Nuevo Laredo - a place not to visit...


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Preacherman
May 24, 2005, 12:42 PM
Remember that some months ago, the State Department issued a warning to Americans not to visit Nuevo Laredo and similar places, because of the level of crime and drug-related violence? Mexico protested vehemently, and all the border tourist authorities were angry. Well, seems like the warning wasn't wrong, after all...

From the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/24/international/americas/24mexico.html):

Drug Violence Paralyzes a City, and Chills the Border

By GINGER THOMPSON

Published: May 24, 2005

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico - There was nothing secretive about the death threats against Guadalupe García, a crime reporter here in this busy border city. Her stalkers broadcast their intentions over the police radio.

"You are next, Lupita," a growling voice would blurt into the emergency communications system. "We are coming for you."

They came on the morning of April 5. A young man carrying a backpack and a semiautomatic 9-millimeter handgun ambushed Ms. García after she signed off her morning news show at Estereo 91. He shot her several times in the abdomen on a busy street, in broad daylight.

Ms. García, a wife and mother who was known for her provocative stories that named names of drug runners and their bosses based on her street reporting, fought for 11 days in intensive care before dying of her injuries.

There is a fight on among this country's most ruthless drug organizations for control of Nuevo Laredo, a fast-growing hub of drug smuggling that has been transformed from a tough but orderly border town into a war zone, where violent death has become a fact of life.

Shootouts among armed men in broad daylight and on busy streets - just a short walk from Laredo, Tex. - evoke scenes of the Wild West or, perhaps, Baghdad.

The violence has wreaked havoc across northern Mexico. In a recent week, according to the newspaper El Universal, more than 30 people were killed in drug-related violence, pushing the death toll to a total of some 504 people this year. Among those killed was a legislator from the northern state of Sinaloa and the police chief of Rosarito Beach, a tourist spot just south of Tijuana popular with Americans.

Both men died in a hail of gunfire, the signature of the new organizations - smaller and harder to trace than the old cartels - that run the drug trade today.

Here in Nuevo Laredo, authorities report that more than 55 people have been killed in drug-related violence this year, compared with 68 murders in all of last year. Those numbers, horrifying enough, may understate the case - many people, the police say, are too terrified to report crimes.

Right after Ms. García's killing, some two dozen gunmen wearing ski masks brazenly attacked a police convoy on one of this city's main business strips. No one was killed in the attack, but authorities reported finding more than 500 shell casings and two grenade launchers.

A few days later, a police commander, Juan Antonio Santos, was ambushed and killed outside his home. And several days after that, another police commander, Sergio Montes, was forced off the highway that circles the city, and shot to death.

There have been police chases and gunfights on the bridges that link Nuevo Laredo to Laredo. Diplomats here report that close to 30 Americans have been kidnapped and killed during the past year, and F.B.I. agents say drug traffickers here have been linked to killings as far north as Dallas.

Carlos Lauría, of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, compared the impunity to a "terminal cancer."

"Until the Mexican government shows a real willingness to punish people for these crimes," he said, "they will just keep happening."

Unable to beat the cartels, most of this city's poorly armed and poorly trained police officers have joined them. Restaurants, hotels and shopping centers that rely on visitors from the United States have cut workers and hours to try to stay open. And with four reporters killed or missing across the country so far this year, newspapers have stopped doing investigative stories about crime.

"If the Mexican and United States governments cannot combat drug trafficking, what can we do?" Ramón Cantú Deandar, the editor of El Mañana, a local daily, said during an interview in his office. "This is a business worth billions of dollars. Our stories are not going to stop it. But they could get us killed."

Just look at what happened with Ms. García. Her killing sounded alarms as far away as Washington and New York. International press associations and rights groups reported that Mexico had surpassed Colombia as the most dangerous place in the hemisphere to work as a reporter.

The State Department has issued new warnings to American travelers about Mexico's "deteriorating security situation."

The government of the Mexican president, Vicente Fox, expressed outrage at the killing, but promised it was winning the fight against drug trafficking.

Soon after Ms. García was shot, federal authorities took over the investigation into the attack. Weeks later, no one had been arrested. Few people here believe anyone ever will be.

Mexican officials, including Mr. Fox, say they are doing a better job than their predecessors. A former chief of security for the municipal government, speaking on the condition that he not be identified for reasons of security, said the increased violence among the cartels was a good sign, proof that the government was disrupting the illegal trade.

Even United States drug authorities say there is something to that. The government has imprisoned many of the country's drug barons. But far from stopping the trade that has simply touched off a series of violent turf wars, and the turf around Nuevo Laredo is seen increasingly by the drug gangs as the best turf to call home.

The United States tightened security along the border after the Sept. 11 attacks, making it harder for the drug organizations to move the merchandise.

There are only a few good routes left and Nuevo Laredo, the largest inland trading center in the hemisphere, is the one of the best routes of all.

"Houston and Miami are yesterday's drug capitals," the former security chief said, adding that now Nuevo Laredo is "the fastest growing distribution center for drugs, and the traffickers are willing to do anything to control it."

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Mr. X
May 24, 2005, 02:33 PM
If the criminals have grenade launchers, then why did they bust that TX FFL for having a few rounds of .22 ammo in his truck several years ago? :rolleyes:

Old Dog
May 24, 2005, 02:41 PM
I simply don't understand how all those shootings are possible; guns are illegal in Mexico -- the sign at the border crossing tells me so.

HankB
May 24, 2005, 02:56 PM
Mexican officials, including Mr. Fox, say they are doing a better job than their predecessors. Their definition of "better" must mean the mordida is up.

Art Eatman
May 24, 2005, 03:09 PM
It was maybe back in February that I read that one of the Nuevo Laredo drug gangs is made up of guys from Mexico's equivalent of our Special Forces. Still having friends in the military, they have access to "heavy duty" arms.

The narcotrafficantes in Mexico have long targeted journalists who investigate and report on them. The targeting used to be more prevalent in Tijuana and I guess Guadalajara; now, the lower Rio Grande area. It's not just around Nuevo Laredo; Brownsville/Matamoros is another problem area.

I feel sorta lucky. The "patron" of the Plaza in Ojinaga is reputedly an underling of the Patron Grande in Juarez. ("Plaza" is the term for "da bidness" of moving drugs) He's spending his own money in helping to cleanup/paintup/fixup the town, and the effort is adding somewhat to tourism. The food and the service in his restaurant is excellent! :) It's a peaceful town, Ojinaga. Mostly.

Art

foghornl
May 24, 2005, 03:22 PM
The more I hear of this kind of stuff in Mexico, the less likely I am to even visit some of the nicer "Tourist Trap" cities like Cozumel, Cancun, etc. Not driving over the border at say Del Rio, El Paso, Brownsville, either.


So the Bad Guys in Nuevo Laredo have heavy-duty military arms, eh? Can you say "Fuel-Air Explosive", dropped from 5K feet up or so? ? ?

jefnvk
May 24, 2005, 03:27 PM
If the criminals have grenade launchers

I have a grenade launcher. The question is, did they have the ammo for them?

They busted the American because he has money. Probably figured he would buy his way out of prison.

hayseed
May 24, 2005, 03:27 PM
The United States tightened security along the border after the Sept. 11 attacks, making it harder for the drug organizations to move the merchandise.

If this is true, what was that whole "Minuteman" thing about?

Was I in a coma when they did this and no one told me? :confused:

O.F.Fascist
May 24, 2005, 03:38 PM
yep, more death and lawlessness brought to you by the useless war on drugs.

CentralTexas
May 24, 2005, 05:40 PM
Now I will have to drive over to Louisiana to see a donkey show!
:neener:
CT

rick_reno
May 24, 2005, 05:45 PM
I'll visit when all the Mexicans have moved here. From what I hear about our border contol efforts, I should be able to go in 4-5 years.

Art Eatman
May 24, 2005, 06:42 PM
:D I dunno, CenTex; you bein' from Austintatious, you've had the Legislature in session. You've needed neither Mexico nor Louisiana!

:), Art

Standing Wolf
May 24, 2005, 07:16 PM
...some two dozen gunmen wearing ski masks brazenly attacked a police convoy on one of this city's main business strips. No one was killed in the attack, but...

Sounds like the work of the Estupidos Gang to me.

bg
May 24, 2005, 07:18 PM
Even more reason to mine the border and keep em down south.

P95Carry
May 24, 2005, 07:23 PM
Shootouts among armed men in broad daylight and on busy streets Proof - if any were ever needed that ''when guns are outlawed - only outlaws have guns'' It will ever be thus.

In this case things have gotten so outa hand it'd be hard to see them turn it around even.

moa
May 24, 2005, 07:27 PM
You know what the Mexican Government is saying about a lot of their crime? They say if it were not for easy access to firearms in the USA, crime would be much less in Mexico. They blame us for their crime rates.

You cannot deal with idoits like that.

Alex45ACP
May 24, 2005, 07:31 PM
Things like this could be avoided if we ended this insane "War on Drugs".

wingman
May 24, 2005, 07:56 PM
Now I will have to drive over to Louisiana to see a donkey show!

No need to drive mucho donkey in Austin. ;)

Bartholomew Roberts
May 24, 2005, 09:11 PM
If the criminals have grenade launchers, then why did they bust that TX FFL for having a few rounds of .22 ammo in his truck several years ago?

I know which one I would rather arrest if I were a poor Mexican police officer.

makanut
May 24, 2005, 10:49 PM
I'm afraid I was aquainted wth one of the Mexican Law enforcement officials who was gunned down in Nuevo Laredo a few days ago. I met Rafeal Lopez Saucedo (Consejal de Seguridad Publica) and Enrique Ruiz (Director de Seguridad Y Carcel Publica). in the Spring of 1998. We drank for several hours one afternoon. Back in the late 90's I was fluent in Spanish, and we talked from 3 pm until about 8pm. I believe Mr. Ruiz was in his late 30's or so, and Mr. Saucedo was pushing 70. Mr. Saucedo picked up my tab after several hours of drinking and a meal. I was dumb enough to go to Rosarito during Spring Break, and Mr. Saucedo made half a dozen or so phone calls, and got me a rare room at a reasonable price during Spring Break. I'm afraid Mr. Ruiz that had the title of Chief of Police, (Director of Security). Anyway, to make a long story short, Mexicans are extremely hospitable. I spoke good Spanish, was polite, and they went out of their way to help a gringo surfer. I had a job interview in San Diego, and took my chances and drove down to Rosarito and spent the night. After about 4 to 5 hours of Mexican beer and conversation, Mr. Saucedo wanted to hook me up with his 22 yrear old secretary if I ever moved to San Diego.

I'm well aware that there's a lot of corrupt cops in Mexico, but I'd like to think those two weren't one of them. I know this is way off topic, but I couldn't believe it when I read the above article. I still have their business cards in my wallet. Good jobs in Mexico tend to be positions for life, so it's highly likely that the LE officer gunned down in Laredo was Enrique Ruiz.

Hardware
May 25, 2005, 03:37 AM
I'm sorry, didn't we play this game in Columbia back in the 80's?

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