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First Car Bomb and Party Massacre shows start of narco terrorism in Mexico.

Mexico City – For years drug experts, security officials, and political analysts have questioned the “Colombianization” of Mexico.

Mexico had already overtaken Colombia in terms of kidnappings. The public has long gotten accustomed to a censored press, threats to politicians, and grisly violence that includes decapitation and bodies hanging from highway overpasses. Now, it appears, Mexico has moved even closer to the kind of violence that plagued the South American nation in its darkest days.

A well-orchestrated car bomb exploded in Ciudad Juarez late Thursday, across from El Paso, Texas, killing at least three and sparking panic among the Mexican population. It is the first known use of a car bomb against authorities and the local population, and marks a troubling new level of violence as traffickers seeking to control the drug trade battle one another and Mexican authorities.

How Juarez got so bad

“We were already living with fear, but the kind of fear you have when living in a city that has a volcano or earthquake [risk], the kind of fear that is in the back of your mind,” says Jessica Peña, a sociology professor at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez. “But this is an extreme situation. I think this will change people’s fears to the worst. …This is something we thought just happened in societies like Iran or Iraq.”

Authorities try to play down the attack.

Mexico’s Attorney General Arturo Chavez tried to downplay the event during a press conference Friday, assuring reporters that there is “no evidence anywhere in the country of narco-terrorism.”

The bomb was apparently set off by a cellphone in a trap designed by Mexican drug gangs. Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said at a press conference that drug gangs dressed a wounded man as a police officer and left him on the street. The perpetrators then called emergency services to lure federal police to the scene. As first responders approached, the bomb exploded. Among those killed was a…READ MORE HERE

Drug Gang suspected in Party Massacre.

Gunmen burst into a birthday party where celebrators were dancing to live music and opened fire early Sunday, killing at least 17 people in an attack that was violent even by the bloody standards of Mexico’s drug war.

The government said the attack, at a party gathering in the northern city of Torreón, appeared to be the work of a drug gang, but officials said they had not determined the possible motive for the killings as of late Sunday.

The remains of a vehicle are cordoned off in a street in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Friday July 16, 2010. Mexican investigators ran forensic tests to determine whether drug gangs used a car bomb in an attack on police patrol trucks that killed two officers and wounded nine people on Thursday. A car bomb would mark an unprecedented escalation of Mexico's drug war and confirm long-standing fears that the cartels are turning to explosives in their fight against security forces. (AP Photo)

Among the dead was the birthday honoree, a man whose name was given only as Mota, according to authorities quoted by local media. Mota is the Mexican slang word for marijuana.

The gunmen, who struck around 1:30 a.m., were traveling in a convoy of eight cars, witnesses told local media. Without warning they entered the party and began firing indiscriminately before escaping.

“They shot anything that moved,” according to a local police source quoted in the newspaper El Norte.

Among the dead were five women. Although the vast majority of the nearly 25,000 people killed since President Felipe Calderón began his attack on drug gangs in December 2006 have been men, women have increasingly become targets.

The police said that 18 people were wounded in the birthday party attack.

Torreón, in the state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, has become a battleground in the drug war as a transit point to the United States.

At the end of January, gunmen killed 10 young people in an attack in a bar there. In May, eight more young people were killed in an attack in another Torreón bar. Several of those who were killed were students and did not appear to have any links to drugs.

In May 2009, a journalist from Torreón was abducted and killed by kidnappers that investigators suspect were members of the Zetas drug gang.

The birthday party killings in Torreón came three days after a car bomb in the border city of Ciudad Juárez killed four people, including two federal policemen. It was the first time that a car bomb had been used in an attack in the drug violence, leading to fears that Mexico may be facing a new kind of terrorism.

Attorney General Arturo Chávez Chávez, speaking to reporters on Friday, said that the car bomb was in retaliation for the arrest of a top gang leader on Thursday. READ MORE HERE.