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Mexican crime is spilling over into United States
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Mexico's drug cartel wars are in high gear with some 5,300 killings reported in 2008 alone. There are likely many more unreported killings in the rural areas of that country. Those caught up in the violence include high-ranking elected officials, soldiers, local police officers, federal officers and innocent, uninvolved victims. All of this stems from drug cartels fighting over smuggling routes, territory and in trying to achieve as much control over the illicit drug business as possible.

The Mexican government and its citizens are not the only ones affected by this carnage. Here, in the United States, we are also directly affected, as the border between the two countries is proving to be where the violence is most prolific. Indeed, some of the same people involved in the Mexican murders are here in California and other states.

There has been lots of conflict among the various drug cartels for many years. Unlike the conflicts of the past, however, there is now a new dimension of violence that mirrors a true form of terrorism. In the past, the cartels relied on lower levels of violence and intimidation, along with corruption within the police, prosecutors, military and the courts. They were also successful in planting "operatives" within key governmental positions and institutions.

The drug cartels have now resorted to bombings, murdering sprees, beheadings, harassment and intimidation of non-criminal citizens and by threatening or killing uninvolved witnesses. The appropriate label for these drug cartel criminals is "narco-terrorists," and the problem is so big that there is now the concern that if these problems are not reined in, Mexico will turn into a "Narco State," where the drug cartels have infiltrated or taken actual control of the government -- much like Colombia.

Mexican crime is spilling over into the U.S. Kidnapping of U.S. residents or undocumented foreign nationals north of the border are becoming more common. There have been reports of Mexican military personnel (or their look-alikes) firing weapons at American law enforcement personnel near remote sections of the border and kidnapped victims are held for ransom for money or in exchange for the release of certain prisoners.

Travel to certain parts of Mexico from the United States is ill-advised at this time. Anyone planning to travel there would be wise to check with the State Department for any safety or threat advisories. It is also a good idea to register your travel plans with the State Department i.

Obviously, Mexico's situation is a dangerous one for its citizens. And we in the United States, will also be in serious jeopardy should Mexico's situation deteriorate further. We worry about a place like Afghanistan (which has a drug-dependent economy) where acts of terrorism are commonplace. Fortunately, Afghanistan is many thousands of miles away. Consider the implications of having a neighboring country sharing 1,954 miles of common border which poses the same kinds of threats as can be found in a place like Afghanistan.

One reason the violence in Mexico has increased exponentially is that the U.S. has tightened-up the border, making it more difficult for the cartels to ship their drugs. At the same time, Mexico's president Felipe Calderon has launched an all-out war against the cartels. These two factors together have left the drug cartels with fewer smuggling routes, and they are therefore in competition with each other over resources.

The problem Mexico has is largely one that our federal government has to deal with. It constitutes an international matter, with far-reaching implications for the populations of both countries. To a lesser extent, the bordering states like Texas, Arizona, California, and New Mexico will have to take extra measures to ensure citizens' safety. It will cost both countries billions of dollars to combat this problem and yet, it cannot be solved until the U.S. population's demand for illegal drugs ends. The world population can ill afford more global instability, and in this case the drug-using people of this country are at the root of Mexico's entire drug production, sales and distribution system. Eliminate the drug market and the drug cartels will immediately shrink or disappear altogether. Drugs are a profitable business because, like any other black market, their illegal status is what drives the price up. Maybe it is time to reconsider our drug enforcement and drug law policies.