Webb County, Tx., Sheriff Rick Flores looks across the Rio Grande River and tells the Dallas Morning News: “It’s a sad, scary sight. We are in the United States of America, and just across this border, the Colombianization of Mexico is slowly taking shape.” In describing the surging drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and elsewhere in Mexico, Flores and other law enforcers increasingly draw comparisons to Colombia, where the Medellín drug cartel and other criminal organizations waged war on the government and killed hundreds of people during the 1980s.
Mexican authorities dispute such talk. The level of mayhem in Mexico does not approach Colombia’s violence during the ’80s – when politicians, dozens of judges and hundreds of police officers were killed. The Morning News says that menacing signs abound: An estimated 1,100 people have been killed in drug-related slayings so far this year; lawlessness has surged along the border; violence has flared in Mexico’s interior as well. Last month, suspected drug traffickers gunned down Rogelio Zarazúa Ortega, the head of police in the state of Michoacán as he dined with his wife and friends. The Mexican government is providing protection for at least eight federal judges handling drug cases. “Since the fall of the big Colombian cartels from Medellín and Cali, the power center in the Latin American drug trade has shifted to Mexico,” said Ron Chepesiuk, author of “Drug Lords: The Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel.”