With some concern and disbelief, I have been astounded at the lack of understanding of the severity of the situation in Mexico and the possibility that it has crossed the border.

Last week, Dana Milbank of The Washington Post severely ridiculed reports from Arizona of decapitated heads found in the desert. This comment was made within a day or two of the discovery of two decapitated bodies in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, just south of El Paso, Texas.

While I cannot comment on the veracity of specific reports of headless bodies in the Arizona desert, the occurrence of headless bodies in Mexico has been epidemic.  It is only a matter of time until the phenomenon is regularly encountered in the U.S.

Let me suggest the general public familiarize themselves with press reports since the first of this year.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of the decapitation incidents, as many, if not most, incidents do not go reported.

  • July 6, 2010: Two decapitate bodies found in Chihuahua, Chihuahua.
  • Junue 30, 2010:  A severed head was found on the doorstep of Ciudad Juarez mayoral candidate Hector Murguia.  (Wall Street Journal)
  • June 16, 2010:  A police officer is found decapitated in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon.  (Expresion Libre
  • June 2, 2010:  Six human heads found in two Durango cities, Lerdo and Gomez Palacio.  (EFE)
  • May 10, 2010:  Two decapitated bodies found in Cancun.  (El Universal)
  • May 4, 2010:  Three decapitated bodies found in Costa Chica region, Guerrero.  (Proceso.) 
  • April 12, 2010:  Dismembered body found in Cuernavaca. (El Universal
  • April 11, 2010:  Decapitated body found on Morelos highway between Cuernavaca and Acapulco.  (El Universal
  • April 3, 2010:  Decapitated body of a female found in Chihuahua, Chihuahua.  (El Diario Chihuahua.)  Spring 2010:  Police Chief of Aguascalientes, Nuevo Leon found decapitated.
  • March 25, 2010:  Decapitation victim found at shopping center in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.  (El Agora de Chihuahua)
  • March 22, 2010:  Two dismembered bodies found in Acapulco.  (Reforma
  • March 10, 2010:  Police find five heads in ice coolers in Guadalajara, Jalisco.  (BBC News)
  • January 25, 2010:  Decapitated head found on grave in Altamira, Tamaulipas.  (El Universal

As an example of those incidents that go unreported, in 2009 an acquaintance shared a story from Juarez.  While transiting a major road or highway out of town, there were more than two dozen decapitated heads atop a series of fence posts along the road.  Certain such an event would make the news, press reporting was scoured for days.  The incident was never reported.
Does this mean the event never occurred?  Clearly that is a possibility, though I consider my acquaintance reliable and credible.  The Mexican press is under severe pressure to self-censor reporting of violence and drug cartels or suffer the consequences.

On July 6, 2010 the body of Mexican journalist Hugo Alfredo Oliveras Cartas of the "La Voz de Michoacan" was found.  He had been reported as missing the day before and is the fourth journalist to be killed this year in Mexico.  Since 2000, 61 journalists have been killed in Mexico.  Twelve were killed in 2009.

To suggest that those on the front lines who are most aware of the rampant phenomenon of decapitations are delirious or untruthful would indicate the author does not have an understanding of the truth on the ground.

Joan Neuhaus Schaan is a fellow in homeland security at the James A. Baker III Institute on Public Policy at Rice University in Houson, Texas.