Saturday, July 26, 2008

Drug gangs assassinate police, judges, prosecutors

In Thursday´s papers there was a report of a former mayor of a town being assassinated in his home by two hooded gunmen.
The police commander of the tourist police Puerto Vallarta, much visited by Americans, was assassinated yesterday along with his 9-year-old son.
They were in the family car, shown here, when two men attacked.

Not a day goes by that there aren´t more stories about assassinations of police, judges, prosecutors, army and federal investigators. They´re being killed at a faster rate than U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Update on Sunday, July 27: 15 people were murdered yesterday in four states, including four uniformed police officials, according to El Publico. So far this year, in the drug battleground state of Sinaloa, 67 uniformed officers have been killed.)

The vast majority of these killings are tied to drug gangs, either because these officials were doing their job and enforcing the law or, in a few cases, they might have been allied with the wrong drug gang.
Dozens of journalists have been killed in Mexico as well, often because of stories they had written or were investigating. It´s one of the most dangerous places to work in the world.

Mexicans fear that their rule of law is being undermined by the increasingly powerful drug gangs, who get their money from the U.S. market. We have lots of users with lots of cash.
Today´s El Universal newspaper website has a photo gallery showing ordinary Mexicans buying guns to protect themselves. This flow of money allows for big bribes to be paid to top government officials. It´s like Chicago in the 1930s. The Untouchables were so named because they couldn´t or wouldn´t be bribed and compromised. They were the few.

The other consequence of this flow of drug money into Mexico is that the gangs are extremely well armed, with everything up to and including anti-tank missiles. They get their arms illegally and cheaply from the U.S.

So far, Guadalajara isn´t a drug battleground. Mostly it´s in the north, near the border. But the drug gangs sent the federal government a message recently by assassinating the equivalent of FBI leaders in Mexico City, which is far to the south. The message is that we won´t be intimidated.

President Felipe Calderon has his hands full. And Mexicans can hardly be blamed if they resent that members of the U.S. Congress place the drug problems on Mexico´s doorstep.

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