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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 more than 36,000 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:

Drug prohibition funds the mayhem in Mexico. (Image via
Tuesday, April 26

In Tamaulipas, two gunmen were killed after shooting at an army convoy that was patrolling the highway between Nueva Ciudad Guerrero and Ciudad Mier.

Thursday, April 28

In Tamaulipas, six gunmen were killed during a fierce clash between suspected members of the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel in the towns of Aldabas and Arcabuz. According to some accounts over 40 SUVs full of gunmen participated in the clashes, in which the army eventually intervened.

In Sinaloa, seven people were killed in a series of fire fights which began after an attack on a police station in the town of Guamuchil. Nobody was killed or wounded in the initial attack, which was carried out by a convoy of five vehicles. The convoy later left the bodies of four men who had been abducted earlier on the road, but was then ambushed by a group of rival gunmen. Three members of the convoy were killed and several vehicles were later found abandoned.

Friday, April 29

In Toluca, Mexican authorities handed over former Tijuana-cartel kingpin Benjamin Arellano-Felix to US Marshals to be extradited to the United States. Arellano-Felix has been in prison in Mexico since 2002. His three brothers have all been captured or killed. The cartel is no under the leadership of his nephew Fernando, but is thought to pay the Sinaloa Cartel for the right to the points of entry into California.

In Ciudad Juarez, a massive arsenal was found hidden in a home gym in an upscale neighborhood. The stockpile included three anti-aircraft weapons, dozens of assault rifles and grenades, 50 military uniforms, bulletproof vests and 26,000 rounds of ammunition.

Monday, May 3

In San Antonio, Texas, former Mexican president Vicente Fox said that the only way to end the violence in Mexico is for the United States to legalize drugs. "As a country, we are going through problems due to the fact that the United States consumes too many drugs," he said.

In the Ciudad Juarez area, four people were murdered. Eight people have been murdered in the area in the first three days of May, and 808 have so far been murdered in 2011, according to statistics kept by researcher Molly Molloy.

Tuesday, May 4

In the city of Cuautitlan Izcalli, near Mexico City, five headless bodies were discovered on the backseat and in the trunk of an abandoned BMW.

In Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon, six men were gunned down by heavily armed gunmen. Among the victims were 56-year old Moises Chavez, his two sons, and an unidentified neighbor.

[Editor's Note: We believe our body count is seriously understating the actual number of people killed. Mexican officials this week put the number of dead in April alone at 1,402. We will continue to try to find an accurate way of compiling these numbers.]

Total Body Count for the Week: *34

Total Body Count for the Year: *2,308

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

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

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

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

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war through 2010: 34,883

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