March 2, 2009: The government says it is at war with the drug cartels, and the gangsters seem to agree that it's a fight to the death. In the last two years, the government has sent 40,000 troops into cities and towns where the drug gangs use violence to intimidate local officials into letting the criminals do as they please. The battle is still unresolved. Last year, there were about 6,000 deaths (mostly civilians and gangsters, who spend a lot of time fighting each other). The death rate this year is running at the same level as last year. Along the border, and a few places in the interior, there is a civil war atmosphere. The big difference is that one side is generally recognized (by most Mexicans, at least) as bad people. But the bad guys have lots of money, guns and willingness to fight. There's always been a very macho atmosphere along the border. For centuries, this was the frontier of civilization. Two centuries ago, all there was north of the border was the empty (except for lots of buffalo, and a few stone age locals scratching out a living) plains and deserts. But now, north of the border is a huge market for drugs smuggled in from Mexico, and a place where you can buy just about anything (especially guns). Every century or so, there's a civil war in this border region. The government doesn't always win (as with the squabble over Texas), but usually they do, and they will this time. But a lot more people will die before this round is over.
February 28, 2009: The US “economic stimulus” bill provides more money for the “virtual fence” along the U.S.-Mexico border. That doesn’t mean the $8 billion project will get built any time soon. There have been a lot of problems with the “virtual fence” (also called the “digital fence”). The idea was to build a network of sensors (cameras, ground vibration sensors, acoustic sensors, motion sensors even radar) that would be linked to a command and control center for the Border Patrol and other agencies could get “real time” data on when, where, and –with the cameras?sometimes who was crossing the border when they shouldn’t be. Boeing was the original contractor for the Secure Border Initiative (formal name for the “virtual fence” project, acronym SBInet). As soldiers who’ve worked with sensors know, they can be very useful but animals can trigger motion sensors and weather can affect the sensors (rain, cold, and heat) Putting a “highly granular” sensor system covering a several hundred kilometers also presents an integration problem. Boeing learned that which is why the project got put on hold until it could be debugged.
February 26, 2008: A bomb found at the Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state) airport forced the closure of the facility for three hours. Police determined the bomb was home-made (an IED, in other words). At the moment the government has approximately 2500 Mexican Army soldiers on duty in Ciudad Juraez. Earlier this month the government promised to reinforce Mexican Army soldiers in Juraez and add additional federal police.
February 25, 2009: Some 750 people had been arrested in the U.S. and Mexico as part of a joint anti-drug cartel operation, with. 52 of those arrested belong to the Sinaloa drug cartel. Members of that cartel were arrested in Minnesota, Maryland, and California. U.S. authorities now say the Mexican drug war has "spilled over" into the U.S. But the truth is it spilled over a long time ago -- the cartels have to monitor the distribution of their product. America's appetite for illegal drugs funds the cartels -- and in large measure drives the latest Mexican war. Mexican drug gangs have "working relationships" with several US criminal organizations, but bad guys have to check up on other bad guys.
Texas governor Rick Perry has wants to deploy an additional 1000 soldiers along the Texas-Mexico border. He has asked the Texas legislature for funding, but also said that he does not care if the troops (ie, security personnel) come from the Texas National Guard, the US government, or from other security agencies. Perry also said he is willing to help protect Ciudad Juarez' mayor, José Reyes Ferriz. The mayor has received death threats from cartel gunmen.
February 23, 2009: Gunmen in Chihuahua state fired on a convoy in which the state governor was riding. Chihuahua's governor, Jose Reyes Baeza Terrazas was not injured in the incident. The gunmen fired on a car with some of the Governor Baeza's bodyguards. One bodyguard died in the resulting firefight, two were wounded, and one attacker was killed.
February 21, 2009: Gunmen traveling in an SUV hurled grenades at a police station in a town near Acapulco. Four civilians and one police officer were wounded in the attack.
February 20, 2009: The chief of police in Ciudad Juarez has decided to resign. A drug cartel had threatened to kill a police officer every two days until the police chief quit. After two security officers were slain, the chief, Roberto Orduna, announced he would resign. The city government in Juarez had said that it would not back down to cartelista threats and demands, but obviously --in this case-- it did. In a statement released after his resignation Orduna said that he did not want to see any more policemen killed. If this sounds like a script from a Hollywood western (ie, threaten the sheriff, kill deputies, force him to resign), well, it isn't a script, it's reality. Bribing, intimidating, and killing local policemen is a cartel technique, and one reason President Calderon decided to use the Mexican Army a his principle weapon in The Cartel War.
February 18, 2009: A Mexican human rights group says that 11 of Mexico's 31 states are now "policed by the (Mexican) Army."
February 17, 2009: Eight people were killed in Ciudad Juraez in drug gang-related violence. In Reynosa (Tamaulipas state, Mexico-Texas border) five cartel gunmen died in a battle with local police. Four policemen were wounded in the gunfight.
Mexican demonstrators, protesting the use of the Mexican Army in the war on drug cartels, blocked border crossings between Mexico and the U.S. Several protestors accused the Mexican Army of abusing civilians (and there is no question that, in the past, the Mexican Army has abused civilians.) In a tit for tat accusation, however, government spokesmen (including the governor of Nuevo Leon state) accused the protestors of being in groups organized by the drug cartels. Is that possible? Sure, though only time will tell. During the Cold War the Soviet Union encouraged various Western "peace" groups. The drug cartels are PR savvy and know the demonstrators will get media coverage. The cartelistas also know the Mexican Army is the greatest threat to their criminal organizations.
February 15, 2009: Gunmen in Tabasco state killed a police officer and ten members of his family. The murders took place in the town of Monte Lago (near the Guatemalan border).