Border towns on edge over Mexican violence

BROWNSVILLE, TX Extra ground, air and maritime patrols have been put on alert. The first stage of the state's border violence plan has been activated after another round of attacks on the border.

For years, Texans on the U.S. side of the border lived just feet from Mexico, but far enough from the danger. The fear now is that that distance is shrinking. Law enforcement insists their holding the line.

"Things are as bad as I've seen in Mexico for a long, long time. It appears to be almost a lawless situation right now, but that's not this community," said Chief Victor Rodriguez of the McAllen Police Department.

On Sunday night, four men met at a McAllen Walmart parking lot, likely connected to some sort of drug business. Before it was over, two of the men were shot, one dumped in a nearby drainage canal to die. He survived with a wound to the back of his head.

One of the suspects is expected to be charged Tuesday with attempted capital murder. All of them, suspects and victims, are likely linked somehow to Mexico's drug cartels.

"We feel that this case is going to be one of those pieces ultimately of a puzzle that is the whole scene," said Chief Rodriguez.

He tells us what is going on here is a gathering storm of drug cartel related crime. On Sunday he says it rained violence when the two men were kidnapped and shot on Sunday.

But it is not just there. The murders in Ciudad Juarez of U.S. Consulate employees this weekend also has Texans on edge.

Put it all together and that is why the governor says he is activating this plan. The Department of Public Safety and the National Guard will step up aerial patrols of the border in coming days. Together with border law enforcement, they will do all they can to keep the violence on the Mexican side of a very close border.

"I think they'll think twice about taking whatever actions they're taking in Mexico," said Sheriff Omar Lucio of Cameron County. "I think they will realize that, yes, this is a little different when you come out here as far as that goes."

The spillover violence protection plan was activated once before. That was in February 2009. The violence in northern Mexico died down on its own at that point and the plan was put back on the shelf.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon was in Juarez on Tuesday where there have been thousands of murders in the last year. He says he has a plan to give the city more jobs in the hope of luring young people away from the cartels and into the legitimate economy.

Border violence will likely be the main topic of the 14th annual Border Issues Conference Wednesday and Thursday in Washington. The meetings will include congressional and administration leaders, Mexico's ambassador to the U.S., and representatives from several organizations.

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