TSR: "Mexico is essentially at war with itself."

Length: 3:10

LARGE (44.1 MB) ----- SMALL (3.9 MB)

Wolf Blitzer talks to Michael about the Mexican drug cartels' war with the police/Army there, and Michael points out some unpleasant parallels to the civil war he covered in Iraq.

WOLF BLITZER: Some people hope it offers vacation paradise, but for others, it's a nightmarish hell. In parts of Mexico right now, violent gunmen are trading bullets, and innocent people are being caught in crossfires in a violent drug war.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the cartel war in Mexico, a conflict raging on America's doorstep, a conflict in which Juarez police officers like this one, under attack from a drug gang, are fighting for their lives, while the drug cartels are battling throughout the city for control of a lucrative drug route into the United States.

Sixteen hundred people killed in this city last year. That's three times more than the most murderous city in America.


BLITZER: That was CNN's Michael Ware.

Michael's joining us now. He has covered the drug war violence unfolding in parts of Mexico.

Michael, all of our viewers know you have covered the war in Iraq. But -- correct me if I'm wrong -- you believe what's happening in this part of Mexico is even more dangerous and deadly than what you have seen in Iraq?

WARE: Well, it's different kinds of danger, but it certainly shows no mercy whatsoever.

And the stakes, in some ways, perhaps are just as high. We're not talking about global jihad or al Qaeda, but we're talking about a real national security threat to the United States. And let's bear in mind, Mexico is essentially at war with itself. And I don't mean that in a literary sense. I mean that in reality, I mean, in one town alone, as we saw there, 1,600 dead in one year, 400 already this year.

And we're seeing some harbingers of Iraq: beheadings, paramilitaries essentially operating as militias, intimidating populations, governments and police forces.

And all of this is fueled by America's demand for illicit drugs, and is being fought on both sides, government and cartel, with American weapons.

So, yeah, this is a dangerous place. This is a dangerous dynamic. And it's not just on America's doorstep. It's inside your front yard -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, where's the Mexican government and the Mexican police? Have they lost control?

WARE: Well, that's if they ever had it.

Now, let's look at the police: either locals -- say, in Juarez, -- or the national police, the federales. They're so riddled with corruption. The cartel drug money speaks volumes, much more than anything the government can offer. Indeed, in Juarez, we saw they had 1,600 police. They let 800 of them go because they failed the polygraph or wouldn't take the polygraph.

But the president of Mexico two years ago when he came into office, declared war. And we now have 45,000 Mexican soldiers fighting the cartels -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Michael Ware reporting on this story -- thanks, Michael, very much.

A brutal, brutal situation.