Mexico is waging war on drug lords. The New York Times describes it this way: “Thousands of elite troops in battle gear stream toward border towns and snake through the streets in jeeps with .50-caliber machine guns mounted on top while fighter jets from the Mexican Navy fly reconnaissance missions overhead.” Federal forces are hunting both cartel leaders and their crews of gunslingers who terrorize the towns they control.
The Times says the onslaught has broken up a longstanding system in which the local police looked the other way for a bribe and cartel leaders went about their business. President Felipe Calderón, who won office in 2006 on a promise to create jobs, has spent most of his first year trying to break up organized crime rings. The violence has spread to the United States. On Saturday, drug-smuggling suspects from Mexico killed an American border patrol agent, Luis Aguilar, 32, when he tried to stop their cars west of Yuma, Az. Michael Chertoff, homeland security secretary, said the killing demonstrated how Mexican criminal organizations had responded to the crackdown with increasing brutality. It remains to be seen whether Calderón's strategy will work. Many most-wanted drug kingpins continue to elude federal forces, often with the help of local police officers.