Killing a Tijuana, Mx., police commander, his wife, and daughter in January violated a rarely broken rule of Mexico’s drug cartel underworld: Family should remain free from harm, reports the Washington Post. The slayings capped five harrowing hours during which the assassins methodically hunted down and murdered two other police officers and mistakenly killed a 3-year-old boy and his mother. More than 20,000 Mexican troops and federal police are in a multi-front war with the private armies of rival drug lords, a conflict waged most fiercely along the 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. The Bush administration has proposed a $500 million annual aid package to help President Felipe Calderon combat Mexico’s estimated $23 billion a year drug trade.
A total of more than 4,800 Mexicans were slain in 2006 and 2007, making the murder total in each year twice that of 2005. Law enforcement officials and journalists, politicians, and peasants have been gunned down in the wave of violence, which includes mass executions, such as the killings of five people whose bodies were found on a ranch outside Tijuana this month. “The situation is deteriorating,” Victor Clark, a Tijuana human rights activist and drug expert, said in an interview. “Drug traffickers are waging a terror campaign. The security of the nation is at stake.”