Violence that has killed thousands is beginning to cross border, officials say
With U.S. forces fighting two wars abroad, the nation's top military officer made an important visit last week to forestall a third.
He went to Mexico.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the trip to confer with Mexican leaders about the Merida Initiative, a three-year plan signed into law last June to flood the U.S.-Mexican border region with $1.4 billion in U.S. assistance for law-enforcement training and equipment, as well as technical advice and training to bolster Mexico’s judicial system.
The assistance is intended to help Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa step up his war against drug cartels. The drug lords and their soldiers are blamed for having killed more than 6,300 people since January 2008, including more than 1,000 in the first two months of this year alone.
That’s about 100 people every week for the last 14 months. The cartels usually do not target civilians, but dozens, perhaps hundreds, have died in the crossfire
“It’s a real war,” says Jorge Ramos, mayor of Tijuana, Mexico, across the border with San Diego. “We’re not faking.”
The point of the U.S. initiative is not just to quell the violence in Mexico. More important for the Obama administration, it is to keep the violence from spilling across the border more than it already has, especially in the border states of Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico.
The concern is very real. Mexican drug cartels already control about 90 percent of the cocaine trade across the United States and most of the market for marijuana, methamphetamine and heroin, with operations in 230 cities, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center. They have essentially supplanted the Colombian and Dominican criminal groups that terrorized major U.S. cities through the 1980s and ’90s, the agency said.
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