The Mexican government and the drug cartels that operate throughout Mexico are locked in a battle over control of the country. With the Mexican army fully deployed and often fighting ex-Mexican army special forces working for the cartels, this is, in scope and casualties, truly a civil war.

To date this year, some 3,500 Mexicans have died in this war. In just the first 15 days of October, there were 387 deaths in Mexico City, 178 in the state of Chihuahua and 90 in Baja California – all attributable to the government versus cartel war.

Were it not for the fact that the cartels are also frequently at war with one another, they might have won the war by now and would be in control of Mexico.

The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers extracts and condenses stories that appear in the Mexican press on a daily basis. For the English reader, this site is a frightening window into the war in Mexico not available in the American press.

NAFBPO, for example, ran an English translation of the lead article from the Oct. 17 edition of El Universal (Mexico City) which included this grisly information:

“Confrontations by Mexican federal and state forces against groups believed to be linked with organized crime produced 33 deaths in Mexico (City) between Wednesday night and Thursday … a shootout took place between military personnel and men in a vehicle south of Ciudad Juarez … a human head was found in the center of town in Chihuahua City; the body was located in Santa Eulalia, some 20 kilometers away.”

Such stories run every day in newspapers throughout Mexico whose owners, editors and reporters and their families are under constant threat from the drug cartels.

Execution-style murders, beheadings, dismemberings and kidnappings are common now in every state in Mexico on a daily basis. Gun battles are near nightly events in Tijuana and in Mexican towns all along the border. Mexican border town officials have crossed into the U.S. seeking asylum, fearing for their lives.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert warning American tourists that Mexico is too dangerous. U.S. “Drug Czar” John Walters was in Mexico City last week assuring the Mexican government that more U.S. aid to fight the drug cartels is “in the pipeline.”

And now the bad news: The Mexican civil war is spilling over into the U.S.

Reports of incursions into the U.S. by heavily armed men in Mexican army uniforms (and often driving U.S.-made Humvees) now occur on a regular basis. Sometimes the “soldiers” are cartel men, probably ex-Mexican army; sometimes they are real Mexican army. In every case, their purpose is to protect a drug run into the U.S. and back off any lightly armed local sheriff or Border Patrol agent in the way.

The Border Patrol has issued new guidelines for its officers, fearful that any day now, a full blown firefight on U.S. soil will make headlines in both countries.

The Mexican civil war came to Las Vegas, Nev., last week and 6-year-old Cole Puffinburger, 48 pounds and barely 4 feet tall, was its victim.

A group of three Latino men with “heavy accents” and wearing police uniforms invaded the home where Cole and his mother lived, tied up the mother and her current boyfriend, ransacked the house looking for money, and abducted Cole.

Las Vegas is a major distribution point for drugs coming from Mexico into the U.S. The Mexican drug cartels have bought up foreclosed houses in northeastern and southeastern Las Vegas as way stations for drug shipments and as safe houses.

The Las Vegas police, assisted by the FBI, DEA and ICE, theorize that the home invasion and abduction resulted from Cole’s grandfather keeping millions of dollars of cartel drug profits instead of laundering the money back to Mexico.

The 51-year-old grandfather, Clemens Fred Tinnemeyer, reportedly owed the cartel between $8 million and $20 million. He was arrested last weekend in Riverside, Calif. A Mexican national, Jesus Gastelum, is being sought as a “person of interest.”

At the time of this column, here has been no word as of Cole’s whereabouts.

In large and small ways, the violence of the Mexican civil war has come to the U.S. – to my community and yours.

It’s past time for the American government to secure the border and crack down on the cartels.

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