April 28th, 2009
03:30 PM ET

Swine flu - and the drug war

Program Note: Tune in tonight for a full report on the kidnapping in Mexico on AC360° at 10 p.m. ET.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/28/art.mexico.kidnapped.harrison1.jpg caption="George Norman Harrison in his pizzeria. Harrison was kidnapped and murdered in Mexico."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/28/art.mexico.kidnapped.harrison2.jpg caption="A family photo of Harrison with his niece, Andrea."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/28/art.mexico.kidnapped.bullring.jpg caption="The bull ring across the street from where Harrison's body was found."]

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

This week all the attention is on Mexico and how to contain the Swine Flu that has taken so many lives. As the illness pops up in the United States and other parts of the world, people are learning how to avoid the deaths like those in Mexico. People living in Mexico are walking around in surgical masks, encouraged to stay inside and restaurants are only serving food to go. At the San Ysidro border crossing, just south of San Diego, Customs and Border Protection agents are screening people coming back from Mexico, looking for signs of the illness.

But in the news this morning there was a quick reminder of another virus killing so many people in Mexico. Last night after 8pm, 10 Tijuana police officers were shot, leaving five dead and the others in critical condition. The drug war is a virus that no one seems to be able to stop. We have spent much of this year going into Mexico and talking with people who live in this danger zone. People are afraid to take their children out in the streets, many are upset that their country is being hijacked by a cartel members who have no value for human life.

Gary Tuchman and I were in Tijuana, Mexico two weeks ago when we met a man named Guadalupe who dealt with the drug war like no one could ever imagine. He was in contact with kidnappers who were holding a friend ransom. His friend was an American, George Norman Harrison, who was living in Mexico and owned a pizza business. Guadalupe, who wouldn’t give us his last name out of fear, dropped ransom money off and negotiated with the kidnappers. Harrison’s fingers were chopped off and sent to Guadalupe to keep pressure on to find more money. After delivering a second drop, his body was found, headless and without arms.

Mexico’s drug war has crippled their economy which relies so much on tourism. The United States has now issued a travel warning against unnecessary travel to Mexico because of the Swine Flu. The Mexican government is taking steps to try to contain the illness. They have ordered the closing of bars, clubs, movie theaters, pool halls, theaters, gyms, sport centers, and convention halls. It makes you wonder how much more can Mexico take?

Filed under: Ismael Estrada • Mexico
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Job layoffs, lack of credit, closure of banks, auto industry in trouble, flu starting up – just a sparkler of a year so far isn't it?

    April 28, 2009 at 7:59 pm |
  2. Doug Bradford

    Hi Anderson , I compare a smart bomb and the swine flu in the same catagory. Why is it business as usual at our borders , thats not even taking in account the drug problems also . We need to wake up here. Is the administration asleep at the wheel , we were promised that would never happen again . YOU TELL IT LIKE IT IS , I LIKE THAT GOOD WORK

    April 28, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  3. Peggy

    The way I see it, if someone doesn't find and antidote or some cure, alot of people will die with the Swine flu. It's just a matter of time before it seriously starts affecting the U.S since it's already traveling down to Central America also.
    It's a sad thing when nobody can do anything for the drug wars, it really is, maybe the Swine flu can do what no one has been able to do? At the cost of many innocent lives, but isn't that they way wars always work?

    April 28, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  4. Dee

    Like Maria Kelly above, I would like to know why the swine flu is different and considered more dangerous. People die from 'regular' flu and it goes unreported. If swine flu is so much more serious, then wouldn't it seem that more extreme precautions need to be taken? Everything we're being instructed to do – handwashing, covering our nose and mouth when we sneeze/cough, stay home if we're sick, and so forth – are all COMMON SENSE instructions for everyday life. What are we NOT being told about this illness and WHY? (Sorry for the caps, but I didn't know how else to emphasize.) Keep on keeping them honest – and thanks.

    April 28, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  5. Isabel

    I heard a Mexican speaking exactly about that. "The war of trafficking kills more than the swine flu. Mexico is exporting the two evils. But why does the disease seem to have more visibility?

    Good question from the Mexican.

    Anderson Cooper, you were in Mexico recently to report on the problems of trafficking, could help us better understand it. Since now, I appreciate it.

    April 28, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  6. taylor.beau@gmail.com

    And this is why we need to keep our borders closed!

    April 28, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  7. Maria Kelly

    Hey Anderson, Why is the Swine Flu different? So much seeming hype..OK the strain is different BUT every year hundreds of people have been seriously ill or died from the flu. No one talks about the 1635 Americans who die each WEEK from Alcohol related causes. Isn't THAT serious enough for the media to cover? Too many influential lobbyists..not as popular..dramatic. ? YOU seem to tell it like it is. Let's see the media go where it has never gone before. Talk to any ER doc and they will tell you what comes through the ER everyday related to alcohol is heart wrenching.

    April 28, 2009 at 4:53 pm |