A ranch near the U.S.-Mexican border is isolated, desolate and laced by arroyos – an ideal place for training drug cartel assassins, says the Dallas Morning News. Mexican drug cartels have conducted military-style training camps in at least six such locations, some within a few miles of the Texas border, according to U.S. and Mexican authorities and the testimony of five protected witnesses who were trained in the camps. The camps are used to train cartel recruits – ranging from Mexican army deserters to American teenagers – who then carry out killings and other assignments on both sides of the border.
“Traffickers go to great lengths to prepare themselves for battle,” said a senior U.S. anti-narcotics official. “Part of that preparation is live firing ranges and combat training courses.  And that’s not something that we have seen before.” Webb County, Tx., Sheriff Rick Flores said he and other law enforcement officials are “doing everything we can to secure our borders with limited resources.” There is no firm estimate of the number of people who have received training in the camps, but a U.S. intelligence official said the number was in the “hundreds” across Mexico. It’s part of a strategy by cartels to intimidate their enemies and assert control over besieged communities along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. The result has been unprecedented violence – at least 5,000 people killed nationwide in two years – and ongoing brutal confrontations with local, state, and federal forces.