Mexican officials warn Americans to stay away
By Michael Webster: Investigative Reporter May 23, 2008 12:00 p.m. PDT

An anonymous e-mail has surfaced and is spreading like wild fire on both sides of the border. The e-mail warning predicts that this weekend will be the "bloodiest and deadliest" in the city's history.

The e-mail has alarmed Juárez Mexico police officials. Juarez is the city just across the river from El Paso Texas. Police officials are issuing an alert and a call for Juarez residents to stay calm, and El Pasoans to cancel any plans they may have across the border for this long Labor day week end. Many critics of the Bush administration find it ironic that the Mexican officials issue a warning to Americans yet the U.S. Government remains silent on the matter.

Five bodies wrapped in blankets have been found today in a busy downtown Juarez area near Prolongación Vicente Guerrero and Antonio J. Bermudez streets.

The identified bodies have yet to be described by police as to approximate age’s race or sex. The bodies were found along with two decapitated heads with a message allegedly written by drug traffickers. Juarez police have yet to release details about the message. But it is believed to be a warning and more threats. In still another gruesome crime scene, police found four severed heads in ice chests along a highway.

As the death count in Juárez mounts, residents on both sides of the border now are fearful of traveling to Juarez and many have canceled any such plans.

"We ask the community to maintain calm and exercise security measures for themselves and their family, but we ask that they do not panic," public safety secretary Roberto Orduña Cruz said in a statement.

Orduña said that the "threat" was being taken seriously but that residents should go about their regular business.

Several versions of the e-mail were in circulation Thursday, including one with an English translation that warned residents to stay in their homes, stay out of nightclubs and avoid major streets if traveling during the day.

"There will be shootings and executions throughout the city in what is being called 'La Limpia' (the cleansing) in response to threats by the 'Juárez drug cartel' or 'La Linea,' " the e-mail stated in Spanish.

La Linea is reputed to be a "line" of corrupt police officers protecting drug traffickers. Dozens of Juarez police officers have been among the more than 300 homicides in Juárez this year. Many of the killings have been committed boldly and in broad daylight on busy downtown Juarez boulevards. Juarez is a Mexican border city of a million and half people.

The El Paso times reported today that west Side resident Elizabeth Wierson was forwarded the e-mail by her son. She and other parents of Loretto Academy graduates had been scheduled to take their daughters to a graduation dance in Juárez tonight, but they changed their plans because of security concerns even after spending hundreds of dollars, she said.

"You can't really put a price on safety," Wierson said. "We decided not to go."

The e-mails spread like a standard urban legend. Each recipient was asked to forward it to family and friends for their safety. Juárez news media also did reports on it.

"There is definitely a psychosis in Juárez," said Tony Payan, a Mexico expert at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora told Radio Formula that 1,378 people have been killed so far this year, compared with 940 in the same period last year.
The statistic reflected what many in Mexico already knew: Drug-related killings have soared in recent months.

But the details were the first official snapshot on the rise in killings. The Mexican government has been reluctant to release homicide statistics, leaving the public to rely on informal tallies by the news media.

Medina Mora broke that silence, saying 4,152 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderón took office in December 2006 and declared war on drug cartels that controlled entire regions of Mexico. About 450 of those were police, soldiers, prosecutors or investigators.

Medina Mora said many of the recent killings have been concentrated along the U.S. border, while homicides in the central part of the nation have subsided.

New Juarez Police Chief Roberto Orduna said the threats must be taken seriously and issued a news release assuring residents that police would be more vigilant. ... erican.htm