Monday, January 30, 2012

Police are now primary targets of brazen daytime attacks in Ciudad Juárez

Heavily armed cartels launch commando assaults - only blocks from U.S. territory

January has been a bad month for municipal police in the border town of Ciudad Juárez, just across the river from El Paso, Texas. Juárez easily remains the most dangerous city in Mexico, and the second most deadly metropolis in the world (link below). As of Friday (Jan. 28), seven police officers had been assassinated by drug traffickers and organized crime groups in this month alone.

The latest victims were a married coupled, both police officers, who were executed Friday morning while driving to work. Witnesses said they were attacked by two young gunmen who managed to escape. One hundred shell casings were recovered at the scene.

This morning there was a full scale assault on a Juárez municipal police facility. About 9:00 a.m. six vehicles pulled up in front of the station carrying a small army of sicarios, or hit men. They were armed with handguns, grenades and the ubiquitous cuernos de chivo ("goat horns") carried by virtually all Mexican cartels -- machine guns which the rest of the world knows as the AK-47 (almost all of them acquired in the U.S.). Some members of the commando team were wearing bullet-proof vests, which are very valuable here and traded in the black market. Fortunately, police had just mustered for a watch change, and plenty of officers were available to repel the attack. Three of the 10 gunmen were killed and three officers were wounded.

Authorities say the city is dominated by Nuevo Cártel de Juárez (New Cartel of Juárez), which controls the narcotics trade and other enterprises such as kidnappings and extortion of legitimate business owners. But there are always competitors and independents trying to push their way into a very crowded field, leading to bloodshed.

Juárez cops have been hitting the street in heavy numbers with multi-officer patrols, and criminals are retaliating with fearless assaults in broad daylight. Here's what happened in one such revenge attack on Jan. 10:

Authorities do say there is a glimmer of hope, though. Homicides in Juárez dropped precipitously from 2010 to 2011, and restaurants, clubs and entertainment spots have reopened in some areas which were deserted war zones just a few months ago.

Jan. 31 - Juárez police take refuge in fortress hotels
U.S. drug czar tells House that Juárez is still world's most deadly city:
Local police suffer the most in Mexico's drug war:
Americans murdered in brutal Juárez attack:
Hit men execute ambulance crew, patients - another day of madness in Juárez:
Ciudad Juárez is now only the second most dangerous city in the world:

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