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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 more than 38,000 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:

Wednesday, June 22

In Tamaulipas, the Mexican military began the process of taking over 22 local police departments, including the violence plagued areas of Nuevo Laredo, Miguel Aleman, Mier, Camargo, Reynosa, Tampico, and Matamoros. The military is expected to secure the areas while new, vetted police are hired.

Thursday, June 23

In Cuahtemoc, Chihuahua, seven people were kidnapped from a drug rehab center by heavily armed gunmen. At least three of the kidnap victims managed to escape the center but were later discovered by gunmen and forced into a car nearby. Marines investigating the incident discovered 190 packets of cocaine and pot at the center.

In Mexico City, President Calderon had a public debate with activist and poet Javier Sicilia in which he defended his use of the military against drug cartels while at the same time apologizing to the victims of drug-related violence such as Sicilia's son, who was murdered in Morelos in March along with six friends.

Saturday, June 25

In Ciudad Juarez, at least eight people were murdered. In one incident, two transit police officers were shot dead by gunmen who shot them from moving vehicles as the officers were making a traffic stop. It appears the officers were deliberately targeted.

In Monterrey, four men were lined up against a wall and shot after having been dropped off by a group of heavily armed men in an SUV.

In Veracruz, Mexican authorities captured Albert Gonzelaz Pena, also known as "El Tigre," who is thought to a high-ranking Zeta commander in charge of Veracruz and the state of Mexico. He is wanted in connection with at least three kidnappings and is thought to be heavily involved in local extortion schemes.

Sunday, June 26

In Ciudad Juarez, at least seven people were killed. Among the dead were four men who were found dead at a baseball field where they regularly played, and a federal police officer who was shot dead after being chased on foot by gunmen.

Monday, June 27

In the Monterrey suburb of Santa Catarina, the police chief was gunned down in his office. Chief German Perez was in his office when at least two cars and three trucks full of gunmen arrived at the location and went directly to his office, where he was shot at least eight times.

On Tuesday, it was announced that seven police officers were being investigated in the incident, as they did nothing. Among the seven were the chief's personal bodyguards.

In Oaxaca, a priest said that at least 80 Central American migrants had been kidnapped from a train which was carrying them north towards the US border.

Tuesday, June 28

In Mexico City, President Calderon said he felt "misunderstood" in the government's war on drug cartels, which he launched after taking office in December 2006. He said that many people -- "perhaps silently" -- support the military campaign. As success, he cited that 21 of the country's 37 top drug lords have been killed or captured.

[Editor's Note: We cannot accurately tally the drug prohibition-related killings in Mexico at this time. El Universal, the only Mexican newspaper that was doing so on a regular basis, has stopped. We will have to rely on official pronouncements on the death toll, and will report them when they happen. Below are the numbers through the end of last year. With more than 1,400 reported dead in April alone, this year's toll could well exceed last year's. As of this month, we believe the total death toll has surpassed 38,000.]

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: 34,883

Mexico

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 more than 38,000 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:

The profits of prohibition fuel the violence in Mexico. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Wednesday, June 15

In Nuevo Leon, a record 33 people were murdered in one day.  Among the dead were two bodyguards of State Governor Rodrigo Medina who were kidnapped, murdered, and mutilated. The previous daily high in the state was 18, which included 14 inmates killed in a jailhouse fire that had been deliberately set.

Friday, June 17

In Nuevo Leon, 26 police officers were detained for their involvement in the murder of the two bodyguards of Gov. Medina on Wednesday.

In Matamoros, the leader of Los Zetas, Heriberto Lazcano "Z-3" was reported killed after a series of ferocious gun battles in the city with the rival Gulf Cartel. Mexican and American authorities have both denied that Lazcano is dead, and question why he would personally be leading attacks on the Gulf Cartel stronghold of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

Sunday, June 19

In Michoacan, at least 23 people were executed over the weekend by the Knights Templar drug trafficking organization. President Calderon was in the state capital of Morelia at the time attending a U-17 soccer game between Mexico and North Korea. The Knights Templar had announced the coming murders via banner on Friday. On Saturday, nine people were found dead in three different locations, each containing three bodies.

The Knights Templar is an off-shoot of La Familia Michoacana, and has vowed to wage war on the opposing faction of LFM led by El Chango Mendez (captured Tuesday -- see below) and his allies in Los Zetas.

Monday, June 20

In Veracruz, a journalist was gunned down along with his wife and 21-year old son. Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco, 55, was an editor, crime reporter and columnist for the local Notiver newspaper. At around 5:30am on Monday, heavily armed gunmen kicked down the door to his home and gunned down everyone inside.

Also in Veracruz, seven municipal police officers were arrested in connection with the death of a Mexican Marine who was found dead on June 11 near the Tuxpan River. He was one of three Marines who were recently kidnapped and murdered in Mexico. The Marines have been on the forefront of Mexico's war on drug cartels and have conducted missions against high-profile targets such as Arturo Beltran Leyva, who was killed in December 2009.

Tuesday, June 21

In Cosio, Aguascalientes, the leader of La Familia Michoacana was captured by police at a highway checkpoint. Jose de Jesus Mendez Varga, 50, also known as "El Chango" -- the Monkey -- had been in command of the LFM organization since it broke up into rival factions after its previous leader, Nazario Moreno, was killed in fierce clashes with federal forces in December 2010. On Wednesday Mexican authorities said that US law enforcement played a key role in his capture.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least seven people were murdered. In one incident, a bag containing the head and dismembered body parts of a man was left outside a church. In a different part of the city, three men were gunned down inside a home in the southeast part of the city.

In the town of Cuahtemoc in the nearly lawless Chihuahuan sierra, authorities announced that eight people were found murdered there on June 18.

In Mexico City, Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes said after a meeting with President Calderon that the Zetas have been sending scouting missions to El Salvador to see whether they can purchase weapons from corrupt police and military officials.

Editor's Note: We cannot accurately tally the drug prohibition-related killings in Mexico at this time. El Universal, the only Mexican newspaper that was doing so on a regular basis, has stopped. We will have to rely on official pronouncements on the death toll, and will report them when they happen. Below are the numbers through the end of last year. With more than 1,400 reported dead in April alone, this year's toll could well exceed last year's. As of this month, we believe the total death toll has surpassed 38,000.]

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: 34,883

Mexico

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 more than 38,000 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:

All the drug busts in Mexico seem to make no difference. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Thursday, June 9

In Morelia, Michoacan, authorities discovered 21 bodies near the five main highway exits into the city. The men, all thought to be between 20 and 35 years old, were left alongside notes which identified them as petty criminals and warning others. Some of the bodies were reported to show signs of torture. Morelia is the hometown of President Calderon.

In Hidalgo County, Texas, at least three suspected drug smugglers were wounded after a fire fight with US law enforcement officers along the Rio Grand. The officers were apparently trying to intercept a large drug shipment when they came under fire from the Mexican side of the border.

In Ciudad Juarez,a peace march led by Mexican writer and poet Javier Sicilia arrived in the city with about 1,500 followers. The march left from Cuernavaca on June 5. In late March, Javier Sicilia's son was killed near Cuernavaca alongside several friends.

Also in Ciudad Juarez, nine people were murdered in several incidents across the city, making it the most violent day in the city so far in June. In one incident, two men were killed after their vehicle was attacked by gunmen armed with assault rifles.

Saturday, June 11

In the small town of El Terrero, Chihuahua, five members of a family were gunned down by a group of gunmen. Witnesses later reported that the men came searching for another target, and that the family was killed when they said they didn't know where he was. Two of the dead were children aged 3 and 4.

Sunday, June 12

In the municipality of General Teran, Nuevo Leon, three mutilated and dismembered bodies were found at the main entrance to the town. The dead are presumed to be members of the Gulf Cartel, as two banners signed by the Zetas were left at the scene threatening Gulf Cartel leaders M3 (Samuel Flores-Borrego) and R1 (Juan Reyes Mejia Gonzalez). In January, two police officers in General Teran were kidnapped and killed in a similar fashion, which lead to the town's entire police force quitting.

Monday, June 13

In the city of Chihuahua, a police commander was shot and killed after leaving a hospital, where he had been treated after being wounded in another attempt on his life earlier that day.

In Monterrey, a man was hung from a bridge and set on fire. Hundreds of motorists and pedestrians were in the area to witness gunmen arriving at the bridge, douse the victim in flammable liquid and throw him over the side of the overpass. The same bridge was the scene of a similar crime the previous Wednesday, in which gunmen hung two men.

Tuesday, June 14

In Tijuana, former Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon was cleared of federal weapons charges, but was immediately taken into state custody without charges as investigators seek to collect evidence for a murder trial. According to Baja California authorities, at least two weapons of the many that were recovered from his house have been used in homicides.

In the United States, an unnamed State Department official confirmed that at least one American citizen was among the 193 bodies recovered from mass graves in the San Fernando, Tamaulipas area in April.

[Editor's Note: We cannot accurately tally the drug prohibition-related killings in Mexico at this time. El Universal, the only Mexican newspaper that was doing so on a regular basis, has stopped. We will have to rely on official pronouncements on the death toll, and will report them when they happen. Below are the numbers through the end of last year. With more than 1,400 reported dead in April alone, this year's toll could well exceed last year's. As of this month, we believe the total death toll has surpassed 38,000.]

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: 34,883

Mexico

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 more than 38,000 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:

Bust after bust... and still no impact besides more violence. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Thursday, June 2

In Nadadores, Coahuila, soldiers confiscated a massive weapons cache which included 154 assault rifles, an RPG launcher, over 60,000 rounds of ammunition and four mortar rounds.

In New York City, a panel of high-profile personalities declared the War on Drugs "a failure" and called for a shift in policies, including decriminalization and a more public health-oriented response. The Global Commission on Drug Policy includes several former Presidents. Former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo was among them.

Saturday, June 5

In Ciudad Juarez, eight people were murdered in separate incidents. In one incident, witnesses claim that a man was killed by federal agents after having been taken into one of their patrol cars. The still unidentified man was later found beaten to death.

In the town of Delicias, Chihuahua, six people were killed, including three men who were ambushed by heavily armed gunmen wielding AK-47s.

In Cuernavaca, a group of marching protestors led by writer Javier Sicilia started moving towards Ciudad Juarez, where they are expected on June 10. In late March, Javier Sicilia's son was killed near Cuernavaca alongside several friends.

Sunday, June 6

In Ciudad Juarez, a journalist was shot and killed in a store parking lot. Alan Eduardo Rico Flores, 22, was in a vehicle with four friends when a hooded gunman opened fire on them with an assault rifle, killing him and wounding two others. No arrests have yet been made.

Tuesday, June 7

In Torreon, 11 young people were killed after gunmen attacked a rehab clinic for drug and alcohol abuse. According to reports, at least five vehicles full of gunmen arrived at the clinic and spent about half an hour there. Two people were wounded and taken to the local Red Cross, which was soon heavily guarded by the Mexican army.

In Mexico City, prosecutors said they have officially charged former Tijuana mayor Hank Rhon with illegal weapons possession. He was arrested Saturday. Soldiers discovered some 40 rifles, 48 handguns, and almost 10,000 rounds of ammunition inside his residence. Only 10 were registered, only 5 of which were registered to him. Rhon, a billionaire whose properties include a private zoo, has long been suspected of corruption. He was mayor from 2004-2007.

Editor's Note: We cannot accurately tally the drug prohibition-related killings in Mexico at this time. El Universal, the only Mexican newspaper that was doing so on a regular basis, has stopped. We will have to rely on official pronouncements on the death toll, and will report them when they happen. Below are the numbers through the end of last year. With more than 1,400 reported dead in April alone, this year's toll could well exceed last year's. As of this month, we believe the total death toll has surpassed 38,000.]

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: 34,883

Mexico

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 more than 38,000 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:

Drug prohibition funds the bloody mayhem in Mexico (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Wednesday, May 22

In Nayarit, 29 people were killed during ferocious clashes between rival groups. Of the dead, 17 were found stacked in the bed of a pick-up truck. Many of the dead were wearing military-style ballistic vests and dark clothing. In the past, much of the fighting in Nayarit has been between El Chapo Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel and the Zetas.

In Michoacan, over 1,800 people fled the village of Buenavista because of heavy fighting between the Mexican military and gunmen from an unknown cartel.

Saturday, May 25

In Texas, a Bexar County sheriff’s sergeant was killed by a gunman who opened fire on his patrol car with an automatic weapon, possibly an AK-47 similar to those favored by Mexican cartel gunmen. The incident is being investigated as possibly being connected with Mexican criminal organizations.

In Apatzingan, Michoacan, a Mexican Air Force MD530 helicopter crashed during operations against drug traffickers. It was originally reported the helicopter had crashed after being struck by gunfire, but the Mexican military has denied this.

In Acapulco, five gunmen were killed in a fire fight with members of the municipal police.

Sunday, May 26

In Saltillo, Coahuila, the offices of Vanguardia newspaper were attacked with a hand grenade. Nobody was injured in the attack, which appears to have been intended to intimidate the local media. In January 2010, Valentin Valdes, a local reporter, was executed after being kidnapped by two trucks full of gunmen.

In Ciudad Juarez, nine people were murdered. Among the dead was a female who worked for the police department who was shot at a gas station. Four others were wounded, including the victim's mother and sister.

Monday, May 30

In Ciudad Juarez, a girl of six years old was among five people who were murdered. The girl died in the hospital after being shot when a Jeep Cherokee pulled alongside her family's car and opened fire. Some reports indicate that a federal police patrol car was in front of the vehicle, but that they somehow didn’t notice the attack.

Tuesday, May 31

In Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexican police arrested 25 people for being members of or helping the Zetas. Among those detained are 10 police officers, including a police chief and two senior officers. The arrests were made after suspects detained on Sunday in the nearby mountains told police that they received protection from the police chief and some members of his command.

In Manzanillo, 54 tons of meth precursor chemicals were found in shipping containers which had come from China. Manzanillo is a major port of entry for precursor chemicals from Asia which are then taken to large-scale meth labs for meth production.

Wednesday, June 1

In El Salvador, the country's defense minister said that Mexican cartels are attempting to buy assault rifles, grenades, and other military-grade weaponry from members of the security forces. Last week, Salvadoran NCO’s and four enlisted soldiers were arrested and stand accused of attempting to steal 1,812 grenades from a military facility.

Editor's Note: We cannot accurately tally the drug prohibition-related killings in Mexico at this time. El Universal, the only Mexican newspaper that was doing so on a regular basis, has stopped. We will have to rely on official pronouncements on the death toll, and will report them when they happen. Below are the numbers through the end of last year. With more than 1,400 reported dead in April alone, this year's toll could well exceed last years. As of this month, we believe the total death toll has surpassed 38,000.]

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: 34,883

Mexico

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

Drug-related police corruption comes in many varieties. We've got several this week. Let's get to it:

In Piscataway, New Jersey, a Piscataway police officer was arrested April 25 on charges he stole cocaine while working as the department's evidence officer. Albert Annuzzi, 47, is charged with one count each of official misconduct-theft by unlawful taking and tampering with evidence. Prosecutors said he took the cocaine for personal use. They did not announce his arrest until last week.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, one Wake County sheriff's deputy has been arrested and another is under investigation for the theft of drugs and cash from the department. Deputy Balinda Manley, 34, was fired after her arrest last month when she was charged with two counts of embezzlement and one count of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana. She went down after a routine audit showed that she signed out drugs and $6,435 in cash last June, but didn't return it. When prosecuted requested the evidence for trial, she returned drugs, and then, five days later, what she said was the cash. But when investigators opened the package, they found a pile of blank paper sandwiched between two $100 bills. Investigators found a deposit slip for $1,800 in Manley's care and one for $940 in the car of a second deputy, Chad Hines. He is now under investigation.

In Duanesburg, New York, a University at Albany police investigator was arrested May 16 along with her husband after a search of their property turned up 100 marijuana plants growing in a pole barn. Wendy Knoebel, 48, and her husband face a federal charge of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. The pair has been released on bail.

In San Leandro, California, a San Leandro Police narcotics officer was arrested last Friday on charges he furnished marijuana to a confidential informant for sale. Detective Jason Fredriksson, 38, allegedly provided more than a pound of pot to the snitch, who planned to sell it, police said. He is also the subject of an internal investigation for having an "improper relationship" with the snitch. He has been on the San Leandro force for nine years, and most recently has been a detective in the vice/narcotics unit and a member of the 14-person SWAT team.

In Phoenix, a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy and two detention officers were arrested Tuesday on drug and human trafficking charges. Deputy Ruben Navarette and detention officers Marcella Hernandez and Sylvia Najera face felony charges. Seven other sheriff’s employees were being investigated for their possible involvement. The three arrested are accused of being part of a Phoenix-based international drug smuggling ring. Hernandez told authorities she is eight months pregnant with the child of the ring's leader, a member of the Sinaloa Cartel. Navarette admitted to passing information about the sheriff’s crime-prevention operations to the group. The deputy also was accused of being part of a separate human trafficking ring that smuggled illegal immigrants from Arizona to California. Deputies found two illegal immigrants when they searched his home. He is also alleged to be an active member of the drug smuggling ring that brought loads of heroin from Mexico to Phoenix. Ten pounds of heroin and nearly $200,000 in cash, weapons, vehicles and stolen property were seized during searches. Hernandez, 28, was found with $16,000 cash when she was arrested Tuesday after arriving for work. She is being held on charges that include transporting drugs and money laundering. Najera is charged with money laundering and controlling a criminal enterprise.

In San Antonio, a former Bexar County sheriff's deputy was sentenced May 19 to six years in prison for trying to smuggle heroin to inmates using barbacoa tacos. Robert Falcon, 48, went down after another deputy found a note in a jail cell with Falcon's address on it that spelled out a smuggling strategy. A sting was set up in which $50 in marked bills, the taco ingredients and 4 grams of fake heroin were left on his doorstep. The fake drugs were recovered from his lunch bag when he arrived at work, according to court documents. He pleaded guilty in November to bringing drugs into a correctional facility, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Falcon is on suicide watch after he vowed to kill himself if not granted probation.

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 more than 38,000 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:

Drug prohibition funds the bloody mayhem in Mexico (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Thursday, May 12

In Arizona, two Border Patrol officers were killed after their vehicle was hit by a freight train while chasing two suspected Marijuana smugglers attempting to reach Interstate 8. The area where the incident occurred is a well-known transit zone for drugs and people being smuggled from Mexico to the United States.

Saturday, May 14

Near Ciudad Juarez, a small town police chief and two of his officers were abducted in the town of Nuevo Casas Grandes and later found dead near a Mennonite community in the town of Janos. Manuel Martinez Arvizo was the public security chief for the nearby town of Ascension, which, like many towns in the northwest part of Chihuahua, has been plagued with extremely high levels of drug-related violence.

Tuesday, May 17

In the Peten region of Guatemala, the government declared a state of siege after the massacre of 27 farm workers by Guatemalan drug traffickers thought to be tied to the Zetas. Both the Zetas and Sinaloa cartel have a significant presence in Guatemala, through which substantial quantities of South American cocaine transit on their way to Mexico and then to the United States.

Wednesday, May 18

In a rural area outside Matamoros and near the US border, three gunmen were killed and three others were captured in a large fire fight with the army. The incident began when a military helicopter came under fire after having spotted a 17-car convoy. Reinforcements clashed with gunmen in several rural communities and confiscated a large arsenal which included grenade launchers, a rocket launcher, and over 18,000 rounds of ammunition. 17.6 pounds of cocaine were also recovered.

Thursday, May 19

In Cuernavaca, Mexican authorities arrested a leading member of the South Pacific Cartel. Victor Valdez is believed to be the second in command of the cartel after Hector Beltran Leyva. A local police chief, Juan Bosco, was also arrested on suspicion of being in collusion with Valdez.

Friday, May 20

In Mexico City, a former general and key figure in Mexico’s drug war was shot and killed after a traffic accident. It is unclear whether General Jorge Juarez Loera was killed by cartel gunmen, but the federal prosecutors office has taken charge of the investigation because it suspects the involvement of organized crime.

In Reynosa, a leading Gulf Cartel figure was captured at his own birthday party. Gilberto Barragan Balderas, 41, is thought to be a leading enforcer in the Gulf Cartel is also wanted by the DEA, which had previously offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture or conviction.

Saturday, May 21

In Ciudad Juarez, two young women, aged 15 and 16, were shot dead by heavily armed gunmen who arrived to their home in a luxury SUV.

Sunday, May 22

In Monterrey, nine people were killed in a series of gun battles. The incidents began when heavily armed gunmen shot dead four people outside a popular café. Three of the bodies were then whisked away by unidentified individuals who faced no opposition from police officers who were already on the scene. Later on, five gunmen were killed when the SUV they were in crashed during a car chase with a military patrol.

In Ciudad Juarez, six people were murdered. Among the dead were three known car thieves who were shot over 40 times by unidentified gunmen while they were in the act of dismantling a car. According to statistics kept by researcher Molly Molloy, this brings the death toll in the city to 105 for the month of May and 912 for 2011 so far.

Tuesday, May 24

In Coahuila, Mexican Marines captured the alleged head of the Zetas for the Hidalgo, Coahuila area.

In Monterrey, a soldier was wounded  after a military patrol came under fire from gunmen who were waiting on an overpass bridge, after having been lured to the site by a group of trucks which ignored the soldiers commands to stop.

Editor's Note: We cannot accurately tally the drug prohibition-related killings in Mexico at this time. El Universal, the only Mexican newspaper that was doing so on a regular basis, has stopped. We will have to rely on official pronouncements on the death toll, and will report them when they happen. Below are the numbers through the end of last year. With more than 1,400 reported dead in April alone, this year's toll could well exceed last years. As of this month, we believe the total death toll has surpassed 38,000.]

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: 34,883

Mexico

Two Border Patrol Agents Die Chasing Marijuana Smugglers

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/BPclark_5femb.jpg
Two US Border Patrol agents were killed May 12 when the vehicle in which they were chasing suspected pot smugglers collided with a high-speed freight train near Gila Bend, Arizona. They become the 28th and 29th persons to die in US domestic drug law enforcement operations so far this year.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/BProjas_5femb.jpg
Agents Hector Clark and Edward Rojas, Jr. were on assignment with a border task force when, around 6 am, they got a call about marijuana smugglers heading for Interstate 8. They raced toward the scene on a road parallel to the railroad tracks, where a 4,600-ton freight train going more than 60 mph was slightly behind them, heading in the same direction. Suddenly, the agents turned onto a private rail crossing, where the train broadsided their vehicle, pushing it more than a half-mile down the tracks before the train could stop.


The accident occurred in an area known as a place where smugglers trekking north on foot could meet up with vehicles. Later that day, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office announced that eight suspects had been arrested 400 or 500 yards from the site, but that they had not been directly linked to the group Clark and Rosas were going after. Three hundred pounds of pot was seized.

Gila Bend, AZ
United States

Escalating Drug Prohibition Violence in Northern Mexico Overwhelms Authorities

Location: 
Mexico
Northern Mexico’s drug prohibition war continues to claim victims, with more than 360 bodies discovered in mass graves just last week. The situation in Northern Mexico is devolving into chaos as prohibition-created organizations fight for control of the lucrative Northern Mexico drug route into the United States. The Mexican government is powerless to end the violence. Overpowered authorities basically have abandoned the area, recognizing their inability to restore any sort of order to the area.
Publication/Source: 
Newsmax (FL)
URL: 
http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Mexico-drug-violence-cartels/2011/05/19/id/397041

US Cattle Inspectors Leave Mexico Amid Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Mexico
For years, these inspections have been conducted before cattle cross the border, but the drug prohibition war has prompted the U.S. to move some of its operations north. The change, instituted over the past year at three of the 11 ports along the U.S.-Mexico border, is drawing concern from some cattle raisers, who fear infections long eradicated in the U.S. but still showing up in Mexico will spread before inspection. The change is supposed to be temporary, although there are no immediate plans for the American inspectors to return to Mexico.
Publication/Source: 
The Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5idZkYEkvtry2zUF_gDH9ojmssENQ?docId=cb6535c7b06342aea72a47456c12c103

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