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Best rumor by a dam site!

5 June 2010

I wasn’t planning to say anything about the story floating around, courtesy of the Houston Chronicle, detailing

An alleged plot by a Mexican drug cartel to blow up a dam along the Texas border — and unleash billions of gallons of water into a region with millions of civilians — sent American police, federal agents and disaster officials secretly scrambling last month to thwart such an attack, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

One or two of the usual suspects on the expat message boards chimed in on this one, and even Bloggings by Boz, the “inside the beltway” commentator on Latin American and military affairs, took the story seriously.  Even Wikipedia (at least for today) takes the story seriously.  It sounded a little implausible, then, once I thought about it for ten seconds, absolutely ridiculous.

The dam in question — Falcon Dam — sits between the grand metropoli of Nuevo Ciudad Guerrero, Tamaulipas (I’d never heard of the place either: the original Ciudad Guerrero was drowned by Falcon Lake, when the dam was built) and Falcon Heights, Texas.  The only thing the dam is known for are a couple small power plants and a fishing lake.  When there was another story in the news recently about a couple of guys getting robbed at gunpoint out on the lake being conflated into PIRATE ATTACKS!!!, I was reminded that it’s an election year in Texas, AND, and the right-wingers are again floating the usual nonsense about “terrorists” on the Mexican border.

Last election time Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson learned from Fox News that he supposedly was holding an Al Qaida terrorist in his jail cell — damned if he knew where that came from.   And Webb County Sheriff   Rick Flores was supposedly a #1 target of the Zetas.  Which, combined with his guest appearances on the afternoon U.S. cable talking head shows, like Lou Dobbs — might have helped him eke out his 133 vote win over his opponent, but still got him fired by the county commissioners last year.

But, given how dirt-poor those border counties are, it’s all good P.R. and the political push for more funding for their local law enforcement creates a few jobs, and pays the county for their gasoline and snazzy new SUVs.

At any rate — and good advice for anyone who is going to comment on these “international incidents” — especially when they seen too bad to be true, is check the calendar and check in with the local media.  The McAllen Monitor is one of the best small town newspapers in south Texas, and Jared Taylor and Jeremy Roebuck may not have the audience that Fox News or the Houston Chronicle has, but they’re good solid local reporters… are a lot more reliable when it comes to what’s going on in the Rio Grande Valley.

FALCON HEIGHTS — Authorities have debunked threats last month that a Mexican drug cartel was plotting to blow up the Falcon Dam, sending billions of gallons of water flooding across the Rio Grande Valley.

Rumors that the Zetas drug cartel was plotting to use dynamite to blow up the five-mile span west of Roma spread quickly among local, state and federal law enforcement in late April, authorities said.

But while U.S. officials boosted patrols and surveillance across the area in response to the threat, they said this week that there was no credible evidence that such a plot was ever in the works.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. otto permalink
    5 June 2010 7:32 pm

    the thing with a spoof like this is that it’ll trap exactly the people who want to believe it.

    Another example for the list

  2. 5 June 2010 10:43 pm

    Probably had a lot to do with, as Fausta’s Blog quotes, “On Friday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called it a reminder that more federal resources are needed to secure the border.” That would be the same Rick Perry who was flirting with secession from the Union a few months back and is now in a Republican Party primary fight for nomination to run for Texas Governor.

    Rick bounces between dissing the Feds and dissing Mexicans depending on the day of the week.

  3. 6 June 2010 10:14 am

    Perry already passed through the primaries – and smoked K. Bailey like she was a first time county functionary running for President. Perry is beating his chest now because he is running against Bill White, the tax cutting businessman and mayor from Houston who is pretty popular down there. The bottom is finally starting to fall out of the Texas econmy and Perry has to keep playing tough guy.

  4. 6 June 2010 1:15 pm

    Oops… shows how out of the Texas loop I am now. Still, running for Gov. from the right… right out of his mind.

  5. 8 June 2010 7:26 am

    Threats like this are worth taking seriously. It would be negligent of authorities to not investigate rumors that a cartel was plotting to blow up a dam. If they can debunk the plot, great, but better that they investigate than we just assume that it’s out of the realm of possibility.

    • 8 June 2010 12:05 pm

      I agree with you, Boz, that security threats have to be investigated, but my complaint (not about you) is that the rumor, not the fact that it was a rumor, is what was publicized.

      This feeds into a lot of more interesting, and troubling, issues. I’ve been much more bothered by the militarization of the “drug war” which has taken gangsters as some military/political threat, coupled with the U.S. paranoia about “terrorists” — and the way these issues affect U.S. politics and are used to further anti-immigration (and anti-Mexican) agendas.

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