The Brief: Top Texas News for Mar 16, 2010

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

U.S. authorities teamed with Mexican law enforcement agents on Monday and scoured the streets of the border city of Juarez in search of clues to the weekend murder of three people, including two U.S. citizens, with ties to the U.S. Consulate in that violent city. The Dallas Morning News is reporting that authorities believe members of La Linea, a criminal group comprised partly of U.S. and Mexican gangsters, were involved in the slaying.

The Houston Chronicle explains that the FBI is closely involved in the investigation on both sides of the border. “There are leads to follow up on this side, witnesses to be interviewed,” said Andrea Simmons, according to the report.

Enlisting the use of prison gang members, including U.S. citizens, is a common technique used by border drug cartels. The panic that struck the border cities of Laredo, Texas and Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, years ago was partly due to the recruitment efforts of warring cartels in the area — specifically the Sinaloa Cartel, ruled by reputed drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and the Gulf Cartel. Los Zetas, the former enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, successfully recruited U.S. teens to carry out its hits against rival gang members in Texas. The group has since gone rogue and is currently at war with its former employers, and Guzman is now waging a war in Juarez against the Carrillo Fuentes family and its Juarez cartel. Though well-established, the Juarez cartel has lost a bulk of its luster and power, specifically after the death of its former leader, Amado Carrillo Fuentes. The ongoing turf war for control of the plazas that originate in Texas and spread outward throughout the United States has been the cause of more than 4,000 homicides in Juarez in less than three years.

Also on Monday Gov. Rick Perry again called for more federal involvement on the border and advocated for an unmanned aerial drone to patrol the state’s boundary with Mexico. Officials in Juarez decided the consulate will be closed today as a showing of respect toward the victims.

CULLED:

  • U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Waco, announced on Monday he does not support the current form of healthcare legislation. The Tribune’s Reeve Hamilton reported the Democrat said: “At a time of massive federal deficits, I believe these bills could make those deficits worse. In Budget Committee today, I am voting against using the reconciliation process to pass the Senate bill.” In its report the Waco Tribune-Herald explains that “some local Democrats and labor groups had expressed hope he would be more amenable to the less expensive and less expansive Senate version."
  • State Rep. Al Edwards, D-Houston, wants election officials to count again the ballots from this month’s Primary Election. When the votes were counted the first time, Edwards lost by 11 votes to former state Rep. Borris Miles, whom Edwards lost to in 2006 but triumphed over in 2008. The Houston Chronicle reports that after the canvass of early ballots, Edwards narrowed the gap by 10 votes. As the Tribune’s Elise Hu reports, Edwards only wants to respect the wishes of his constituents, who asked the veteran lawmaker to request a recount.

MUST READ:

 The Curious Case of Kesha Rogers Texas Tribune

 Area census workers out for the count of minorities, immigrants Dallas Morning News

 Mexican President Felipe Calderón to return today to Juárez El Paso Times

 Five ways to pass or sink health care reform Politico

 Can a Democrat Become Governor in Texas? Time

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