by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.
Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed nearly 25,000 people (the Mexican attorney general put the death toll at 24,826 on Thursday), with a death toll of nearly 8,000 in 2009 and over 6,000 so far in 2010. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:
In Ciudad JuÃ¡rez, four people were killed when a car bomb blew up near federal police headquarters. The dead included two police officers, a doctor, and a paramedic. The JuÃ¡rez cartel claimed responsibility and warned of more attacks if authorities do not crack down on the rival Sinaloa Cartel. This attack marks the first time such tactics have been used in Mexico's prohibition-related violence.
Sunday, July 18
In Torreon, Coahuila, 17 people were killed when gunmen opened fire in a crowded party without any warning after having blocked the exits. At least 18 people were also wounded in the attack, many of them seriously. Many of those in attendance at the event learned of it through Facebook. Torreon has seen several large-scale multiple homicides in recent months, especially after fighting began between the Zetas Organization and the Gulf Cartel. This battle has led to a drastic increase in violence in northern Mexico, including Coahuila.
Monday, July 19
In Guadalajara, Jalisco, three policemen were killed after being ambushed by gunmen in two separate incidents. In the first, two officers were shot dead in a car stereo shop. In the second incident, a police patrol car was attacked by armed men with rifles and grenades, leaving one officer dead.
Tuesday, July 20
In Ciudad JuÃ¡rez, seven people were killed in several incidents across the city. Among the dead was a man found hanging from a bridge and a dismembered body which had to be pieced together from several locations.
Wednesday, July 21
In Nuevo Laredo, one person was killed and sixteen were wounded after a grenade attack on a sports complex.
Thursday, July 22
In a mountainous remote part of Chihuahua, eight gunmen were killed after a clash with soldiers near the town of Madera. Reports indicate that the incident occured after an army patrol came under fire from an unclear number of gunmen. It is unknown to which organization the gunmen belonged. The area is heavily used by marijuana and poppy growers under cartel control.
In Mazatlan, Sinaloa, two police officers were killed after being chased by gunmen. The chase ended when the two officers exited their vehicle and attempted unsuccessfully to escape on foot. In Guasave, a known drug-trafficking stronghold, a woman was shot dead by two gunmen as she held her baby. She was killed and the child was wounded. A police officer was killed in Nuevo Leon. In Colima, a man was shot dead after being ambushed as he drove on a highway.
In the city of Nuevo Laredo, the city government sent out a Facebook message warning residents to stay inside due to ferocious gun battles with cartel gunmen.
Total Body Count for the Week: 187
Total Body Count for the Year: 6,435
Read the previous Mexico Drug War Update here.