Down On The Border: State Of War In Mexico

Via Laura Rozen comes reference to a chilling piece by Sam Quinones in Foreign Policy on the drug smuggling violence that has escalated to a total state of war rivaling levels in Iraq.

There are so many hot spots for attention these days – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Gitmo, not to mention the ops that are being run on US citizens by their own government as a result of the Bush/Cheney decision to gin up a military rationale for surveillance domestically – that it is easy to forget what is going on just across the border. Easy, at least, until you take in Sam Quinones’ tale:

That week in Monterrey, newspapers reported, Mexico clocked 167 drug-related murders. When I lived there, they didn’t have to measure murder by the week. There were only about a thousand drug-related killings annually. The Mexico I returned to in 2008 would end that year with a body count of more than 5,300 dead. That’s almost double the death toll from the year before—and more than all the U.S. troops killed in Iraq since that war began.

But it wasn’t just the amount of killing that shocked me. When I lived in Mexico, the occasional gang member would turn up executed, maybe with duct-taped hands, rolled in a carpet, and dropped in an alley. But Mexico’s newspapers itemized a different kind of slaughter last August: Twenty-four of the week’s 167 dead were cops, 21 were decapitated, and 30 showed signs of torture. Campesinos found a pile of 12 more headless bodies in the Yucatán. Four more decapitated corpses were found in Tijuana, the same city where barrels of acid containing human remains were later placed in front of a seafood restaurant. A couple of weeks later, someone threw two hand grenades into an Independence Day celebration in Morelia, killing eight and injuring dozens more. And at any time, you could find YouTube videos of Mexican gangs executing their rivals—an eerie reminder of, and possibly a lesson learned from, al Qaeda in Iraq.

This is neither new nor isolated. When I was younger, I used to go down to Tijuana, it was a great time. It really was easy and fun; what Chinatown was to LA, Tijuana was to San Diego. No longer is even the formerly relatively civil Tijuana docile and appropriate for casual strolling about. Long ago, back in the sixties, on our way back to Kentucky to visit my grandparents during summers, we used to cross over into Juarez. Juarez was always a little scarier than Tijuana or Puerto Penasco, but, still, it was cool. That all changed in Juarez as far back as the late 70s and early 80s; then it became off of most people’s travel itinerary. Now it is all a war zone.

With war raging between Mexico’s narcogangs, and with plenty of cash available from drug sales to Americans—$25 billion a year, by one reliable estimate—cartel gunmen began to grow discontented with the limited selection of arms found in the thousands of gun stores along the southern U.S. border. Instead, they have sought out—and acquired—the world’s fiercest weaponry. Today, hillbilly pistoleros are showing signs of becoming modern paramilitaries.

Mexico’s gangs had the means and motive to create upheaval, and in Mexico’s failure to reform into a modern state, especially at local levels, the cartels found their opportunity. Mexico has traditionally starved its cities. They have weak taxing power. Their mayors can’t be reelected. Constant turnover breeds incompetence, improvisation, and corruption. Local cops are poorly paid, trained, and equipped. They have to ration bullets and gas and are easily given to bribery. Their morale stinks. So what should be the first line of defense against criminal gangs is instead anemic and easily compromised. Mexico has been left handicapped, and gangs that would have been stomped out locally in a more effective state have been able to grow into a powerful force that now attacks the Mexican state itself.

Hillbilly pistoleros indeed. Lou Dobbs on CNN may be, and in fact clearly is, a raving belligerent maniac regarding Mexico and brown people, but that doesn’t mean there is no problem on the other side of the border, and it doesn’t mean that it is not bleeding in to this side. It is a problem, and it is here; trust me, the next part hits right in my city, Phoenix.

Americans watch this upheaval with curious detachment. One warning sign is Phoenix. This city has replaced Miami as the prime gateway for illegal drugs entering the United States. Cartel chaos in Mexico is pushing bad elements north along with the dope—enforcers without work and footloose to freelance.

Phoenix—the snowbird getaway, the land of yellow cardigans and emerald fairways—is now awash in kidnappings—366 in 2008 alone, up from 96 a decade ago. Most committing these crimes hail from Sinaloa, several hundred miles south. In one alarming incident, a gang of Mexican nationals, dressed in Phoenix police uniforms and using high-powered weapons and military tactics, stormed a drug dealer’s house in a barrage of gunfire, killing him and taking his dope.

I wish I could say that Quinones has overstated this; he has not. So far, the infiltrating drug gangs, when I did major drug cases we called them "Sinaloa Cowboys", seem to mostly prey on their own rivals and have not really started taking from the general population of Phoenix. But the fear of expansion is palpable, and is exactly what the execrable Sheriff Joe Arpaio feeds off of to pull his anti-Hispanic oppressive raids and policing publicity stunts. The sad, but predictable, part is that, of course, Arpaio is so busy running stunts with the media (he even has his own Fox reality show now) that he doesn’t even come close to lifting a finger against the real violence. That is left to the Phoenix Police Department while he preens around.

You don’t have to watch or listen to Lou Dobbs, no sentient being should have to do that lately, but do not discount the seriousness of the violence; and it is growing. Is it epidemic yet? No, not there yet, not on this side of the border anyway. However, among all the other things on our, and President Obama’s, plates, this one needs to be added to the list before it does metastasize out of control. Please go read Sam Quinones’ entire piece, it deserves that.

95 replies
    • hrholmes says:

      Well at least the mexican drug lords have something worth fighting for that our own troops lack in Iraq and that poppy war for heroin in Afganistan! Legalization of pot would cost those dealers billions of dollars and they would have to lug all that pot for only a few hundred thousand dollars… like labor mexicans actually. Legalizing it would mean that all those gang members died for nothing and where’s the honor in that? lmao

  1. klynn says:

    This is not news to many, as you stated. Last year as we had discussions on Texas investigations, I linked to narconews and the House of Death story.

    Warning: It’s graphic, dark reading if you link to examine.

  2. JohnJ says:

    Well, there is one easy solution. It’s the same idea as cutting back on oil to defund the radical Arabs.

    I’m afraid to say it because the populous is so conditioned by almost a century of propaganda.

    Remove drug use from the law enforcement realm back to a medical problem like it should be.

    This will kill the black market, or at least move it to a bargain basement mode where price and not territory matter. This will remove the dangerous criminal element from the whole equation.

    The harder the police enforce drug laws, the more expensive drugs become (and not less available). The more money is in it, the more violent and dangerous the people involved are.

    This is a vicious cycle that has been promoted and exploited by law enforcement and any cheap politician that wants to scare up some votes for as long as I have been around.

    A prohibition has never in mankind’s history done anything other than create a black market.

    Alright, I got out my hard hat, let the barrage begin.

    • DWBartoo says:

      John, your ‘approach’ to this ‘problem’, and it is a problem of serious, and deadly, proportion, is the only sane, deliberately humane, rational ’solution’ logically capable of actually effecting change.

      That has been obvious, however, to thoughtful observers for some time, decades in fact.

      One hopes (another of those, pesky, audacious hopes) that the time is ripe for ‘change’.

      This particular ‘prohibition’ is near and dear to the American political heart. It is a ’string’ that may easily be plucked, and has been plucked so often that its overwhelming resonance has drowned out any other possible ’solution’ or ‘approach’…

      Its particular genius lies in its capacity to target very specific populations creating an instant criminal class …

      Originally, in this nation, certain of the drug laws, the anti-marijuana laws, were directed at a specific race.

      The underlying claims made by those who advocate harsh drug control laws are, essentially, appeals to fear and ignorance, with a fair dose of piety and ’superiority’ thrown in.

      It is my thought that the drug laws were the first of the deliberate, and of late, increasing obvious steps that those who would abuse the power of government use to dehumanize, stigmatize, and compromise the humanity of others, we see its full fruition in current practices such as rendition and torture. With the systematic and very deliberately negative depiction and description of those with whom the leaders of the nation proclaim that we are at war, and an endless war, at that.

      The War on Drugs was the first ‘endless’ war. Are we ‘winning’ … yet?

    • ShotoJamf says:

      Sounds like a no-brainer to me. As for the downside of laying off cops? Not so sure that would happen but if it did, I’m sure it could be dealth with rather easily. As for shutting down the prison industry thing? Good. There are lots better uses for that money anyway.

    • Justinajustice says:

      You are absolutely correct. The U.S.’s drug policies has destroyed many countries in the world, putting them in the control of the corrupt narco-trafficers. Colombia is a case in point. Now Mexico is under demolition.

      Human societies survived for thousands of years without a war a drugs. A small percentage of the population was addicted to drugs, but drug dealers did not control their economies.

      Drug addiction is a medical problem that has been turned into a vast industry for drug trafficers, corrupt politicians and businessmen. The anti-drug operation itself has become an industry, feeding prisons and the militarization of our police forces.

      The U.S. could stop the violence in Mexico in a minute if it only would de-criminalize drugs, provide them through medically safe venues, and put a portion of the drug war funds into recovery and job training programs.

      Our drug policy is insane, an insanity that has become one of the worst features of U.S. imperialism.

      • Eureka Springs says:

        What if we made a deal with the devil.. pharmaceutical industry.

        Move over for single payer.. and gain a new clean processing and distribution industry for the legalized *hit.

  3. JohnJ says:

    Since everyone is asleep I’ll mention one side effect, good or bad:

    it will put 3/4 of our police out of work and probably crash the private prison industry.

  4. ThadBeier says:

    I have often wondered about another solution, besides the obvious one of legalization.

    How much money do we spend on enforcement, in prisons, in wasted lives? I wonder if we could just, instead, buy all the drugs. Better yet, buy all of the raw material (when it’s cheap) that makes the drugs. Pay better-than-market price. Then just burn it all, use it as biofuel or something.

    I mean, the people growing the opium poppies can’t be making much money doing it — if we paid them twice as much for their crop, don’t you think we’d be able to buy almost all of it, for a lot less than we’re paying now?

    • prostratedragon says:

      That would still leave unsatisfied demand out there that could meet the government price. So growers could decide, or perhaps “decide,” who to sell to, and we’d be right back where we started.

      I think that some kind of legalization and controlled sale, as with alcohol, is the only way to get some control over the criminal element, by driving cost down below the point where it’s a business for them.

      Of course, that’s hardly even the beginning of repairing the overall situation with Mexico, merely the thing that might keep the endemic warfare from getting far worse.

      • JohnJ says:

        I agree, but at least it would put the Mexican Government on a more even footing with the criminals.

        Sorry to say that means that both would be poor, but that’s easier and safer to fight than people with unlimited cash to buy weapons and people.

    • JohnJ says:

      Same idea. You are just raising the price by limiting the supply.

      Prohibition proved that demand and use went down when it ended. You will never remove the demand. Limit the supply and the price goes up….

      I think you will find that far more people are hurt and killed over the illegal drug trade than by the drugs themselves. That should be your logical proof that something is out of whack! What are they protecting us from that means hurting more people in protecting them than if there were no protection?

      The addiction problem is a medical problem, not a criminal one.

      These are old tired arguments that have been around since I was a kid. The logic is inescapable, but ineffective against a century of propaganda.

      Remember there are two sides getting rich over drug prohibition; the drug dealers and law enforcement. Neither wants them legal.

    • hrholmes says:

      poppies and opium are from Afganistan and our troops are guarding the stashes there silly! geez, maybe you could read Sarah Palins book on geography and meth! lol

  5. JohnJ says:

    Sorry, I’m not trying to hijack the topic but my argument is to defund the criminals and the problem becomes one of poverty, which is much easier to deal with.

  6. Loo Hoo. says:

    Mexico Police Chief Stands Down.

    The chief of police in Mexico’s most violent city, Ciudad Juarez, has stepped down amid ongoing threats.

    Roberto Orduna stepped down hours after a policeman and a prison guard were killed in the city, which has been wracked by drug-related violence.

    Criminal gangs had threatened to kill at least one police officer every two days until Mr Orduna quit.

    Murders are frequent in Ciudad Juarez, which sits on the US border and is a key staging post on the drug route.

    Mayor Jose Reyes had insisted earlier the city would not back down to criminal gangs.

    But speaking after the two murders, he said Mr Orduna’s departure was the only way the authorities could protect policemen.

  7. IntelVet says:


    It must a clear sky where you are, your clarity is welcome.

    I have an in-law, formerly of gangs, and he agrees with you, entirely. The only groups making money off illegal drugs are the dealers, that part of our police dealing with the drug black market and the occasional politician taking advantage of the ignorance of the masses. It is a monster created by our short-sighted extremists.

    An understanding of prohibition, it’s genesis through last chapter, would demonstrate to futility of such legislation, drug laws as well as other areas, like abortion. As I tell my sister (the right-wing fundie whacko), you will never eliminate it or even make it small enough to drown, all you do is to drive it underground, reducing supply thereby driving up prices and making it attractive to criminal elements (who are really capitalists who do not feel a need to be “respectable”).

  8. pajarito says:

    When in college I and my friends used to go to Juarez for drinks and nice dinner on the cheap. It was risque fun. Just last month we traveled to Puerto Penasco for a nice week on the beach. The recession has hit that town really hard, it showed.

    The escalating violence in Mexico is sad indeed, especially for them. I’ve traveled quite a bit there and Mexico and its people are lovely and friendly. I have always had a great time there. Now, I would fear to go. The trouble does export too, it seems. Officials fear the war may be headed to Albuquerque, as well as Phoenix.

    Our nation’s attitude toward, and reliance on, recreational drugs is the root cause.

    • DWBartoo says:

      I would suggest that another drug, the most powerful of all, which we dare NOT regulate, is the real problem.

      That drug is greed, the unfettered lust for money and power.

      This problem was created, not with the best of intentional principles, but with their complete lack. If the nation can somehow manage to tolerate alcohol, and the use of tobacco, then drug use must, with reason, be seen through a perspective that allows us to examine it rationally. And, in that process, we need to be honest. For example, there is a difference among ‘drugs’, and lumping them all, together, as essentially the same, is not evidence of thoughtful reason, but rather reflects the fact that there were grabs for power of developing federal agencies earlier in their history as they sought ‘areas’ in which to expand and over which they could exercise control.

      In a war, we are told , the first casualty is truth, apparently reason follows, faithfully … with humanity soon along.

  9. MsAnnaNOLA says:

    Escalating violence coming across the border screams out for legalization or at least free drugs for the addicted. Take the drug market and the money out of drugs and the gangs will have to find something else to do.

  10. pajarito says:

    I once (ca. 1995-2003) lived near Northern Ave. and I-17 in Phoenix. Gunfire at night was not uncommon, often automatic weapons…

    Arpaio is a joke.

  11. jimhicks3 says:

    No less than the right wing zealot Wm F Buckley Jr. thought that drugs should be legal. It’s obvious that there is too much money being made on both sides that would be lost if drugs were legalized.

  12. JohnJ says:

    When Ronnie Ray-Gun chided the drug producing nations, they fired back that the problem was our demand. His solution was that he was going to eliminate demand by drug testing the entire US Government. The SCOTUS, to their credit, rejected it for several good reasons (testing was indiscriminate as to time and an invasion of privacy etc.). Congress, kissing his genitals as usual, said well fine; we’ll tell everyone with a Gov contract that unless they drug test their employees, no more contracts. (Private industry doesn’t have those nasty Constitutional limitations.)

    That worked so well that the next step was to convince workman’s comp that they would save loads of money if there was a “drug free workplace”. They gave a 5% discount to any employer that drug tests their employees.

    When poppy schrub installed his #2 spawn, Jeb down here in 3rd world Florida, grooming him for the family presidential dynasty, he decided that compliance wasn’t high enough so he was going to raise the discount to 10%. The insurance industry said “whoa, we never got the 5% savings in claims you promised us in the first place, now you want us to give away 10%? No way!” (To tell the truth, I don’t know whether he got it or not.) That was the only quiet admission I have seen that drug testing DID NOT reduce work place accidents.

    For the uninitiated, drug testing can detect marijuana for anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks after use, almost all the other drugs take 24 to 48 hours pass a drug test. This basically means that all they are eliminating pot smokers, but not crack, heroin or meth addicts or alcoholics.

    I actually had a guy tell me that getting busted smoking pot had turned him into a crackhead! The courts test him regularly so he can’t smoke pot, but he can just quit crack for one day to pass the same test. He had never even thought about smoking crack before he got arrested.

    When I was a kid, an ounce of marijuana went for $15. A 1/4 pound was $40. Nobody was that worried about losing that much money getting ripped off etc.. And there just wasn’t enough money to attract dangerous people. Now, locally, it goes for $45 per 1/4 ounce. That is entirely due to enhanced enforcement, it doesn’t cost any more to grow, that is all profit going to the dealers. Of course, more dangerous people are involved.

    The late great Peter Jennings did a piece on Marijuana back when ABC actually had a brain. His closing remarks were something like (not an exact quote) “remember, when law enforcement and government asks for $1 to help prevent crack, heroine, and methamphetamine, they will spend 95 cents of that dollar on busting pot smokers”.

    Is all that enough to show anyone with a brain that this is a game to them? They took the most commonly used and least dangerous drug and made it just as dangerous to deal with as deadly heroin and crack.

    FWIW, I have seen Thomas Jefferson’s notes on growing female hemp plants. Only male plants make good rope. Those founding fathers were also…

    (And for full admission here, yes, I have to study for a drug test when changing jobs nowadays. I can pass one now or I never would have written all of this in public *g*)

  13. Arbusto says:

    The corruption in Mexico is breath taking. Twenty years ago I worked for GE Nuclear in San Jose, CA. My prior supervisor, a Hispanic, transfered to the new plant in Veracruz during construction. A year later he related a story to me about the transportation of fuel rods to the plant. At the boarder, a Company of Mexican Marines boarded the train to guard the fuel. Outside Hermosillo the train stopped, basically in the middle of nowhere. The GE manager in charge was concerned at the unscheduled stop and found the Captain of the Marines to find out the problem. The Captain politely advised the manager the train would not move until the Marines received $200,000 incentive pay to complete the trip to Veracruz. Two days later the train continued the trip after the Marine Captain received his “incentive”.

    Aside from invading Mexico or legalizing cocaine and such, what the hell can we do? Another intractable problem

  14. bell says:

    the benefits of a capitalist society where the huge gap in wages have some with huge wealth and others with nothing creates an atmosphere where drug dealing is an option out of the poverty.. letting some folks have everything while other grovel for scraps helps foster this type of shit.. my 2c’s… down with free market capitalism, private ownership of land, in particular for those only interested in speculation, not a place to live..

  15. JohnLopresti says:

    By way of contrast, there was a welcoming speech this week at the yearly book fair held in Mexico City [Spanish language news article] by the national university’s director José Narro Robles, who cited the figure that in that country of 100 million population, 6 million adults are illiterate. Maybe internet access will improve that blemish on the education profile of that country. In the US the 1% illiteracy rate translates to 2.6 million adults without reading capability. Once I met a Native American lady who claimed she was illiterate, but she drove a car, and actually knew what a ‘Stop’ sign meant.

    This is far from suggesting that international crime’s protagonists discount the worth of books and literature, however, probably indicates deeper problems in the social fabric in MX than would be the ordinary experience of youth growing up in the US.

    The book fair is taking place in a century XVIII building, architecture photos.

    I think part of the problem in border cities in US related to illicit affairs from MX has correlatives in the foreseen effects of the congressional argument and border tightening aftermath of the past eight years. I saw an article this week that DHS’s leader had a history of disliking universal identification cards while a SW state governor, but now has turned an interested eye toward the state of WA’s international driverlicense metal stripe. Literacy, border fences, identification card.

  16. Blub says:

    Um gearing from Mexican friends in San Diego that kidnappings of businessmen and their families from the Otay Ranch area, an upscale suburb where many wealthy Tijuanense (including Tijuana’s mayor) stash their families, have increased far beyond what the press and police are reporting – since most are settled quietly…. and that many families there are living in fear. Oh, I forgot to mention, Otay Ranch is north of the line, in the US. (and, yes, Tijuana’s mayor spends much of his time in the city’s northern half, which he is not mayor of, which says just about everything you need to say about how bad things are). This situation is already spreading beyond Mexico’s borders and it will end up destabilizing the region if it’s allowed to continue.

    by the way, I blame shrub, who badgered Calderon into accepting US aid for a dramatic militarized escalation of he drug war… remember the tanks in the street of Tijuana last year?

  17. viejolex1 says:

    I live in El Paso, Texas, across the muddy river from Juarez.

    At least on the border, the problem is three-fold. One, the inability of the soldiers and cops to capture the killers is a cover-up. For years the cops have been infiltrated by the druggies. As has the army. The whereabouts of the hit men as well as the patrol car a high cop official may be riding are well known, both to the cops and the crooks. At the moment the druggies have the better intelligence, and were the corrupt cops and soldiers to be rooted out, the tide would turn, perhaps not too quickly, and the killings would slow down to manageable levels.

    Two. Many of the criminals in the hard hit border towns are from the interior. They mistakenly think that because of the twin plants, there is much money to be picked and stolen. When they find this is not necessarily the case, they turn to U.S. inspired methods – the protection racket, for one. A family of seen, with kids – friends of mine – were recently killed in their home two days after the father refused to buy “insurance.” Kidnappings are also on a dramatic rise, many are not reported. Burglaries and rapes are also daily occurrences.

    Three. The army presence. Brutal with the local civilians, many unfounded arrests, some rapes and assorted crimes. The army is composed of largely undereducated males – and with a large southern indigenous population with perhaps a 4th grade education. It is not unusual, and is hugely chilling, to see teenagers in army garb toting huge weapons and compact submachine guns. It is always wise not to look them in the eyes. And the army is as corrupt as the cops.

    Most Juarez politicians, along with a huge slice of the professional and business class, now live in El Paso.

    Finally, President Calderon is a world class ass, and he really hasn’t the vaguest idea as to what the hell he or his party is doing. The contrast between Mexico and Venezuela becomes more appalling day by day.

  18. katymine says:

    Tourism to Mexico has pretty much shut down from AZ, even from those who owned second homes on the Baja. Warnings from authorities not to go south.

    Home invasions are a big issue, they could be robbery or part of a kidnapping. Lately they have turned violet and sick with raping elderly widows living alone. My city police drives around neighborhoods and when they find a garage door open without someone inside they notify the homeowner to close up tight.

    AND while Sheriff Joe is out playing immigration cowboy there are somewhere between 40-60,000 unserved FELONY warrants. AND just this last week a newly convicted child rapist who impregnated his victim just walked out the county courthouse under the sheriff’s jurisdiction. Video tape shown at 5, 6 & 10pm….

    • ubetchaiam says:

      DemocracyNow had a good show this past week on Sheriff Joe.
      As a ‘San Diegan’ I can confirm what blub is saying about the wealthy of TJ moving north of the border.
      “it will put 3/4 of our police out of work and probably crash the private prison industry.”——crashing the private prison industry is a GOOD thing; I sincerely doubt that 3/4 of the police forces would be put out of work.
      Here in Ca there is an ongoing legal struggle about prison population and it’s health effects; there are a LOT of ‘possession offenders’ in CA prisons -despite the law that requires first time offenders to receive ‘treatment’ than prison-(the Schwarz wants to send them to prisons in other States) but anytime anyone wants to reduce the population by letting some prisoners out, everyone goes berserk(and even Jerry Brown the AG speaks out against it) about ‘letting criminals walk’.
      The topic is so strange; one day you have ex-presidents of Latin American countries calling for an end to the ‘war on drugs’, the next day you have the UN WHO warning about ‘minimizing the dangers of pot’ because the THC content is so much higher than it was decades ago.
      Isn’t it also weird that cigarettes -which have been shown to be truly detrimental to health- is still legal while pot is illegal? (spoken as a cigarette smoker of non-adulterated tobacco; I’m convinced it is the chemicals in cigarettes that are the real issue though I do not dispute nicotine’s addictive properties).
      Bottomline is it’s all about the money and the prison industry has a lot of lobbying power. Add that to the government’s desire to not have you question them -which is what happens when consciousness is altered- and you have the answer to why the insanity continues.

      • paz3 says:

        [mostly OT response following]

        I’m convinced it is the chemicals in cigarettes that are the real issue though I do not dispute nicotine’s addictive properties).

        Uhhh, I don’t hear this mentioned much, but have you or anyone else considered that some of the most deadly (carcinogenic and mutagenic) chemicals in cigarettes are the pesticides that are sprayed on tobacco plants? The plant has a number of insect pests, and I do not believe that, unlike food crops, there are many controls on tobacco farming when it comes to pesticides.

    • Cujo359 says:

      The State Dept. has been issuing traveler warnings about northern Mexico for the last couple of years, at least. It sounds ugly down there, particularly for the honest law enforcement people.

  19. rwcole says:

    Beats me what to do about this tragedy, but if there is one particularly violent incident involving US citizens, goopers will have their issue to run on in 2010.

    • katymine says:

      Yep when the Dobbs and Nancy Grace get their teeth into one of these events….. runs for 44 weeks every night non-stop…

      • rwcole says:

        Well sure- but then the Sandra Levy case is heating up again- could be a trial that goes on for months- oh WHAT TO DO?

    • Blub says:

      not if it happens in San Diego or to San Diegans. Remember that Anglo woman who ot herself decapitated north of Ensenada? Well, nobody does. Nobody cares. Maybe if it happens in Pheonix or Texas, but not here… the type of BS that happens everyday on the border and doesn’t get reported is simply astounding.

      By the way, are Gilchrist and his fellow thugs still kicking around up there in North County? They’ve sure been quiet lately… any group of highly armed terrists looking to start a war….

  20. Kassandra says:

    Phoenix may have a bad and well publicized problem…mostly, it seems to do with the grand standing sheriff attracting all that press.

    I remain convinced that the true highway for both drugs and illegal aliens is in New Mexico where both Richardson and Chavez ( Albuquerque mayor)made the state a sanctuary. Nobody does anything in NM if there is an illegal involved. The police have been told “hands off”. Alot of this is due to placating the contractors and energy companies who run this state.

    We now have meth labs all over the state. Much burglary and crime. It’s really gotten dicey around here in the last few years as the borders came down. But you won’t hear word one about any probs in New Mexico, no sir.

    So, we get to give all our reduced social services to the illegals who learn down in Mexico how to game the system. They know how better than the citizens do.

  21. Hugh says:

    I suppose my questions are:

    Does this violence threaten the integrity of the Mexican state?

    How will a worldwide depression affect the integrity of the Mexican state in this environment?

    What can the Mexican government do?

    What can we do to help Mexico and Mexicans?

    • Blub says:

      the answe is yes, from a territorial integrity perspective. Mexico could become like Pakista now or Colombia in it’s civil war, in the long term, with ungoverned and ungovernable regions beholden for basic services to robber barons and warlords. No, no insurgent army will come riding into the Zocalo to seize control of the capitalistas, but that may not help them much in the end. As central authority erodes in farflung regions, partiularly in Sonora, Sinaloa, Baja Norte etc in the north and Oaxaca, Zapata and the Mayan heartland in the south, you may also seen irredentist movements emerge there (as has already started to happen at the academic level, if you spend anytime in the taquerias and coffeehouses of Mexicali)… so you could be looking at the development of entrenched insurgencies as well… ones that’ll make Subcommander Marcos look like a Hollywood caricature.

        • Blub says:

          one popular US wingnut misconception (there are no shortage of those as we well no) is that there is some type of threat of irredentism from Chicano activists in the US, to somehow disconnect the southern halves of CA, AZ, NM, TX and cede them to Mexico… Aztlan or whatever other mythical rethug threat to AngloAmericana.

          The real irrendentist risk is actually quite different… young, increasingly disenfranchised people in Sonora, Baja Norte etc who think that by neglecting them, stripping their capital and resources (that region is intrinsically wealthier than states in the Mexican heartland) and delivering them to the mercy of the drug syndicates, the capistalistas have given up their right to rule there. These activists urge either independence for the region or accession TO the US. quite he opposite of the rethug bugbear.

    • timr says:

      To answer your questions
      2- Not very much
      3-again, not much more than what they are already doing. The problem is that drugs=money and the police and federal police/army are not paid very much and can be corrupted
      4-change our laws, make drugs legal and tax them. The drug war would die out & Stop the smuggling of guns from the US into Mexico.

  22. Eureka Springs says:

    Funny thing about poppy… It’s much easier to grow than weed.. and that’s very easy folks. Poppy is everywhere.. We could imprison a million unwitting grandmothers and all parks and landscape workers as a stimulus for the private prison industry this year. I learned this one year when an old hippie laughed and pointed out my mixed flower bed was loaded with the real poppy… much to my surprise.

    While I agree our demand is a huge problem… the inherent corrupt intentionally poverty riddled system in Mexico deserves much attention… especially since we often appear ready to mimic it.

    The next Khyber pass lies in Chihuahua … unless we do take a decriminalization, taxation, regulatory and healthcare approach.

    • timr says:

      Having been in the “Golden Triangle”-area between Thailand, Cambodia and Laos- and actually seen fields of poppy, and having seen them milked, my personal opinion is that the poppy grown in the US is not the same poppy that is grown in the Golden Triangle and in Afghanistan

        • timr says:

          I kind of doubt it. My wife grows poppys in our garden, they do not look the same as the ones I saw in Asia-nor do they look the same when compared with the pictures I took of the poppy fields and workers. Also, if they were the same don’t you think the DEA would know about it and would have moved in to stiop the selling of the poppy seeds?? Again, from what I saw way back then, it takes a bit of work and lots of chemicals-some that smell really bad- just to turn it into opimum then to morphine base and then to herion

          • Eureka Springs says:

            I’m sure it’s true in your area… but once I learned how to tell the difference.. and one can tell the difference from 100 yards (in a car driving down the road) with ease… I noticed they are everywhere, most often mixed in.

            I’ve seen the real McCoy’s mixed in dry flower arrangements on wal mart shelves… among other places.

  23. bmaz says:

    Excellent questions Hugh. I am tempted to say the answer to the first is yes it would threaten the integrity of the Mexican state; but I am not so sure that is true. It may be that the government and the narco state simply exist with parallel jurisdiction. I dunno. Sure threatens a healthy Mexican state, but that may be a misnomer to start with. It is a tough question, and the others are even harder.

  24. ibfreenow says:

    The late, great, Peter Tosh: “Don’t criticize it. Legalize it!”
    Our jails are full of potentially productive people who, OMG, smoked a joint, inhaled a line, dropped some acid, or sold a nickel, or dime bag. The major dealers have great lawyers, so they stay free. It’s the poor schmuck kid’s and bobo’s who are spending their lives in jail because of our draconian laws.

    Legalize any shit and tax the crap out of it. It’s not like you can’t find whatever you want in any town in the US. It’s the illegality that makes it profitable, stupid!

    Legalize drugs, eliminate the profitabiliy, and watch violence almost disappear.

    • foothillsmike says:

      While I think legalizing and taxing is the way to go I am afraid that those who currently in the trade would find a new profession such as say kidnapping and protection.

        • billybugs says:

          Drug addiction is a medical issue and should be treated as such .I’m not so sure about legalizing this stuff though.
          At some point I plan to write an Oxdown diary detailing my experiences with heroin .
          I spent several hours in the emergency room at the local hospital last night..My wife found my 21 year old daughter passed out and barely breathing . Efforts to revive her failed so the ambulance was called . The paramedics knew right away what was going on ,it was an overdose. She eventually came to and will be okay.
          If my wife had not looked in on her when she did , we would be planning a funeral right now .
          I really don’t think legalizing the poppy would be a good idea judging from my own personal experiences !

          • dakine01 says:

            I believe if all drugs were legalized, there would be an initial spike in addictions and such, with people who might never have used before trying things. Which is why I call for the money to shift to treatment and education.

            But legalizing takes the violence and profit out of drug trafficing. The violence is mainly due to the illegal nature.

            (Spoken as someone who has had his own dealings with OD)

            • billybugs says:

              The biggest problem is the lack of treatment for addicts . Most junkies don’t have health insurance and there are very few free beds available. This is what we’ve been dealing with trying to find treatment. If you have insurance you’re all set.
              I agree that some changes to our drug laws are necessary , I just don’t feel we can legalize heroin without causing greater damage

              • dakine01 says:

                Agreed about the lack of treatment which is why, companion to legalizing, is the increase in funding for treatment and education.

                A massive increase in treatment funds would probably still not be enough but given the current levels of violence associated with the illegality as heartbreaking as it would be to see increased addiction, it would still be the lesser of evils over the current violence.

          • Eureka Springs says:

            Terribly terribly sorry to hear that, bb.

            Maybe this isn’t the best time to ask.. if so, I understand and please forgive. But you are here and as you say experienced. I too have watched a very close family member struggle with narcotic addiction for decades.

            But do you really think the system as it is now made it less likely folks like you your daughter or my familia would go through what we have? And do you think the system as it is now… penal system… or no health care treatment would be best for your daughter to get through this?

            • billybugs says:

              Treatment on demand should be the answer . Locking up addicts really doesn’t help if there is no treatment.
              Males are not even given meds for withdrawal they are thrown into solitary until they are through withdrawing.
              And yes i do feel our current policies have helped make a bad situation worse
              Addicts aren’t criminals they are sick and need to receive treatment

      • Blub says:

        I think that drugs (or rather Nth American demand for ‘em) are only part of the problem (albeit not a small part). The real issue is how Mexico is governed as a country, with a constitution, coupled with massive income inequality, ethnic/racial divisions and the rural urban divide, that facilitates the rape of politically unconsolidated frontier regions by the center – the capitalistas/chilingas from the imperial center. This is a county that treats it’s own states like suspec colonies, even to the point, under Calderon, if sending Federal tanks against local police in Baja Norte and Sonora in ‘07 and ‘08 (I was in Tijuana during one of the gun battles, which were never reported in the US media. This has to change if something is to be done about keeping Mexico together in the long term, otherwise the only options available to tens of millions of the poor in the norhern and southern frontier regions will be to 1) migrate to Mexico City and join the teeming urban poor there, 2) migrate to the US to starve in Fresno, 3) join the fade or other criminal activity, or 3) prepare to fight. Make no mistake… this has every potential to become Pakistan, but with angry, highly organized, educated combatants.

  25. katymine says:

    So is illegal drug use recession proof?
    They say that alcohol is but will the lack of disposable income affect the volume?

  26. billybugs says:

    I hope the Obama administration takes some type of action to stop the violence in Mexico.
    The problem though isn’t just the mexicans problem It’s ours as well .
    It’s simple economics If there is a demand ,someone is going to fill that demand.
    The problems are our current drug laws and policies , drug laws are basically price supports for illegal drugs.
    If junkies were able to get their stuff through legal means , it would cut the legs right out from underneath these cartels ,no money no drug cartel
    We need to take a good hard look at our own drug policies ,to continue on the same path is only gonna lead to more violence.

    • bmaz says:

      Check out the title as it appears at the top of the EW version. Mine was simply “Down On The Border” for that very reason. Don’t shoot me, I am just the piano player/author….

  27. rwcole says:

    I believe that the federal tax on alcohol should be lifted for the duration of the recession. Heard on Keith that beer sales are down- frightening news during tough times. We should be able to at least medicate ourselves for the duration.

  28. timr says:

    Here in San Antonio we are seeing many middleclass and wealthy Mexicans buying houses because they are safer than in Mexico. Family members do not need bodyguards whenever they leave home and do not have to live in fear of kidnapping.
    For many more stories on what is happening in border cities and in Mexico I suggest which is the web site for the San Antonio Express News which has been doing some excellent reporting on the current drug war in Mexico, the other is the web site for one of our local TV stations KENS 5 our local CBS affiliate.
    We get lots more news here in SA about both Mexico and the border areas than any national news organization because our city is over 60% latino
    In response to Hugh and his question What can we do? Well a couple of things, 1 is stop the guns going to Mexico(the smuggling goes both ways, drugs to the US and guns to Mexico)-contact your reps about this problem and
    2-STOP THE WAR ON DRUGS. This is what is fueling the current drug/police war in Mexico. The “War on Drugs” has been going on for decades now-I think that it was Nixon in 71 who started it(but I could be wrong)- and all that has happened is an increase in drug usage in the US and an increasing number of people in US prisons who are only users, while the big dealers get away scot free. If we were to legalize drugs here-I know it will never happen, the rethugs heads would literally explode if we attempted it- A definition of insanity is that you keep doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome. Again, contact your congress critters and keep contacting them until they finally do something. Just add this, if drugs were legal, we could tax them-a lot-and even the rethugs would not argue with that.
    I believe that our drug problem did not really start until we started making drugs illegal. Currently one can find almost any drug on almost every street, in some cases drugs are even consumed in public. Something has to change, soon!!!!!

    • rwcole says:

      At the turn of the last century- opium could be bought in the Sears catalogue and most soft drinks contained cocaine…People LOVED the stuff. We probably had a 40% addiction rate, but nobody cared—”mother’s little friend”.

  29. dakine01 says:

    Legalize all drugs.

    Take the money being wasted on interdiction/punishment and increase treatment and education programs

    Then, take current US currency formats for $20, $50, and $100 bills, change them and at a pre-determined point in the future declare all variants except for the newest as no longer legal currency. Give holders of the old the opportunity to switch currency to the new. If holders are not able to offer valid reasons for holding excessive cash legitimately, then it is taxed at current rates but that is all. After the pre-determined date, all old currency becomes worthless paper.

    • timr says:

      We did the same thing with our currency in Vietnam, we had to change out our american $$$ for MPC funny money, if I remember correctly they went all the way down to 5 cents, and that money was changed at differnt times so as to keep american dollars and MPC-military payment certificate-off of the local economy. Again, if I remember correctly, it did not work very well.

      • dakine01 says:

        Right but that was to keep the greenback from taking over and dsestroying the local, Vietnam economy.

        I’m talking about doing this as an official action performed by the US Government on ALL US currency, not a localized effort.

        The effort you describe is just another variant of trying to block smuggling or crime on a small scale.

  30. rwcole says:

    Humans seem to have a built in propensity for addiction to chemicals.

    The Aztecs made alcohol possession a capital offense- until one reached 50 years old, at which time one could drink all they wanted as they were considered useless anyway.

  31. LS says:

    It’s all about addiction….addiction to money, a commodity, a chemical, power, etc., etc. It is a complex, multi-layered problem. Sad and frightening, and no one is really immune to the impact one way or the other. If only there was a real way to avoid it.

  32. stryder says:

    I knew this guy who was caught leaving a crop of his weed and was offered a deal to say that while walking through a Mexican nationals’ crop he gleaned some of the pickings from their crop (which didn’t exist)and the charges would be dropped to a misdemeanor,which he accepted of course.So the guilty plea was proof of the existence of the rampant intrusion of the mexican nationals in the national forest,consequentially allowing the county to request federal aid in combating the nationals.He said no at first and said that he wasn’t going to buy the county anymore helicopters and the DA said that they would charge him with a felony if he didn’t cooperate so he plead to the misdemeanor.They didn’t even go after the crop.
    The money was in their ability to proove the existence of the Mexian Nationals.
    Also their have been incidences where the forest service hires day labor from state run mexican labor facilities(with green cards) to plant trees and do basic reforestation contracts.While planting trees in the middle of the national forest local county police would show up and talk to the forest service rep and the next day they were told to go over the ridge,where there was water and plant a 1000 or so pot plants.They were overseen by the federal reps the same as if they were planting trees for reforestation and in the fall just before harvest they were layed off.Then you would read about a huge pot bust with Mexican Nationals feeing from the scene but never caught.All done to manufacture the false impression of the existence of the Mexican Nationals and providing the county with hundreds of thousands of federal dollars

    • Eureka Springs says:

      These techniques are used across the country. Many county sheriff’s do the following. Maintaing yearly funding appears to be based on previous years finds…. plant their own, insuring a find each year and or planting occurs at times unbeknownst to enemies… in order to seize an enemies property while maintaining fed fund flow.

  33. Dwight says:

    Start by legalizing marihuana. Tax it. Divert the taxes plus the funds dedicated to enforcement to education and medical treatment. This step is crucial. Start a national health registry of drug users (in Mexico this is less of a problem than in the U.S., given the strength of the national health authorities), including tobacco and alcohol. Make it so that, if you’re caught using these drugs in situations that enhance the potential for harm to others, you face fines, losing your driver’s licence, legal trouble at work, and then, as a final option, jail. Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate.

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