Friday, November 26, 2004

As if to underscore my Nov. 22 post about Mexico's lack of cooperation in sending wanted fugitives back to the U.S., the local and national media have covered an unbelievable story coming out of Mexico City. It appears three undercover Mexican federal cops were staking out some drug dealers in Tlahuac, a suburb of Mexico City.

The local citizens mistakenly thought that the three cops sitting in an unmarked car with binoculars and a video camera were child abductors. The word went out through the neighborhood and 2,000 residents descended on the three cops. The cops were beaten and two of them were doused with gasoline and burned to death. The third cop was rescued by some 300 riot cops who responded to the radio call for help. All three cops might have been saved if it hadn't taken the riot cops 3 hours and 35 minutes to respond. The arriving cops said that heavy traffic kept them from responding sooner. Nice try. You have to wonder how reporters and news crews got there hours before the cops and broadcast the incident live on national TV.

The responding LEOs arrested some 22 residents after spending all night sweeping house to house looking for suspects.

This Fallujah-like torching illustrates how deeply the average Mexican citizen distrusts law enforcement and feels completely powerless in the face of rampant lawlessness. After decades of gangsters, drug dealers, murderers, child molesters and corrupt officials skating on charges after paying off cops, judges and politicians, otherwise law abiding Mexicans feel they have no alternative than to administer some vigilante justice. They don't trust the government to keep them safe.

Given this level of police incompetence it's not a stretch to imagine how easy it would be for hard-core Islamists to smuggle a radiological or biological device into Mexico and across the tissue-thin U.S. border. As some far-sighted national security experts warned years before 9/11/01, "Not if, but when."

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