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Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations Draw Guatemalan Army to Jungles Where It Fought Civil War

Location: 
Guatemala
The once-fearsome Guatemalan army has returned to the jungles where it battled Marxist guerrillas a generation ago, this time to hunt shadowy Mexican drug traffickers fighting for control of strategic smuggling routes to the United States. The military operations are the clearest sign yet that as Mexico's wealthy drug trafficking organizations spread into Central America, wary but weak governments here are preparing to follow Mexican President Felipe Calderon's U.S.-backed decision to turn the armed forces against the traffickers. That prohibitionist strategy has failed to slow the violence in Mexico, which has left more than 34,000 dead in four years.
Publication/Source: 
The Washington Post (DC)
URL: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/09/AR2011020906919.html

Mexican President's Visit to Stanford Meets with Objections Due to His Drug Prohibition War

Location: 
Palo Alto, CA
United States
Mexican President Felipe Calderón has been invited to give the commencement address at Stanford University in June, but an editorial in this week’s El Mensajero calls it the "wrong choice" due to his prohibitionist drug war. El Mensajero editor María Mejía writes that the point of a commencement address is to inspire students, adding that if she were a student, she wouldn’t feel inspired by Calderón. "I don’t admire his war against drug trafficking...I can’t believe that more than 30,000 dead during his administration due to violence stemming from narcotrafficking is something that could inspire me," she wrote.
Publication/Source: 
The Bay Citizen (CA)
URL: 
http://www.baycitizen.org/blogs/pulse-of-the-bay/mexican-presidents-visit-stanford-meets/

Top Army Official Suggests U.S. Troops Might Be Sent to Mexico to Fight Drug Prohibition War

Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal, the second-highest ranking civilian official in the U.S. Army, described the situation in Mexico created by drug prohibition as an insurgency and fretted over a scenario in which armed U.S. soldiers could be called to the border and/or into Mexico. Westphal is the most senior U.S. official to publicly compare Mexico’s drug cartels to an insurgency since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a similar assessment last September. Westfall — who said he was expressing a personal opinion, but one he had shared with the White House — said he didn’t want to ever see a situation in which "armed and fighting" American soldiers are sent to combat an insurgency "on our border, in violation of our Constitution, or to have to send them across the border."
Publication/Source: 
The Salt Lake Tribune (UT)
URL: 
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/home/51207681-76/mexico-westphal-drug-insurgency.html.csp

Colombia's FARC May Inherit Hundreds of Men from Slain Drug Lord

Location: 
Colombia
Colombia's largest rebel group FARC may benefit from the recent killing of neo-paramilitary drug lord "Cuchillo," newspaper El Espectador reports. According to the newspaper, the death of Pedro Oliveiro Guerrero, alias Cuchillo, late last month brought an end to the paramilitary rule of the underworld of Colombia's eastern plains that started when the AUC took control of the region in the 1990s. A police investigator told El Espectador that members of Cuchillo's organization ERPAC have been meeting to assure a continuation of the drug trade, but have not been able to appoint a successor of their slain leader.
Publication/Source: 
Colombia Reports (Colombia)
URL: 
http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/13778-farc-may-inherit-hundreds-of-slain-drug-lords-men.html

Mexico's Drug Prohibition War: Troops Killed Innocent U.S. Man

Location: 
Mexico
Joseph Proctor told his girlfriend he was popping out to the convenience store in the quiet Mexican beach town where the couple had just moved, intending to start a new life. The next morning, the 32-year-old New York native was dead inside his crashed van on a road outside Acapulco. It is at least the third case this year in which soldiers, locked in a prohibitionist drug war with trafficking organizations, have been accused of killing innocent civilians and faking evidence in cover-ups. Such scandals are driving calls for civilian investigators to take over cases that are almost exclusively handled by military prosecutors and judges who rarely convict one of their own.
Publication/Source: 
Newsday (NY)
URL: 
http://www.newsday.com/news/ap-exclusive-mexico-says-its-troops-killed-us-man-1.2570829

US Drug War Military Presence in Costa Rica Rejected

Location: 
Costa Rica
In the middle of this year, the Costa Rican Parliament authorized the arrival of 7,000 soldiers, 46 war ships, more than 200 helicopters, 10 Harrier planes and two submarines. The permission provoked the rejection of various parties and social sectors, regarding it as anti-constitutional and violating national sovereignty. "We are quite much worried with such an excessive military force to fight drug trafficking," said Victor Emilio Granados, from Partido Accesibilidad sin Exclusion (PASE) - Accessibility without Exclusion Party. Other parties such as Frente Amplio and Accion Cuidadana also rejected the US military presence.
Publication/Source: 
Inside Costa Rica (Costa Rica)
URL: 
http://www.insidecostarica.com/dailynews/2010/december/16/costarica10121603.htm

Dozens Dead as Police, Drug Gangs Clash in Rio

A week of fighting between authorities and drug-trafficking groups in Rio de Janeiro has left dozens of people dead and two favelas, or shantytowns, occupied by heavily armed military police. Those favelas had for years been bases for the Red Command, one of the more powerful of the gangs.

Favela in Rio de Janeiro (Image courtesy Wikicommons)
The violence broke out a week ago when the drug gangs responded to an increased police presence in the favelas by attacking police patrols and burning buses. Nearly a hundred vehicles have been reported burned, and the death toll as of Sunday morning was at least 35.

After more than 2,600 heavily armed military police backed by armored personnel carriers and at least five helicopters, swept into the Alemao favela complex, the death toll as of Sunday night was at least 50. Red Command gunmen had retreated there after troops drove them from another favela, Villa Cruzeiro, earlier in the week.

While authorities reported at least 174 arrests, hundreds of other Red Command gunmen are believed to escaped through the labyrinthine passageways of the favelas. Authorities also reported seizing hundreds of weapons and several tons of marijuana.

The clashes come as Rio begins a campaign to integrate the favelas into the fabric of city life in preparation for the World Cup soccer tournament in 2014 and the summer Olympics in 2016. The favelas and their residents have historically been ignored by the Brazilian state, leaving a power vacuum that the drug gangs have filled in a number of them. But now the state is interested in establishing governance in them, and the commands are not going without a fight.

The military said it will occupy Alemao and Villa Cruzeiro as long as necessary. That has not been the pattern in the past, where occasional police sweeps and occupations have changed things temporarily, but have not had the staying power to change things permanently.

Rio de Janeiro
Brazil

Will U.S. Drones Join Mexico's Drug Prohibition War?

Location: 
Mexico
Without leaving American airspace, remotely piloted surveillance drones — outfitted with cameras that provide real-time video — fly along the Texas border searching U.S. territory for drug smugglers, illegal immigrants and potential terrorists. Does the U.S. government ever risk the international fallout of using the aircrafts' high-tech surveillance abilities to take a peek south of the border — or share what they see with Mexican counterparts fighting for their lives? The American public likely never will know.
Publication/Source: 
San Antonio Express-News (TX)
URL: 
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/mexico/which_way_are_eyesin_texas_sky_looking_109590634.html?c=y&page=1#storytop

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 28,000 people, the government reported in August. 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:

Wednesday, September 15

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/el-diario-juarez.jpg
In Tamaulipas, 22 gunmen were killed during a two-hour gun battle with the army. The incident began when soldiers investigating suspicious activity came under fire. Twenty-five rifles and several grenades were seized during the incident.

In a separate incident, 19 gunmen were killed in a clash with the army in Nuevo Leon.

Thursday, September 16

In Ciudad Juarez, a young photojournalist was shot and killed in a parking lot. Luis Carlos Santiago, 21, worked for the Juarez daily El Diario. He became the second reporter from the paper to have been killed in two years. In 2008, the newspaper's lead crime reporter was shot and killed outside his home. A prosecutor assigned to his killing was also assassinated. A second photojournalist was critically wounded.

On Sunday, El Diario published a front-page editorial directed at the cities drug cartels, asking "What do you want from us?" and said that the cartels had become the de-facto authorities in the city. That prompted strong criticism from the Calderon administration, which said you cannot negotiate with criminals.

Friday, September 17

In Ciudad Juarez, eight people were killed when gunmen opened fire inside a crowded bar just after 4:00am. The seven men and one woman were aged between 20 and 35. The former owner of the bar, Wilfred Moya, was shot and killed at the same location about two years ago.

Sunday, September 19

In Guerrero, the bodies of six police officers were recovered from a ravine. This brings the total death toll from a mass abduction of nine police officers who were taken captive by gunmen in the community of El Revelado to eight. Of the bodies that were recovered Sunday, four were dismembered. A note threatening authorities was left alongside the bodies. No motive or suspects have been announced in the attack.

Monday, September 20

In Ciudad Juarez, authorities released four men who had previously been accused of 55 murders, due to a lack of evidence. The men had been in custody in Mexico City for two months before being returned to Juarez, and are mandated to come to another hearing on Thursday, although they are no longer incarcerated. All four are suspected of belong to the Artist Assassins, a local drug gang which is allied to the Sinaloa Cartel.

Tuesday, September 21

Near Ciudad Juarez, a mob beat to death two alleged kidnappers. Federal police intervened, but the crowd blocked their squad cars and the two men died of their wounds. The town of Ascension, where the incident occurred, has been particularly hard hit by drug-related kidnappings and killings.

Wednesday, September 22

A Ciudad Juarez newspaper editor has been given asylum because of threats against his life in Mexico. Jorge Luis Aguirre is the editor of the online newspaper La Polaka. Last year, he testified to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about his experiences as a journalist in Mexico. More than 30 journalists have been killed or have vanished since 2006.

Total Body Count for the Week: 187

Total Body Count for the Year: 8,049

Read the previous Mexico Drug War Update

Mexico

British, Canadian Troops Smuggling Afghan Heroin: Report

Location: 
Afghanistan
Military police in Afghanistan are investigating whether British and Canadian soldiers may have smuggled heroin out of the war-torn country.
Publication/Source: 
CTV Television Network (Canada)
URL: 
http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/World/20100912/afghanistan-heroin-smuggling-allegations-100912/

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