The Mexican Drug War (also known as the Mexican War on Drugs) is an ongoing low-intensity asymmetric war between the Mexican government and diverse rival drug cartels fighting one another for regional control and also against civilian vigilante groups. Since 2006, when intervention with the Mexican military began, the government's principal goal has been to put down the drug-related violence. Additionally, the Mexican government has claimed that their primary focus is on dismantling the powerful drug cartels, rather than on preventing drug trafficking, which is left to U.S. functionaries.
Although Mexican drug cartels, or drug trafficking organizations, have existed for several decades, they have become more powerful since the demise of the Colombian Cali and Medellín cartels in the 1990s. Mexican drug cartels now dominate the wholesale illicit drug market and in 2007 controlled 90% of the cocaine entering the United States. Arrests of key cartel leaders, particularly in the Tijuana and Gulf cartels, has led to increasing drug violence as cartels fight for control of the trafficking routes into the United States.
Analysts estimate that wholesale earnings from illicit drug sales range from $13.6 billion to $49.4 billion annually.
By the end of Felipe Calderón's administration (2006–12), the official death toll of the Mexican Drug War was at least 60,000. Estimates set the death toll above 120,000 killed by 2013, not including 27,000 missing.