Pubdate: Sun, 11 May 2008
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2008 The Dallas Morning News
Author: Alfredo Corchado, The Dallas Morning News
Bookmark: (Mexico)


CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Hit men killed a top police official Saturday,
capping a bloody week in this community on the Texas border and across
the country.

Juan Antonio Roman Garcia, second in command of the beleaguered police
department here, was shot more than 50 times early Saturday as he
parked outside his home. One police official said Mr. Roman was able
to return fire and probably hit an SUV that was later found with
several bullet holes not far from the crime scene.

Mr. Roman, 54, was the third senior officer killed in Juarez this week
and the sixth nationwide, including Edgar Millan, one of the country's
top federal policemen. More than 25 police officers have been gunned
down since May 1, nine of them federal agents.

Mr. Roman's name was first on a hit list left in January by drug
traffickers, who warned that the targets would face death unless they
resigned their post. Many heeded the message. Others kept working and
were hunted down over the past weeks.

"Everyone who works at the Juarez police department is in mourning,"
Juarez police spokesman Jaime Torres said in a written statement. "But
we reiterate our will and firm commitment to continue working toward
maintaining order and social tranquility in our city."

"Juarez Is in Code Red."

The Roman assassination came one day after President Felipe Calderon
urged Mexicans to unite against organized crime, which has claimed
more than 1,000 lives this year. More than 100 have died this week
alone - the majority of them in the states of Guerrero, Sinaloa and

Washington is debating whether to approve the Merida Initiative, the
Bush administration's plan to provide Mexico up to $1.4 billion in
military equipment, training and other resources over the next five
years. A senior U.S. official said denying Mexico the anti-drug aid
would "signal the wrong message to Mexico's criminal

"What we need to do is put these criminal organizations on notice and
say, 'We're talking about a different game here,' " said the official,
speaking on condition of anonymity. "We won't tolerate this anymore."

The spike in killings reflects, in part, a bloody fight between the
Sinaloa and Juarez cartels, which until this year had coexisted. On
Thursday, the son of reputed Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "Chapo"
Guzman was gunned down in the Sinaloa city of Culiacan, long known as
Mexico's narco capital.

Edgar Guzman's slaying is likely to ratchet up the bloody war in the
days and weeks to come, Mexican and U.S. authorities said.

"There's a significant reorganization going on," said a U.S. law
enforcement official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. "This
will undoubtedly lead to more bloodshed. I think it's safe to say
we're looking at a long, hot summer."

Juan Carlos Ayala Barron, an academic from the University of Sinaloa
who specializes in the study of drug trafficking, said the recent
surge in killings in Culiacan "could turn this region into a
bloodbath. It would be the mother of all battles here."

Since taking office in 2006, the president has deployed more than
25,000 soldiers to the regions most affected by drug violence. He sent
more than 2,000 military and federal agents to Juarez.

Cartel leaders have responded with an unprecedented wave of violence
against police officers, soldiers, federal agents and

Alfredo Quijano, editor of Norte de Ciudad Juarez newspaper, said the
recent killings underscore the daunting challenges faced by Mr.
Calderon's strategy.

When the military arrives, thugs depart town, he said. Once the
military reduces pressure, even temporarily, as appeared to be the
case this week when top military brass left their posts to attend a
national security meeting in nearby Chihuahua City, violence returns.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake