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08/13/2010

Spillover? What kind of spillover?

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual offered a speech yesterday at a border security conference in El Paso, Texas, in which he discussed the falling – not rising – murder rate in U.S. border cities.

El Paso has had only two murders so far this year, neither related to drugs.

“What can we learn from this contrast?  And what does it mean to talk about the spillover of violence into the U.S. border states?” Pascual asked. 

He cited greater law enforcement efforts on the U.S. side of the border, and went on to say the following: “Murders are down from 2006 to 2009 in cities on the border and in border states, not even discounting for population growth:  

                             2006                      2009

San Diego                  68                         41

Phoenix                   234                       122

Tucson                       51                         35

El Paso                      13                         12

Laredo                       22                         17

San Antonio             119                         99


"So, then, is there a spillover of drug-related violence?  Yes, but not in the way stereotypically conceived – not between cities across the border, but from Mexican border areas to urban centers in both countries. This kind of 'spillover' shatters lives and communities in both our countries.

In the U.S., that spillover is felt most far from the Rio Grande and from the Mojave Desert.  It is happening on the streets of Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia and dozens of other places where the effects of addiction and illegal trafficking undermine our communities and the lives of our youth.  In Mexico, what has happened in Monterrey in the last few months could be called a spillover from the violence in Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo.  Cartel-related violence from the Familia Michoacana has spilled from rural areas of Michoacán into Morelia." 

A caffeinated debate about Mexico violence spilling over into U.S. border states has embroiled the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, leading to the deployment of thousands of additional Border Patrol and Immigration agents and several unmanned aerial vehicles.

While Pascual focused on the safety of U.S. border cities, he described the internal security situation of Mexico as "alarming," and went on cite the rapid deterioration in Monterrey, the industrial city several hours drive south of the Texas border. Only last year, Monterrey was one of the safer cities in Mexico. Here's what Pascual said:

"The security environment in Monterrey has turned, in just months, from seeming benevolence to extreme violence.  On July 31, there were 20 narco-blockades that paralyzed much of the city center.  The total number of cartel-related executions for 2010 has already exceeded the combined total for the previous 12 years.  The number of violent carjackings has already surpassed all of 2009. A new pattern in Monterrey is the prevalence of kidnappings, often for relatively small amounts of money. Released or rescued kidnap victims have told of safe houses holding as many as 40 captives at once."   

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Tim

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