Mexican Clowns Issue Their Denial

Last Friday, at a party in Cabo San Lucas, a gunman disguised as a clown shot and killed a reputed drug lord.  In a hit that sounds like a set piece from a Quentin Tarantino film, the assassin wore a clown wig, red nose, and costume.

Mexican clowns reacted swiftly to the troubling incident.  At a clown convention this week in Mexico City, they denied that the gunman was a true clown.  A real member of the “clown profession,” they say, would have been easily identifiable by his costume, mask, and face paint.  (Apparently, it is a fundamental part of the professional clown code to always wear your known stage costume whenever you participate in a public criminal act.)  One of the attendees said he could swear on his mother’s grave that it wasn’t a clown.

I’m sure Mexico was reassured by the clown convention’s steadfast denial of any clown involvement in the shooting.  No doubt towns and villages throughout Mexico were unsettled by the thought that murderous bands of rogue clowns might be roaming the countryside, emerging by the dozens from tiny cars, ready to stomp people with their too-big shoes, blind victims with spritzes from a seltzer bottle, and then open fire after tying off a balloon animal.

Many people, myself included, think clowns are creepy and unfunny as it is.  It’s nice to know, at least, that they aren’t routinely out there gunning down people at children’s parties.

Horror South Of The Border

Yesterday Mexican officials found the headless bodies of 49 unknown people — all with hands and feet also cut off — on a highway near the city of Monterrey. The bodies, already beginning to decompose, were dumped in a pile on the road.

Mexico has been dealing with drug violence for years, and its politicians keep promising to end the killings and curtail the powers of the drug cartels.  However, the violence seems to be getting worse, with cartels and their enforcers fighting for control of territories, thousands of people killed in the conflicts, and decapitations becoming increasingly common. Moreover, this latest lawlessness strikes very close to home for Americans.  Monterrey is the capital of the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, which is located just across the border from Texas.

Incidents like this make Mexico seem like the location for apocalyptic fiction about a future where social order has totally broken down and only brute force prevails.  We can’t afford to have Mexico descend into utter chaos, however.  Although we obviously need to pay attention to the financial disasters that are rocking Europe, we can’t afford to forget about our neighbor to the south, and the possibility that the awful violence could spill over onto American soil.

Fast And Furious And Foolish

Let’s ponder, for a moment, “Operation Fast and Furious,” an ill-conceived, botched initiative that apparently was the brainchild of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) during the Obama Administration.  The fact that the effort was named after a hyper-macho, testosterone-laden Vin Diesel movie probably tells you all you need to know about the wisdom and thoughtfulness underlying the operation.

Operation Fast and Furious was supposed to help the BATF track and stop arms trafficking across the U.S.-Mexican border.  As part of the operation, the BATF not only allowed loads of guns to be purchased and delivered into the hands of Mexican drug cartels but also, according to testimony from agents, prevented American agents from stopping the flow of arms across the border.  Unfortunately, the BATF couldn’t keep track of the guns, and they have ended up at crime scenes along the U.S.-Mexican border — including the scene where a U.S. border agent was murdered.  A recent letter from congressional investigators to Attorney General Eric Holder states, in part:  “The evidence we have gathered raises the disturbing possibility that the Justice Department not only allowed criminals to smuggle weapons but that taxpayer dollars from other agencies may have financed those engaging in those activities.”

The stench surrounding Operation Fast and Furious is exacerbated by the fact that congressional investigators are claiming that the federal government is not being forthcoming about who knew about and approved the operation.  Recently the acting director of the BATF came forward, with his personal attorney, to testify before congressional investigators about apparent efforts by the Justice Department to block his testimony.  The DOJ denies any cover-up or wrongdoing.

With respect to the cover-up allegations, we’ll just have to see where the congressional investigation leads.  What does seem to be undisputed, however, is that this hare-brained operation involved U.S. agencies facilitating criminal activities that resulted in violence and death, including — apparently — the death of an American border agent.  How could any federal agency (or agencies, if more than one in fact was involved) have thought that injecting even more guns into the Mexican drug wars along the border was a good idea, and then been so careless in keeping track of the guns involved?

We should all keep the foolish riskiness of “Operation Fast and Furious,” and the unbelievably bad judgment exercised by those who approved and implemented it, in mind the next time we hear that the federal budget can’t be cut, or that we should just trust federal agencies and bureaucrats to make decisions on our behalf.

Death South Of The Border (Cont.)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently observed that the spiraling violence in Mexico was similar to the situation in Colombia 20 years ago, when drug cartels controlled parts of the country, and said that drug cartels are looking more and more like insurgencies.  A Mexican official rejected the comparison — but the fact remains that car bombings, the killing of mayors and other government officials, and similar tactics of insurgencies are increasingly frequent occurrences in Mexico.

It is encouraging to hear Administration officials publicly recognize the rampant problems in Mexico.  Having identified the seriousness of the problem, perhaps the federal government will now take more vigorous steps to address the dangers posed to our country by the escalating Mexican violence and our porous southern border.

Death South Of The Border (Cont.)

The news from Mexico keeps getting more chilling.  I’ve noted in several posts — see here and here — the escalating violence in our neighbor to the south and the resulting risks for our country.  Time now has a story about the recent assassination of Edelmiro Cavazos,  the mayor of Santiago, Mexico.  The assassination of a political figure is bad enough, but what really makes the story disturbing is that the mayor’s own police officers apparently have confessed to participating in the killing.

Tales of corruption involving the Mexican security forces — where government officials shake down tourists or foreign businesses or accept bribes to look the other way when illegal transactions occur — are legendary.  There is an obvious difference, however, between petty corruption and outright participation in political murders.  If police officers and security personnel switch sides and join the drug gangs, there could be a breakdown of social order and Mexico could become much more dangerous than it already is.

America should pay more attention to Mexico.  We should offer them whatever assistance we can to help them deal with the problems of the drug gangs — and we should take the steps necessary to make sure that our border is secure and the violence cannot spill over into our country.

More Mayhem In Mexico

Thursday night a car bomb exploded in Juarez, Mexico, killing four people.  The bomb, which supposedly was planted by one of the Mexican drug cartels, used the same kind of detonation device used by terrorist groups like Hezbollah.  The terrorist-style bombing continues a pattern of killing in Mexico that recently included the assassination of a gubernatorial candidate in one of the Mexican states bordering Texas.

Juarez, incidentally, is right across the border from El Paso, Texas and within a stone’s throw of Fort Bliss.  The continuing drug war violence in Mexico is just another reason why one of our national priorities should be securing the southern border, to make sure that the violence in Mexico does not spill over into the United States.

Death South Of The Border

Rodolfo Torre Cantu

The brazenness and bloodiness of the continuing Mexican drug wars is astonishing.  On Monday, a drug gang gunned down Rodolfo Torre Cantu, the leading candidate for governor of the state of Tamaulipas, one of the Mexican states along the border with Texas.  The candidate was out campaigning when his motorcade was stopped by a truck blocking the road and the cars in the motorcade were riddled with bullets, in an incident that sounds like the Sonny Corleone death scene in The Godfather.  Rival Mexican drug gangs have apparently begun to increasingly target governmental and political figures, and Cantu was their most high profile victim yet.

The overall death toll from the Mexican drug wars is even more amazing.  Experts estimate that 22,000 people have been killed by drug-related violence in the last four years.  Consider that slightly more than 5500 Americans have died in the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since those conflicts began in 2001 and 2003, respectively.  Four times as many Mexicans have been killed, and in a shorter time frame!

This is bad news for America on multiple levels.  No country wants to have lawlessness on its border, and if Mexican drug gangs are bold enough to ambush leading politicians on public streets in Mexico, they likely are bold enough to try to cross over into American territory if they think it would benefit them.  Moreover, law-abiding Mexicans will not long tolerate living in a country where criminal violence reaches such levels and gangland killings go unpunished.  Those who are concerned about illegal immigration into America should be especially concerned that Mexico does not devolve into a state of criminal anarchy and chaos, because the flood of illegal immigrants that will result will dwarf what has happened to date.