Thursday, December 8, 2011
Cartel hit men execute ambulance crew, 2 patients: another day of madness in Juárez
The drug cartels and their sicarios, or paid executioners, have curious rules of conduct, which at times don't appear to make a great deal of sense. But they're rules nonetheless and those who even marginally violate them pay the price.
In Ciudad Juárez, which has held the distinction of being the world's most dangerous city in recent years, there is so much violence, and hospitals at times are so overcrowded and understaffed, that gunshot victims are frequently transported across the international bridge to medical facilities in and around El Paso, TX. The problem is, that's against the rules - cartel rules, that is. They want their injured victims -- those who weren't killed in the first execution attempt -- to be "available" so they can have another crack at them. On October 11, for example, a group of armed gunmen walked into a hospital emergency room where three shooting victims had been rushed. This time they aimed more carefully, and killed all three on the spot. There was nothing the horrified doctors and staff could do.
The cartels send out messages over law enforcement frequencies warning ambulance drivers from trying to carry crimes victims across the border for treatment in U.S. hospitals. Today an ambulance was carrying two male patients, both suffering from renal failure, from an outlying hospital to a clinic in Juárez. The men were not shooting victims, nor had they been the victims of any crime. They were just sick, and the ambulance was merely moving them from one Mexican hospital to another, not taking them across the border.
Near Juárez a vehicle carrying sicarios "bumped" the ambulance and forced it to pull over. The gunmen got out and fired indiscriminately, killing the driver, a paramedic and both of the male patients. A woman patient who was being taken to the same clinic was seriously injured. Ambulance drivers in Juárez these days are frequently volunteers, by the way. There was a similar attack in the city last week.
Another day of insanity in Juárez, Mexico. Some here urge "peace talks" or negotiations with the drug cartels, which are estimated to earn $20-$40 billion annually from the U.S. drug trade. Others press legal claims against the Calderón government in an international criminal court, accusing it of committing war cries by going after the traffickers. Yesterday the most dangerous city in the world recorded 16 presumed cartel executions.
Updates Dec. 8: Press accounts of violent crime here can vary dramatically, even when reported by reliable sources. Today some papers say that two of the execution victims were women, one of whom was pregnant and the other of whom was her mother. Another report says that AK-47s and AR-15s were used in the attack, and that the ambulance was riddled with 69 bullet holes. Still another claims the hit squad thought that an opposing drug kingpin was aboard. I could not find an article in the main Juárez daily newspaper, which would presumably be in the best position to verify the facts. That paper increasingly ignores some crime stories, for fear of retaliation against reporters and writers.
at 1:23 AM