Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

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:

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/malverde1-smaller.jpg
shrine to San Malverde, patron saint of the narcos (and others), Culiacán -- plaque thanking God, the Virgin of Guadalupe, and San Malverde for keeping the roads cleans -- from ''the indigenous people from Angostura to Arizona''
Wednesday, September 30

In Tijuana, three municipal policemen were killed after being attacked by suspected cartel gunmen. The three men were riding in two pickup trucks when they were ambushed. Two others were wounded. In the past, Tijuana-based drug trafficking organizations have targeted members of the policemen at random, in what is thought to possibly be an attempt to force high-ranking police officials to resign.

Thursday, October 1

According to a tally being kept up by El Universal September has (so far) been the most violent month of 2009 in Mexico. Some 757 drug-trafficking related homicides were committed in 2009. Of these, 360 occurred in Chihuahua (which includes Ciudad Juarez), 112 in Sinaloa, 74 in Durango, and 55 in Guerrero, with smaller numbers in other areas of Mexico. On the last day of September, 22 people were killed across the country, including several policemen. 12 of these killings occurred in Ciudad Juarez.

Friday, October 2

A federal investigation found that guns purchased in the Houston area were used in at least 55 murders on the Mexican side of the border. All the killings were linked to one particular cell of the Gulf Cartel, and the dead included Mexican police, civilians, and drug traffickers. The federal government contends that Houston is the top spot in the US for the purchase of weapons later used in drug-related murders in Mexico.

During one 24 hour period, nine policemen were murdered in several incidents across the country. Among these were two in Guerrero, were two policemen were ambushed. One of them was found dead by the roadside, while another was kidnapped (and his squad car taken) and later found dead. In Sonora, a policeman was kidnapped by a group of armed men and later found dead in an empty lot. In addition to the killings of the policemen across the country, 13 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez and 7 in other parts of the country.

Saturday, October 3

Mexican authorities seized a record 37 tons of precursor chemical used in the production of methamphetamine. The drug seizure was the result of two separate raids. Twenty tons were intercepted at the Pacific port of Manzanillo, and 17 tons were taken at a customs post in Nuevo Laredo, on the border with Texas.

While public safety and law enforcement officers were meeting in Guanajuato to discuss ways to fight organized crime, 10 people were gunned down in various parts of the state. Local officials believe that at least seven of the killings can be linked together, and all ten are thought to be part of a turf battle between different drug trafficking groups fighting over the area.

Monday, October 5

In Ciudad Juarez, period five men were killed when gunmen burst into a bar and opened fire. Four people were gunned down at the same bar six months ago.

Tuesday, October 6

Seven men were killed after being attacked by a group of armed men near the Guatemalan border in the state of Chiapas. Large quantities of cocaine are thought to transit through the Guatemalan-Mexican border on their way to the US border from South America.

At Mexico City International Airport, a woman was arrested carrying seven kilos of cocaine. The woman, a Mexican citizen, was caught after being searched by airport security personnel. She was also carrying nearly 15,000 pesos and $525 -- a total of less than $650.

Total body count for the week: 226
Total body count for the year: 5,637

Read the last Mexico Drug War Update here.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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