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:
In Coatzacoalcos, authorities arrested a Zeta member who is thought to be involved in the Tamaulipas murders of 72 migrants last year. Barrios Caporal, "Erasmo," allegedly confessed to being second-in-command to Martin Omar Estrada Luna, "Comandante Kilo", the Zeta chief for the San Fernando, Tamaulipas area at the time of the massacre.
In Ciudad Juarez, twelve people were killed. In one incident, five men were shot dead by two men armed with assault rifles. In another incident, a police investigator's wife was killed along with another man after gunmen tried kill the policeman, who escaped.
Thursday, June 30
In Ciudad Juarez, six people were murdered. Among the victims were 3 members of a family who were shot in El Barreal. According to researcher Molly Molloy, Thursday's killings brought the total number of murders to 153 for the month of June.
Friday, July 1
In the city Chihuahua, authorities found a "narco-banner" which specifically threatened DEA agents operating in the area. The note said that they (it is unclear which organization) had identified agents and would decapitate them.
In Zacatecas, at least 15 people were killed and 17 captured after a protracted fire fight between Mexican Marines and suspected Zetas in the town of Lourdes.
Saturday, July 2
In Matamoros, a well-known Catholic priest was shot and killed during a fire fight between suspected Zetas and the Mexican army. Father Marco Antonio Duran Romero was the host of a local tv show and was frequently on the radio. He was killed on Saturday after night as Mexican soldiers battled Zetas who were trying to enter the city, the stronghold of the rival Gulf Cartel.
In Texas, the State Department of Public Safety advised US citizens to avoid travel to the Nuevo Laredo area across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas. According to the Department, the US has received information that the Zetas may have been planning assaults on US citizens in the city.
Sunday, July 3
In Chihuahua, a group of heavily armed gunmen traveling in luxury SUVs attacked a speedway, killing a driver and one of his assistants. Another man -- the deputy director of crime prevention in the city -- was wounded in the attack and was likely the primary target.
Monday, July 4
In Atizapan, near Mexico City, federal police captured the 3rd highest ranking Zeta commander, Jesus Enrique Rejon Aguilar, a.k.a. "El Mamito." Rejon, 35, is one of the founding members of the organization, which he joined in 1999 after deserting from the army. In addition to other crimes, Rejon was wanted in connection with the February incident in which an America ICE agent was killed and another was wounded.
In Aguascalientes, a local drug-trafficker linked to La Familia was shot and killed by police inside a house. Nicolas Mora Ovando, "Papa Nico", was a former police officer and head of a local gang called "La Oficina."
Tuesday, July 5
In San Nicolas, Nuevo Leon, two police officers were gunned down in their squad car by a group of gunmen armed with automatic weapons.
[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