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March 25th, 2009
02:13 PM ET

The war next door

In Juarez, Mexico, 1,600 people were killed in 2008, three times more than the most murderous city in the U.S.
In Juarez, Mexico, 1,600 people were killed in 2008, three times more than the most murderous city in the U.S.

Anderson Cooper

When we think of the wars this country faces – Iraq and Afghanistan come to mind - but the drug war in Mexico rarely does. It should.

Two years ago Mexico's President Felipe Calderon deployed his military to combat powerful drug cartels - traffickers who for years have managed to control lucrative smuggling routes into the US.

It has been a bloody two years in Mexico, with drug-related murders rising dramatically. Kidnappings, beheadings, very public murders have become commonplace. It is the war next door, and the violence has already spilled over into the United States - and not just along the border.

Did you know the Justice Department now says Mexican cartels are the biggest organized crime threat in the U.S.? They are reportedly operating in more than 200 American cities – selling and distributing cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and heroin.

Tonite we will be broadcasting from the border, taking you to the frontline of the fight here in the US and in Mexico.

We'll report from both sides of the border and show you how the insatiable demand for drugs here is causing so much bloodshed there. None of us can afford to ignore this growing war next door.


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Mexico
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. BILL D

    I think we shuold leagalize marijuana only,with restrictions,and rules.Hopefully,those useing harder stuff will change thier addictions.I know our goal is to stop all the trafficing of these drugs from Columbia,and Mexicointo the U.S.,and all the killing thats going on because of it.But,be sure to hold on to your seats,becaues only God knows the ramifications thats going to have when we take the money away,from those cartels.The cartels will have nothing to lose,and the violence.I'm sure it will just be off the chart.Lets face it,theres not miles of ocean for our protection on this one.I think we may want to create divisions of homeland security.These people seem eeily similar to terrorist extremist, right here in our own backyard.

    March 27, 2009 at 10:10 am |
  2. Maru, Juarez

    Dear Anderson: I've submitted two comments, and one erases the other, or it goes into " moderation" I don't know what's wrong but I want to emphasize the following so here I go again.
    .- Our countries share a very long border, the problem is bilateral.
    .- we are neighbors, there is no way to get away from that.
    .- Mexico is a very large country, much larger than Colombia, Colombia is still at war with narcs after 20 years, when do you think this will end in Mexico ?
    .- If Mexico does not win this war, what will be the consequences for the rest of America?
    .- Mexico does not allow re-election, If the U.S. doesn't join this fight wholeheartedly and his time runs out ; what will happen if the next president is from another party and decides not to continue this movement?
    .- Do you realize that Mexico is betting everything in this resolution to fight the Narcs? It's economy has plummeted, people are suffering everywhich way you can think.
    .- Do you think that the U.S. has been a truly "good neighbor". Is there anyway that all of us develop a universal mentality? It is one world you know?

    March 27, 2009 at 3:01 am |
  3. Maru, Juarez

    I tend to disagree with the "member of a cartel" when he says that 9 out of 10 people are corruptible, I realize that few people can withstand a shot of millions of dollars just to look the other way, but as I mentioned this is a highly populated country and there is no way that you can say that 90% is involved in trafficking.... It's important to keep it real, most mexicans are hard working, honest people trying to keep hope alive in this narco war.
    Think about it Mexico is much larger than Colombia, if our two countries don't fight this together, when do you think this will end?

    March 27, 2009 at 2:44 am |
  4. Lori from IL

    This is a very scary situation and I'm glad to see you reporting on it first hand. Too bad there is so much demand in the U.S. causing the blackmarket for the drug cartels to exploit - the lure of the almighty dollar. Take the profit out and I'm sure the people running these cartels would need to find another line of work.

    What's really scary are the innocent people being caught in the crossfire.

    Too bad our government didn't take action before the cartels spread so far into the U.S.

    Thanks for sharing –

    March 26, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  5. lisaonline

    this makes you think about both the supply and demand side of the issues – doesn't it. i think both will ultimately have to become part of the solution.

    looking at the overall picture, it is difficult to separate what might be called "soft" and "hard" substances – seems to be all part of the same underlying network. i would imagine by the time these shipments get sent, and "cut" (talcum powder? yuck!) with whatever, and combined with the legal / illegal prescription drug market, it is one royal mess.

    lots to think about here. will be interesting to see how the new administration handles it.

    March 26, 2009 at 10:42 am |
  6. Guillermo Aguilar

    Mr:Anderson Cooper, I have a cuestion for you do you think only in Mexico are the problem with Drug Cartel's.
    What about the Big Heads living in this Country? Most of the Drug's are deliver from Colombia and overtake it to Mexico we have all this people here and seems no body like to talk about or just don't said the truth just blame Mexico !..........

    March 26, 2009 at 8:38 am |
  7. john b

    Great reporting!!! I had no idea it was this bad.

    March 26, 2009 at 7:43 am |
  8. Maria

    Happy evening Anderson,
    Please stay safe and keep them honest.
    Take care

    March 25, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  9. jane MI

    Well Anderson your write on – that the war next door has already spilled over to the U.S...Why hadn't the Justice Dept. released more publicly this escalating and now biggest organized crime threat in the nation?...

    I think this drug related crime is WAY beyond 200 cites in this nation and perhaps, underestimated...I live in rural Mich and violence, weapons and drug crimes are on the rise here...How has this problem affected other rural areas/smaller cities across the nation?...By the way, as a nurse, it's the worst I've seen locally and in our region, the use of cocaine, meth, marijuana, and heroin, the very drugs you listed.

    Thank you for continuing coverage of this topic...The 60min segment was very good...I think this has raised awareness across the nation and is promoting gov't into action...Stay safe

    March 25, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  10. Emily

    A drug free America, Mari? Really?

    Obviously the "war on drugs" hasn't worked (to say the least) and a drug free America (or any country) is completely impossible. If this country wants to move in a positive direction and curb some of the violence happening we need to focus on addiction prevention and treatment, legalization and taxation.

    March 25, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  11. Sergio Ramirez III, El Paso, TX

    I am more than elated to find out you will be reporting from El Paso, TX and Juárez, Mexico. This in-depth reporting on a regional issue that is affecting everybody nationally will hopefully bring much needed attention to the matter, which has been ignored for far too long. I'm looking forward to seeing the report.

    March 25, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  12. Mary

    Hey Anderson,

    Strange to think that sending you (or any reporter, actually) just over the border is as scary and risky as sending you to the depths of Iraq.

    I grew up in El Paso and it was always known that Mexico is, er, corrupt and dangerous. But that never stopped us from going over and visiting family/friends and doing other things like shopping or sightseeing. We felt safe as long as we went to familiar places.

    To think that now, armed military guards are some of the first people you meet when cross the border is chilling indeed. I don't live in EP anymore but when I go back to visit I will STAY AWAY from from Juarez and not go to places I once felt totally comfortable being at.

    You can take Scenic Drive (at the base of the Franklin Mountains) and get a bird's eye view of El Paso and a vast portion of Juarez.... to think that one of the safest cities in America (consistently in the top 5) is only yards away from the most murderous city in North America is mind boggling. It looks so peaceful and scenic from that vantage point. God only knows what could be happening the very moment you are looking off into the distance...

    March 25, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  13. Alex (Chihuahua, Mexico)

    Im From Chihuahua Mexico near Juarez Mexico (Border to el Paso Texas) , and this drug war its very hard, but the only thing to kill anyone its be a member of a cartel and win money for drugs.

    Chihuahua Mexico and other countries in the all Mexican Republic its safe... i dont think so when you coming here you die.

    My countrie its very nice to meet. Mexico and all the good citizens are not the guilty for this drug war. Anderson i see your news and i think this is a very very hard war. be free in this town and Good Luck!

    March 25, 2009 at 5:03 pm |
  14. alessandro

    Mr. Copper:

    From what city, will you be reporting live????

    I will come back from school. running to see you at 10et. CNN

    Welcome to the modern wars...

    you are the best, Anderson Cooper.

    cheers man!!! take care...

    March 25, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  15. Isabel (Brazil)

    Hi, Anderson!

    You wrote very well. None of us can afford to ignore this growing war next door even because the consequences of war come into our houses without asking permission.

    The big problem in Mexico (and Brazil) is that the police maintain links with organized crime and who should rebuke is conniving, and make part of the underworld.

    I would indicate the film "Elite Squad (tropa de elite).
    Is not in Mexico; is happening in Brazil, but the guerrillas and the fragility of those involved is the same. The film is strong, realistic and portrays the problem of drug showing a very harsh reality. It is interesting to have that vision, realistic and raw, in the situation.

    What is expected of governments is that they make a strong repression and that the ordinary citizen is not in the middle of this war, afraid of a bullet lost, afraid of being in the wrong place at wrong time.

    Take care! Bring us the news, but careful where you walk and where you nudge! After all, I do not want anything bad to happen with the only anchor I watch nowadays.

    Thank you. See you tonight!

    March 25, 2009 at 4:57 pm |
  16. Diane N.

    Here we go again sending money and resources to another country when where we should send it is to our own policing system and agencies who'll be able to police/control/bust the gangs spreading all over the country who affiliate with the cartels. Totally sick of this.

    March 25, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  17. Tess

    This situation in Mexico continues to escalate because of the internal corruption within the Mexican Government. The violence from these thugs range from money laundering to kidnapping innocent children who are held hostage because of a drug deal gone wrong to destroying their evidence of their killing spree’s by placing their victims into acid. This poison has been spilling into our cities for quite some time now and their strength is growing. They are aware of how our system works and have learned to maneuver through it. Their numbers are growing and their drugs are everywhere. 6000 people killed last year…these are real terrorists in our backyard!

    March 25, 2009 at 4:42 pm |
  18. Martina Ilstad Germany

    Hey Anderson
    i will try to watch your show tonight,because you go to this very dangeous area risk your life to find the truth.Now its getting a real problem for both side of the border of Mexica and America,but this problem existed many years ago.Now its getting out of control,becaus even the Mexican police can not stopp the violenc.This is not a war again any country,its again gangsters and drugdealer.Its again the mecican drug cartel and their business.this make it to the most dangeous war at all.America will need a lot of resonsibility for the drug war,Anderson stay safe,take care for yourself and your team.

    March 25, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
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