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As violence in Mexico has escalated in recent years, many have argued that its metaphorical drug "war" is starting to look more like a de jure armed conflict. This Note maintains that, although a new approach is desperately needed, the proverbial "war" on drugs should be limited to metaphors, and the criminal law framework should be retained. This Note rejects reclassifying the confrontation between Mexico and the drug cartels as a non-international armed conflict (NIAC) under the laws of war because: (1) it fails to meet the criteria of a NIA C set forth by the relevant legal instruments and judicial decisions; and (2) the potential consequences of an armed conflict designation in terms of the lawful use of deadly force, prolonged detention, and unfettered prosecution powers would further exacerbate the problems that Mexico is facing. Instead, Mexico continues to confront a criminal problem, albeit one of extraordinary proportions. The Note concludes by providing a set of recommendations focused on empowering law enforcement, reforming Mexico's institutions, and strengthening the rule of law.

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