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ICE Agent Zapata's Murder Deepens U.S. Involvement in Mexico's Drug War
Posted By Ray Walser On February 17, 2011 @ 12:00 pm In International | Comments Disabled
On February 15, Mexican gunmen boldly attacked and killed a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata  and wounded a second, Victor Avila. This latest attack  was the highest-profile assault against U.S. law enforcement officials in Mexico in decades. It was not, however, the first time Mexican criminals struck at American officials.
Last March, members of the Barrio Azteca gang  in Ciudad Juarez murdered U.S. consulate employee Lesley A. Enriquez and her husband Arthur H. Redelfs on the streets of the Mexican border town.
The full force of U.S. law enforcement will swing into action to work with Mexico to find Zapata’s killers, presumably members of the Zeta organization . Surely, the death of an American official on Mexican soil raises the stakes in the ongoing U.S.–Mexican battle against Mexico’s cartels and criminal organizations. Sadly, Agent Zapata’s death will likely not be the last.
If the surge in drug-related violence in the first two months of the year is any indication, 2011 has the potential to overtake 2010 as Mexico’s deadliest. Last year claimed a reported 15,273. Violence between Mexican law enforcement and criminal organizations resulted in 30 deaths  in Monterrey alone this month. Among the victims was a senior Mexican official  engaged in the coordination of counter-narcotics efforts in an effort to regain control and security in Mexico’s most important industrial city.
The reports from border areas  close to the U.S. are sobering reminders of the mantle of brutality and terror that lawless criminals cast over parts of Mexico. Once famous Acapulco  has become a grim focal point for drug crime. Admittedly, the overall picture for Mexico is less gloomy, and parts of the country are far more secure. Some successes have been recorded in areas such as Tijuana .
The now-expired $1.4 billion Mérida Initiative  has until now been the anchor of U.S.–Mexican counter-drug cooperation. It is still delivering assistance that has been slowed by red tape . Many fear that it is not producing results. Before the Houses Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere , the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Arturo Valenzuela reassured House Members that the U.S.–Mexican game plan is working. “Although the road ahead remains challenging, we are certain that this is the right approach  that will lay the groundwork for long-term sustainable results.”
Yet there is fresh concern that help for Mexico will fall victim to the budgetary ax as the Obama Administration moves to cut key security and anti-drug assistance in order to protect domestic pork. The President’s fiscal year 2012 Drug Control Budget  reduces the amount of international drug control aid by 17.6 percent, or $456.6 million, from the 2010 level. Assistance to Mexico will fall more than $100 million to $355 million.
Next month President Obama will make his first South American trip to warm spots in Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador. He will emphasize what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called an “opportunity agenda .” Yet many will worry that while the President travels, the fire most in need of his attention burns out of control very close to home.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2011/02/17/ice-agent-zapatas-murder-deepens-u-s-involvement-in-mexicos-drug-war/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://www.foundry.org/wp-content/uploads/Mex_Drug_War090312.jpg
 Jaime Zapata: http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/02/16/who-was-jaime-zapata/
 latest attack: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-02-16/two-u-s-customs-agents-shot-in-mexico-one-killed-as-violence-escalates.html
 Barrio Azteca gang: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/18/AR2010031804917.html
 presumably members of the Zeta organization: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7430922.html
 30 deaths: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ixtxdqIvF9qbEG467L4y2NpBbUGg?docId=CNG.f6fcd5bb2a7f891c8156a12d7845d240.a91
 a senior Mexican official: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703703804576144710152616054.html
 border areas: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/15/us-mexico-drugs-idUSTRE71E4GF20110215?pageNumber=2
 Acapulco: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704709304576124302909277280.html
 Tijuana: http://www.myfoxla.com/dpp/news/investigative/tijuana-fights-back-in-bloody-drug-war-20110124
 Mérida Initiative: http://www.state.gov/p/inl/merida/
 slowed by red tape: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/04/US-Strategy-Against-Mexican-Drug-Cartels-Flawed-and-Uncertain
 Houses Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere: http://www.foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing_notice.asp?id=1217
 are certain that this is the right approach: http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rls/rm/2011/156598.htm
 fiscal year 2012 Drug Control Budget: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/policy/12budget/fy12Highlight_Exec_Sum.pdf
 opportunity agenda: http://www.americasquarterly.org/hillary-clinton-quito-speech
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