Friday, July 2, 2010

Criminal Cartels Shootout Leaves 21 Dead

 Shortly after President Obama in a highly political speech Thursday said the U.S.-Mexican border is the safest in 20 years, 21 persons were killed in a gun battle between rival drug and immigrant trafficking gangs.

Although the shootout occurred 12 miles south of the Arizona border, residents north of the border fear the motive for this kind of violence spills into the United States in other forms.

One aspect of such collateral damage is Phoenix being turned into the kidnapping capital of the U.S., second only to Mexico City, according to Arizona Sen. John Kyl.

Politics notwithstanding, border security can only be measured to the extent of what happens just south of the border is contained from spreading north.

Compared to Mexico, the sporadic murder of one Arizona rancher, the increased violence in kidnapping and shakedowns for ransom, the uptick in drug smuggling arrests are a clear and present danger to those that live in the Southwest.

The degree the Mexican criminal cartels go to protect their trade is blood curdling. Since 2006, the Mexican drug cartels have murdered 23,000 people, including 4,300 in Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas.

The 21 killed near Hermosillo Thursday illustrates the more recent confluence of drug and human trafficking gangs because the area is a prime corridor for crossing the border into the United States.

Sonora state prosecutors confirmed the number killed. They said nine were arrested, including six who suffered gunshot wounds. Seven rifles were confiscated, they said.

Mexico's El Dario newspaper said police seized 19 high-powered weapons and 11 late-model vehicles.

Not to be outdone and typical of the daily violence along the 1.993-mile border was the drive-by shooting death of Chihuahua state assistant attorney general Sandra Salas Garcia and one of her bodyguards.

Salas was responsible for evaluating the work of prosecutors and special investigations units in Chihuahua working out of her office in Ciudad Juarez.

Elections in 12 Mexican states will be held Sunday. On Thursday, the decapitated head of Hector Murgia, a candidate for Ciudad Juarez mayor representing the opposition PRI party, was found on the doorstep of his home.

Yes, this is Mexico's problem. But the winners of these turf battles use the power and profits to supply the United States with drugs and cheap labor, their most lucrative market.

Real or imagined, that's how American border residents perceive it. And that's why they snicker when the president says the border is the safest in 20 years.

As a result, the knee-jerk countermeasures the border state governments take is not surprising.

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