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Mexico Drug War Update

Submitted by David Borden on (Issue #642)
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 nearly 25,000 people (the Mexican attorney general put the death toll at 24,826 on earlier this month), with a death toll of nearly 8,000 in 2009 and over 6,000 so far in 2010. 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:

DEA 'wanted' poster with members of Arellano Felix cartel
Friday, July 23

In San Diego, Federal authorities announced criminal charges against 43 members of the Tijuana-based Arellano-Felix Organization. 31 of the 43 men are in custody, 27 of them having been arrested in the United States. Among the arrested men was Jesus Quinones Marques, the director of international liaison for the Baja California attorney general's office. He is accused of attempting to plant information about murders in local newspapers in an attempt to blame rival gangs.

Saturday, July 24

In Ciudad Juarez, the murder rate passed 6,000 since January 1st, 2008. As of Saturday, there had been 235 murders in July, and 1,645 so far in 2010. In 2009, there were 2,754 and 1,623 in 2008. On Saturday, 10 people were killed in several incidents in the city. Four of the dead were killed when gunmen attacked a barbershop, and another three were killed in an attack on a house.

Sunday, July 25

Mexicans officials now claim that gunmen who committed a massacre last week in Torreon were let out of the prison at night to carry out drug-related killings. The prisoners are thought to be involved in at least three mass shootings in Torreon this year, killing a total of 35 people. Ballistics testing has also indicated that the weapons were those of prison guards, who lent them to the hit men.

In Nuevo Leon, at least 51 bodies were discovered by authorities after a three-day excavation of a mass grave. The grave site spanned a 7-acre area, and most of the dead seem to be men between 20 and 50, many of them tattooed. Similar mass graves have been found in Tamaulipas, Guerrero and Quintana Roo in recent months.

Monday, July 26

In Guerrero, six men were found dead inside a car near the town of Chilpancingo. A sign reading, "This will happen to all rapists, extortionists and kidnappers. Attentively, the New Cartel of the Sierra," was left with the bodies. Authorities are now investigating this previously unheard of organization. The car was reportedly taken from its owner after he was stopped and hijacked on a road.

In Sinaloa, two men were ambushed and killed by gunmen in Culiacan. The men -- Jose Antonio and Luis Alberto Vega Heras -- were the son and nephew of a known high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel, known as El Gaucho. Additionally, two other men were killed in the city. Killings were also reported in Morelos, Jalisco, and Chihuahua, including at least five in Ciudad Juarez.

In the Laguna region of Durango and Coahuila, four journalists went missing after being kidnapped by an unknown group. Two were cameramen from Televisa, one was a reporter for Multimedios television, and one a reporter for El Vespertino. Three were kidnapped Monday at around noon and the fourth on Monday night.

Tuesday, July 27

In Durango, eight severed heads were found left in pairs along a highway. In Puebla, three federal agents were killed by gunmen during a firefight. A relative of the Governor-Elect was assassinated in Parral, Chihuaha. In Tamaulipas, the army claimed to have captured nine Guatemalan citizens during operations against drug gangs.

Wednesday, July 28

In Ciudad Juarez, two severed heads were discovered in coolers with the bodies left nearby. Along with the bodies were left notes which read "I'm a kidnapper and extortionist. I'm an Azteca" and "I do carjackings and work for La Linea and the Aztecas." The Aztecas are a street gang affiliated with the Juarez Cartel, and La Linea is the enforcement wing of the Juarez Cartel.

Total Body Count for the Week: 236

Total Body Count for the Year: 6,671

Read the previous 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.


Alejandro Sanchez (not verified)

Sad to see this is happening in my country. Legalize drugs and all this violence will stop.

Thu, 07/29/2010 - 3:49pm Permalink
David Johanson (not verified)

Hate to say it but my drug habit finances the cartels. I live in Boson, MA. Marijuana has been decriminalized and I burn and ounce a week. Somebody has to supply it since weed is now mainstream. Too bad law enforcement needs this drug war jobs program. 

Fri, 07/30/2010 - 3:34am Permalink

Thank you for your coverage of this incident.

The reasons for the current crisis in Mexico,  are many and complex.   The state of journalism and the free press,  is desperate.

The numbers of reporters kidnapped,  assaulted,  and killed in Mexico has risen steadily in the past years,  since well before the murder of Bradley Will in Oaxaca in 2006.

The official statistics do not report every incident,  and reflect a deteriorating situation in which both the free press and other institutions of civil society are increasingly threatened.  Amid these incidents,  the severing of heads has become a powerful and gruesome symbol of what cannot be said,  and what reporters "should not write about."

In the past years,  there have been many other murders and assassinations,  including those of mayors,  policemen,  judges,   businessmen and others who failed to yield to corruption.  A continued situation of intimidation,  threatened or collapsing civil,  social and economic institutions prevails,  and expands along with the violence.

Just over two months ago,  the council of mayors declared that close to half the territory of Mexico had fallen out of their and Federal Control.

I am not sure it is appropriate for your forum,  and you may delete them if you wish,  but I will link to my translations of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)'s ten-point plan for Mexico.  AMLO outlines both a different perspective on what is occurring and why,  and a different plan of action:

Mexico continues to appoach its most difficult hours.  We pray your goodwill,  and the support of all who have an interest in Mexico.

Fri, 07/30/2010 - 3:20pm Permalink

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