Gotta Watch: Mexico's drug war
Mexican police investigate a violent incident in Juarez, Mexico.
June 14th, 2011
11:22 AM ET

Gotta Watch: Mexico's drug war

U.S. lawmakers are now calling for tougher firearms regulations after a report showed that more than 70% of Mexico's drug cartel weapons come from the United States. Violence associated with drug cartels has been a growing problem in Mexico, resulting in thousands of deaths. One of the more prominent ones was that of Mexican police chief, Martin Castro. His head was delivered to his colleagues in an ice box with a message from a powerful drug cartel in the region.  In today's Gotta Watch, we feature some of our more compelling stories highlighting the continued violence stemming from drug cartels in Mexico.

Mexico's 'bravest woman' - When 20-year-old Marisol Valles Garcia became police chief in one the deadliest parts of the world, she was dubbed the “bravest woman in all of Mexico.” Her predecessor had been beheaded, and it was a job no one was willing to take. Now, she’s left the only place she knows – a place where beheadings, shootings and gangland killings have become commonplace.

Mexico's 'valley of death' - Earlier this year, CNN's Thelma Gutierrez went to a border town called the Juarez Valley. It's prime real estate for the cartels because of its close proximity to the U.S. and easy access to modes of transportation.  Cartel gunman target entire towns in the valley in attemps to secure trafficking routes, and the valley is quickly becoming a ghost town.

Teacher hailed as hero - This amateur video says it all.  It was shot by a kindergarten teacher who got her students singing songs to distract them while suspected cartel members exchanged fire right outside the school. What's the most shocking about this video is that it took place in city once known for being the safest in Mexico.

Rare look inside drug tunnel - CNN's Anderson Cooper has an exclusive look inside a Mexico border tunnel that's so big it has it's own rail network.

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

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Filed under: Crime • Drug violence • Drugs • Gotta Watch • Juarez • Marijuana • Mexico • Security • TV-Anderson Cooper 360 • World
soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. saywhat

    These are minor problems for us. We can attend to these irritants once we are done with playing invaders & cops in far off lands like Iraq,Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen & Syria.
    And then goaded on by ignorant thugs up on the Hill the leadership decides to do something about Iran.
    We have plenty on our plate right know without adding Drug cartels, arms smuggling, violent crime, jobs, education, health care, immigration, infrastructure & such to our problems. Americans can get by as they do now.
    Then where would we get money to spend on such extras, God knows we have borrowed enough to feed our wars.

    June 14, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • tommas

      We can save and even make money on taxes by simply legalizing cannabis while greatly damaging the cartels. Yes, it is that simple.

      June 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob from Pittsburgh

      Your governments have spend near a trillion dollars just to kill one man.. the same man tricked the former USSR to spend billions and billions on Afghanistan forcing the USRR to practically bankruptcy, and now he did it to you..

      June 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • It's Too Simple That Congress Would Never Do It

      There is a solution that hasn't been tried yet, and I believe will never be tried. The US is protecting Heroin fields in Afghanistan, while playing nice with the Colombians. 80% of cocaine and heroin comes from those two countries. Burn or apply pesticides to those plantations while legalizing pot and you'd cripple the cartels. What you people are not aware of is the sadistic nature of your government. They'd rather see your sons and daughters hooked or dead, than fix anything. They would rather arrest the user instead of the dealer. They allow it into the country and waste countless dollars/lives by calling their own people the problem. I'm sure many politicians need drugs because they need a cause. Maybe they like stringing out young kids, so they can have someone to play with?.. The solutions are simple, people are dying, but our government likes things the way they are. We lose more rights because they are inept or corrupt.

      June 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. michaelfury

    June 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ray in Vegas

      Yeah, right! First of all .. there is a HUGE difference between Canabis and Opium/Heroine etc. Second of all. The Taliban uses extreme measures to enforce anything ... i.e. beheadings and execution-style shots to the head. Is this what you think would help us here in the U.S.? Just say "no, you can't use marijuana even though alcohol is legal and kills more people than all the other drugs combined, or we'll shoot you in the head!" Yeah ... wonderful idea you have there! Get lost.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Shap

    The drug war is a complete failure. Drug use is far less dangerous than the violence caused by prohibition. It's time to legalize, tax, and regulate drugs to put these drug cartels out of business.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • It's Too Simple That Congress Would Never Do It

      You people always use prohibition to champion for legalization.. What if you could eliminate it altogether and prevent it from coming into the country? Nobody dies here.. No organized crime setting up shop.. I would agree that pot is less harmful than alcohol or tobacco, but I'm talking about the serious drugs.. When I was 17 I could buy smokes and booze at certain party stores, so it's not like legalization is a fix all solution.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tommas

    >60% of the cartel's profits come from cannabis.. This is america's fault for the prohibition of cannabis!! Thousands of people die so the alcohol and pharmaceutical profits are maximized in this country.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Luke

    This is the bloodiest place in the world. Don't believe it? Just google: mexican war victims. You will be a believer, trust me. I saw a picture the other day of a man's head beaten in, another man skinned from his head down to his stomach – hands chopped off with lumps of flesh...very disturbing

    June 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • It's Too Simple That Congress Would Never Do It

      No thanks Luke. I will take your word for it.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Man


      June 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TooSimple?

    I recall a chain-smoker once talked about how great apple-vinegar was to help get the phlem out of his chest. He was maybe 35 – 40 yrs old. I was perplexed and sarcastically said, "I guess not smoking is out of the question, because that would stop the phlem altogether". He looked at me like I was some kind of idiot. I guess stop doing drugs is out of the question as well. What would cartels fight about if there were no clients? It is foolish to think the answer is that simple. We need a stronger motivator than our own will.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob from Pittsburgh

      Right on the money... You my friend understand.. most Americans would be the smoker on your story..

      June 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • anselmo

      So true, and more Mexicans will keep crossing our borders while more Americans keep crying for more unemployment rather than each finding a solution to their problems.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • a non-smoker

      If people would just stop using drugs the cartels could ship 600 tons of dope in 1 shipment and it wouldn't matter. Stop using drugs America it won't make anything go away it'll just make it worse. Am I that naive?????

      June 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Terry Hale Aspen, Co

    There is no way to take a 27 year old carrer criminal with a BMW, penthouse in Acapuldo and 3 girlfriends, who makes
    several hundred thousand dollars a year, and turn him into a law abiding bank teller with a bicycle who makes 15,000 a year, just because you legalize marijuana. He will, and has already. turned to other types of crime to supplement his income. Legalizing drugs will help, but it won't turn carreer criminals into ordinary citizens. The bad guys need to be encarcerated or killed, that is the simple truth. America must take responsibility for it's having ignorned the drug trade for so long, as if it is no big deal. It is a very big deal and our demand for drugs is destroying Mexico at high rate of speed.
    We are very big on worrying about the unintended consequences of development on some rare breed of mouse but totally comfortable ignoring the unintended consequeces of the human destruction of an entire country from the drug trade our demand has created. Hawaii and California produce huge amounts of marajuana. We know where it is grown, and who grows it. We do absolutely nothing about it at all and have the audacity to criticise Mexico for its lawlessness. Wake up people!

    June 14, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bear

      Rather than spending more money hunting down marijuana crops, it'd be a better idea to invest that money in a system of regulation and control of the sale and possession of marijuana.

      Everyone is always willing to forget alcohol Prohibition. What happened to the gangs who were peddling alcohol? They may have moved to "other crime" but their influence was DRASTICALLY reduced.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • tommas

      "The bad guys need to be encarcerated or killed, that is the simple truth." With a demand for drugs that will never go away all that will do is create new job openings.

      June 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • anselmo

      Very well put, America & Mexico need to wake up! Self serving government will not concern themselves with the common mans plight.

      June 14, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hugh Man

      Put down your Coors, and stop being a twit, There would be no "DEMAND" If our peaceful citizens were allowed to cultivate it themselves for there own consumption!

      June 17, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bkattic

    Dont kid yourself... the thugs running the cartel business want you to be distracted with other world problems
    and ignore what is going on just across the border with Mexico. These cartel cowards, who prey on the week
    and bring the war to the civilian populations and small Mexican towns to to all be rooted out and sent to
    prison... in an isolated cell. They are the enemy of the great Mexican culture that is now being destroyed by
    money, drugs, and greed for power. For these drug gangs its about power, and they are trying to spread their influence.... HOPING YOU WON'T NOTICE.. they are a dangerous plague ...that is spreading like locusts. They must be
    confronted and the civilian population of Mexico must stand together and say: "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH" !!! ...and take back their cities and towns.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RobertCal

    This is part of the story of US and Mexican underground economies and international trades. We trade Mexican drugs with our home-made guns. Mexican cartels like our fine US guns and after-sale services, let alone weak US$. US National Rifle Association will soon establish a Mexican branch, helping to market our finely manufactured US killing tools.

    June 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. A_COL

    This article is so misleading that it must have been written by Anthony Weiner!

    Note the crafty (and misleading) wording of the first sentence that even contradicts the headline, or at least qualifies it: “About 70 percent of the guns seized in Mexico AND SUBMITTED to a U.S. gun-tracing program came from the United States…” At least this article reduces the allegation to 70%; in the past the Obama administration’s ATF has maintained “over 90% of these firearms originated in the US” but have had to back-peddle on this since U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG) made the ATF admit “the 90% figure cited to Congress was misleading because it applied only to the small fraction of Mexican crime guns that are traced and Mexico only attempts to trace guns that most likely can be traced to the US.” A Nov 10 OIG analysis of ATF data suggest a much lower percentage really come from the US and a recent Feb 11 STRATFOR (a widely respected global intelligence company) analysis calculated almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico are NOT from the US.

    In 2009, Mexico reported that they held 305,424 confiscated firearms, but only submitted 69,808 to the ATF for tracing. The gap between seizures and traces and the fact they only submit those likely to come from the US puts in serious question whether any significant of number of illegal guns in Mexico really come from here.

    It should also be noted that the most commonly recovered firearm is the old Soviet AK-47 type rifles which is NOT manufactured in the US and that most US military grade weapons are acquired by the cartels through the huge supply of arms left over from the wars in Central America and Asia. It has also been reported that there have been 150,000 desertions 2003-09 from the Mexican army (about 1/8th desert annually) and many of them take their US government-issued automatic rifles with them.

    Even Anthony couldn’t write this article with a straight face!

    If you really want to know how I feel about things, check out my Blog at:

    June 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • swanngrinder

      Agreed. Just using basic common sense; US manufactured firearms are expensive, and both poorly made and nice ones from other countries are expensive because of importation taxes. There is no way drug lords are splurging on US firearms when they can get a ton of old stuff from random South American countries.

      June 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • 50bmg

      well said col! thats exactly the truth. you cant by a SAW at a San Antonio gun store, Obama!!! My brother, also a col, was Texas home land defense his last command- scary crap on the border. Obama admin has refused to reply to any request Tx has made in the past two years. I have a few buddies that used to sneak across the border and assassinate druggies, if we started that operation again and in full force I bet that crap would slow down some!!!

      June 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tyrone tyree jones

    In a hundred years....nothing will matter!

    June 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. swanngrinder

    Can anyone point towards a source that indicates how much of the violence and profit margins for the cartels is generated by smuggling cannabis vs. smuggling narcotics? That is kind of important in the legalize marijuana debate portion of this topic

    June 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • bud

      ....and maybe how much LESS violence there would be if marijuana was legalized in the US!

      June 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • swanngrinder

      Yea, how many of these bullets are flying over bags of weed and how many are flying over bags of heroin would make a pretty big difference. How much money are they making on weed vs narcotics? My guess is heroin meth and cocaine beat weed. I am all for the legalization and taxation, but more for the purpose of buying stuff to stomp these guys out with; I doubt legalizing one drug would make that big of a difference in terms of Mexico and drug violence

      June 14, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • tommas

      >60% of cartel's profits are from cannnabis, "weed"

      June 15, 2011 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. bud

    This "report" would have you believe that most US lawmakers are calling for changes but that is NOT TRUE. The same liberals crowing the same tune. Why should we sacrifice our rights when they won't even close the border? That's stupid.

    June 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. GG

    Isnt it Ironic that the U.S. has the second amendment and less gun issues... as a country with no second amendment, ironfist control and yet they have way more problems? these are the reasons we have a Second Amendment to start with... to protect ourselves!!! the People of Mexico have bb guns compared to the cartel...

    June 14, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. hadabadday

    @ non smoker...if only it were that simple...people continue to smoke knowing that for everyone they smoke is like another nail in the coffin but can't give it do you think saying just say no is really going to work?? I'm not a big fan,but I think I have to agree that to slow these people down somewhat we need to just make it legal...and tax it so maybe it could become somewhat of a win win for everyone...

    June 14, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
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