The LA Times offers a little background on the military operations the Mexican government and the Sinaloa drug cartel are conducting against each other. The recent action follows the assassination of Mexico's No. 3 law enforcement official, Edgar Millan Gomez in Mexico City by a petty thief who was waiting for him in one of his supposed safe houses. The Mexican government is portraying the violence as the act of a cartel desperate over its weakening by an effective government crackdown.
The newspaper columnist Jorge Fernandez Menendez has a better explanation, one involving money. He compares the current Sinaloa problem to the decline of Medellin godfather Pablo Escobar in the late 1980s: "The weaker Escobar became, the more enemies he made . . . and the less money he had, the more he resorted to violence to take revenge on his enemies and strike fear in them."
It's not clear why the Sinaloa cartel would be running out of money, given their apparent ongoing control of the Pacific coast cocaine transhipment routes. But at least this story about the international drug trade provides a better context for the shoot-outs in Glassell Park than the dumb recent LA Times story about the mother from Guerrero with thirteen gang children.
One of the best pieces on the overall context suggests that the cartels are turning Mexico into a "failed state." This may seem far-fetched. But when Mexico's defense secretary said "Organized crime is not, and can never be, stronger than Mexico," he raised exactly that possibility.