(CNN) -- Mexico has landed some hard punches against the drug cartels that have stirred violence in parts of the country -- at least on paper.
In 2011, against just the notorious Zetas cartel, Mexico ended the reign of 16 leaders who ran cartel operations at the state or national level. Thugs with nicknames like "El Piolin," "El Lucky" and "El Amarillo."
But the violence attributed to the Zetas has not decreased even after these busts, and critics wonder if names are meaningless if they are so quickly replaced.
And a majority of Mexico's most-wanted drug traffickers, 22 out of 37, have been put out of commission, but to what benefit? At what cost?
"Mexico has paid an enormous price: almost 50,000 dead, almost $50 billion in additional security costs, ever more numerous human rights violations, (and) a great discrediting of the country to the world," wrote Jorge Castaneda, a former Mexican foreign minister and critic of the current strategy, in the Spanish newspaper El Pais. Read More