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Violence Spikes on the "Other Side" of the Border

Increasingly, there is concern that the spike in violence on the "other side" of the border continues, despite the promised crackdown by Mexican President Calderon. In fact, some attribute the upsurge in violence to a reaction by the drug cartels to the government efforts.

Edgar Millan is a federal law enforcement official in Mexico. At a press conference he said Mexican President Felipe Calderon's crackdown on crime could cause more violence as drug cartels retaliate. But, he says the country will not back down in its war on drug cartels.

Yesterday, a gun battle broke out in an upper class neighborhood of Tijuana as Mexican federal agents raided a house that sheltered armed drug traffickers suspected of being members of the Arellano Felix drug cartel. Following a three hour gun battle that included military and law enforcement, authorities found six slain kidnap victims. All of the victims were male and found shot execution style in the head. Whether the victims had been kidnapped for ransom or were members of a rival gang remains under investigation.

In an almost surreal pronouncement, Osuna Millan, Governor of Baja California told reporters, "we're winning the battle."

Shortly after the arrests yesterday afternoon, Tijuana's City Hall, police station and other city buildings were evacuated. Someone broadcast bomb scares on the police radio frequency. Local media report someone also said they'd hunt city officials and their families. Then the person played narcocorridos, songs that celebrate drug traffickers.

This isn't the only violent activity going on in Mexico.

● last week, gunmen killed two federal agents and a civilian in the central state of Michoacan.

● also, two other federal agents were killed and three were injured during a shootout in Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.

● before the Reynosa shootout, three suspected criminals were killed and 10 federal agents and soldiers wounded in a shootout in the town of Rio Bravo, across the border from Donna, Texas.

● Ten people, including three U.S. residents, suspected of having ties to the powerful Gulf cartel were arrested the next day.

● In the central Mexican state of Hidalgo on Wednesday, assailants killed the director of public safety for the town of Tulancingo was shot more than 20 times;

Why is this important to Americans? The flow of illegal immigrants and narcotics across the porous Mexican border to the United States remains a continuing issue of debate. I watch things very closely these days. Laredo is just a day-trip away, where the drug violence has already more than once crossed over the border from Nuevo Laredo. In 2007, drug violence claimed more than 2500 lives. Already this year, one estimate the count at 148 people who have died in the continuing war. Take a close look at the map of border areas. There are a number of "sister" or "twinning" cities that include San Diego-Tijuana Metro; Tecate, California – Tecate; Baja California, Calexico; California – Mexicali, Baja California; El Paso, Texas – Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua; Laredo, Texas – Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas; McAllen, Texas – Reynosa, Tamaulipas;Brownsville, Texas – Matamoros, Tamaulipas (the list is alot longer). Human smugglers use the same routes as the narcotics cartels. This represents a continuing threat.

UPDATE: As a reminder of the effect the porous Mexican border has on us, a Border Patrol officer was killed when he was runover by a "rogue vehicle" as he attempted to stop it after it ran a checkpoint in Yuma California.

Notes

3 Comments

Good article, but what is your point?

I live in Nuevo Laredo and the wild west atmosphere which you write about does not exist here.

Sure, the violence happens. It's sporadic, focused and until the recent events in Tijuana, the players did their best not to involve civilians.

The crackdown by the Calderon administration is not just eye candy. They are serious as hell about cutting the legs out from under the cartels.

I made a quick trip Sunday to Reynosa using Mexico Highway 2.

I encountered two checkpoints. One, at thee toll bridge in Camargo, manned by a motorized infantry company and the other, just north of Reynosa, manned by Federal Security Agents of the PFP.

No problems except for a vehicle search in Camrgo on the way back to Laredo. These soldiers were very professional, no nonsense and very polite. They were stopping and searching all traffic as it exited the toll.

Mexicans want an end to this violence and they are beginning to find their voices and the courage to use it.

The solution does not lie in border walls and other knee jerk suggestions but in cooperation between the two countries.

It is not just Mexico's problem. The US demand for the product these cartels produce is a contributing factor.

And yes, you will see a spike in the violence as the cartels are brought to task. The leaders are in prison, both in the US and Mexico,and the remaining leadership is weak, disorganized and dare I say scared, because for once, they are not able to stop what is occurring.

Porter, thanks for the comment. My response is mixed. First, as you are there (in Nuevo Laredo), your insight is important. At the same time, I wonder how close to the end of the drug wars Mexico really is. Yes, with Calderon's program, there is a concerted effort to stop the violence. Weekly if not more frequently, we read about more killings of law enforcement officers. So, will this counterdrug initiative be the one that works? If it does, will it last?

Also, I don't believe that you can blame the existence of the cartels on the demand for drugs in the U.S. For years, the Mexican government has looked the other way. I think that this is another area where "time will tell." I do wonder if the weakening of the cartels is only temporary.

Finally, one thing that you did not address is the periodic incursions into the U.S. by the drug lords' militias (like the Zetas). These are serious breaches of American sovereignty.

And of course, none of this addresses the problem of the flow of illegal aliens across the border into the U.S. You say that the wall or other measures will not work. The border cannot stay as wide open as it is.

yes, you most definitely CAN blame (in part) the demand for drugs in the US. drugs is as legitimate as any other business; there is a demand for a product and until the demand absolutely ceases and/or is ADEQUATELY supplanted by real help for those people who feel so unsatisfied with life, on a consistent basis, as to consistenly use drugs...real mental health care and real alternatives that work, not just more laws and more arrests so we make more of ourselves criminals (stupid response)...then the drug war obviously will not cease. isolating ourselves such as with walls) is a theory whose effectiveness has been disproven about 60 years ago ... let's move forward, not backward.