Latin America: Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debussman, 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 20,000 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:

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/malverde1-smaller.jpg
shrine to San Malverde, Mexico's ''narco-saint,'' Culiacan, Sinaloa
Friday, May 14

In Tamaulipas, a mayoral candidate was shot and killed after having received repeated death threats. Jose Mario Guajardo was a member of the National Action Party (PAN), the conservative political party of President Felipe Calderon. Reports indicate that he had been threatened with death if he did not abandon his political campaign. Also killed in the incident were his son and an employee. Guajardo was running to be mayor of Valle Hermoso, a town 30 miles south of the border from Brownsville, Texas.

In Culiacan, Sinaloa, a series of raids by the Mexican military led to the arrest of Griselda Lopez Perez, the wife of Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. Perez had been wanted on money laundering charges. In an interesting (and still unclear) twist, Perez was promptly released by the authorities and returned to her home near Culiacan. Several sources have reported that President Calderon played a role in her release, fearing reprisal attacks on the part of the Sinaloa Cartel. The Calderon administration has repeatedly been accused of favoring the Sinaloa Cartel and, at the very least, focusing its efforts on other cartels. Perez is the mother of Guzman's son Edgar, who was killed in 2008 after a feud between him and the Beltran-Leyva brothers. Guzman has had at least three wives, and is most recently thought to have married a 17-year old beauty queen in the Sinaloan countryside in an extravagant wedding secured by some 200 gunmen.

Saturday, May 15

Across northern Mexico, at least 18 people were killed in the states of Coahuila, Durango, and Zacatecas. In the city of Torreon, Coahuila, a group of men armed with high-powered rifles opened fire in a bar, killing eight. In Zacatecas, gunmen opened fire on a police vehicle, killing two officers and four civilians who were traveling with them.

In Durango, four decapitated heads were found placed on the hood of a truck. A note left at the scene suggested that the men had been killed by the Zetas Organization for being involved with the shooting in Torreon. The bodies of the men -- all apparently university students between the ages of 18 and 20 -- were found in the bed of the truck.

In Sinaloa, six men were found murdered in several parts of the state. Two of the dead were found on the side of a highway, each with 18 bullet wounds. Sinaloa has long been at the center of the Mexican drug trade, and the majority of traffickers in leadership roles in the Sinaloa, Tijuana, Beltran-Leyva and Juarez cartels hail from the state.

Tuesday, May 18

In La Union, Guerrero, the majority of the local police force quit two days after gunmen ambushed and wounded two of their officers. Six of eleven remaining officers resigned. State police have been deployed to the town until further notice.

In Ciudad Juarez, police arrested Juan Padilla Juarez, 28, on charges that he has participated in at least ten homicides. He is thought by Mexican police to be a member of La Linea, the armed wing of the Juarez Cartel.

Wednesday, May 19

In Gonzalez, Tamaulipas, a group of armed men attacked the local Federal Police headquarters with automatic weapons. One person was killed and two were wounded, although it is unclear whether the dead were civilians or policemen. Authorities are investigating the incident.

In Mexico City, a former general who had been tied to cartels was shot and wounded. Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro was incarcerated in 2000 on charges that he had protecting Amado Carillo Fuentes, the former leader of the Juarez Cartel who died during a botched plastic surgery in 1997. Chaparro was released in 2007 after a judge ruled that the evidence against him was insufficient. Additionally, in 2002, Chaparro was accused and found not responsible for the disappearance of leftists during the 1970's. He remains in intensive care.

In the city of Chihuahua, at least eight people were killed including the uncle of a local political candidate. Hilario Lozaya was the uncle of Salcido Loyoza, a local PRI candidate.

In Washington, President Calderon made an official state visit and met with President Obama. Although the main topic discussed between the two was the Arizona immigration law, they pledged greater cooperation on drug and arms trafficking between the two countries.

[Editor's Note: We still have no explanation for last week's El Universal body count of 684, but are in contact with the Mexico City daily to try to resolve the issue.]

Total Body Count for the Year: 3,954

Total Body Count for the Week: 84

Total Body Count since Calderon took office: 20,281

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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