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Mexico Drug War Update

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #702)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues

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 22

In Veracruz, the Mexican navy announced that 11 bodies were discovered in several parts of the city. Additionally, police assaulted three journalists outside a morgue and ordered them to delete photos that they had taken.

In Sinaloa, gunmen shot and killed the nephew of former Juarez Cartel boss Amado Carrillo Fuentes, "the Lord of the Skies." Francisco Vicente Castillo Carrillo, 18, was traveling along a highway when he was intercepted by gunmen wielding AK-47's, causing him to lose control of his vehicle, which caught on fire.

Saturday, September 24

On several Mexican websites, a group of armed paramilitaries posted a message in which they vow to eliminate the Zetas Organization. The men, all dressed in black, claim to be the "armed wing of the people" and offer apologies to the public and the Mexican government, and condemn corrupt civil servants in various Veracruz municipalities. A similar video was recently issued by a Sinaloa Cartel allied organization called the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which is challenging the Zetas for control of the Veracruz region.

Sunday, September 25

In Ciudad Juarez, at least eleven people were murdered in several incidents in the city. Among the dead was the chief of an important municipal police station in Babicora who was gunned down as he walked to his car at the end of his shift.

Monday, September 26

In Mexico City, the Defense Secretariat announced that 22 suspected cartel members were killed and three soldiers wounded during a 15-day sweep in the states of Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Coahuila and San Luis Potosi. Operation Scorpion, which began on September 10, resulted in 13 engagements and the rescue of 14 kidnap victims. The operation also netted 118 handguns, 459 rifles, 84 grenades, 272 vehicles, and significant quantities of cash and narcotics.

In July, a similar operation, "Northern Lynx," led to the arrest of nearly 200 suspects and the death of another 30, most thought to have been members of the Zetas.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least three people were killed, including a woman who was kidnapped and later found with her throat slit. One of the other victims was discovered with his hands and feet bound and executed.

Tuesday, September 27

In Acapulco, five decomposing heads were found outside an elementary school. The heads were placed in a white bag atop a wooden box, in full view of students and faculty.

In Tamaulipas, heavy fighting was reported in several cities. In Matamoros, prolonged firefights took place in several locations, in some instances lasting over half an hour. The initial gun battle broke out between rival cartels, but Mexican authorities arrived shortly after, leading to a three-way fight. Fighting later spread to other areas of the city as gunmen set up road blocks to interfere with the army's movements. The International Bridge to the US was temporarily closed.

In the Rio Bravo area, several incidents were reported, including grenade attacks on a movie theater and a state police building.

In Reynosa, three different grenade attacks were reported which resulted in no casualties. Grenade attacks were also reported on a Federal Electric Commission warehouse in Ciudad Victoria.

On a highway near McAllen, Texas, a 32-year old Mexican national was shot and killed along with a 22-year old passenger. Authorities have said that the driver, Jorge Zavala, has ties to the Gulf Cartel in Reynosa and Matamoros, leading to speculation that he was killed because of an internal power struggle within the cartel.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least four people were murdered. Among the dead were two men who were snatched by heavily armed gunmen from a residence earlier in the day. Both were found shot dead and showing signs of torture.

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.): 7,400

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.


tempname_54343 (not verified)

Decades into the drug war, with no end in sight, we continue to pour money into violence, both directly, through the DEA (almost 90% of course going to combat marijuana), and indirectly, by funding the Mexican govt's campaign and by our ridiculous prohibition laws that, rather than curbing the US drug market (by far and away the largest in the world), just drive people into the black market, channeling billions into the hands of ruthless thugs. UNBELIEVABLE.

We are causing this war. We can stop it. The majority of Americans want an end to the violence. AND YET IT GOES ON AND THE BODY COUNT RISES.

Wed, 09/28/2011 - 8:57pm Permalink

You should publish and comment President Calderon's change of attitude in the past 2 weeks as he tells the US "if you reduce drug consumption you should seek market alternatives". A subtle way of saying the "L" word. Look for the CBS interview.

President Calderon has been the US most faithful ally on this failed war on drugs policy and now he questions this failed strategy. 

You should also do a follow-up on the Fast and Furious scandal. Fox News. 

Also, you might want to follow the business community proposal from  Monterrey, Mexico to legalize all drugs in Mexico as way to reduce violence. This group is following the Global Commission on Drug Policy  Report recommendations.

Although the export market generates more profits for the mafia, it is Mexico's domestic market that generates most of the violence as it fights for every corner, school and neighborhood, and recruits taxi drivers, barmen and local police.

An open letter was published in July 17th proposing a national debate on the subject and there have been televised debates in the Senate.

Mexico's awareness is changing and beginning to understand the direct link of prohibition and violence.

Thu, 09/29/2011 - 11:59am Permalink
billy396 (not verified)

 As the U.S. federal and state governments continue to pour billions into the "drug war", it is readily apparent to anyone with a rational thought process that, as in 1929, prohibition DOESN'T WORK.  It never has, and it never will.  No matter how many people that you kill, no matter how many people that you lock in chains and throw into warehouses, prohibition will not stop people from using substances to alter their perception of reality.  The fact remains that people do, and will continue to, use substances, whether these substances are legal or illegal.  This has been the case from the beginning of recorded human history.  The only reason that the government refuses to admit to the facts is because of our government's overwhelming desire to control and micro-manage every facet of human existence.  This is in direct opposition to our national Constitution, which recognizes that human beings have inalienable rights and that our government was NOT set up to control people, but to ensure that people would be free to pursue their own lives without undue government interference.  The government's job is to enforce the Constitution, period.  They have NO OTHER authority than the enumerated powers granted to the government in our Constitution.  The Constitution is very clear on this, in particular in the Tenth Amendment.  Government over-reach has resulted in all of the lives that are being wasted in the drug war today.  Prohibition CAUSES the crime and the deaths.  The government is not the solution to our problems, it is the CAUSE of our problems.

Thu, 09/29/2011 - 12:23pm Permalink

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