The terrorists swept into Cananea in a convoy of 15 vehicles. They were on a brazen, murderous mission.
They kidnapped seven policemen and two civilians. Outside town, they shot and killed four of the policemen and dumped their bodies in a park.
Local police who had not been kidnapped deserted their posts to a man. "When the state police arrived, there was not a single municipal police officer," the local governor later told The Associated Press. "We had to take over the command. There wasn't anyone there. They had all left."
Government forces tracked the terrorists into the nearby mountains. A pitched battle ensued. Fifteen terrorists were reported killed. Others got away, melting into the local population or deeper into the hills.
So went another sad episode in a region of the world where anarchy reigns. Assessing the day's carnage, the mayor of the targeted village spoke with bitter candor. "Our municipality has become the victim of the violence that pervades this entire country," he said in a statement. "The events of this morning are beyond shocking."
Where is this placed called Cananea? Is it in Iraq? Afghanistan?
No. It is almost in Arizona. Specifically, it is about 20 miles south of the U.S. border in the Mexican state of Sonora. Pull it up on Google Earth, as I did this week, and you will see that the nearest town of any size is Nogales, Ariz. The nearest big city is Tucson.
Cananea is in the war zone next door. It is a place where Mexican criminal syndicates, bolstered by Mexican army deserters, fight one another for control of the best smuggling routes into the United States.
The terrorist raid on Cananea, which took place on May 16, points to a monstrous strategic blunder by our government.
More than six years have transpired since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In the quest to make our nation safer, we have sent armies halfway around the world to occupy and attempt to create democracies in both Afghanistan and Iraq. But our government still has not secured our own border.
The Government Accountability Office last week presented testimony to the House Foreign Relations Committee that demonstrated just how porous our southern frontier remains.
"Mexico," said the GAO, "is the conduit for most of the cocaine reaching the United States, the source for much of the heroin consumed in the United States, and the largest foreign supplier of marijuana and methamphetamine to the U.S. market."
In the years since 9-11, the drug cartels that trade in South American cocaine have found Mexico to be a more -- not less -- attractive route for smuggling their product into American cities and towns to sell to American kids.