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 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:
In San Fernando, Tamaulipas, authorities began discovering the first of what would eventually total at least 116 bodies in a complex of mass graves. At least some of the bodies are thought to be young men who were forcibly removed from passenger buses in the area some days prior. Authorities have suggested that the kidnappings may have been an attempt by the Zetas to recruit employees at gunpoint. A total of 17 suspects have so far been detained in connection with the bodies.
In August, 72 mostly Central American immigrants were murdered in the same area.
Across Mexico, thousands took to the streets to protest the escalating drug-related violence. By some estimates, some 10,000 people participated in the marches, which were called for by Mexican poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, whose 24-year old son was tortured and murdered along with five other men the week before in Morelos.
Thursday, April 7
In Tepic, Nayarit, two men were discovered who authorities say had been skinned alive and had their hearts removed. The two, who remain unidentified, were left outside a local shop. The motive for the killing -- brutal even by the standards of Mexico’s drug war -- is unclear.
On Wednesday, six gunmen were killed in Tepic during a shootout between two armed groups which occurred in broad daylight.
Friday, April 8
In Tijuana, investigators announced that they have found more human bones and teeth on the property of a man who confessed to dissolving some 300 bodies for a drug cartel. Miguel Angel Guerrero, also known as the "stew maker" was arrested in January 2009. He told investigators that he was paid $600 a week to dissolve cartel victims in vats of caustic acid.
In Taxco, four gunmen and a police officer were killed during a fire fight which took place after the attempted kidnapping of municipal Public Security Director Angel Garcia Rodriguez. Rodriguez was unharmed in the gun battle, which took place after security forces received reports of armed men outside his home.
Saturday, April 9
In Ciudad Juarez, 13 people were murdered in incidents across the city. In one incident, four men were killed and two were wounded when heavily armed gunmen attacked an auto mechanic’s shop. In another incident, a police officer assigned to a special unit was gunned down outside his home in the Revolucion Mexicana neighborhood of the city.
Monday, April 11
In Ciudad Juarez, six people were murdered. According to statistics kept by researcher Molly Molloy, this brings the number of murdered individuals in Juarez to 707 so far for the year. Three of Monday's victims were females, including one who was found with her hands and feet bound and her face covered in duct tape.
Tuesday, April 12
In Michoacan, the last of 35 officials and local politicians previously accused of aiding La Familia was acquitted by a Mexican judge. They had all been arrested in 2009.
Total Body Count for the Week: 127
Total Body Count for the Year: 1,991
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: 36,840