Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Shots fired from Juárez hit El Paso City Hall

By Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times

Police said the bullet flew through the window, then through an interior wall before hitting a picture frame and stopping.

A large-caliber bullet went through a west-facing wall Tuesday afternoon at City Hall.El Paso, Texas - Several gunshots apparently fired from Juárez hit El Paso City Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

No one was hurt, but nerves were rattled at City Hall in what is thought to be the first cross-border gunfire during a drug war that has engulfed Juárez since 2008.

El Paso police spokesman Darrel Petry said investigators do not think City Hall was intentionally targeted but rather was struck by stray shots.

"It does appear the rounds may have come from an incident in Juárez," Petry said.
City Hall, whose east and west sides are covered by glass windows, sits on a hill about a half-mile north of the Rio Grande.

About 4:50 p.m., city workers were going about a regular day when a bullet penetrated a ninth-floor west side window of the office of Assistant City Manager Pat Adauto.

The building was not evacuated, but several secretaries with windows facing Juárez described the incident as scary. Several police officers were sent to City Hall. A police crime scene investigator could be seen taking photos of the building.

Petry said an inspection by police and city staff found that City Hall was hit by seven gunshots, which appeared to be losing velocity when they struck. Six of the rounds hit stucco walls on the north and south sides of the building. Two bullets were recovered -- the one that went through the window and one that bounced off an exterior wall. The size of the bullets was not disclosed.

"Any time somebody takes a shot at City Hall, it's of great concern to us," El Paso Mayor John Cook said. "It's OK if people take political shots at us, but this is unacceptable."

Decapitated Victim Left on Ciudad Juarez Mayoral Candidate's Doorstep

In another act of terrorism directed at the electoral process in Mexico a decapitated body was placed yards away from a home belonging to Héctor “Teto” Murguía Lardizábal, the PRI candidate for Mayor of Ciudad Juarez.

The body of the beheaded man was found Wednesday about 6:00 AM on the Avenida Pedro Rosales De Leon. Just yesterday the candidate had officially unveiled his home address to report where he will vote next Sunday.

The body was found wrapped in a plastic bag with the head taped to the torso and hands bound behind its back and showed other signs of torture which is indicative of an organized crime execution style murder.

According to witnesses the body had a message attached to it addressed to the candidate but it was immediately removed by the police who refused to comment. The body was located so that it could be seen from the windows of all the houses adjacent to the site. It was not announced if the candidate had seen the body or the message.

It is noteworthy that this is not the first time that bodies are abandoned near a residence belonging to Murguia.

Murguía had three executed bodies abandoned a few steps from his home in separate incidents during a previous term as mayor of Ciudad Juarez. Murguía was mayor of Juarez from 2004 to 2007. In Mexico incumbents cannot seek reelection to consecutive terms.

Murguía’s previous administration was marred by a scandal involving his police chief, Saulo Reyes Gamboa, who served from January to October 2007.

Three months after leaving his position Reyes Gamboa was arrested by federal authorities in El Paso, Texas, on drug trafficking and bribery charges. He plead guilty and is now serving eight year sentence in a federal prison in Kentucky.

Murguía has campaigned on a populist agenda of tax increases to provide more social services for the poor and to combat organized crime. According to the candidate it is illogical to think that Juarez, a city of 1.3 million people, can operate on a budget of less than $250 million.

Ciudad Juarez is infamous as the world’s most violent city. Already this month there have been over 290 murders and 1,370 murders so far this year. The murders committed in Juarez since the beginning of the Calderon administration stand at over 5,300.

At Least 5 Governors Threatened

Veracruz Gov. Fidel Herrera Beltran, one of the threatened

The governors of five Mexican states have received death threats from organized crime groups, Tabasco Gov. Andres Granier Melo said.

Granier Melo said he and the governors of Veracruz, Fidel Herrera; Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernandez; Sinaloa, Jesus Alberto Aguilar; and Chihuahua, Jose Reyes Baeza, all members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, “have (received) threats from criminals.”

“The federal government has full knowledge” of the threats, Granier Melo said in a statement.

The Tabasco governor attended the funeral Tuesday of Rodolfo Torre Cantu, who was running for the governorship of the northeastern state of Tamaulipas at the head of a coalition led by the PRI and was killed along with four other people by gunmen.

State legislator Enrique Blackmore Smer and bodyguards Luis Gerardo Sotero, Ruben Lopez Zuñiga and Francisco David Lopez Catache were killed on Monday along with Torre Cantu as they headed to the airport in Ciudad Victoria, the state capital.

The candidate’s private secretary, Alejandro Martinez, and brother-in-law, Enrique de la Garza Montoto, as well as bodyguards Aurelio Balleza and Dante Quiroz, were wounded.

The gunmen who attacked the campaign vehicles were armed with large-caliber weapons, prosecutors said.

The two vehicles carrying the candidate’s party were hit by gunfire at around 11:00 a.m. Monday on the highway that links Ciudad Victoria with Soto la Marina, which is close to the airport.

Torre Cantu was heading to the airport to catch a flight to the border city of Matamoros, where he was scheduled to take part in a series of campaign events.

Investigators suspect that organized crime groups were behind the killings, which occurred six days before Tamaulipas and 11 other states are scheduled to hold gubernatorial, legislative and municipal elections.

“All the levels of government must take precautions and close ranks with federal forces,” Granier Melo said, “but the federal government must also provide more support to the states to bolster the fight against crime.”

Tabasco “will not yield” in the war against the criminal groups that are trying to take control of Mexico, the governor said.

Mexico has been plagued by a wave of drug-related violence that has claimed the lives of some 25,000 people in the past four years.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Voices of the People

Humberto Moreira Valdés, Governor of the state of Coahuila

The following post is based on an e-mail received by Borderland Beat from citizens of Coahuila, a state in Mexico that borders Southwest Texas. It is a call to action against the current governor of the state, Humberto Moreira Valdes of the PRI party, by citizens of the Torreon, which has been hit especially hard this year by the violence, crime and murders being perpetrated by organized criminal groups.

Many of his constituents despise the governor as the prototype of political corruption in Mexico today. He is rumored to own million dollar homes in San Antonio, Texas and Vail, Colorado. How these properties were obtained on a public servant’s salary is open to conjecture.

Governors are known as the “New Viceroys” of the Mexican political system. They hold and exercise much more power than U.S. Governors and in most cases are not answerable to the President of the Republic. They control access to public funds in a political system not known for its transparency.



We are living in very complicated times with violence throughout the country, which has intensified in Ciudad Juarez, but I think second place is the city of Torreón, where at least two deaths occur daily (and we only know of those that are published). But there are other crimes that do not come to light such as robbery, assault, kidnapping, rape, etc. that one learns of through acquaintances, that come ever closer, and that is very troubling.

I have a clear theory about what is happening, this theory is supported by various facts and historical analysis of the political situation in our country:

The original purpose of this violence was for the PRI to recover the presidency through agreements with the Governors and the involvement of people associated with drug trafficking. Thus began the destabilization of the country by shootings, executions and some well-planned kidnappings.

Cartels and Mexican elections

By George W. Grayson
College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va

Mexico’s drug cartels are flexing their muscles in the run-up to the 12 gubernatorial elections that will take place on July 4.

In the past, Los Zetas, the Beltrán Leyva Organization, La Familia Michoacana, and the Sinaloa, Gulf, Tijuana and Juárez crime syndicates concentrated their attention, wealth and hit men on mayoral contests, particularly in municipalities where they imported, grew, stored, manufactured, and trafficked drugs.

On June 26, 2009, for example, authorities arrested a dozen mayors in western Michoacán state for alleged ties to the messianic La Familia Michoacana, whose brainwashed, Bible-pounding zealots obscenely torture and viciously decapitate victims, claiming that they are carrying out “the Lord’s work.”

Ultimately, the municipal leaders won their release, largely because La Familia intimidated witnesses whose testimony was pivotal to convicting the accused.

Despite success against the Arellano Félix Organization in Baja California, the drug trade is spreading nationwide like an ink spot on a snow-white tablecloth. As a result, capos are bringing in their “goods” through more ports, roadways and air fields, increasing their number of stash houses and expanding their trade routes.

The marijuana, cocaine and heroin sold in the United States typically originates in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia before being shipped by land, air or sea through Central America and its coastal waters to its Mexican destinations.

Methamphetamines, ever more popular with California and other American consumers, frequently come from China, India, or Western Europe en route to the ports of Manzanillo, Colima, and Lazaro Cárdenas, Michoacán, on the Pacific Coast. La Familia Michoacana makes a fortune operating sophisticated mega-laboratories that convert the imported precursor chemicals into meth.

With the growth of the narcotics industry and the configuration of new and longer supply lines, Mafiosi are focusing more on state campaigns. Xóchitl Gálvez Ruiz, an anti-PRI, pro-reform candidate complains of threats to her and her volunteers in Hidalgo, a New Jersey-sized state contiguous to Mexico City, and a center of activities by the vicious paramilitary Zetas.

10,000 Bid Farewell to Slain Candidate

More than 10,000 people met on Tuesday to bid their final farewell to Rodolfo Torre Cantu, a candidate for governor of the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas who was slain this week along with four associates.

A vigil was held for the bodies of Torre Cantu, state lawmaker Enrique Blackmore and bodyguards Luis Gerardo Sotelo, Ruben Lopez Zuñiga and David Lopez at the Polyforum Victoria in Ciudad Victoria, the state capital.

The slain politician had been leading in the polls for next Sunday’s elections. He was the candidate of a coalition comprising the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and two smaller allies.

Families and friends of the victims, PRI supporters, 15 state governors, leaders of the main political parties and others gathered together for the sorrowful ceremony in honor of Torre Cantu.

During the funeral, current Tamaulipas Gov. Eugenio Hernandez, also a PRI militant, condemned the murders and said that such an “insult of irrational violence...must not go unpunished.”

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hidalgo Explosive Cocktail

Threats to Candidates

A week from now, as July 4 gets closer to election day, violence in Hidalgo increases. The presence of "Los Zetas" in the state of Hidalgo is a fact that politicians acknowldge in silence. The electoral process has developed between shootings and threats against supporters of the coalition Hidalgo United, which is headed by Xochitl Galvez.

The candidate to the Government of Hidalgo, Xochitl Gálvez.

A climate of political tension prevails in this state on the eve of the gubernatorial race that is escalated by violence associated with drug trafficking by the presence of "Los Zetas" and by the threats of candidates. In the atmosphere one can breathe the fear that fighting will intensify for electoral reasons, as well as those related to organized crime.

In several communities of Hidalgo clashes have been reported between supporters of Xochitl Galvez, candidate of the coalition of Hidalgo United (consisting of the PAN, PRD and PT) and the PRI's Francisco Olvera, candidate of the coalition United With Us (formed by the PRI, Green Party and New Alliance).

The campaign coordinator of PAN's candidate Galvez who is PRD federal deputy Jesus Zambrano related that a month ago a certain "commander Cobra" called the cell phones of his team to threaten to harm their families if they did not leave the campaign. However, he says, he still do not know if the threat is real (the intent) or was only to intimidate.

Interviewed during her campaign in La Huasteca of Hidalgo, Gálvez considers a real possibility that the election will take on a climate of violence because she suspects that members of PRI will attempt to win at any cost.

"The PRI in Hidalgo is extremely repressive. There have been many constant threats" especially against the more than 3000 promoters she said. They have been reported mainly in Tula, Tulancingo, Pachuca and the Mezquital Valley.

One of her supporters in the campaign, Juan Reyes, was abducted in Pachuca. He escaped, but afterwards did not want anything to do with the campaign anymore or make a report with the authorities.

List: Mexican Election Campaign Killings

With just a few days left for Mexico's 2010 election campaigns, violence generated by organized crime has seriously affected both the political parties and their candidates.

Here is a list of candidates, party officials and associates who have lost their lives during this year's electoral process:

June 28, 2010

Rodolfo Torre Cantú - Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate for governor of Tamaulipas.
Enrique Blackmore Smer - local representative and general coordinator of Rodolfo Torre Cantú's campaign.
Rubén López - member of Rodolfo Torre Cantú's entourage.
Gerardo Sotero - escort for the gubernatorial candidate.
David Castelo - escort for the gubernatorial candidate.
Dante Quiroz - escort for the gubernatorial candidate.
Aurelio Balleza - escort for the gubernatorial candidate.
Alejandro Martínez - Rodolfo Torre Cantú's private secretary.

June 26, 2010

Pedro Brito Ocampo - National Action Party (PAN) manager in the Guerrero state municipality of Heliodoro Castillo. His body, found in an abandoned house, had 40 gunshot wounds.

June 19, 2010

Jesús Manuel Lara - 48 year-old Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) mayor of Guadalupe Distrito Bravo, Chihuahua, died in a house in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez when a group of gunmen burst in and shot him.

May 21, 2010

Jorge Rogelio Ortega Ortega - Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) associate helping with the political campaigns, gunned down by heavily armed men riding in a Ranger pickup.

May 13, 2010

Mario Guajardo Varela - National Action Party (PAN) candidate for mayor of Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas, his son, Luis Mario Guajardo Adame, and an employee named Fernando Treviño, were executed by three hitmen inside an agricultural supply store.

March 17, 2010

Sótico Silvestre López - Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) manager in San Andrés Huaxpaltepec, a municipality on the coast of Oaxaca, was gunned down by a group of assassins.

This is an attack against Society: FHC

Governor candidate killed in war torn state of Tamaulipas

Dallas Morning News

Associated Press
As reported in Borderland Beat yesterday gunmen assassinated the front-running candidate for governor of a Mexican border state Monday in what President Felipe Calderon called an attempt by drug gangs to sway local and state elections this weekend.

The assailants ambushed Rodolfo Torre's vehicle as he headed to a campaign event near Ciudad Victoria, capital of Tamaulipas, a state torn by a turf battle between two rival drug cartels. At least four other people traveling with him were killed.

The slayings of Torre underscored what analysts and officials on both sides of the border said was the pervasive influence of criminal organization and their determination to decide the outcome of who governs Mexico.

In a country faced with so many deaths that it often appears stoic, the killing of Torre drew widespread condemnation from all political parties and from officials on both sides of the border amid fresh fears that the violence in Mexico is threatening the democratic process.

"Today has proven that organized crime is a permanent threat and that we should close ranks to confront it and avoid more actions like the cowardly assassination that today has shaken the country," Calderon said in a televised speech. "We cannot and should not permit crime to impose its will or its perverse rules."

He warned that organized crime "wants to interfere in the decisions of citizens and in electoral processes."

Torre, of Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, is the first gubernatorial candidate assassinated in Mexico in recent memory. He is the highest-ranking candidate killed since Luis Donaldo Colosio, also for the PRI, was gunned down while running for president in 1994.

The attack was the biggest setback yet for Sunday's elections in 12 states. Corruption scandals, threats and attacks on politicians have raised fears for months that Mexico's powerful drug cartels are buying off candidates they support and intimidating those they oppose.

Last month, gunmen killed Jose Guajardo Varela, a candidate for mayor of the Tamaulipas town of Valle Hermoso. Guajardo, of Calderon's National Action Party, or PAN, had received warnings to drop his campaign.

Several parties, including the PAN, had said they could not find anyone to run for mayor in some towns in Tamaulipas and other border states because of drug gang intimidation.

The Political Party Leader of PAN is Executed with 40 Bullet Holes

The leader of the PAN, Pedro Brito Ocampo, of the municipality of Heliodoro Castillo, Guerrero, was found dead with 40 gunshot wounds in an abandoned house located outside of this mountain community.

Carlos Millan, a former leader of the PAN in the state, said that prior to finding his body, a commando had abducted Brito Ocampo violently from his house and was forced inside a luxury SUV.

The Pan leader called the authorities of the Ministry of Public Security and Civil Protection (SSPPC) state irresponsible, who had initially informed that the death of Brito Ocampo was due to a traffic accident, when in fact he was killed with a firearm.

Last Friday morning, Brito Ocampo, who in October 2008 was the PAN candidate for mayor of Heliodoro Castillo, had been at home when several armed men arrived aboard three vans and made force entry to his home

In the presence of his children, the group took him out by force and put him in one of the vans.

"We were informed Saturday night that the leader of our party in that municipality had been found lying on the ground of an abandoned house with 40 bullet wounds," said Miller in an interview by telephone.

On the day he was abducted the municipal police did not even set foot at the house to conduct an investigation and a group of the Preventive State arrived hours later.

But more seriously, Millán said, is that on Saturday an expert from the Medical Examiner (Semefo) issued an opinion in which he certified that the PAN leader died from a traffic accident.

"We know that our companion, who is over 50 years old, was a quiet person and a merchant in Tlacotepec," he said.

He recalled that the during the administration of the 2005-2008, Brito Ocampo was director of the Municipal Police and resigned to run as a candidate for mayor.

Millan asked the Government of Zeferino Torreblanca total clarification of the assassination of leader in the municipality.

PRI Gubernatorial Candidate Assassinated in Tamaulipas

In another massive blow to the electoral process and stability in Mexico the candidate of the populist PRI political party for the governor’s race in the violence plagued border state of Tamaulipas was assassinated this morning outside of the state capital, Ciudad Victoria.

The election for statewide and local offices in Tamaulipas and several other Mexican states are scheduled for Sunday, July 4th.

The candidate, Rodolfo Torre Cantú and his campaign team were ambushed by gunmen on the highway to the local airport while on their way to fly to a political event in the border city of Matamoros across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas.

According to the state prosecutor’s office 4 other members of Torre Cantu’s campaign team were also killed. They were identified as a state representative (Diputado) Enrique Blackmore Smer, a bodyguard and 2 campaign staff members.

His father in law Enrique de la Garza, his chief campaign aide Alejandro Martinez Villarreal and 2 other members of his security team were injured in the attack.

Apparently gunmen on board a convoy of 7 pickup trucks intercepted the 2 vehicles carrying the candidate and his team after blocking the highway with a tractor-trailer.

Torre Cantu, 46, married with three children and a medical doctor, was the candidate of the alliance comprising the PRI, the Green Party and New Alliance Party, and was the heavy favorite in various polls, which gave him between 55 and 58 percent of the vote.

The state of Tamaulipas is a stronghold of the organized criminal group known as the Gulf Cartel (CDG) and has been converted into a terrifying no-man’s land since February of this year as the CDG and the Zetas, the breakaway former paramilitary force of the CDG, wage a bloody war over drug trafficking routes into the U.S.

The fighting between both organized criminal groups and against the military and law enforcement authorities attempting to re-impose the rule of law has claimed hundreds of lives.

Organized criminal groups in Tamaulipas have threatened the campaigns of most candidates running for political office. On May 13 of this year Mario Guajardo, the mayoral candidate of the National Action party (PAN) for the city of Valle Hermoso, and his son were executed after ignoring death threats warning him to abstain from running for office.

Other candidates for statewide and local offices have been assassinated in Chihuahua, Guerrero and Sinaloa. Yesterday in Sinaloa a busload of 40 sympathizers working for the PAN-PRD Convergencia coalition candidate for governor, Mario Lopez Valdez, were attacked by gunmen outside of the port city of Mazatlan. No injuries were reported in that incident.

Both the PAN and the PRD have suspended their campaigns in Tamaulipas and have urged their supporters to turn out and vote on Sunday, July 4th, as a show of defiance against the terror tactics of the drug cartels.

Nearly half of Mexico’s 31 states hold elections on July 4 and the results could shape the 2012 presidential race. Twelve of the 15 elections involve gubernatorial races. Mexico’s powerful governors usually set the agenda that will determine the relative strength of political parties in the race to the presidency. The PRI is in position to win between 8 and 9 of the governorships.

The drug cartels in Mexico have reached the level where they now constitute, for all practical purposes, an insurgency that uses terrorism against the population and state institutions in a bid to usurp the rule of law and to permanently institute the impunity with which they already operate within their areas of influence.

In areas where the La Familia Michoacana cartel operate, the objective seems to be a complete takeover of political rule.

The irregular warfare tactics used by organized crime includes guerilla style attacks against law enforcement and the military; assassination, threats and co-optation of civil authorities; intimidation of the population through the use of violence, extortions and kidnappings and now attacks against the electoral process in a bid to destabilize the state further and in some cases to have their own candidates elected.

After learning of the assassination President Felipe Calderon ordered an immediate meeting of his security cabinet.

After the security cabinet meeting ended, the chief executive stressed that what happened is not an attack on one citizen, but against the democratic institutions and the whole of society, so it demands a response "united and firm", since "organized crime represents the greatest threat to security and the tranquility of the Mexican nation”

He also called for unity the unity of all political parties, legislators and governors, to put aside differences and fight this enemy that knows no boundaries "and to defend the institutions during these sensitive moments. "

In his message, President Calderón stressed that organized crime "will not achieve its objectives".

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mexico Mayhem: Drug Violence Claims 20

Mexico's increasingly powerful and dangerous drug cartels killed over 20 people over the weekend -- including a massacre at a drug rehab center and singer Sergio Vera in Sinaloa, who sang about the narco-trafficers in his ballads

Gunmen murdered nine people at a drug rehabilitation center in northern Mexico, while 10 other people were reported killed in drug-related violence in the country, officials said.

The gunmen entered the Fuerza Para Vivir drug treatment center in Gomez Palacio, a city in the northern state of Durango, around 1:40 p.m. on Saturday and opened fire, killing nine people and wounding five others, police spokesmen told Efe.

The drug rehabilitation center's owner, Roberto Mayoral, was among those killed, the Reforma newspaper reported.

The rehab center in Gomez Palacio, located 815 kilometers (506 miles) northwest of Mexico City, housed 46 people, the newspaper said.

Gunmen employed by Mexico's drug cartels have attacked several drug treatment centers in recent months.

Durango ranked third among Mexico's states last year in terms of homicides, with 734.

A woman and four men were gunned down early Saturday at the Habana bar in Ciudad Juarez, a border city in the northern state of Chihuahua, prosecutors said.

Gunmen opened fire on the table where the victims were sitting, a Chihuahua state Attorney General's Office spokesman told Efe.

The gunmen managed to carry out the attack even though the bar is on El Trigal Plaza, one of the areas most watched by military and state police patrols.

U.S. Military Advisors in Mexico

According to Mexican newspaper reports confirmed by SEDENA (Mexico’s National Defense Ministry) and the U.S. military, the U.S. Northern Command is training the Mexican military in counterinsurgency tactics used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), headquartered at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, is the military command responsible for homeland defense efforts. NORTHCOM has an area of responsibility that includes the continental U.S., Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and surrounding waters out to approximately 500 nautical miles, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida.

The counterinsurgency programs being taught have been used to dismantle insurgent networks in Afghanistan and Iraq, and are applicable in the fight against the drug cartels in Mexico according to NORTHCOM

For two years now the U.S. military has been sending on average 20 teams annually into Mexico.The teams are comprised of 4 to 5 soldiers who travel into Mexico on short missions to provide training without participating in field operations.

Most of the trainers have participated in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan including social work and reconstruction. The counterinsurgency focus is on how to fight an enemy that lives among the civilian population through training in areas of intelligence and in joint operations with civilian law enforcement agencies.

In addition, NORTHCOM has been working with the Mexican military and with the Mexican Federal Police to help them vet new candidates and by providing training to Mexican special forces units.

Mexican military district commanders and U.S. military commanders already meet twice yearly to help share common tactics, techniques and procedures and to share intelligence.

SEDENA confirmed that Mexico's armed forces receive training from the Northern Command and U.S. Army as a whole, but did not specify the programs in which they participate.

The level of communication, cooperation and training between the armed forces of the United States and Mexico has increased dramatically over the past two years and represents a historic opportunity to improve long-term strategy in the security partnership between the U.S. and Mexico” said General Victor Renuart, the previous commander of NORTHCOM, before a Senate committee this past March.

Armed Assailants Fire Shots at Televisa Offices

A group of men armed with automatic rifles fired shots at the offices of Mexican TV network Televisa in the northern state of Coahuila, in what was the second attack on media outlet in that state in less than a week, officials said.

The Coahuila state Attorney General’s Office said a group of gunmen fired more than 160 rounds with AR-15 assault rifles and 9mm pistols Friday afternoon at the antenna and offices of Mexico’s main TV network in the city of Torreon.

The AG office said the attack occurred when the employees were having their lunch break and that therefore no personnel were killed or injured by the gunshots, which caused only material damage.

The prosecutors added that because the gunmen fired at the antenna, bullets also struck the top floors of a luxury apartment building located behind the installations.

On June 22, the Coahuila state AG office said that another group of gunmen attacked the Noticias del Sol de la Laguna daily, firing more than 50 shots at the front entrance to the building.

In that attack, one of the receptionists at the newspaper was wounded in the arm and head, the AG office confirmed.

Paris-based media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, known by the French initials RSF, issued a warning about threats made against Javier Adame, a reporter at the daily targeted in the attack.

Days earlier, unknown assailants launched fragmentation grenades at the El Zocalo newspaper in the border city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, although that attack only caused material damage.

Since March of this year, after clashes intensified between the Gulf cartel and its former armed wing, Los Zetas, in northeastern Mexico, journalists in Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon have received threats aimed at forcing them to stop publishing news related to drug trafficking.

Friday, June 25, 2010

23 Seconds in Monterrey in 2007

Sometimes these executions move very fast and the sicarios will kill anyone who is nearby. This a video that happened in Monterrey in April 2007 in a jewelry store. Killed was a police commander (the target), his wife, the sales lady and an unarmed guard by the door. One of the sicarios was injured by one of his own people and was rescued.

We show this video just to give an idea how fast and cold blooded these sicarios can be.

In the seconds before the gunmen burst into the tiny Lozano Garza jewelry store in this city's downtown, three shoppers browsed the display cases.

An unarmed security guard sat by the door.

Then three men with assault rifles ran in, one after the other, the muzzles of their weapons ablaze.

By the time anyone reacted to the gunfire, it was too late. The four people collapsed in the barrage of bullets. One of the gunmen helped another, apparently wounded by a comrade, out of the store. Before the last killer fled, he fired final shots into a customer and the guard.

Twenty-three seconds after they came, the gunmen disappeared into the traffic of busy Francisco Madero Avenue, lined with hardware and lighting shops, taco vendors and newsstands. The page of a catalog on one case fluttered in the breeze.

The killers left the jewelry. Nor did they touch the cash register. They paid no heed to the three video cameras that recorded the entire scene.

Lying dead that afternoon of March 14, 2007, were an off-duty police commander and his wife, Benjamin Espinosa and Griselda Melendez, who apparently were shopping for a religious medallion in gratitude for a successful intestinal operation on their hospitalized infant daughter.

Sinaloa Under Attack: 42 murdered in 3 days

The wave of violence and disorder that is overwhelming northern and southwestern Mexico has now spread into Sinaloa, the untouchable home territory of the mythical drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and his Cartel del Pacifico (Sinaloa cartel).

Up to 42 execution style murders have occurred since Wednesday, June 25, in the northern part of Sinaloa bordering Sonora and Chihuahua. Six of the victims were members of state and municipal police forces.

Wednesday saw 18 men murdered including 3 state policemen killed in Los Mochis. 13 men were murdered on Thursday including 1 municipal policeman in Juan Jose Rios and 2 municipal policemen in Navolato. 11 men were murdered on Friday including 8 men executed in Ahome in 2 separate incidents.

It is rumored that independent bands of criminals from Sonora and Sinaloa, possibly with help from the Juarez cartel, are settling accounts with Chapo Guzman and his group.

Wednesday June 23rd, 2 state police agents executed in Los Mochis

Thursday 24th, 4 men executed in Juan Jose Rios

Friday June 25th, 5 Men executed on a basketball court in Ahome. One man, Sergio Herrera, was identified as a resident of Los Angeles, California.

Friday 25th, 3 men executed in Ahome

Drug Cartel Leader Big on Murder — and Manners

By Tim Johnson
McClatchy Newspapers

Apatzingan — As the leader of one of Mexico's most ruthless criminal gangs, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez is the mastermind of hair-raising brutality in his native Michoacán state. He also would like the world to know he has a pious, loving and huggy-kissy side, and so he's penned a booklet titled "Thoughts."

"If you want to say 'I love you!' to those who surround you and to your friends, say it today," the drug lord exhorts readers.

In the 104-page booklet, published this year, he offers advice on personal empowerment, Christian living and proper deportment.

"Manners are a way of showing respect for others," he writes. "If you don't have them, don't expect to be respected."

If it seems bizarre for the leader of a drug gang that beheads or quarters enemies to offer advice on Christian living, well, maybe. However, the gang known as La Familia Michoacana is a pseudo-Christian posse that mixes zeal and inspiring slogans in its pronouncements. Members are ordered to study the Bible and pray the rosary, even as they gun down police, dismember opponents and manufacture highly addictive crystal methamphetamine.

Unlike other Mexican drug cartels, La Familia portrays itself as religious and patriotic and deeply tied to the mountains and plains of Michoacán state. The group has a U.S. distribution network and funnels marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine to more than a dozen cities, including Seattle.

La Familia's thousands of members often are recruited from drug- and alcoholism-rehabilitation centers and sent to training courses at secret safe houses in Michoacán.

Near Tourist Mecca, A Macabre Discovery

By William Booth
The Washington Post

The hillside silver-mining city of Taxco, on a highway between Mexico City and Acapulco, is noted for its quaint, colonial atmosphere, red-tile roofs and jewelry shops.

Taxco - Victims in Mexico's drug war often simply disappear. Just a few miles outside this quaint tourist town filled with silver jewelry shops, Mexican authorities discovered where some ended up.

For months, maybe years, feuding drug mafias have unloaded bound-and-gagged victims from pickups and car trunks and thrown them down a deep, dark hole. It is one of the most macabre spectacles in a drug war that produces greater barbarities by the week.

For the past year, locals reported strange vehicles on the road at night. The Mexican military in May arrested gunmen who revealed under pressure the existence of a mass grave, the largest ever found in Mexico.

It does not look like much from the surface. A simple, concrete-block building tagged with graffiti covers the entrance to a ventilation shaft designed to feed air into silver mines. The mines have been closed for three years by striking workers demanding better pay from the owner, one of Mexico's biggest corporations.

State investigators rappelled down the 15-foot-wide shaft through darkness to reach the bottom, 50 stories down, where they found a cold, dripping-wet cavern filled with noxious gases. They initially believed they saw 25 bodies, then 55. But as they struggle to reassemble the bodies at the morgue in the capital city, they now believe they have the remains of 64 people.

"It was like a quicksand, but filled with bodies," said Luis Rivera, a young chief criminologist who was one of the first to descend into the mine. "We were stepping on them. It was a very challenging working environment."

The recovery of the remains took five days, and the work of identifying the dead has just begun, a task made more difficult by the fact that some cadavers were mummified, others were dismembered by the fall and at least four had been decapitated.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Zeta Boss in Puebla is Arrested

Elements of Federal Police arrested Manuel Antele Velasco a Zeta boss in the plaza of Puebla.

According to information from the federal and state police yesterday elements of local government conducted a raid at a home in Junta Auxiliar de San Pablo Xochimehuacán.

The operation took place at the address located at street number 10 Amanalco in listed community where Antelo Manuel Velasco, 38 years old, was apprehended.

This is the same man who managed to escape in January 2009 in another operation executed by the Army, and state judicial police, was wanted on an arrest warrant for several federal offenses.

Antele Velasco was involved in kidnappings, murders, crimes against health, crime against the federal law concerning firearms and explosives, as well as being involved in organized crime.

Karam Alfredo Beltran, Secretary of State for Public Security, explained that the offender was transported to a facility where they keep dangerous prisoners called "RINO."

The official said that despite the fact that the suspect is usually armed and dangerous, there was no shots fired during the arrest.

According to the official report the alleged "zeta" was transported to Mexico City, where he will be transported by aircraft to Tamaulipas, where he will face different local criminal charges.

Beltran Karam said that during the operation they also arrested Jaime Rodríguez Hernández, who presumably was the body guard of Antel Velasco for some time.

He explained that the location of the arrest they confiscated a .38 caliber revolver, a 9mm handgun, a box of 9mm unspent rounds, a box of other ammunition and a scale.

Video follows:

Monterrey Caught Up in Mexico's Drug Conflict

By Julian Miglierini
BBC News, Mexico

In Mexico's drug conflict, in which more than 23,000 people have died since late 2006, places like Ciudad Juárez have earned a reputation as some of the most violent in the world.

Mexico's president has attempted a crack down on organised crime.

Now, to the surprise of many in Mexico, it is Monterrey, the richest city in the country and its industrial capital, that seems to be falling into a spiral of violence.

In the first five months of this year, 284 people were killed in Monterrey's metropolitan area - more than the total toll for the whole of 2009.

Kidnapping, as well as robberies, are on the rise in a city usually known as one of Latin America's safest.

This increase in crime is attributed to the widespread presence of the Zetas, one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels, who are known for kidnapping, extortion and sheer violence against their adversaries.

"Monterrey is Zeta territory. No one can doubt it," said Luis Petersen, columnist and editor of the Milenio newspaper in Monterrey.

Police 'dishonesty'

But how could this city of almost four million people, known for its safe streets and friendly business environment, become such a focal point of Mexico's drug conflict?

Many here point to the fact that the city's wealthy residents are a perfect target for those looking to cash in on kidnappings by demanding expensive ransoms.

They also point out that the city is strategically located only a few hundred kilometres from the US border.

"I think the biggest problem is the infiltration of the cartels in the police forces. You can't trust police to work for the citizens; they work for the Zetas," Mr Petersen said.

Fernando Larrazabal, the mayor of Monterrey's main district, admits that the dishonesty of some police officers is a crucial element fuelling the violence.

"I keep on hearing stories from citizens who tell me that they have been picked up by a police patrol for no apparent reason, and then robbed of their money and beaten up by those police officers," he said.

"I Killed, Cut off Heads" Says Repentant Mexico Hitman

WARNING: Graphic content, discretion is advised.

By Robin Emmott and Julian Cardona
Ciudad Juarez - The kills started with a telephone call and often ended with a beheading, but they were all just jobs for the drug hitman, one of maybe hundreds that have scarred Ciudad Juarez's streets. He now says the tortured faces of the dead haunt him.

Recounting his years as a hired killer, he says most of his jobs began with a voice down the phone telling him where to meet. At the safe house he would find the weapons and the hit squad. They would pass around a photo of their target -- a police chief who owed money, a politician who got in the way -- and wait for the signal, sometimes for days.

The target can be at home, at the office, outside a mall, or on patrol, but the killers rarely struggle to find their prey. Bodyguards are regularly bought off.

Several shots to the back of the head or a tight ring of bullets through the car door and into the body is enough.

The killers are told to cut off the victim's head if he talked too much. They will saw off his arms and fingers if he stole drugs and cash. And they'll chop up his body if they've been told to.

"There are things people do that they shouldn't, and that is the punishment," the hitman and former Mexican police officer told Reuters from a secure location in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Fearing for his safety, he asked to have his identity kept secret. He spoke in almost a whisper, his eyes hidden behind mirrored sunglasses. A row of broken teeth were just visible behind his bottom lip.

Bodyguards Aim to Kill in Mexico Drug War

Ciudad Victoria, Mexico  - In this corner of Mexico, people don't mention the devil by name. So if you hear the phrases "Triple X" (el Triple Equis) or "The Letter", (La Letra) you know people are obliquely referring to the warring factions in one of Mexico's most brutal drug war battlegrounds.

Ciudad Victoria is capital of Tamaulipas state, nestled between the Gulf coast and the U.S.-Mexico border. It's prime real estate for the cartels, providing sea ports and land routes to smuggle South American cocaine and home-grown marijuana to the United States or to Europe. It also has lucrative migrant trafficking routes.

In the heart of Ciudad Victoria, behind barred, tinted windows you'll find Mario Falcone's school for trainee bodyguards.

Falcone, a karate black belt seventh dan, is as dangerous with his hands as he is with a pistol. With his short spiky hair and hard gaze, he looks like a Mexican version of The Terminator.

But he's not out to prove how tough he really is. His mission is to train bodyguards, for businessmen, politicians and military top brass.

And he makes one thing very clear: he doesn't teach his students to be heroes but to protect their clients and survive themselves.

"As far as being ready to die to protect somebody then that's a wrong concept. It's hard to motivate somebody to give their own life to protect somebody else," he says.

"It's more about being ready to kill somebody to protect your client. To die in the line of duty sounds sad. To kill somebody in the line of duty sounds harsh but it's much better."

Lesson One is "kill or be killed". But Lesson Two is avoid taking a client into a dangerous situation in the first place - using a mix of good observation and evasion techniques.
Drills start with trainees shooting on the move using replica Beretta pistols loaded with BB pellets.

Falcone barks out orders infused with street-wise philosophy.

Gulf Cartel Against Los Zetas in Reynosa

By Karl Penhaul

Maria Jesus Mancha had just come from burying her son.

It took her about 20 minutes to drive to the cemetery from her house in a lower middle-class neighborhood in the Mexican border city of Reynosa. In just half that time she could have driven across the border into Texas.

That's how close the frontlines in Mexico's drug war are to the United States.

Mancha says Reynosa is not so much a city under fire in the drug war as a city where security officials have cut a deal with the devil and now work with or for the cartels.

Her son Miguel Angel Vazquez, 27, was a computer engineer in a U.S.-owned assembly plant in Reynosa. He was married with two young children.

"I blame the authorities, our bad government and the police. You must realize these people are disguised as police," she said, referring to cartel gunmen as "these people."

A local newspaper El Sol, citing police sources, said only that her son was caught in crossfire when narcos opened fire on a police patrol as he drove home around midnight.

But Mancha dares to contradict the official version. Other residents of Reynosa also believe that some in the police take orders from the now-dominant Gulf Cartel -- but they keep their opinions to themselves.

Mexico-U.S. border In a city like Reynosa where a drug cartel imposes its rule at gunpoint, Mancha knows speaking out may be like asking for a death sentence.

Asked if she preferred not to be quoted by name, she was defiant and pleaded not to edit her words.

"If they want to kill me for saying this then here I am. They killed me when they killed my son. I'm already dead," Mancha told me.

From Mancha's living room, you could see a large pick-up truck with tinted windows -- like the ones favored by the cartels -- slowly patrolling up and down the street.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Woman Wounded in Attack on Mexican Newspaper

Monterrey – Gunmen opened fire with assault rifles on the offices of a newspaper in the northern Mexican city of Torreon, wounding a receptionist, prosecutors said.

The gunmen fired more than 50 rounds Tuesday at the Noticias del Sol de la Laguna’s main entrance, the Coahuila state Attorney General’s Office said.

One of the newspaper’s receptionists, who is pregnant, was wounded in the arm and head, the AG’s office said.

A journalist at the newspaper received death threats after publishing photographs of decapitated victims of the Los Zetas drug cartel, Reporters Without Borders said last week.

“The Noticias del Sol de la Laguna newspaper immediately decided to stop covering crime after threats were made against one of its reporters, Javier Adame Gomez, on 20 May. The threats followed the publication of reports about an attack in Torreon in which eight people died,” the Paris-based press rights group, known by its French initials RSF, said.

The Coahuila AG’s office confirmed last week that grenades were fired at the El Zocalo newspaper in the border city of Piedras Negras, but no one was wounded in the attack.

Journalists in the border states of Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon have received death threats since the Gulf cartel went to war in March with Los Zetas, the criminal organization’s former armed wing.

“The drug cartels and Los Zetas, a paramilitary group that is in their pay, are the main instigators of the violence and threats against local journalists, who live in permanent fear. Last month, at least three local newspapers were the target of threats or reprisals that were directly linked to their coverage of organized crime,” RSF said in a statement released last Friday.

Mexican Cops Kill 3, Seize 1.5 Tons of Pot

Monterrey – Army troops raided a factory in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, killing three people, wounding five others and arresting 18, the Mexican Defense Secretariat said Wednesday, adding that 1.5 tons of marijuana were seized in the operation.

The soldiers came under fire when they arrived at the factory just after midnight on Tuesday and engaged the criminals in a firefight, the secretariat said.

The factory is what is known in Mexico as a “narco maquila,” an assembly plant with an illegal drug processing facility hidden inside.

The building, which is in Guadalupe, a city in the Monterrey metropolitan area, was used to store, package and distribute drugs by the Los Zetas cartel, which paid mainly young female workers 2,500 pesos ($200) a week to process the marijuana, a military spokesman said.

Soldiers seized arms, ammunition and three vehicles, including an SUV disguised as a carpentry shop vehicle, in the operation.

Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters turned hired guns, have been battling rival cartels for control of smuggling routes into the United States since March.

Mexican Police Arrest Suspect in Soccer Player’s Shooting

The detainee is associated with "JJ", an alleged drug dealer at the service of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka "La Barbie"

Mexico City – A suspect in the shooting in January of Paraguayan soccer player Salvador Cabañas has been arrested, Mexico’s Federal Police said Wednesday.

Jose Francisco Barreto Garcia, a reputed drug trafficker, was present when his boss, Jose Jorge Balderas Garza, shot Cabañas at the Bar Bar club in the southern section of Mexico City, the chief of the Federal Police’s drug enforcement unit, Ramon Pequeño Garcia said.

Barreto Garcia helped Balderas Garza make his getaway, Pequeño said.

The suspect was arrested Tuesday along with a man and a woman in Tlalnepantla, a city in the northern section of the Mexico City metropolitan area, Pequeño said.

Barreto Garcia was carrying cocaine, two handguns, three ammunition clips and 21 rounds of ammunition at the time of his arrest.

Cabañas, who plays for Mexico’s Club America, was shot in the head on Jan. 25 in the bathrooms at Bar Bar.

Security videos show Barreto Garcia and Balderas Garza following the Paraguayan star into the bathroom and then rushing out of the bar.

Federal Police investigators knew about Barreto Garcia as far back as February 2008, when officers arrested a cell of drug trafficker Edgar Valdez Villarreal’s organization in the city of Tultitlan, Pequeño said.

Barreto Garcia told authorities that he and Balderas Garza went to Bar Bar regularly on Wednesdays and Sundays, and they “knew some of the patrons,” including Cabañas, Pequeño said.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

El Beto Boss of la Plaza in Nezahualcóyotl is Captured

Federal Police reported that Alberto Ramírez Miranda, alias “El Beto,” was arrested. He is identified as the boss of la plaza of Nezahualcoyotl where he belongs to the criminal organization La Familia Michoacana.

At a press conference police announced that "El Beto" was captured in the company of seven other people outside the hospital that is located in Bosques de Aragón.

Elements of the federal police mounted an operation in this hospital, where they were received with gunfire from the sicarios who were watching the place in an SUV.

After a confrontation the federal police managed to capture Alberto Ramírez Miranda, alias “El Beto,” 35-years old and a native of Mexico City and identified as the boss of the plaza. Also captured was José Luis Anaya Soria, alias “El Pepe,” 26 years of age, and also from Mexico City, he is an alleged hijacker.

Others captured included: Romel Ávila Rojas, 34, from Nezahualcoyotl, Jonatan García Gutiérrez, 19, from Mexico City, Oscar Almeida 41, from Mexico City, Jessica García Jaime age 21 and also a minor whose identity was not disclosed.

This cell was operating in the State of Mexico and is implicated in the kidnapping of two women and three men in February of this year.

Police also seized an SUV, five long rifles, three handguns and 14 cell phones.

Only 5 Percent of Organized Crime Murders Investigated in Mexico

According to a confidential report addressed by Mexico’s Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) to the Senate and released through a freedom of information request to the El Universal National newspaper 95 percent of all deaths related to the war against drug trafficking go uninvestigated.

The document submitted to the Senate shows that from the beginning of the Calderon administration in December 2006 to April 2010 there were more than 22,000 deaths reported in this “war”.

The data in the report provided the following statistics. In December 2006 there were 62 deaths. The number of deaths rose to 2,837 deaths in 2007, in 2008 there were 6,844 deaths and 9,635 deaths in 2009. Between January and March this year there were 3,365 deaths.

According to the data there were only 1,200 preliminary investigations recorded from December 2006 to April 2010.

Analysts in Mexico lamented the findings in the report.

"The small number of homicides investigated by the PGR is a reflection of the inability to investigate these crimes," said Jorge Chabat, of the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE)

Guillermo Garduno Valero of the Autonomous Metropolitan University, said that “the data is absolute evidence of the inability to investigate all executions perpetrated by organized crime, and if we add up the shortcomings of investigators in the local jurisdictions it is not coincidence that only 5% of crimes come to be processed, the rest goes unpunished. "

The figures are a clear sign that the Mexican government’s law enforcement branches and prosecutors at the municipal, state and federal level have been overwhelmed by the reality of this war and are incapable of carrying out investigations whether through ineptitude or corruption or a lack of resources.

What these figures also reflect is that the powerful drug cartels run their criminal operations with a high degree of impunity and that Mexico’s civilian population in the areas with a high level of conflict is largely unprotected by law enforcement.

This report also puts into serious doubt the view held by President Calderon that 90 percent of the 23,000 deaths that have occurred in this war to date are of criminals killed in cartel on cartel violence. There is no credible basis for this view if there is no data from investigations to support it.

This means that a much higher percentage of these 23,000 deaths may be of civilians murdered by the drug cartels or killed in military and police operations.

Assault Weapons Seized in Del Rio, Texas

By Karen Gleason
Del Rio News-Herald

Published June 22, 2010

Del Rio police have seized a load of assault rifles, handguns and ammunition they said may have been headed to Mexico.

A Ciudad Acuña, Coah., Mexico man was arrested when the weapons and ammunition were discovered in his car following a traffic stop, Del Rio Police Department Chief Arnaldo Ramos said Monday.

Ramos said Carlos Enrique Aguilera Valdez, 22, was arrested about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, June 17, after two DRPD detectives stopped his vehicle for a traffic violation at Avenue T and West Second Street.

DRPD detectives Ray Hernandez and Eddie Cortez were following up on a burglary investigation when they saw a Chrysler Sebring with Mexico license plates failed to stop a stop sign at the intersection of Avenue T and West Second Street at 10:15 p.m. June 17, Ramos said.

Ramos said the vehicle stopped near the intersection of Spur 239 and Avenue T. The chief said the two detectives approached the vehicle and began talking to the driver, identified as Aguilera Valdez.

Ramos said Hernandez and Cortez reported the driver “appeared extremely nervous.” He said as the two detectives continued to talk to Aguilera Valdez, they saw a box of bullets spilled in the back seat of the car.

“Further investigation by the two detectives led to the discovery of 11 assault rifles, four handguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition inside the car,” Ramos said Monday.

Ramos said the guns recovered by the detectives included three M16s, four AK-47s and four M4s. He said the handguns were of various calibers.

Ramos said the detectives also found 61 loaded assault rifle magazines and 123 boxes of ammunition for the assault rifles, as well as magazine pouches, holsters and “other tactical gear.”

Ramos said DRPD detectives and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working together to further investigate the incident. He noted that prosecution of Aguilera Valdez has been turned over to the federal government.

Ramos said Aguilera Valdez has been charged with the offense of possession of a firearm by a non-resident alien, a felony under federal law.

Aguilera Valdez was scheduled to make his initial appearance before a federal magistrate today.

Asked if he believed the weapons found in Aguilera Valdez’s vehicle were going to Mexico, Ramos said, “We believe that they were.”

Ramos added the investigation into the weapons seizure is ongoing.

Gunmen Kill 3 Police Officers in Northern Mexico

Monterrey – A group of around 20 men armed with assault rifles attacked city hall and the police headquarters in Los Herreras, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, city officials said Tuesday.

The attack occurred Monday night just after 11:30 p.m. in the rural city, located more than 110 kilometers (68 miles) northeast of Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon.

Initial reports are that the gunmen, who were wearing uniforms and arrived in several SUVs, opened fire with AR-15s on city hall, where police headquarters is also located.

The gunmen then went inside and killed the three officers on duty.

The dead officers were identified as Miguel Angel Torres, Eusebio Muñiz and Andres Ayala.

Investigators found nearly 100 bullet casings from .223-caliber weapons outside city hall.

The gunmen abandoned a late-model vehicle that had been reported stolen recently.

The vehicle’s windows bore the acronym “Z 40,” the nickname of Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, the head of the Los Zetas cartel in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila states.

The rural area where Los Herreras is located is near the border with Tamaulipas and has been the scene of several killings of police officers and shootouts between the army and drug traffickers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Juárez Officer Among Members of Alleged Kidnapping Family

By Adriana Gómez Licón
El Paso Times
Mexican federal police said Thursday that they dismantled a family-run kidnapping gang in Juárez, and that one of the crime ring's members was a Juárez police officer.

Police also said they rescued a 14-year-old girl and a 20-year-old woman who were kidnapped Sunday and raped during their captivity.

In total, police said they arrested eight members of the gang, including two minors.

Police identified three of the suspects as Felipe Arellano González, 44, a Juárez police officer; his wife, Yolanda Rueda Román, 45; and their son, a juvenile, who was identified only as Daniel N.

Also arrested were the alleged leader, Rogelio "El Rojas" Morales Barriento, 28; Ismael "Mayel" Elerizta Valadez, 20; Javier "El Javi" Ribota Talavera, 41; Nancy Lilia Nuñez Borja, 22; and a girl only identified as Paula N.

Police said they arrested the alleged kidnappers after they met with a family to pick up the ransom. Investigators followed them to a house in Melchor Ocampo, a central Juárez subdivision, where they arrested all eight and rescued the victims.

The gang called itself Los Rojas, police said. Police said its members kidnapped people near their homes and told relatives the victims would be hurt unless ransom was paid.

Love for Juárez Campaign in US

By Adriana Gómez Licón
El Paso Times
El Paso -- Juárez will soon be the object of a U.S. marketing campaign to channel money to the violence-torn city.

The Paso del Norte Group is registering a logo and the slogan "Amor por Juárez" (Love for Juárez) as two important parts of the effort. Juárez's city government granted it the rights for a campaign loosely patterned after a promotional effort that helped New York City rebound from economic chaos.

The logo already appears on bumper stickers across El Paso. It is a right hand making a peace sign and holding a heart.

"Amor por Juárez" merchandise will go on sale as soon as July at a shop at Mesa Street and Mills Avenue in Downtown El Paso.

"This will be a campaign, not a single week," said David Buchmueller, the Paso del Norte Group's chief operating officer. "The problem is not going to go away. People are seeing this as a long-term commitment."

Juárez Mayor José Reyes Ferriz compared "Amor por Juárez" with the "I love New York" campaign dating to the 1970s. New York then was on the brink of financial collapse.

Jorge Castaneda: Mexico Cannot Win Without U.S. Advisors

U.S. Marine Corp advisor in Colombia

The former Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs said that without a broad alliance with the United States winning the war on drugs will be impossible.

Mexico's former foreign minister, Jorge Castañeda, said that the country can not win the drug war without a plan like the one implemented in Colombia, which would mean the acceptance of U.S. military advisers on Mexican territory and other conditions such as a major improvement in the human rights records of Mexico’s military and police forces.

Mexico has been traditionally extremely sensitive to the presence of any foreign military or any type of intervention within its borders.

Castañeda participated on Monday with a keynote speech addressing the difficulties of the struggle against organized crime by the Calderon administration at the Binational Forum "The challenges of insecurity and violence Mexico - United States" held in Mexico and attended by officials from both countries.

"If there is no Mexican equivalent to Plan Colombia we can not win the war" he said.

Plan Colombia is the name of the U.S initiative to curb drug trafficking and re-establish the rule of law in Colombia through mainly military and counter-narcotic assistance.

Castañeda noted that U.S. aid, as in the case of Colombia, is subject to certain conditions, including those relating to compliance with human rights standards in military and police operations.

In Colombia, he said, there has been an average of one thousand U.S. advisers in the last ten years. The equivalent number for Mexico in terms of the higher population would be to have three thousand U.S. advisors.

He also noted the vast difference in the flow of resources to both countries to combat organized crime and said the 1.3 billion dollars pledged to Mexico through the Merida initiative is grossly inadequate for the task.

“Plan Colombia has received eight billion dollars in 10 years for a country two and a half times smaller than Mexico” he said.

Not all of the pledged aid promised thru the Merida initiative has been funded by the U.S. Congress due to budgetary problems and also restrictions on some of the aid due to human rights violations by the Mexican military.

"The American condition was that you have to remove the immunity from military justice for violations of human rights”. “Is the army going to accept this condition after what happened in Tamaulipas? " he asked.

Mayor Killed, Priest Beaten in Dispute over Mine in Mexico

Oaxaca – A mayor and another city official were killed, and four other people were hurt in a conflict over a mining project in southern Mexico, Oaxaca state Attorney General Maria de la Luz Candelaria Chiñas said.

San Jose del Progreso Mayor Oscar Venancio Rivera was killed in an ambush staged on Saturday night by unidentified individuals, Chiñas said.

Felix Misael Hernandez, who was the alderman in charge of health matters, also died in the ambush.

Initial reports from the AG’s office said the mayor had been killed in a clash with residents who oppose a mining project, but Chiñas said the information was incorrect.

San Jose del Progreso has been torn by a dispute over the Canadian-owned Minera Cuzcatlan project.

Some residents oppose the silver and gold mining project on the grounds that it will pollute the drinking water supply, while supporters of the mine claim it will create much-needed jobs.

Prosecutors are investigating “the violent incidents that occurred ... where two people are dead, (but) we still don’t know which group the people who attacked the mayor belonged to,” Chiñas said.

A civilian, a police officer and a second alderman were wounded in the ambush, the attorney general said.

A group of residents grabbed and beat the Rev. Martin Octavio Garcia Ortiz, who was rescued by police and later gave a statement to prosecutors.