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Drug war gunmen kidnap six people in Mexico hotel raids

Mexico City — Mexico’s drug violence is spreading to the northern city of Monterrey, as rival gangs battle for turf.

In the middle of the night Wednesday, about three dozen gunmen stormed into the Holiday Inn Centro and the Hotel Mision, dragging a half dozen people away.

Monterrey is one of the nation’s business hubs that has in recent months found itself taking its turn in the violent throes of Mexico’s deadly violence.

The state attorney general of Nuevo Leon said that gunmen abducted three guests and a receptionist from the Holiday Inn and at another nearby hotel, another receptionist was abducted too. The gunmen appeared to be searching for specific people in the 17-floor hotel, said the attorney general.

It’s the latest in a series of attacks that touch the lives of bystanders apparently uninvolved in the drug trade. The motive is unclear about why these victims, three businessmen from Mexico City and a businesswoman from the border, as well as the two receptionists and possibly a guard outside the Holiday Inn, were hauled away. None of those abducted were foreigners.

Attorney general Alejandro Garza y Garza said the violent surge the city is experiencing can be explained by rivalries between gangs vying for power. “A lot of what we’re going through right now is part of a readjustment among cartels,” Mr. Garza y Garza was quoted as saying at a news conference in Monterrey.

While a “readjustment” might imply that it’s temporary, it’s little solace to residents. Monterrey is the same city that saw two university students killed in crossfire last month between the military and suspected drug traffickers, and where trucks and cars have been hijacked and burned to block streets (local media reported gunmen used the same tactic Wednesday in carrying out the hotel abductions).

The perception that Mexico is unsafe for tourists or foreign investors, says Mexican President Felipe Calderon, is unfair. He observes that 90 percent of victims, are suspected traffickers themselves. Most places, government officials urge, are safe – despite the fact that 22,700 people have been killed since Mr. Calderon dispatched the military to fight organized crime in late 2006. (That fatality figure, released recently by the government, is much higher than long-running media tallies.)

But it will be hard to convince outsiders that Mexico is safe, when Mexicans themselves are worried. The level of fear was made evident in the weekend getaway city of Cuernavaca, also popular among US retirees, where a rumor spread on Facebook and Twitter that shootouts were likely Friday night, leading bars and restaurants to close their doors in what was described as a virtual ghost town.

The Associated Press reports that police found the bound bodies of two men Wednesday in Cuernavaca, alongside a banner that threatened to kill 25 more drug cartel members.

Police said the killings are part of a battle between drug traffickers Hector Beltran Leyva and US-born Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as “La Barbie.”

Acapulco’s tourists have also born witness to deadly battles.

In Monterrey, at least three American universities have reportedly suspended student exchange programs.

And just this week, US ambassador Carlos Pascual told a group of businessmen in Monterrey that organized crime could cause businesses to reconsider their ties to Mexico.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 04/22/2010 - 09:49 am.

    The economic underpinnings need knocking down. If illegal drugs became legal overnight with the government supplying and overseeing the use and distribution through pharmacies, drug related violence and crime would disappear overnight. Addicts would be able to hold steady jobs and live with their addictions instead of becoming social outcasts and criminals. The funding for these thugs and bandits would disappear and they’d have to find some other lucrative trade. We’ve seen this before with the Prohibition of alcohol. While the crime gangs didn’t go away, the violence they perpetrated lessened as their turf wars and disputes subsided because their revenue stream from alcohol smuggling and distribution dried up.

    America is the cause of Mexico and Columbia’s drug related violence. Since drug use in America is not likely to decline anytime soon despite the fact that our prisons are full to overflowing, it might be time to reflect on our 40-year drug policy and consider it a failure. Rather than lessening the problem, the Controlled Substances Act and other laws are failures from a social point of view. Their only reason for existence now is as a source of alternative funding for police and other law enforcement organizations since the police get to keep assets seized from drug dealers and traffickers, and as a value added tax or hidden cost on prescription narcotics and other legal drugs that can be abused. The opportunity to amass so much money and wealth is likely corrupting individual police and other law enforcement officials either through asset seizures or bribery.

    The geopolitical problems outlined above will decline if the drug revenues from America are removed. Governments who support the drug trade will just have to find another revenue source. And, perhaps relations between Latin America and the United States will improve since Americans are no longer directly funding the narcotics producers and traffickers any more and whose money is undermining the legitimate governments opposing these cartels. I’m not saying that this is the only answer, but it gets to the heart of the problem which is that American money is funding this violence and trying to counteract that violence without shutting off that funding source is just throwing good money after bad as well as causing a lot of unnecessary misery and suffering.
    The only thing prohibition successfully does is prohibit regulation & taxation!

    “A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”
    Abraham Lincoln

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