EL PASO -- The car bombing in Juárez on Thursday in which three people were killed signifies an escalation of brutality and sophistication in the city's 2-year-old drug war, officials said.
Juárez officials on Friday confirmed a car bomb with C-4 plastic explosives was detonated from a remote location.
Local experts said the Juárez and Sinaloa drug cartels apparently have adopted terrorists' tactics that use suicide bombers and car bombs to kill foes or to make a point.
"It certainly seems like they've taken a page out of the Middle East," said Richard Schwein, the former FBI special agent in charge of the El Paso office.
"The cartels read the news and they hear about what is happening in the Middle East with the use of car bombs and suicide bombers. I don't think they will ever use suicide bombers here, but car bombs are easy to make and to use."
This is the first time a car bomb has been used in the Juárez drug war, which has claimed the lives of nearly 5,800 people since in began in 2008.
Experts agree that the use of a car bomb with a sophisticated detonation system and C-4 is a new tactic, one that requires planning and deliberation.
"It is what it is," Schwein said.C-4 is an explosive that is used by military and in demolition and mining. To set it off, a blasting cap or a detonator has to be inserted into the explosive and then an electrical charge is sent to start the explosion, according to several websites.
According to Juárez officials, officers responded to a call that a police officer had been killed. As an officer and a paramedic approached the car, a bomb exploded. The officer and the paramedic were killed. The third man killed is believed to have been the decoy.
El Paso County Sheriff Richard Wiles said the use of a car bomb is of major concern, and something law-enforcement officials on this side of the Rio Grande should pay attention to."As the cartels change their tactics over there, we need to be aware of their methods because if they ever wanted to assassinate someone over here, they may use those same tactics," he said.
Wiles said a greater concern is that car bombs tend to injure innocent victims."The car bombs damage an area, not just a targeted person," he said. "They can be powerful and can do some damage.
While the use of car bombs and bombs in El Paso and Juárez is rare, Thursday's attack was not the first time a bomb was used to target law enforcement.Former El Paso police Chief Carlos Leon said that in the mid-1970s, the East Valley police substation on San Paulo Drive was bombed. "It certainly didn't injure anyone or kill anyone," Leon said. "But the building's foundation was cracked, and the substation was the target."
Leon said that it was an isolated case and that no other incidents occurred after that.