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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 around 40,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest or killing 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:

All the drug busts in Mexico don't seem to make a difference. (image via Wikimedia)
Wednesday, July 27

In Veracruz, a local newspaper published an editorial strongly denying that a recently slain journalist had ties to drug trafficking organizations. Last week the state attorney general said that journalist Yolanda Ordaz De La Cruz -- who was found decapitated and tortured -- may have been killed by one gang because of her ties to another. The newspaper, Notiver, has called on state attorney general Reynaldo Escobar to publicly apologize and resign.

In Ciudad Juarez, Interior Minister Francisco Blake said that federal forces would not be withdrawn from Juarez, despite a statement Tuesday by Mayor Hector Murguia that federal police would be withdrawn in the area in September. The relationship between local security forces and the federal police is notoriously bad. Just last week, federal police shot at the convoy of municipal police chief Julian Leyzaola.

Friday, July 29

In the city of Chihuahua, authorities captured a high-ranking figure in La Linea, the armed wing of the Juarez Cartel. Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez, "El Diego," is alleged to have participated in some 1,500 murders in the Ciudad Juarez area. Among the crimes he's accused of masterminding is the murder last year of a US consulate employee and the January 2010 massacre of 15 teenagers at a party.

Saturday, July 30

In Nuevo Laredo, about 80 local leaders including the mayor demanded that the local police force be reinstated. The Nuevo Laredo municipal police was disbanded in June and replaced with military personnel pending the vetting and testing of local police. Crime has since continued to rise. 21 other municipalities in Tamaulipas also had their security duties taken over by the Mexican military.

Sunday, July 31

In Ciudad Juarez, two people were murdered. According to researcher Molly Molloy, this brings July's total to 216, including 13 women and 8 minors.

In Michoacán, police arrested the head of the Knights Templar Organization for the city of Apatzingan. Nery Salgado Harrison, 24, has been in charge of the Apatzingan area since 2009 and is thought to be heavily involved in the production and local distribution of meth. The Knights Templar is an off-shoot of La Familia, which splintered into quarreling factions after the death of boss Nazario "El Chayo" Moreno in December 2010.

Monday, August 1

In Acapulco, federal police captured a high-ranking leader of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco. Moises Montero Alvarez, 42, "El Koreano," was captured along with one other suspect. Alvarez is thought to be connected to the September kidnapping and murder of 20 tourists from Michoacán, after apparently being mistaken for members of La Familia.

In Nuevo Leon, a police supervisor and his son were gunned down in front of a school in the town of San Nicolas de las Garza.

Tuesday, August 2

In Ciudad Juarez, authorities announced the arrest of a prison director and four guards in connection with last week's deadly clashes which killed 17 inmates in Ciudad Juarez's municipal jail facility. The director, Lucio Cuevas, is accused of granting favors to inmates. Video of the shooting shows guards letting in gunmen to open fire on inmates.

In Coahuila, authorities captured Valdemar Quintanilla Soriano, allegedly the number two financial operator of the Zetas Organization. Quintanilla is also thought to have connections to the top tier of Zetas leadership, such as Heriberto Lazcano. Another man was also taken into custody.

In Reynosa, five gunmen were killed in a fire fight with the army. The city used Twitter and other social networking sites to warn residents of the fighting, which took place at around noon in the Las Fuentes area of the city. Reynosa is just across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Total Body Count for 2007: (approx): 4,300

Total Body Count for 2008: (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2009: (approx.) 9,600

Total Body Count for 2010: (official) 15,273

Total Body Count for 2011: (approx.): 6,600

Mexico
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Flipside

How many thousands have these drug lords killed by either people using their drugs OR flat out violence?  Having family and friends go through drug related issues I don't have any sympathy for them dieing.  By all means the Officials should do their upmost to avoid violent confrontations, but we all know that MOST drug dealers are not going to lay down their guns and give up peacefully.  

How many drug lords have held towns hostage and killed anyone who objected to them?  How many innocent victims just south of the Texas border have these drug lords killed because of mistaken identity?  

If you want to be taken serious as a journalism resource you have got to report on BOTH sides, rather it helps your agenda or not.  To be a responsible outlet in the fight AGAINST the drug war you need to show why or why not it matters.  But the problem is that by doing that you will be showing that drug cartels are MUCH MUCH worse then the war on drugs will ever think to be.

Be far and balanced and report BOTH sides of the story, regardless of how it makes you look.

You want to look at it fairly?

How's this for fair. Would these gangs even be in existance if there was no drug war? Were they in existance before drug prohibition? Did they/would they have resources and cash to be this powerful without drug prohibition? The answer is no.
No matter what, the root cause is the Drug War, plain and simple. Cut the head off of the snake and the body dies.

How's that for fair reporting?

Cautiously Optimistic

 

No one who follows the news thinks everything is going well in Mexico, but I am cautiously optimistic that Mexico may have turned the corner in the fight against organized crime.  Looking at the body count above, for the first time since 2006, the rate of death is decreasing.  On average in 2010, 1,250 people died every month compared to 2011 where it has been around 940.  I am also seeing a lot more stories in newspapers where cartel leaders are arrested.  I believe this is occurring because the Mexican police and the military are improving their capabilities while the cartels are weakened from five years of fighting.

 

"I'm not saying this is the end, or even the beginning of the end, but it may be the end of the beginning."

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