Around Nogales, where arrests are down 20 percent, Susie Morales—who lives 2 1/2 miles from the line in the national forest west of Interstate 19—has seen no letup in crossings.

As she cooks dinner in her kitchen, she can look out and see mules backpacking drugs on a trail 75 yards from her front door. Another trail runs 50 yards behind her house.

These trails are so close that when Susie spots incursions, she runs into her bathroom with her cell phone and shuts the door. She has to keep her voice down so the crossers can’t hear her calling for help.

“There are more Border Patrol agents around, but the tide hasn’t abated,” says Morales. “It’s amazing. They’re still coming. We need active-duty military here, because we’re just outnumbered.”

She carries a .357 magnum everywhere she goes.

I’m not saying this law isn’t just terrible policy, but all of the people raising their voices about it in the rest of the country need to take a look at what life is like on the border right now. They also need to realize the federal government’s culpability. The states are the laboratories of policy. When their requests for immigration legislation and border security are ignored by the rest of the nation, this is what can happen.

Quote from this Leo Banks story in the Tucson Weekly.


Just a few weeks after the AP declared that the Sinaloa cartel had won the drug war in Juarez, the city saw one of its bloodiest days in recent memory. On Wednesday, 20 murders were recorded in a 24-hour span. The first murders of the day set the tone for the brutality to follow, as gunmen burst into a bar in the early morning and dragged eight people out into a nearby lot, lined them up against the wall, and executed them…

Article here.

Following the Rio Grande southeast out of the Valley of Juarez, past the Big Bend region and across the vast emptiness of the Chihuahuan desert, one eventually comes to the states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, historic base of the Gulf Cartel and home to the newest outbreak of everyday violence in the Mexican drug war…

Article here.

Quote of the Week?

April 21, 2010

“It certainly is an odd thing to see a ‘Kevin Costner’ and a ‘centrifugal oil separator’ together in a place like the Gulf of Mexico,” said actor Stephen Baldwin.

LA Times.

April 15, 2010

Despite these contraindications, the cartels fighting the New Federation believe the government favors the group, and there have long been rumors that Calderon was somehow tied to El Chapo. The Juarez cartel may have recently taken some desperate steps to counter what it perceives to be a dire threat of government and New Federation cooperation. A local Juarez newspaper, El Diario, recently published an article discussing a Los Aztecas member who had been detained and interrogated by the Mexican military and federal police in connection with the murders of three U.S. Consulate employees in Juarez in March. During the interrogation, according to El Diario, the Los Aztecas member divulged that a decision was made by leaders in the Barrio Azteca gang and Juarez cartel to engage U.S. citizens in the Juarez area in an effort to force the U.S. government to intervene in Mexico and therefore act as a “neutral referee,” thereby helping to counter the Mexican government’s favoritism toward the New Federation.

Quite a report from Stratfor.

This is where the government has to deal with the industry realistically. Felipe Calderon and his entire administration know that the drug trade isn’t going away. U.S. officials know it too. As long as there is a market for drugs in the U.S., there will be an industry to support the demand in Mexico. And when that industry funnels tens of billions of dollars into the Mexican economy every year, through investments in business, the greasing of political palms and good old-fashioned trickle-down economics, it’s hardly in Mexico’s best interest to try to stamp it out.

Article here.

April 14, 2010

The mayor of Monterrey, Fernando Larrazabal, announced the dismissal of 105 police officers on 5 April 2010 in an attempt to eradicate ineffective and corrupt officers. Since the start of a zero-tolerance program in December 2009, 157 officers have been removed. There is currently a shortage of 200 officers in Monterrey.

From Southern Pulse.

Great report. A local Sheriff advises citizens to arm themselves.

Eduardo Ravelo is the new ‘face of Ciudad Juarez terror,” according to the LA Times this week. This mean-looking specimen is the purported leader of the Barrio Aztecas street gang, the mostly teenage subcontractors that the Juarez drug cartel uses for the murder, kidnapping and torture of its rivals in the city. Near the end of last year, Ravelo was quietly placed on the FBI’s ten most wanted list, and a couple weeks ago, he reached a criminal pinnacle, officially supplanting Osama bin Laden as the FBI’s number one most wanted man in the world.

The first piece in an ongoing series on Ciudad Juarez and the Mexican drug wars I’m writing for The Awl.