by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.
Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling 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 more than 36,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of dozens of 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 Honduras, authorities discovered a cocaine lab which was used to process up 200 to 400 kilos of cocaine a week. The lab – which processed cocaine paste into powdered cocaine hydrochloride – is the first of its kind discovered in Honduras, and among the first discovered in Central America. Honduran officials have suggested that the lab might have belonged to El Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel.
Thursday, March 10
In Columbus, New Mexico, the mayor and police chief were arrested along with nine other suspects for allegedly running guns to Mexico. According to the 84-page indictment, Columbus mayor Eddie Espinoza and the other suspects trafficked some 200 firearms to Mexico, including a shortened AK-47 variant. Columbus is just across the border from Palomas, Chihuahua, which has seen high levels of drug-related violence.
In Ciudad Juarez, former army office and Tijuana police chief Julian Leyzaola took command as police chief. He is widely credited with bringing down the level of drug-related crime in Tijuana, but has been criticized for violating the human rights of officers he thought to be corrupt.
Three days after taking office, a man (who had been tortured but was alive) was found wrapped in a blanket
alongside a note welcoming Leyzaola to Ciudad Juarez. The note was signed by the Sinaloa Cartel, which is battling the Juarez Cartel for control of the cities drug trafficking routes and distribution points.
In Ciudad Juarez, five people were murdered in several incidents. In one incident, a federal police officer was gunned down as he left his home. According to researcher Molly Molloy, these killings bring the number of dead in Ciudad Juarez to 8,000 since January 2008.
Saturday, March 12
In Ciudad Juarez, eight people were murdered. In one incident, a man escaped gunmen who attacked his home, but was later discovered hiding in the bathroom of a nearby business and shot dead. A 58-year old woman who owned the business was also gunned down. In another incident, a security guard was dragged from his car and shot dead in front of his infant son.
In San Fernando, Tamaulipas, eight suspected Zetas were killed during an army raid on an armed camp. Nine others were captured, and 12 vehicles, weapons, uniforms and 150 pounds of marijuana were seized. One of the captured individuals said she had been held captive at the camp.
In Guamuchi, five people were killed at a wake for a young man who was recently murdered in Nayarit. Initial reports indicated that at least a dozen SUVs full of gunmen were involved in the attack. One of the victims appears to have been the father of the man killed in Nayarit."
Tuesday, March 15
In Mexico City, a judge decreed that the son of a former Juarez Cartel boss is to stand trial on Monday
laundering charges. Vicente Carillo Fuentes is the son of Amado Carillo Fuentes, who led the Juarez Cartel under his death in a botched plastic surgery operation in 1997. His uncle, also named Vicente, is the current leader of the cartel.
In Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, a female prison warden died after being stabbed repeatedly by an inmate. Warden
Rebeca Nicasio’s predecessor disappeared last December after 150 inmates escaped from the same prison under mysterious circumstances.
Total Body Count for the past two Weeks: 341
Total Body Count for the Year: 1,661
Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273
Total Body Count for 2009: (approx.) 9,600
Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400
Total Body Count for 2007 (approx): 4,300
Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,849
Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war to date: 36,510