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:
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