January 01, 2008

The Mexican drug gang killings of musicians are getting so much media attention because it counts as celebrity news even if the dead are Mexicans (it is even hitting the newspapers in Asia) but when these same drug gangs have the ability and, more importantly, the sheer cojones to kill any law enforcement that happens to enforce the law or seize some drugs, you do have to wonder at what point Mexico starts not just to look like but to be a failed state like Iraq.

Just two hours from the Texas border, Monterrey was a cop killer's paradise in 2007.

Phantom-like killers killed at least 31 police officers and one lawmaker en route to establishing a record 100-plus gangland style slayings in a year, according to media tallies.

Invariably, the assailants escaped.

Most of the deaths were linked to the warring Sinaloa and Gulf drug cartels, which have been in part responsible for a wave of killings and kidnappings in the border region for years.

Not one 2007 cartel-related killing in the state of Nuevo León, where Monterrey is the capital, was solved as of the last week of December, said spokespersons for the federal and state police investigating the crimes.

The sorry statistic shows that Monterrey, dubbed the "Sultana of the North," became indistinguishable, in terms of drug violence, from the poorer, rougher and more rural parts of Mexico this year.

Nuevo León's spike in cartel violence was accompanied by a significant downturn in violence in neighboring Tamaulipas, which borders Texas from Laredo to Brownsville.

Law officers believe that the Gulf Cartel gained the upper hand in Tamaulipas, which includes the seaport of Tampico. Reforma tallied 181 executions there in 2006 and 85 through December 2007.

Key transfer zone

This gritty metropolis is a key transfer zone for narcotics bound for the United States' Interstate 35 corridor that runs north out of Laredo. The city is also an increasingly lucrative local drug market and is a traditional money-laundering destination.

Though Nuevo León's overall murder tally trails states like Sinaloa, which had well over 300 slayings through December, Nuevo León was among the most dangerous for law enforcers this year.

And yes, I realize that the direct US role in producing this failed state is comparable on a certain level to the situation in Iraq or Afghanistan-- at least if you think that an insatiable demand for drugs in the US has anything at all do with people trying to bring them here. Or if you think a failed abstraction like the "war on drugs" has any similarity to the focus-free and failing abstraction of "the war on terror." Or if you believe that one action (let's say impoverishing a country through free trade , for example, or bombing it and doing jackshit to rebuild it or establish real order, like Afghanistan or just fucking it up, like Iraq) leads to an opposite and equal reaction (growth of drug gangs in poor areas, in Mexico, or massive poppy production in Afghanistan, or disorder and killings of authorities in Iraq).

That is an effective guerrilla technique, to kill and terrorize the collaborators, not just a gang technique. Eventually you would just think that the police will give up, or wise up anyway, and let the drug lords run supreme. Geez, this is like every drug movie ever made, everybody knows how this one usually ends.

Or maybe the US should ask the Mexican police to go buy an illegal street DVD of American Gangster so they can see that honest cops with hearts of gold will always win over brutal drug thugs.

If Mexico were smart, it would legalize and tax drugs (at least marijuana, the gateway drug) and facilitate its production, creating irresistible pressure on the U.S. to change its course. This type of magnet would severely corrode if not actually destroy the US prohibition, or at least make Mexico a lot of money when every American kid goes south for vacation.

Then the US could massively ramp up its own weed production (rescuing economically marginal areas like the Appalachians, for example) and send heavily subsidized marijuana tariff-free back to Mexico. This would, in turn, destroy the Mexican drug producers fair and square and send plenty of workers north to harvest the weed for shipment all over North America from isthmus to north pole. Happiness, peace, friendship, freedom and much staring at one's own hand would reign. Mexican cops could stop worried about getting killed and could go back to shaking people down on the street and whatever else they do, and the only real loss, which should be factored in and considered, would be that narcocorridos would fade from popularity.

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