We're bordering on insanity

Mexico is in such lovely shape even its police are being disarmed because of runaway lawlessness.

A few days ago, the federal government said it was sending 3,000 soldiers and police, backed by 28 boats, 21 planes and nine helicopters, to Tijuana -- located just across the border from San Diego, CA, and a major entry point to the U.S. for illegal drugs -- to help fight drug trafficking and gang violence.

In Tijuana, police have been ordered to surrender their firearms so federal officials can inspect them for any connection to drug smuggling operations. As a result, Tijuana cops are refusing to patrol unarmed. Not the dumbest decision in the world since 300 people were killed in gang-related violence in the city in 2006 and unarmed cops make tempting targets.

Of course, there could be a school of thought that disarming the local cops would help avoid any armed confrontation with the incoming authorities until they learn who's straight and who's crooked. Just surmising here.

Mexico certainly is a land of sharp contrasts. (See here and here.) A few weeks ago to the southeast of Tijuana, in Oaxaca state, there was armed rioting over unhappiness with the local government and troops had to be moved there to quell the rebellion. Coincidentally, I was traveling at the same time in relative serenity in Jalisco state, north of Oaxaca, on a tour of historic sites and tequila operations.

The only hint of danger I noticed was the positioning at regular intervals of well-armed federales -- Mexico's state police -- on the major east-west toll highway. It is known for its calmness, compared to the more direct but more dangerous unpatrolled free highway that runs roughly parallel to it.

Seeing grim-faced, stocky, camouflage-wearing, highly-armed federal police giving everyone the once-over at rest stops and at randomly-spaced checkpoints may give bad guys the willies, but they brought a certain contentment to the folks in my van.

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