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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 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:

Bust after bust... and still no impact besides more violence. (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Thursday, June 2

In Nadadores, Coahuila, soldiers confiscated a massive weapons cache which included 154 assault rifles, an RPG launcher, over 60,000 rounds of ammunition and four mortar rounds.

In New York City, a panel of high-profile personalities declared the War on Drugs "a failure" and called for a shift in policies, including decriminalization and a more public health-oriented response. The Global Commission on Drug Policy includes several former Presidents. Former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo was among them.

Saturday, June 5

In Ciudad Juarez, eight people were murdered in separate incidents. In one incident, witnesses claim that a man was killed by federal agents after having been taken into one of their patrol cars. The still unidentified man was later found beaten to death.

In the town of Delicias, Chihuahua, six people were killed, including three men who were ambushed by heavily armed gunmen wielding AK-47s.

In Cuernavaca, a group of marching protestors led by writer Javier Sicilia started moving towards Ciudad Juarez, where they are expected on June 10. In late March, Javier Sicilia's son was killed near Cuernavaca alongside several friends.

Sunday, June 6

In Ciudad Juarez, a journalist was shot and killed in a store parking lot. Alan Eduardo Rico Flores, 22, was in a vehicle with four friends when a hooded gunman opened fire on them with an assault rifle, killing him and wounding two others. No arrests have yet been made.

Tuesday, June 7

In Torreon, 11 young people were killed after gunmen attacked a rehab clinic for drug and alcohol abuse. According to reports, at least five vehicles full of gunmen arrived at the clinic and spent about half an hour there. Two people were wounded and taken to the local Red Cross, which was soon heavily guarded by the Mexican army.

In Mexico City, prosecutors said they have officially charged former Tijuana mayor Hank Rhon with illegal weapons possession. He was arrested Saturday. Soldiers discovered some 40 rifles, 48 handguns, and almost 10,000 rounds of ammunition inside his residence. Only 10 were registered, only 5 of which were registered to him. Rhon, a billionaire whose properties include a private zoo, has long been suspected of corruption. He was mayor from 2004-2007.

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

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,883

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 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:

Drug prohibition funds the bloody mayhem in Mexico (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Wednesday, May 22

In Nayarit, 29 people were killed during ferocious clashes between rival groups. Of the dead, 17 were found stacked in the bed of a pick-up truck. Many of the dead were wearing military-style ballistic vests and dark clothing. In the past, much of the fighting in Nayarit has been between El Chapo Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel and the Zetas.

In Michoacan, over 1,800 people fled the village of Buenavista because of heavy fighting between the Mexican military and gunmen from an unknown cartel.

Saturday, May 25

In Texas, a Bexar County sheriff’s sergeant was killed by a gunman who opened fire on his patrol car with an automatic weapon, possibly an AK-47 similar to those favored by Mexican cartel gunmen. The incident is being investigated as possibly being connected with Mexican criminal organizations.

In Apatzingan, Michoacan, a Mexican Air Force MD530 helicopter crashed during operations against drug traffickers. It was originally reported the helicopter had crashed after being struck by gunfire, but the Mexican military has denied this.

In Acapulco, five gunmen were killed in a fire fight with members of the municipal police.

Sunday, May 26

In Saltillo, Coahuila, the offices of Vanguardia newspaper were attacked with a hand grenade. Nobody was injured in the attack, which appears to have been intended to intimidate the local media. In January 2010, Valentin Valdes, a local reporter, was executed after being kidnapped by two trucks full of gunmen.

In Ciudad Juarez, nine people were murdered. Among the dead was a female who worked for the police department who was shot at a gas station. Four others were wounded, including the victim's mother and sister.

Monday, May 30

In Ciudad Juarez, a girl of six years old was among five people who were murdered. The girl died in the hospital after being shot when a Jeep Cherokee pulled alongside her family's car and opened fire. Some reports indicate that a federal police patrol car was in front of the vehicle, but that they somehow didn’t notice the attack.

Tuesday, May 31

In Pachuca, Hidalgo, Mexican police arrested 25 people for being members of or helping the Zetas. Among those detained are 10 police officers, including a police chief and two senior officers. The arrests were made after suspects detained on Sunday in the nearby mountains told police that they received protection from the police chief and some members of his command.

In Manzanillo, 54 tons of meth precursor chemicals were found in shipping containers which had come from China. Manzanillo is a major port of entry for precursor chemicals from Asia which are then taken to large-scale meth labs for meth production.

Wednesday, June 1

In El Salvador, the country's defense minister said that Mexican cartels are attempting to buy assault rifles, grenades, and other military-grade weaponry from members of the security forces. Last week, Salvadoran NCO’s and four enlisted soldiers were arrested and stand accused of attempting to steal 1,812 grenades from a military facility.

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 years. 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

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,883

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 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:

Drug prohibition funds the bloody mayhem in Mexico (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Thursday, May 12

In Arizona, two Border Patrol officers were killed after their vehicle was hit by a freight train while chasing two suspected Marijuana smugglers attempting to reach Interstate 8. The area where the incident occurred is a well-known transit zone for drugs and people being smuggled from Mexico to the United States.

Saturday, May 14

Near Ciudad Juarez, a small town police chief and two of his officers were abducted in the town of Nuevo Casas Grandes and later found dead near a Mennonite community in the town of Janos. Manuel Martinez Arvizo was the public security chief for the nearby town of Ascension, which, like many towns in the northwest part of Chihuahua, has been plagued with extremely high levels of drug-related violence.

Tuesday, May 17

In the Peten region of Guatemala, the government declared a state of siege after the massacre of 27 farm workers by Guatemalan drug traffickers thought to be tied to the Zetas. Both the Zetas and Sinaloa cartel have a significant presence in Guatemala, through which substantial quantities of South American cocaine transit on their way to Mexico and then to the United States.

Wednesday, May 18

In a rural area outside Matamoros and near the US border, three gunmen were killed and three others were captured in a large fire fight with the army. The incident began when a military helicopter came under fire after having spotted a 17-car convoy. Reinforcements clashed with gunmen in several rural communities and confiscated a large arsenal which included grenade launchers, a rocket launcher, and over 18,000 rounds of ammunition. 17.6 pounds of cocaine were also recovered.

Thursday, May 19

In Cuernavaca, Mexican authorities arrested a leading member of the South Pacific Cartel. Victor Valdez is believed to be the second in command of the cartel after Hector Beltran Leyva. A local police chief, Juan Bosco, was also arrested on suspicion of being in collusion with Valdez.

Friday, May 20

In Mexico City, a former general and key figure in Mexico’s drug war was shot and killed after a traffic accident. It is unclear whether General Jorge Juarez Loera was killed by cartel gunmen, but the federal prosecutors office has taken charge of the investigation because it suspects the involvement of organized crime.

In Reynosa, a leading Gulf Cartel figure was captured at his own birthday party. Gilberto Barragan Balderas, 41, is thought to be a leading enforcer in the Gulf Cartel is also wanted by the DEA, which had previously offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture or conviction.

Saturday, May 21

In Ciudad Juarez, two young women, aged 15 and 16, were shot dead by heavily armed gunmen who arrived to their home in a luxury SUV.

Sunday, May 22

In Monterrey, nine people were killed in a series of gun battles. The incidents began when heavily armed gunmen shot dead four people outside a popular café. Three of the bodies were then whisked away by unidentified individuals who faced no opposition from police officers who were already on the scene. Later on, five gunmen were killed when the SUV they were in crashed during a car chase with a military patrol.

In Ciudad Juarez, six people were murdered. Among the dead were three known car thieves who were shot over 40 times by unidentified gunmen while they were in the act of dismantling a car. According to statistics kept by researcher Molly Molloy, this brings the death toll in the city to 105 for the month of May and 912 for 2011 so far.

Tuesday, May 24

In Coahuila, Mexican Marines captured the alleged head of the Zetas for the Hidalgo, Coahuila area.

In Monterrey, a soldier was wounded  after a military patrol came under fire from gunmen who were waiting on an overpass bridge, after having been lured to the site by a group of trucks which ignored the soldiers commands to stop.

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 years. 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

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,883

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 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:

Drug prohibition funds the bloody mayhem in Mexico (Image via Wikimedia.org)
Wednesday, May 4

At the border crossing between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, a Juarez traffic cop was arrested after authorities discovered approximately 25 pounds of cocaine in a hidden compartment that had been built into the rear cargo area of his vehicle.

Thursday, May 5

In Hidalgo, 20 suspected Zetas were arrested when police discovered they were meeting in the small community of Pri Chacon. Among those captured were Raul Guerrero, who is alleged to be in charge of narcotics distribution in the city of Pachuca, and five municipal police officers from several locations.

Friday, May 6

In Escobedo, Nuevo Leon, at least four people were killed and 15 wounded after a ferocious fire fight between army personnel and suspected Zetas. The fighting began when a large group of up to 50 gunmen attacked an army convoy after having lured them to the ambush location with several vehicles. Several torture tools -- labeled with Z’s -- were recovered from a truck which was abandoned by the attackers, along with 60 magazines, three assault rifles and bulletproof vests.

Sunday, May 8

Across Mexico, tens of thousands of Mexicans took to the streets to protest the drug-related violence that has plagued the country. The main march began in the city of Cuernavaca, from where an estimated 150,000 protesters marched to Mexico City's Zocalo. The march was organized by poet and journalist Javier Sicilia, whose son was recently murdered by suspected cartel assassins.

On an island on Falcon Lake, 12 suspected Zetas were killed after a clash with Mexican marines. One marine was killed in the incident, which took place on the Mexican side of the reservoir. Authorities suspect that the island was used to transport marijuana to the United States via speedboats. The area became notorious in September 2010 when a US citizen, David Hartley, was shot and killed while riding a jet ski in the area.

Monday, May 9

In the city of Durango, gunmen left six headless bodies outside a high school. Threatening messages were left spray painted on a nearby wall, but were quickly painted over by police. The content of the message and the identity of the bodies have not been released.

In Guerrero, ten people were murdered across five municipalities. In one incident, two people were kidnapped and murdered just moments after the gunmen shot dead two other individuals outside a social security office.

In Tijuana, a suspected Sinaloa cartel cell leader was captured after being seriously wounded in a gunfight with state police forces. Hector Hernandez Guajardo, also known as "El Guicho" is thought by Mexican authorities to have been involved in 465 murders in the Baja California.

Tuesday, May 10

In Durango, authorities discovered eight more bodies buried in a network of mass graves near the city of Durango. These bodies bring the total number discovered buried in the area to 188. Some of the remains are said to be almost four years old, while some of the more recent ones may have been killed as recently as three months ago.

In the town of Guadalupe Distrito Bravos, near Ciudad Juarez, two severed heads were discovered atop a cement wall in the morning. Two other bodies -- that of a man and woman -- were found nearby with their throats slashed. The town has been without any local law enforcement officers since the town's only officer was kidnapped in December. She has not been heard from since.

In Mexico City, it was revealed that a Canadian citizen was murdered in Mexico City on May 3. Local media are reporting that the murder may be related to a double-homicide in the state of Jalisco, where the victim had been living for a time.

[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 years. 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

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,883

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)
Tuesday, April 26

In Tamaulipas, two gunmen were killed after shooting at an army convoy that was patrolling the highway between Nueva Ciudad Guerrero and Ciudad Mier.

Thursday, April 28

In Tamaulipas, six gunmen were killed during a fierce clash between suspected members of the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel in the towns of Aldabas and Arcabuz. According to some accounts over 40 SUVs full of gunmen participated in the clashes, in which the army eventually intervened.

In Sinaloa, seven people were killed in a series of fire fights which began after an attack on a police station in the town of Guamuchil. Nobody was killed or wounded in the initial attack, which was carried out by a convoy of five vehicles. The convoy later left the bodies of four men who had been abducted earlier on the road, but was then ambushed by a group of rival gunmen. Three members of the convoy were killed and several vehicles were later found abandoned.

Friday, April 29

In Toluca, Mexican authorities handed over former Tijuana-cartel kingpin Benjamin Arellano-Felix to US Marshals to be extradited to the United States. Arellano-Felix has been in prison in Mexico since 2002. His three brothers have all been captured or killed. The cartel is no under the leadership of his nephew Fernando, but is thought to pay the Sinaloa Cartel for the right to the points of entry into California.

In Ciudad Juarez, a massive arsenal was found hidden in a home gym in an upscale neighborhood. The stockpile included three anti-aircraft weapons, dozens of assault rifles and grenades, 50 military uniforms, bulletproof vests and 26,000 rounds of ammunition.

Monday, May 3

In San Antonio, Texas, former Mexican president Vicente Fox said that the only way to end the violence in Mexico is for the United States to legalize drugs. "As a country, we are going through problems due to the fact that the United States consumes too many drugs," he said.

In the Ciudad Juarez area, four people were murdered. Eight people have been murdered in the area in the first three days of May, and 808 have so far been murdered in 2011, according to statistics kept by researcher Molly Molloy.

Tuesday, May 4

In the city of Cuautitlan Izcalli, near Mexico City, five headless bodies were discovered on the backseat and in the trunk of an abandoned BMW.

In Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, six men were gunned down by heavily armed gunmen. Among the victims were 56-year old Moises Chavez, his two sons, and an unidentified neighbor.

[Editor's Note: We believe our body count is seriously understating the actual number of people killed. Mexican officials this week put the number of dead in April alone at 1,402. We will continue to try to find an accurate way of compiling these numbers.]

Total Body Count for the Week: *34

Total Body Count for the Year: *2,308

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: 34,883

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:

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

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 and arrests go on, but so does the violence. (Image via Wikimedia)
Tuesday, April 12

In Sinaloa, eleven people were found buried in a field near the town of Ahome. It is unclear when the dead -- nine males and two females -- were killed, or by whom.

Wednesday, April 13

In Ciudad Juarez, the bodies of four men who were last seen being kidnapped by members of a special police unit were discovered in a ravine just outside the city. Three police officers from the elite "Grupo Delta" have been arrested for the March 26 kidnapping. The four victims are all between 23 and 28 years old.

In Monterrey, six people were killed during a fire fight between the Army and a group of gunmen. Five of the dead were armed suspects and one was an uninvolved female motorist who was killed in the crossfire. Additionally, an eight-year old girl was wounded in the legs when she was hit by stray bullets during the incident, which began when soldiers gave chase to two SUVs full of armed men.

Thursday, April 14

In Ciudad Juarez, a state prosecutor was gunned down outside his home by heavily armed men. Marion Ramon Gonzalez was leaving his home at 8:20am when he was attacked by men carrying assault rifles who had arrived in three black vehicles.

In Ciudad Juarez, three children were killed when unknown assailants threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of their home. The mother escaped the blaze with her hair and clothing on fire.

Friday, April 15

In Veracruz, a police chief and two of his officers were killed after being ambushed by gunmen. Juan Moreno Lopez was the head of the inter-municipal police force for the Minatitlan-Cosoleacaque area. The other two officers were his bodyguards. These deaths bring to nine the number of police officers killed in the Veracruz area in under a month.

Saturday, April 16

In Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, Mexican marines captured a high-ranking Zeta who has been linked to the mass graves in the San Fernando area. Martin "Comandante Kilo" Estrada Luna was arrested along with five others during a raid. He has also been linked to the August 2010 murder of 72 migrants and is thought to be the Zeta commander responsible involved in drugs, extortion, and human trafficking activities in the area.

In Tepic, Nayarit, a man was found skinned and posed on a bridge in the city. This is the third case of someone being skinned in the last several weeks in Tepic. The victim -- who remains unidentified -- had had his hand cut off and left placed on his chest.

Sunday, April 17

In Acapulco, six men were discovered murdered in the popular resort area of Costa Azul. Two of the dead were discovered in a vehicle, and another two were discovered in a nearby alley. Two more were found not far away. A note left with the body indicated that the men had been killed by the Sinaloa Cartel.

In the nearby city of Chilancingo, a man was gunned down outside his home.

In Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, the top security official for the state resigned. Former General Ubaldo Ayala Tinoco had previously threatened to resign if the state government did not begin providing police with better salaries. Recently, 16 police officers were arrested for allegedly being involved with the mass graves that are still being fully uncovered in San Fernando, Tamaulipas.



In Ciudad Juarez, 14 people were murdered in various incidents across the city. In one incident, a man was found dead after having been beaten to death with a stone. In another incident, a man -- showing signs of having been tortured -- was discovered in a pile of trash.



Tuesday, April 19

In Veracruz, ten gunmen were killed during a series of clashes with soldiers. The fighting began when soldiers on patrol in the Infonavit Rio Medio neighborhood came under fire. A second gun fight occurred after they chased suspects who had fled. One civilian was wounded in the arm by a stray bullet.

[Editor's Note: We have relied in the past on El Universal's weekly body count, but it has not been appearing recently. We thus suspect that our totals are undercounting the actual totals.]

Total Body Count for the Week: 218 (including the 145 so far exhumed in San Fernando)

Total Body Count for the Year: 2,209

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: 37,058

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

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

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

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