Mexico surging 2,500 troops into Juarez

Dallas Morning News/Houston Chronicle:

he government of President Felipe Calderon on Thursday began a military surge of more than 2,500 soldiers and federal agents into this besieged border community in an attempt to tamp down a bloody drug war that has authorities jittery on both sides of the border.

The crackdown comes as a senior U.S. law enforcement official cautioned that Juarez faces a prolonged drug war — much like Nuevo Laredo in recent years — that's gradually spilling over into the Texas side of the border.

"Operation Chihuahua" — named after Mexico's biggest state, nestled against New Mexico and Texas — is aimed at restoring law and order in a region that many say has grown lawless. Nearly 200 people have been killed since Jan. 1 in this city of 1.2 million, as the Sinaloa cartel tries to run out the long-entrenched Juarez cartel out of power.

"In this fight, Chihuahua is not alone," said Mexico's Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino, who was accompanied by the nation's secretary of defense, attorney general, Chihuahua's governor and the mayor of Ciudad Juarez. "In this battle, no group will be able to withstand the government's force."

The buildup of soldiers began Wednesday evening and will continue through Saturday.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office applauded the stepped-up Mexican law enforcement Thursday. "President Calderon has been operating his own version of surge operations up and down the border as he continues to take on the gangs and drug cartels," said the governor's press secretary, Robert Black. "... He has his hands full, but these are the most aggressive efforts to date to clean up that side of the border, and it is very welcome."

The state Legislature last year allocated an additional $55 million annually to beef up Texas law enforcement along the border and help handle the incursions and violence spilling over from Mexico.

"We already have an increased presence on Texas side, up and down from El Paso to Brownsville," Black said. "On this side, we are happy to operate as the anvil to President Calderon's hammer."

Operation Chihuahua involves 2,026 soldiers and 425 federal agents, plus intelligence experts, investigators and forensic specialists. The goal is to control all access points in and out of the city, said Mexico's Defense Minister Guillermo Galvan Galvan.

Within hours of beginning the operation, soldiers took over the police department's communications operations, and Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said a clean-up of the police department is underway. Starting Monday, soldiers will set up 46 checkpoints throughout the city, including international crossing points leading into and out of Texas and New Mexico. And soldiers will be checking for unregistered weapons and searching police cars for any possible links to drug cartels.

Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora stressed that the chaos in Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere in Mexico — more than 5,000 killings across Mexico in the last two years have been linked to drug violence — is not a sign of cartel strength, but "a sign of their weakness, decomposition and deterioration. It will take time to eradicate them."

...

There is much more including a largely positive reaction from law enforcement on the Texas side of the border.

Mexico may need more troops and a sustained operation to make this effective. It is putting a structure in place that will inhibit the drug dealers and make it difficult for them to operate without being discovered, but it is not likely to stop the killings without more troops taking up positions to protect neighborhoods.

It is a good start and I think fears of a spillover into the US are not well founded. The narco terrorist fear US criminal justice more than the Mexican army. In Mexico they know that they still stand a chance of being able to buy their way out of jail and they know that is very unlikely in the US. Calderon has done a good job of fighting to restore the rule of law in Mexico but that war goes on.

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