Pubdate: Tue, 27 Jan 2009
Source: Daily Gazette (Sterling, IL)
Copyright: 2009 Sauk Valley Newspapers
Author: Mary Sanchez


Mexico is dripping with blood. You may have seen news coverage of the bold
murders committed south of the border in the past couple of months. Your
reaction might have been similar to that of other Americans: What's wrong
with those people?

But what you may not know is that we comfortable gringos north of the
border are pretty intimately involved in the mayhem unfolding down

In one of the more recent outrages, a 45-year-old man was found shot
dead in a vacant lot in Juarez, a town that shares the border with El
Paso, Texas. The man's hands had been severed and laid atop his
private parts. The taking of this man's life was not newsworthy -
dozens are murdered every week in Juarez. What put his name in the
papers was the dismemberment, no doubt a message of some sort.
Mutilation is a mode of communication currently in vogue among
Mexico's drug lords.

In Juarez more than 1,600 people died in drug-related killings last
year. For all of Mexico, the tally was more than 5,000 dead - more
than double the drug murders of 2007.

Most of the victims are found riddled with gunshots, rounds and rounds
of ammunition that make the gang-related drive-by shootings of U.S.
cities appear tame. Gory, Mafia-style "examples" are routine. People
left with messages scrawled on their bodies, warnings from one drug
cartel to the other.

And then there are the heads. Mexican drug lords are big on
decapitating people and then rolling the heads into public places - a
popular disco, the town square.

Americans' love of cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin is
what keeps the drug trade bustling in Mexico. But now there's a new
way Mexican crime is bleeding across the border. Small town farmers,
some elderly and frail, being kidnapped and held for ransom. The goal
is to have the ransoms paid by their U.S.-based relatives, migrants
working here.

The kidnappings are a sinister new criminal enterprise, but they also
serve as a calling card from one drug gang to another to indicate who
controls that particular area. And the ultimate goal in this struggle
for territory is land routes to the U.S. drug market.

If all of this is making you say, "Tsk, tsk, why can't that country
protect its own people?" consider the facts: While the drugs are
flowing north of the border, guns are flowing south.

Estimates are that more than 2,000 guns are smuggled from the U.S. into
Mexico daily. Here is the list of what U.S. immigration agents found at two
El Paso homes raided in December: 11 AK-47 assault rifles, two
military-style bayonets, ballistic body armor, 2,560 rounds of Russian
ammunition, seven M-16 ammunition magazines and 20 rounds of armor piercing
.223-caliber ammunition.

Unlike any previous administration, Mexican President Felipe Calderon
has declared war on the drug cartels. They are fighting back (and
among themselves for dominance). High-level Mexican police and
military, some with their own hands in the drug trade, are among the

And, yes, the U.S. is working closely with the Mexican government in
an attempt to break drug and gun trafficking rings. But the successes
are dwarfed by the scale of the violence, which is exploding. A U.S.
Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats in January listed
Mexico and Pakistan as the two counties that "bear consideration for a
rapid and sudden collapse." For Mexico, it wasn't just the peso's
decline but the bloodshed that earned the dire warning.

And Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff recently ordered 22
federal agencies to formulate plans to react if violence crosses the
border. Many observers deem this crisis a sterling argument in favor
of drug decriminalization. Here's news for them: As much as you may
wish for that kind of "enlightenment," it ain't gonna happen. Our
society, our government will never allow it.

So Mexicans will go on dying, until its army and police figure out how
to get a handle on the drug cartels. And our contribution will be a
billion here or a billion there to help battle drug- and gunrunners.
And we'll keep on snorting the coke, smoking the meth, rolling the
weed and selling the guns.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin