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Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #630)
Consequences of Prohibition

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 over 19,000 people, with a death toll of nearly 8,000 in 2009 and over 3,000 so far in 2010. 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:

Minerva Bautista, wounded in recent Michoacan attack
Wednesday , April 21

In Monterrey, gunmen raided two hotels and kidnapped at least six people. The incident began when dozens of gunmen stormed the Holiday Inn at around 3:00am and went room to room looking for specific individuals -- taking at least four guests while allowing others to leave. The hotel receptionist and possibly a security guard were also abducted. Another receptionist was abducted from a hotel across the street. The gunmen were apparently being led to the fifth floor by a handcuffed man with whom they arrived. Before the attack, the gunmen blocked off access to and from the hotels by parking stolen trucks in the road.

Friday , April 23

In Ciudad Juarez, six federal police officers and a local policewoman were killed in an ambush. The incident took place after two patrol cars were flagged down for assistance by an unidentified man, only to be ambushed by several gunmen. On Monday (April 26), Mexican police arrested five suspects in the incident, all thought to be members of La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juarez Cartel. In addition to the killing of the police officers, the gunmen confessed to 39 other homicides since 2009, and at least 21 extortions.

Saturday , April 24

In Michoacan, gunmen attacked the motorcade of a high-ranking public security official. Four people were killed and eleven were wounded, including the Michoacan State Security Secretary, Minerva Bautista. Gunmen wielding AK-47's and using fragmentation grenades attacked the convoy, sparking a firefight in which two bodyguards were killed, as well as two civilians who were caught in the crossfire.

Meanwhile, in Monterrey, a soldier was wounded and six gunmen were killed in a clash between the army and suspected drug traffickers.

Sunday , April 25

In Sinaloa, hooded prisoners killed four men inside a prison. The four men had been at the prison for 15 minutes and were on their way to a medical checkup when they were attacked and stabbed by the assailants. It was later reported the four men who were killed had been under investigation in the murder of several police officials, including two police chiefs. Violence is common in Mexican prisons, and many local jurisdictions have complained of having to house violent federal inmates with ties to drug cartels alongside common delinquents.

Wednesday , April 28

In Ciudad Juarez, gunmen shot dead eight individuals inside a bar in the center of the city. At approximately 4:00am a group of 20 gunmen entered the bar and ordered most clients and staff to leave, before leading the eight victims to a parking lot where they were shot. At least two of the dead were adolescents. The bar where the incident took place is just two blocks from a hotel where a large contingent of federal police officers is housed.

In another part of Ciudad Juarez, three men were shot dead and another left seriously wounded after being attacked in a shopping center parking lot.

In Nuevo Leon, soldiers raided a ranch in Sabinas Hidalgo and found 16 hostages. After a brief firefight with approximately 10 gunmen, two of whom were killed, soldiers stormed the compound and discovered the 16 hostages, which included a mother and child. The other eight gunmen managed to escape into the nearby mountains. It appears that the ranch and the gunmen belonged to the Zetas Organization. At least three of the hostages had been taken at gunpoint from an improvised checkpoint on the Monterrey-Reynosa highway.

The incident was the second hostage rescue in 24 hours in Nuevo Leon. Earlier, soldiers had raided another location in the town of General Bravo and rescued seven hostages, most of whom were local farmers who were being held as part of an extortion plot.

In Acapulco, 26 local police officers were taken into custody by Mexican Navy personnel. The police were taken into custody on suspicion of being involved in illegal activities in the sectors to which they were assigned, and of being in possession of a large collection of automatic weapons that were not registered with the police department. Additionally, one of the vehicles searched in the operation was found to contain a large bag of marijuana.

Total Body Count for the Year: 3,349

Total Body Count for the Week: 208

Total Body Count since Calderon took office: 19,660

Total Body Count 2009: 7,724

Read the last Mexico Drug War Update here.

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.


La gente podría estar consumiendo lo que le gusta (si le gusta) en paz, en sana convivencia. Los que venden podrían estar haciendo un dinerillo al respecto pero el escenario se ha violentado, la voluntad de consumir drogas se ha visto envuelta en escándalos, penalización, despojo, discriminación, ejecuciones, al grado de que se piensa que son acciones inseparables.

El precio y las características de la adicción arrojarían enormes ganancias a los vendedores, serían la nueva clase económica privilegiada por encima del gobierno que rebaja, denigra y se mueve perfectamente entre la sedimentación, su sustento.

Un consumo pacífico en un ambiente de legalidad y cordialidad sería una alternativa paradisíaca y los partidarios de ese libre uso no lo han conseguido. La imagen de la droga se sigue manchando, gangsterizando. Unos grandulones violentos sin respeto por la vida ajena, sin valorización de su propia vida, han contribuido cabalmente para que esta situación sea fáctica. Al hombre se le niega la capacidad de poder regular su conducta, se duda que en un ambiente de libertad tenga la voluntad de optar por la abstinencia y el beneficio propio. Se le cree incapaz en determinado momento de decir no a lo que lo perjudica, a lo que está minando su salud. Y eso es no tener fe en la humanidad. ¿Legalización es caos? Legalización es paz, es libertad...

saludos cordiales
César Espino Barros

Sat, 05/01/2010 - 1:26am Permalink
malcolm kyle (not verified)

Prohibitionists dance hand in hand with every possible type of criminal one can imagine.

An unholy alliance of ignorance, greed and hate which works to destroy all our hard fought freedoms, wealth and security.

We will always have adults who are too immature to responsibly deal with tobacco alcohol, heroin amphetamines, cocaine, various prescription drugs and even food. Our answer to them should always be: "Get a Nanny, and stop turning the government into one for the rest of us!"

Nobody wants to see an end to prohibition because they want to use drugs. They wish to see proper legalized regulation because they are witnessing, on a daily basis, the dangers and futility of prohibition. 'Legalized Regulation' won't be the complete answer to all our drug problems, but it'll greatly ameliorate the crime and violence on our streets, and only then can we provide effective education and treatment.

The whole nonsense of 'disaster will happen if we end prohibition' sentiment sums up the delusional 'chicken little' stance of those who foolishly insist on continuing down this blind alley. As if disaster wasn’t already happening. As if prohibition has ever worked.

To support prohibition is such a strange mind-set. In fact, It's outrageous insanity! --Literally not one prohibitionist argument survives scrutiny. Not one!

The only people that believe prohibition is working are the ones making a living by enforcing laws in it's name, and those amassing huge fortunes on the black market profits. This situation is wholly unsustainable, and as history has shown us, conditions will continue to deteriorate until we finally, just like our forefathers, see sense and revert back to tried and tested methods of regulation. None of these substances, legal or illegal, are ever going to go away, but we CAN decide to implement policies that do far more good than harm.

During alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, all profits went to enrich thugs and criminals. Young men died every day on inner-city streets while battling over turf. A fortune was wasted on enforcement that could have gone on treatment. On top of the budget-busting prosecution and incarceration costs, billions in taxes were lost. Finally the economy collapsed. Sound familiar?

In an underground drug market, criminals and terrorists, needing an incentive to risk their own lives and liberty, grossly inflate prices which are further driven higher to pay those who 'take a cut' like corrupt law enforcement officials who are paid many times their wages to look the other way. This forces many users to become dealers themselves in order to afford their own consumption. This whole vicious circle turns ad infinitum. You literally couldn't dream up a worse scenario even if your life depended on it. For the second time within a century, we've carelessly lost "love's labour," and, "with the hue of dungeons and the scowl of night," have wantonly created our own worst nightmare.

So should the safety and freedom of the rest of us be compromised because of the few who cannot control themselves?

Many of us no longer think it should!

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 6:28am Permalink
Nancyf (not verified)

Hmmm....seems to me that those drug cartels had a hand in the destruction of our economy, as much as they were taking out.

Sun, 05/02/2010 - 5:26pm Permalink

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