Jul 1, 2012

Cartels cast shadow over Mexico polls

Al Jazeera: Speculation rife over role of criminal syndicates as country votes for new president amid continuing drug violence

Juarez, Mexico - Covered in tattoos and working on a construction site in scorching desert heat is a reformed cartel assassin Luis (a pseudonym), who killed several men on orders from his bosses. "I was a bodyguard for one of the biggest gang members in Juarez," he told Al Jazeera. "We killed people, sold drugs and ran operations from inside prison and on the streets."

Luis was never interested in politics, but higher up the ranks of Mexico's notorious drug gangs, it seems likely that major players want to influence their surroundings. "All political things are like the mafia," Luis said. "I can tell you because I've been there."

As Mexicans head to the polls, analysts and security officials are split on what role wealthy criminal syndicates play in the country's political process. Along with picking a new president on Sunday, voters are electing: five governors, hundreds of congressional seats and nearly 1,000 local-level officials. Read more.

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