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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 35,000 people, including more than 15,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest 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:

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/wanted1.jpg
wanted poster, US Embassy in Mexico
Thursday, January 13

In Ciudad Juarez, eight people were killed. One of the victims had been shot approximately 70 times with AK-47 rounds. His body was found by reporters after police left after not being able to immediately find the body when they arrived.

Friday, January 14

In Ciudad Juarez, 11 people were murdered across the city. In one incident, a triple homicide occurred in a junkyard after an attack by heavily armed gunmen. Three other men were wounded.

In Xalapa, Veracruz, 12 gunmen and two soldiers were killed during a six-hour gunfight. The target of the raid remains unclear.

Saturday, January 15

In Veracruz, a police commander was kidnapped by heavily armed men after being forced off the road by an SUV. A police officer was later wounded in an exchange of gunfire with the suspects.

Monday, January 17

In Chihuahua, fourteen prison inmates escaped through a hole in the wall. A vehicle charged through a metal fence and picked the men up. Five have been recaptured. Prison escapes are very frequent in Mexican prisons.

Tuesday, January 18

In Oaxaca City, Mexican Federal police captured a founding member of the Zetas Organization. Flavio Mendez Santiago, 35, was in charge of Zetas operations in Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz and controlled migrant trafficking of migrants from other parts of the Americas and drug trafficking routes through Central America. He joined the Gulf Cartel in 1993 after deserting from the Army, and siding with the Zetas when the organization split with its former employers.

In Guatemala, the government extended a state of siege in the province of Alta Verapaz. Drug trafficking in the area has been controlled by the Zetas since the 2008 assassination of a local Guatemalan drug boss.

In Mexico City, a well-known trafficker was arrested in the upscale Bosques de Lomas neighborhood. Jose Jorge Balderas, 34, is also suspected in the shooting of a Paraguayan soccer player in a Mexico city bar.

Thursday, January 20

In Ciudad Juarez, a policeman was killed during a daytime firefight with armed suspects inside a crowded shopping center which sent civilians running for cover to avoid the crossfire.

Friday, January 21

In Guerrero, Mexican authorities made a record seizure of opium gum. Approximately 245 kilos of opium paste were discovered from a house in the town of Chilpancingo.

Saturday, January 22

In Tamaulipas, ten gunmen were killed during a prolonged firefight with the army.  The incident occurred near the rural village of Valle Hermoso after soldiers were fired upon as they approached a camp of armed men. Among the weapons discovered at the camp were a rocket launcher and 20 grenades.

In Pachuca, Hidalgo, a policeman was killed and three others were wounded by a car bomb. The officers had been responding to reports that a body was inside a car when the explosives detonated. Initial reports suggest the bomb was the work of the Zetas, possibly in retaliation for the death of two Zetas at the hands of police in the nearby town of Tula.

Sunday, January 23

In Ciudad Juarez, seven people were gunned down at a park built as part of a city rehabilitation campaign called "we are all Juarez." During the incident, gunmen arrived in three vehicles and fired over 180 high-caliber rounds at a group of youths playing soccer. Mexican media are reporting that the intended target was someone involved in street-level drug dealing.

Six other people were killed in other incidents in Juarez, including a woman who was apparently stabbed and stoned to death.

Monday, January 24

In Mexico City, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Tuesday, January 25

In Ciudad Juarez, federal police officers attacked the mayor’s convoy, killing one of his bodyguards. Mayor Hector Murguia claims two masked federal officers approached a house where he was holding a meeting and opened fire on his bodyguards even though they identified themselves. Federal police are saying they opened fire after the bodyguards refused to identify themselves and did not lower their weapons.

Wednesday, January 26

In Mexico City, soldiers conducted operations against suspected Zetas. It is the first military operation against drug traffickers conducted in the Mexico City area. So far, only several weapons have been recovered and it appears no arrests have been made. At least 30 heavily armed and masked soldiers participated in the operations.

Total Body Count for the last two weeks: 402

Total Body Count for the year: 538

Total Body Count for 2010: 15,273

Total Body Count for 2009: 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: 34,612

Total Body Count for Calderon's drug war to date: 35,150

Mexico

Agent Fired for Legalization Views Sues Border Patrol

The US Border Patrol is being sued by a former agent who was fired in 2009 after expressing opinions in support of drug legalization and of sympathy for illegal immigrants to a coworker. In a lawsuit filed in US district court for the Western District of Texas in El Paso last week, former agent Bryan Gonzalez, 26, alleges he was fired for exercising his First Amendment rights to free speech.

Bryan Gonzalez (r) graduates from the Border Patrol Academy (Image courtesy Bryan Gonzalez via ACLU-NM)
Gonzalez was fired just before finishing his two-year probationary period with Customs and Border Protection's El Paso sector. That sector includes New Mexico and West Texas, and the ACLU of New Mexico (ACLU-NM) has taken up Gonzalez' case.

"Firing a public servant because of their political opinions is an egregious violation of the First Amendment," the ACLU-NM said in a press release. "We cannot require nor should we expect uniformity of thought within our law enforcement institutions. Purging the ranks of government employees who fail 'ideological purity' tests is about as un-American as it gets."

According to the ACLU-NM, things went south for Gonzalez after a conversation with a coworker: "Gonzalez pulled his vehicle up next to a fellow CBP agent who was in the same vicinity," the group said. "In the course of a casual discussion concerning the drug-related violence in Mexico, Gonzales remarked that he believed that legalization of drugs would be the most effective way to end the violence. He also related to the other agent that, as a former dual US-Mexican citizen, he understood the economic factors that drive migrants to cross the border without documentation to seek work," the group explained.

"Word of Gonzalez’s opinions on these matters quickly spread to his supervisor, who informed the Joint Intake Command in Washington, DC. Internal Affairs launched an investigation soon after, and the Border Patrol terminated Gonzalez in October 2009," the ACLU-NM noted.

In his termination letter, the agency wrote that Gonzalez held "personal views that were contrary to the core characteristics of Border Patrol agents, which are patriotism, dedication, and esprit de corps."

"I was terminated not because my service was inadequate, but because I hold certain opinions that are shared by millions of my fellow Americans," said Gonzalez. "I am no less patriotic or dedicated to excellence in my work because I respectfully disagree with some of our current border enforcement policies. It was wrong for the US Border Patrol to retaliate against me for exercising my free speech rights guaranteed by the very Constitution I swore to uphold."

Gonzalez is gaining support from at least one law enforcement group. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). LEAP issued a statement Tuesday saying it stood by Gonzalez.

"There's no doubt that the so-called 'war on drugs' is a gigantic failure and that it causes violence, hurts our economy and forces dedicated law enforcers to risk their lives in the line of fire for a lost cause," said Terry Nelson, a former US Border Patrol agent who is now a board member for LEAP. "But whether you think we should legalize drugs or not, you have to support the right of brave law enforcers like Bryan Gonzalez to exercise the First Amendment and share their views on policies that impact them on a daily basis."

Gonzalez and the ACLU-NM are asking the court to find that the Border Patrol violated his First Amendment free speech rights and are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

El Paso , TX
United States

Ex-Border Patrol Agent Sues Over Firing After Making Drug Legalization Statement

Localização: 
NM
United States
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit for a former Border Patrol agent who claims he was fired - just weeks before his probationary period ended - in part because he said drug legalization would reduce violence in Mexico.
Publication/Source: 
KVIA (TX)
URL: 
http://www.kvia.com/news/26575737/detail.html

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 30,000 people, including more than 13,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest 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,  January 6

In Ciudad Juarez, ten people were murdered across the city. At least two houses were burned down by heavily armed gunmen, including at least one in which they shot and killed a victim just before. In another incident, three people were shot dead.

In the nearby town of Guadalupe, at least one person was executed and several houses were burned down. The town has been without any sort of law enforcement or firefighters since the last police officer was kidnapped in December. She remains missing.

Friday,  January 7

In Coahuila, the body of the missing Zaragoza mayor was found in neighboring Nuevo Leon. Mayor Saul Vera Ribera had been missing since Wednesday after taking a trip to the state capitol of Saltillo. He had apparently been shot in the head.

Saturday, January 8

In Acapulco, 15 decapitated bodies were found on a sidewalk outside a shopping center. Two of the victims were 17 years old. A note left with the bodies suggests they were killed by members of the Sinaloa Cartel led by "El Chapo" Guzman. Handwritten posters left at the scene suggested that those killed had been extortionists in the employ of another cartel.

In another part of the city, six bodies were found stuffed in a taxicab. At least two other people were killed in separate incidents in the city. Additionally, ten people were kidnapped from a nightclub, three of whom were found dead the next day.

In Mexico City, four men were killed in a drive-by shooting. It is unclear whether this incident is related to narcotics trafficking.

In Ciudad Juarez, at least ten people were killed. In one incident, police found three bound and gagged men executed in a vehicle near the highway. In another incident, two men were gunned down by gunmen wielding assault rifles.

Monday, January 10

In the Monterrey suburb of Guadalupe, the local police department ordered its officers to remain in their stations. A similar order was issued by the Transit Police. This comes in the wake of violence on Friday which claimed the lives of four police officers and wounded three others. Police in the neighboring towns of San Nicolas, Apodaca and San Pedro are continuing patrols, but only in heavily armed convoys.

In Nuevo Leon, a well-known Zeta commander was killed after being stabbed over 20 times in prison. Gabriel Ayala Romero was well-known for his involvement in distributing pirated goods, as well as drug trafficking and violence. He had been in prison since being captured by the army in June 2009.

Tuesday, January 11

In Ciudad Juarez, it was revealed that the body of a woman found a few days previously was that of poet and social activist Susana Chavez. Susana had been outspoken in calling for justice in the countless unexplained femicides that have occurred in the city. Three men are in custody for the murder.

Total Body Count for the Year: 136

Two Border Towns Changed by Drug Prohibition War

Localização: 
Tornillo, TX
United States
Tornillo, Texas and Guadalupe, Mexico are two small towns separated by only a fence. In one, residents go about their daily business. In the other, the community lives in constant fear. KTSM in Texas reports on how the drug prohibition war has deeply changed the relationship between the border towns.
Publication/Source: 
KTSM (TX)
URL: 
http://www.ktsm.com/mexico/two-border-towns-changed-by-drug-war

If You Think a Border Wall Can Stop Drugs, You're So Wrong

One of the dumbest opinions you can have in the debate over drug policy is the idea that tougher borders can help stop the flow of drugs. If that's your best plan for making the drug cartels go away, I'd love to know what you have to say about this:


I don't know if this has been authenticated, so it's possible the video's creator used CGI or hidden wires, or maybe the women depicted are Olympic gymnasts with exceptional agility unmatched by your average night-lurking narcotics-trafficking troublemaker. But my first guess is that it's really just a couple of young women shimmying up the border wall in a matter of seconds without breaking a sweat. It stands to reason that most healthy people could accomplish the same thing, thereby rendering rather ridiculous the notion that any such obstacle could thwart the notoriously resourceful sorts who make it their business to go places they aren't supposed to go with items they aren't supposed to have.

I think the lesson here really ought to speak for itself, but it's probably just a matter of time before border-crazed drug war fanatics begin insisting the fence must be made taller and affixed with various barbs and booby traps. When that fails to accomplish anything whatsoever, I'll be happy to discuss sensible, cost-effective alternatives to the war on drugs.

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 30,000 people, including more than 12,000 this year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest 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:

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/zetas-wanted.jpg
Zetas wanted poster, US State Dept.
Thursday, December 16

In Chihuahua, Marisela Escobedo Ortiz was shot and killed in front of the governor’s office. Ortiz had been well-known for her protests and activism after the 2008 murder and dismemberment of her 16-year old daughter Rubi Frayre by her boyfriend Sergio Barraza. Barraza, thought to be a Zeta, was captured a year later in Zacatecas but was released after being exonerated by a Mexican court. Another court reversed the decision, but Barraza remains a fugitive. Barraza is thought to have ordered the killing of Ortiz, and had previously been implicated in several death threats against her life. The murder was caught on security camera video.

On Friday, heavily armed gunmen burned down a lumberyard belonging to Ortiz’s partner, Jose Monje Amparan. His brother, Manuel, 37, was kidnapped during the attack. He was later tortured, strangled and thrown from a moving vehicle.

Friday, December 17

In Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, over 140 inmates escaped through the main vehicle entrance of a prison. It is suspected that prison guards were complicit in the escape. The prison director is missing along with the 141 escapees. Soldiers and Federal Police surrounded the prison after the incident.

In Zuazua, Nuevo Leon, a car bomb exploded outside a police station, wounding two people. It is unclear whether the two events are related, but the Zetas and Gulf Cartel are both extremely active in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.

Saturday, December 18

In Ciudad Juarez, at least six people were murdered in several incidents. In one incident, a car with Oklahoma license plates was ambushed by gunmen, killing two men and wounding an 18-year old female and three children. In another incident, a man was found dead and wrapped up in a blanket. These killings bring the December total to 130. The yearly total is now being variously being reported as being somewhere between 3,000 and 3,100.


Sunday, December 19

In Guatemala, authorities declared a state of siege in Alta Verapaz province. According to the Guatemalan government, several cities in the province -- including the capitol, Coban -- have been overrun by members of the Mexican Zetas organization. Under the state of siege, the army is allowed to detain suspects and conduct searches without warrants, as well as control local gatherings and local media.

[Editor's Note: No body count this week because El Universal, on which we rely, has not updated theirs. But the Mexican attorney general's office reported last week that this year's death toll had reached 12,456 as of November 30 and that the number of dead since Calderon called out the troops in December 2006 was 30,196 -- although they conceded the numbers could be higher.]

Mexico

Ciudad Juárez Prohibition War Death Toll Now at 3,000 for 2010

Localização: 
Ciudad Juárez, CHH
Mexico
With still two weeks left in 2010, Ciudad Juárez is setting a new record in the number of drug prohibition war killings.
Publication/Source: 
KFOX (TX)
URL: 
http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/26138849/detail.html

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 30,000 people, including more than 9,000 this year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest 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:

Ciudad Juarez
Wednesday, December 1

In Ciudad Mier, Tamaulipas, a town official said that residents have begun to return to the town nearly a month after being forced to flee by groups of marauding gunmen thought to belong to the Zetas Organization. Army operations are ongoing in the area. The area has been hard hit by fighting between the Zetas Organization and their former employers, the Gulf Cartel.

Friday, December 3

In Morelos, authorities arrested a 14-year old boy accused of beheading and mutilated his victims while operating as a cartel assassin. Edgar Jimenez, aka "El Ponchis," was taken into custody as he attempted to fly to Tijuana, with the eventual goal of fleeing to San Diego, where it has been said he is originally from. He stands accused of operating as part of a unit of assassins which included his 19-year old sister. It has also been alleged that he cut off the heads of his victims and mutilated their genitals.

Saturday, December 4

In Ciudad Juarez, at least 16 people were murdered across the city. In one incident, four municipal police officers were shot and killed after being ambushed by cartel gunmen using automatic weapons and traveling in at least three vehicles. This brings the number of police killed in the city this year to 136, 61 of whom were members of the municipal police.

In another incident, six people were gunned down when armed men stormed an auto-repair shop.

Sunday, December 5

In Ciudad Juarez, four people were killed when armed men simultaneously attacked two drug rehabilitation centers, marking the latest in a series of bloody attacks on rehab facilities in the city.

In Tamaulipas, soldiers freed 16 hostages after shooting dead two gunmen near Ciudad Victoria.

Monday, December 6

In Ciudad Juarez, six people were killed in the city. Among the dead was Erika Elizabeth Silva Rivera, 31, a state investigator assigned to work sex crimes. A female partner of hers was wounded in the attack. In another incident, a bound man was shot dead and his body set aflame.

Tuesday, December 7

In Ciudad Juarez, five people were killed in the city. One incident was a triple homicide at a body shop. This brings the number of murders in the city to 2,932 for the year. About 7,300 people have been murdered in Ciudad Juarez since January 2008.

Total Body Count for the Week: 102

Total Body Count for the Year: 9,507

Read the previous Mexico Drug War Update here.

Mexico

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 30,000 people, including more than 9,000 this year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest 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:

just another drug smuggling tunnel -- how many more?
Friday, November 26

In Tijuana, the Mayor-Elect said he will replace police chiefJulian Leyzaola. Leyzaola, who took office in December 2008, was widely praised by the US and Mexican governments for his efforts to root out corruption in city police forces and for his efforts against cartels. Leyzaola has also been accused of police brutality and human rights abuses, and the state human rights ombudsman has said that Leyzaola personally participated in beatings of suspects accused of killings police officers. Several officers accused of corruption have said they were tortured by men under Leyzaola's command.

On the border between Tijuana and San Diego, authorities discovered a half-mile tunnel and seized some 20 tons of marijuana. It is the second such discovery in the past month. Eight people were arrested, three of them on the American side of the border.

Saturday, November 27

In Ciudad Juarez, police arrested a leader of the Aztecas gang who stands accused of being a key player in the violence in the city. Arturo Gallegos, 32, aka "El Farmero" is accused of being involved in 80% of the killings that have taken place in the city since August, including the murder of two US consulate employees, the murder of five federal police officers, and the massacre of 14 students at a house party. He is also suspected of being involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping, and extortion. The Aztecas gang works for La Linea, the armed wing of the Juarez Cartel.

Monday, November 29

In Palomas, Chihuahua, 20 bodies were discovered buried at a ranch. Soldiers discovered the site after being tipped off by several recently captured cartel members. Mexican news sources later reported that at least one of the dead had been identified as a US citizen.

In Meoqui, Chihuahua, a female police chief was gunned down. Hermila Garcia, 36, was ambushed by gunmen as she drove through the center of town. Several women have taken police chief positions in northern Mexico recently, as many potential male candidates are frightened that they will be assassinated.

Tuesday, November 30

In Michoacan, police arrested a suspected leader of La Familia Michoacana. Jose Alfredo Landa, 37, was thought to be in charge of LFM operations in the city of Morelia. Three other individuals were arrested and an AK-47 was seized, along with more than two dozen property titles and other documents that had come from various extortion plots he was involved in.

In Ciudad Juarez, ten people were murdered in several incidents in the city. This brings the monthly death toll to approximately 194 for the November, making it the second least violent month of 2010. According to El Diario, a local newspaper, 2,887 people have been murdered in Ciudad Juarez in 2010 as of December 1.

Total Body Count for the Week: 167

Total Body Count for the Year: 9,405

Read the previous Mexico Drug War Update here.

Mexico

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