June 1, 2008:
Drug gangs are destroying the police force in
the city of Juarez (Chihuahua state, just across the border from U.S. Army base
Ft Bliss) by delivering one death list (of police officers) after another. The
first list, earlier this year, had 22 names. All but one of those on the list were
murdered (7) or resigned (three after being wounded). A new list has a dozen
names. The drug gangs are targeting officers who have been effective, or resistant
to gang control (via bribes or threats).
2008: The U.S. National Guard will be
ending Operation Jump Start sometime in mid-July. The operation began two years
ago, intended to assist the Border Patrol in "non-enforcement" jobs such as
surveillance activities and maintaining border infrastructure (primarily fences
and roads) along the US-Mexico border. In the meantime, the U.S. Border Patrol
has added officers. Two years ago the Border Patrol had around 11,500 agents.
It now has 16,000. Merely adding numbers, however, doesn't add operational capacity.
It takes time to train new officers and then they have to gain experience. Has
the Guard operation been effective? It depends. It certainly served as a
political signal. National Guard units have improved some 500 kilometers of
roads near the U.S.-Mexico border. That has a long-term benefit. Guardsmen have
also received recognition for their assistance in surveillance.
2008: The cities of Juarez (Chihuahua state) and Tijuana (Baja California) have
both paid steep economic prices in the drug war. Tijuana has reported a steady
drop in tourists (mostly day tourists from the US). Juarez was declared
off-limits by Ft. Bliss, the major US military installation in El Paso, Texas
(which is across the border from Juarez). Mexican businesspeople are concerned
that some of the big maquiladoras factories will be effected by the violence
and investors will decide to pull out of northern Mexico. For example, Tijuana
officials estimate that at least 200 people have been killed so far this year
in the Tijuana area in drug war-related violence. Tijuana lost a large
foreign-run manufacturing plant in early 2008. The plant closed for many
reasons, but the drug war was certainly one of them.
production in Mexico declined in April to just over one million barrels a day.
In 2004 Mexico was producing two million barrels a day.
2008: The government once again urged the U.S. government to help stop weapons
smuggling to Mexico's drug cartels. This is a frequent complaint from Mexico,
used as a political counter when Mexico is criticized in the U.S. That noted,
the complaint has some legitimacy. US and Mexican police have traced weapons
captured from cartelista gunmen and many of them can be tracked to the US.
2008: Four Americans were killed in the Mexican town of Rosarito, just south of
the Mexico-California border (near San Diego).
The bodies were found in a car near the beach. The Mexican authorities
believe the four were involved in a drug smuggling scheme.
2008: Mexican soldiers entered Sinaloa state to fight the Sinaloa drug cartel.
The biggest troop movement was in the town of Culiacan, the state capital. A
total of 2700 troops and federal police are involved in the operation. The
Mexican government decided to move into Sinaloa because of a sharp increase in
violence in the state. The Sinaloa cartel itself is "at war." Mexican police reported that an investigation
of a gun battle in early May in Culiacan indicates that two factions of the
Sinaloa drug cartel are fighting in the city. The fight started when one
faction killed a local drug gang leader.
2008: The EPR rebels once again rejected talks with the Mexican government.
However, the EPR indicated that it may be interested in a "mediation" or using
a mediator to conduct talks. In late April Mexican government said it would be
willing to talk to the EPR. The "talk battle" is political theater. The EPR has
little popular support but its attacks damaged oil and gas facilities in July
2007 and September 2007. It appears the Mexican government, which is far more
concerned with the Cartel War, would like to "disarm" the EPR politically.