Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

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 an estimated 23,000 people, with a death toll of nearly 8,000 in 2009 and over 5,000 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:
Ciudad Juárez (courtesy Daniel Schwen, Wikimedia)
Thursday, June 17

Just across the border from Rio Grande, Texas, eight gunmen were killed after opening fire on an army patrol near an artificial lake bed. Three soldiers were killed in the incident. In an unrelated incident, another suspected cartel gunman was shot dead by the army in Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

Saturday, June 19
In Chihuahua, gunmen killed the mayor of a small town near Ciudad Juarez. Manuel Lara, 48, the mayor of Guadalupe Distrito Bravo, was killed by unidentified gunmen at his home. The area around Ciudad Juarez has been increasingly dragged into the bloody turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez Cartels for control of the Chihuahua drug trafficking corridor.

Sunday, June 20

In Ciudad Juarez, 12 people were killed in various armed incidents throughout the city. Over 1,300 murders have occurred in Ciudad Juarez in 2010, including some 200 in June. Ciudad Juarez has some 1.5 million residents. For comparison's sake, in New York City (with a population of some 8.5 million), 471 people were murdered in 2009. Over 2,500 were killed during the same time period in Ciudad Juarez.

Monday, June 21

In Durango, ten men were killed in various incidents. Among the dead were six charred bodies that were found near the municipality of Santiago Papasquiaro. In Gomez Palacio, two men, including the son of a high-ranking local official, were shot dead by gunmen. In the city of Chihuahua, two men were shot dead after a group of six was shot at. In Veracruz, the decapitated bodies of two provincial officials were discovered.

Tuesday, June 22

According to the Fund for Peace/Foreign Policy Magazine, Mexico has risen two places in the index of failed states. Mexico is now #96 out of 177 countries which make up the list. In 2009, Mexico was #98. The lower the number, the more dysfunctional the country.

In Nogales, Arizona, police say they have received credible intelligence that members of an unspecified cartel may attempt to harm officers. According to the Nogales PD, the threat comes after a 400-pound marijuana bust was made by two officers on horseback.

Thursday, June 24

In the municipality of Guadalupe, near Monterrey, three gunmen were killed and 18 were captured during a clash with the army. Additionally, three vehicles and 1,200 kilos of marijuana were seized.

In Durango, eight "narco-camps" were raided and seized by elements of the army. Additionally, in Sonora, a state police investigator and another person were killed after being ambushed in a mountain town.

In Ciudad Juarez, seven people were killed, including three members of CIPOL, the police intelligence service. Another policeman was found dead and rolled up in a rug in Guasave, Sinaloa, a known stronghold for drug traffickers.

Total Body Count for the Week: 241
Total Body Count for the Year: 5,451

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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