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:
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.