South of Tijuana Thursday, 21 people were dragged from their beds by unidentified gunmen and massacred, reports CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker.
Only two people survived the violence, which authorities believe was tied to a rivalry between two drug cartels.
"I've been covering this area, the border area for the last 12 years and I don't remember seeing anything with this amount of blood and with this kind of violence," says Vicente Calderon, a local TV reporter.
A senior Mexican law enforcement official told CBS News Thursday that the killings appear to be part of an alarming escalation of the bloody drug war between two of Mexico's biggest, most violent drug trafficking organizations.
The Tijuana cartel, the most vicious and efficient, is run by the Arellano-Felix brothers
Their rivals based in Juarez, just across the border from El Paso Texas.
Authorities say the Tijuana cartel has been trying to muscle in on Juarez, turning city streets into a bloodbath.
Thursday's massacre, officials suspect, was a message from Juarez to Tijuana: stay out.
All this comes as the U.S. is losing confidence in Mexico's ability to fight the cartels. This week, U.S. drug agents said they suspect even top members of an elite, American-trained, drug-fighting unit may have ties to drug traffickers.
Meanwhile, U.S. and Mexican officials fear the murders of women and children Thursday signal a new level of drug violence and they are bracing for an even bloodier retaliation just south of the U.S. border.
Written by Bill Whitaker
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Copyright 1998 CBS. All rights reserved.