Now that a federal agent has been murdered by a drug gang in Mexico, the Obama Administration promises to “look into” the crime-infested nation’s policy banningU.S. law enforcement officers from carrying weapons during official missions.That, of course, means that the U.S. government deploys federal agents intoMexico’s most violent regions unarmed. This may seem inconceivable considering that heavily armed drug cartels have taken over chunks of the country and Uncle Sam must send its overwhelmed government help to combat the growing crisis.In the last few years more than 34,000 murders have been associated with drug cartels and in 2010 serious crime connected to illicit narcotics operations hit record levels in scale and brutality. More than 13,000 people were murdered across Mexicoin disturbing and cruel ways not commonly seen in previous years, according to a report by a major newspaper in a border state. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually compared the drug-related violence in Mexico to a Colombia-style insurgency that devastated that South American nation a few decades ago.Earlier this week the ruthless Zetas cartel ambushed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents stationed at the American Embassy in Mexico City as part of a human smuggling and border security enforcement task force. A 32-year-old special agent, Jaime Zapata, was murdered and another, Victor Avila, was shot twice in the leg. The men were traveling on a rural highway in an armored sports utility vehicle.In the aftermath of the vicious attack, Attorney General Erick Holder vows to look into perhaps changing the policy forbidding American law enforcement officers from carrying guns in Mexico. “We will look at this and we’ll do . . . an analysis of what it is that we need to do to make sure that everybody is as safe down there as we can make them,” Holder said during a news conference this week. Reading between the lines it’s probably best not to hold your breathe.Besides having around 30 ICE agents in Mexico, the U.S. has showered the country with more than $1 billion in the last few years to combat drug violence. The American tax dollars will keep pouring in under a multi-year program (known as theMerida Initiative) that also helps Central American nations, the Dominican Republicand Haiti fight crime. A disproportionate chunk of the cash goes to Mexico, however.
Although the U.S. government has showered Mexico with more than $1 billion in the last few years to combat drug violence, serious crime associated with illicit narcotics operations hit record levels in scale and brutality in 2010.More than 13,000 people were murdered across Mexico in disturbing and cruel ways not commonly seen in previous years, according to a Dallas newspaper report the exposes a new level of brutality among the country’s thriving drug cartels. The problem is especially critical along the U.S.-Mexico border but also in regions that were once spared such bloodshed.In one northern Mexican city the mayor was murdered and his eyes gouged out, in a quaint town south of Mexico City four decapitated men were hanged from a bride along a busy highway and in the narcotics hotbed of Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso, university students were recently hunted like animals, shot dead and set on fire.The drug-related violence has been well documented in Ciudad Juarez, where the situation is so serious that bullets from shootouts among rival smugglers regularly spill into the U.S. In fact, just a few months ago a myriad of bullets fired into El Paso, striking City Hall and a public university building. El Paso’s sheriff says the gun battles are breaking out everywhere but his hands are tied because local law enforcement officials are legally forbidden from intervening in another country’s war.In the meantime, U.S. tax dollars keep flowing south to fund the drug war in the famously corrupt Latin American country. Since 2008 Uncle Sam has generously given Mexico $1.2 billion as part of a multi-year program (known as the Merida Initiative) that also helps Central American nations, the Dominican Republic andHaiti fight crime. A disproportionate chunk of the cash goes to Mexico, even as the violence escalates; $400 in 2008, $300 million in 2009 and $450 million in 2010.The money is supposed to provide equipment and training to support law enforcement operations and technical assistance for long-term reform and oversight of security agencies, according to the State Department’s description of the Merida Initiative. It’s also intended to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to partner with foreign governments to confront criminal organizations that plague the region and spill over into the U.S.