Mexico: American Air Power Joins The Fight


March 29, 2010: The post-9/11 increases in security on the U.S.  side of the Rio Grande and recent attempts by the Mexican government to root out corruption in Mexico's border patrol service, have made crossing the Mex-Tex border (in either direction) very difficult during the morning and evening hours. The traffic really jams on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. People living on both sides of the border were used to crossing frequently and easily. The new hassles have ticked off the locals, both Texan and Mexican. Many Mexicans have jobs in the U.S.  Americans living on the border often shop in Mexico. Shopping, however, is not a one-way deal. It all depends on the goods the customer wants. Mexicans shop for bargains in U.S.  discount stores and there are grocery stores in a couple of Texas border towns that do a brisk trade with Mexican nationals. Americans like to go to dinner or go club-hopping in Mexico, but there are also a number of Americans who visit Mexican doctors. The new border security situation, however, has reduced this traffic. The U.S.  side has taken a hit, but the Mexicans have suffered more substantial losses. Cross the Rio Grande into a Mexican border town and the experienced Mex-Tex border aficionado will note that a lot of businesses that thrived on American trade are shuttered. As a result, there have been demonstrations in some of the smaller towns on the Mexican side of the border protesting the new restrictions.

March 28, 2010: The U.S.  and Mexico have met and discussed how best to spend a $1.3 billion aid package. Mexico will likely buy more helicopters, since aerial surveillance provides a big edge in counter-drug operations. Mexican authorities report that the cartels are using maritime routes more frequently, since the Mexican Army has made smuggling on land routes more costly. The choppers are very useful in patrolling coastal waters.

March 27, 2010: Since the murder of three people who worked for the U.S.  consulate in Juarez, critics of the Cartel War based in the U.S.  have been making the usual arguments that the Mexican government is losing the war. Okay, not all have said the government is losing, some just say it isn't working because the government is allegedly focusing on military and police operations. You have to wonder where these critics have been. Since the Cartel War began in December 2006, the government of President Felipe Calderon has stressed that the war is a war of reformation. Reforming judicial and economic institutions is part of the government's effort. The critics act as if the government has never said this or has made no efforts. The trouble is this kind of reform takes time and fixing problems (like endemic corruption) takes decades. So the critics focus on public disenchantment with the war. What else is new.

March 25, 2010: Mexican federal police announced the arrest of Jose Antonio Medina (aka Don Pepe). He is also called Mexico's King Of Heroin and worked with the La Familia cartel. The drug lord was arrested in Michoacan state on Wednesday and is being held for prosecution.

March 22, 2010: In the city of Chilpancingo (Guerrero state) Mexican police found plastic bags containing the cut-up bodies of two police officers. The officers were killed by drug cartel thugs. Authorities said they believed the Beltran Leyva cartel committed the murders and mutilations.

March 21, 2010: The governor of the state of Nuevo Leon said the state was firing 81 state police officers on charges of corruption. In the town of Santa Catarina (Nuevo Leon state), cartel gunmen attacked a police convoy, killing one person and wounding three.

March 20, 2010: The Mexican ambassador to the U.S.  disputed claims by U.S.  politicians that Mexican Cartel War violence is spreading into the U.S. . Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said the violence in the city of Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state) had escalated because Mexican authorities had put pressure on the cartels and the cartels were fighting over turf.

March 19, 2010: Government officials reported that armed gunmen used trucks and buses to block highways leading into the city of Monterrey (Nuevo Leon state). The government reported that the road blocks were an attempt to hinder an on-going Mexican Army operation. Gunmen tried to create 31 roadblocks during a 24 hour period. Mexican police reported no one was injured at the attempted roadblocks and two gunmen had been arrested. The most common technique used by the gunmen was to hijack a truck and turn the truck so that it would block several lanes. The gunmen would then flee.

Texas governor Rick Perry announced that the Texas National Guard would send several helicopters to the border area in order to support law enforcement efforts. Perry said the helicopters would help stop spillover border violence. The Texas Department of Public Safety (state police) already has helicopters deployed along the border.

March 17, 2010: The governor of Texas said that Texas will increase its law enforcement presence along the Mexico-Texas border. The Texas state government has requested that the U.S.  Department of Homeland Security provide Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, like the Predator) to help protect the border. The governor of Texas said that the state has a spillover violence contingency plan

March 16, 2010: President Felipe Calderon visited Ciudad Juarez. The drug gangs have made Juarez a key battleground. The Calderon government also sees Juarez as a major battle.

March 14, 2010: Cartel gunmen murdered three people who either worked for the U.S.  consulate in Ciudad Juarez, or were related to consulate workers. One of the victims was a U.S.  employee at the consulate.

March 13, 2010: Security officials reported that 13 people were killed in drug war-related violence in the resort city of Acapulco (Guerrero state). Five of the 13 victims were police officers.


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