Yes, it's another post on Mexico's skyrocketing crime problem - and it's getting worse by the day. Consider the following developments from the last three days alone.
1. The BBC reports:
The chief of police in Mexico's most violent city, Ciudad Juarez, has stepped down amid ongoing threats.
Roberto Orduna stepped down hours after a policeman and a prison guard were killed in the city, which has been wracked by drug-related violence.
Criminal gangs had threatened to kill at least one police officer every two days until Mr Orduna quit.
Murders are frequent in Ciudad Juarez, which sits on the US border and is a key staging post on the drug route.
Mayor Jose Reyes had insisted earlier the city would not back down to criminal gangs.
But speaking after the two murders, he said Mr Orduna's departure was the only way the authorities could protect policemen.
"These events took place despite the measures that we took to protect the municipal policemen. That is the reason why the decision was taken," Mr Reyes said.
Mr Orduna said he did not want to endanger any more lives after a spate of shootings this week.
"We can't allow men who work defending our citizens to continue to lose their lives," he said. "That is why I am presenting my permanent resignation."
Mr Orduna had only been in the post since May; he took over after his predecessor was forced to flee across the border to Texas following death threats.
His replacement would be found in the next few weeks, the city's authorities said.
The resignation was the latest evidence that drug gangs exercise formidable control over parts of northern Mexico, says the BBC's Stephen Gibbs in Mexico City.
2. The US State Department has issued a new travel advisory about Mexico.
Drug-related violence and gun battles have increased in Mexico recently, the State Department warned in an updated alert for U.S. citizens traveling to and living in the neighboring country.
“Mexican and foreign bystanders have been injured or killed in violent attacks in cities across the country, demonstrating the heightened risk of violence in public places,” the warning said. “In recent years, dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped across Mexico. Many of these cases remain unresolved.”
The greatest surge in violence is near the border, where Mexican drug cartels are fighting among themselves and with security officials for the control of narcotics trafficking routes, the State Department said in the alert, which expires on Aug. 20 and replaces one from late last year.
Mexican drug cartels used automatic weapons and grenades in recent confrontations with local army and police officials, with “large firefights” taking place most recently in northern Mexico, including Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez, according to the warning. “U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily unable to get out of the area,” the alert said.
The department also cautioned that kidnappings, public shootouts in daylight, robberies, homicides, petty thefts and carjackings have risen over the last year. Criminals are armed with sophisticated weapons, and in some cases have worn police or military uniforms and used vehicles that resemble police vehicles, the department said.
“Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana and Nogales are among the cities which have recently experienced public shootouts during daylight hours in shopping centers and other public venues,” the warning said. “Criminals have followed and harassed U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Tijuana.”
3. The town of Columbus, NM, feels increasingly threatened by the drug violence only three miles away, just across the border.
Columbus, a settlement of 1,800 people clinging to a wind-swept patch of high desert in southern New Mexico, was a picture of tranquillity.
But less than three miles south, in the once-quaint Mexican town of Palomas, a war is being waged. Over the last year, a drug feud that has killed more than 1,350 people in sprawling Ciudad Juarez has spread to tiny Palomas, 70 miles west, where more than 40 people have been gunned down, a dozen within a baseball toss of the border. More -- no one knows how many -- have been kidnapped, and the Palomas police chief fled across the border last year and has asked for political asylum.
Now Columbus is on edge. A haven for baby boomer retirees seeking cheap living, small-town values and blissful, if unpolished, solitude, Columbus can't quite believe that a bloody brawl has broken out on its doorstep. The anxiety increased recently when Columbus disbanded its five-member police force after a local political squabble, putting its safety in the hands of the county sheriff based half an hour away. Many are ruing the decision. Angry and fretful residents packed a recent village trustees meeting to argue the case.
"What is going on across the border is going to go on for a while, folks," said Joseph Rivera, a regal figure with a bushy, silver mustache who works for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "People are leaving Palomas like jack rabbits and coming here."
Robert Odom, a former town trustee, warned that the town was pushing its luck. "So far, knock on wood, it's been narco-traffickers attacking their own people," he said. "But it's only a matter of time before it spills over here."
The last time an internal war in Mexico spilled over into Columbus, as every schoolchild here knows, was in 1916, when the Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa led a predawn raid that killed 18 Americans and touched off an international incident. A yearlong U.S. military expedition in Mexico failed to capture Villa.
Time healed those wounds, though. A state park and a handful of businesses in Columbus bear Villa's name. And the town celebrates his assault each March by inviting Mexicans on horseback over to reenact the raid.
Like so many towns hugging the 2,000-mile frontier between the United States and Mexico, Columbus and Palomas are inextricably linked.
Several hundred children, most of them U.S. citizens born to Mexican parents, cross from Mexico daily to attend public school, while some Columbus residents commute daily to work in Palomas, or to see the less expensive dentists, pharmacists and auto mechanics there.
But another, newer brand of cross-border activity has fed the town's paranoia. Several residents of Palomas have bought property in Columbus recently, paying cash.
Skinner, the B&B owner who's also the town's lone real estate agent, had her best sales year in 2008, even with the market nationwide in a nose-dive. New Cadillac Escalades, and cars with thousand-dollar chrome rims, have appeared suddenly, in a town without a single traffic light.
Columbus residents think they know what those trends mean: The men who traffic drugs in Mexico are moving their families to Columbus for sanctuary. And where the drug lords go, residents assume, violence is sure to follow.
4. The Los Angeles Times has become so concerned about the situation that it's set up a special Web report on 'Mexico Under Siege'. It makes available all of that newspaper's relevant reports going back to the middle of last year - and there are a lot of them. Go read. You'll be genuinely shocked at the scale of the problem.
I'm both annoyed and, frankly, disgusted by the selfish stupidity of those who insist, in the face of all the evidence - much of which has been presented on this blog over the past year or more - that Mexico is still quite safe, that they're still going to go there on vacation, and those like myself who highlight the dangers are nothing but scaremongers. Oh, well . . . if an official State Department advisory won't convince them, then I guess nothing will.
People, if you have loved ones who love you, for Heaven's sake, don't put them at risk of having to mourn for you! If you have loved ones who want to go to Mexico, for Heaven's sake warn them of the dangers, and get them to go somewhere else! This has gone far beyond a joke.
We're talking about hundreds of communities, and hundreds of thousands of lives, disrupted and endangered. Please don't let yours, or your loved ones' lives, be among them.
Stay out of Mexico!