Military operation in Ciudad Mier a 'Temporary' solution

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said crime had gone down significantly across the border from Starr County during his visit to Ciudad Mier on Thursday.

Calderon commissioned the new headquarters for the 105th Army Battalion, a group of 600 soldiers based out of Ciudad Mier, located across the border from Roma.

Their task, according to Calderon, is to bring security to the people living in this largely rural, cartel-plagued border area stretching from Reynosa to Falcon Lake.

Thanks to the efforts of the military, nearly two thirds of the people that fled Ciudad Mier have returned, Calderon said.

He also claimed that homicides decreased almost 40 percent during the first half of 2011 thanks to his Operation Northeast.

Back in February of 2011, Calderon ordered four Mexican Army battalions to the Tamaulipas region as part of the operation, a military offensive against the cartels.

But he stated that a military operation is only a temporary fix to the problem.

"The Mexican Army's presence will be temporary, he said. It will allow local authorities to recruit and reform their own law enforcement.

He went on to say that it was ultimately their weakness, vulnerability and complicity which put the residents [of Ciudad Mier] at the mercy of criminals."

Calderon added that there is no date set for them to withdraw the troops from the border area, located across the river from Starr County. However, even with a military presence, the region around Ciudad Mier is notorious for drug smuggling.

In the past few months there have been several reports of major gunfights between cartels and the military, including two separate instances when gunmen allegedly fled into neighboring Starr County.