A group of hitmen armed with automatic weapons ambushed the head of a giant prison in a northern Mexican city on Thursday soon after he received threats on his life from suspected drug gangs, said police.This is all happening right at America's front door, though you wouldn't know it from the US response. Increasingly sophisticated and dangerous drug traffickers in Mexico have begun using car bombs and submarines, murdering or kidnapping police officers, and engaging in open public shootouts both with rivals and police, all the while bribing American peace officers and even expanding their violent tactics onto US soil.
Salvador Barreno, 66, was leaving work at the largest jail in Ciudad Juarez when a group of men with assault rifles chased down his car, killing him and a bodyguard who was driving.
The car was riddled with more than 80 bullet holes, according to local media. Barreno made it to a hospital but died in surgery. His bodyguard was killed instantly.
The prison director had been receiving threats, likely from powerful drug cartels, before his murder, police said.
Last week Alberto Varela, the head of security at the same prison, was killed in a similar attack after his name appeared on a death list pinned on police offices in May.
Drug gangs have hung banners with the names of dozens of policemen around the city near the U.S.-Mexico border this year and have made good on some of their threats, murdering more than 10 of the officers picked out.
More and more I fear that this crisis will be allowed to fester until it's magnitude is so great it can only be resolved through martial law and draconian violence. Things are getting pretty scary down on the border and President Felipe Calderon's government appears increasingly impotent in the face of cartels' firepower. On the US side, new enforcement expenditures by states and the feds have either done nothing to reduce the crisis or made things worse.
If politics were about issues that matter instead of issues that poll well, we'd see cartel violence and US drug policy become a central debate point in the US presidential race. We appear to be at a turning point, and right now things are turning decidedly in the wrong direction.