It has been reported that Monday saw 100 police in a number of police stations across Nuevo Laredo arrested by federal agents and the military.
The action is part of President Calderòn's efforts to control the mushrooming violence of the war between drug organizations for turf and against the government which is increasing its efforts to control them.
It is believed that last year over 2000 people were killed in Mexico in this war. Monterrey had been free of this violence for some time but that has changed with over 50 people killed recently — many of them police officers.
The poorly paid police are not so difficult for cartels with multi-million dollar incomes to influence. Those who are not bought are targeted.
Monday also saw 20 victims of gang violence across the country. Cancun, as previously reported, had 5 people, 3 men and 2 women found murdered with their heads covered with plastic bags and their hands tied together. Quite an image for a prime tourist destination.
CNN reports today that President Calderòn's efforts to fight the wave of violence and killings that has been spawned by increasingly violent and visible power struggles between rival Mexican cartels are paying off.
Mexican police arrested today 7 "alleged drug gang hit men" in Acapulco, a major tourist destination for both Mexicans and foreigners. The police confiscated 7 assault weapons, "several" pistols and a store of ammo.
The assistant secretary of public safety commented that "The escalation of violence we are seeing … [and] the power of these criminal gangs comes from the ease with which they get weapons" on the American border. "Their firepower is impressive."
On 7 February the San Diego press reported that "Drug Violence in Acupulco Threatens Mexico's Tourism Industry". Hotel owners and businessmen are not pleased with the bloody drug wars and what had previously been a "live and let live" attitude by police.
One of the more blatant attacks by the gangs was at noon on Tuesday when assassins entered two state police station dressed as soldiers. They demanded the cops' guns and then opened fire on them. Five police investigators were killed along with two secretaries. Witnesses noted that they videotaped their attack. Third World violence, drug wars and miscellaneous savagery are embracing Web 2.0 and becoming en-gadgeted.
The mayor told local business leaders at a breakfast in February, “I hope this does not affect the tourist image. We realize that these events are unpleasant, but people know that they are separate events.” Given the wounding of 2 Canadian tourists in the lobby of their hotel on the tourist strip when shots were fired into the lobby, the $12 billion a year tourism industry in Mexico will, indeed, be threatened. America is reeling from its own massacre in Virginia and that was nothing compared to the level of violence that exists and is increasing in Mexico.
In my view some of the blame must lie with the US for permitting the wide distribution of firearms including assault weapons and drug laws that have made the drug business a dangerous, illegal and therefore wildly profitable enterprise enjoyed by the most violent segment of both societies. It is little different from the Prohibition of the 20s and 30s. Just watch a good movie from the period with Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart raking in the dough and finally shooting it out with cops or other bad guys. Plus ça change; plus c'est la méme chose — the more things change; the more they are the same.
In researching a coming article on post-traumatic shock disorder I was just looking at web sites in the US (mainly) for gun shops, shows, dealers and NRA advocates. Assault weapons remain a good choice. I found AK-47 clones for as little as $569 on sophisticated sites with gun shop location guides — "find a gun store near you." Interested in adding to your collection or just planning some fun? Start with 100 Top Gun Sites.
NPR published a vivid audio-slideshow on the drug wars recently. Take a look and listen.
The gangs are said to be "branching out" into other nefarious trades as well — kidnapping, auto theft, and the trade in migrants and weapons. The secretary added that "These are very dynamic organizations." Some blame was put on the easy availability of weapons from the US just over the northern border.
Today, Saturday 21 April, I made this post a few minutes ago at my blog 7 Color Lagoon . I wrote just last night (on my blog, Travel Dangers) about the arrest of 100 police in Acapulco, deaths in Cancun and the increasing success or effect of the crackdown by President Calderòn's government.
It came home today. It came to my porton, the steel gate in the wall around my property on the shore of Laguna Bacalar in the southeastern frontier of Mexico.
I was called by strong (very strong) knocking on the gate which is always locked in this dangerous area. I was waiting for a carpenter and wondered why he had the audacity to sit atop the barda, the wall around the perimeter.
Then I noticed he had on a black ski mask and was not wielding a big hammer but an assault weapon and asked to come in as they had an "operation" in progress. Being the macho fool I am I both opened the little door in the porton and demanded to see their IDs. Logical unless you happen to be 60, have CHF, a pacing device and are unarmed. What, I wondered later, would I have done if they did not have police and military IDs?
I gave them access to my property to attack two neighboring houses and decided it best not to photograph a lot of young men with assault rifles and black ski masks in a foreign country. I would have when I was a working photographer but I am now disabled, hardly able to shoot flowers without tiring myself and suffering Post-Traumatic Shock Disorder after the death of my wife in December — a victim of anti-American violence.
Reporting the news from the wires and RSS feeds is one thing. I felt the impotency of a foreigner without the energy to photograph nor the temerity to interview obviously nervous kids with big guns waiting for a fire-fight.
The Calderòn effort to control rampant violence in a country noted for corruption and savage violence is laudable. It is also a little frightening when it comes into your yard. A number of "operatives" with rifles and flack jackets have been through my lovely terrace overlooking this once tranquil lagoon. They did not stop to enjoy the view. The young soldiers in the street guarding the rear looked too nervous to approach except to tell them with a smile "ten cuidado", be careful.
The violence in Mexico has escalated. The government response appears more and more effective, which may be generating a response of escalating terror from wealthy drug dealing gangs who have begun to fear for their futures. President Calderòn is doing what is best for Mexico — trying to control the violence and killings before Mexico leaves the family of civilized nations for good. It makes this period one of danger and insecurity as a government continues to try to push a whole nation from one traditional and established path into another manner of existence. It is not an easy task.
I have not heard gunfire in spite of the plethora of guns that have gone by in the hands of soldiers and police passing through my property to the shore of the lagoon. I waved and smiled which is often appropriate with nervous, testosterone-filled men with guns as they passed the glass doors to my living room.
It will be later that I hear the chisme, the rumors, about this bit of excitement. But the end result is not of importance. The attitude of the Mexican federal government to change the shape of the nation and the proliferation of violence everywhere is the stuff that is news.