Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

DEA Warns of Mexican Cartel Attacks

Thursday, December 31, 2009 |

DEA warns Mexico of possible cartel attacks


Mexico City, - The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration warned the Mexican government that this country's powerful drug cartels may launch attacks around the New Year's holiday, capital daily El Universal said Wednesday.

Citing what it said was a confidential DEA report, the newspaper said Mexican officials were told the cartels could strike both "civilian targets" and the security forces.

According to an internal report by the DEA, Mexican cartels are planning attacks on targets such as shopping malls, bridges and transit stations as the subway, and bus terminals as well as mass actions by the parties of the time, but not clear whether the criminal organizations in particular have reason to run.

The attacks, according to the DEA, can happen in the states of Mexico, Michoacan, Nuevo Leon, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas and even Mexico City.

A Justice Department source, that can not be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the subject, said the grenade attacks that have suffered in recent days police stations in some states are part of this escalation of violence on the warned the government of Mexico.

The ostensible DEA document said Mexican cartels were planning terrorist attacks on shopping centers, bridges, the Mexico City metro and bus stations, as well as assaults on public New Year's festivities.

El Universal said the DEA specifically mentioned a planned Jan. 1 strike by "Los Zetas," a band of Mexican special forces veterans and deserters now working as enforcers for the Gulf drug cartel, though the U.S. agency did not identify the location or target.

The cartels have recently intensified attacks on police, troops and public institutions, often mounted in reprisal for the arrest or death of a prominent kingpin.

Since early December, organizations such as Los Zetas have attacked with gunfire and grenades, police headquarters and places associated with the federal forces in Guanajuato, Guerrero, Sonora, Chihuahua and Michoacan recently. There have also been attacks on shops and a bus passenger.

On 10 December, in an interview with El Universal, Antonio L. Mazzitelli, regional representative of the Units Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that Mexico's drug cartels have turned to terrorism as a way to force the civilian population, particularly to the authorities, to reach agreements .

After simultaneous attacks in Sonora to a restaurant, gas station and a bank branch on 7th December, the UN representative noted that indiscriminate terrorism is a symptom of great weakness of organized crime. "That would probably indicate that results are being achieved (in the fight against crime)," said

Restrict diplomats

In this regard, the U.S. drug agency has asked the staff of the U.S. embassy to limit their movements and stay away from crowded areas, and elsewhere in Michoacan that previously have been attacked by drug traffickers.

The agency's report highlights the threat at the moment Sinaloa cartel and the Gulf, La Familia Michoacana and Los Zetas, pointing to Army installations and police in Ciudad Juarez, Uruapan, Lázaro Cárdenas, Apatzingan city Mexico, Tijuana and other places where organized crime has bases as targets of criminal groups.

The DEA report refers to a warning he made to the government of Mexico on 1 January, where the Zetas were involved, and referred to terrorist groups associated with the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas going through Guatemala to United States.

Pitfall

The agency raised the possible attacks and increasing violence of the cartels during the period December to February 2010 as part of a strategy that seeks to threaten the governments of Mexico and the United States.

During the three years of the current government of Mexico have killed over 15 thousand 500 persons in the context of the war on drugs, and there have been attacks against military, federal agents and state police.

Additionally, since the drug six months ago adopted a strategy of larger-scale counterattack, or "high impact", according to the Federal Public Security Secretariat and the Attorney General's Office.

The State Department maintains the warning to Americans traveling or intending to visit Mexico, on the violence that affects many parts of the country, including urban and rural areas.

The U.S. government asked its citizens to remain vigilant in places like Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Nogales, Matamoros, Mexico City, Acapulco, and domestic entities such as Sinaloa, Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Durango.

It also prevents military checkpoints as part of operations in the fight against drug trafficking, and urges its citizens to cooperate with them.

Cartel gunmen also shoot up restaurants, bars and gas stations, though usually in pursuit of targeted individuals.

So far, the cartels have been blamed for only one instance of indiscriminate violence toward civilians: a September 2008 grenade attack on an independence-day celebration in the western city of Morelia, where eight people died in the blasts.

El Universal said the DEA urged U.S. diplomatic personnel in Mexico to avoid crowds and public events.

Since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon ordered the Mexican military to wage "war" on the drug cartels, more than 15,000 people have died in drug-related violence.

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