The Neglected Roots of Mexico’s Drug War

The Neglected Roots of Mexico’s Drug War

At 11:30 on the evening of Jan. 31, 2010, Jesús Enríquez and a group of close friends, all stand-out student-athletes at both the high-school and college level, were celebrating Jesús' 17th birthday when four trucks packed with two-dozen heavily armed gunmen roared onto their block in Ciudad Juarez, closing off the street and blocking escape.

The assassins descended from their vehicles and opened fire on the house, slaughtering 15 people and leaving another 14 injured in a matter of seconds. The majority of those killed were under the age of 20. The presence at the time of more than 10,000 soldiers and federal policemen in Ciudad Juarez proved insufficient to avert the mass killing, just one of many that have seized news headlines worldwide.

The government's subsequent response was emblematic of its powerlessness to impact the situation in Juarez and demonstrated why so many Mexicans lack faith in their public officials: No one arrived to defend the victims or pursue the attackers, and parents and neighbors were left to cart their dying children to nearby hospitals because the ambulances refused to come. More than an hour passed before soldiers even appeared on the scene. A few days later, while the governor turned up to participate in a photo opportunity with the victims' distraught families, the state official in charge of the government's investigation was busy campaigning for elected office.

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