Dec. 1, 2000: President Vicente Fox takes power, ending 71 years of one-party presidential rule.
Jan. 19, 2001: Convicted drug lord Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman escapes from a high security prison in a laundry van. His Sinaloa cartel rises.
Feb. 10, 2002: Kingpin Ramon Arellano Felix is shot dead by police in Mazatlan, ending the national dominance of his Tijuana cartel.
March 14, 2003: Mexican army captures Osiel Cardenas, head of the Gulf cartel and their bloody enforcers, the Zetas. Control of his valuable territory is up for grabs.
2004: Violence erupts in Nuevo Laredo as Guzman's Sinoloa cartel tries to seize the border from the Gulf cartel and Zetas.
June 8, 2005: Nuevo Laredo police chief Alejandro Dominguez is shot dead by Zetas only six hours after he swears into office. Asked earlier that day if he was scared, he replied, "No, I'm not frightened, because I have a clean conscience."
Sept. 6, 2006: Affiliates of Zetas throw five severed heads onto a dance floor in Uruapan, Michoacan. The violence is part of a broader struggle by Zetas and their affiliates to hit back against the Sinoloa cartel against Mexico.
Dec. 1, 2006: President Felipe Calderon takes office. He immediately heads a national campaign to fight drug cartels and restore order, starting in his home state of Michoacan.
March 15, 2007: Police seize $205.6 million in cash in a Mexico City mansion in the world's biggest ever drug cash seizure.
Oct. 30, 2007: Mexican navy makes biggest cocaine bust in world history, seizing 23.5 tons on coast of Manzanillo.
Jan. 5, 2008: Violence explodes in Ciudad Juarez, as Guzman's Sinoloa cartel tries to take control of the city.
May 8, 2008: An assassin kills Federal Police Chief Edgar Millan in his home in Mexico City. On the same day, gunmen kill the son of "Shorty" Guzman in Culiacan, Sinoloa. Violence flares up in Sinoloa, Juarez, and Tijuana
Sept. 15, 2008: Assassins throw grenades into Independence Day celebrations in Morelia, Michoacan, killing eight. The attack is blamed on the Zetas.
April 26, 2009: President Barack Obama makes his first visit to Mexico under intense security. He promises to stand shoulder to shoulder in the drug war and deliver $1.6 billion in aid.
Dec. 31, 2009: The federal government records a total of 9,635 drug-related murders across Mexico over the year, by far its most violent on record.
March 13, 2010: Assassins kill three people linked to U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez. Security raised for U.S. government employees all across Mexico.
June 28, 2010: A squad of 15 gunmen dressed as soldiers kill favorite gubernatorial candidate in Victoria, Tamaulipas. Calderon calls for united political front against drug threat.
Compiled by Ioan Grillo and Alexa Rosenthall.
Photos: Jorge Silva/Reuters; Ho New/Reuters; Manuel Ocano/Getty Images; Ho New/Reuters; Reuters Photograper/Reuters; Reuters Photographer/Reuters; Tomas Bravo/Reuters; Ho New/Reuters; Ho New/Reuters; Daniel Aguilar/Reuters; Henry Romero/Reuters; Omar Torres/Getty Images; Stringer/Reuters; Eliana Aponte/Reuters; Claudia Daut/Reuters; Tomas Bravo/Reuters; Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters.
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