Some 14,000 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderón declared war on Mexico's vicious drug cartels in 2006, and the bloodshed escalated in 2008. Border trenches like Juárez a bullet-pocked city of 1.5 million with swaths of territory under martial law were ravaged by drug-related killings, with more than 1,800 murders through the first nine months of 2009. In this democracy of 110 million, corruption is so endemic among the police, army and government that some analysts have gone so far as to dub Mexico a failed state. Through the three-year Merida Initiative, launched in 2008, the U.S. has committed $1.6 billion in aid to help combat drug-fueled crime. But critics point out that caches of weapons, not cash, have been perhaps the most significant cross-border export flowing from the U.S.