Alejandro Caballero attends college in Iowa, nearly 1,000 miles away from his home and family in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It's his third year studying marketing communications at Simpson College, but he's been going to school in the United States for nearly eight.
Caballero, 20, began crossing the border from Juarez to El Paso, Texas, for school when he was 13. His mother dropped him off every day at the border in Juarez and he made the trip alone to El Paso for six years.
The experience taught him a valuable lesson about responsibility and independence, one that got him through high school and has earned him a full college scholarship three years in a row.
"I would get that feeling of now, after 8 a.m., when mom drops me off at the border, I'm independent. I can do whatever I want. I can go to school or skip school," he said. "Obviously I never did skip school, but it gave me that feeling of being independent, of realizing that I could make my own decisions, and I could make the right ones or the wrong ones."
Seventeen people were killed and two injured in a prison riot Monday night in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, officials said Tuesday.
This story is developing. We'll bring you more information as soon as we get it.
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.
WikiLeaks has released close to 800 secret military documents that reveal fascinating insights into al Qaeda and terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, including close-up photographs of detainees. One document reveals that a detainee threatened guards by saying he would fly airplanes into houses. Another said that Osama bin Laden was, at one point, in good health despite having only one kidney.
The Guantanamo document dump is only the latest in 2011 from WikiLeaks, which gained international prominence in 2010 when it leaked thousands of papers about the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Late last year, WikiLeaks began publishing 251,287 leaked United States Embassy cables dating from 1966 to February 2011. The cables are still being slowly released. The content is so broad, and involves so many countries, there isn't room enough on this blog to adequately describe it. Need a WikiLeaks refresher? Watch this.
A few notable 2011 WikiLeaks revelations:
Tunisia - WikiLeaks released cables alleging the president of Tunisia's corruption and high spending. The documents painted a scathing portrait of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his relatives by describing them as a "quasi-mafia" that pushed businesses for a slice of any venture they were involved in.
Syria - In the past few days, Syria has erupted in violence, and witnesses tell CNN that authorities are going door to door shooting people. On April 19, the U.S. State Department denied it was seeking to undermine the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite the revelation in diplomatic cables unveiled by WikiLeaks that the U.S. is financing groups seeking to overthrow him.
Libya - Cables related to Libya were credited by some for helping fuel the fighting in the country. A cable described the town of Derna, Libya, as a "wellspring" of Libyan foreign fighters for al Qaeda in Iraq. They also revealed much about Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi's odd personal life, his penchant for hiring celebrities and his love of a good party.
Mexico - The U.S. ambassador to Mexico resigned after a January 2010 WikiLeaks leaked cable described the Mexican army as "slow" and "risk averse" and concluded that only 2% of people arrested in Ciudad Juarez, the most violent city in Mexico, were charged with a crime.
Bahrain - A cable showed the "deep suspicion" that Bahrain has for its Persian Gulf neighbor, Iran.
Iran - WikiLeaks exposed an alleged secret plot to assassinate an Iranian-American dissident.
Egypt - A cable revealed details about Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt's new deputy prime minister, as more details and images emerged from the country that experienced a historic revolution this year.
Fifty-three people were killed in a 72-hour span in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, making it one of the deadliest three-day periods in recent memory, state attorney general's office spokesman Arturo Sandoval told CNN Sunday.
Among the dead were four police officers from three different agencies, Sandoval said.
"This is the worst violence we've seen this year," he said, referring to the three days from Thursday through Saturday.FULL STORY
The last remaining police agent in Guadalupe, Mexico, was kidnapped last week, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general's office said.
Authorities are trying to find Ericka Gandara, who was kidnapped from her home in Guadalupe around 6 a.m. on Thursday, Chihuahua attorney general’s office spokesman Arturo Sandoval said.
Her family did not file a missing-person report, but authorities learned of her disappearance from friends.
The town of Guadalupe is on the outskirts of Juarez, a city in and around which two cartels have been engaged in a violent turf war since 2008.FULL STORY
Two students from the University of Texas at El Paso were shot and killed Tuesday night in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Chihuahua state investigators told CNN late Wednesday.
The students, identified as Manuel Acosta Villalobos, 25, and Eder Diaz Sotero, 23, were gunned down in a hail of more than 30 bullets while driving a Nissan Sentra with Texas plates, Chihuahua State police spokesman Arturo Sandoval said.
"I have confirmed that Eder was from the United States and was a U.S. citizen. The other boy was a Juarez native," Sandoval said.
Eight people were killed in a shooting at a bar in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in the early morning hours Friday, Federal Police spokesperson Ramon Salinas told CNN.
The Chihuahua state police said in a statement that most of the victims were shot in the head execution-style at around 3 a.m. local time.
The state police would not say if this incident was drug related or not.
Violence provoked by drug cartels in Ciudad Juarez, known as the homicide capital of Mexico, caused Mexico's Bicentennial festivities to be celebrated in silence there.
From the balcony of City Hall, Mayor José Reyes Ferriz led the ceremony Wednesday before an empty plaza under the close watch of Federal Police and the Mexican Army. A helicopter flew overhead as snipers stood on roofs and heavily armed agents guarded points of entry.
Fearing an attack, authorities decided to cancel the popular celebration. The official act was transmitted via radio and television to people who were asked to stay in their homes.
Authorities launched fireworks from six points throughout the city to prevent large gatherings.
Official reports indicated there were no attacks against authorities as has occurred on various occasions since the end of 2007, when drug-related violence escalated to levels never seen before.
With Juarez's cancelation of the popular celebration, thousands crossed the border to El Paso, Texas, to join those living in the United States so they would not miss the celebration.
At least 10,000 people, mostly Mexicans, enjoyed an atmosphere of stability that they have not had in their own country this year.
The event, organized by the Mexican Consulate, had all the necessary elements - flags, traditional music and snacks - which united the large amount of people in celebration.
The slaying of a man in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, is being investigated by the U.S. consulate because the man might have been a U.S. citizen, consular officials told CNN Thursday.
Saul de La Rosa, 27, was kidnapped on August 28 while visiting relatives in Juarez, officials said. He was found dead Thursday.
A "major gun battle" between drug traffickers and Mexican federal police
broke out Saturday evening in Juarez, Mexico, just 30 yards from the U.S.
border at El Paso, Texas, according to a U.S. Border Patrol spokesman.