Police officers in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, on the U.S. border across the Rio Grande River from Laredo, Tx., increasingly are being targeted in an unprecedented surge of violence between warring drug cartels, reports USA Today. Besides making this one of the deadliest places in North America, such brazen killings – and the sense that violence could break out at any moment – have underscored the challenge the U.S. government faces in trying to improve border security and limit the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into the country.
The instability in this city of about 330,000 has made the U.S. increasingly attractive not just for Mexicans seeking a better life, but also for marijuana, cocaine, and heroin traffickers who have set up safe houses and makeshift weapons manufacturing sites on the U.S. side of the border, says Elias Bazan of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Long a destination for tourists from across Texas, the Laredo border area has seen its popularity decline amid the violence. Convention business is down 25 percent this year compared and the number of weekend visitors is off by at least 30 percent. There have been 110 slayings this year in Nuevo Laredo, a homicide rate far above those of major U.S. cities and ahead of Nuevo Laredo’s record pace of 2005, when there were 176 slayings.