Mexico's Drug War Adopts Al Qaeda Tactics

As America fights two wars overseas -- another one is raging, much closer to home.

Mexico's drug war is every bit as violent. On Friday alone, 43 people were indicted in San Diego for murder and kidnapping, including a Mexican government official.

And outside Monterrey, Mexico, 23 bodies were found Thursday at a dump site used by drug gangs.

As CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports, the cartels have begun using the same ruthless tactics as al Qaeda.



Responding to an emergency call of a policeman shot in downtown Juarez, an officer and a paramedic work frantically to save the man's life - when in a flash, a huge explosion occurs from a nearby car bomb.

Mexico's drug war takes a dramatic and frightening turn. For the first time, drug gangsters used a car bomb as a weapon. The wounded man was a decoy dressed in a uniform to lure police to the bomb. An officer, a paramedic and the decoy died in the blast.

Then, over the weekend, strange and ominous graffiti appeared warning the U.S. FBI to investigate corrupt Mexican officials, or expect another car bomb.

"The use of the car bomb clearly represents a tactical escalation … We've seen the first car bombing, there probably will be more,'' said Brian Jenkins with the Rand Corp, a think tank that studies government policy.

Mexico has been bleeding and crying since President Felipe Calderon declared war on drug cartels four years ago. He deployed 45,000 troops; but so far they're no match for ruthless drug gangsters who are flush with guns and money from $25 billion or more annual profits from selling drugs to the U.S.

Recently President Calderon blamed the U.S. for Mexico's troubles, writing in an editorial: "The origin of our violence problems begins with the fact that Mexico is located next to the country that has the highest levels of drug consumption in the world."

"The way they see it, they are fighting our war on drugs,'' said Jenkins, the Rand Corp. analyst.

Especially on the border, where there have been 140 drug slayings in Nogales, Mexico so far this year, more than all of last year.

"There's a lot of homicides in any hour, any day of the week," said Marco Flores Lopez, a crime reporter for TV Azteca Sonora.

Nowhere is bloodier than Juarez. This city just across from El Paso, Texas is more dangerous than Baghdad -- with more than 1,000 drug related slayings so far this year.

"The war that they are having is a tremendous, all-out war,'' says Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz.

An all out war, that now with a recent car bombing, just took a deadly turn for the worse.
  • Bill Whitaker

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