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Coal mining in Mexico's Coahuila state, which borders Texas, is turning out to be more profitable for the country's Zetas gang than trafficking in illicit drugs, and some of its product finds its way into the Mexican national electricity supply.

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Drugs are all anesthesia from pain. The ruthless Mexican cartels crave money, which they make from the Yankee craving for numbness. They sell unfeeling, and we buy it, at tens of billions of dollars and thousands of Mexican lives per year.

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In addition to having produced 60,000 dead, 20,000 disappeared, hundreds of thousands displaced, wounded or on the run, and tens of thousands widowed or orphaned, Mexico’s drug war -- which seems to be off the radars of that country’s presidential candidates -- is a chain wrapped around the nation's considerable industrial potential.

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In one bloody 24-hour period in the industrial city of Monterrey, Mexico, drug-related violence claimed the lives of 33 people, most of whom were allegedly connected to local cartels, according to Mexican authorities.

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In the annals of a conflict that has killed more than 34,600 since Mexican President Felipe Calderon militarized his country’s battle against drug traffickers in December 2006, the conflict in Tamaulipas is writing a new and bloody chapter. Like Jesús Malverde, Santa Muerte has become an object of veneration among Mexico’s criminals.

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The hold of Mexican drug traffickers has overflowed the country’s southern border, as the Zeta cartel has seized control of parts of northern Guatemala, leading the government there to declare a state of siege in the area.

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