Mexico in Brief: COVID-19 checks plummet at ports of entry

Border Report Tour

Chihuahua State Police members, wearing protective suits, take part in an information and prevention campaign against the coronavirus -COVID-19- pandemic, at the Cordoba-De las Americas International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, on March 29, 2020. (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — Mexican authorities are screening far fewer visitors for COVID-19 now than at the start of the pandemic.

Graphic courtesy 5th Military Zone (Mexican Army)

A total of 69,360 motorists and pedestrians entering Mexico from El Paso, Tornillo and Presidio, Texas, as well as from Santa Teresa and Columbus, New Mexico underwent temperature checks and questions about their health in April. In May, that number dropped to 30,353 and so far in June, only 10,881 have been screened, according to numbers released on Thursday by the Mexican government.

The decrease occurs even as bridge traffic increases and COVID-19 contagion in El Paso, Texas and Dona Ana County, New Mexico remains high. The checks are now discretional (random), rather than mandatory for all travelers. No explanation was given why.

Soldiers, state police target drug gangs in Western Chihuahua

JUAREZ — Soldiers seized 1,628 pounds of methamphetamine and police officers put two clandestine radio towers out of commission this week in Western Chihuahua.

The drugs were concealed in sacks of corn inside an 18-wheeler in the Sueco-Janos Highway near Nuevo Casas Grandes; the transmission towers were in mountain areas to the west of Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua state officials said in a teleconference.

Members of Mexico’s National Guard unload a tractor-trailer carrying meth inside sacks of corn. (photo courtesy State of Chihuahua)

The towers ran on solar panels and were being used by drug gangs in the western part of the state that have engaged in bloody gun battles recently, State Police Commissioner Emilio Garcia Ruiz said.

(Photo courtesy State of Chihuahua)

Two more towers have been located but not yet neutralized and two more are suspected to be in operation. “The towers are arrayed in a hexagonal pattern and not only allow criminal groups to communicate with each other, but also jam police communications,” Garcia Ruiz said.

He did not identify which gang owns the towers. Both La Linea and Gente Nueva gangs operate in the mountains of Western Chihuahua.

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