Tuesday, June 14, 2005

COM: This is mighty close . . .

From MSNBC . . . and how is it that Reuters is reporting this on national wires?

Mexican troops, feds take over 'lawless' town Drug war has killed 45 this year, including town police chief
Reuters, Updated: 3:51 p.m. ET June 13, 2005

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico - Mexican troops and federal police took over a lawless city on the U.S. border Monday to curb a drug war that has spiraled out of control, killing dozens and setting off an armed clash between police.

Some 45 people have been killed this year in Nuevo Laredo, across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas, in a fight between cartels for control of drug routes.

Order collapsed last week when suspected drug hitmen killed the town’s security chief Alejandro Dominguez in a hail of 30 bullets only a day after he had been sworn into the post.

Troops in Humvee vehicles roared through the streets and federal police surrounded the town hall Monday morning, taking dozens of local police away in trucks.

“It is a city without law,” said resident Blasa Lopez.

On Saturday, some 40 municipal police ambushed federal agents sent from Mexico City to investigate the killing.

President Vicente Fox’s government accused local cops of being in the pay of drug traffickers.

“There are very clear signs of a relationship between elements of the Nuevo Laredo police and drug smuggling, hence the decisive action,” government spokesman Ruben Aguilar told journalists in the capital.

Hundreds killed throughout Mexico this year
More than 500 people have been killed in Mexico this year in a drug turf war, mostly between smugglers from the western state of Sinaloa and the Gulf Cartel, based in Tamaulipas state south of Texas.

Aguilar said federal forces had also begun an anti-crime crackdown in Sinaloa and the state of Baja California at the weekend.

Nuevo Laredo is a key link in the northward trade of cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines.

Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, a drug trafficker from Sinaloa and Mexico’s most wanted man, is trying to take business from the Gulf Cartel in and around Nuevo Laredo, security sources say.

The violence on the border worries the United States, concerned at the dozens of Americans abducted on the Mexican side of the border since last year.

U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza said last week the situation was “a priority concern for state and municipal leaders and U.S. citizens along the border”.

City hall spokesman Marcos Rodriguez said the federal forces had ordered Nuevo Laredo police to stay off the streets Monday.

Forty-one municipal police were taken to Mexico City for questioning into Saturday’s shooting, in which one federal agent was wounded.

City officials said the local forces may have thought the federal police were members of a drug gang dressed in police uniforms.

The government sent hundreds of federal police to Nuevo Laredo in March after a wave of killings but that failed to halt the almost daily shootings. A journalist was shot dead in the town in April.


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