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Mexico’s Drug War Reached A Massive, Violent Tipping Point

News of a potential breakthrough in the everyday violence of Mexico’s war with the drug cartels.

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Redditor BigToneLoc40 just blew my mind about how much I think I know about world events. While Iran's nuclear deal and Boko Haram have been soaking up much of my already-way-too-short attention span, Mexico's ongoing war with drug cartels reached a startlingly terrifying climax last week.

The big news is this: Two cartel leaders, Jesús Salas Aguayo and José Tiburcio Hernández Fuentes, have been captured. However, the aftermath of that breakthrough has been horrific, as "about 60 of Mr. Hernández's gunmen seized buses and set fire to them to block roads and shot at government buildings in a failed effort to prevent his transfer to Mexico City."

"I live in Mcallen, which is right across from Reynosa, and they closed down two bridges so no one would cross," the Redditor commented. "The family members I have over there were posting pictures of blockades made by these gunmen. They left burnt cars, buses, and trailers everywhere."

This picture of soldiers standing in front your average Toyota dealership was the most striking for me. A quintessential suburban backdrop filled with assault rifles and Kevlar. Footage from that day, recorded by a woman running through a mall parking lot, rapid shots punctuating the air as she takes cover behind cars, is absolutely startling.

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Responding to a request for more details, BigToneLoc40 said, "So pretty much gun fights had been going on since 3 pm. The area where this was recorded is always busy. There's cemeteries further down the road, a mall, movie theatre, and a Soriana (think Wal-Mart). I'm assuming they pulled over since gun fights had been happening and decided to book it to the mall as you can see towards the end. You can hear her say at the beginning 'Should we go?' and unfortunately the gun fights started up again."

While the latest update isn't reassuring ("Mexico's Drugwar Violence Continues Despite Arrests Of Senior Cartel Leaders"), Forbes Contributor Nathaniel Parish Flannery says he believes "the worst days of Mexico's crime crisis appear to be in the past" as leadership of the cartels falls apart. Some good news for a country dealing with a major crisis on its own.

Brian Lisi is on Twitter at @BrianLisi. He's the co-founder of the video production company Summer Collider.