Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

After Car Bomb, Mexico Braces for an Even Deadlier Drug War

By: Ioan Grillo

A 2009 episode of the award-winning TV drama Breaking Bad depicts a scene in Mexico's bullet-ridden border town of Ciudad Juárez: police are lured to a location to find an informant's severed head stuck on a turtle, which itself turns out to be a booby trap that explodes, killing and maiming the law enforcers after they approach it.

Seasoned correspondents of the real drug war in Mexico thought the sequence was an over-the-top depiction of gang tactics — until last week.

Federal policemen and explosive experts work at the site of a car-bomb attack in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on July 16, 2010.

In the real Ciudad Juárez on Thursday, July 15, gangsters kidnapped a man, dressed him in a police uniform, shot him and dumped him bleeding on a downtown street. A cameraman happened to film what happened after federal police and paramedics got close. The video shows medics bent over the dumped man, checking for vital signs.

Suddenly a bang rings out, and the image shakes vigorously as the cameraman runs for his life. The gangsters had used a cell phone to detonate 22 lb. of C-4 explosives packed into a nearby car. A minute later, the camera turns back around to reveal the remains of a burning car, smoke over screaming victims and charred corpses. Three people, including a federal police officer, were killed, and several others injured.

Mexico's drug war has become so brutal that nothing seems off-limits to the criminal imagination. It is as if rival cartels are competing for ever more shocking methods of execution. First, killers beheaded two policemen in April 2006.
The following September, a gang threw five severed craniums onto a disco dance floor. In 2008, a rival cartel decapitated 12 victims, filmed the craniums and uploaded the video to the Internet. The same year, gangsters threw grenades into a crowd of revelers celebrating Independence Day, killing eight. Now there are the corpse decoy and car bomb.

Mexican officials blamed the Juárez incident on La Linea, a gang that kills and enforces for the local drug-smuggling cartel. The bomb, they say, was reprisal for the arrest of alleged La Linea commander Jesus Acosta, a.k.a. El 35.

Federal police had released an interrogation video in which Acosta describes La Linea's tactics. It was the latest of several videos of captured cartel members describing how they allegedly set up murders and carved limbs and heads off victims. Critics accuse the police of obtaining the videos through torture; they also say the videos fail to provide clear evidence and may serve only to provoke gangsters to retaliate.

"A car bomb on our southern border is a wake-up call to how sophisticated and ruthless these guys have become," says a U.S. law-enforcement official involved in combating Mexican cartels. "We are dealing with narco-insurgents."

Set off by a cell phone rather than a fuse, the car bomb is called a "command-detonated device," the official explains, akin to many IEDs used in Iraq. The bomb could have been made from improvised materials bought in stores, although it may have had parts cannibalized from military equipment, he says.

American agents have been concerned for some time about military weapons and explosives falling into the hands of Mexican cartels. A report by the U.S. Bomb Data Center obtained by TIME describes how in February 2009 Mexican gangsters stole a large quantity of explosives and detonators from a site owned by a Texan manufacturer in the Mexican state of Durango.

There were 15 to 20 assailants "armed with guns and machine guns, face cover and similar military wear" who overpowered security, the report said. "This incident has the potential for giving rise to further explosives-related incidents in the region."

Firefights and massacres are now weekly occurrences in Mexico. On Sunday, July 18, gunmen interrupted a late-night party in the city of Torreón, shooting dead 18 people. So far, barely seven months into the year, officials have reported 7,048 drug-related killings, making 2010 likely to top the 9,635 such murders recorded in 2009. But even for Mexicans numbed to the relentless reports of bloodshed, the Ciudad Juárez car bomb sparked shock and fear.

While such tactics have long been used in Iraq and Colombia, this was the first effective car-bomb strike against police in Mexico. It has had a terrifying effect on Juárez and the rest of the country, simply because bombs are more likely to kill bystanders uninvolved in the drug wars. In a bad year, the potential for more carnage just got worse.


  1. Obama, can you hear them now?

  2. I wish The Federation would win this war of attrition already and put an end to the bloodshed. Not that I support any of these assholes but this has got to stop one way or the other.

  3. Obama cannot hear until he removes his fingers from his ears. He is like most Americans, he does not want to hear. It would not be radical thinking that Al Queda is wondering what the hell they are doing in the middle east? that it is time to join their Mexican brothers for a little fun and destruction

  4. What kind of culero would suggest AlQuaida join their Mexican brothers? And what does Obama have to hear? Mexico is a sovereign nation last time I checked and has a responsibility to solve it's own problems. We have not even asked America to help us!! We need to put the blame exactly where it belongs - on ourselves. We are the ones who ignore the corruption in our politicians, police and military. We keep voting in politicians who are corrupt and allow the cartels to operate.

    As long as we were not affected, we ignored the actions of the cartels. Now the cartels are kidnapping, extorting and killing the public randomly. Why were we so stupid as to think that it wouldn't happen to us.

    It is time for things to stop. And the place to start is at the top with the governors and other politicians who get rich off of the suffering of the people.

  5. Did you really just say al qaida and their mexican brothers? Talk about lack of education.

  6. well, the u.s.a. border states in the south are basically screwed. actually, the citizens in those states are basically screwed, since the government will not do much, other than minimal 'good press' operations. it'll be up to the individuals living in those areas to defend themselves.

    the cartels are still raking in billions, and have plenty of cannon fodder - this isn't going to end. especially since the cartels are the de facto government in many areas.

    question for the above poster: you say 'we are the ones who ignore the corruption in our politicians, police and military'. what would be your solution? you have an entrenched system, and your citizens had their ability to wage real 'political change' many years back. do you really think voting is going to chase the cartels out? lol.

    and yes, the cartels are being influenced by, training with, and using some of the same tactics as al qaeda, hizbulla, hamas, etc etc. you better believe it.

  7. actually Mexico HAS asked for help from the US. But they only wanted money and weapons.. go figure.

  8. For that matter Al Qaeda can't offer much in the way of guns or money. The Cartels have plenty of both. Besides it would be really bad for business to get anything more than explosives training from muslim extremists, it would give the DEA the excuse they need to bring in even more boots on the ground in Mexico. My guess is the Narcos pay close attention to the tactics of Al Qaeda and try to execute their own victims with twice the brutality.

  9. not true wanted advisors also. the same we gave Colombia. But Mexico is only pledged a tenth of what we gave colombia. STUPID

    Did not say Mexico want Al is just logical thinking that Al Queda wants to cause great distruction to the states..alliance with cartels could be a win-win for both sides and easy entry to the US... don't get emotional think bigger to what can happen in the realm of possibilities.

  10. Actually they are influenced by these groups but to call them brothers is ridiculous. When has it been proven that these groups have trained with M.E. terrorists? Plus some of these cartels have recieved direct training through the U.S. and other nations from their military/police backgrounds. Can YOU believe that?

  11. F all that bounty money offered to capturing these cartel leaders who aren't going to be captured anytime soon,Mexico needs to send that money to Black Water and let them handle these animals the only way you can.

  12. I'm betting on an American special ops group going in there and cleaning up this mess if one more bomb goes off. And they might go after politicians just as hard as cartel leaders.

  13. OH MY GOD!! (rhetorically speaking....)

    Are y'all actually discussing a possible synergy with religious extremists?

    Osama joining forces with the most egocentric, rabidly avaricious, murdering, callous, psychopathic, materialistic, sadistically violent, unstoppable and untreatable predators whose violence is planned, purposeful and emotionless?

    Get a clue!

    Osama thinks he's doing his god's work of making earth into paradise for Muslims; and he is willing to die for it.

    These morons are just after power and money.

    About the most help they might get from these idiots might be to get a "pollero" to help them into the country; no questions asked for the right amount of money.

    Ha, ha, ha... lol... I'm trying to imagine "La Barbie" or Z-40 or El Chapo in a Muslim thobe and kufiya.

  14. I apologize if I offended anyone with the "brothers" remark. My intention was to emphasize the terrorist brotherhood that is apparent.. with copied terrorizing tactics; beheadings, kidnappings and now IED bombings with cell phone activation. The influence is obvious, and terrifying.

  15. to: Anonymous at July 20, 2010 10:24 AM,

    "What kind of culero would suggest AlQuaida join their Mexican brothers? And what does Obama have to hear? Mexico is a sovereign nation last time I checked and has a responsibility to solve it's own problems. We have not even asked America to help us!! We need to put the blame exactly where it belongs - on ourselves. We are the ones who ignore the corruption in our politicians, police and military. We keep voting in politicians who are corrupt and allow the cartels to operate."

    The best comment I have seen in this blog in a loooooooooong time.

    Ladies and Gentleman, Anonymous at July 20, 2010 10:24 AM, ...a Person with education!!!

    from browntown!

  16. al Q can't teach these guys nothing...this shit has just got started

  17. ok ..this is enough..time for the Mexican govt to quit fuckin around, declare martial law, search every car, search every house , detain anyone who even looks like a gangbanger/cartel fuck, shoot the guilty ones, beat the hell out of the wannabes,really patrol their side of the border and admit they need some help from USA, or see Mexico descend into total chaos from the narcos

  18. So all that the Mexicans really need is a message of self reliance! We just need to realize the error of our ways and that we have the power to vote those scalawag politicians out of office?

    You're right!

    How could we have been so stupid? Where have you (and that other idiot above) been all our lives? Mexico's Saviors are bloggers on the Borderland Beat! They'll show us how it is inherent in our DNA that we enjoy getting fucked, we love persistent poverty, we love the cartels killing in our streets at will, and we love picking tomatoes on US soil.

    Thanks to you, what is now obvious to me is that the problem is that I enjoy corrupt politicians and am, by birth, destined to never be anything better than what I am!

    I understand now that it is a flaw to be Mexican. And its high-time we realized it so that we can change our dumb-ass ways!

    Thank you.

    Crees que si cruzo el charco me hago tan sabelotodo como tu? ...brincos diera yo...

    Amigo, si necesitas un psicologo, en Matamoros hay cantidad que te consultarian por tus problemas de autoestima y lengua-larga-itis.

    ....aqui el unico idiota eres tu...

    Por la Buenavista en

  19. look at the article today about the graffiti warning of another car bomb.. in the article says straight from Al Queda handbook,,,that is what is meant...the problem is economically the country would collapse if the cartels stop doing business. Don't be lazy check and research the facts if you care. It is way more complicated the one can imagine. I just do not see this with a satisfactory is sad and scary

  20. The drug business in Mexico is like Proctor and Gamble here in the U.S. or better yet like Ford and Chevrolet. Drugs are an industry that is vital to the economy in Mexico, more so than PeMex. In Juarez, this hostile takeover is like any fortune 500 company making moves, only the winners are decided with bullets instead of majority stock holders.

    An armed insurgency is something the Russians and the Americans haven't been able to lock down, in fact it seems the only way to deal with this sort of thing is to look at Sri Lanka as an example of how to deal a death blow to guerrilla fighters. Although there are still pockets of resistance, the Tamil Tigers are pretty much gone.

    Heavy handed tactics are the only way to control the cartels.

  21. We have to recognice that we are a nation of dope heads yes we are!don`t u try to hide your self,but Mexico hasn`t said that they have a bigger problem their have piedreros,chocos,mariguanos,cocainomanos.y chingo de dinero even the American people can`t imagine how much is at stake? at Monterrey,Nuevo Laredo,Reynosa,Tijuana,Acapulco,Vallarta,cancun,Guadalajara,Durango,Juarez y Morelia.our pinche deficit could be paid in months but we still thinking that Mexico is poor ha! wrong the MAS RICO DE LATINO AMERICA that`s the reason why?they are trying to get this plazas money mi buen! and to get it in their packet is kill the enemy.kidnaping,corruption,killing,intimdations,political influence and terror on the streets.but Mexicans are no culos they got huevos even this is happening life goes on.


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