Katie Orlinsky

Innocence Assassinated: The Living Victims of Mexico's Drug War

In 2006, newly elected Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels. His intension was to take a stand against the violence, corruption and drug trafficking that had been increasing since 2000. But since then the situation has only gotten worse.

Mexico’s drug war is more than an armed conflict. It is a humanitarian crisis that has changed the lives of countless innocent people. The total drug war death toll has now reached over 30,000 people, and behind every murdered victim there is a family left to live with the consequences.

The feminization of the drug war has also become an undeniable reality. Women are becoming widows at alarming rates, left to fend for themselves in a shattered economy and easily lured into criminal activity such as drug trafficking and kidnapping, some of the only financial options available to support their families.

In addition to women, there are countless children forever scarred by a childhood engulfed with violence, death and insecurity. In Ciudad Juarez alone, approximately 10,000 children have been orphaned since 2008. Soon these children will be teenagers, lacking the education, family structure, and economic security necessary to protect them from recruitment by gangs and cartels.

Behind the well-known narrative of the fighting between cartels and the army is the real story of the drug war in Mexico: the innocent victims trapped in a cycle of violence and crime.