A spate of bloodshed right across the border in Mexico has left 11 dead and many businesses demolished.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that a prison riot and the impending arrest of cartel members sparked the rash of violence, much of which took place right across the U.S. southern border from El Paso, Texas in Ciduad Juarez.
The amount and the brutality of the violent attacks has even those who are used to violent attacks by gangs and cartels shocked, and hundreds of army troops were sent to Juarez.
The killing of many civilians was especially shocking, as violence is usually limited to people involved in one form or another with cartel activity or criminality. Adrian Lopez is the director of a newspaper called Noroeste. He says, “The Mexican state has been overrun and can no longer protect its citizens.”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador addressed the violence on Friday during a news conference: “This is something that hadn’t presented itself before and hopefully won’t be repeated, because they attacked the civilian population, innocents, as a kind of retaliation. It wasn’t just a clash between two groups, but they began to shoot at civilians. … That is the most lamentable part of this.”
But in places like Juarez, which sits along a key cross-border smuggling route, it’s been ground zero for a large amount of gang and cartel activity and very often innocent bystanders are caught in the crossfire.
Since the election of reformer Lopez Obrador in 2018, the homicide rate has declined only slightly, and gang and cartel crime shows no signs of slowing down.
Average Mexicans may have a problem with Lopez Obrador’s approach to law and order. Rogelio Cornejo Diaz owns a fruit and vegetable stand in one of the hardest hit cities by the crime wave, Celaya. He says, “There’s no government here: Here the narcos are the government. If the president thinks all is fine and tranquil, he should come here sometime with his wife and children to see for himself.”
The use of extreme violence by Mexican drug cartels is not new. In March of this year, the U.S. consulate in Nuevo Laredo was shut down after not just sustaining gunfire, but also grenade explosions.
This in response to the arrest of a suspected cartel leader. The entire city of Nuevo Laredo, which sits directly across the border from Laredo, Texas endured a night of violence and gunfire due to gunfights between cartels.
The Biden administration is ending the “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires those seeking asylum in the U.S. to await their hearings in Mexico, and thousands of single adults continue to pour across the border with no signs of letting up.
Alejandro Hope is a Mexican security analyst. He summed up the nightmare of Mexican organized crime, “We’re in a high-violence equilibrium that has become self-sustaining and that government policy is doing very little to change.”
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