NR: "...the government
forces are simply not winning."
Saturday, March 14, 2009
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Michael speaks with Fredericka Whitfield about
the cartel wars as a prelude to an hour-long
discussion on the subject.
WHITFIELD: Some very frightening statistics now.
Juarez, Mexico averaged ten homicides a day in
February. It's a hotbed of drug violence that has the
Mexican government moving 5,000 soldiers into the
town right now, across the border from El Paso. The
U.S. could deploy troops to the border as well, but
only as a last resort. That's according to a top
Homeland Security official, testifying this week
before a House panel.
The official says deadly violence from Mexican drug
cartels is now the biggest organized crime threat to
the US. CNN's Michael Ware has spent plenty of time
in war zones and recently in Juarez. He's joining us
right now from New York.
So Michael, this is bad. It's been bubbling up for
quite some time now. Your visit to Juarez, you've
seen it all. How eye-opening was it?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it really was
quite startling for an outsider to visit. I mean, to
go from the holy wars of the Middle East to the drug
wars of Mexico -- indeed, right on the American
border -- was truly a revelation. It's a very intense
fight. And right now the government forces are simply
not winning. And, indeed, the way this war is
currently being waged, it cannot be won. In many
ways, the drug wars have turned into an insurgency.
The cartels there, all-powerful, have roughly 100,000
foot soldiers at their disposal.
WHITFIELD: The drug cartels do?
WARE: That's right. Meanwhile, you have local police,
who are completely corrupted, federal police, who are
similarly tainted. So the Mexican president for the
past two years has sent about 50,000 soldiers into
the streets. And it's still not working.
WHITFIELD: Underscoring that problem is not only do
you have the drug trade that's gotten violent, but
now, as we hear of federal authorities that are being
asked to push toward the border to try to protect the
United States side of the border -- we're also
hearing that there's a lot more to the smuggling of
weapons from the U.S. into Mexico. And that was kind
of the center piece of your most recent pieces.
WARE: That's right. And this is a conflict in Mexico
where already this year 1,000 people have died, 1,000
in a little over eight weeks. And in the border town
of Juarez, which essentially is a sister city to El
Paso, more than 450 have died in these first two
So militarizing the border is something. Trying to
shut down these routes is something else. But because
of two things -- one is the ongoing demand for
illicit drugs in America, and then the supply of
American weapons to the cartels, that's what's
fueling this war.
WHITFIELD: Unbelievable. Michael Ware, thanks so
much. You're going to join us again in the 4:00 p.m.
Eastern hour, because there is so much to this story
and how really it is bubbling up and affecting so
many border towns.