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Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed more than 36,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

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

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

Thursday, April 21

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

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

Saturday, April 23

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

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

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

Sunday, April 25

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 25

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

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

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

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

Total Body Count for the Week: *65

Total Body Count for the Year: 2,274

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

Total Body Count for 2009: (approx.) 9,600

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx): 4,300

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,849

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war to date: 37,123

Mexico

Mexico Drug War Update

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

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

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

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

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:

Black market profits fuel deadly violence. Who could ever have predicted that? (Image via Wikimedia)
Wednesday, January 26

In Tamaulipas, an American missionary was shot and killed when gunmen opened fire on her truck at an illegal roadblock. Nancy Davis, 59, had been involved in missionary work in Mexico for the last 30 years. Tamaulipas is a stronghold of drug trafficking organizations in Mexico and has seen drastic increases in violence over the last year as the Zetas Organization battles its former masters, the Gulf Cartel.

Friday, January 28

In Ciudad Juarez, two federal police officers were charged with killing one of Ciudad Juarez’s mayor's bodyguards during an incident the previous week.

In Veracruz, 33 ex-mayors have been ordered arrested on corruption charges.

In Pantanal, Nayarit, four men were killed during a firefight between two rival gangs. The gunmen were heavily armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers. The incident took place after one group of gunmen attacked a safe house used by another group. Pantanal is located in the municipality of Xalisco, which is well known as a hub for traffickers who export black tar heroin to the United States.

Saturday, January 29

In Monterrey, five gunmen were killed after attacking an army convoy in the suburb of Santa Catarina. Two innocent bystanders were wounded by grenades during the gun battle.

Near Acapulco, a mutilated body was discovered hanging from an overpass bridge was spans the busy Acapulco-Mexico City highway. The unidentified victim had been severely beaten and tortured.

Monday, January 31

In Mexico City, prosecutors announced a $658,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of two suspects in the massacre of 72 migrants last August. The two men are known as "The Coyote" and "The Scorpion" and are thought to be members of the Zetas Organization. Eight other Zetas suspected of taking part in the massacre are already in custody.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least 11 people were murdered in different parts of the city. Among the dead was a 16-year old girl who succumbed to her wounds after being shot by federal police alongside her 13-year old sister, who was wounded. According to a tally by local newspaper El Diario, 216 people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez in the first month of 2011. Last year the city had 3,111 murders take place.

Wednesday, February 2

In Guadalajara, suspected cartel gunmen used grenades, burned vehicles and created makeshift blockades in a series of seven incidents across the city. A policeman and two transportation workers were wounded. The attacks seem to be in retaliation for the recent arrest of drug gang members.

In Monterrey, a federal police officer and three gunmen were killed during an attack on an army convoy in the suburb of Apodaca. Three policemen were wounded and an unknown number of suspects were taken into custody. In a separate incident in Monterrey, three other gunmen were killed by federal police personnel.

Total Body Count for the Week: 103

Total Body Count for the Year: 641

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: 34,612

Total Body Count for Calderon’s drug war to date: 35,253

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 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:

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/wanted1.jpg
wanted poster, US Embassy in Mexico
Thursday, January 13

In Ciudad Juarez, eight people were killed. One of the victims had been shot approximately 70 times with AK-47 rounds. His body was found by reporters after police left after not being able to immediately find the body when they arrived.

Friday, January 14

In Ciudad Juarez, 11 people were murdered across the city. In one incident, a triple homicide occurred in a junkyard after an attack by heavily armed gunmen. Three other men were wounded.

In Xalapa, Veracruz, 12 gunmen and two soldiers were killed during a six-hour gunfight. The target of the raid remains unclear.

Saturday, January 15

In Veracruz, a police commander was kidnapped by heavily armed men after being forced off the road by an SUV. A police officer was later wounded in an exchange of gunfire with the suspects.

Monday, January 17

In Chihuahua, fourteen prison inmates escaped through a hole in the wall. A vehicle charged through a metal fence and picked the men up. Five have been recaptured. Prison escapes are very frequent in Mexican prisons.

Tuesday, January 18

In Oaxaca City, Mexican Federal police captured a founding member of the Zetas Organization. Flavio Mendez Santiago, 35, was in charge of Zetas operations in Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz and controlled migrant trafficking of migrants from other parts of the Americas and drug trafficking routes through Central America. He joined the Gulf Cartel in 1993 after deserting from the Army, and siding with the Zetas when the organization split with its former employers.

In Guatemala, the government extended a state of siege in the province of Alta Verapaz. Drug trafficking in the area has been controlled by the Zetas since the 2008 assassination of a local Guatemalan drug boss.

In Mexico City, a well-known trafficker was arrested in the upscale Bosques de Lomas neighborhood. Jose Jorge Balderas, 34, is also suspected in the shooting of a Paraguayan soccer player in a Mexico city bar.

Thursday, January 20

In Ciudad Juarez, a policeman was killed during a daytime firefight with armed suspects inside a crowded shopping center which sent civilians running for cover to avoid the crossfire.

Friday, January 21

In Guerrero, Mexican authorities made a record seizure of opium gum. Approximately 245 kilos of opium paste were discovered from a house in the town of Chilpancingo.

Saturday, January 22

In Tamaulipas, ten gunmen were killed during a prolonged firefight with the army.  The incident occurred near the rural village of Valle Hermoso after soldiers were fired upon as they approached a camp of armed men. Among the weapons discovered at the camp were a rocket launcher and 20 grenades.

In Pachuca, Hidalgo, a policeman was killed and three others were wounded by a car bomb. The officers had been responding to reports that a body was inside a car when the explosives detonated. Initial reports suggest the bomb was the work of the Zetas, possibly in retaliation for the death of two Zetas at the hands of police in the nearby town of Tula.

Sunday, January 23

In Ciudad Juarez, seven people were gunned down at a park built as part of a city rehabilitation campaign called "we are all Juarez." During the incident, gunmen arrived in three vehicles and fired over 180 high-caliber rounds at a group of youths playing soccer. Mexican media are reporting that the intended target was someone involved in street-level drug dealing.

Six other people were killed in other incidents in Juarez, including a woman who was apparently stabbed and stoned to death.

Monday, January 24

In Mexico City, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Tuesday, January 25

In Ciudad Juarez, federal police officers attacked the mayor’s convoy, killing one of his bodyguards. Mayor Hector Murguia claims two masked federal officers approached a house where he was holding a meeting and opened fire on his bodyguards even though they identified themselves. Federal police are saying they opened fire after the bodyguards refused to identify themselves and did not lower their weapons.

Wednesday, January 26

In Mexico City, soldiers conducted operations against suspected Zetas. It is the first military operation against drug traffickers conducted in the Mexico City area. So far, only several weapons have been recovered and it appears no arrests have been made. At least 30 heavily armed and masked soldiers participated in the operations.

Total Body Count for the last two weeks: 402

Total Body Count for the year: 538

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: 34,612

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war to date: 35,150

Mexico

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