August 5th, 2009
09:07 PM ET

All are targets in Mexico's drug war

The house of Mexican Police Commander José de Jesús Romero Vázquez. It was attacked last Wednesday.

CNN Producer

An entire family was murdered at this house in Veracruz, Mexico one week ago, the youngest victim just 6-years-old. Gruesome killings, kidnappings and beheadings have dominated daily headlines in this clash between cartels and law enforcement. But this latest attack stood out simply because it’s hard to fathom how someone so young could be a target.

Sources say eight or nine highly-trained assassins descended here in a poor neighborhood of this coastal city to the home of local police commander José de Jesús Romero Vázquez. The attack came just before dawn as Vázquez, his wife, three daughters and young son slept.

Armed with guns, grenades and a deadly plan, the attackers carried out their bloody work in less than five minutes. They bombarded the outside of the house before busting down the door and shooting their first victim, the 6-year-old boy who was sleeping downstairs. From there, they moved upstairs to shoot his parents. Authorities believe the three daughters died from the fire started by grenades launched at the home.

Los Zetas, one of the most violent cartels in Mexico is believed to be responsible. Former special forces of the Mexican military formed the group in 1990s and it has since grown into the “most technologically advanced, sophisticated and violent” of the cartels, according to the DEA.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/05/zetas.4.jpg width=292 height=320]

We traveled to this house to not only bring back images to the world of what was happening in Mexico’s drug war, but also to try to talk to family or neighbors about the killings. But people here are, understandably, petrified. They don't want to get involved, as the drug cartels remain a daily threat and a much higher authority than government or law enforcement. Even filming here is a big risk as every person that drives by could be a member of the drug cartels or a spy working for them.

While looking into the first floor of the charred home, we could see half-burned magazines, food boxes and other remnants of lives that were tragically extinguished. The stench of scorched wood still hung in the air and the feeling of terror unleashed here just days before still lingered.

There are more than 4,000 victims of Mexico's drug war. And that's just in this year alone. The latest one probably too young to even understand how close the war was to his front door.

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Mexico
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. lynda thompson

    I know full well about Juarez. My son is an engineer for an American plant. I was there last summer to viit. The people are very friendly, but as you can imagine their wages are poor in comparison. The drug cartel can offer them money so they can feed their families. Their culture is different than ours. I fear for my son's life, but he tells me that as long as you stay away from the drug cartel, you will be fine. I feel this civil war is escalating, and I don't have the answers.

    August 6, 2009 at 9:22 am |
  2. Fred

    Public Service Educational Drug Announcements: Depicting Graphic Mexican Violence?

    I see Mexican drug related violence, everyday on CNN news. Is your coverage having any affect on people's drug habits? It sure would mine.

    Please comment.

    August 6, 2009 at 6:23 am |
  3. oscar

    mexican police corrupt! is not that bad in some areas... depends where u go.... and who u know!

    August 6, 2009 at 4:42 am |
  4. Afsal Abdulla, India

    It was heartbreaking to watch the news. Why troops are not sent to wipe out those devils

    August 6, 2009 at 4:16 am |
  5. Kimberly Mercier

    It is truly time for the Government to call in troops from all over to clean out these drug thugs! We should be helping our neighbors to the south long before we are going overseas to help! Time to rally 'round and clean 'em out!

    August 6, 2009 at 3:18 am |
  6. Cristo

    I disagree with the tactics the USA is taking to stem the growth of Mexican cartels and the inhuman violence.

    We cannot stop people from taking drugs. Our money is better spent securing our borders and punishing criminals much more severely than in trying to throw money into Mexico and expecting its government to fight the cartels on that end.

    Our DEA has a budget bigger than the GNP of many countries. How about we secure our borders and slow the access of drugs and illegal carriers into this country? The money is much better spent.

    Moreover, Obama's stance that "American" guns are causing this violence is irresponsible. Criminals will get guns no matter what the law. Taking guns away from law-abiding American citizens will do absolutely nothing to solve this problem, and in fact will create a multitude of other problems. Good guys with guns provide the only means to stop bad guys with guns.

    Besides, factual studies have shown that really only about 17% of guns seized from Mexican drug violence originate in the USA. And guns are not the issue–the greedy cartels and corrupt government officials are the root of the problem. If the government managed the drugs, crime would not prosper in their trade, and people would not be dying in Mexican cities are the present abyssmal rate.

    If we want to stop the violence, we need to take steps which will give us the best chance of success. We don't need face-saving steps which accomplish some superficial feel good political end but do nothing to reduce the violence.

    Or we could just do nothing and soon the cartels will be the government in Mexico. Then the Mexican government will officially control the drug trade. Seriously, our first step must be to secure our borders nationwide.

    August 6, 2009 at 3:00 am |
  7. liz

    We are so surprised by the danger in Mexico but the drug demand in the US has skyrocketed. We like to continue critizazing and pointing fingers but how can we turn our heads and not relized that we are a major part of this problem. Just look closely and see how many people are using "medical" marihuana to support their addiction. How do they get it? By going to those "doctors" that can write a "prescription" without hesitation.

    August 6, 2009 at 2:16 am |
  8. Loretta

    I would echo Linda completely. I also think the death penalty needs to be enforced in more drug related cases.

    August 6, 2009 at 1:57 am |
  9. Librada Celis

    it is very sad to hear what is hapenning with our neighbor country, but
    the Mexico government must realize that they have to attack hard the drug cartels otherwise they will soon dominate the country more than what they are doing right now

    August 5, 2009 at 11:52 pm |
  10. Melanie Marshall

    Drug users are as guilty as alcohol drinkers were during Prohibition. We put the drug dealers of that time out of business overnight by repealing Prohibition, and we can do the same to the cartels.
    We choose to keep our irrational drug laws in place, and that's what ensures cartels and dealers will always be employed. Honestly, if those who support our drug war and blame only the drug users would look at how much Prohibition II costs and what it actually delivers, we would be able to move on to the talks about how to deal with the substances that we will always have around us.

    August 5, 2009 at 11:51 pm |
  11. laura

    Linda is right it is like having "blood in your hands" it is even worse then blood dimonds. It is very scary that mexico is so popular for tourests i have even been to ixtapa and it is beautiful but it is almost like the ground is stained with blood.Anyone who takes drugs is just feeding this ugly war.

    August 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm |
  12. george

    I agree with (Joe G.) there are 30million illegals in US and maybe more ,an American are sleep in a an important matter , some American can't be employed they have learn spanish or speak spanish ,health care is collapsing because illegals getting it for free...working hard American don't have a say in a so-call democracy...!

    August 5, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  13. Buddy

    this can be stop by making small amounts of pot legal and also being able to grow small amounts for personal use. This can and will take the profit out of the gangs and drug lords

    August 5, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  14. Linda

    For every American who is buying and using drugs – you have blood on your hands. Hope your high comes with visions of children and their parents being killed in cold blood. After all these years of overdoses, addictions, destroyed families, and thousands in prison you would think that drug users would get a clue. There is no such thing as "recreational drug use" – it has a price that is far more than the cost of the drug.

    August 5, 2009 at 10:42 pm |
  15. Nydia

    I grew up in Mexico (I am legal here, ok?) And I feel so saddened to see this country drowning in violence. I feel scared to go visit my family because I have young ones and fear for their safety. I know that cops and business owners, even the tiny ones, are threatened by the Zetas on a daily basis. Some people choose to rather close their business than deal with those people.

    August 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  16. Pablo

    I went to mexico last year to visit a friend and met one of the gulf cartel bosses and he had many judicial police working for him... i know for a fact that all judicial police work for the cartel do to fear.. this policemen probably snitched or something and got killed

    August 5, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  17. LaShawn

    We are living in a world where people have no respect for the law or the authority it carries. Those who are not affected directly by these senseless killings don't understand that it is only a matter of time before the Mexican drug cartel feel they can carry out the same type of violence in the U.S.

    August 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  18. Kathy Chicago

    My son has been in Mexico for 2 weeks and I have been nervous. I talked to one of the grooms at the barn and he loves his country. Their main problem is that they are so poor, people will do anything for money. I believe him when he says they really are good people. It doesn't change the fact that I will be really happy when I can hug my son.

    August 5, 2009 at 9:52 pm |
  19. Mark

    Mexico is not peaceful. Im sorry but the government has let these people form into these groups and now it's far too late to control them. If they were serious about controlling these cartels they would have stopped them from forming. How can you let a cartel kill a six year old. I have been to Mexico and the people for the most part were very friendly. Mexico has a problem and only Mexico can solve it. My son told me of a story when he drove a truck to Texas and paid fifty cents to cross the border. Children as young as 11 years old and perhaps younger were used as prostitutes. If you want to really talk about it then say it the way it is. I don't mean any disrespect to the people of Mexico but I do hold their government responsible for these cartels running rampent. My heart goes out to the loved ones of those left behind. I couldn't imagine loosing my family like this. The police officer must have been a good cop.

    August 5, 2009 at 9:23 pm |
  20. Joe G. (Illinois)

    At least they are not tough on Americans crossing their border illegally. And most of them that we know of in California, Arizona, Texas, etc, etc are all little angels (Just nice hard working people who don’t kill for drugs or money.) It’s just so hard to imagine how can Mexicans in Mexico could do such things for drugs and money. If you speak to any Mexican they will tell you that California and other parts of America belongs to them. Good thing we give the jobs, free benefit and health care, otherwise things in Arizona and California would be much worst.

    August 5, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  21. Clayton

    This will just continue year after year unless our government legalizes drugs and puts the cartels out of business. People aren't going to stop doing drugs and to think differently is just being ignorant. Tax it and set laws in place just like for alcohol.

    August 5, 2009 at 9:21 pm |
  22. huaper

    That's so sad because Mexico is a peaceful country

    August 5, 2009 at 8:54 pm |
  23. Priscilla

    It is really frightening to see all this. I love in El Paso, Texas which is border to Juarez. So many of my friends and and their relatives have either been shot, abducted or even killed.

    August 5, 2009 at 8:50 pm |
  24. Annie Kate

    Its hard to believe that there are people in this world that are big enough monsters to kill a 6 year old child over drugs or anything else. The people that committed this crime should have a special place in a very hot place after they die – even that seems more than they deserve.

    August 5, 2009 at 8:25 pm |