Peña Nieto’s predecessor was famous for bringing the Mexican military in to battle against the drug cartels within the borders of Mexico, a strategy that did result in the killing or capture of many of the leaders of major drug trafficking organizations, the arrest of countless low-level drug runners and dealers, and the seizure of vast quantities of drugs. President Calderón was not, however, ultimately successful during his time at the head of the Mexican drug war. his militant approach to the situation saw an escalation in violence to the point where at least 60,000, and possibly as many as 100,000, Mexicans were killed in the drug war during Calderón’s time in office. Some of these deaths were directly caused by military action, though far more were the result of brutal street violence between rival cartels. The situation got so bad that many middle- and upper-class Mexicans fled the cities, where it had become almost commonplace to see battles with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades, or to see dead bodies dumped in the streets as a warning to other gangs. Despite this tragic toll taken on the Mexican nation — with more deaths than the total number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War — the drug war continues and Mexicans from all walks of life continue to struggle with substance abuse and addiction.

A New Direction in the Mexican Drug War

Since taking office last year, President Peña Nieto has made it clear that he is changing the focus of the war on drugs in his country. Rather than battling the cartels directly with the military, he is more intent on reducing the murder rate and other forms of drug-related violence. One measure he has taken is to beef up the national police force with an additional 40,000 officers. Another action on the part of Peña Nieto has been to direct the governors of the 31 states of Mexico to work with their own local governments to develop programs for reducing drug-related crime among ordinary people. In Baja California, the state which shares a border with California, Narconon Tijuana has been selected by the Secretary of Social Development to take part in a pilot program for reducing the rates of substance abuse and addiction in Tijuana. The Secretary recently received a presentation from Juan Verdugo, the president of the local Narconon center, and a team of executives from the organization, in which they outlined the various ways in which they could support the government in the fight against drug-related crime. The Secretary liked what he heard, and gave Narconon Tijuana the green light to begin working on a pilot program consisting of five workshops in eight schools in one of the areas of the city with the highest rates of crime.

How Narconon Tijuana Is Helping to Fix the Drug Problem in Mexico

The workshops that Narconon Tijuana will be delivering to school children and others in the community are based on Narconon’s history of more than 40 years in treating drug addiction and in providing drug prevention education to hundreds of thousands of people of all ages. The curriculum they will be using covers several subjects that play a crucial role in helping young people to stay off drugs, including:

  • The subject of communication and skills for using it more effectively to control situations and one’s own emotions
  • The ability to spot people who do not have one’s best interests at heart and who, in fact, are actively working to suppress others, as well as the ability to spot those who do want to help one to do well in life and to be happy
  • Restoration of personal integrity, as well as preserving it once it has been regained
  • Essential facts about drugs, how they affect the user and the ways in which they cause damage
  • A commonsense moral code that details basic actions that one should take and principles to abide by in the effort to live a life of happiness

The Baja California Secretary of Social Development has approved the allocation of funds to make it possible for the team from Narconon Tijuana to move forward with the project. The workshops are scheduled to begin in September of this year, though Señor Verdugo and his colleagues did not waste any time in getting started. The already delivered no less than 25 boxes of educational materials for the Narconon drug prevention curriculum by handing out the booklets The Way to Happiness and 10 Things Your Friends May Not Know About Drugs to people on the streets in El Pipila, one of the districts of Tijuana. The coming months will reveal just how effective the Narconon educational program will be in cutting down the rates of drug-related crime in Baja California and whether the successful program will be spread throughout the nation that so sorely needs it.
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