Mexico Drug Wars Escilating

While Glenn Beck is hysterically predicting the imminent collapse of the Mexican State, it might be a good time to ask if Mexico is in danger of becoming a 'failed state.' Outside of this asked the same question about Russia, given its extreme division between rich and poor, its high rate of underage drinking, and its widespread alcoholism. The answer on Russia I received was that Russia was in a state of social decay. Given the events in northern Mexico these last 6 months, I am tempted to say that the political decay is similar to that in Russia, albeit for different reasons.

I am very late joining the discussion about Mexico. But here goes. The spiking drug violence in Mexico is not isolated to the city of Tijuana or the states of Baja and Chihuahua. Crime is also spiking in the Cancun region, where killings and kidnappings have become commonplace. The same is true in dense suburbs of Mexico City, where murder and kidnapping is on the rise after a decade of decline. The drug war in Mexico is being waged by both local police and the army. To this blogger, it seems that coordination among all law enforcement and military is very loose. Also, there is no standardization of uniforms or equipment among the police forces. A lot of police officers are in street clothes, which can confuse citizens, and has led to tragic incidents of mistaken identity, vigilantism, and police brutality. Further complicating things, all agencies have been compromised by corruption. Just two days ago, the police chief in Cancun was arrested for alleged involvement with the torture and murder of an Army general, who had been sent to Cancun this month to coordinate a new anti-gang task force.

Some other recent developments in the last week:

Reuters, February 6th: Mexico drug gangs threaten cops on radio, kill them

AP, February 9th: Mexican drug violence spills over into U.S.

Reuters, February 10th: Drug gang clash with army kills 21 in Mexico

It was one of the bloodiest scenes this year in a spiraling drug war that killed more than 5,700 people across Mexico in 2008, damaging the public's faith in President Felipe Calderon and raising fears of a spillover into the United States.

Calderon deployed the army and federal police to tackle drug violence at the end of 2006, triggering a series of vicious turf battles between rival cartels.

New York, Hell's Kitchen, Tuesday, 15:00 Hours... you know where your dead neighbor's body is?

Photo by Flickr user Susan NYC used under a Creative Commons license

So two seniors took their neighbor's body to the Pay-O-Matic check cashing shop on 9th Avenue yesterday afternoon, and tried to cash his latest Social Security check. Apparently, he passed away on Monday of natural causes. One of the men was the deceased's roommate. So these two men not only neglected to have his body removed or inform any surviving kin, but they attempted to use the body in an act of fraud. Only in New York, right?

I could see this working if his two buddies wheeled him in a wheelchair. But they were wheeling him in an office chair, and in broad daylight (on unseasonably warm day, in fact). And as my girl said, maybe I'd understand this plot if the two friends were teenagers, who were being foolish, thinking they could fool the clerks. But they are both 65 years old, just one year younger than the deceased. As far as we know, they have clean records. And yesterday afternoon, on 51th and 9th, just blocks from my office, there they were, desperately trying to cash a $355 Social Security check. Quite sad, really. This is our city. Full of desperate people who do foolish things. Now before I sound like Megan McArdle and judge these guys as lazy, or not really poor, or just boozers, I have to say that it is certainly possible that they needed $355. Anything is possible.

The Pay-O-Matic logo. It's fitting, right?

And I couldn't resist: