The drug war just across the border from El Paso, Texas, just got closer to Baghdad last week after Cuidad Juárez experienced its first car bomb, killing two police officers and a paramedic and injuring seven people.
The drug war just across the border from El Paso, Texas, got closer to Baghdad last week after the Mexican border city of Cuidad Juárez experienced its first car bomb , killing two police officers and a paramedic and injuring seven people.
But what made the use of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) even ghastlier was how the perpetrators lured their victims close to the car. According to Time.com :
In the real Ciudad Juárez on Thursday, July 15, gangsters kidnapped a man, dressed him in a police uniform, shot him and dumped him bleeding on a downtown street. A cameraman happened to film what happened after federal police and paramedics got close. The video shows medics bent over the dumped man, checking for vital signs. Suddenly a bang rings out, and the image shakes vigorously as the cameraman runs for his life. The gangsters had used a cell phone to detonate 22 lb. of C-4 explosives packed into a nearby car. A minute later, the camera turns back around to reveal the remains of a burning car, smoke over screaming victims and charred corpses. Three people, including a federal police officer, were killed, and several others injured.
Mexican authorities believe the blast was the work of La Linea, the armed wing of the Juárez drug cartel, in retaliation for arresting its alleged operations leader, Jesús Armando Acosta Guerrero.
Experts consider this development in the war between Mexican drug cartels and the state a gruesome new precedent that draws on tactics developed by insurgents and terrorists in the Middle East and Colombia.
"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