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August Proves Deadly For Mexico's War On Drugs


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Noah Adams.

In Mexico's northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, hooded gunmen burst into a drug rehabilitation clinic, lined people against a wall and opened fire. Eighteen people were killed in the attack last night. It's among the bloodiest attacks in Mexico's three-year struggle with drug cartels. In the last month alone, 300 people have died in Juarez.

Earlier today I spoke with NPR's Jason Beaubien, who's in the border city. He said Mexican authorities are investigating Wednesday's attack on the rehab clinic.

JASON BEAUBIEN: Basically we still don't know exactly who carried this out and we may never know. It should be pointed out that there have been four other attacks on drug rehab centers in Ciudad Juarez over the last 12 months - none of them had been solved. This was definitely the bloodiest. At the moment, there's no one at the facility. We don't really know what happened at this point.

ADAMS: Now, obviously, it's not clear right away why the cartels would go after a drug rehab facility, at least from this distance. What is the story there?

BEAUBIEN: It appears that the drug rehab centers are a part of the overall drug game, the drug culture, part of what's happening here in this city that has become so consumed with drugs. It seems like people who were using drugs, people who were selling drugs end up going into the drug rehab centers.

People say that some of the centers are controlled by particular gangs and that possibly a rival gang came in and was taking revenge on this other gang. It's the place where people involved in drugs live, at times go in for rehab, at times come back out to work on the streets again. That seems to be what's going on.

ADAMS: Juarez is said to be the worst city for drug violence. It's not the only place, of course, throughout Mexico. How is this drug violence situation playing out in the rest of the country?

BEAUBIEN: It's really playing out throughout the entire country. I mean, this wasn't the only bloody attack yesterday. Down in Michoacan, the second in command for the state security was gunned down in a similar type of attack. Commandos tracked down his car, killed him, killed both his bodyguards. And this was a guy who'd only been in the job for two weeks, but he was very high ranking in the state security services.

Elsewhere, all the way across to the other side of the country, in the Yucatan, one of the top prosecutors - actually, the top federal prosecutor in Quintana Roo was arrested yesterday. And he was accused of working with one of the drug cartels.

So it really has sort of spread throughout. And the president himself is also talking about it, saying that he's going to continue to fight this. It's come to dominate Mexico, this fight and this problem.

ADAMS: President Obama has promised to help support President Felipe Calderon's efforts there. What has the U.S. done so far to help?

BEAUBIEN: The U.S. has pledged in excess of a billion dollars to help Mexico with this war. That money has sort of slowly been trickling out. We just had a couple hundred million of it released just this week. That's going to be money for helicopters. It's going to be money for training. So the U.S. has offered quite a bit of money. There's been a little bit of frustration here that the money's been coming quite slowly.

ADAMS: NPR's Jason Beaubien talking with us from Mexico's northern border city of Ciudad Juarez. Thank you very much, Jason.

BEAUBIEN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jason Beaubien
Jason Beaubien is a Peabody award-winning journalist. He's filed stories from more than 60 countries around the world. His reporting tends to focus on issues in lower-income countries. Often his reports highlight inequities, injustices and abuses of power. He also regularly writes about natural disasters, wars and human conflict. Over the last two decades he's covered hurricanes in the Caribbean, typhoons in the Philippines, multiple earthquakes in Haiti, the Arab Spring, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the drug war in Mexico.
Noah Adams
Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, brings more than three decades of radio experience to his current job as a contributing correspondent for NPR's National Desk., focusing on the low-wage workforce, farm issues, and the Katrina aftermath. Now based in Ohio, he travels extensively for his reporting assignments, a position he's held since 2003.