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American slayings show drug war worsens | News


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There was a time when the violence of Mexico’s 2006-2012 drug war shocked Americans but barely touched them. This time around – like everything else about the country’s renewed cartel conflict – it’s worse.

The slaughter of three US women and six of their children, some infants, in the northern state of Sonora Monday punctured the old belief that the drug cartels would avoid killing foreigners, women, or children. But it wasn’t the first, or the only, such case.

Children are being killed with chilling frequency as the unwritten rules of Mexico’s drug war appear to fade. In August, gunmen burst into a house in Ciudad Juárez, home of the Juárez cartel, and fired 123 bullets that killed girls aged 14, 13, and four, along with an adult male who, apparently, was the real target.

A few days before the Sonora killings, police arrested a suspect in the state capital of Hermosillo, who was holding a New York-based businessman for ransom, in a case of a foreigner being targeted. The man was kidnapped near Tucson, Arizona, and apparently moved across the border in the trunk of a car.

The shocking killings of the nine Americans by gang gunmen prompted an offer from US President Donald Trump to help Mexico wage a war to wipe cartels “off the face of the earth”. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador rebuffed the offer, but others at home and abroad are wondering if the time has come for him to change his ‘hugs, not bullets’ policy of avoiding confrontations with gangs and instead addressing social problems.

Breaking the old rules against killing children, families, or attacking foreigners no longer appears to be a priority – or even a concern – for criminals anymore, given the weak law enforcement in Mexico.

“From the criminal’s perspective, killing one person or killing nine, it’s all the same,” said security analyst Alejandro Hope. “They don’t see any increased risk in committing these kinds of acts of extreme brutality.”

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