Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre Resigns

Thursday, October 23, 2014 |

Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat

Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre has resigned.

Pressure had been building since the events of September 26th became an international story and outrage.
On September 26th and the early hours of September 27th students studying at the Normal School, (teacher college) in hopes of becoming elementary school teachers, came under attack in the Guerrero city of Iguala. Buses carrying the students and a futbol team bus came under gunfire killing 8, in three separate attacks, attributed to municipal police allegedly under the direction of Guerreros Unidos cartel, the Iguala mayor and the mayor’s wife. 43 of the students called normalistas were kidnapped at the time of the last attack and are still missing.

Governor Aguirre’s name has also been highlighted as if not directly involved with the attacks, perhaps has been complicit in other crimes, or at best case allowed criminality to prevail with impunity.  The accusations have gained in strength and opinion, something Aguirre could not overcome.

Since Wednesday Aguirre has been in negotiations for his resignation, and since then he has negotiated demands for replacements in key state government positions of responsibility.  It has not been announced as yet what was finally decided upon.  

On October 8th in three points of the city of Acapulco, mantas (banners) were hung:

The three were found; Next to Los Cruces Church, a bridge at Vicente Guerrero Blvd and in the Juarez sector.

The message is addressed to Mexico president Enrique Peña Nieto;
Mr President Enrique Peña Nieto, we are fed up with the massive crime in this town, because of Victor Aguirre, aka "El Feo",  with help and support of his cousin, the Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero"
Victor Hugo Aguirre Garzón, is first cousin of the governor of Guerrero,rumors say the governor's  campaign was financed by Beltran Leyva, and he has ties to Guerrero Unidos and their allies.  

His cousin Victor is the leader of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, an ally of Guerreros Unidos.

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Kill The Messenger; The Gary Webb Story


The real Gary Webb and the actor Jeremy Renner playing him in Kill the Messenger
By DD for Borderland Beat
In the 1990’s Gary Webb was a Pulitzer Prize  investigative journalist working for a regional newspaper in northern California.  In the summer of 1996 the San Jose Mercury News published Gary’s investigative series called Dark Alliance about CIA/cocaine trafficking resulting in a crack cocaine epidemic on he streets of LA .  (full text Dark Alliance at link below)

By the end of 2004 Gary had been attacked and discredited as a journalist by the MSM, and was considered unemployable after his applications for employment had been turned down by over 20 newspapers.  He reportedly committed suicide on Dec. 10, 2004.

.MOVIE The Story of Gary Webb

Gary’s story and his message has been resurrected in a movie released last week (Oct.10), KILL THE MESSENGER.
Kill the Messenger  hit the cinemas on October 10 and tells the true story of Gary Webb’s saga that others tried so hard to make disappear. There is Oscar buzz over Jeremy Renner’s portrayal of Webb (Renner, 43, has twice been nominated by the Academy: best supporting actor for Our Town in 2010, and best actor for The Hurt Locker in 2008; and through the Avengers, Mission Impossible and Bourne franchises, Renner is one of the world’s biggest box office draws.)  

Kill the Messenger is based on the book by the same name by Nicholas Schou and on Webb’s own book, Dark Alliance. Michael Cuesta (Homeland, Dexter) is the director. Investigative journalist Peter Landesman is the screenwriter. 

This is no boring documentary. It’s an action-packed full-scale Hollywood epic with a star-studded supporting cast: Michael Sheen, Paz Vega, Andy Garcia, Michael Kenneth Williams, Ray Liotta, Oliver Platt and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, among others, join Renner in the ensemble.

  Gary Webb - the messenger - will not be with us to see this movie about him.  Gary’s message, however, is here to stay.


The CIA involvement in drug trafficking was not a new story.  Ten years prior, first-term US Senator John Kerry had held hearings and issued a 1,100-page report that had reached the same conclusion. The nation’s major news outlets gave the Kerry Committee Report scant attention, but the record had been established. It was an airtight case.
The Central Intelligence Agency had broken US law by brokering planeloads of cocaine into the United States, and millions of dollars in those drug profits were used to fund the Contra army seeking the violent overthrow of the Nicaraguan government. The CIA did so to get around the US Congress, which had voted to ban US funds going to that terrorist organization. 

The Reagan administration, even as it ramped up the “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign at home, entered the cocaine business through private contractors coordinated by the CIA.
Webb"s investigation  came across from the other end of that officially-sanctioned cocaine trail while reporting on a drug case in California, and followed the trail in reverse: from the crack-plagued neighborhoods of Los Angeles to the federal courtroom where lower level traffickers were prosecuted, to a Nicaraguan prison to interview the Contra army’s banker, to the real drug kingpins behind it all: decision makers in Washington DC. Webb documented what had happened to that cocaine when it entered California. 

Cocaine had previously been the hundred-dollars-a-gram drug of choice of yuppie bankers and lawyers. But when dealers figured out how to convert it to crack, teenagers, poor and working folks could afford it at five or ten bucks a pop. Then the problems compounded when they kept  needing more of an addictive and prohibited substance.

Gary Webb in his own words.

IT WAS OUTRAGOUS BUT IT WAS TRUE (Gary talking to a class at the School of Authentic Journalism in Mexico which he co-founded)

Gary Webb "People Realized They Had Been Lied to"

Gary Webb "You Could Read this Story Anywhere in the World" 


  The CIA denied the charges, and every major newspaper in the country  took agency's word for it. Gary Webb was ruined. Which is a shame, because — as Charles Bowden revealed in this 1998 Esquire story — he was right. Borderland Beat reprinted the Esquire article by Charles Bowden, titled “The Pariah” in a thread posted by SiskiyouKid on Dec/ 30, 2013 (link below).

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La Tuta's Wife Arrested


Ana Patiño López, 46 years old and the first wife of the leader of Los Caballeros Templarios, Servando Gómez Martínez, alias "La Tuta", was arrested around 5:20 PM on Wednesday, October 23 while driving on the Occidente highway in a Volkswagen Passat without license plates.  The arrest was part of an operation by the Attorney General of Justice of Michoacán in the municipality of Álvaro Obregón (located in the north of the state, northeast of Morelia) and occurred near the international airport of Francisco J. Mújica.

Upon her arrest, she attempted to bribe the agents, offering 200,000 pesos to be let go.It is unclear if she is currently married to "La Tuta", though she is the mother of his children, including Huber Gómez Patiño, who was arrested in June of this year.

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Ebola and Terrorists Aside, Our Border Is Pretty Secure


                    Does anyone have a fever?  Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images         

The U.S.-Mexican border has had quite a year. In the spring, it offered the spectacle of tens of thousands of Central American children (and some mothers) crossing, hoping to have their tickets punched for the American Dream. Now, with Ebola and Islamic State terrorists dominating our imaginations, the border features in political ads as the unhinged back door through which our nightmares enter.

Despite such earnest warnings from deeply sincere political candidates, the border is not actually so bad. Ebola and Islamic State terrorists do not appear to be crossing in overwhelming quantities. However, more than 2,400 unaccompanied minors did cross the border in September. That's about 8,000 fewer than in June, when traffic peaked. September's pace would put the U.S. on track for almost 30,000 children per year, flooding an immigration court system with a backlog of 400,000 cases. Still, it's worth noting that the greatest challenge along the U.S side of the border right now seems to be migrant children.

The border will never be sealed; if land routes ever become impassable, migrants and traffickers will arrive by sea. It will remain a problem as long as desperation exists in the south and an enormous appetite for illegal drugs (and cheap labor) rumbles up north. For the most part, however, the future is looking up. Violent crime along the U.S. side has been trending down, even if yelling about it has not. Illegal immigration has also declined significantly over the past decade. Meanwhile, more than $1 billion worth of goods and more than one million people legally cross the U.S.-Mexico border daily.

I'm not the only optimist.

Princeton professor, Douglas Massey, a sharp critic of the U.S. border crackdown, envisions a more open, free-flowing border in 25 years. "That would be rational given that Mexico's income is rising relative to that in the U.S., fertility is at parity with the U.S., and Mexico is becoming an aging society," he wrote in an e-mail.

"The boom in undocumented migration is over for good, in my opinion, and at some point the cost of massive border enforcement will exceed its symbolic political value."

Stuart Anderson, a policy advisor at the Immigration and Naturalization Service under President George W. Bush, suggested that U.S. politics will evolve to meet the challenge. “I think 25 years from now illegal entry will be much less of a concern because Congress would have passed measures to allow legal work visas for lower-skilled jobs in the U.S. and economic and demographic changes south of the border will likely mean less interest in coming to the United States to work," he wrote via e-mail. "It then will be easier for technology and border personnel to monitor the border once natural economic forces are directed into legal channels, as opposed to today, when workers from the south often enter the black market in labor and utilize human smuggling cartels because legal avenues are not considered a viable option.”

In other words, improved economies south of the border, and more rational migrant labor policies north of it, will lead the way to more legal border crossings and fewer illegal ones. Simon Rosenberg, a pro-immigration advocate, points out that even with all the border's troubles, that future is already unfolding: Trade is increasing as illegal immigration declines. "It's been a policy success," he said by e-mail.

Of course, it's possible that these people don't get out much, that they live in ivory towers or gated communities or homes for the deluded and blinkered. Or it's possible that they're a little more honest about the realities of the U.S. border than the sleazy politicians trying to scare the rest of us.

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From Michoacán to Guerrero, the Narco State


Veracruz: Students from the University of Veracruz join the protest for the Ayotzinapa case

By: José Gil Olmos | Translated by Valor for Borderland Beat

The Narco State is one of the most recent meanings to define the structure where organized crime has become the government and the politicians, governors, and drug traffickers are all the same.  It isn’t about the infiltration or the corruption, but of the symbiosis of these last two figures in which all of the power is concentrated and they function to control a territory with the laws of violence and terror.

This is what has happened more clearly in Michoacán and Guerrero than in other states in the last decade, under the apathy of governors and political parties who don’t care about the conditions of violence and the safety of the population that suffers havoc caused by an unconventional war, but only care about staying in power at all costs.

 For decades, we have witnessed the merger or symbiosis between politicians and drug traffickers with the cases of former governors of Quintana Roo, Mario Villanueva Madrid; Tamaulipas, Tomás Yarrington; Morelos, Sergio Estrada Cajigal, and long before with Enrique Álvarez del Castillo in  Jalisco or Víctor Manuel Tinoco in Michoacán.

Also with generals Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, Ricardo Escorcia, Cuauhtémoc Antúnez Pérez, head of the 7th Military Region in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas; Juan Manuel Rico Gámez, Commander of the 35th Military Zone based in Chilpancingo, Guerrero; Roberto Aguilera, retired Major General and head of the Narcotics Intelligence Center (CIAN) during the administration of Vicente Fox; Luis Rodríguez Bucio, head of CIAN during the early presidency of Felipe Calderón and former commander of the 64th Military Garrison in Cancún, Quintana Roo, and Brigadier General Moisés García Ochoa, former director of the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA).

No legislators and mayors escape such as the PRD representative Julio César Godoy Toscano, who is currently a fugitive; the mayor of Ixtapan de la Sal, Ignacio Ávila Navarrete; the PRI mayor of Apatzingán Uriel Chávez Mendoza; Aldo Macías Alejandres (PRI-PVEM), the Major of Uruapan;
Gildardo Barrera (PRI), the major of Churumuco; Arquímides Oseguera (PRD), of Lázaro Cárdenas; Martín Arredondo (PAN), of Jacona; Jesús Infante (PAN), of Ecuandureo; Juan Hernández (PRI), of Aquila; Jesús Rivera (PRI), of Tumbiscatío; Rosa Hilda Abascal (PAN), of Zamora, and Elías Álvarez Hernández, former Secretary of Public Security of the state of Michoacán.

The list goes on, and it’s long.  The Narco State was forming for years in an environment of corruption, impunity and injustice; cultivated by governors of all parties to the levels we have today with its terrible consequences such as the 2010 San Fernando Massacre; the executions in Tlatlaya; or the recent disappearances of the normalistas of Ayotzinapa.

In the Narco State, the new group in power, the narco-politicians, control territory to establish their own empire of taxation, extortions, and kidnappings; its own economy with laws of the global market, with partners from other groups in other countries who not only sell drugs, but other agricultural products such as precious metals, minerals, and hydrocarbons.  Its own law.

That’s what we clearly see in Michoacán and Guerrero, the formation of the Narco State, where the two governors, Ángel Aguirre Rivero and Fausto Vallejo (former governor), have been accused of receiving money for their campaigns by organized crime and then allowing criminal gangs to rule and control the territory above everyone, and with the collusion of all other authorities.

Source: Proceso

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Tijuana: Businessman attempts to cross 10 kilos

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 |

                                           Acclaimed Tijuana businessman arrested with 10 kilos

Manuel Almada Gaxiola, 44, a prominent Tijuana businessman, was stopped by US Customs, (ICE) at the San Ysidro point of entry, on October 16th, 2014.   He was driving a red Dodge Ram Truck, in which was allegedly concealed 10 kilos of cocaine.  

Gaxiola, and his son, own and operate, by most admissions, a successful glass company in Tijuana.  He  has not been seen or heard from since the day he was stopped at the border, fueling speculation he had been kidnapped.  It is likely he has been in federal custody in San Diego, at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, temporary custody for defendants awaiting trial, and not yet sentenced.  

Protocol for federal cases involving smuggling attempts through the international border, is dependent upon the the size and scope of the matter.  It is likely without cooperation with authorities that Gaxiola would be released anytime soon, given the amount of cocaine in his vehicle.  It is also likely Gaxiola, as many failed smugglers do, is claim he was under duress, or threat.  

In Tijuana, and across the border, there are cases of 'blind mule' smuggling, where unknowing and unwitting mules have drugs secretly attached to their car, which are covertly removed after the crossing.   The recorded cases are usually pounds qualities of marijuana, which costs roughly $150 a kilo in the Sinaloa mountains, and 300-500 upon entry to the US, depending upon quality.  10 kilos carries a value of between 25-28k after the cross, making it an easy 200k worth of product.  
Eugenio Velazquez, Tijuana architect
This would likely not be a load entrusted to a 'blind mule', but likely a result of an arrangement between the businessman and drug smugglers, reached for financial reasons, or more manipulative ones.  Businessmen such as Gaxiola are assets to smugglers because they cross the border often, and are considered 'clean' some even possessing Sentri passes, allowing for a cross in 15 minutes, without inspection.  It is unknown if Gaxiloa possessed one at this time.  

Nearly 2 years ago, in December 2012, Eugenio Velazquez, a prominent architect in Tijuana was sentenced in San Diego Federal court to 1 year imprisonment, 6 months to be served in a halfway house, for attempted to cross about 5 kilos of cocaine.  In court filings and briefs presented to the judge, by his high priced, federal defense attorney, Jeremy Warren, Velazquez outlined a story of deception, friendship, and betrayal.  

Packed for smuggling
He was contracted to do some design work on a ranch in Tijuana, several weeks into the job he observed suspicious individuals following him, and his client offered to provide security, on the job, and to and from work.  In Tijuana, where brutal kidnappings are common, and few are safe, Velazquez accepted.  Months later, the client informed him his bill was past due.  40,000k for the bodyguards and protection, or he could cross the cocaine, and the debt would be forgiven.  He and his family would be killed, in any other version of the proposition.  

Not having the money, and being the loser of a coin toss, between him and a associate, Velasquez drove the kilos up to the inspection point, on his wife's birthday, in their minivan, where the smugglers had concealed the drugs.  Velazquez, as will Gaxiola, faced a mandatory minimum of a 10 year sentence, but the judged ruled in favor of leniency, based on his clean record, and likely his cooperation with federal prosecutors, allowed for a much lower sentence.

If the story of Gaxiola follows the same trajectory as Velasquez, he will be released on a small bond, and receive a downward departure for his cooperation.  It's a murky world of promises, deceit, greed, and for some death, and tan jumpsuits in federal prison.  

Sources:  AFN Tijuana, Ut San Diego, Huffington Post 

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Normalistas: Record Breaking100k person March in Mexico City


Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat

Supporters of the missing normalistas lead a  massive march to the angel of Independence at the Zocalo, the main plaza of Mexico city.

Leading the march were the families, and colleagues of the 43 students missing since the face an attack by police in  September.

This is the second massive march in Mexico City in the past two weeks.   Leading, the families held a banner and image posters representing each of the missing student.

Supporters are demanding that  Guerrero and federal authorities find  the location of the victims. 

Some are calling the march, “record breaking numbers”, journalist Ioan Grillo, attended the march and reports that the massive march was far greater than reported in the press.  He estimates more than 100k.

Father Alejandro Solalinde, was among the attendees, who this week revealed that, according to testimony given to him, students were incinerated, some dead, some alive and some wounded but alive when burned.  The activist Catholic priest internationally recognized for his work with migrants, and the impoverished,  and civil rights  causes confirmed that tomorrow at noon he will be go to the  Attorney General's Office (PGR) to give his statement

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Iguala: "We've found about 300 bodies in two years"


Borderland Beat Chivis and Lala

The story that began on September 26th, with the attack on the buses carrying the normalistas and one bus with a futbol team, took time but eventually became a huge global story.  But this story is not the big story and journalists should not be satisfied with this event and not dig further.

This reporter went back 6 months in Iguala regional newspapers hunting for stories about fosas.  I restricted my search for 6 months and only in the area where the recent fosas were found.  In April and August I posted articles of two fosas found, one had 28, the other 32 bodies.  The total for 6 months was over 100 bodies.  100 bodies in and near a town with just over 100k population.  If there were 100 bodies discovered, many times that figure are yet to be found. The photo above is from one of those discoveries.

The government could and should bite the bullet and ask for assistance of  countries with technology and skilled personel to search for bodies. People of Iguala report that the killings have been transpiring for over 4 years
Below is a translation by Lala Milenio
Inhabitants of Las Parotas, the closest community to the area where the clandestine mass graves were found, tell us how they live.

Life in las Parotas, the town closest to the clandestine graves in the vicinity of Iguala. The peasant village of thirty shacks built between small fields in the foothills of the mountains where an unknown number of human remains were found. Las Parotas and its gigantic clandestine cemeteries in the middle of thick vegetation: "Here, to tell you the truth, in all these hills we have found about 300 bodies in the last two years," says a commander of the Guerrero Ministerial Police, while smoking a cigarette. He guards the paths leading to the crime scene.

But, how is life for the rural families living in the vicinity? Some of the settlers, fearful, tell stories like this...

A mother and her two daughters chatting outside their humble home. The oldest and more vivacious daughter speaks first, she is in her twenties, dressed like an urban girl rather than a young peasant woman:

"At night and in the morning we used to hear cars heading up. Armored cars (with tinted windows). We thought it was people going to check their fields, we didn't think they were coming to throw dead people. At night we would hear shootings. Since there are deer up there, we thought it was hunters. But it wasn´t deer. The blasts could be heard and, yes, we were scared, but bah... - makes a dismissive gesture."

The mother reveals:

"It didn´t happen daily, just now and then." We thought they were coming for the deer, because at night they come down to drink water. It is ugly to live close to where they bury the dead, but we have nowhere else to go. Here a bit further they threw a dead body. Two years ago some human bones were found. And up in the hills, clandestine graves. We want peace already.

A mother of three children  who play all around, among ducks, chickens and goats, lets us inside her home. One of the children hangs two rattlesnake skins from a nail on the wall. They grind the insides of snakes to feed their cows. So they give better milk. The woman tells us:

"We sometimes hear the shots, but not always because I turn on my music, the dogs bark and I fall asleep. They are not from here, they come from elsewhere, and here they make their mess. I close my door and that's it. Six months ago they came from Iguala following a guy at five am. A boy went outside, he had no bathroom inside his home, and those who were following the other guy thought it was him and shot him. Yes, it is dangerous. And then down there they threw a body and buried it. The police said that the man was all tattooed. 

How did they know that,  if they were yet to retrieve the body? 

They (the police) were the same ones who came to throw it. My children are afraid of the police. When the trucks pass by my husband says to me: ' whatever you see or hear, don´t come out of the house. Do not go out, they are throwing them (bodies), and they will shoot you to keep you silent '.
So, yes, the mere truth, yes, we live in fear. And then right there, where that rancho is, a band came about a year ago. And from here they were removing them, the dead bodies, to take them up there (to the hills where the graves are). My husband said to me: ' Don´t even think in talking, don't talk, because if you do they will come for us '.
All day they were up and down. When they were caught, we tored down the house they had put up. They kept their abductees there. Young men. Three months ago some local men went up there to fetch firewood (to the area where the graves were found), but they weren´t allowed to go up there. The first and the second time they were warned not to go there again, and the third time they were beaten up badly so they wouldn´t go there again. 
These men were going to hunt deer, but the two legged kind", the woman giggles nervously.

His son, who is a preteen, wants to talk. He says:

"They kept them also in the caves up in the hills. There are pots, cans of beans, fish (tuna) in there. They beat them. There are ropes hanging too (where the kidnapped people were tied, the boy presumes). You can see blood on the floor. Spread all over (he moves the hands pointing out a large portion of the soil). You can see up there where they were thrown. We don´t go there anymore". The mother chides him and insists him to not go to the hill anymore.

Life in las Parotas, there, at the foot of the hills with clandestine graves and caves of blood...

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Iguala Mayor and Wife Allegedly Behind Dissapearance of Student (Updated)


The Attorney General of Mexico, Jesús Murillo Karam, announced today that warrants for the arrest of the fugitive mayor of Iguala, Guerrero, José Luis Abarca Velázquez, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, have been issued as they were likely the masterminds of the disappearance of 43 students on September 26. 

Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, the leader of Guerreros Unidos who was arrested on October 16, confirmed the rumor that the mayor and his wife had commanded the secretary of Public Security, Felipe Flores Velásquez, to stop the students from arriving at a speech to be given by Maria. Police officers from Iguala and Cocula (in that city, acting on orders of César Nava González, deputy director of police there) received orders to stop individuals traveling by bus.  

Thus, members of a soccer team were shot at in the actions and once the bus containing the students was identified, they were rounded up and turned over to members of Guerreros Unidos, specifically a lieutenant of Sidronia with the alias "El Gil".  Fearing that they were members of their enemies, Los Rojos, the students were summarily executed, though other reports indicate that they were killed in order to help protect the officials that were colluding with Guerreros Unidos. Sidronio claims to have not ordered the killings, but admitted that he did not act to prevent it when consulted.

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