Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year trafficking illegal drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed over 17,000 people, with a death toll of nearly 8,000 in 2009 and over 1,000 so far in 2010. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of several high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/ciudadjuarez.jpg
Ciudad Juárez (courtesy Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia)
Sunday, February 28

In Ciudad Juárez, a eight people were killed in drug-related violence in various parts of the city. Among the dead was a three-year old boy who was killed when gunmen attacked a party at a ranch just outside the city. In another incident, a couple was gunned down outside their home. As of February 28, 380 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Ciudad Juárez in 2010. 2,635 were killed in the city of 1.5 million in 2009.

Monday, March 1

Mexican police announced that a Mexican journalist who has been missing since 2007 was murdered by drug traffickers. Rodolfo Rincon, 54, was a journalist for the newspaper Tabasco Hoy, and was last seen on January 20, 2007. Authorities say that a recently arrested member of the Zetas organization admitted to participating in the kidnapping and killing, and claimed that Rincon's body was dissolved in acid after being murdered.

In Sinaloa, four men were killed in the northern part of the state. In once incident, a man was shot dead after being involved in a high-speed car chase on a highway near Los Mochis. In another incident, a group of policemen were ambushed by a group of armed men near the town of Choix, leaving a municipal police official and one of his officers wounded.

Tuesday, March 2

In the state of Chihuahua, seven people were killed in several incidents throughout the state. In the city of Chihuahua, the brother of a local police official was shot and killed in his car, along with his girlfriend. After the car was riddled with bullets, both were apparently executed at close-range with shots to the head. In other parts of Mexico, seven people were killed in Sinaloa, and two men were killed after being ambushed on a highway in Guerrero.

Wednesday, March 3

In Guasave, Sinaloa, four young men were killed as they left a party. This brings to 15 the number of people killed in the small town of Guasave over the last 10 days, all of them between 15 and 26 years of age.

In other parts of Mexico, armed men killed three members of a trucking company in Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, and one person was killed in a shootout between the Mexican army and suspected drug traffickers in Michoacan. Four men were killed outside a secondary school in Ciudad Juárez, and five people were killed in Guerrero, including a police official. One drug-related murder was reported in Queretaro.

Thursday , March 4

In Ciudad Juárez, a woman and her nine-month old daughter were killed after the vehicle in which they were traveling was ambushed by gunmen. A 23-year old man, the father of the child, was left unscathed by the attack. Following the incident, police discovered a handgun in his possession and detained him.

Friday , March 5

In Michoacan, a group of heavily armed men ambushed a police convoy. Two officers were killed and three were wounded in the attack, which took place near the port city of Lazaro Cardenas. Meanwhile, in Altar, Sonora, 28,000 kilograms of marijuana were seized by Mexican authorities, as well as 18 weapons and seven unspecified vehicles.

Saturday , March 6

Police officers held a protest in the Monterrey suburb of San Nicolas de los Garza after three officers were killed in an ambush by suspected drug traffickers. The policemen gathered outside police stations and demanded improved weapons, equipment and life insurance. A fourth officer was wounded and remains in serious condition.

Monday , March 8

In the Xochimilco area of Mexico City, four men were found murdered with a note beside the bodies which made references to drug trafficking groups. The four men had all been shot and left in a local parking lot. The note made reference to the ongoing struggle for leadership of the Beltran-Leyva organization which ensued after its leader, Arturo Beltran Leyva , was killed in a raid by naval commandos on December 16th.

Tuesday , March 9

Police in Sonora discovered five partially buried bodies in an area near the border with Chihuahua. One of the dead was identified as being a municipal police officer. The men had been kidnapped the previous Sunday in a nearby area. In other violence across Mexico, a 13-year old boy was killed in the crossfire between two groups of armed men in the city of Nogales.

In Mazatlan, three police officers were killed after being ambushed near the home of a local police commander, who was among the dead. Three other drug-related murders were reported in Mazatlan, as well as one in Culiacan. In Sinaloa's main prison, two prisoners were assassinated by rivals in the gymnasium.

Five men were killed in a Chihuahua prison after a gun battle broke out between groups of rival inmates. Prison officials have stated that the battle was between two gangs, La Linea and the Mexicles. Both these groups provide enforcers to drug cartels. La Linea is considered by many to be the armed wing of the Juárez cartel, and the Mexicles are known to provide foot soldiers to the Sinaloa Cartel for its offensive in Ciudad Juárez.

Total body count for last two weeks: 375

Total body count for the year: 1,776

Total body count for 2009: 7,724

Total body count since Calderon took office: 17,981

Read the last Mexico Drug War Update here.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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total # of judges convicted

total # of judges convicted of taking narco bribes: 0
total # of attornies convicted of paying narco bribes: 0
total # of prosecutors convicted of taking narco bribes: 0
total # of Mexican Nationals who believe there is no corruption in the Mexican Judiciary: 0

Total # of American Politicians willing to adress the real problem: 0

Anarchy is the problem! For America the # of American border agents being arrested for corruption should be very alarming. Greed and corruption is a universal problem! Get Shorty!!

Who supports the prohibition?

7,000 people were murdered by the Mexican drug cartels last year because we in the US kept marijuana illegal, many of the victims were children, police officers and politicians. This year the cartels are on track to kill at least 9,000 more. Who supports keeping it illegal?

Why is cannabis illegal? Why won't they discuss the subject?

Calderon may be President of 100 million people but he doesn't have the guts to try to explain why alcohol and alcohol users deserve such extremely better status than cannabis and cannabis users. He thinks he can just order cannabis users around as though they aren't fellow citizens. If prohibitionists have a reasonable explanation for alcohol supremacism over cannabis let's goddamn hear it already! There's a lot of blood on someone hands, that's for sure!

I draw a direct line between this violence and prohibition

There is no question in my mind that all of these deaths are because of drug prohbition. In these cases, people didn't brutally murder each other because they are on drugs. These murders are because the assailants are trying to control a market that has no legal protections. That means that these murders are about money.

It is true that during alcohol prohibition that violent gangs controlled the alcohol market. They were brutal, murderous thugs. The money they earned came from ordinary American people who wanted to drink booze. So many ordinary Americans wanted to drink booze that the murderous thugs became fabulously rich. There was a huge financial incentive for the thugs to continue their line of work. Because there were no legal protections for the illegal alcohol makers and distributors, they became very violent to protect their market turf. The murders were not because the assailants were drunk. They were about money.

Our national policy is supposed to weigh pros and cons to find the most enlightened means to govern. I think that when our policies contribute (and contribute very directly) to the deaths of thousands of people in foreign countries, we must account for that in the cons section of the debate. Sadly, people in Mexico, Columbia, Peru, etc. do not count with the full value of their human lives in our national drug war debate. Our major media outlets do not report on these numbers unless a particularly horrific crime occurs. So, there is not even the reporting on the problem to even be aware that it is a problem.

Drug prohibition is supposed to save lives and protect health and property. Listed above are nearly 18,000 people that are not dead because of drugs but because of drug prohibition.

It's a matter of patterns of behaviour

Who cares for people who want to harm theirselves? You can climb up a building or a bridge and jump... It's your right. EVERYBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO COMMIT SUICIDE, who cares if you use a gun, a knife, a razor blade, poison, gas, etc... It`s your right. Then, why do they care too much for health at the degree that there is a prohibition, violence related to that prohibition, decomise and jail related to that prohibition, deaths related to it. It's a health problem, a medical problem, and I don't see phisicians and nurses involved. I see gunman, I see hitmen, police, soldiers, judges, attorneys. And I see people selling hard drugs in freedom, and I also see the intention that those drugs, meth and coke, more expensive, easy to hide, become a substitute for natural cannabis. Of course I'm talking of Mexico, my country.
Prohibition has alies and enemies. In my opinion the strongest enemy of the decriminalization are the gouvernamental patterns of behaviour that become citizens into informers. And is expected that everyone become an informer and put the whistle on someone... On who? the terrorist, the guerrilla fighters? There's none in my country. The communists, the left wingers? The ideologic freedom of Mexico protects them.
Patterns of work consider drug use (and of course drug selling) as their opposite, this is, the other extreme of the rope. So work and drugs are as opposite as good and bad, black and white. Of course if the concept of work changes, and it's considered a production activity that gives you money, then decriminalization is possible. But up to date, mexicans haven't acomplished that goal, the change of patterns. Matter is not on discussion. They analize prohibition from all sides and perspectives, but they never touch that point. Once the patterns of work are reviewed, decriminalization could possible move forward...

drug war

The killings an the Mexican border will stop like they did on the Canadian border when the drugs in question are no longer illegal. There is so much money involved here, what's a few lives. Drug prohibition doesn't affect the number of people that alcohol prohibition did. What a shame.

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