Nuevo Laredo, Mexico is just across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas, and it is home to the busiest border crossing on the U.S. – Mexico border.
It is also the center of a raging war between rival drug gangs to control critical smuggling routes. According to news reports, more than 115 people have been murdered in Nuevo Laredo in the last three months. Dozens of Americans and countless Mexicans have been kidnapped and held for ransom. Assassinations are common.
Mr. Pimentel, a 37-year-old father of one son with another child on the way, said he was trying a different, deliberately unpolicemanlike approach. He was not looking for bad guys to fight, he said. There would be no nights on patrol, no raids and no crime scenes for him.
"I have not come here to confront anyone," he said. "I do not want to be the hero of the movie."
If it sounds as if Mr. Pimentel is waving a white flag, that is probably because, in effect, he is. So is the city, many business leaders, officials, officers and ordinary people say.
How can the Mexican police help combat the tide of drugs and illegal immigration if they have surrendered in their own fight against lawlessness? The answer, of course, is that they can’t.
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