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So deeply has this incident shaken the country that, as author Ruben Martinez describes it, “To understand the historical significance -- and the moral and political gravity -- of what is occurring, think of 9/11, of Sandy Hook, of the day JFK was assassinated.”

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After a 17-month investigation led by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, federal, state and local authorities cracked down on a vast drug-smuggling network in Arizona that officials tied to Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, making 76 arrests in three separate raids.

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In the annals of a conflict that has killed more than 34,600 since Mexican President Felipe Calderon militarized his country’s battle against drug traffickers in December 2006, the conflict in Tamaulipas is writing a new and bloody chapter. Like Jesús Malverde, Santa Muerte has become an object of veneration among Mexico’s criminals.

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Mexico’s drug war has been blamed for the deaths of more than 34,000 people, and now comes a report showing that the violence has uprooted nearly a quarter of a million people south of the border, with many of them thought to have fled to the U.S.

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An hours-long gun battle in the Mexican border town of Matamoros left at least eight people dead, including the leader of a major drug gang and a newspaper reporter. Pictured above, a government spokesman speaking about the violence.

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In an apparent mixing of official messages, President Obama has contradicted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by rejecting the analogy that Mexico is becoming more and more like 1990s drug-heyday Colombia, when 40 percent of the country's territory was controlled by rebel groups.

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Violence in the Mexican border town of Reynosa has endangered both the lives of its citizens as well as the quality of its journalism. Fearing violent reprisal, many journalists have left, while others are admittedly censoring themselves after being threatened by the drug cartels.

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