Lately I’ve been following a certain something very closely: the drug war. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico has become one of the deadliest cities in Mexico as the result of drug cartels fighting over territory and fighting with police enforcement. It’s a crazy issue for me because its literally happening at my doorstep [I’ve spent most of my life in El Paso,TX; 5 minutes away from Mexico].
As of today, the violence has let up a bit. But the first 2 months of 2009 were something to really take your breath away. More than a death a day and the acts of violence became more and more barbaric. There were 200 deaths in February alone in Ciudad Juarez.
Some notable events of Jan. and Feb.
+The police chief of a suburb of Juarez was beheaded and his head was delivered to the police station in Juarez. source
+The police chief of Juarez resigned as the result of threats from the drug cartels. Juarez Police Chief Roberto Orduna Cruz was issued an ultimatum: reign before Friday, Feb 21st or a police officer will die every 48 hours. This came after 4 officers were killed in an ambush and a border protest that completely shut down the bridges between El Paso and Juarez. source
+Government officials including a state governor were targeted. A city council member was shot, Patricia Avila Sanchez, was found murdered in her car while her fellow city council member Cristina Aranda Villalobos was found murdered four days earlier. source
+The mayor of Juarez, Jose Reyes Ferriz, flees for his safety to live in El Paso. The mayor of Juarez and his family moved to El Paso as the result of death threats from the cartels. The threat made by the cartel reads: “Reyes-Ferriz you made a good decision to let go of the pig (in reference to the newly resigned police chief, Roberto Orduña Cruz) but if you continue to support those pigs and helping those people you know who we’re talking about, for you we will not ask you to resign. We will cut off your head along with your family even if they are in El Paso.” source
In response to the huge clusterfuck that Juarez was becoming, President Calderon sent an additional 3000 troops to Juarez, promising the presence would grow to 8000 by the end of March. Yesterday rewards of $2.1 Million dollars were issued for the heads and lieutenants of the 6 major cartels [gulf-zetas cartel, the pacific cartel, the Beltran Leyva Cartel, the Carrillo Fuentes Cartel, “La Familia” Cartel, and the Arellano Felix Cartel]
The American response was somewhat stalled, until March the only thing the government sent was reassurances that there was a contingency plan in case of violence spreading to the US.
Apparently the drug war has now come to the attention of the big dogs up in Washington. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Monterrey while President Obama is to meet with Calderon.
Personally, I don’t think any real drug policy reform will be made as a result of these visits. The city of El Paso tried to open the doors for some reform back in Feb. when they passed a resolution that stated that city of El Paso was “supporting an honest open national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics,” these 12 words caused the federal and state government to threaten to withhold El Paso’s funding, moving city council members to subsequently reject the resolution at the second hearing. ouch
Guns, Guns, Guns
The arms policies of the US is something even more important in terms of deaths on the Mexican side of the border. The raw violence happening in MX is carried out by American Weapons. American firearms are flooding Mexico, US officials and TX officials have been alerted to this simple fact as far back as two years ago and yet the sale of assault rifles, armor piercing pistols, and fragmentation grenades continue to fuel the violence.
US officials estimate that drug cartels buy 95% of their weapons in the US, a majority of those purchases happen in Texas. Most notably recent investigations show that illegal arms are being bought in huge numbers from the Northern area of Texas, in the Dallas region. source 1
The lame gun laws in TX directly benefit the cartels who have the money to buy just about anything on the market. [In TX there is no mandatory waiting period for pistols, shut guns, or rifles. In MX gun sales are ridiculously restricted; you have to get gov permission for assault weapons or rifles.]
Today the Obama administration revealed the new anti-cartel plan: 500 more federal agents and $700 million dollars. [sigh, this is the plan? Really?]
Its frustrating, I think people want to come up with a solution but the government is set on continuing the same strategic war on drugs and a majority of Americans still refuse to acknowledge that they have blood on their hands. The only real thing we’ve done so far is throw billions upon billions [$1.4 billion for 2009 alone] of dollars at this problem, with marginal success. We talk about addressing the problem but we are still unwilling to make any real changes to our drug or gun policies.