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Mexico Drug War Update

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #701)

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:

Thursday, September 15

In Philadelphia, authorities announced the dismantling of a drug trafficking network with ties to the Sinaloa Cartel. In total, five people were arrested, three of them in Pennsylvania and two in Texas. Ten kilos of cocaine, cash and weapons were also confiscated.

In Matamoros, fire fights and blockades were reported in several parts of the city, effectively shutting the city down. Residents posted pictures of hijacked buses parked across streets and city officials confirmed that incidents occurred on the highway to Reynosa. It is unclear whether any fatalities occurred during the incidents.

Wednesday, September 16

In Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, a car bomb exploded during Mexican Independence Day celebrations. No injuries were reported.

In Querandaro, Michoacan, Independence Day celebrations were canceled after a group of 40 heavily armed gunmen arrived in the town’s main square and ordered the crowd to disperse or be attacked, causing people to flee in panic or hide inside government buildings. No injuries were reported.

Saturday, September 17

In Huamuxtitlan, Guerrero, the body of a missing federal congressman and his driver were found in a river. PRI congressman Moises Villanueva had been missing since September 4th, when the two men disappeared after leaving a party held by a fellow party member. Mexican media reported that both men had been shot and appear to have been dead for some time.

In the Monterrey suburb of Santa Catarina, authorities announced that 44 police officers have been taken into custody on suspicion of working as lookouts for and protecting the Zetas. At least 69 others are still under investigation.

Sunday, September 18

In Mexico City, a high-ranking Sinaloa Cartel leader was arrested. Jose Carlos Moreno Flores is thought to have been the head of the Sinaloa Cartel in Chilapancingo, Guerrero, and is known to have had ties to drug traffickers in Guatemala and Costa Rica. He is also thought to have played a key part in turf wars fought over Chilpancingo between the Sinaloa Cartel and rival groups.

Monday, September 19

In Veracruz, 32 prison inmates escaped from three facilities in simultaneous jail breaks. 14 of the inmates have already been recaptured and the Mexican military has deployed to search for the remaining 18. All 17 prisons in Veracruz are being checked to ascertain whether any other prisoners are missing.

Tuesday, September 20

In Michoacan, the army captured a high-ranking member of the Knights Templar Organization. Saul Solis Solis, 49, is a former police chief and at one time was a congressional candidate for the Green Party, finishing fourth in the 2009 congressional race for his home district. He is also suspected of being heavily involved in narcotics cultivation and meth production, as well as in multiple attacks on federal forces, including a May 2007 attack that killed an officer and four soldiers.

In Veracruz, the bodies of 35 people were dumped on a busy street near a shopping center by a group of heavily armed gunmen who pointed weapons at passing motorists. According to Mexican media sources, most of the gunmen were identified as having criminal records and links to organized crime groups. A banner left with the bodies claimed that the dead were Zetas. Some of the victims had their heads covered with black plastic bags and appeared to have been tortured. One of the bodies has been identified as a police officer who went missing two weeks ago.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least eight people were murdered in several incidents across the city. In one incident, three teenagers were walking along a street when they were intercepted by a group of gunmen, who killed two and severely wounded the third. In another incident, a 32-year old mother of 8 was shot dead outside her home.

[Editor's Note: We can no longer accurately enumerate the number of deaths in the Mexican drug wars this year. The Mexico City newspaper El Universal had been running a tally on which we relied, but it stopped. Our estimate for this year's death toll is just that -- an estimate.]

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.): 7,200


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.


saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

very clearly why cannabis needs to be treated so much more harshly than alcohol. But the reality is that leaders and supporters  of the war on marijuana users adamantly refuse to have the slightest discussion of the subject. I wish I could shake them and force them to get serious about this. It seems like it's just a frivolous game to them and the slaughter in Mexico just background noise.

Wed, 09/21/2011 - 9:55pm Permalink
Robert Walker (not verified)

The comparison of alcohol to marijuana to prove that marijuana is "safer" is as inane as attempting to prohibit the use of either.  The question isn't which is less damaging, the question is one of rights. 

It is my natural right to use marijuana, peyote, heroin, cocaine or any other drug if I choose.  I choose not to use alcohol.  That is a decision made by looking at the consequences of using alcohol, and having used it myself.  I did not like the result of having imbibed several beers or shots of harder liquor, or a combination thereof.  I will have an occasional beer at a social function, but one is usually my limit. 

I do not use marijuana, though I have in the past.  I enjoyed the high, but was more than a bit lethargic for a day or two, so I have elected not to use it.  But you may, as far as I'm concerned.  It is not my business what type of mind altering drug one uses, or whether or not one is used, as long as that use does not infringe on my natural rights. 

Empirical evidence show that alcohol use is more debilitating than marijuana use, but that does not mean that marijuana use is "better".

Thank you,

Robert Walker

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 2:56pm Permalink
saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

In reply to by Robert Walker (not verified)

if you think it's irrelevant to the debate that marijuana is MUCH safer than alcohol. It's irrelevant to you because you believe so strongly in your right to use cannabis and other substances. But no matter how strongly you (and I) feel about that, we still get only one vote and we ain't getting nowhere til we have a majority behind us, if then. Next you'll tell me that it's inane to think that black market violence has any relevance to the debate, and inane to think that the public sector's catastrophic financial state has any relevance to the debate, and inane to point out that black market dealers don't card for underage users, because all that matters is our right to use.

Mon, 09/26/2011 - 9:27am Permalink
james-vvvv (not verified)

In reply to by saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

okay how about this, since pot is illegal all alcohol and tobacco should be too.  the US is stupid because that is something that can generate income under the bull "sin tax" that alcohol and tobacco already have. not to mention the 500,000,000 a year we spend on just the people in jail. 

Also the last time i saw the checked, i have yet to hear of a case of a stone drive, t-boning a school bus full of kids, but the drunk ones, that seems to happen on a daily basis. 

if all that doesn't work, how about this: its not your body, it doesn't hurt you, you have not business in other peoples lives.

Tue, 10/02/2012 - 1:32pm Permalink
slang (not verified)

They have the capability to say yes or no to drugs, and do it in a responsible way. If the prohibition is legal we are denying people the maturity, we are denying the conditions of being adults. And more important than decriminalization is the recognition of the adult condition that is available when the majority of age comes, 18 o 21 years old. People vote for decriminalization but legislators are not our parents, president and gobernators are not are parents, United Nations are not our parents, DEA aren't. When we consider those people equals, brothers, then their right to prohibit something will not be subjeted to them. It will depends on us, let's vote for being adults abd for the recognition of our adulthood...

Thu, 09/22/2011 - 4:56pm Permalink
Denny (not verified)

Repeating the same behavior and expecting different results is what the drug war is all about.  Nobody learned from our first prohibition that all it does is create crime, corruption and violence.  Just say KNOW!


Mon, 09/26/2011 - 4:17pm Permalink

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