As drug-related violence steadily increases in Mexico, it has reached parts of the country it hadn’t before—affluent, formerly stable cities like Monterrey. In the past, local politicians would broker deals with drug cartels in order to keep a lid on the violence. This system has since ruptured, and in response the government has sent in the military to clamp down on the violence. The Nation’s Nik Steinberg joined WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show to talk about his latest piece on the monster that has manifested from this decision and the military abuses that have followed in its wake.

The US’s role is multifaceted. Seven years ago the US ban on assault weapons expired, fostering a steady cross-border weapons trade. The Mexican government says that in the past four years it has recovered some 60,000 guns traceable to dealers in the US.

“Both the supply of heavy weapons coming from the US and the demand for the drugs going to the US is a key element in the drug war in Mexico,” Steinberg says. “Without either of those elements, it’s hard to imagine Mexico as violent as it is now.”

—Sara Jerving