Escalating violence has been a legitimate concern in US border cities as the war on drugs, smuggling, and organized crimes grows increasingly more dangerous and threatens the lives of US citizens across the US-Mexico border. Mexican drug gangs competing for control of smuggling routes and clashing with government forces have resulted in kidnappings, beheadings, torture, and major gun and grenade battles. It is estimated that over 22,000 people have been killed since Mexico’s President, Felipe Calderon declared a war on drugs in 2007. According to the US State Department, it is estimated that 90% of cocaine that enters the US transits Mexico and that Mexican drug cartels control about 70% of the narcotic flow into the US. In 2008, 79 US citizens were killed in Mexico in relation to drug wars, up from 35 people in 2007, according to the State Department. These are some of the few cities affected by border violence and the war on drugs:
El Paso- Located in West Texas, El Paso lies across the border to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua in Mexico. Rival drug cartels fighting over smuggling routes have been responsible for over 4,000 deaths in Ciudad Juarez alone in the last two years. Because Ciudad Juarez is one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico, possibly even in the world, El Paso officials and intelligence have been on high alert to keep the violence from coming into their city. In March of 2010, a US Consulate worker, her husband, and the husband of another US Consulate employee, were gunned down leaving a birthday party in Ciudad Juarez. More recently, in June, several bullets hit City Hall in El Paso; the bullets are believed to be stray bullets from a gun fight that was taking place across the border in Ciudad, Juarez.
Brownsville- Located at the southernmost tip of Texas, Brownsville shares a border with Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. In September of 2009, a gun battle that lasted hours broke out in broad daylight in Matamoros and several stray bullets hit buildings and cars on The University of Texas at Brownsville campus in Brownsville forcing administrators to shut the campus for several days. Gun battles have also caused shutdowns in one, two or all three bridges that connect Brownville to Matamoros in the last few years. Residents of South Texas and the border areas have been urged to stay away from Mexico as members of the cartels have set up fake checkpoints all across northern Mexico states to target travelers for kidnapping, robbery, violent crimes and to avoid having them get caught up in crossfire during gun battles that occur pretty frequently.
Laredo- Located on the north bank of the Rio Grande River in South Texas, Laredo sits just across the border from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico. In April of 2010, a Mexican drug gang targeted the US Consulate in Nuevo Laredo and threw explosives over the fence. The US Consulate in Nuevo Laredo has also been shut down several times in the past because of threats or actual criminal attempts being carried out on the Consulate grounds. Due to several recent gun wars in the Nuevo Laredo area, one of which ended with 39 people dead, residents have been urged on several different occasions to take shelter and avoid the bridge areas.
San Diego- Located in California, San Diego is situated on the US Mexico border adjacent to Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. One of the problems San Diego residents face is kidnapping on both sides of the border. More specifically, a gang knows as Las Palillos had been known to kidnap wealthy business people, hold them for ransom, and murder them so that they could not testify against them later. Las Palillos is responsible for at least 9 murders and several kidnappings, and many others that went unreported. Recently, Border Patrol agents in San Diego have been asked to wear protective gear under their uniforms and take extra caution as drug cartel members have threatened to kill Border Patrol agents after a Mexican citizen was killed by Border Patrol agents last month.
Nogales- Nogales, Arizona borders the Mexican town of the same name, Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. While Nogales seems to be one of the border towns less affected by the drug and smuggling wars, the city has had some violence. In March 2010, a prominent Arizona rancher was found shot to death on an ATV on his ranch and footprints on the crime scene led back across the Mexico border. In July 2010, a major gun battle broke out a few miles from the Mexican town between rival drug and migrant traffickers and resulted in the death of 21 people and several others wounded. It is also reported that an 80 mile stretch along the Arizona border, including parts of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, were closed as an increase in drug smugglers and illegal activity threatened the safety of visitors.