Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Targeting the Police and the Military

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 |

In December 2008, Los Zetas captured and executed eight military men in Guerrero, a violence-torn, impoverished southern state where a “dual sovereignty” exists between the elected government and narco-criminals. Pictures of the decapitated cadavers lying side-by-side flashed around the world on television and YouTube. Drug cartels seek to demonstrate that no one is beyond their reach; that is, that they possess the capacity to kidnap, torture, and execute individuals with decades of experience in fighting guerrillas and other malefactors.

In February 2009, the paramilitaries killed retired Brigadier General Mauro Enrique Tello Quinones. They broke his arms and legs before driving him into the jungle and executing him; his corpse and those of two aides were discovered two days after the mayor of Cancun hired Tello Quinones to form a swat team to fight such criminals.

Tabasco’s Governor Andres Granier has had trouble keeping military security chiefs because of threats from the underworld. Retired Major Sergio Lopez Uribe is the fourth ex-member of the armed forces to function as the state’s secretary of public security.


Ciudad Juarez’s police chief, retired Major Roberto Orduna Cruz, stepped down on February 20 after several officers were slain during the week and the killers posted handwritten signs. Their message: “We will execute a policeman every 48 hours until Orduna Cruz resigns.” He promptly did so and moved his family to the United States. More than 1,607 people died in Ciudad Juarez last year in unspeakable brutality that has included beheadings and the murder of more than 60 police officers. This year that toll has reached at least 1,846 homicides so far just in Juarez alone.

In the left picture is Chihuahua State Governor Jose Reyes Baeza speaking at a news conference alongside state Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez after gunmen attacked his convoy, killing one of his bodyguards and wounding two other agents. Even bodyguards of the governor of Chihuahua, the state where Ciudad Juarez is located, is not safe from the drug cartels. Baeza said gunmen in two cars fired high-powered weapons at a vehicle two cars behind his in a convoy in the state capital of Chihuahua city. The state’s death toll reached 348 during the first eight weeks of 2009.

In early March, Colonel Pedro Mario Roman Perez of the 89th Infantry Battalion barely escaped death in downtown Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, birthplace of many drug lords. Although Colonel Roman Perez was only wounded, eight executions took place in Sinaloa within of the twenty-four hours of this assault.

This orgy of violence is growing more public and more spectacular by the day. Beheadings, burnings, dismemberments and mutilations have become routine life in Mexico and especifically in cities like Ciudad Juarez.
 
The Army fight against the major cartels has generated impressive figures. Almost 60,000 people have been thrown in jail during the last two years. And the Army has confiscated record amounts of weapons, ammunition, and police and military uniforms. They have collected 32,000 weapons and upwards of 4 million bullets. Authorities have seized more than $320 million in cash, seventy tons of cocaine, and 4,000 tons of marijuana. These confiscations are evidence that the cartels are striking back against the government. They usually send their message by targeting active-duty and retired members of the armed forces.

In view of the increase violence and mayhem in Juarez, President Felipe Calderon has no alternative but to rely more and more on the armed forces. Nevertheless, the increased military presence certainly will and has sparked human rights abuses and ultimately we start to see the mounting denunciations, as we have at numerous levels. It is a fact that most of the poltical structure and certain government agencies have become somewhat dysfunctional in the heels of this fast moving pace.  Regrettably, this is the cause the chief executive must face for presiding over an increasingly weak state suffused with irresponsible, unreliable, and corrupt civilian institutions.

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