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Rehab in Mexico: Killed to minimize the risk

Authorities stood outside the drug rehabilitation clinic after the attack by gunmen. Photo credit Alejandro Bringas/Reuters

Cartel gangsters frequently target private and unlicensed rehabilitation centers in Mexico, due to the following factors:

a) these clinics are more likely to take in active gang members seeking to free themselves from an addiction to their own product.

b) private clinics are not associated with the penal system and have little security, leaving their patients vulnerable to attacks by gangs seeking to avenge the death of a friend or eliminate a potential police informant

c) some unlicensed clinics are front for illegal drug dealing,

d) some centers are safe houses for gangsters seeking to lay low

e) cartels are using them to recruit young people from 17 to 23 years old.

f) drug cartels cannot afford to have a former member come clean, either about himself or, worse, his bosses.

g) in some cases, organized criminal groups even run their own rehabilitation centers. The  drug trafficking organization known as the Familia Michoacana is also known to operate a series of rehab clinics as front institutions for recruiting and training centers.

h) most of the addicts in these facilities are there as a result of Mexico’s limited decriminalization law, which allows drug addicts who have committed crimes to serve their sentences in rehabilitation centers, instead of prison.