Here is an excerpt of Elisabeth Malkin's article from the New York Times, reprinted in the Houston Chronicle:
"It had been an elaborate farewell to one of Mexico's fallen heroes. Ensign Melquisedet Angulo, a special forces sailor killed last week during the government's most successful raid on a top drug lord in years, received a stirring public tribute in which the secretary of the navy presented his mother with the flag that covered her son's casket. Then, the next day, only hours after the grieving family had finished burying him in his hometown, gunmen burst into the family's house and sprayed the rooms with gunfire, killing his mother and three other relatives, officials said Tuesday. It was a chilling epilogue to the navy-led operation that killed the drug lord, Arturo Beltran Leyva, and six of his gunmen. And it appeared to be intended as a clear warning to the military forces on the front line of President Felipe Calderon's war against Mexico's drug cartels: not only you, but your family is a target as well." Link to Full Article
Analysis: I think we all knew that reprisals were coming after Arturo Beltrán Leyva was killed, but I don't think anyone imagined something like this would happen. I thought nothing the DTOs could do would ever surprise me, but I'm floored with this one. Going after a soldier's family? As an acquaintance of mine put it today, not even the Mafia went after family members.
For some time now, I've been saying that the Mexican government - as well as our own government - needs to start treating DTOs as something more than just common criminals. I wrote an article in Henley Putnam University's Journal of Strategic Security some time ago about this very topic; you can read it here if you like. While you may not be able to call them terrorists in the purest sense (no ideology other than a profit motive), they're behaving like a hybrid of organized crime, terrorists, and insurgents. How can you effectively battle an Nth Generation organization like that when you're treating them - and fighting them - like gang members?
Some of my readers have taken issue with this view, saying I sometimes give DTOs too much credit. And it's true that many people believe DTO leaders and members are just greedy thugs who like to use they're enormous arsenal with impunity. That may be true in some cases, but ordinary street punks don't infiltrate the government and police as well as the BLO does, or organize prison escapes as elaborately as Los Zetas do, or mastermind the piecemeal destruction of rival organizations as well as the Sinaloa Federation leadership does.
So - not that any government is coming to me for advice - my take on this latest development is that both the Mexican and US governments need to wake up, stop putzing (not my preferred word, but I'm a lady and this is a public forum) around, and treat the DTOs like the opponent that they are.