The hit was fast, bold, lethal. Jesús Huerta Yedra, a top federal prosecutor here, was gunned down last week in a busy intersection 100 yards from the U.S. border in a murder of precise choreography.The whole disturbing story is worth a read. Grits has pointed out other reports in the past that these same commando groups, most prominently Los Zetas, were training young gang members on the US side of the border as cartel assassins and agents of Mexican gangs. So far, the US side of the border has been spared that kind of daily carnage, but with competition over distribution routes heating up among multiple, powerful criminal gangs and the Mexican government unable to stop it, how long will that remain true?
In Mexico's chaotic drug war, attacks are no longer the work of desperate amateurs with bad aim. Increasingly, the killings are being carried out by professionals, often hooded and gloved, who trap their targets in coordinated ambushes, strike with overwhelming firepower, and then vanish into the afternoon rush hour -- just as they did in the Huerta killing.
The paid assassins, known as sicarios, are rarely apprehended. Mexican officials say the commando squads probably travel from state to state, across a country where the government and its security forces are drawing alarming conclusions about the scope and skill of an enemy supported by billions of dollars in drug profits.
"They are getting very good at their jobs," said Hector Hawley Morelos, coordinator of the state forensics and crime laboratory here, where criminologists and coroners have been overwhelmed by more than 1,600 homicides in Juarez this year. "The assassins show a high level of sophistication. They have had training -- somewhere. They appear to have knowledge of police investigative procedures. For instance, they don't leave fingerprints. That is very disturbing."
Alejandro Pariente, the spokesman for the attorney general in Chihuahua state, said, "They are called organized crime for a very good reason. Because they are very organized."
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
"Fast, Bold, and Lethal": Cartel assassins getting good at their jobs
The Washingon Post has a feature describing the squads of assassins working for multinational drug cartels, some of them former military and counter-drug personnel trained by American special forces, who have turned murder nearly into assembly-line duty in Juarez and other contested drug trafficking battlegrounds. ("In Mexico, assassins of increasing skill," Dec. 12). For the most part. these squads of assassins are used by cartels against one another battling over turf. But increasingly they also are targeting Mexican law enforcement who refuse to be corrupted. The story opens: