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  1. buseman
    Nogales, Ariz. - Mexico's drug cartels may be employing yet another ruthless tactic. It's one favored by terrorists in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

    A car exploded in Ciudad Juarez near a police convoy killing three people, including a doctor and a policeman.

    The Thursday attack is believed to be retaliation for the arrest of Jesus Acosta Guerrero, a top leader of the La Linea drug gang, earlier that day.

    If it is proven to be a car bombing, it would be the first time a car bomb has been used in the Mexican drug wars. But this is by no means the first time the arrest of a cartel kingpin triggered a deadly wave of violence.

    Friday night in Nuevo Laredo, 12 people were killing in running gun battles between soldiers and cartel members. This kind of violence is known all to well to the people of Nogales.

    Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, whose deputies patrol the Nogales area along the Arizona-Mexico border, said there could be a more ominous threat from Mexico.

    They continue to get more creative and obviously continue to get more violent, he said.

    Estrada was talking about what happened Thursday night in Juarez, across the border from El Paso. Mexican authorities said they believe a police vehicle was targeted in retaliation for the arrest of a drug kingpin - but this time, police think it was a car bomb.

    If this was a car bomb, like Iraq, (would that) truly escalate it to war? Obviously it's a war. Anyone who gets in the way is subjected to being impacted by it. It is a war, Estrada said.

    Since 2006, there have been 23,000 drug-related killings on the Mexican side of the border, all since Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent police and federal agents to drug hotspots.

    But some of those going back to Mexico from Arizona Friday night, like Duarte Castillo, are not concerned and say you shouldn't be either.

    Everybody in the U.S. can go to Mexico, no problem, he said.

    He's trying to say that the drug cartels only target other cartel members or police - but it's that threat that has Sheriff Estrada worried.

    They will not stop. They want control and will not accept any kind of interference, Estrada said.

    He said the cartels are run by what he calls shrewd businessmen. They want their product - drugs - running smoothly across the border.

    And he said he believes the cartels will do what they can to limit violence from exploding on the American side of the border.

    Joel Waldman
    Jul 18, 2010


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