Wednesday, May 21, 2008

War south of the border

You know, the Federal forces in Mexico really need to step in and stop this war going on within their borders.

Or is the corruption so far gone that there is no one even at that level willing to step in and clean up their mess.

After police force flees, town in Chihuahua dreads sundown
By Sean Mattson: Express-News

MONTERREY, Mexico — The entire police force for a small city 85 miles south of El Paso abandoned its post after suspected drug gangsters ambushed a dance at a hall, killing six people including three officers, authorities said.

The mayor of Villa Ahumada, his second-in-command and the city police chief also left town after the weekend attack, said a city official reached Tuesday by phone, who would identify herself only as Amalia.

“There is no municipal police force” there, said Marco Antonio Moreno, a state police spokesman in Ciudad Juárez, the city across from El Paso that has been an epicenter for drug violence this year along the Mexico-Texas border.

Moreno said the police force consisted of 10 officers, but Reforma newspaper said the force totaled 23. The mayor was in the state capital of Chihuahua City, he said, about 150 miles south of Villa Ahumada.

State police took over the police station for the city of about 12,000 people on the main highway between Chihuahua city and El Paso. Mexican soldiers patrolled the streets, authorities said.
“There is no authority in this town,” said a hotel manager who requested anonymity, adding that businesses are closing early and people don't venture into the street after sundown.

“There is a psychosis here ... the situation is critical,” he said. “We're locking ourselves inside. You don't see a soul in the street after 8 at night.”

Warring drug gangs this year reportedly have killed more than 300 people in Chihuahua state, which borders Texas from El Paso to Big Bend National Park. Much of the killing has happened in Ciudad Juárez and its environs.

Nationwide, Mexico's raging drug war has claimed 438 law enforcers since President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006, Eduardo Medina Mora, the attorney general, said in a television interview last week.

That's an average of 25 slain law enforcers per month.

The director of Ciudad Juárez's police force recently was killed outside his home, and the city's police chief quit. A former army commander took the latter's job Monday.

In March, the police chief of another Chihuahua town, Puerto Palomas, sought asylum in the United States after his police force disbanded due to threats from drug gangs. The officer is one of three Mexican police chiefs U.S. authorities say is seeking asylum north of the border out of fear for their lives.

Reforma newspaper reported Villa Ahumada's police left prisoners in the town jail when they fled and that the force's firearms were stolen. Alejandro Terán, a state police officer who answered the phone at the city police office, said he'd seen no sign of prisoners or firearms.

As for city police officers, he said, “There aren't any.”