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:
In Monterrey, the State Department told staff to send their children away from the city due to the ongoing drug-related violence. As of September 10th, no minor dependents will be allowed. Other diplomatic postings with a similar rule include Baghdad, Kabul, and Sa’naa, Yemen. The decision comes after a botched kidnapping attempt at a school attended by many of the children of US consulate staff.
In Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, a car bomb exploded outside the local offices of Televisa. Nobody was wounded in the blast.
Sunday, August 29
In Hidalgo, Tamaulipas, the mayor was shot dead after being ambushed. Marco Antonio Leal Garcia was 46 years old. His four-year old daughter was seriously wounded in the attack.
In Reynosa, two car bombs were detonated near a morgue in which the bodies of 72 murdered migrants are being held. Fifteen people were wounded by the blasts.
In Panuco, Veracruz, at least eight people were killed after a 15-hour firefight between soldiers and suspected cartel gunmen. One soldier and one civilian were killed, as well as six gunmen.
Monday, August 30
Near Mexico City, police captured Edgar Valdez Villareal, a top drug cartel boss and the leader of a faction of the Beltran-Leyva Organization. Valdez, also known as "La Barbie," is thought to be responsible for much of the violence in Central Mexico in recent months as he battled his former ally Hector Beltran-Leyva for control of the Beltran-Leyva Organization, which was left leaderless after Marines shot dead Arturo Beltran-Leyva in December.
In Cancun, eight people were killed after a bar was firebombed. Four of the dead were women. The same bar had reported two extortion attempts in the past, apparently by the Zetas Organization.
In Mexico City, police announced that 3,200 federal police officers have been fired after failing drug and lie detector tests, or having assets which could not be accounted for. A separate batch of 465 officers is due to be fired in Juarez. Among them is a police commander who was detained at gunpoint by his own men who were angry at his misconduct.
In Ciudad Juarez, authorities announced that celebrations for Mexico's bicentennial on September 16th were to be canceled due to the ongoing violence. Independence Day is Mexico's most important national day and public gatherings to celebrate are an integral part of the culture of most towns and cities.
Wednesday, September 1
In Ciudad Juarez, at least ten people were murdered across the city. Three of the victims were minors aged 11, 13 and 16. The killings bring Ciudad Juarez's 2010 total to approximately 2,039.
Total Body Count for the Week: 239
Total Body Count for the Year: 7,570
Read the previous Mexico Drug War Update here.