Juarez Drug Violence

The senseless daylight murders of Lesley A. Enriquez, an American employee in the U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez, her U.S. citizen husband, Arthur Redelfs, and a Mexican employee of the Consulate General, Jorge Salcido sends a sobering signal to Washington that Mexico’s drug violence is evolving in even more dangerous directions, especially if it is proven that the U.S. government employees were deliberately targeted by drug gunmen.

Clearly the perpetrators of these and other crimes believe murder, terror, and fear will allow them to prevail against the Government of Mexico.  Likewise, they hope frustration over Mexican President Calderon’s inability to deliver public security will cause a backlash of panic and defeatism in Mexico and a loss of U.S. confidence in his Administration.  The killings have sparked fresh concerns in Texas about the security of the U.S.-Mexican border and calls by Texas Governor Rick Perry for additional federal help.

Ciudad Juarez, just across from El Paso, is now a major epicenter for Mexico’s drug war. The Juarez or Carrillo Fuentes cartel, enforcement gangs such as La Linea and Aztecas, and rival interlopers were largely responsible for over 2,600 deaths in 2009 alone, making the city of 1.3 million arguably the world’s most dangerous city.  Investigators are still unsure whether the consulate killings were the result of a targeted effort or a case of “mistaken identity.”

The Obama Administration has begun to move family dependents of employees from its border consulates, increased security, and issued a new travel warning that should be heeded.   Nonetheless, the Obama Administration has vowed to work closely with the Mexicans to find and punish the perpetrators of these crimes.

Following the cold-blooded murder of Americans in Mexico, the Obama Administration needs to strengthen cross-border law enforcement efforts and direct the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to utilize all available legal and law enforcement tools to fight back against the Ciudad Juarez killers.  The Administration must also review ways to employ Merida Initiative funds and future anti-drug assistance to Mexican to target mounting drug violence along the border.