This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
In the traditional Sicilian mafia, families were normally off limits. You could kill the capo; you couldn’t kill his mother or children.
Leave it to Mexico’s drug-traffickers to make the mafia look humane. On Tuesday, one faction took revenge for the death of a cartel leader in a way shocking even by narco-terror standards. Hours after the funeral of a marine who fell in the raid that left Arturo Beltran Leyva dead, some of Leyva’s allies invaded the marine’s home and gunned down his mother, brother, sister and aunt.
The message couldn’t have been more clear: Touch us, and your family may pay the price.
Most Americans pay little attention to Mexico, but this atrocity should a wake-up call. It exemplifies the drug-fueled wave of criminal violence that has been taking on the dimensions of a civil war in that country.
More than 15,000 Mexicans have been killed since President Felipe Calderón launched a military offensive against the drug cartels and crime syndicates three years ago. The body count – criminals, corrupt and honest police, bystanders, mayors, soldiers, federal officials, even priests – can’t be blamed on Calderón. It reflects the embedded power of the syndicates and how hard it has been for Calderón’s government to challenge that power. The alternative is to stand by and watch crime bosses become the de facto rulers of Mexico – a nightmare for Mexicans and Americans alike.
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