Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The bitter price to pay for Mexico's bloody drugs war

From a windswept ridge high above El Paso, looking out across the Rio Grande to the vast plains of northern Mexico, Marisol Valles García can almost see her home town. But she can't go back. Ms Valles, 21, fled Mexico in fear of her life, hustling her parents, sisters, husband and one-year-old son into a 4 x 4 vehicle and hurtling across the border to seek asylum in the United States. They left just in time. That night a squad of hit men arrived at their small bungalow and ransacked the rooms. "I would like to go back home," she said. "But if I hadn't left my country I wouldn't be alive now." In spite of her diminutive size and sweet, girlish manner, Ms Valles had some powerful and vicious enemies. The criminology graduate was appointed chief of police in the small town of Praxedis G Guerrero, 50 miles east of Ciudad Juarez and a few miles from the US border. Last year almost 4,500 people were killed in Chihuahua state alone, as the cartels slaughtered each other – and innocent bystanders – to wrestle for control of the valuable trafficking routes. Praxedis is right in the centre of the battleground. Ms Valles's predecessor as chief of police, Juan Manuel Carbajal, 45, was executed as he drove through the streets of the town of Caseta. His predecessor, Martín Castro Martínez, 62, was four days into the job when he was abducted. His head was left outside the police station in a coolbox...more

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