Thursday, June 22, 2017

Using Texts as Lures, Government Spyware Targets Mexican Journalists and Their Families

Posted by Yaqui and DD Republished from the New York Times

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President Enrique Peña Nieto, center, vowed last month to take concrete steps to ensure the safety of journalists in Mexico. Since 2011, the Mexican government has bought around $80 million worth of spyware for the stated purpose of combating crime. Credit Alfredo Estrella/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s most prominent human rights lawyers, journalists and anti-corruption activists have been targeted by advanced spyware sold to the Mexican government on the condition that it be used only to investigate criminals and terrorists.
The targets include lawyers looking into the mass disappearance of 43 students, a highly respected academic who helped write anti-corruption legislation, two of Mexico’s most influential journalists and an American representing victims of sexual abuse by the police. The spying even swept up family members, including a teenage boy.
Since 2011, at least three Mexican federal agencies have purchased about $80 million worth of spyware created by an Israeli cyberarms manufacturer. The software, known as Pegasus, infiltrates smartphones to monitor every detail of a person’s cellular life — calls, texts, email, contacts and calendars. It can even use the microphone and camera on phones for surveillance, turning a target’s smartphone into a personal bug.
The company that makes the software, the NSO Group, says it sells the tool exclusively to governments, with an explicit agreement that it be used only to battle terrorists or the drug cartels and criminal groups that have long kidnapped and killed Mexicans.
But according to dozens of messages examined by The New York Times and independent forensic analysts, the software has been used against some of the government’s most outspoken critics and their families, in what many view as an unprecedented effort to thwart the fight against the corruption infecting every limb of Mexican society.

“We are the new enemies of the state,” said Juan E. Pardinas, the general director of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, who has pushed anti-corruption legislation. His iPhone, along with his wife’s, was targeted by the software, according to an independent analysis. “Ours is a society where democracy has been eroded,” he said.

The deployment of sophisticated cyberweaponry against citizens is a snapshot of the struggle for Mexico itself, raising profound legal and ethical questions for a government already facing severe criticism for its human rights record. Under Mexican law, only a federal judge can authorize the surveillance of private communications, and only when officials can demonstrate a sound basis for the request.

It is highly unlikely that the government received judicial approval to hack the phones, according to several former Mexican intelligence officials. Instead, they said, illegal surveillance is standard practice.

“Mexican security agencies wouldn’t ask for a court order, because they know they wouldn’t get one,” said Eduardo Guerrero, a former analyst at the Center for Investigation and National Security, Mexico’s intelligence agency and one of the government agencies that use the Pegasus spyware. “I mean, how could a judge authorize surveillance of someone dedicated to the protection of human rights?”

“There, of course, is no basis for that intervention, but that is besides the point,” he added. “No one in Mexico ever asks for permission to do so.”

The hacking attempts were highly personalized, striking critics with messages designed to inspire fear — and get them to click on a link that would provide unfettered access to their cellphones.

Carmen Aristegui, a Mexican journalist, has been targeted by spyware, as has her teenage son. Credit Edgard Garrido/Reuters
Carmen Aristegui, one of Mexico’s most famous journalists, was targeted by a spyware operator posing as the United States Embassy in Mexico, instructing her to click on a link to resolve an issue with her visa. The wife of Mr. Pardinas, the anti-corruption activist, was targeted with a message claiming to offer proof that he was having an extramarital affair.

" El Cenizo " Arrested in Michoacán, Leader of the Caballeros Templarios

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Debate

WANTED : "El Cenizo"
Michoacán.- On Wednesday morning, June 21, the arrest of Ignacio Andrade Rentería, alias El Cenizo, in Parácuaro, was confirmed. The action was coordinated between the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) and the Attorney General's Office (PGR).

CAPTURED: "El Cenizo"
The information on the capture of one of the most powerful criminal of Michoacán, after the fall of Servando Gómez Martínez alias "La Tuta", former leader of the organization Knights Templar  (Caballeros Templarios) in 2015, was confirmed by the PGR.
WOUNDED: " El Cenizo"
Shoot Out
Authorities moved into the community on September 1, where they had intelligence information about the presence of the criminal cell that supposedly was in charge "El Cenizo" aka "Nacho" Rentería.
The locality deployed the troops that at one point were attacked by gunfire and immediately repelled bullets detonated by the gunmen.
In the fray two soldiers were injured and were carried off for medical attention. The officers managed to retract several gunmen and in the end as a result of the operation  "El Cenizo" was apprehended.
This was the plaza chief of the municipality of Múgica, and also the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación.

Andrade Renteria was injured and was treated at the Regional Hospital of Apatzingán. Both were transferred to Morelia by air for presentation to the Attorney General's Office.
A security operation was implemented in the state against possible actions (disturbances) on the part of the criminals by the capture.

 Daniel Rubio Ruiz, aka "El Cabezas", CNJG also Captured 
"El Cabezas"
In this regard, the governor of Michoacán, Silvano Aureoles Conejo, in his Twitter profile, sent a message congratulating the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) and the Secretary of Public Security of Michoacán for arresting "one of the Main Objectives in our security strategy ". He stressed that they will continue to work "without respite or rest for the safety of the Michoacans".
Gov of Michoacan, Silvano Aurelos Conejo
Morelia, Michoacan after being arrested in the municipality of Parácuaro by members of the Ministry of National Defense and Police Michoacán , Ignacio Andrade Renteria, "El Cenizo" , leader of the criminal group "Knights Templar" and one of its operators, Daniel Rubio Ruiz, "El Cabezas" , were transferred to the premises of the Delegation in Morelia of the Attorney General's Office. (PGR)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Narco-millienials: the sons of the Mexican Capos take control

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Noreste article

Subject Matter: Sons of Mexican Capos
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required

The new generation of narcos are unpredictable and volatile

The detention or assassination of the big Mexican capos has obligated the next generation. Now their sons are fighting for control of the organizations.

More than the sons of Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, there are a series of narco junior millenials, some in prison and others at liberty, that maintain the leadership and conserve the relation of power, that for their fathers would not be so easy.

The behaviors of this new generation will be unpredictable and volatile, affirms Carlos Flores, expert in criminal organizations and an academic of the Centre for Investigations and Social Anthropology.

They are unpredictable because they don't know who really has the power among their fathers. They don't know properly about leadership and agreements.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

San Jose del Cabo: Body Count Rises to 18 in Clandestine Grave

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from El Debate

NOTE by Yaqui:  There have been plenty of more murders in CSL, SJ del C and La Paz and in other communities in Baja California Sur since these events although I have not read of more graves or seen a report from the Investigation.

Extra Material from BCS Noticias
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur 

Beloved Veteran Journalist Max
Colectivo Pericue
War Correspondent in the 1980's
 Central America
73 Years Young
The discovery of these clandestine graves or "narcofasas", as they are known, came about due to the ongoing investigation into the murder of Journalist Maximino Rodriguez Palacios, locally known as Max, who was lost his life in April.

The Governor of Baja California Sur, Carlos Mendoza Davis, thinks the discovery of the graves could be related to the territory dispute of rival cells within the Cartel de Pacifico. He added " that few clandestine graves are usually found in BCS, it is rare, but sadly, with intelligence and a good investigation we are coming upon them".
BCS Governor Carlos Mendoza Davis
It was around 15:00 hours on Tuesday, when the institution's staff located the clandestine burial site at kilometer 4.5 of the San José del Cabo-Cabo Pulmo road, where they found human remains of four males and two females.

No Caption Needed
The search continued on Wednesday and the unit reported seven more men and one woman were found buried for a total of 14 corpses located in one place, bringing the number up to 11 men and 3 women.
The recovery work was interrupted by the lack of natural light, but tomorrow (Thursday), the search will continue.
According to the information, the bodies are in an advanced state of decomposition, so forensic  experts from the Department of Experiential Services will be in charge of taking DNA samples to be able to identify them.
Likewise, the PGJE invites relatives of disappeared persons to come to its facilities to obtain a genetic profile and thus help them to be able to identify the bodies that have been found.

On Saturday, June10, minutes before 11am Security Agencies received a call to alert them that a cooler with human body parts and heads had been discovered. The finding was reportedly at Kilometer 17.5 under the El Tule Bridge near Cabo San Lucas.

Authorities were immediately deployed to the area and corroborated the report and found the cooler with body parts and more partially buried very near by, all appearing to be that of two males.

Puente El Tule / Coolers
The area was cordoned off for forensic specialists to begin their investigation and hopefully, identify the 
bodies. This latest finding brings the total of badly decomposed corpses to more than 18 individuals found in "Narco Fosas" (clandestine graves) near the center of the Municipality of Cabo San Lucas.     

"El BaBay" Jefe de Plaza of Cabo San Lucas Arrested

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Debate

Arrest of "El BaBay" and Search of his Vehicle in CSL 

June 19, 2017
Additional Info from Colectivo Pericue,
BCS Noticias, Zeta

Captured: "El Babay", Abraham Cervantes Escareaga. He is  identified as the alleged leader of a cell of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion / CTNG in Tijuana  and as one of the main generators of violence in the Los Cabos, BCS area. "El BaBay" is also the alleged successor of "El Javier" who controlled the plaza of San Jose del Cabo.

He was detained in a joint operation of the Navy Secretariat (Semar), the National Defense (Sedena), the Attorney General's Office (PGR) and the Federal Police in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur.

He was detained in a joint operation of the Navy Secretariat (Semar), the National Defense (Sedena), the Attorney General's Office (PGR) and the Federal Police in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur.

After several days of intelligence work, monitoring and surveillance, elements of the Security Cabinet detected "El Babay" and a companion on board a vehicle and the joint security forces initiated a stop and then a search. There were many rumors during the morning hours later confirmed by authorities.

"In the interior of the vehicle were two long arms and a short gun, armaments for the exclusive use of the Armed Forces, as well as several doses presumably of drugs, cash and communication equipment, which led to the arrest of the two people, a man and a woman," the federal government said in a joint statement.

"El Babay" is identified as alleged leader of a cell of the Tijuana Cartel that operates in that entity and as one of the main generators of violence in that municipality.

Unofficial information sources speculate that he could possibly be tied to the wave of violence in San Jose del Cabo in confrontations with rival cells.

"Seeding the Terror"
The name ''El BaBay" has been seen on various "narco mantas" over the last few years which have been hung on bridges and fences.

Threats Against Journalists in General and Colectivo Pericue in Particular
( Please Don't Forget Max ! )
The detainees and secured evidence / objects were placed at the disposal of the Sub-Delegation of the Attorney General's Office (PGR) in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, where they are awaiting SEIDO
personnel (Deputy Attorney General's Specialized in the Investigation of Organized Crime)

The crimes charged against Abraham Cervantes Escareaga could include drug trafficking, money laundering, and possession of arms and explosives for the exclusive use of the armed forces.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Kaplan: The mysterious gringo that escaped by helicopter

Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Sinembargo article

Subject Matter: David Joel Kaplan
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required

Other articles in this series by Humberto Padgett
Traconi the escape artist of La Tanga Rosa
The Grey Automobile Gang

David Joel Kaplan starred in what was known in 1971 as "the escape of the century". As spectacular as the escape of El Chapo Guzman from Altiplano. David Kaplan was imprisoned in the Santa Martha Acatitla Prison, which was considered the most secure in the country, his escape was planned with milimetric precision by his sister.

Reporter: Humberto Padgett
A Bell helicopter fitted with a super-charged turbine, and piloted by an ex Vietnam vet was his vehicle to liberty.

Previously, like El Chapo in his escape from Puente Grande, he had tried to escape hidden in the pile of dirty clothes, the escape was foiled by someone giving up his plan.

Another escape idea by Kaplan was to hide in the false floor of a van owned by another USA prisoner called Church, who had been imprisoned for assassinating a Mexican policeman with his bare hands, this escape was also foiled.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Ex Deputy Attorney General of Michoacán Executed

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Proceso

Raul Miranda Valencia Shot Dead
Thanks to: Tu Fren for the heads up and link

By Francisco Castellanos J.
June 15, 2017

Zamora,Michoacan: Raúl Miranda Valencia, ex deputy regional prosecutor and then lawyer of Rodrigo Vallejo Mora, "El Gerber ", was attacked by unknown subjects in the La Luneta neighborhood of Zamora on Wednesday night near his home.

Lawyer Raul Valencia and Client and Client "El Gerber"

Two men fired from a moving motorcycle at the lawyer when he was on Virrey de Mendoza Avenue, and fled.

Valencia was  the attorney who had defended “El Gerber,   the son of ex-governor Fausto Vallejo Figueroa. 

Ex Michoacan PRI Governor Fausto Vallejo Figueroa 
Raul M was shot three times and although he survived the attack, he later died while being treated for his wounds. According to reports from the State Deputy Attorney General's office, the ex public servant  Raul Miranda Valencia, died during the early morning hours of Thursday, June 14, while undergoing emergency surgery at the Santa Maria Clinic.

According to a press release: "The 48 year old professional, Raul M, died as of a result of gunshot wounds."

The Attorney General's Office of the State (PGJ) initiated a file of investigation regarding the murder of the lawyer which happened in this city, while personnel of the Specialized Unit in the Crime Scenes initiated investigations. ( detectives and forensic experts ).
Data collected by the authorities so far, indicate that the incident occurred at approximately 20:30 hours Wednesday. The victim was attacked near his home in the colony La Nueva Luneta of this city and had three gunshot wounds. 

Miranda Valencia took  on the defense of Rodriogo Vallejo, El Gerber ", when he was accused of the crime of concealment, after videos were released to the public of a meeting he held with the ex  leader of the Knights Templarios Cartel, Servando Gomez, "La Tuta" , who is currently imprisoned.

''La Tuta"

SEMAR Destroys NINE Narco Labs Near Culiacan

Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Zeta

By Carlos Alvarez
June 17, 2017

SEMAR located and destroyed nine clandestine laboratories, with different types of chemical substances, material and equipment for the production of synthetic drugs, near Culiacán, Sinaloa.

The agency indicated that the location and destruction of these narco laboratories was carried out in the sierra, 44 kilometers east of the capital of the state.

Semar indicated that it secured approximately 4,800 liters of chemical precursors for the manufacture of methamphetamines, as well as various chemical substances, distillers and tanks, among others.

The Secretariat of the Marines stressed that because of the difficulty of access to the land, the material and equipment was disabled and the chemicals were destroyed at the site by incineration.

El Siglo de Torreon also reports that in the Secretary of the Marina (SEMAR) statement the Naval
Agency developed this operation and proceeded with it strictly by the established procedures in The Manual of the Use of Force, The Common Application of the Three Armed Forces (of Mexico) and with "Absolute respect for Human Rights with a goal of bringing  back security to Mexican families.