In a recent seizure, Zapata County Sheriff deputies confiscated 3,500 AK-47 rounds and 320 military issue .50 caliber machine-gun rounds. Photo courtesy of Richard Valdemar.
Terrorist: One that engages in acts or an act of terrorism. An individual who uses violence, terror, and intimidation to achieve a result. — Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, U.S. Department of Defense, 2005.
On June 15 (a Tuesday), authorities reported that rival Mexican drug cartel clashes in prison had resulted in 28 casualties. On the same day, a police convoy travelling from Zitacuaro to Mexico City was ambushed. Ten police officers were killed along with several of the ambushers. Like the Viet Cong guerrillas, the ambushers carried away their dead and wounded. Two more police officers would die of their wounds in the hospital.
In Chihuahua, Chihuahua, in the center of the state capitol, a firefight between police officers and cartel gunmen left three officers dead and one seriously wounded.
Although the 43 killings in one day were unprecedented, 39 victims were murdered across Mexico the prior Friday. Of these, 19 were murdered at a drug rehab center and 20 in separate shootings in Tamaulipas.
The police-convoy ambush occurred in the home state of the Mexican President Felipe Calderon (Michoacán)—the same place Calderon launched his war on the drug cartels in December of 2006. In addition to local, state and federal police forces, he deployed 50,000 Mexican federal troops against the drug gangs.
Long a center for drug smuggling, Michoacán is also headquarters for the La Familia Cartel. Last July, this gang killed 16 police officers. In another recent incident, the gang kidnapped 12 federal police officers. The 12 decapitated bodies were later dumped along a busy highway.
The state of Sinaloa, the home of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, is also the location of the Mazatlan Prison where the 28 inmates were killed. The Mexican press reported about the numerous cartel members housed in this prison. These Special Forces-trained cartel members had recently demanded to be transferred.
In the last three years, 23,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Mexican drug gang violence. This daily body count rivals totals from Iraq and Afghanistan, but the U.S. downplays any "cross-border spillover" or homeland security threat. None dare call this terrorism.
Perhaps Mexican body count statistics are not sufficient to convince some that the drug cartels fit the definition of terrorists. Let's take a trip to Zapata County, Texas.