by Bernd Debusmann, Jr.
Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year trafficking illegal 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 over 12,000 people, with a death toll of over 5,000 so far in 2009. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest of several 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 23
Mexican army anti-drug patrol
Nine people were killed in a nine hour span in Ciudad Juarez. The dead included a beheaded man, and bullet-riddled bodies of three men and a woman found in a car. Additionally, another gunshot victim was found by the side of a road, and two bodies -- one beheaded -- were found wrapped in a blanket. The ninth victim was found dead inside a car.
Four people were killed after a gun battle in La Crucita, Durango. The four dead, all men, were killed during a firefight between two groups of rival drug traffickers in a hillside community. Three bullet-riddled SUVs were left at the scene.
Thursday, September 24
At least three US citizens were killed when gunmen attacked a motel in Ciudad Juarez, along with a Mexican man, whom police believe was the intended target. The two women who were killed were sisters.
A high-ranking police official was ambushed in Sinaloa. The official, Jesús Adolfo Fierro Bojórquez, had called his wife to pick him up after his car broke down. She arrived to find him dead with a gunshot wound to the chest. Additionally, a police radio operatior was shot and killed in Ecatepec, near Mexico City, and 18 people were killed across Ciudad Juarez in a 24 hour period. Two men were killed in Tijuana, and three in Guerrero.
Friday, September 25
Five suspected Sinaloa cartel assassins were arrested by the Mexican army in Ciudad Juarez. The men are thought to be involved in at least 45 murders, including the two recent attacks on drug rehabilitation centers in which 28 people were lined up against a wall and executed.
Monday, September 28
In the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, two Canadian men were shot and killed in execution-style slayings. Gunmen attacked Gordon Douglas Kendall and Jeffrey Ronald Ivans outside an apartment building, chasing them to the pool area before finally killing them. Canadian law enforcement officials were apparently aware of the two men, and believed they were deeply involved in the British Columbia cocaine trade.
A former Juarez police officer was arrested over the weekend, and is suspected of taking part in at least 18 killings in the city. He was one of several arrests made by Mexican military and police forces in Juarez over the weekend. The ex-officer, Miguel Angel Delgado Carmona, 39, was captured with an accomplice following a vehicle chase after an aborted extortion attempt at a Juarez funeral home. He is also suspected of taking part in locating another 80 homicide victims, and was captured with two AK-47s.
Mexico's foreign minister, Patricia Espinosa, said that the high death toll of the Mexican government's war on drug traffickers is a sign of its success. "This is a very ugly statistic," she said, "but a good percentage of those killed never have their bodies claimed, their families never go and get them... that is a very clear indicator that these people were involved in drug trafficking." She added that some 60,000 drug traffickers have been arrested since president Calderon took office, and 50,000 weapons have been seized.
Tuesday, September 29
In Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexican army elements took over police stations and surrounded a stadium where municipal vehicles are kept. They also interrogated local police officers about an incident that occurred on the 3rd of September, in which it is suspected that local police leaked information to drug traffickers who killed at two police officers and a fireman who were travelling unarmed.
Wednesday, September 30
Army troops seized $7.3 million in cash from a house in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas state. The raid came after soldiers received a tip from local residents who said they had seen several armed men at the house. Four handguns and four vehicles were also seized in the raid on the home, which is thought to have been a Gulf Cartel safe house.
Three civilians were wounded when soldiers at a military checkpoint shot at the car in which they were travelling. The incident took place in Morelia, Michoacan. The three men in the car were apparently drunk, and security in the area was high because of a visit to the city by President Calderon. This is the latest in a series of shootings at road blocks set up by the military to stem the flow of drugs and arms moving along Mexico's roads.
Body count for the last two weeks: 275
Body count for the year: 5,411
Read the last Mexico Drug War Update here.