Filling the vacuum
Bear with me here as I go out on a bit of a limb.
As a libertarian, I am required (but not by law, zing!) to point out that this is a prime example of spontaneous order. The government is unwilling or unable to stop these guys. The locals have been mistreated and murdered to the point that they've had enough and have decided to take matters into their own hands. The cartels have created a problem for themselves. If the locals no longer fear death since they think they're going to die anyway, what then? The cartels are going to have a hard time of it. The locals are not constrained by the law now. They are now playing by local rules. Cartel rules. The government agents may kill them but mostly they won't. They'll try to arrest them which is nothing. The locals know they're playing for keeps and are acting accordingly.
Whenever libertarians advance arguments that successful societies (or cultures) fill vacuums with spontaneous order they are laughed at but here it is. It is certainly not perfect but it is less bad than the status quo.
"Who will build the roads?" is the refrain. Who indeed? A man with a plan and a desire to make some money.
What about hospitals? For good or ill, most of them are private now. Hell we have private trash pickup in Delaware and most states don't have that. I have news for you; its better here than any place else I've ever lived. They are prompt and reasonable. Not so much the Sanitation Department in NYC. There was a reason that contract negotiations were in August of every year. If they didn't like the contract they would strike and the hot, stinking garbage would pile up in the streets until angry voters would browbeat City Hall to just give them whatever the hell they wanted.
My great and rather unlikely hope is that Obama gives us a greater political correction than Carter. He is, in fact, worse than Carter.
Former communist countries are frequently the most zealous defenders of liberty. Why? They know the opposite. They've lived under it and know that it is soul crushing. Perhaps the hopey changey voters are getting enough of a dose of leftism they'll see the folly of their ways. I am less than hopeful because the low information voter is the most common kind.