Mexico’s Supreme Court has struck down a law passed in the border state of Tamaulipas that banned the use of road spikes. These are commonly used as a tactic by drug cartels to avoid capture.
The law had previously been passed by the Tamaulipas government in an effort to stop the rampant use of road spikes by cartel members. The law made the possession of such devices punishable by 7 to 15 years in prison and a hefty fine.
Usually made up of six or eight nails welded together in a pyramid like shape, the spikes are thrown dozens at a time by fleeing cartel members hoping to puncture the tire of military or police vehicles. Once one vehicle is disabled usually the entire convoy stops so as not to leave any troops vulnerable to attack.
The caltrops, commonly called “ponchallantas” or tire poppers, have become the bane of residents affected by them in border cities. When cartel members deploy the spikes, dozens of civilians end up having their tires destroyed by the hundreds of caltrops covering entire crossroads.
As reported by Mexico’s Excelsior, the court’s ruling, released earlier this week, claimed that the law had been so poorly written by Tamaulipas legislators that it was unenforceable and that Mexico’s attorney general’s office had requested that it be struck down.
With the law’s removal, law enforcement and military troops near the Texas border have been left without any legal avenue to charge persons using road spikes to disable their vehicles.
In Texas, drug traffickers had been using caltrops in the past. However, a 2011 law sponsored by Republican State Representative Aaron Pena not only made the items illegal but their use is now considered an attack on a law enforcement official and carries a stiff punishment.