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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

Mexico Drug War Update

[This article updates a version previously published.]

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 35,000 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:

Cash generated by drug prohibition buys lots of guns in Mexico (Image via Wikimedia)
Thursday, February 10

In Ciudad Juarez, 18 people were killed in several incidents in the city. In one incident, gunmen attacked a bar, firing indiscriminately and killing six waitresses, a man dressed as a woman and another unidentified individual. It has been suggested by some that the incident is an example of "social cleansing" conducted by armed groups in the city. In another incident, a man was killed when being shot over 100 times by men armed with automatic rifles.

Friday, February 11

At the US-Mexico border at Nogales, a smuggling tunnel was discovered by Border Patrol agents. The tunnel was hand dug and appears to still have been under construction.

Saturday, February 12

In Acapulco, a second-grader was executed after being allegedly picked up by a car full of armed men. A note was left with the body suggesting that the boy was killed because his mother was an informant and for "stealing husbands."

In Guadalajara, armed men used automatic weapons and grenades to attack a crowded nightclub. Six people were killed and at least 37 were wounded. It was later reported that three of the dead may have been Venezuelan nationals and one was a Colombian national. The reasons for the attack remain unclear.

Sunday, February 13

In Tamaulipas, 18 cartel gunmen were killed during a series of armed clashes between criminal organizations. The battles, which took place primarily on the Matamoros-Ciudad Victoria highway, were almost certainly between the Gulf Cartel and their former enforcers of the Zetas Organization.

In Ciudad Juarez, ten people were murdered across the city. In one incident, four young men were gunned down leaving a soccer game. Reports indicate that the attacking gunmen in that incident were all young men, no older than 20 years of age.

In Monterrey, the head of Nuevo Leon's security and intelligence agency was killed. Homero Salcido Trevino, 40, was traveling home Sunday night when gunmen kidnapped him and drove him to a central area of Monterrey, where he was shot and his body left in the backseat. The car was then set aflame.

Monday, February 14

Near Ciudad Juarez, the body of the brother of a murdered activist was found in a drainage ditch near a military checkpoint. The body is that of Elias Reyes, whose sister, Josefina Reyes, a social activist who sought to investigate the murder of women in the city, was murdered in January. Elias Reyes had been missing since being abducted by gunmen along with his sister and sister-in-law. A child and the Reyes Salazar siblings' mother were released by the gunmen.

Tuesday, February 15

In San Luis Potosi, two American Immigration and Customs Enforcement (agents) were ambushed by heavily armed gunmen. Jaime Zapata, 32, died while a second agent, Victor Avila, was wounded and remains hospitalized. It is whether the gunmen had actively been seeking out the Americans. SUV's are highly-prized by the cartels, so a possibility exists that this was a carjacking incident gone wrong.

President Obama later called the Zapata family to offer his condolences.

Wednesday, February 16

In Washington, a special task force was formed to investigate the incident in which the ICE agents were shot. US investigators -- whose total number may reach the dozens -- began arriving in Mexico.

Thursday, February 17

In Ciudad Juarez, at least 15 people were killed. Two police officers were killed in two different shooting incidents. The killings came the same day as a large group of government officials were in the city to report on one year of the Todos Somos Juarez plan, which was formed after 16 young people were killed at a party. On Thursday, they reported that overall crime in Juarez was down 45%.

In Arizona, nine people were arrested for allegedly being part of an arms smuggling network which shipped weapons to Mexico. During the operation, which also took place in Texas and inside Mexico, police seized some 300 weapons including assault rifles. Another seven defendants were previously charged and are awaiting trial.

Friday, February 18

In Ciudad Juarez, twenty people were murdered in a series of violent incidents across the city. The dead include at least three pairs of couples and a member of the state police intelligence service. In one instance, a man and woman were shot dead in a home after it was stormed by at least three car loads of heavily armed gunmen, who used a truck to ram through the front gate of the home.

In Nuevo Leon, eight gunmen were killed during a series of firefights with the army.

Saturday, February 19

In Acapulco, at least twelve taxi drivers or passengers were gunned down in a series of incidents across the city. The motives remain unclear. Taxi drivers in the area are sometimes recruited by cartels to traffic and move narcotics.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least 19 people were killed on Saturday, bringing the number of murders to almost 40 in a 48-hour period.

In Reynosa, President Calderon announced that at least four additional battalions will be deployed to Mexico's northern border. Calderon's comments came during an Army Day speech at a nearby military base.

In Torreon, Coahuila, five people were killed when gunmen opened fire inside two bars. A sixth person died the next day. At least eight others were wounded, including a two-year old girl whose mother was killed. Witnesses said that at least one individual returned fire and was then taken into police custody.

Tuesday, February 22

In an interview published Tuesday in Mexico City, President Calderon said that the United States is not doing enough to help Mexico, especially in stemming the number of American-bought weapons headed south into Mexico. He also criticized the way the Mexican government was characterized in documents made public by WikiLeaks, saying that US-Mexico relations were strained by the contents of the leaks.

In Guerrero, Mexican marines seized 72 sticks of commercial explosives at an armed camp in a rural area of the state near the border with Michoacan. The marines also found assault rifles, grenades and a small of marijuana.

In nearby Acapulco, the bodies of seven men were discovered. Three of the bodies were mutilated and dumped on a main highway leading to a tourist area. One of the other bodies found was half-buried and decapitated. Mexican media report that notes threatening a local army officer were left with some of the bodies.

In Mazatlan, two people were shot dead within earshot of foreign tourists at a hotel.

Wednesday, February 23

In Acapulco, three bodies were discovered inside a taxi. One male victim had been decapitated. The taxi had been stolen earlier in the day.

In Mexico City, the Mexican Defense Department announced that one individual suspected of participating in last week's attack on two US ICE agents has been detained by Mexican forces. They did not name the individual or say where he was captured. Jose "El Mamito" Rejon, a high-ranking Zeta and former Mexican army corporal, has been named by various sources as likely having participated or ordered the attack, but it is unclear if Rejon is the man in custody.

Total Body Count for the last two weeks: 297

Total Body Count for the Year: 1,175

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

Total Body Count for 2009: 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: 36,024

Mexico

Guatemala Warns Belize of Drug Prohibition War Spillover

Location: 
Belize
Belize’s Ambassador to Guatemala, H. E. Alfredo Martinez, said there is already evidence that Guatemala’s drug prohibition war problems are trickling over the border. Not only is Belize’s western border with Guatemala infamously porous—Guatemala disputes its very existence, particularly the portion to the South of the Sibun, where anti-narcotics efforts are supposed to be concentrated.
Publication/Source: 
Amandala (Belize)
URL: 
http://www.amandala.com.bz/index.php?id=10915

U.S. Agent Shot to Death in Mexico at Drug Trafficking Organization 'Narco-Blockade'

Location: 
SLP
Mexico
A U.S. immigration agent who was killed in a part of central Mexico increasingly under the influence of drug traffickers has been identified as Jaime J. Zapata. Zapata was shot to death and another special agent was wounded when they were apparently ambushed by gunmen at a fake roadblock.
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times (CA)
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-agent-killed-20110217,0,1045133.story

Mexican Drug Prohibition Gangsters Menace Natural Gas Drillers

Location: 
Mexico
Gunmen representing the Zetas drug trafficking organization have threatened to attack isolated natural gas well drillers unless they pay to operate in parts of northern Mexico. The threats are a new twist in Mexico's failed drug prohibition war, which is hitting businesses near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Publication/Source: 
Reuters
URL: 
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/15/us-mexico-drugs-energy-idUSTRE71E4GY20110215

Mexican Drug Trafficking Organization Holds 12-Year-Old Girl Ransom in New Mexico

Location: 
NM
United States
A Mexican drug trafficking organization kidnapped the 12-year-old daughter of a ranch foreman in New Mexico, holding the girl for ransom until her family and neighbors came up with $80,000 for her release. They didn’t dare call law enforcement for help because of very real fears their calls would be monitored by the kidnappers using sophisticated communications relay stations erected on U.S. public lands. "The drug smugglers use scanners, cell phones, GPS systems and other equipment that is better than anything Border Patrol or the local deputy sheriffs have. We could actually see them watching our Border Patrol agents from points on high ground," said Rep. Ed Royce, a Republican from California while visiting hot spots along the New Mexico, Arizona and Texas border. This is yet another example of violence from Mexico's drug prohibition war crossing the border into the United States, and is interesting as Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s keeps claiming there has been no "spillover violence".
Publication/Source: 
Washington Examiner (DC)
URL: 
http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/beltway-confidential/2011/02/mexican-drug-cartels-hold-12-year-old-ransom-new-mexico

Confirmed: Drug Trafficking Organization Hit Was Carried Out in Texas Months Ago

Location: 
Brownsville, TX
United States
Despite Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s claims of no "spillover violence" from Mexico’s drug war, police in Brownsville just announced that a third suspect has been charged in connection with a double murder that took place in the Texas border town back in September. It was a drug trafficking organization hit.
Publication/Source: 
Examiner.com (CO)
URL: 
http://www.examiner.com/drug-cartel-in-national/confirmed-cartel-hit-was-carried-out-texas-months-ago

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 35,000 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:

No end in sight to Mexico's prohibition-related violence. (Image via Wikimedia)
Wednesday, February 2

In Nuevo Laredo, the newly appointed police chief was killed in an ambush. Manuel Farfan Carriola, a former army officer, had been in office for 33 days. In 2005, Nuevo Laredo's police chief was assassinated after less than a day in office.

Friday, February 4

In Tamaulipas, 13 gunmen were killed during a series of battles with the army. Twelve gunmen were killed in two separate clashes near San Fernando and Valle Hermoso and the 13th was killed after soldiers exchanged fire with a two gunmen in Nuevo Laredo. The other suspect was captured.

In Pharr, Texas, 13,314 pounds of marijuana were seized by ICE agents at a self storage unit. No arrests were made. Pharr is on the American side of the border with Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

Saturday, February 5

In Ciudad Juarez, 16 people were murdered on Saturday. In one incident, two American citizens were among a group of three teenagers who were gunned down at a car dealership. The boys, aged 15 and 16, both were enrolled in El Paso high schools. The motive for the attack is unclear.

In Nuevo Leon, the head of security of a local prison was found dead after having been kidnapped by a group of heavily armed men near his house the night before. Mr. Martinez Ramirez, 60, is the third employee of Monterey's Topo Chico prison to be murdered in recent months. A note with an unreleased message from an unspecified criminal organization was left along with the body.

Tuesday, February 8

In Zacatecas, five people were found murdered execution-style on the side of a road. The victim's hands and feet were bound and each had been shot once through the head.

In Utah, Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal caused a stir by saying that Mexico faced a narco-insurgency. He later backed away from the statement after Mexican officials publicly objected.

In Reynosa, Tamaulipas, soldiers rescued 44 kidnapped Guatemalan migrants who were being held in a house. Three Mexicans were also rescued and according to Mexican news sources, 102 kilos of cocaine were seized. No arrests were made. Drug trafficking organizations like the Zetas are known to kidnap migrants and give them the choice of working or being killed. In August, 72 migrants were shot dead in one of the biggest massacres of Mexico’s drug war.

Total Body Count for the Week: 237

Total Body Count for the Year: 878

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

Total Body Count for 2009: 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: 35,727

Mexico

US Students Shot Dead in Border Town

Location: 
Ciudad Juárez, CHH
Mexico
Three teenage boys were shot and killed in the border town of Ciudad Juárez. Two, 15 and 16-years-old, were US citizens living in the town, but attending high schools in Texas.
Publication/Source: 
Gather (MA)
URL: 
http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474979032275

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