Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

The Narco-War of 2009: Everyone Lost

Saturday, January 2, 2010 |

Cartels challenge civilian and military governments and plant seeds of terror in the country


The frontal attack by the Mexican federal forces against drug trafficking and the war between cartels vying for the "spots" on national territory escalated to an unheard number of executions in 2009, adding 7,724 dead at the end of the year and 16,205 so far in the administration of President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, according to statistics from El Universal.

In the past five years approximately 19,785 people were killed by organized crime, especially in Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Baja California, Durango, Michoacan and Guerrero.

In 2005 there were 1,573 dead, that is 4.2 per day, in 2006 it reached 2,221 six per day, and the following year the total was 2,673 homicides 7.3 per day while 2008 closed with 5,630 with a daily average of 15.4.

This year the scenario of insecurity has intensified by accumulating 21 murders in 24 hours, only the state of Yucatan was free of narco-executions. December has been the most violent month in five years, with 842 homicides.


The fight that has kept the federal forces against organized crime as part of a strategy, in which the Army has deployed about 48,750 troops on a monthly average, did not stop the sicarios and just in the state of Chihuahua alone 3,250 homicides were recorded.

In the states with the most violent, whole populations were taken over by gunmen and their inhabitants, once felt vulnerable, citizens fled from periods of time.

Two examples are those that occurred in Praxedis, Chihuahua, the second half of September and also in Guamuchil, community belonging to the township of La Noria, Sinaloa, on December 23.

The homicide victims included four mayors; on February 6 Claudio Reyes Núñez de Otaez from Durango; on February 24 Octavio Manuel Carrillo Castaneda from Vista Hermosa, Michoacan, on June 1, Luis Carlos Ramirez Ocampo from Durango, and on July 14 Héctor Ariel Meixueiro Muñoz from Namiquipan, Chihuahua.


Two retired generals who served as secretaries of Security for municipalities of Quintana Roo and Nuevo Leon were also killed by sicarios, while in tens of instances there were attacks on police facilities with heavy machine guns and grenades. The agents, whether federal, state or municipal police they were targets from commandos at checkpoints and while patrolling, with a total of 137 federal police officers killed, according to official data.

Reprisals against civilians

Retribution against civilians who confronted or reported to criminals was another pattern in 2009.


On two separate dates in November, two men were killed in Zacatecas. Besides the victims were left narco-boards with messages that warned: "This will happen to those who make anonymous complaints."

In another case, that went even beyond the borders because it dealt with citizens having double nationalities from Mexico and the U.S., but it originated in Chihuahua.

In May Érick LeBaron was kidnapped and the criminals demanded payment of one million dollars for his release. The young man was released and 25 men, allegedly linked with the kidnapping, were arrested after protests from relatives and neighbors who demanded the government investigate. In retribution on July 17 a commando abducted and executed Louis Benjamin LeBaron Widmar who had spearheaded the protests.


Kidnapping on the rise

Crimes such as kidnapping, considered of high impact and which also involves narco-trafficking thugs was on the rise throughout the year. Statistics of the National System of Public Safety reported that in 2009 there were on average 111 kidnappings per month.

Even the supposedly success operation of the Navy of Mexico on December 16 in Cuernavaca, Morelos where Arturo Beltrán Leyva "El Jefe de Jefes" was shot and killed, it produced a renounced wave of violence.

On one hand it provides an internal struggle within the organization between the capos, like "La Barbie"- who suddenly fight among each other for a place in leadership of the organization and control over disputed territories that had been controlled by "El Barbas." This, without precluding more vendettas against members of the Navy, as happened in Tabasco, where part of the family of naval soldier Melchizedek Angulo Cordoba were executed while in their homes.

On December 17, Arturo Chavez Chavez, head of the PGR, made it clear that this government offensive does not leaves a positive outcome: "I am convinced that in this war no one wins, to win at the end is hard, as this has caused death of many people and the pain of many families."

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