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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 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:

The busts keep on coming, but so do the drugs. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Tuesday,  April 19

In Cadereyrta, Nuevo Leon, 40 police officers were arrested on suspicion of being in collusion with drug trafficking organizations. The troops were taken into custody by soldiers and federal police officers. The arrests left the town with no municipal police officers and only eight transit police officers.

Thursday, April 21

In Durango, at least 41 bodies were discovered in a mass grave located near an auto shop in Las Fuentes. The bodies were badly decomposed, suggesting they had been there for some time.

In Tamaulipas, heavy fighting between rival cartels occurred in the border towns of Miguel Aleman and Ciudad Mier. One gunman was killed, and at least one soldier was killed when the army attempted to intervene. Eleven suspects were taken into custody. The fighting was between the Gulf Cartel and their former enforcers of the Zeta Organization, who were trying to open up the highway from Nuevo Laredo to Miguel Aleman.

Saturday, April 23

In Acapulco, five women all connected to the same beauty parlor were found with their throats slashed. Three of the dead -- including a 14-year old girl -- were found inside the beauty parlor semi-naked and tied up. Two others were found outside. Mexican media later reported that authorities are looking into connections with prostitution rings, and that the area where the murders took place is well-known for criminal activity.

In Mexico City, the dismembered body of a woman was found in the extremely upscale neighborhood of San Miguel Chapultepec. The area is adjacent to Chapultepec Park, home to the presidential residence of Los Pinos. Although cartel violence is rare in Mexico City, the city has seen an increase in crime stemming from battles over retail drug turf. Police are also investigating to see whether the crime is connected to the murders in Acapulco.

In Chihuahua, five men were gunned down as they sat under a tree. Two of the dead were brothers, both aged 25. The incident occurred when two luxury SUVs arrived at the location and a group of gunmen attacked the men. The motive is unknown, but Chihuahua has seen high levels of violence between the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels.

Sunday, April 25

In Tampico, one person was killed and six wounded in a series of attacks which took place on Easter Sunday. Mexican media reported that most police in the city were busy guarding the tourist areas of the city when the attacks took place. No arrests were made in connection with the incidents.

In Durango, four Torreon, Coahuila police officers were found executed on the banks of the Nazas River near Gomez Palacio. All four were bound and showed signs of having been tortured before being executed.

In Zihuatanejo, Guerrero, children who were playing found a body inside a suitcase in front of a bus stop. Inside the suitcase was the body of a woman, Rosa Sotelo Serna, 39, who had been reported missing by her family a month before.

In Los Mochis, Sinaloa, four men were killed when gunmen attacked a vehicle which took place on the highway between Los Mochis and San Blas. The motive is unknown.

Monday, April 25

In Reynosa, 51 kidnap victims were rescued during an operation by Federal Police. Among those rescued were 6 Chinese citizens, 18 Central Americans, and 27 Mexicans. They were being held captive inside a house in Reynosa.

In Ciudad Juarez, a disabled man in a wheelchair was shot and killed in a convenience store. An 11-year old girl, the daughter of the store manager, was wounded in the incident when she was shot as she helped the disabled man complete his purchases.

In Durango, the director of a state penitentiary was ambushed and killed by heavily armed gunmen.

[Editor's Note: Because El Universal has faltered in its weekly body count postings, we have to rely on our own counts, which most likely undercount the actual death toll. Perhaps at some point this year, the Mexican government will again announce an official toll.]

Total Body Count for the Week: *65

Total Body Count for the Year: 2,274

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: 37,123

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 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:

Drug prohibition funds the mayhem in Mexico. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Wednesday, April 6

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

Mexico

Drug Trafficking Organizations Seek to Exploit Corrupt Federal Agents

As the Homeland Security Department's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) bureau has ratcheted up efforts to cope with the tide of crime sweeping across the Southwest border, Mexican drug trafficking organizations have stepped up efforts to infiltrate CBP and other federal, state and local agencies responsible for policing the border.
Publication/Source: 
Government Executive (DC)
URL: 
http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0411/041111mag1.htm

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 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:

prohibition fuels violence (image via Wikimedia)
Thursday, March 31

In Ciudad Juarez, nine men and a woman were killed during an attack on a bar near the international bridge to the US. At least three car loads and as many as 16 gunmen arrived at the bar before entering and firing indiscriminately.

Some witnesses and internet posters later accused federal police of complicity in the attack on the bar. By some accounts, federal police established a cordon around the area while the attack was still in progress, and some say that a federal police officers were in the bar as little as three minutes before the attack, allegedly threatening the owner to close. Some accounts also say federal police impeded municipal police who were arriving at the crime scene.

Between 621 and 632 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez during the first three months of 2011, according to statistics kept by researcher Molly Molloy.

Friday, April 1

In Ciudad Juarez, four people were killed when gunmen attacked an outdoor food stand. Among the dead was the 10-year old son of the stand's owner. The shooting occurred in extremely close proximity to a school where children were playing in the yard, leading many nearby parents to grab their children and run for cover.

In total, 24 people were killed in a 24 hour period in Ciudad Juarez between Thursday and Friday.

In El Paso, two people were convicted for kidnapping an American dealer in El Paso. The two men, Cesar Obregon-Reyes and Rafael Vega stand accused of kidnapping Sergio Saucedo because he lied to his suppliers about the date on which a 670-pound marijuana load was confiscated. Saucedo was later found in Juarez with his hands chopped off.

Sunday, April 3

In Veracruz, six police officers were killed by a group of gunmen armed with AK-47’s. A message was left in a nearby patrol car calling the officers "traitors," although it is unclear what the perpetrators meant by this. The Mexican government has said that the criminal organization responsible is likely from the state of San Luis Potosi, although declined to say which organization they believe responsible.

Monday, April 4

In Tijuana, two men were killed as they waited in line to cross the San Ysidro border crossing into the United States. Kevin Romero, 28, and Sergio Salcido, 25, were in their vehicle when a gunman approached their car and shot them both dead with a 9 mm handgun. The motive is unclear.

In Mexico City, the government announced a plan to give rewards for information on suspected money laundering activities. Tipsters will be rewarded with up to 25% of funds or property that authorities seize. The Mexican government has in the past struggled to deal with money laundering and illicit cash flows.

In Acapulco, two gunmen and a soldier were killed during an intense fire fight in the city’s Emiliano Zapata neighborhood. Additionally, a soldier and a police officer were wounded in the clash. Sometime during the 30-minute gun battle, gunmen set fire to a local market and auto repair shop, which were both completely destroyed. Nobody was injured in the blaze.

Tuesday, April 5

In Veracruz, police discovered five bodies in an empty lot in the town of Carlos A. Carillo. All five had been badly beaten, tortured, and then shot once in the head.

[Editor's Note: We typically rely on El Universal to supply a weekly body count. They didn't provide one this week, so this week's figure is based only on our own research and may be revised upward.]

Total Body Count for the Week: 97

Total Body Count for the Year: 1,864

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: 36,713

Mexico

Texas Representative Says Drug Trafficking Organizations Threatening US Agents

Location: 
Mexico
Mexican drug trafficking organization members threatened to kill U.S. agents working on the American side of the border. Republican Michael McCaul said a law enforcement bulletin was issued warning that Mexican traffickers were overheard plotting to kill Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and Texas Rangers stationed along the border.
Publication/Source: 
WHTM (PA)
URL: 
http://www.abc27.com/story/14357839/lawmaker-says-cartels-threatening-us-agents

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 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:

the fruits of drug prohibition in Mexico (Image via Wikimedia)
Wednesday, March 23

In the Monterrey suburb of San Nicolas de los Garza, Mexican marines arrested seven municipal police officers for their suspected ties to organized crime groups in the city. Local police in San Nicolas de los Garza and the neighboring suburb of Santa Catarina (where one of the officers was arrested) are thought by many local residents to be thoroughly compromised and infiltrated by drug cartels.

Thursday, March 24

In Tamaulipas, 13 gunmen were killed during a fire fight with an army patrol. The clash occurred after the patrol came under fire from a group of armed men on a highway between Valle Hermoso and Reynosa. One suspect was captured and vehicles and weapons were seized. It is unclear to which cartel the gunmen belong, although it is very likely they were Zetas.

In Mexico City, Mexico’s main television networks and news organizations agreed to put tighter controls on the often graphic images of victims of Mexico's drug war.

Friday, March 25

In Geneva, the International Displacement Monitoring Centre released a report which suggests that as many as 230,000 people have been displaced by drug-related violence in Mexico. About half of the displaced fled to the United States. Most of the internally displaced come from the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango and Veracruz.

In Monterrey, the body of the host of a TV shot for children was found in an abandoned Mercedes-Benz after having been kidnapped and executed by masked gunmen. The body of Jose Luis Cerda, "La Gata," was left with a note accusing him of supporting the Zetas. Eight police officers have been suspended after ordering journalists (who were broadcasting live) away from the scene upon receiving reports that armed men were on their way to retrieve the body.

Saturday, March 26

In Acapulco, five men – including four confirmed police officers - were killed and dismembered. A note, allegedly signed by members of the Sinaloa Cartel, was left alongside the bodies. The note accused the member of being supporters of CIDA, the Independent Cartel of Acapulco. The incident took place within hours of President Calderon inaugurating the 36th edition of the tourist marketplace at Acapulco’s international center.

On the Nuevo Laredo-Monterrey highway, a tractor-trailer exploded during a gun battle between gunmen and soldiers who were attempting to search the trailer. Three gunmen were killed in the incident. After the flames were extinguished, soldiers found a massive cache of weapons, including an RPG launcher, 16 40 mm. grenades, .50 caliber rounds, 31 rifles, 9 handguns and a fragmentation grenade. Cash was also found, in addition to an unspecified quantity of cocaine and meth.

Sunday, March 27

On the highway between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey, motorists alerted police to the presence of seven dead men which had been shot execution-style and left by the highway. It is unclear who they are or why they were killed. The bodies were found near to Saturday's incident in which three gunmen were killed during an encounter with the army on the highway.

In Nuevo Laredo, four gunmen were killed during a fire fight with soldiers who came under fire while on patrol.

In Veracruz, five people were killed and at least a dozen were injured during a 90-minute fire fight between suspected Zetas and the army and a subsequent stampede of people outside a local bar. The incident began when soldiers began chasing a convoy of luxury SUVs which were protecting a heavily-armed, armored Hummer, thought to belong to a high-ranking Zeta commander. Up to 80 cartel gunmen were reported seen at the bar, a known hangout for traffickers. Details are still sketchy, but it appears that at least four soldiers were also killed in the incident. At one point, cartel reinforcements arrived in a successful effort to facilitate the escape of the high-ranking Zeta in the Hummer, who remains unidentified.

Monday, March 28

In Cuernavaca, police discovered seven bodies inside an abandoned car in an exclusive gated community, four of them stuffed in the trunk. One of the dead was a woman.

In Apatzingan, Michoacan, two men were executed. A sign left with the bodies claimed the were killed by the Knights Templar, which is thought to be a successor or offshoot organization to the weakened Familia Michoacana.

[Editor's Note: We typically rely on El Universal to supply a weekly body count. They didn't provide one this week, so this week's figure is based only on our own research and may be revised upward.]

Total Body Count for the Week: 106         

Total Body Count for the Year: 1,767

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: 36,616

Mexico

Authorities in Awe of Drug Trafficking Organizations' Jungle-Built, Kevlar-Coated Supersubs

Location: 
For decades, Colombian drug trafficking organization have pursued their trade with amazingly professional ingenuity, staying a step ahead of authorities by coming up with one innovation after another. When false-paneled pickups and tractor-trailers began drawing suspicion at US checkpoints, the traffickers and their Mexican partners built air-conditioned tunnels under the border. When border agents started rounding up too many human mules, one group of Colombian smugglers surgically implanted heroin into purebred puppies. But the drug runners’ most persistently effective method has also been one of the crudest — semi-submersible vessels that cruise or are towed just below the ocean’s surface and can hold a ton or more of cocaine.
Publication/Source: 
Wired (CA)
URL: 
http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/03/ff_drugsub

Mexicans Seeking Asylum Due to Drug Prohibition War Form Coalition in Texas

Location: 
TX
United States
The director of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Louie Gilot, said cases of Mexicans fleeing drug prohibition violence have risen significantly over the past two years and that the asylum seekers include former police officers, rights activists, journalists, business leaders and even government officials. Carlos Spector, an attorney, said the U.S. government is reluctant to grant political asylum to Mexican applicants because doing so means recognizing that aid from Washington is financing military abuses against the Mexican civilian population.
Publication/Source: 
Fox News (US)
URL: 
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2011/03/16/mexican-asylum-seekers-form-oalition-texas/

Obama Sends Drones to Fight Failed Mexican Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Mexico
The Obama administration has been sending drones deep into Mexican territory to gather intelligence. The American assistance has been kept secret because of legal restrictions in Mexico and the heated political sensitivities there about sovereignty.
Publication/Source: 
The New York Times (NY)
URL: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/world/americas/16drug.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Mexican Drug Prohibition War Affects Texas Farmers

Location: 
TX
United States
And the spillover continues: The bloody prohibition war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives has spread to the Lone Star state's agriculture, where drug traffickers are targeting farmers' livelihoods. Texas farmers and ranchers say confrontations with Mexican drug trafficking organizations are quietly adding up. Several growers and ranchers say their jobs started becoming more dangerous about two years ago.
Publication/Source: 
Fox News (US)
URL: 
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2011/03/11/mexican-drug-war-affects-texas-farmers/

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