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Mexico Drug War Update

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #664)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues

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 30,000 people, including more than 12,000 this year. 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:

Zetas wanted poster, US State Dept.
Thursday, December 16

In Chihuahua, Marisela Escobedo Ortiz was shot and killed in front of the governor’s office. Ortiz had been well-known for her protests and activism after the 2008 murder and dismemberment of her 16-year old daughter Rubi Frayre by her boyfriend Sergio Barraza. Barraza, thought to be a Zeta, was captured a year later in Zacatecas but was released after being exonerated by a Mexican court. Another court reversed the decision, but Barraza remains a fugitive. Barraza is thought to have ordered the killing of Ortiz, and had previously been implicated in several death threats against her life. The murder was caught on security camera video.

On Friday, heavily armed gunmen burned down a lumberyard belonging to Ortiz’s partner, Jose Monje Amparan. His brother, Manuel, 37, was kidnapped during the attack. He was later tortured, strangled and thrown from a moving vehicle.

Friday, December 17

In Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, over 140 inmates escaped through the main vehicle entrance of a prison. It is suspected that prison guards were complicit in the escape. The prison director is missing along with the 141 escapees. Soldiers and Federal Police surrounded the prison after the incident.

In Zuazua, Nuevo Leon, a car bomb exploded outside a police station, wounding two people. It is unclear whether the two events are related, but the Zetas and Gulf Cartel are both extremely active in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.

Saturday, December 18

In Ciudad Juarez, at least six people were murdered in several incidents. In one incident, a car with Oklahoma license plates was ambushed by gunmen, killing two men and wounding an 18-year old female and three children. In another incident, a man was found dead and wrapped up in a blanket. These killings bring the December total to 130. The yearly total is now being variously being reported as being somewhere between 3,000 and 3,100.

Sunday, December 19

In Guatemala, authorities declared a state of siege in Alta Verapaz province. According to the Guatemalan government, several cities in the province -- including the capitol, Coban -- have been overrun by members of the Mexican Zetas organization. Under the state of siege, the army is allowed to detain suspects and conduct searches without warrants, as well as control local gatherings and local media.

[Editor's Note: No body count this week because El Universal, on which we rely, has not updated theirs. But the Mexican attorney general's office reported last week that this year's death toll had reached 12,456 as of November 30 and that the number of dead since Calderon called out the troops in December 2006 was 30,196 -- although they conceded the numbers could be higher.]

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.


joebanana (not verified)

It's good to see all the lives that have been saved by the drug war, and that evil killer weed. Thank god we have the government protecting us from a drug that hasn't been responsible for ONE death. And it's not even a drug it's a herb. When is the government going to start prescribing drugs at hospitals, and clinics, since they know more than doctors on the subject?


Wed, 12/22/2010 - 2:44pm Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

As if it’s not enough to note that the death toll has exceeded 30,000, and it’s not, there were 27,000 drug war arrestees in 2010 alone according to Agence France Presse, each of which count as drug war victims in their own special way.,000_arrested__in_mexico_drug_war_in_2010/

Despite an impressive showing of arrests, the violence escalates.  The death toll mounts.  To say that governments have the ability, let alone the responsibility, to carry on with an absurd drug war, is to be in complete denial.  The beat goes on.


Fri, 12/24/2010 - 2:36pm Permalink

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