This morning the Los Angeles Times reported on the capture of Mexican Drug Cartel boss Teodoro Garcia Simental.
There are few news items that could bring further relief to the citizens of Northern Mexico than the incarceration of this thug and extortionist. For years he has been known to be behind the most brutal slayings in the region, involved in thousands of decapitations , kidnappings and acts of torture. He had branched out from traditional drug running and focused his attention on extortion and kidnappings of Mexico’s wealthy. In the process he engaged in bitter turf wars with his rivals, with his murdered adversaries massacred, burned , tossed in vacant lots and hung from freeway overpasses.
Although Baja California has been described as something of a success story in 2009 in its war on drugs, the New Year has brought a heavy toll down on the citizens in that province. In just the first eleven days of 2009, four people were decapitated, at least 10 people were killed in drive-by attacks and five people were kidnapped, including two security guards and a prominent businessman. After the drive-by shooting of the three teenagers — two boys and a girl — outside their high school on January 5, every one knew that the death toll was about to ramp up again.
The capture follows the killing of Arturo Beltran Leyva , one of Mexico’s toughest drug lords in December. He died in a hail of bullets after a crack anti-terror squad had tracked him down to a hotel in Sinaloa.
Since 2006, over 15,000 people have died in the bloody drug wars of northern Mexico, many of them innocent bystanders. The bloodlust of the killers had begun to spill over the border and create extraordinary concern for the U.S. border communities.
The existence of a war of this nature on America’s doorstep has always posed an enormous threat to national security. Not only was there danger of cartel representative groups emerging in American cities but there have been increasing reports in recent years of drug lords striking deals with Muslim terrorist groups facilitating their passage into the United States.
The killing of Levya and the capture of Simental offer some relief from the murderous rampage. But the real systemic problems remain with hundreds of lawyers, judges, police officers, military personnel and even politicians in the pay of the drug cartels.
Because of this and the seeming ineffectiveness of Calderon Government’s war on the cartels, Mexico seemed in 2008 to be on the verge of collapse. I wrote about the prospects for the United States in the event of such a collapse in my piece When The Dam Breaks in February last year. In that editorial I made reference to the Joint Operating Report for 2008 which painted a pretty gloomy picture of the future of Mexico.
With the latest news, things might be looking a little more optimistic. Yet it is still depressing in the extreme to think that only a few hours south from where I live, life carries on in the shadow of a terror that causes even schoolchildren go to classes fearing for their safety.