In Mexico, the ongoing battles between the drug cartels and between drug cartels and the government go on and on, and the body count mounts.
On May 23rd, 2008, Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora announced that, in calendar year 2008 thus far, killings linked to organized crime and narcotrafficking have increased 47% over those in 2007.
According to Medina Mora’s figures, as of May 24th, there had been 1,378 such murders. At this time last year the figure was 940.
Since it’s only May, that means that 2008 is well on the way to surpass the 2007 total of 2,500 killings.
The total body count (to date) under the Calderon Administration is 4,152 killings, 450 of whom were policemen, prosecutors or Mexican military personnel.
(As a point of comparison, the U.S. has lost 4,081 military personnel in Iraq since 2003).
Another way to look at the death toll is as a daily average. On May 22nd (the day before Medina Mora’s higher figures were announced), Mexico’s Jornada newspaper published its calculation of an average of 7.6 killings per day since Calderon took office, although it added that in the week previous the average was 15 such killings per day.
In a recent grisly example near the city of Durango, 6 severed heads were recently discovered alongside the highway. But they weren’t just flung down on the roadside. No, they were each placed carefully within a cooler, 4 of them in an abandoned vehicle, accompanied by threatening messages to rivals.
It’s probably no coincidence that the heads were placed on the same road where 8 gunmen were slain in a shootout several days earlier.
It’s no accident that some Mexican border towns are so violent . Cartels are fighting over the privilege of moving the drugs into U.S. territory.
Combine Mexican corruption and collaboration with drug cartels, and a massive American market for their products, and you’ve got a big problem. The cartels are rich, well-connected, and brazen, and when one narco-chief is killed or imprisoned, another is waiting in the wings to take his place.
Famed Mexico watcher George W. Grayson, professor at the College of William and Mary, has gone so far as to say that “It’s impossible to win the drug war while the demand exists in the United States and Europe.”
Meanwhile in Mexico, the body count continues to mount …