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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:

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/

Spillover Violence from Mexico Drug Prohibition War - Why Do Leaders Deny It?

Location: 
El Paso, TX
United States
We've heard for some time now that drug prohibition violence from Ciudad Juárez is spilling over into El Paso. An indictment just released against Barrio Azteca gang members confirms it. So why are some law enforcement agencies and local leaders so reluctant to admit it?
Publication/Source: 
KTSM (TX)
URL: 
http://www.ktsm.com/news/spillover-violence-why-do-leaders-deny-it

Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.

[This article updates a version that was published on our web site a week ago, but after the email edition had already been distributed. It includes Mexico drug war information from the last two weeks, as opposed to the usual one week.]

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 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 creates an endless supply of hot guns and cold cash. (Image via Wikimedia)
Thursday, February 24

In Zapopan, Jalisco, a senior police commander and his wife were shot and killed when his vehicle was ambushed by heavily armed gunmen. Jesus Quirarte Ruvalcaba was the commander of a state police unit which specializes in car thefts. Car theft in Mexico is often related to or controlled by drug trafficking organizations.

In Houston, Texas, a police officer was wounded after being shot in a raid on the home of a suspect with ties to a Mexican drug cartel. The officer is in good condition. A suspect was also wounded after being hit by gunfire and is in good condition.

In Saltillo, Coahuila, a former governor admitted that the previous PRI administration had controlled and negotiated with drug trafficking organizations, which kept violence manageable. Former Nuevo Leon Governor Socrates Rizzo is the first former PRI official to speak this openly about party deals with drug trafficking organizations, although it has long been well-known in Mexico.

Saturday, February 26

In Torreon, Coahuila, 13 people were died and at least 18 were wounded in two separate attacks on bars in the city.

Sunday, February 27

In Saltillo, Coahuila, a Zeta commander was captured. He is alleged to be connected to the incident in which two American ICE agents were shot -- with one killed -- in early February. Sergio "El Toto" Mora is accused by Mexican authorities of being the regional Zetas commander in the state of San Luis Potosi. At least nine other arrests have been made in connection with the shooting of the ICE agents.

In Ciudad Juarez, 11 people were killed in several incidents in the city. In one incident, five men were killed when gunmen attacked a bar the Colonia Villa Esperanza area of the city. In another part of the city, a man was found murdered in a house where we had apparently been held hostage.

Monday, February 28

In Juarez, eight people were murdered in several attacks across the city. In one incident, four people, including a ten-year old boy, were killed when their car was attacked by gunmen. A five-year was severely wounded. Saturday's killings bring the total number of dead in the city to approximately 229 for the month of February, 36 percent are females. This is about a 40 percent increase over the same time period of 2010.

In Dallas, Texas, three suspects were arrested after police linked them to the weapon used in the recent killing of an American ICE agent in San Luis Potosi.

In Chilpancingo, Guerrero, a police chief was ambushed by gunmen armed with AK-47s. The police chief, Humberto Velazquez Delgado, was wounded and four of his bodyguards were killed. Approximately 400 shell casing from AK-47 rounds were found at the scene.

Tuesday, March 1

In Guerrero, 17 bodies were discovered in two clandestine graves near the town of San Miguel Totolapan. This is the third time mass graves have been discovered in Guerrero in less than a year. Additionally, four bodies were found dumped on the highway between the coastal city of Acapulco and Mexico City.

In Tamaulipas, eight gunmen were killed in a fire-fight with Mexican marines near the town of Valle Hermoso, which is close to the US border.

In Washington, a top law enforcement officer announced that 678 gang members, many of whom have ties to Mexican drug trafficking organizations, have been arrested during a two-month operation, called "Operation Southern Tempest." Approximately have the suspects -- which came from 113 different gangs around the country -- have ties to drug trafficking groups, and two-thirds are foreign nationals.

Wednesday , March 2

Near Phoenix, Arizona, police said that the decapitation of a local man in October is related to Mexican cartel activity. Martin Alejandro Cota Monroy, 38, was allegedly killed by a three-man team for ripping off a 400-pound load of marijuana. One of his killers is in custody. According to police, Monroy first told the cartel that his load had been confiscated, and then, when they found out, offered his house as collateral until he could pay his debt. He was killed after they found out he didn't own the house. The killers are thought to have moved in next door to befriend Monroy before killing him.

In Ciudad Juarez, nine people were murdered.

Sunday, March 6

In Mexico City, Mexican officials asked for clarification on an ATF operation which allowed American guns to flow to Mexico in an effort to track the supply lines of weapons to Mexican cartels. Among the guns were two AK-47's that were used in the attack on the ICE agents in February.

In Ciudad Juarez, 13 people were murdered in several incidents across the city. At least three of the incidents had more than one victim. In one attack, three men were killed after gunmen sprayed a bar -- which is within sight of the US consulate -- with gunfire. Four others were wounded. In another incident, five people, including one woman, were found executed. These killings bring the death toll in Juarez for the first six days of March to 31. The total for the year is 494, including at least 55 females.

Monday, March 7

In Abasolo, Tamaulipas, a gun battle between rival cartel gunmen left 18 people dead. The battle was almost certainly between members of the Gulf Cartel and their former enforcers, the Zetas, who have been at war for just over a year now.

Near Guasave, Sinaloa, gunmen attacked a police convoy, killing seven police officers and one prisoner. The attack was an apparent attempt to rescue one or both of two prisoners who were being transported to the state capitol of Culiacan. Over 1,200 rounds were fired during the attack.

Tuesday, March 8

In Chilpancingo, Guerrero, three government offices were attacked by assailants, who doused the offices in gasoline and set them on fire. The motive for the attack is unclear, but the area has high levels of drug related violence.

In Texas, officials announced that the 20-year old female police chief of the Mexican town of Praxedis G. Guerrero is seeking asylum in the United States, apparently after having received threats. Marisol Valles Garcia made international headlines when she took the job. The local government has fired her for abandoning her post. Local police will answer to the Mayor until a replacement can be found.

In Mazatlan, Sinaloa, armed men attacked a nightclub with automatic weapons. At least twenty people were wounded in the attack. The gunmen managed to escape, despite the fact that police and army units were nearby

Wednesday, March 9

In San Luis Potosi, Mexican authorities arrested another suspected Zeta thought to be involved in the February 15 incident in which a US ICE agent was killed. Mario Jimenez Perez, 41, is alleged by Mexican authorities to be in charge of Zeta financial operations in San Luis Potosi, where the attacks took place.

Total Body Count for last Week: 88

Total Body Count for this Week: 52

Total Body Count for the Year: 1,315

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: 36,164

Mexico

U.S. Allowed Smuggled Guns into Mexico in Secret Drug War Tactic

Mexico has made an official request for more information about a secret U.S. government operation to allow smugglers to take nearly 1,800 guns into Mexico in an effort to track them to drug trafficking organizations. The operation, code-named "Fast and Furious," was run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), in spite of objections from its own agents. Assault weapons and high-powered sniper rifles were among the guns smuggled in to Mexico over a period of 15 months. Some of the 1,765 weapons have since been linked to crime -- including the murder of a U.S. border patrol agent in December. Fewer than 800 of the guns have been recovered.
Publication/Source: 
Join Together (MA)
URL: 
http://www.jointogether.org/news/headlines/inthenews/2011/us-allowed-smuggled-guns.html

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