This New Mexico City Has Become a Hub of Drug Smuggling

New Mexico has a long and complex history of drug trafficking, especially along its 180-mile border with Mexico. The state has three land ports of entry (POEs), which are regularly used by drug smugglers to carry illicit narcotics into the US market.

Among these POEs, Columbus stands out as the busiest and only entry point that is open and staffed around the clock.

About Columbus

Columbus, a little hamlet with about 1,600 residents, has become known as New Mexico’s drug smuggling center. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers Columbus to be a major hub for cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and marijuana trafficking and distribution.

The city also acts as a staging area for drug-related violence, with opposing cartels fighting for control of lucrative smuggling routes.

Drug Smuggling History in Columbus

Columbus has a lengthy history of drug-related problems, dating back to the notorious 1916 attack by Mexican revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. During the raid, Villa attacked a US Army facility in Columbus, killing 18 Americans.

The attack was allegedly motivated by Villa’s rage about the US government’s support for his adversary, Venustiano Carranza, as well as its meddling in the Mexican Revolution. Some historians believe German influence was used to foment a war between the United States and Mexico, diverting attention away from World War I.

Today, Columbus is still a battleground, but this time the conflict is motivated by drug-related activity. The city is located inside the jurisdiction of the Juarez Cartel, one of Mexico’s most powerful and ruthless criminal groups.

The Juarez Cartel is fighting the Sinaloa Cartel, commanded by the notorious Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, for control of drug corridors along the border. This violence has spread to the United States, resulting in a surge of murder, kidnapping, extortion, and corruption.

The drug danger has overloaded and weakened local officials in Columbus. In 2011, the mayor, police chief, and numerous other officials were arrested and convicted of involvement in a gun-running operation that provided guns to the Juarez Cartel.

This incident exposed the drug cartels’ deep infiltration of the city’s government and police enforcement.

The citizens of Columbus face the brunt of living in a drug hotspot, dealing with dread and poverty as the drug trade erodes the city’s social fabric and economic prospects.

Some people have fallen to drug addiction, while others have been persuaded or coaxed into entering the smuggling trade. Attempts to resist and condemn drug activity have resulted in threats and retaliation from the cartels.


Columbus, New Mexico, bears the weight of its notorious history as a drug smuggling hub, marked by a violent cartel conflict. From historical raids to contemporary corruption, the city grapples with deep-seated issues that have infiltrated its government. Residents face the harsh realities of poverty, fear, and drug-related challenges, highlighting the profound impact of the illicit trade.

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