Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sicarios shoot Infant in the Head

The slaughter in Ciudad Juarez continues unchecked. Some say that the violence is primarily limited to members of organized crime, but that is further from the truth. How many times must we hear of children getting masacred in cold blood, spilling their blood in the streets of Juarez?

An eleven-month baby was shot in the head and his father was killed during one of the executions recorded Saturday afternoon and whose violent day left a toll of ten people dead. Just in the early hours of the day six of the ten people were killed in various parts of the city. This is just usual business in Juarez, many times the television news media reports the executions of the day as if they are giving out the weather report. Just another day of reporting the mayhem along with all the "novedades" of the day.

Military to Withdraw from Juarez by the End of the Year

The presidency of the republic speaking through the national security adviser Jorge Tello Peon confirmed that the Mexican army guarding the streets of Ciudad Juárez will withdraw from the city starting December 31, despite having failed all expectations in combating organized crime.

During a meeting invloving three segments of government who form part of the "Operation Joint Chihuahua," they determined that the troops should withdraw from the city by the end of the year.

The federal government has agreed to support the state delegation of the PGR with 50 public ministery officers.

The meeting was attended by the national security advisor of the Presidency Jorge Tello Peon, the deputy of the PGR Francisco Molina Ruiz, the state attorney general Patricia Gonzalez, the State Public Security Secretary of Victor Valencia Santos, the head of the Military Zone V Felipe de Jesus Espitia, in addition to other local authorities.

17 More People Killed in Northern Mexico Violence


CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — At least 17 people were killed over the weekend in Mexico's northern state of Chihuahua, including a women's rights activist in Ciudad Juarez, on the US border, local officials said Sunday.

President Felipe Calderon said he will keep 50,000 soldiers deployed in Chihuahua and other northern states bordering the United States to quell drug-related violence that since he took office in 2006 has killed more than 14,000 people.

Ten of the weekend murders took place in Ciudad Juarez -- Mexico's most violent city across the border from El Paso, Texas -- where some 8,500 troops have been sent to reinforce local law enforcement agencies, a state justice ministry official said.

One of those killed in Saturday-Sunday violence was 27-year-old Jesus Alfredo Portillo, a university student and rights activist, whose mother-in-law and women's group founder Marisela Ortiz recently complained of death threats against her.

Only 40% of Fed Police can Fight Kidnappings

The head of the Attorney General's Office (PGR), Arturo Chavez Chavez, said that only 40 percent of 1,065 agents of the local prosecutor’s office are qualified to join in the fight against kidnappings.

During the session of National Security Council, Chavez Chavez reported that to date they have formed 29 of the 32 anti-kidnapping prevention units, one for each entity in the country, but he emphasized the need to equip these centers with the support of the federal government.

The PGR has evaluated 1,065 public servants of local prosecutor's office, of which about 40 percent have been found suitable to join the anti-kidnapping units.

Going Beyond Security to Strengthen U.S.-Mexico Relations

Laura Carlsen

Mexico is the United States' closest Latin American neighbor and yet most U.S. citizens receive little reliable information about what is happening within the country. Instead, Mexico and Mexicans are often demonized in the U.S. press. The single biggest reason for this is the way that the entire binational relationship has been recast in terms of security over the past few years.

From a neighbor and a trade partner, Mexico has been portrayed as a threat to U.S. national security. Immigrants are no longer immigrants, but criminals, "removable aliens," and even potential terrorists. Latinos, mostly Mexicans, are now the largest group of victims of hate crimes in the United States.

Although Mexico-bashing has been a favorite sport of the right for years, this terrible conversion of Mexico, from an ally to a "failed state" and narco-haven in the media and policy circles, began in earnest under the Bush administration and has only intensified since then. The Merida Initiative and the militarization of Mexico are the direct outgrowth of the national security framework imposed on bilateral relations.

100,000 foot soldiers in Mexican cartels

The U.S. Defense Department thinks Mexico's two most deadly drug cartels together have fielded more than 100,000 foot soldiers - an army that rivals Mexico's armed forces and threatens to turn the country into a narco-state.

"It's moving to crisis proportions," a senior U.S. defense official told The Washington Times. The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because of the sensitive nature of his work, said the cartels' "foot soldiers" are on a par with Mexico's army of about 130,000.

The disclosure underlines the enormity of the challenge Mexico and the United States face as they struggle to contain what is increasingly looking like a civil war or an insurgency along the U.S.-Mexico border. In the past year, about 7,000 people have died - more than 1,000 in January alone. The conflict has become increasingly brutal, with victims beheaded and bodies dissolved in vats of acid.

The death toll dwarfs that in Afghanistan, where about 200 fatalities, including 29 U.S. troops, were reported in the first two months of 2009. About 400 people, including 31 U.S. military personnel, died in Iraq during the same period.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mexico Drug Violence Kills 13

At least 13 people, including a child and a woman, have been killed in the ongoing drug-related violence in the restless northern territories of Mexico.

Mexico's justice department officials in the northern state of Chihuahua say that an eight-year-old boy and a woman are among victims of criminal gang violence on Friday.

Bodies from separate shootings have also been recovered from the world's 'deadliest' city of Ciudad Juarez, where drug cartel gunmen are alleged to go on daily killing sprees.

"Gunmen aboard two vehicles killed five people, including a woman, who were inside a car in a carwash parking lot in Chihuahua," the state justice department announced.

Muletas Gang Rounded Up

Mexican soldiers captured six suspected drug gang members with an odd collection of weapons, including a .50-caliber rifle and a gold-plated pistol, the army said Friday.

The suspects are believed to have worked for drug trafficker Raydel Lopez Uriarte, nicknamed "Muletas," or "Crutches." The gangster's logo resembles one for the "Jackass" television series - a skull and crossed crutches.

President Urges Fed Police to Remain Honest

President Felipe Calderón urged Federal Police officers not to allow crime to infiltrate their ranks or to tolerate complicity or dishonesty among their colleagues.

“We want Mexicans to be proud of their Federal Police and unlike in the past, we do not want them to distrust, fear or underestimate police performance," he declared.

During the inauguration of the Federal Police Intelligence Center of the Public Security Secretariat, the President declared that we must all propose not to rest until it is quite clear that we have an honest, capable Federal Police Force, in which Mexicans can trust:

Gang Connections Within the U.S. Military

Law enforcement authorities are concerned the influence of warring Mexican drug cartels may now be penetrating the U.S. military.

Retired Border Patrol agent David Jackson flips through pictures of last Christmas. "This is Mike," he said, referring to his grandchild, Michael Jackson Apodaca.

David tells ABC-7 he encouraged Michael to join the military. "We talked him into going in the military just to get him away from this environment," he said.

However, Michael's past caught up to him this summer. He's now facing capital murder charges for the alleged contract killing of a drug cartel informant in El Paso. "They picked him because of his background," said David. "Before of he joined the military he was a member of a gang, the East Side whatever."

The Fall of Mexico

In the almost three years since President Felipe Calderón launched a war on drug cartels, border towns in Mexico have turned into halls of mirrors where no one knows who is on which side or what chance remark could get you murdered.

Some 14,000 people have been killed in that time—the worst carnage since the Mexican Revolution—and part of the country is effectively under martial law. Is this evidence of a creeping coup by the military?

A war between drug cartels? Between the president and his opposition? Or just collateral damage from the (U.S.-supported) war on drugs?

Nobody knows: Mexico is where facts, like people, simply disappear. The stakes for the U.S. are high, especially as the prospect of a failed state on our southern border begins to seem all too real.

By Philip Caputo

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Los Tucanes Big Comeback to Tijuana

A scheduled concert of the musical group Los Tucanes de Tijuana announced for last Saturday night at the border town of Tijuana was cancelled by order of the City authorities, after the Secretary of Public Security, Julián Leyzaola , asked the Mexico Attorney General to investigate members of that group, for possible links to organized crime espeficially with the capo Teodoro Garcia Simental, known as the "Tres Letras" or "El Teo" and his operator Raydel López Uriarte, alias "El Muletas."

Following statements by the Secretary for Security, who was visibly upset and even called for the return of the  "death penalty" for offenders who have executed several officers. The authorities asked the band's promoter Juan Manuel Perez to cancel the scheduled concert for the night at the stadium Caliente.

There was an argument only known as informal that the permit that was granted for the event was only for the rest of the bands that had been announced, but not for Los Tucanes de Tijuana, which worried the agency as it turned out had sold more than eleven thousand tickets.

Seven Federal Police Accused of Kidnapping

A total of seven Mexican federal police officers are under investigation for alleged involvement in at least 20 kidnappings against civilians.

This is according to the allegations of complaints that the municipal police office has received against the Joint Operational Chihuahua, which also includes complaints against the Mexican Army.

Most of the complaints made by citizens against the federal forces are for illegal detention without a warrant or arrest and also for extortion.

Javier Gonzalez Mocken is responsible for processing complaints of citizens and he said that in the last year they have received about 20 complaints for the crime of kidnapping of which seven federal police officers have been indicted.

Juárez Drug War in Pictures

Photographer Juliàan Cardona narrates a slideshow of images from the Juárez drug wars.

Runaway Violence in Mexico?

By George W. Grayson

Mexico’s battle with violence has gone from bad to worse. As a result, vigilante groups have sprung up to protect their families, homes, neighborhoods, and businesses. To date, only about a dozen self-defense organizations have gone public. However, their numbers and activities are bound to soar amid rising insecurity.

As a contributor to a prominent Mexico City newspaper recently wrote: “Last week my family received a second phone call demanding an extortion payment to prevent my being kidnapped. Earlier this month, our neighbor’s home was broken into, which forced us to hire a security firm to ‘protect us,’ from something the city should be doing.”

Distressing Death Data

Friday, November 27, 2009

Smuggling Cocaine to Mexico from the U.S.??

The military arrested a juvenile when he was attempting to return to Juarez and was observed acting suspicious, but they did not elaborate what was suspicious.

For this reason they detained him finding more than a kilo of cocaine inside a DVD player. He was smuggling cocaine in to Mexico from the U.S, the same cocaine that was smuggled to the US from Mexico at one time.

US Woman Killed in Mexican Border City

A U.S. consular official said Monday that an American woman has died of a gunshot wound she reportedly suffered in the Mexican border city of Matamoros.

Brian Quigley, a spokesman for the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, said U.S. citizen Lizbeth Marin was shot Friday and later died of the wound. Quigley said he could provide no details on the shooting.

"We are in contact with the corresponding Mexican authorities who we hope will conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation," Quigley said.

The newspaper El Bravo reported that Marin was hit by a stray bullet at a friend's home in Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville, Texas.

Mexican Cartels Adopt YouTube

In recent years, YouTube has become the bulletin board and billboard for Mexican drug cartels seeking to threaten rivals, brag of their exploits and recruit new members. Just type "zetas," "sinaloa cartel," or "la familia michoacana" into the YouTube search window to see how these drug mafias have adeptly appropriated social media.

Often to the accompaniment of a narcocorrido, pictures flash on the screen of murdered rivals, hooded policemen, shiny smuggling vehicles, bales of marijuana, and stacks of cash. But the videos can also be gruesome, showing real-time executions with pistols or decapitations by ligatures.

Under YouTube's Inappropriate Content guidelines, users can flag violent or graphic material and YouTube monitors usually remove the objectionable images within minutes. But the pictures often reappear soon afterward.

Border Violence

The border between El Paso (population: 600,000) and Juárez (population: 1.5 million) is the most menacing spot along America's southern underbelly.

On one side is the second-safest city of its size in the United States (after Honolulu), with only 15 murders so far in 2008. On the other is a slaughterhouse ruled by drug lords where the death toll this year is more than 1,300 and counting.

"I don't think the average American has any idea of what's going on immediately south of our border," says Kevin Kozak, acting special agent in charge of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's office of investigations in El Paso. "It's almost beyond belief."

Juárez looks a lot like a failed state, with no government entity capable of imposing order and a profusion of powerful organizations that kill and plunder at will. It's as if the United States faced another lawless Waziristan—except this one happens to be right at the nation's doorstep.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

11 Executions Yesterday

Eleven people were executed yesterday in different parts of Ciudad Juarez. Three other men were injured, one in serious condition. At the end o f the day, 11 homicides were resgistered in the city.

Around 1634 hours a man between 30 and 35 years received at least three gunshots in a corridor located the intersection of Chololtecas and Mayos, in the community of Aztecas. The victim was not identified but area residents indicated that they knew him by the nickname "El Poli".

Then, at 1712 hours Eduardo Delgado Raul Lara was murdered inside a business "Modelorama" located on Avenida Waterfill and Ramón Rayón, in the community of Waterfill. The victim suffered injuries to the head and abdomen caused by projectiles from a firearm.

No Where to Hide

A municipal police was executed in the interior of a business when he tried to hide from an armed commando in Santiago Troncoso.

Oscar Valenzuela, a 35 years old police officer with the municipal police stationed at Benito Juárez was killed last night in Ciudad Juarez .

Valenzuela was at home on his day off when an armed commando came looking for him. The officer saw the commando and managed to escape through the back of the home but was chased for several blocks until they caught him in a local hardware store and tire shop called "Crazy" located on the streets Ramón Rayón and Clifton en Praderas de Sur a few meters from the Santiago Troncoso.

The victim sought refuge inside the business with attempts to outwit his assailants, but unfortunately it did not. He was located inside by the sicarios and was executed while terrified customers looked on.

A Narco-Evangelist Cartel

Mexico and the US are working together bring down Mexico's newest, most violent drug cartel. Last month, 303 alleged La Familia members were arrested in 38 US cities. Fifteen members were indicted Friday in Chicago.

Mario Mendoza Reyes was at this church in Apatzingan, Mexico, when 200 federal troops searching for a leader of La Familia swooped in and arrested him and 32 other men. The Mexican Army has been criticized for heavy-handed tactics, and claims of abuse have soared.

Apatzingan, Mexico - They hand out Bibles to the poor in the rural foothills of the state of Michoacán. They forbid drug use, build schools and drainage systems, and declare themselves the protectors of women and children.

But this is no church group. This is La Familia Michoacána, Mexico's newest drug-trafficking gang, which now reigns over Mexico's methamphetamine trade. What began as a self-declared vigilante group doing "the work of God," now is seen as the nation's most violent criminal group.

Its influence stretches well beyond this patch of Mexico called "La Tierra Caliente" or "Hot Land." Last month, in the largest coordinated action against a Mexican trafficking organization north of the border, the United States arrested 303 alleged La Familia affiliates in 38 US cities. It was the culmination of "Project Coronado," which has nabbed more than 1,100 suspects in 44 months.

Explosives Busts Show Demand for Grenades

Illegal market for explosives not isolated to Mexico

Associated Press
Authorities say the arrests of three men who allegedly sold casings for 23 hand grenades this week in metropolitan Phoenix is a reminder that the illegal market for explosives isn't isolated to Mexico.

Investigators say the three men sold grenade shells to undercover police for $400 each and were under the impression that the components were going to be smuggled into Mexico, where the government there is waging war against drug cartels that have sought heavier weapons to battle back against the military.

Even though the grenade casings were suspected to have been bought legally at a military surplus store and lacked key parts to make them functioning explosives, police said the men broke the law by saying the shells were live explosives.

‘‘They didn't state that anything was missing. That's something we found out (later) through our bomb technicians,'' said Harold Sanders, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which is leading the investigation.

Federal agents who investigate explosives cases say they will periodically come across people wanting to buy or sell grenades in Arizona, one of the country's busiest hubs for marijuana smuggling and where drug cartels send people to buy guns that are later sneaked into Mexico.

Former Anti-drug Chief's Reputation on Trial

Richard Padilla Cramer is accused of selling out to drug lords, helping them unmask informants and set up smuggling deals. Family and former colleagues say he's the last person they'd suspect.

Los Angeles Times

Nogales, Ariz. - Around here, the grim joke goes, most people work for the government or the mafias.

Or both.

Richard Padilla Cramer apparently had bested the temptations that come with the territory. During three decades in border law enforcement, he made the most of his pitch-perfect Spanish and talent for undercover work. He locked up corrupt officials, racked up drug busts and rose through the ranks. He retired after a coveted stint as a U.S. attache for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Mexico, the land he had left as a child.

At 56, the former anti-drug chief was an immigrant success story: a decorated Vietnam veteran; a youthful, solidly built grandfather whose three children served in the military and law enforcement.

So his arrest in September resounded in the close-knit law enforcement community like a bomb blast in the desert. The alleged corruption goes beyond the typical case of an inspector waving drug loads north.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Caught in the Line of Fire

Mexican journalists trying to do their jobs are often caught in the line of fire.

"To be journalist in Mexico, it's very difficult, you know," says Daisy Rios. The 23-year-old Televisa reporter has already seen more death than many seasoned reporters.

In February, Reynosa, Mexico was rocked by gunfire. Rios found herself in the middle of a deadly firefight.

"We hear everybody screaming. Kids very scared," she explains.

Rios and her photographer took shelter at a nearby school.

"It was a very stressful situation. Sometimes I feel scared when we cover these kinds of stories," she adds.

Feds Link 15 to Mexican Drug Cartel

Indicted suspects distributed millions in coke: prosecutors

Chicago Suntimes

Fifteen suspected members of a Chicago distribution cell of a Mexican drug cartel were indicted Thursday for allegedly distributing thousands of kilograms of cocaine in the Chicago area and collecting millions of dollars.

The Chicago office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration seized 250 kilograms of cocaine and $8 million during an investigation that started in 2007 and focused on the Mexican drug-trafficking cartel La Familia Michoacana, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

The seizures were mostly in the suburbs, including Berwyn, Bolingbrook, Oak Lawn, Hickory Hills, Joliet and Justice.

A total of seven separate indictments were unsealed Thursday. All 15 suspects were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine.

El Comandante Ramiro

 A body found in the state of Guerrero was identified as a rebel leader who accused the governor of ties with drug trafficking.

Guerrero police said a body found Thursday in a makeshift grave in a mountain town belongs to Omar Guerrero Solis. Guerrero Solis was a leader of the Insurgent People's Revolutionary Army (ERPI), a small guerrilla.

The director of the Ministerial Investigative Police, Valentin Diaz Reyes, said the body was exhumed on Thursday and forensic analysis confirmed that this was the insurgent. The body had four bullet wounds.

Deputies Recount Experience of Guarding U.S.-Mexico Border

A week of work was far from average for seven Florence County sheriff’s deputies who spent several days this month guarding the U.S.-Mexico border just a few paces from the most world’s most dangerous city, Juarez, Mexico.

During the first week of November, the men were far removed from their mostly rural patrolling ground and in a place where map borders aren’t based on county lines, but on the territories of drug cartels.

The deputies, members of the sheriff’s office’s Criminal Enforcement Unit, were selected by the U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to be part of the unceasing process of patrolling three entry ports near El Paso, Texas.

Their task was to prevent illegal immigrants and drugs from passing into the United States, Florence County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Brown said.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mexican Army Arrest Three Sicarios

Source: El Paso Times

The Mexican army on Monday announced the arrest of three members of Los Linces (the lynxes), a hit squad belonging to the Juárez drug cartel or "La Linea."

Military police arrested the suspected hit men Friday after gunshots were exchanged by occupants of two vehicles on Avenida de los Aztecas.

Police identified the suspects as Andres Vasquez Espinoza, 36; Roberto Piña Castañon, 21; and Jesus Alberto Santiago, 41.

Military officials said Los Lynxes allegedly took orders from three men, including Alberto Acosta, who ordered them to carry out 26 murders in Juárez. Targets included people who refused to pay extortion "quotas."

U.S., Mexico Overcome Mistrust to Unite Against Cartels

Joint efforts include U.S. program to vet Mexican agents to share sensitive intelligence data.


To avenge the arrest of their leader, Mexican drug cartel commandos went on a rampage this summer across the lawless state of Michoacan, abducting 12 Mexican police officers and dumping their stripped corpses in a pile beside a busy highway.

The slain federal officers, it later emerged, had something in common: All had been vetted and trained by the U.S. government to work alongside its anti-narcotics agents.

Officials said the U.S. connection made them high-value targets for the cartels, who are fighting back against a military crackdown involving unprecedented cooperation between the two countries.

U.S. Gives Mexico Keys to Open Border and Amnesty

San Diego County Political Buzz Examiner

Congressman calls for investigation on Sutton and House of Death

Mexico’s culture of corruption is synonymous with the drug dealers, Federales as well as the government. It is no secret business south of the border is handled with a greasy handshake full of money, but what’s surprising to most Americans are the major trade deals cut to benefit our neighbor to the south.

Why has America bent over backwards to create free trade and open borders with such an uncooperative neighbor? What has Mexico given up for the sake of our benefit? Still thinking? It could take awhile.

Mexico is a country filled with natural resources. There is plenty of fertile land for crops, it lays claim to a massive amount of oil and contains thousands of miles of sandy beaches for tourists to frolic on. So why does this country, so close to the successes of its North American neighbor continue to stagnate in corruption and remain an oligarchy?

For the meantime America is the sole superpower. But unlike the past, American administrations have made mistakes and those blunders translated into some bad deals for the American people.

Mexico Drug Cartels Create Narco-Widows

Desperate families that reside in drug-infested cities and states in Mexico seem to be living their lives with a “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude. Drugs have lured in the youth of Mexico, demolishing once positive attitudes.

Desperate fathers have turned to smuggling resulting in countless jail sentences. Even more disheartening is this Mexican drug epidemic that has taken the heart of its society: the women.

Young women, wives, daughters and female relatives of drug cartels looking for quick cash, in places like Sinaloa and Mexico City, find themselves smuggling and dealing for spouses, husbands and local cartels.

Many of these women are deceived and exploited by their “loved” ones. Be it sex or drugs, desperation has made some of these women tools of men.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Witness Against the Sinaloa Cartel Dies from Apparent Suicide

"Buggs" for Borderland Beat

Jesús Zambada Reyes

A leading suspect who belonged to the Sinaloa Cartel and provided information to the government was found dead of an apparent suicide, officials said Saturday.

In the case of the informant the Attorney General's Office (PGR) reported that Jesus Zambada Reyes, identified as the nephew of the cartel leader Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, was found dead from asphyxiation in Mexico City.

The PGR said Zambada Reyes was found hanging with a shoelace on Friday and that all evidence indicates that it was a suicide. PGR officials say they will continue to investigate the death.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Zambada Reyes was a "contributing witness", but did not specify whether he was in protective custody or whether he was part of a witness protection program.

Zambada Reyes ranked as one of the main operators of the Sinaloa Cartel when he was arrested in October 2008. He allegedly was involved in trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine through the international airport of Mexico City.

Rambo 3

Jesus Zambada Reyes, nephew of Ismael El Mayo Zambada and a protected witness of the PGR reportedly had expressed his desire to commit suicide, according to initial investigations that have been carried out about his death on Friday night.

The Attorney General of the Federal District (PGJDF) assumed full control of the investigation into the circumstances of the death of the son of Jesus Zambada Garcia, El Rey, who was arrested in October last year.

The death occurred inside a house that was owned by the late drug lord Amado Carrillo Fuentes, El Señor de los Cielos (the Lord of the Heavens), located in the street Xitle 87 in the neighborhood of Santa Ursula. At that scene, which was guarded on a permanent basis 24 hours, 7 day a week by federal agents found Zambada Reyes, identified by a secret code of "Rambo 3," hanging.

Reports from the Attorney General's Office indicate that the body of the son of "El Rey" Zambada showed no signs of struggle and it it was learned that in the past he had expressed a desire to die.

"Rambo 3," which is a code given to Zambada Reyes, helped to capture and identify criminals who maintained ties with the Sinaloa cartel.

Zambada Reyes’s uncle, Ismael, is one of the most-wanted drug traffickers in Mexico.

Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations, according to experts, are the Tijuana cartel, which is run by the Arellano Felix family, and the Gulf, Juarez and Sinaloa cartels.

Two other large drug trafficking organizations, the Colima and Milenio cartels, also operate in the country.

“Los Zetas,” a group of army special forces veterans and deserters who initially worked as hitmen for the Gulf organization, may now be operating as a cartel, some experts say.

La Familia Michoacana, which operates in the western state of Michoacan, the southern state of Guerrero and the central state of Mexico, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, is considered the largest trafficker of synthetic drugs in Mexico.

The Sinaloa organization is the oldest cartel in Mexico and is led by Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.

Guzman, considered extremely violent, is one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and the United States, where the Drug Enforcement Administration has offered a reward of $5 million for him.

El Chapo made the Forbes list of wealthiest people in the world this year, ranking 700th with an estimated fortune of $1 billion.

Sources: La Cronica de Hoy; Borderland Beat archives

Taco Tote Owners' Kin Slain in Juárez

The violence in Juárez claimed the life of a member of a prominent El Paso business family.

Rocío Casandra Heras Caballero, 27, related to owners of El Taco Tote, and her cousin, Humberto Caballero Moreno, 25, were killed earlier this month at La Cantera entertainment district, which used to be known as the safest place to have fun in Juárez.

Just two months ago, club managers and locals described La Cantera, on Tomas Fernandez Boulevard, as the place to spend the nights on weekends because of its enclosed design and high security.

But all that changed on Oct. 8 when a group of gunmen entered the Ghost bar at about 2 a.m. and opened fire at the table where Heras and Caballero were sitting with a group of friends. Heras and Caballero were slain, while an unidentified woman in her 20s was wounded.

Down The Narco Corridor

Everybody knows about Mexico’s bloody drug cartel wars, the narcotics mafia, executions and the state’s often inadequate attempts to curb the menace. But did you know about the controversial genre of music that all this has spawned?

A narcocorrido is a narrative song that probably has its origins in Mexican folk corrido songs—songs that tell a story about what’s going on around the singer or composer’s society. Add “narco” to that and the meaning becomes more sinister.

Corridos have had as their subject things like illegal immigration to the US and gangsters or the lives of Mexico’s homeless, but narcocorridos are about the country’s notorious drug cartels and their activities, very often with lyrics that are approving of such things.

Mexico's Cops Seek Upgrade

Senior Official With a Storied Past Tries to Emulate FBI

When pressed about why Mexico is struggling in its battle with illegal-drug cartels, Genaro García Luna, the nation's top police official, likes to put his inquisitors on the spot with a question: Would you encourage your child to become a Mexican cop?

The answer, he says, is often no.

The reputation of Mexican police is so poor that even Mr. García Luna, a stocky, frenetic man with close-cropped hair, would have given the same answer not long ago. As a young domestic intelligence officer at Mexico's spy agency in the 1990s, he says, he would have been "offended" if anyone referred to him as a cop.

The Danger of Singing About Drugs

Mexican crooners sing about drug cartels, and sometimes find themselves the victims of violence.

Special to GlobalPost

A man plays his accordion while singing corridos (ballads) glorifying Mexican drug traffickers at the chapel of narco-saint Jesus Malverde in Culiacan, northern state of Sinaloa, July 12, 2007.

The story of a drug cartel hood who dissolved the bodies of 300 victims in acid might dominate news reports and then R-rated movies. But in Mexico, it is also the subject of popular songs.

Santiago Meza, a 45-year-old who confessed last week to the grisly work he committed for crime bosses over the last nine years, is revered in lively ballads with names such as “The Cook.” “I have got many women, and I make a lot of money, because I am a specialist, the best cook,” croons the singer of Explosion Nortena, a group from the border city of Tijuana, where Meza was arrested.

Mexican musicians are increasingly singing so-called narco corridos, or drug ballads, as the nation suffers from an unprecedented wave of drug-related bloodshed.

Mexico's Forbidden Songs

Can a musical genre be considered so dangerous as to be banned from the radio? Yes, according to the authorities in some parts of Mexico who have forced radio stations to take action in an attempt to stamp out the culture of "narco corridos", which they accuse of glamorising drug trafficking and gangsterism.

Los Tigres del Norte

Corridos, or ballads, have been a Mexican tradition - especially in the north of the country - for at least 100 years.

The songs, based on polkas and waltzes, feature lyrics backed by accordions and brass bands.

The Mexican Revolution, which lasted from 1910 to 1917, triggered hundreds of corridos about legendary figures such as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata.

But over the past 30 years the biggest growth area has been the narco corridos, which are based on the real lives of drug smugglers.

Ballads Of The Mexican Cartels

The news of Mexico's bloody cartel war is reflected in a controversial folk-music genre called narcocorridos, or drug ballads. They're like journalism put to song — telling stories of drug lords, arrests, shootouts, daring operations and betrayals.

It's a slow night on Calle del Taco in the border town of Reynosa, Mexico. Lovers sit in their vehicles eating tacos and sipping bottles of cold beer while the trios warm up: musicians with scarred instruments, wearing cowboy shirts buttoned tight across paunches and open at the top, machismo-style.

"In San Jose, Costa Rica, they took him prisoner, now the whole world knows how the ballad begins of Rafael Caro Quintero," the musicians croon in harmony. They're singing an older narcocorrido about the 1985 arrest of a Mexican druglord who is also under indictment in the U.S. for the torture and murder of DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena in Mexico.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Airman's Killers Arrested

Mexican authorities arrested two suspects on the slaying of a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant earlier this month in a Juárez strip club.

The two "sicarios," or hit men, have confessed to being part of the Juárez cartel group "La Linea" and to have carried out several slayings, including those of Staff Sgt. David Booher and five other people at the Amadeus club, said Enrique Torres, Joint Operation Chihuahua spokesman, in a news release.

Authorities identified those arrested as José Gabriel "El 12" Moreno, 29, and Juan Pablo "El 14" González Favela, 19.

On Nov. 4, a group of gunmen entered and opened fire in the strip club on Ejercito Nacional Avenue. According to his friends, Booher got shot when he tried to help one of the wounded victims. Police found his body in a VIP section of the club.

Booher, 26, a medic, was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base . He was raised by his widowed mother in Juárez and his late father was a U.S. citizen.

Bush Aide Urges Weapons Ban to Slow Mexican Drug War

The former head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection called Monday for the U.S. to reinstitute the ban on assault weapons and take other measures to rein in the war between Mexico and its drug cartels, saying the violence has the potential to bring down legitimate rule in that country.

Former CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner also called for the United States to more aggressively investigate U.S. gun sellers and tighten security along its side of the border, describing the situation as "critical" to the safety of people in both countries, whether they live near the border or not.