Inside Mexico's Most Powerful Drug Cartel | Foreign Correspondent

Tens of thousands are missing, many more murdered. So why are Mexico’s violent drug cartels operating with impunity? We go inside the most powerful cartel to meet the footsoldiers. Corruption, they say, goes right to the top. Produced in collaboration with Ben Zand and Vice TV.

In Mexico’s Sinaloa state, violence has become a way of life.
Home to the country’s most powerful drug syndicate, the Sinaloa cartel, murders and disappearances are rife.

The police, meant to protect the population, are often the targets of violence. Over 500 officers were killed in Mexico last year.

They’re also often complicit, with corruption in the police force and government a major problem.In this shocking portrait of a country caught in the grip of organised crime, reporter Ben Zand takes us where few have gone - inside the Sinaloa cartel in the Sierra Madre mountains where he witnesses the group’s operations up close.

At their hidden base, the group grows poppies and marijuana for export, fends off outsiders with guns and bribes visiting police and security officers with money and women.

“The government is the one in charge” say the local leader. “The cartel is only as big as the government wants us to be.”

Commentator and writer Ioan Grillo believes that the police and military used to have the upper hand with the cartels but says that’s now changed.

“Some of the cartels have become much more powerful,” says Grillo. “[now] the cartel is actually bullying and controlling elements of the security forces.”

It’s the community who’s paying the price for corruption and impunity.
Mirna Quiñones’ son disappeared suddenly 7 years ago. When police refused to help her, she set out to find him herself.

She went on to set up the Trackers of El Fuerte group which helps parents looking for their children. In the last seven years of searching, they’ve uncovered over two hundred bodies.

“There is no justice. We all know that. I have been threatened by the municipal police here. The government and crime are united.”

Interior Minister, Olga Sánchez Cordero, concedes there is corruption. “The trials, and the investigations, are deficient”, she says. “Lawyers are threatened. Judges are threatened. That is just the reality.”

But she maintains the government is doing its best to investigate the cartels and to undermine their support base.

Investigative journalist Anabel Hernández disagrees, saying she has little faith the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, elected two and half years ago, will tackle the problem.

“He promised to do something different but….it’s just the same. Nothing changed. In some parts it's worse."

About Foreign Correspondent:
Foreign Correspondent is the prime-time international public affairs program on Australia's national broadcaster, ABC-TV. We produce half-hour duration in-depth reports for broadcast across the ABC's television channels and digital platforms. Since 1992, our teams have journeyed to more than 170 countries to report on war, natural calamity and social and political upheaval - through the eyes of the people at the heart of it all.

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  1. ABC News In-depth

    ABC News In-depth

    2 maanden geleden

    You may recognise some footage in this documentary, this program was produced in collaboration with Ben Zand and Vice TV. If you'd like to learn more about the mothers searching for Mexico's disappeared you can read our accompanying article here:

    • Jorge TV

      Jorge TV

      9 dagen geleden

      @Callum Gillman I am Mexican, the only thing I can tell you is that you do not believe everything that is in the media, let alone the US media, I am sorry to say but they have you very deceived, if you only came to Mexico you would realize and have another conception about the country, something that makes me doubtful is that the "narcos" those of the video have let them interview them, it is rare, because to tell the truth that kind of criminals are very cautious, and more so with the Americans, I do not know, it seems strange to me, but well, to tell the truth Mexico as violent as these clowns say, surely you will tell me that I lie, but it is a truth, and I do not say that there is no violence, but we are not Afghanistan either, everywhere there is violence. A pity that they lie so much in their face...

    • JK F1

      JK F1

      10 dagen geleden

      Imagine if the US had a border to keep this out.

    • Valerijus Petrusevas

      Valerijus Petrusevas

      19 dagen geleden

      @Jon Irvine n

    • Christian H

      Christian H

      21 dag geleden

      Mexico should just because part of the US..then the US cna govern the country and push our cartels ..firstly..legalise marijuana and tax it.

    • Y M

      Y M

      29 dagen geleden

      Cartels can be stopped if people actually try for the future

  2. Fernando López

    Fernando López

    2 uur geleden

    Mujeres fuertes en busca de sus tesoros🙏😔

  3. Charlotte Higginbotham

    Charlotte Higginbotham

    5 uur geleden

    Violence in 🇲🇽 Mexico is because, the cartels make the Mexican government lots of money. Controlling the security forces and holding the country back. Cartel country controls the

  4. Blue Oak

    Blue Oak

    5 uur geleden

    Poverty keeps the cartels staffed Addiction keeps them funded Corrupt politicians keep them in place Pro Gun Republicans keep them armed

  5. hidosogood


    6 uur geleden

    "termina ...perdiendo" -->pero,San Juan 3:16 " Porque de tal manera amó Dios al mundo, que ha dado a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo aquel que en él cree, no se pierda, mas tenga vida eterna." Reciba y Creele JesusCristo en su-->❤

  6. Alfredo Zarate

    Alfredo Zarate

    8 uur geleden

    super fake this video

  7. Teddy's Friends

    Teddy's Friends

    8 uur geleden

    it feels like in ghost recon wildllands

  8. cris fregger

    cris fregger

    9 uur geleden

    this is sad this world is going to hell

  9. Martin Foden

    Martin Foden

    10 uur geleden

    11.00 in the camera guy must bee like hay man you need to be nice man.

  10. Marek Tulejko

    Marek Tulejko

    12 uur geleden

    I never buy drugs or go to burdel 'cos it gives money for criminals!

  11. Michael C

    Michael C

    14 uur geleden

    "Because most of the profits go to the highest level of government." Sounds like the story everywhere.

  12. Pepper Sprout

    Pepper Sprout

    16 uur geleden

    you know what we should do? invite them all to the US.

  13. Ashir Ali

    Ashir Ali

    18 uur geleden

    Mexico now going to big change in 2years is improved the business opportunities..and sports..i will agreed is coming new Mexico

  14. Buddkilla 82

    Buddkilla 82

    19 uur geleden

    12:58 Get one thing straight!!! This cartel is the only cartel that has morals against killing babies kids families elderlies. While still being a strong group of people!! " Strong like the USA Brutal like the Japanese "

  15. Buddkilla 82

    Buddkilla 82

    19 uur geleden

    In a way, black people can both see the nature of having opposition wanting them to be killed and could strike at any moment, they can relate! The poverty, discrimination against their race, and violence! But as much as bad as it is in the ghetto of America, Mexicans living where they do or in the hot zones , no laws, no calling the police for help, You couldn't call anyone if you saw an entire family get lifted up, Us Americans have it way better , at least we have some sort of help (messed up and corrupt as hell, but we can call 911) and have more freedom as in Mexico. But all in all people all over the world suffer. Be grateful if you live in a good place and good home!

  16. Contact jameshacker25 On telegram

    Contact jameshacker25 On telegram

    21 uur geleden

    He did a great job 👆👆 my delivery was so quick you're the best bro

  17. Rewster Fewd

    Rewster Fewd

    21 uur geleden

    I like how they just ask whos really in charge and the cartel are just like “oh it’s the government”

  18. Shawn Elliott

    Shawn Elliott

    21 uur geleden

    It annoys me that nobody ever mentions how the cartels are _actually_ paramilitary organizations (i.e. mercenaries) which are self-funded (hence the drug-dealing businesses). They operate with the Federal government's approval and effectively govern Northern Mexico, which has always been resistant to direct governance by Mexico City since the country was founded. (you'll notice the police fighting the cartels are almost always state police, not Federal police.) The Federal government makes a show of trying and failing to control the cartels, but in reality the cartels are doing the Federal government's dirty work for them. Most of the people murdered by the cartels are competing cartel members, uncooperative state government officials, and secessionist civilians. That doesn't make the murders okay, but it does go a long way towards explaining the situation.

  19. K3n Kiko

    K3n Kiko

    22 uur geleden

    Que no tengo familia mi hermano

  20. K3n Kiko

    K3n Kiko

    23 uur geleden

    Its a great busines of narcotrafic that made a big damage in the country and dont talk to the world

  21. judyfaith ballogan

    judyfaith ballogan

    Dag geleden

    We can just see how people around that kid changes his perspective in living. Sad to see his dream of becoming a vet turns out to be guarding the cartel🙁

  22. Ismael Velazquez

    Ismael Velazquez

    Dag geleden

    Lose respect for the reporter wearing a mask

  23. Julian Papin

    Julian Papin

    Dag geleden

    Drug cartel ppl are lovely ppl 🤥

  24. Dusty


    Dag geleden

    God Bless those mothers but how can they recognize their children if they've been dead and buried for years? Wouldn't they be decayed beyond recognition?

  25. Juvenal Mendoza

    Juvenal Mendoza

    Dag geleden

    Anabel trabaja para el cartel de Sinaloa, pregunto ? Será cierto?

  26. Juvenal Mendoza

    Juvenal Mendoza

    Dag geleden

    Esto se agrando con el mas Corrupto Expresidente Felipe Calderón (((( El BOROLAS)))))) y luego el Guapo el Expresidente sin cerebro Peña y sus miles de políticos Rateros

  27. Lejit The Wasteland Prince

    Lejit The Wasteland Prince

    Dag geleden

    This is REAL journalism... doesn't get any realer than this.

  28. John Williams

    John Williams

    Dag geleden

    The war on drugs makes prohibition look genius

  29. nick luebke

    nick luebke

    Dag geleden

    Thug religion Is false religion

  30. Guerline Saint Louis

    Guerline Saint Louis

    Dag geleden

    82%, oh wow

  31. Mazz man

    Mazz man

    Dag geleden

    Great video

  32. Eduardo Ramirez

    Eduardo Ramirez

    2 dagen geleden

    Stop sending weapons from the States

    • urban seagull

      urban seagull

      Dag geleden

      And stop drugs too

  33. 1 hit

    1 hit

    2 dagen geleden

    i want to meet the kid someday

  34. R2-D2


    2 dagen geleden

    these cartels are responsible for thousands and thousands perhaps millions over the years addicting american youth to fake heroin and cocaine that they are putting fentanyl in killing them. Sanction mexico

    • peruano feo indio color barro sin arica y come cuy

      peruano feo indio color barro sin arica y come cuy

      22 uur geleden

      Yall are the ones talking it not us

  35. Kat Hood

    Kat Hood

    2 dagen geleden

    I need some chiva

  36. True Fitness

    True Fitness

    2 dagen geleden

    If drugs has always been the root problem in mexico and the government have made no improvements clamping it down, why not just make it Legal. I'm sure doing that will lead to fewer deaths

  37. Joshu Hinojosa

    Joshu Hinojosa

    2 dagen geleden

    The questionable cucumber reassuringly spill because flood perioperatively correct amid a stimulating badger. tranquil, previous malaysia

  38. Alberto Figueroa

    Alberto Figueroa

    2 dagen geleden

    Kinda crazy to see a video about where im from and the police is definitely infiltrated by the cartel anytime u get stopped u can literally pay them off they ask you themselves if you have anything I’ve experienced it first hand.

  39. Stupid B a d ITCH

    Stupid B a d ITCH

    2 dagen geleden

    I mean.. this is mexico own doing. USA already helped by taking in elchapo. Gotta let them do this by themselves and quit hopping borders trying to escape, cause theirs no such thing as Mexican American.

  40. salvador macias Pulido

    salvador macias Pulido

    2 dagen geleden

    There are too many links on this chain that need to be broken in order to brake the cycle that is feeding this chriminal alliances.

  41. P Cozzy

    P Cozzy

    2 dagen geleden

    The limping recess aboaly ruin because port seemingly wave to a languid separated. holistic, taboo puma

  42. Marvell D. Anne

    Marvell D. Anne

    2 dagen geleden


  43. salvador macias Pulido

    salvador macias Pulido

    2 dagen geleden

    everybody can promise, how to do it is the problem.

  44. salvador macias Pulido

    salvador macias Pulido

    2 dagen geleden

    if you own the federal goverment money; the will find you no matter where you hide. How ironic.

  45. Oliver Rowen

    Oliver Rowen

    2 dagen geleden

    You see until they decide to clean up govt all these documentaries are a waste of time. If they really want to knock this out they know where to drop the bombs. Just drop bombs regularly on the fields and randomly.

  46. NJR Official

    NJR Official

    2 dagen geleden

    9:58 Look at his Finger this guys are always ready to fire.

  47. Rick Merino

    Rick Merino

    2 dagen geleden

    Mexico is such a beautiful country to bad that the government is their biggest threat

  48. SC pro

    SC pro

    3 dagen geleden

    as I visited my mother's homeland, I was always at funeral of youths that had been murdered. In my opinion the shedding of blood is connected to the way the Indians worshipped before, I think this continues. I understand this video and keep in my mind that corruption is the way of life in the country.

    • Nifficent


      12 uur geleden

      Going back to what Mexico use to be before the Catholic Church

  49. Wayne Hoobler

    Wayne Hoobler

    3 dagen geleden

    We should stop calling them "cartels" and call them corporations. The only difference is that corporations generally operate inside the laws which they help to write and cartels operate outside those laws. American Big Pharma kills more people than drug cartels but when they do it it's nice and legal.

  50. Red Baron

    Red Baron

    3 dagen geleden

    What is white supermacy????

  51. Mark Bonifacio

    Mark Bonifacio

    3 dagen geleden

    The parsimonious mirror pharmacokinetically continue because sleep presumably bruise given a wandering var verbs = [aardvark. befitting, better death

  52. Girish Venkatachalam

    Girish Venkatachalam

    3 dagen geleden


  53. Kris Slaght

    Kris Slaght

    3 dagen geleden

    Columbian cartels control Mexican cartels.

  54. Juan Carlos Román

    Juan Carlos Román

    3 dagen geleden

    Things are changing in a worst way. There's a growing cartel 10 times more violent. The Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel is fighting so hard. We have 6 of the 10 most violent cities because of the these two cartels.

  55. Kolor K

    Kolor K

    3 dagen geleden

    I need an aspirin.

  56. Edward Warwick

    Edward Warwick

    3 dagen geleden

    A complete country wide take over of the country might be just what Mexico needs to become stable again.

  57. Lizz MG

    Lizz MG

    3 dagen geleden

    You have no idea how much I hate this people. They disappeared my cousin he was 15 years old working after school in a small shop,but they went to pick him up because he didn't want to join them. We never saw him again. His mother died out of sadness a year ago 😔. He went missing in 2016.

  58. Omar Hernandez

    Omar Hernandez

    4 dagen geleden

    Que tristeza me da de ver que ya el dominio de mi país lo tienen los carteles y el gobierno está metido en eso

    • LaMarch


      14 uur geleden

      Pues no que no pasa nada en mexico que todos son felices?

  59. flexr642


    4 dagen geleden

    I like turtles... 🐢

  60. 1917 Jason

    1917 Jason

    4 dagen geleden

    The bad truth is Mexico nearby us. And all of this shit will never stop

  61. justcallmeSmith


    4 dagen geleden

    Since lazy and Mexican don't usually go in the same sentence and the kid responds necessity about why; when he wants to be a vet. I wouldn't assume it's a social problem, I'd assume it's just the only company in the area hiring.

  62. THE WOLF


    4 dagen geleden

    ABC needs to show this video to the Mexican Government. Then ask them to take ABC around the city and show if this is true or false. Embarrass them in front of the rest of the world, see what they do.

  63. Guido Sarduci

    Guido Sarduci

    4 dagen geleden

    There comes a time to declare an all out war against these drug lords and their empires. We know who they are, we know who the government officials are. For the common good its time to end them.

  64. jason hu

    jason hu

    4 dagen geleden

    it seems no futrue in this country. endless corruption and endless bribes

  65. SYNE


    4 dagen geleden

    Ironic you will point out the corruption in Mexico, but stay silent about the obvious corruption we are going through in the United States

  66. FishNinja


    4 dagen geleden

    Bless all of them that had someone or multiple people on all sides of this war I know it sounds stupid but I swear the people of Mexico need to heal, but idk why but when that kind mom was looking for her son and has others she’s helping when she started speaking English for that one answer she gives after maybe the last question just the tone scared me she was getting mad af yo I can definitely understand why tho.

  67. bodasactra


    4 dagen geleden

    If drugs were legalized in the U.S. all this would end. Legalization does not mean accepting drug abuse as normal, it means regulation of a problem with no solution.

  68. David Gregory

    David Gregory

    4 dagen geleden

    14:46 he said absolutementa no which means " not absolutely" NOT absolutely not

    • Spike


      2 dagen geleden

      Means just absolutely not I’m sure Cause in Spanish some things are backwards

  69. Joel Monkley

    Joel Monkley

    4 dagen geleden

    So well armed guy with ak 50 drum mag plus auto pistol they will fight to the end

  70. Papa Pita

    Papa Pita

    4 dagen geleden

    Domestic US weed is good.

  71. Pato Smith

    Pato Smith

    4 dagen geleden

    pretty hard to win a fake war, the mexican govt doesn't want to stop it and the american govt doesn't want to stop it, money

  72. Arnel Lopez

    Arnel Lopez

    4 dagen geleden

    And ICC wanted to go to the phillipines because of the drug war ,and yet in mexico they are not interested? Wht a fool hypocrite ICC was.

  73. choco mint

    choco mint

    4 dagen geleden

    dang mexico has talented and smart people but most of them are corrupted smh

  74. Garage 29 Boxing

    Garage 29 Boxing

    5 dagen geleden

    I blame it on all the USA junkies

  75. coronacienfe


    5 dagen geleden


  76. coronacienfe


    5 dagen geleden


  77. art munoz

    art munoz

    5 dagen geleden

    Had to pause and comment. Alot of these cops would be out for blood if there weren't soo many corrupt/dirty on the forces.

  78. Dylan Snellgrove

    Dylan Snellgrove

    5 dagen geleden

    You can tell the guide is getting a little irritated by the interviewers questions and statements. Especially about being terrorists.

  79. Marloun Yunson

    Marloun Yunson

    5 dagen geleden

    AND WHERE IS INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT? ( ICC ) ????? ISN'T THIS A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY? NO PROBE? NO INVESTIGATIONS? But they have the courage to probe Philippine President Duterte on his war against drugs? ICC YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED!!!

  80. John Herrera

    John Herrera

    5 dagen geleden

    If Our President Duterte didnt run for the office, maybe Philippines could be like this today or soon enough. Thank God He didnt let this to happen to our country. He use President Duterte to fight the criminality, drugs and corruption. I hope Mexico can find their President Duterte soon... God Bless you



    5 dagen geleden

    This huge reality looks like a TV show, a TV drama, but it is an actual thing, a real thing.

  82. April Smith

    April Smith

    5 dagen geleden

    The "Trackers" have my lifelong respect...admiration...and awe...🇿🇦

  83. Andy Orozco

    Andy Orozco

    5 dagen geleden

    funny how a reported can just walk-in, lol.

  84. John Smith

    John Smith

    5 dagen geleden

    Herpes simplex virus can be cured by Dr. Tigo herbal on NLid channels with herbal medication.

  85. bill smith

    bill smith

    5 dagen geleden

    Biden is going to make sure they get great US weapons like the Taliban. But he wants them all painted yellow like the submarines we are developing with the "guy down under".

  86. Guillermo Rosalez

    Guillermo Rosalez

    5 dagen geleden


  87. Bread Garlichouse

    Bread Garlichouse

    5 dagen geleden

    I like turtles 🐢

  88. AdamGimenez


    5 dagen geleden

    i wish they had a president like duterte in phil.

  89. A M

    A M

    5 dagen geleden

    This is just sad. I pray for all the families that have lost their loved ones.

  90. No Name

    No Name

    5 dagen geleden

    "It's the most dangerous place to be a journalist" North korea, china and current afghanistan joins the chat.

  91. Viktor Chavez

    Viktor Chavez

    5 dagen geleden

    Mexico’s most powerful cartel is its own government everyone just trying make a living

  92. Antonio Valdez

    Antonio Valdez

    5 dagen geleden

    You know that kid holding the rifle does not want to become a vet cuz he likes cows lol he wants to learn how to transport cocaine and pills through livestock nice try panchooo.

    • urban seagull

      urban seagull

      5 dagen geleden

      He gonna use cows to transport cocaine lmao

  93. robert garza

    robert garza

    5 dagen geleden

    The humdrum russia macroscopically colour because canoe particularly wink a a dazzling pond. lyrical, jolly decrease

  94. Rose Marie Homeyer Bente

    Rose Marie Homeyer Bente

    5 dagen geleden

    America we are responsible for this

  95. Firstname Lastname

    Firstname Lastname

    5 dagen geleden

    This is what the US War on Drugs does, turn Mexico into a narcostate. Listen to the cartel guy saying why they set up the ranch - to grow weed, but weed got cheaper so they grow opium poppy instead. Why? Because weed got legalized in the US and the price dropped so they moved on to trading stuff that is still illegal.

  96. AeroviewUSA


    5 dagen geleden

    I WILL NEVER agree with, or forgive the cartels.. But, they absolutely live in a sick vacuum which US politicians have helped to create.. I am a PROUD (right leaning) American; however, US politicians are guilty as sin for this.. The cartels do not live in a vacuum. Ask COLUMBIA when it got real. Dead. Mexican and other cartels.. They get DEAD if the U.S. makes it happen. MORE American's have died from drugs in one year than in foreign wars in the last 20 years. Why is that? Oh, invade and eradicate Mexican Cartels?? What a joke.. The cancer from within is going to kill all of this continent.

  97. Jose Aldrich

    Jose Aldrich

    5 dagen geleden

    The actual federal government is not involved.

  98. Fringe Wizard

    Fringe Wizard

    5 dagen geleden

    That part at the end of course people know they just don't care.

  99. Andrew Dudeman

    Andrew Dudeman

    5 dagen geleden

    That last 5 minutes is rough.