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10 November, 2010

So Begins the Narco Refugees

Via security analyst Sylvia Longmire's excellent blog Mexico's Drug War: Border Violence Analysis comes one of the most unsettling news stories of 2010:

The Monitor. 9 November 2010. 
CIUDAD MIER, Tamps. — Hundreds of families have fled this Pueblo Magico amid reported death threats from drug cartel thugs.

About 300 people are seeking shelter in nearby Miguel Alemán, the nearest city to this town across the border from western Starr County.
Sources said after Cárdenas’ slaying Friday, members of Los Zetas, the drug cartel controlling Mier, were yelling in the streets that they were going to kill  everybody who remained in the town, sparking the exodus from town.
“Initially it was 30 people, but then went up to 60, 100 and now we have 300 that came here,” Miguel Alemán Mayor Servando Lopez Moreno said in Spanish.

....

“There is not a house that doesn’t have broken windows,” said a native of Ciudad Mier living in Reynosa.

“The authorities do not go there. There are no soldiers there. There is nobody,” the former Mier resident said. “The mayor is not there anymore, there is no police, no traffic authority — nobody. It’s a ghost town. All the businesses are closed. If you want an aspirin, you have to travel to Miguel Alemán, and by bus, because if you drive they take away your car.”

“They have strangulated my town.”

Earlier this year I highlighted the story of Ascencion, the border town whose citizens, unwilling to be terrorized by cartels while waiting for government protection, took matters into their own hands by forming a mob to kill suspected cartel members. I suggested that if Mexico's narco-insurgency continues unabated the story of Ascencion would be repeated in many an isolated and terrorized town across the U.S.-Mexican border. 

I am now far less willing to stand by this prediction. It is not Ascencion that will be the model, but Ciudad Mier.  

Mexican arms restrictions are much more strict than those in the United States. These restrictions have done little to stem the flow of guns into the hands of Mexico's narco-cartels, but they do ensure that Mexican communities will be outgunned in the event of a direct conflict with the cartels. In such an event it makes little sense to fight; better to run and live another day.  

To my knowledge the evacuation of Ciudad Mier is the first case of mass migration prompted by cartel strong-arming. I will be surprised if it is the last. While media coverage of these events is near non-existent, they should be a matter of grave concern for every citizen of the Republic. The day border communities cannot support the number of refugees created by the cartels' insurgency is the day narco refugees begin streaming north of the border. 

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