"The cartels read the news and they hear about what is happening in the Middle East with the use of car bombs and suicide bombers," Richard Schwein, a former special agent in charge of the FBI's El Paso office, told the El Paso Times. "I don't think they will ever use suicide bombers here, but car bombs are easy to make and to use."
"A car bomb on our southern border is a wake-up call to how sophisticated and ruthless these guys have become," a U.S. law-enforcement official involved in combating Mexican cartels said to Time.com. "We are dealing with narco-insurgents."
Ray Walser, a senior policy analyst specializing in Latin America at The Heritage Foundation, however, says the precedent was set closer to home in the Western Hemisphere by Colombian guerrillas and drug traffickers three decades ago.
"There the use of car bombs and IEDS is also a hallmark of the narco-terrorists of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia," he wrote on the think tank's blog, The Foundry. "Most recently, FARC detonated a car bomb that killed 9 in the Colombian city of Buenaventura. Car bombs were also a dreaded weapon of choice used by the notorious Pablo Escobar, head of the deadly Medellin cartel in the 1980s and 1990s."
One ASIS International member Bryce Wylie—who recently returned to El Paso, Texas, in April after serving in Iraq, described his cross-border neighbor as a "combat zone" similar to Iraq and worries the cartel violence will eventually gush over into his city.
Cuidad Juárez Mayor José Reyes Ferriz called the bombers terrorists and told the El Paso Times that he feared his police officers would quit the force for fear of booby traps and ambushes.
The levels of narco-violence throughout Cuidad Juárez and throughout Mexico are staggering. Since 2008, more than 5,500 murders have occurred in Cuidad Juárez, which sits just across the Rio Grande River from El Paso, Texas, according to GlobalPost. It accounts for one-fifth of the more than 25,000 drug-related murders committed inside Mexico since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in 2006.
Beginning August 1, reports USA Today, the federal government will deploy an additional 1,200 National Guard troops and other federal border patrol agents and customs officers to the Southwest border to help border states protect their territory from illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and violence.
♦ Photo of Humvee destroyed by an IED in Baghdad, Iraq, in May 2006 by Jim Gordon/WikiMediaCommons