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Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debussman Jr.
How many shipments are needed to pay for one drug smuggling tunnel?
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 -- the body count passing 6,000 for 2009 so far this month. 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:

Saturday, October 24

A high ranking federal police official was assassinated in Chihuahua. Jose Alfredo Silly Pena was a naval captain who served as a federal police intelligence official. He, along with three other men, had been kidnapped by heavily armed men some hours earlier. Additionally, 23 people were killed in violence in Chihuahua during a 48-hour period. 18 of these murders occurred in Ciudad Juárez. In Guerrero, four bodies were found in a hidden pit just meters from where seven bodies had been found last Tuesday. In other parts of Mexico, an unidentified gunman was killed by the army near Tlapehuala, and two more were killed and six captured after battling soldiers near Tamaulipas. The day before, four people, including two police officers, were killed after a firefight in Hidalgo; two people were killed in Michoacán, and three each in Durango, Coahuila, and Oaxaca.

Sunday, October 25

In Torreon, Coahuila, gunmen ambushed the convoy of the municipal public safety director. The official survived, but a nearby civilian was killed in the ensuing firefight. In another part of Torreon, a gun battle left two other people dead, one of whom was apparently homeless. Fifteen people were killed in Chihuahua, 14 of whom were killed in Ciudad Juárez. One of the dead was head of the police anti-theft unit, who was gunned down in a restaurant as he ate. At least three killings occurred in Sinaloa, and two women were kidnapped after being snatched from their car on the highway. At least three people were killed in Sonora, including a lawyer and a reputed gang leader.

The AP reported that dozens of ICE officials have been investigated for their handling of informants. Allegations include that ICE steered investigators away from a man who has since been charged with the El Paso murder of Jose Daniel Gonzalez Galeana. Galeana was a Juárez cartel manager and ICE informant. Additionally, ICE officials are being accused of allowing a man -- described as a "homicidal maniac" by the DEA -- to continue to be an informant even after having supervised the killing of a Juárez cartel associate.

Tuesday , October 27

In Puebla, four police officers were killed and a fifth wounded after being shot by gunmen. The officers were performing a traffic stop of a suspicious vehicle when another truck pulled up from which several heavily armed gunmen emerged and opened fire in an apparent attempt to "rescue" the passengers of the first vehicle.

In Nayarit, four men have been arrested in the videotaped and widely publicized torture of five teenagers. It appears the five boys had attempted to rob a house when they were captured by heavily armed vigilantes. In addition to being beaten and threatened with weapons, the boys were forced to kiss each other. The boys were later dumped naked on a street. There has been increased activity in recent months by vigilante groups thought to be linked to drug traffickers or members of the police.

Wednesday , October 28

Mexican soldiers have discovered an enormous, partially completed tunnel which ends just across the border from Otay Mesa, California. The tunnel, which was incomplete, came complete with electricity and an air supply system. Journalists in Tijuana were invited to tour the site, which is the latest of many similar discoveries in recent years.

Mexican police have arrested a man suspected of being La Familia's operations chief for the state of Michoacán. The man, Abel Valadez Oribe, 32, was on his way to a cockfight when he was detained by police after being tipped off by informants. Oribe, also known as "El Clinton," is also suspected of ordering multiple murders, including that of the mayor of Ixtapan de la Sal. His arrest comes a week after 303 suspected members of La Familia were arrested across the United States. In another part of Michoacán, the dismembered remains of an unidentified man were found by the roadside near Uruapan. Uruapan was the site of one of the most publicized incidents of the Mexican drug war in 2006, when gunmen threw five severed heads onto a dance floor in a local nightclub.

Total body count for the week: 157
Total body count for the year: 6,175

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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The shame of it all

How do we hold our heads up when if we go into Mexico? How does our government justify this much killing too keep a plant that grows anywhere and has never killed anyone. The 30 million spent by the pharmaceutical industry in 2008 is just the tip of the iceberg. When you lump that in with how much the banks make laundering all that cash,the multi-billion dollar budget of the ONDCP and all the organizations supported by keeping marijuana illegal,it is still just greed that keeps our government and society running.

Mexico's Drug War is a National Security Threat

Mexico's drug war poses a serious national security threat to the U.S.:

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