It looks like drug prohibition has given us a gift.
The battle for Ciudad Juárez began about two years ago when the Sinaloa drug cartel, led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and based along Mexico's Pacific coast, began trying to wrest control of the crucial drug smuggling corridor into the United States from the Juárez cartel.Ah. A multi-national enterprise. That seems rather discomforting in this particular case.
Fighting for the Juárez cartel is a street gang known as the Aztecas that operates on both sides of the border. Most Azteca members are heavily tattooed ex-cons who served time in Texas jails. One of the top Azteca leaders, Eduardo Ravelo, is a U.S. citizen.
Criminal gangs working for drug cartels already operate on both sides of the border, and in a sign of the growing risks, on March 13 gunmen killed three people linked to the U.S. consulate in Juárez. The sky-high murder rate is driven by two rival groups – the Juárez cartel and the Sinaloa cartel – and their battle for control of drug smuggling into the United States.Coming soon to an American city near you. In fact the prototypes are already installed and they are producing satisfactory results. All we need is a crack down to produce the requisite amount of violence.
The FBI estimates that 40 percent to 60 percent of the narcotics and marijuana smuggled from Mexico to the United States moves through the corridor, which runs roughly from the Texas border with New Mexico to Big Bend National Park, about 300 miles southeast.
Murder is only one of Juárez's problems. Ambitious cartel underlings have diversified into extortion, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery. When President Felipe Calderón sent 10,000 soldiers to Juárez in March 2008 to bolster security after a purge of corrupt police, the army largely ignored other crimes to focus on the cartels, and crime has taken off.
The result is a palpable sense of unease despite assertions by the mayor, José Reyes Ferriz, that only 200 of the 2,400 people killed last year were innocent bystanders.
The question for me is how long can the war be contained to Mexico? Not too much longer.
Mexico's drug war is spreading uncomfortably close to the capital at a time when drug-related violence is spiraling out of control throughout the country.They can close down a city with just an e-mail. That is some awesome power.
Over the weekend, panic gripped the central city of Cuernavaca after alleged drug traffickers imposed a nighttime curfew on the city, which sits just an hour south of the capital. Cuernavaca, a city of one million, is a popular weekend retreat for Mexico City residents and is also well-known to Americans as a retirement spot and a place to learn Spanish.
On Friday, an e-mail from a purported drug gang warned residents to stay indoors past 8 p.m. "We recommend you not go out to restaurants, bars, etc. because we might confuse you with our enemies," said the e-mail, a copy of which was seen by The Wall Street Journal.
I think that pretty soon Mexico is going to say "No Mas" and come to terms with the gangs. Either officially or in a covert manner. And then the gangs will go hunting for bigger prey. Or maybe one gang will win the Mexican Drug War and the losing gangs will decide to come north.
And every day I wonder how much longer this stupidity can keep going. And at the end of ever day I'm amazed. Another day's useless energy spent.
Cross Posted at Classical Values