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[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/25/art.juarez.bags.hat.jpg caption="Inside the morgue – the belongings of victims killed in the violence."]
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/25/art.juarez.closeup1.jpg caption="A blood-stained helmet of a police officer killed in Juarez, Mexico."]
I was born and raised on the border. I have spent my life going over to Mexico for vacations, dinners, fun and family events. I’ve also had many opportunities to cover stories south of the US border in cities like Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo and Juarez.
The bloodshed that is happening today in Mexico is eye opening. There has always been violence. It’s the nature of doing illegal business in Mexico– people die. But today is much different than anything I have ever seen.
Last week, I went with Michael Ware and photojournalist Gil Delarosa to do a story on the violence in Juarez. It’s a city of about 1.8 million people just south of El Paso, Texas.
Last year there were 1600 murders in Juarez. So far in the first two months of this year, 400 dead. Beheadings, torture killings and bloodied streets are happening on a daily basis.
The reason I say this is different this time is not because of the sheer numbers. Most of the cartels members are killing each other — but they are getting more brazen. They are targeting cops, public officials and innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire.
We interviewed a husband and daughter of a woman from El Paso who was a victim to the violence. A loving wife and devoted mother, Marisela Molinar worked for a prosecutor in Juarez. She was giving him a ride to America to do some Christmas shopping. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. On Dec. 3 gunmen targeted the prosecutor… blasting the car with 85 shots. They were both killed.
While in Juarez we saw a city on high alert. Threats were made against the chief of police if he didn’t resign. Several cops had been killed the week before and one just that morning. Shops and bars all along the streets just across the border are now closed. Americans who used to cross the border to party and shop no longer come here.
The city’s only morgue was overflowing with bodies, too many for this small facility to handle. On one end was a cartel member, full of gun shot wounds. On the other end, the body of the cop who had been killed earlier that morning lay lifeless. His blood-stained helmet and boots were placed along with 20 bags of clothing. These are clothes that belonged to the 20 victims from the week before.
This is definitely not the Mexico I remember.
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