Posing as police officers, gunmen in bulletproof vests pulled over a motorist, took him to a Phoenix house, bound him with zip ties and held him for a $30,000 ransom in an abduction that may have been carried out by Mexican drug smugglers.
The abduction earlier this month was one of nearly 1,000 kidnappings reported in Phoenix over the past three years in a surge of lawlessness so terrifying that the mayor welcomed the news this week that Washington is sending more manpower and equipment to the Mexican border, 180 miles to the south.
"It's a good first step, but we'll need to do more," said Mayor Phil Gordon, who had pleaded with Congress for help.
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it will dispatch nearly 500 more federal agents to the border, along with X-ray machines and drug-sniffing dogs, to stop the spillover of violence into the U.S. from Mexican drug- and immigrant-smugglers.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that the move is just a first step and that National Guardsmen might also be sent, something Texas Gov. Rick Perry has requested.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid her first visit to Mexico and pledged that the U.S. will help Mexico fight its murderous drug cartels, a battle that has cost more than 7,000 lives south of the border.
The additional federal agents will be used to fight crime and illegal immigration in border communities. Some will be stationed in between border communities; some will scrutinize motorists entering Mexico, to curb the smuggling of guns. Guns brought into Mexico from the U.S. are blamed for 95 percent of the killings south of the border.