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Facts: Border Wars Contraband Cargo

Photo: Traffic at the Port of Entry

Photo: Traffic at the Port of Entry (View larger version)

Photo by: NGT and Kevin Cunningham

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  • Thirteen illegal immigrants disguised as U.S. Marines were apprehended at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint as they were attempting to cross the border in a white van with an altered government license plate. The driver of the van, and his accomplice were arrested for alien smuggling on March 14 at the I-8 checkpoint near Campo.

  • Seven young men were shot to death on a Juarez soccer field built by the federal government just months before in an effort to control gang violence. Some of the victims were members of a small gang working for La Linea, a gang allied with the Juarez drug cartel.

  • Last year, 3,112 people were murdered in Juarez, and 166 people have been murdered so far this year. Since 2008, there have been a total of 7,503 killings in a city of 1.3 million.

  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized almost 54 pounds of cocaine at the San Luis Port of Entry; the estimated street value is $491,400. Twenty-two packages of cocaine were found in the smugglers vehicle.

  • Since 2010, a paramilitary organization established by former members of Mexico's special forces, called the Zetas, have been fighting for control over the smuggling routes into the U.S. The Zetas gain populace by posting banners and flyers that flaunt benefits of cooperating with the drug cartel. As a result, defense officials have lost 125 special operations soldiers since 2009.

  • A married couple was arrested in their El Paso apartment for allegedly possessing nearly $120,000 worth of marijuana in their home. They were in possession of 138 bundles of marijuana weighing nearly 150 pounds.

  • Mexico’s gross national product increased by 5.5 percent last year alone, mostly due to the continuing movement of northern U.S. state manufacturing to Mexico. Nevertheless, southern US border towns, like El Paso, are reaping the benefits as buyers in neighboring cross-border towns like Juarez, prefer to get materials from local suppliers.

  • Mexican and American authorities claim they have made headway in controlling the organized crime war, and credit success to increased training and police force professionalism between the two governments. However, the public does not share their view. Some say the increased violence since President Calderon launched federal police and military at the cartels is irrefutable, with last year’s death toll at 15,273, the highest yet. Seventy percent of respondents to a poll released January 11th believe that national security has decreased since 2009. Mexican and American officials are under increasing pressure to prove that their game plan is working.

  • Following the attacks on two families of American consulate workers, complaints were made that drug-related violence is increasing. Last year, over 3,000 were killed in Juarez, earning the city one of the highest murder rates in the world.

  • In February 2011, one ICE agent was killed and a second wounded after they arrived at what looked to be a routine military checkpoint between Mexico City and Monterrey. When they approached, a gunman opened fire on their SUV. Attacks like this continue to heighten concern for the safety of U.S. American officials working in Mexico.

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