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Latin America: Mexican Interior Minister, Top Anti-Drug Fighter Killed in Mysterious Plane Crash

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #559)
Consequences of Prohibition
Politics & Advocacy

Two of Mexico's top anti-drug officials, the interior minister and the former chief federal anti-drug prosecutor, were killed Tuesday afternoon when the small plane in which they were traveling crashed in Mexico City as they prepared to land. Six others on the plane also died, as did seven others on the ground. At least 40 people were wounded in the crash in the Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood of the capital.

Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mouriño had been tapped by President Felipe Calderón to lead the fight against Mexico's powerful and violent drug trafficking organizations. His death threatens that effort. Calderón named Mouriño interior minister in January. In September, Mouriño warned that drug traffickers were using their money to penetrate police forces and may be contributing campaign funds to candidates in next year's midterm elections.

Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a high-ranking federal law enforcement official, was also killed. He had headed the attorney general's anti-drug prosecutor's office, SIEDO, during the Fox administration. As a long time federal law enforcement official, Vasconcelos had been involved in extremely sensitive probes of drug lords and political donors, and was reportedly the target of death threats in recent weeks.

Vasconcelos' former office, SIEDO, has been rocked in recent days by revelations that it had been infiltrated by drug trafficking groups. Similar allegations regarding the Federal Preventive Police led to the resignation of its head on Saturday.

While Mexican officials said there was no sign that the crash was anything other than an accident, almost nobody in Mexico believes that. Mexico City newspapers Wednesday were rife with speculation that one of the so-called cartels had assassinated the pair.

The internet news portal Lapolaka in the border town of Ciudad Juárez was looking both north and south as it pondered the day's events on both sides of the border: "A black president reaches the White House for the first time since the founding of the United States, violence in Ciudad Juárez reaches horrific levels and the Interior Minister of Mexico, Juan Camilo Mouriño, dies in an air accident that smells of criminal terrorism," Lapolaka declared. "It is the end of the world as we know it. The construction of a new, unknown one begins, which rises amid the ruins of a political, economic, social and moral system that's still not finished falling to pieces."

But meanwhile, Mexico's drug war continues apace. Whether or not Mouriño and Vasconcelos turn out to be its latest victims, prohibition-related violence shows no signs of abating. Some 53 people were killed in the violence Monday, the single highest one-day death toll yet. That means this year's toll is rapidly closing in on 5,000 dead, more than have been killed in Afghanistan this year.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah... they got whacked! I'm sorry, but, what the hell did the drug warriors expect?

And here's a real duh: "...prohibition-related violence shows no signs of abating." I'm sorry but... when the hell are prohibitionists and their drug warriors gonna learn economics?

All markets hate a void... the vacuum will be filled.... often with greater violence & determination... and with a better or newer product!

"A black president reaches the White House for the first time since the founding of the United States..." That's an obviously encouraging american development that I openly embrace.

But racism has always been a generational & religious problem. Perhaps racism, and religions 'greater-than-thou mentality', can be drastically diminished, if not completely removed, from governance... as our imperfect elders pass... and the next, more diverse and tolerant, generation takes the helm!

But, I really look forward to the day this country can set aside it's religious biases and absurd notion that only they, the religiously inspired, possess the morals to govern... as if morality was reserved just for them... by their creator... made in their image... not mine... I imagine.

RIP Grandma & Grandpa

Fri, 11/07/2008 - 6:45pm Permalink

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