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In-Depth Series: Narconomics

It's a multi-billion dollar enterprise, but only the bad guys reap the profits. This is the business of Mexico's drug war.

Confronting crack in Costa Rica

SAN JOSE — Carballo is visibly disfigured. Thugs chopped a chunk off his left ear and gouged 19 teeth out of his mouth. 

In Costa Rica, the Ticos get tough

SAN JOSE — After a decade of escalating violent crime, and amid an ongoing row with neighboring Nicaragua, are the “Ticos” — as the Costa Ricans call themselves, in a self-effacing habit — losing their peaceful way? 

Fear and money laundering in Costa Rica

SAN JOSE — Law enforcement officials say laundering is par for the course in this country, which has fallen into the crosshairs of flush drug cartels seeking not just trafficking routes but places to stash illicit cash.  

For Costa Rica, a “menace” like no other

SAN JOSE — The fight against the cartels has dealt a major blow to Costa Rica. "I couldn't say that we are winning the battle," Chinchilla said.

Caciques, not cartels, kill in Mexico this time

Little-known local groups known as caciques charge protection money in schools
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Forensics experts examine the makeshift grave in Guadalajara. (Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)

Three bodies were found buried in Guadalajara on Thursday. 

And it's believed the cartels didn't do it. So who killed them? 

Student organizations in Mexico, which are violent and organized, started up in the 1960s. 

They still exist now, linked to local political bosses known as caciques, and the groups help influence political rivals or get into extortion rackets. 


Another Zetas cartel leader captured...

...Another round of drug-war Whack-a-Mole begins.
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Sometimes it can seem like the cartels are bulletproof. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexico's US-trained marines nabbed one of the founders of the Zetas cartel on Monday, a valiant effort, to be sure.

But also one that underscores how badly this drug war is going. 

Raul Lucio Hernandez Lechuga, known as "El Lucky," was picked up in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, where the Zetas have been clashing with a proxy of their main foe, the Sinaloa cartel. 


Gunmen kill ambulance driver in Mexico, 4 die

Another spate of violence for Ciudad Juarez amid this never-ending drug war
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More murder comes to Ciudad Juarez. (JESUS ALCAZAR/AFP/Getty Images)

An ambulance driver was killed on Wednesday in Ciudad Juarez, a Mexico border city that saw a massive uptick in violence as cartels compete for territory.  

Gunmen ambushed the ambulance by crashing into it.

They then shot the driver through the head, killed two patients and a woman who was riding with them. 

Officials think that the driver was the target of the killing, but they have no motive.

Do they ever?


America's shadow war on drugs

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — The shady figures who set up bank accounts in fake names, and offer trucks to ship cocaine aren't drug traffickers. They're American agents paid to bust them. 

More US drones patrolling above border with Mexico

LUNA COUNTRY, New Mexico — The Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, known as the Drone Caucus, has doubled its membership since January, and the number of drones used on the border has increased.
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