Judges have become a target of Mexico’s drug violence, a signal that warring cartels are escalating their attacks on the Mexican government, say analysts quoted by the Austin American-Statesman. The city of Monterrey is reeling from the Jan. 21 assassination of a state judge who had handled cases against several drug traffickers and from death threats against at least three fellow judges. Three days earlier, a municipal judge in the state of Sinaloa was found tortured and executed.
The violence has prompted worry that Mexico’s already weak judicial system could be coming under a Colombia-like onslaught. “Narco traffickers are working to destroy the rule of law, and it’s obvious that judges, like police before them, are targets,” said Michael Nuñez Torres, a legal expert at the Autonomous University of Nuevo León. Mexican lawmakers have proposed hiding the identity of judges, similar to what Colombia did during the height of its drug violence in the 1980s and ’90s, when scores of judges were assassinated. Many experts say that before it takes that drastic step, which has been criticized by the United Nations and human rights organizations, Mexico needs to beef up security for its woefully underprotected judges.