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Mexico Drug War Update

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 around 40,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing 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:

http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/files/wanted1.jpg
US Embassy in Mexico cartel wanted poster
Thursday, August 25

In Monterrey, 52 people were killed when suspected Zetas ignited gasoline at the entrance to the Casino Royale. As of August 31, twelve people are in custody for the attack. Many of those killed died of smoke inhalation after fleeing to offices and bathrooms in the interior of the casino.

Although the exact motive is yet unknown, police are investigating the possibility that the casino was attacked after having refused to pay protection money to the Zetas. Another possibility that has been floated in the Mexican press is that the casino was used to launder money for a rival cartel.

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, the former police chief of the town of Columbus pleaded guilty to conspiracy, smuggling, and public corruption charges. Angela Vega was arrested in March along with the town's mayor and 13 others. The group is known to have trafficked at least 200 weapons to La Linea, the military wing of the Juarez Cartel.

Friday, August 26

In Michoacan, wanted posters were put up by the Knights Templar Organization. The banners, which show the mugshots of five men the names of six men said to now be working for the Zetas, offered rewards of between $100,000 and $500,000 as well as a phone number to call.

Sunday, August 28

In Almoya de Juarez, near Mexico City, authorities discovered the decomposed bodies of five individuals buried in a corn field. The discovery was made after a family member of a missing man received a phone call from an unidentified man who said that 23 people were buried in the field. The other 18 remain unaccounted for.

Monday, August 29

In Acapulco, at least 140 local schools were closed after teachers refused to go to work because of extortion threats. School had just begun one week prior. Teachers indicated that at least four teachers had been kidnapped in the past eight days, and cars full of armed men were seen cruising past at least one school.

In Tamaulipas, authorities announced that a top Gulf Cartel commander was among several cartel members captured in the town of Camargo over the weekend. Abiel Gonzalez Briones, "R-2," 28, was captured after an aerial patrol spotted a group of armed men, at least seven of whom were captured. Gonzalez Briones is thought to have been a main financial operator of the Gulf Cartel and the area chief for the Miguel Aleman area.

In the mountain town of Guachochi, Chihuahua, seven bodies were discovered by the army. They had all been missing since August 13. Of the dead, six were strangulated to death, and the seventh, a woman, was shot. Additionally, near Ciudad Juarez, five human skulls thought to be several years old were discovered.

Tuesday, August 30

In Utah, authorities announced the dismantling of a Sinaloa Cartel cell. At least 30 people have so far been taken into custody after an 18th month investigation, which led to the discovery of several high-level men described as being "command and control" for the the cartel in Utah. At least 30 pounds of meth, 2.5 of heroin were taken into custody, as well as cash and high-powered weapons.

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx.): 4,300

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2009 (approx.): 9,600

Total Body Count for 2010 (official): 15,273

Total Body Count for 2011: (approx.): 6,700

Knox County D.A.R.E Drug Prevention Curriculum Bumped in Face of Call for Measurable Results

Location: 
TN
United States
This spring, the Knox County Sheriff's Office will teach its final classes of the 25-year-old Drug Awareness Resistance Education program in local county schools. D.A.R.E., developed as a drug prevention curriculum by the Los Angeles Police Department for children 10-12 years old, has been long criticized by many studies and organizations -- including the U.S. Surgeon General, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Education -- for not being effective at keeping kids away from drugs later in life.
Publication/Source: 
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)
URL: 
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/mar/08/d-a-r-e-drug-prevention-curriculum-bumped/

Mexican Children Learn to Take Cover in Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Acapulco, GRO
Mexico
Mexican officials are teaching school children how to dive for cover if they come under fire from gangs fighting over the Pacific beach city of Acapulco as drug prohibition violence reaches deeper into everyday life. At a drill in an Acapulco primary school this week, instructors used toy guns that simulated the sound of real gunfire. "Get down, let's go!" shouted an instructor as children threw themselves on the ground in classrooms and the playground and then crawled toward safety, burying their heads in their hands.
Publication/Source: 
MSNBC
URL: 
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40571896/ns/world_news-americas/

Drug Gang Reportedly Sets Fire to Juárez Kindergarten

Location: 
Ciudad Juárez, CHH
Mexico
A school in Colonia San Antonio was supposedly torched because school staff refused demands for payment made by drug gang extortionists. Classes were canceled indefinitely.
Publication/Source: 
El Paso Times (TX)
URL: 
http://www.elpasotimes.com/juarez/ci_16794608?source=most_viewed

Teens' medicinal pot not OK on campus

Location: 
CA
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Union (CA)
URL: 
http://www.theunion.com/article/20070516/NEWS/105160166

Drug-testing policy topic of debate

Location: 
West Amwell, NJ
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Beacon (NJ)
URL: 
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18189628&BRD=1091&PAG=461&dept_id=425410&rfi=6

Cout Hears 'Bong Hits for Jesus' Case

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/S/SCOTUS_BONG_HITS?SITE=OHRAV&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

GA: Drug testing plan incurs opposition: School board set to vote next week on controversial proposal

Location: 
GA
United States
Publication/Source: 
White County News (GA)
URL: 
http://www.whitecountynewstelegraph.com/articles/2007/03/15/news/news02.txt

Supreme Court: “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” Case Rally

Dozens of high school students with signs and banners will hold a free speech rally outside the Supreme Court as justices hear oral arguments in Morse v. Frederick. If the government has its way, the ruling in the case could allow school administrators to punish students just for questioning the effectiveness of the D.A.R.E. program, the humiliation of school drug testing policies, or the invasiveness of random locker searches. The case focuses on Joseph Frederick, who was suspended in 2002 from a high school in Alaska after holding up a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner during a school trip to see the Olympic torch parade pass by. This rally, organized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), will feature two students who had political campaign t-shirts advocating medical marijuana confiscated by school officials, as well as students prevented from starting an SSDP chapter at their public high school because their principal didn’t agree with the group’s anti-drug war message. The students will display a large “Free Speech 4 Students” banner on the steps of the Court. * Links to the organizations’ amicus briefs can be found online at www.ssdp.org/freespeech/ and www.drugpolicy.org/news/freespeech.cfm *
Date: 
Mon, 03/19/2007 - 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Location: 
E Capitol St. NE and 1st St. NE
Washington, DC 20001
United States

SSDP/DPA Press Release: Supreme Court Could Silence Student Political Speech in “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” Case

NEWS ADVISORY: March 14, 2007 CONTACT: Tom Angell, SSDP, tel: 202-293-4414 (office), 202-557-4979 (cell) or tom@ssdp.org, or Tony Newman, DPA, tel: 646-335-5384 or tnewman@drugpolicy.org Supreme Court Could Silence Student Political Speech in “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” Case Student Drug Policy Activists to Rally Outside Court WASHINGTON, DC – Dozens of high school students with signs and banners will hold a free speech rally outside the Supreme Court on Monday as justices hear oral arguments in Morse v. Frederick. If the government has its way, the ruling in the case could allow school administrators to punish students just for questioning the effectiveness of the D.A.R.E. program, the humiliation of school drug testing policies, or the invasiveness of random locker searches. The case focuses on Joseph Frederick, who was suspended in 2002 from a high school in Alaska after holding up a “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” banner during a school trip to see the Olympic torch parade pass by. This Monday’s rally, organized by Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) and the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), will feature two students who had political campaign t-shirts advocating medical marijuana confiscated by school officials, as well as students prevented from starting an SSDP chapter at their public high school because their principal didn’t agree with the group’s anti-drug war message. The students will display a large “Free Speech 4 Students” banner on the steps of the Court. WHO: Student activists, free speech advocates, drug policy reform advocates WHAT: Rally supporting students’ 1st Amendment right to criticize ineffective drug policies WHEN: Monday, March 19, 2007 @ 11:00 AM (immediately following end of oral arguments) WHERE: U.S. Supreme Court steps; E Capitol St. NE and 1st St. NE; Washington, DC 20001 “This case focuses on one student’s absurd banner, but if the Court accepts the school’s argument, free speech will be silenced in classrooms across the country,” said Kris Krane, executive director of SSDP, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “The War on Drugs impacts young people every day. Students must retain their First Amendment right to debate drug policies that directly affect them.” “There is a rich tradition in our country of students actively and eloquently participating in timely debates affecting local and national policies – from the Vietnam War to the Drug War, and animal rights to civil rights. Given their distinct perspectives, students should be heard, and they should hear one another. We silence them at our peril,” said Daniel Abrahamson, DPA’s director of legal affairs. Frederick sued his principal and school after receiving a 10-day suspension. Losing in federal district court, he won appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Ken Starr is arguing the case for the school. * Links to the organizations’ amicus briefs can be found online at www.ssdp.org/freespeech/ and www.drugpolicy.org/news/freespeech.cfm *
Location: 
DC
United States

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