Monday, April 18, 2011

Cartel Violence Complicates Tick Eradication Plan

An unexpected casualty of the drug-cartel-fueled lawlessness in Mexico: the cattle industry. At a temporary inspection site in the industrial sector of Laredo, home to the country’s largest inland port, the lowing of cows has been heard not far from the purring of the tractor-trailers that haul millions of dollars worth of goods from Mexico each day. For about the last year, Mexican cattle have been examined here before being cleared for shipment to the rest of Texas and beyond — part of an effort to eradicate a fever tick infestation that has plagued ranchers along the border for more than a century. The tick carries an anemia-causing parasite that preys on cattle blood cells and spreads bovine babesiosis, which causes fever, paralysis and often leads to death if left untreated. Until last year, the inspections took place in Mexico, and ticked cattle were kept from the United States. But a ruthless battle between the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas forced those inspection sites to close in March 2010. “It’s become too dangerous for the veterinarians to conduct their inspections on the cattle that are going to be imported into Texas from Mexico,” said Roland Garcia, a Texas Ranger commissioned by the Department of Public Safety and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association...more

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