Mexico violence felt in North Texas
By MONIKA DIAZ
10:15 AM CST on Thursday, January 22, 2009
The toll of terror
The violence south of the border is staggering, and it's crossing the border and spreading fear in some North Texas homes with ties to Mexico.
The daily headlines in Mexico's newspapers are a bloody wake up call. The death tolls are rising every day. More than 5,500 murders were reported in 2008, and more than 1,600 of those were in Juarez just south of El Paso.
There were also more than 1,000 kidnappings, 65 of which ended in death.
As the violence grows, so are the numbers of North Texans who are being touched by the crimes.
“Thank God we are a poor family,” said Jose Galvez, a North Texas resident. “We don't have the things in old Mexico that would make somebody be interested in taking somebody.”
Galvez said he checks on his family in Mexico every month. His relatives have never been a target, but he said the violence hits close to home.
“It breaks you because these are people that you know, not necessarily relatives, but people you talk to,” he said.
Extortion is at the center of many of the kidnappings and violence.
“I have known of at least three families where one of their loved ones has been taken,” Galvez said. “And luckily, in those two cases, the loved one has been returned.”
News 8 tried to reach victims, many expressed concerns of being targeted once again.
Meanwhile, Galvez said the gangs are doing their homework.
“They study and they know each of the family members,” he said. “They are looking for ways or people that would have something valuable that they can exchange in return.”
History professor John Chavez, from Southern Methodist University, said Mexico's crackdown on drug cartels has fueled even more crime.
“Those who used to be employed by the cartels are losing work, illegal work, and they are consequently becoming common crooks,” he said.
Innocent families with no ties to the drug war have been targets, which has led some with money to buy safety across the border in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
“Even some in the middle class and the upper class in Mexico are moving temporally to the U.S. side,” Chavez said.
The United States and Mexico are keeping an eye on the violence, and Galvez said he is as well.
For now, he is holding back on visiting his relatives.
“You want to go see them,” he said. “It hurts because you don't know what you are going to encounter.”
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