Mexico's Massacred Kids

By Dirk Hanson 05/05/11

As bodies pile up in Mexico's drug war, murdered children account for over 1,000 deaths.

Children of a Lesser God

The Fix’s main feature today strongly suggests that the bodies piling up south of the border should be ample evidence to anyone of the unhinged nature of the seemingly endless drug war. As a brief companion piece, then, we would like to concentrate for a moment on what strikes us as the ultimate indicator of insanity: More than 1,000 children have been murdered in the drug massacres thus far.

How does it happen? A Mexican state police commander is attacked as she carries her 5-year-old daughter to school. Both die of multiple gunshot wounds. Assassins go hunting for a  Juarez man, who isn’t home, so they murder his three teenage daughters, ages 12, 14 and 15, instead. If you want more information about atrocities, you can find it at Blanks Slate, a political blog, provided you have the stomach for it. "At least 1,000 boys and girls have been killed," said Juan Martin Perez, director of the nonprofit group Network for the Rights of Children in Mexico.

Legend has it that Napoleon, in the midst of one war or another, said: “What are a million lives lost to a man like me?” And now we are faced with a thousand dead children in a free market free-for-all worth billions for Mexican cops and criminals, and increasingly, for corrupt American law enforcement officials as well (See our story, "How Mexican Drug Lords Bought Off Thousands of U.S. Agents"). Perhaps most saddening of all were the pronouncements by Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), in a recent Washington Post article, as she portrayed the more than 35,000 deaths associated with the Mexican drug war as… progress. “It may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of violence is a sign of success in the fight against drugs, the DEA boss said. The cartels “are like caged animals, attacking one another.” U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) wants to make it official by designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorists. And yet, even Rep. McCaul seems to have lost the thread of the narrative: "What is our strategy in Mexico? We don't know," he said at a Homeland Security Committee meeting.

Missing in most of the discussion is the brutal fact of where the weapons are coming from. As it turns out, the guns being used by the Mexican marauders are mostly made right here in America. U.S. private-sector suppliers "shipped a total of $177 million worth of defense articles--which includes items like military aircraft, firearms and explosives--to Mexico in fiscal 2009," according to The Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), an independent research organization based in Montreal.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]