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

Friday, July 30, 2010

Drug War Slaughter Continues in Northern Mexico

15 People executed in Tamaulipas

Tamaulipas was the scene of yet another harvest of death as the bodies of 15 more execution-style murder victims were found abandoned by their killers on the highway between Matamoros and San Fernando Thursday afternoon, July 29.

The 13 men and 2 women were found with their hands bound with plastic cable ties, faces bandaged and with visible marks of torture and beatings. All had been executed with a shot to the head.

Most of the bodies were dressed in white t-shirts with a "Z" painted in black. The crime scene was reminiscent of the July,12 executions of twelve people outside of Matamoros on the road to Las Yescas.

It is believed that the murders occurred at noon Thursday as passing motorists began reporting the carnage at that time to authorities in Matamoros.

The scene was secured shortly thereafter by military officials and federal policemen and agents from the Tamaulipas State Attorney General’s office began their investigation.

Practically no murders involving drug cartels are solved in Tamaulipas.

Fighting erupts again on Sonora-Arizona border

Heavy gunfire was reported on the outskirts of Saric during the late evening hours of Thursday, July 29, approximately 30 miles from the Arizona border crossing at Sasabe.

Unconfirmed reports from locals speak of a death toll of between 25 to 40 gunmen from rival organized criminal gangs. Paramilitary forces from the Sinaloa and Beltran Leyva cartels are currently fighting for control of this lucrative drug and human trafficking “plaza” into Arizona.

The volume of fire was so heavy that the municipal and state police in Saric and Nogales chose to take shelter according to sources. Saric residents said the shootout began at 7:00 pm and continued into the late night hours. People took shelter in their homes and businesses until early Friday morning.

A large force of state and various municipal police forces sealed off the area Friday morning and began a reconnaissance of the area.

The Sonora Governor’s office released a statement saying it had not received any official reports from the field as of Friday afternoon. “Nothing is confirmed, all we know is what we have learned from the media. It is presumed there are armed groups out there”

However, officials from the Sonora State Attorney General’s office have confirmed an initial count of 3 deaths and 2 arrests as the search of the area began.

Earlier this month on July 1, fighting between rival groups of gunmen in the same area resulted in an official death toll of 21 men, almost all belonging to the Sinaloa cartel. Unofficial sources reported a much higher death toll.

Drug lord Cardenas' whereabouts no longer a secret

Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle
July 29, 2010, 12:21AM

Former Mexican drug lord Osiel Cardenas Guillen is out of hiding for the first time in nearly four years, having reported to a U.S. medium-security prison to serve a comparatively comfortable sentence negotiated by his attorneys.

Unlike some other major drug cartel figures, Cardenas avoided the harshness of the tomb-like Supermax in Colorado, where inmates are locked in cells and rarely see the sun.

Instead, records posted Wednesday show he is checked in at the United States Penitentiary, Atlanta, where he can walk the razor-wire-surrounded facility to go to meals, the library or recreation time. Up until now, he had been in custody in secret locations for security reasons.

Inmates at the 108-year-old facility wear khaki uniforms, are counted at least five times a day, can let their hair grow to any length and have access to a salad bar, according to the inmate handbook.

It is the place that in the 1980s housed Mariel Boat Lift Cubans who staged an infamous riot.

Cardenas' whereabouts have been kept secret since he was extradited to the United States in January 2007.

Even his sentencing in Houston was kept private from the public and guarded by federal marshals.

Documents related to his plea agreement were sealed "in perpetuity" by a federal judge, but he avoided a high-security lockup and received other considerations as part of the agreement.

Cardenas was the chief leader of the Gulf Cartel as it pushed tons of cocaine into the United States and made millions of dollars. He pleaded guilty to an array of crimes, including pointing an AK-47 at the heads of two U.S. federal agents caught on the streets of his hometown in the Texas-Mexico border city of Matamoros.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons' website notes that the 43-year-old Cardenas, known as inmate 62604-079, has a release date of Nov. 1, 2028. His home is among the 2,032 inmates considered to be lower-risk prisoners.

"In a medium-security facility, they can go from one place to another," Bureau of Prisons spokesperson Traci Billingsley said. "You have some freedom of movement."

Some details unknown

Exactly where Cardenas is staying, including whether he'll be in some sort of solitary area or have cell mates, is private information, she said.

The Gulf Cartel boss before him, Juan Garcia Abrego, is locked away in the legendary Supermax, where he is serving multiple life sentences. Garcia went to trial and took his chances with a jury rather than make a deal.

While as a gangster Cardenas was known to have an arsenal of equipment, such as helicopters, gold-plated automatic weapons and a bulletproof bomber jacket, he now has restrictions on his everyday existence. Guidelines note he can have one pair of shoes, three pair of pants and three pair of underwear.

Most of his mail will be screened by prison staff, with the exception of letters sent to the media and government officials, such as the president of the United States or a governor.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nacho Coronel Killed in Zapopan, Jalisco

Ignacio”Nacho” Coronel Villarreal, one of the heads of the Sinaloa cartel and considered one of the most powerful kingpins in Mexico, was killed this afternoon during an armed encounter with the Mexican military in Zapopan, a suburb in the Guadalajara metropolitan area.

Sources from the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) confirmed the joint elite army/air force operation, composed of at least 150 soldiers and supported by two helicopters, also detained at least 10 men who made up Coronel’s personal bodyguard team.

The DEA considered Coronel responsible for much of the trafficking of methamphetamine into the United States and had a $5 million bounty for his capture

Troops were deployed on at least five residential streets and restricted the traffic of vehicles and people during the clash. Residents reported gunfire and detonations during the operation

The operation took place almost simultaneously as President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa was visiting Guadalajara under extremely heavy security to inaugurate the new Chivas soccer stadium.

SEDENA will hold a news conference at 7:30 PM tonight to provide further details.

Link to photogalleries of military operation in Zapopan:

Link to SEDENA press bulletin (Spanish):

Feds: Pharr officer assisted Zeta kidnapping ring

Jeremy Roebuck
The Monitor

McALLEN — One name emerged over and over again as authorities tracked a brutal Zeta kidnapping ring across Hidalgo County in 2008:


Throughout the investigation, witnesses ascribed that nickname to a Pharr police officer who allegedly helped the cartel operatives carry out their attacks.

The nephew of a top Zeta lieutenant, the man had also purportedly shielded drug stash houses and guarded cocaine shipments through his city, all while on duty and in uniform, said Alfredo Barrera, an investigator with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“We kept hearing about ‘Chino,’ ‘Chino’,” he testified in a federal courtroom Wednesday. “We just didn’t know who that was.”

Until this year.

Federal prosecutors now allege that former patrolman Jaime Beas operated for years under the nickname, smuggling drugs and diverting attention away from his uncle’s violent business.

Beas has entered “not guilty” pleas to multiple counts of extortion and smuggling drugs and weapons.

But at a bond hearing Wednesday, the government portrayed the six-year veteran of the force as a corrupt law enforcement official who secretly helped others break dozens of laws he had sworn to uphold.

“A police officer is supposed to uphold the law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Wells said. “He couldn’t even follow them.”


FBI agents arrested Beas earlier this month in a sting operation in which the officer allegedly agreed to sell military-grade weapons to a man posing as a Zeta contact.

But the investigation that brought them to that point started years before, Barrera testified.

Throughout fall 2008, the Zetas carried out at least five abductions of Hidalgo County drug dealers in a bid to expand their influence north of the border. Many of the victims never resurfaced, and some met violent ends like being burned to death in chemical vats, witnesses have testified at trials for some of the kidnappers who have since been arrested.

In all, nine men were eventually charged later that year with playing a role in the plot. But as authorities began to interview those suspects, they uncovered disturbing links between one of the group’s top members and a nephew who supposedly worked as a Pharr police officer, Barrera said.

The officer had helped divert police attention in dozens of cases while the group carried out its work, the witnesses purportedly told investigators. The only problem was that none of them knew his real name.

But the list of crimes attributed to this phantom officer was as vast as it was shocking:

>> He purportedly served as a lookout during the kidnapping of a wheelchair-using Las Milpas man, sitting in his patrol car only feet away and monitoring his police radio.

>> In a separate case, he attempted to pull over another man so the group could abduct him but ended up causing a wreck that led to the intended victim’s escape.

>> He housed top-ranking Zetas in his Las Milpas home as they hid from retribution for their actions south of the border.

>> And all the while, he operated a slew of stash houses in Pharr where he kept his uncle’s drugs. He allegedly paid for one of those homes with $385,000 in cash.

“All the cooperators knew (of this) nephew that was a Pharr police officer,” Barrera said. “Anything his uncle needed, he was the man he would go to.”


Investigators first began to target Beas, 33, earlier this year, and it didn’t take much coaxing for the officer to prove their suspicions, said Barrera.

Working under the direction of the FBI, an informant approached Beas in April posing as a drug smuggler seeking protection for his loads of cocaine.

The officer allegedly agreed to personally escort each shipment in his Pharr police cruiser in exchange for $4,000 per trip.

In a separate venture, Beas purportedly struck a deal with another informant disguised as a Zeta weapons gatherer. And on July 9, he brokered a deal to sell a grenade, an M-16 assault rifle and a bulletproof vest he believed had been stolen from military stockpiles, according to court documents.

That’s when FBI agents swooped in to make their arrest.

Prosecutors allege Beas intended to work with another uncle — a military police officer stationed at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station — to steal the weapons. That man is currently under court marshal in Florida, Wells said.


Beas’ attorney Al Alvarez questioned Wednesday what evidence the government had that would link his client to any of Chino’s alleged actions.

The charges Beas faces all stem from the drug smuggling and weapons dealing that occurred while the officer was under FBI surveillance.

“There’s not one kidnapping charge in all the five counts of this indictment,” said Alvarez. The rest of the charges stem from law enforcement entrapment, he said.

But for Pharr Police Chief Ruben Villescas, the allegations alone were enough to convict. He fired Beas July 12 — three days after his arrest.

“These acts of criminal conduct … will not be allowed to tear through the fabric of community-built relationships … that (our) officers have worked hard to bring together,” he said in a statement.

As of late Wednesday night, Beas remained in federal custody without bond.

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

85% of Drug Traffickers are Set Free

Only 1.5 of every 10 individuals charged with drug trafficking and murder in Mexico ends with a sentence, while the remaining of the 85% go free for lack of evidence even if the PAN government brags about their arrests in the media.

The Associated Press

It is a ritual that takes place almost every day: people accused of drug trafficking and murder are paraded before the media to show that Mexico is winning its war against drugs.
This is one in an occasional series of reports by The Associated Press examining why -- four decades and $1 trillion after Richard Nixon declared war on drugs -- the U.S. and Mexico continue to fight a losing battle.
But once the camera lights go out, three-quarters of them are released.

Although the federal government brags about their arrest record, cases of armed sicarios sent by prosecutors and police who work under tremendous pressure to make quick arrests fall apart for lack of evidence. Innocent people are tortured to get confessions. The guilty are released, only to be arrested at another time for other crimes. Sometimes the drug cartels are the ones who decide who gets arrested.

Files obtained by The Associated Press show that the government arrested 226,667 suspects of drug-related crimes between December 2006 and September 2009, the most recent figure available. Less than a quarter of those arrested were formally charged. Only 15% received sentences. And the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) will not say how many of them were guilty.

The legal vacuum is a key reason why the Mexican cartels continue to distribute tons of marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine on U.S. streets.

"It gives them a de facto impunity," said U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual, "and it allows them to function in ways that they can spread out in to the United States.''

Mexico's judicial system operates in an almost secret process and has been stubbornly corrupt. Add a drug war that President Felipe Calderón has intensified, and the system is exceeded. Nearly 25,000 people have died in the war so far, and the vast majority of these cases remain unsolved.

The AP obtained court documents and prison records which are restricted to the public and conducted dozens of interviews with relatives of the suspects, lawyers, human rights groups and government officials to find out what happens after the drug suspects are presented to the public.

In Ciudad Juarez, where a war is being waged between two cartels fighting over lucrative trafficking routes has seen a record number homicides totaling 2,600 in 2009 alone. Prosecutors presented 93 homicide cases for prosecution that year and only convicted 19. Of those, only five were for homicide, according to court documents, and no one was charged with federal crimes, which carry greater penalties and are designed to combat drug trafficking.

"They never charge them for murder because they don't have any evidence, no proof," said Jorge Gonzalez, president of the association of public defenders. They just display them in the media for image sake to give the impression that they are solving cases."

In Juarez soldiers routinely announce that the suspects have confessed to an impressive number of homicides.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Severed Human Heads Dumped in Durango

Eight severed human heads were found Tuesday in the Mexican city of Durango, capital of the likenamed northern state, authorities said.

Police were directed to some of the heads by a series of anonymous telephone calls that began shortly before 7:00 a.m., the Durango state Attorney General’s Office said.

The eight heads were scattered among various roads on the edge of the city, according to a statement from the AG office, which said authorities had yet to find the corresponding bodies or identity the victims.

While some of the heads were found as a result of the phone calls, others were discovered by maintenance workers in city parks.

All of the victims were unidentified men between the ages of 25 and 30, the AG office said. The actual bodies have not been found.

The gruesome discoveries in the state capital come two days after the arrest of the warden at the Cereso 2 prison in Gomez Palacio, Durango, on accusations she allowed inmates to leave the facility to carry out killings.

Margarita Rojas Rodriguez and several subordinates are charged in connection with more than 30 deaths, including the July 18 massacre of 17 people attending a birthday party at a rented hall in Torreon, Durango.

Rojas alleged permitted inmates to leave Cereso 2 prison at night to carry out killings with active help from some of the guards.

The inmates returned to their cells after the crimes.

A guard was killed Tuesday at Cereso 2 amid protests to demand the reinstatement of Rojas.

Sunday’s arrests came days after the appearance on the Internet of a video in a which a municipal police officer confesses to being on the payroll of a crime boss and points to warden Rojas’ alleged role in the Torreon murders.

The video of Rodolfo Najera was made and posted on the Web by Los Zetas, a band of special forces deserters turned hired guns and drug traffickers, and concludes with the cop’s execution.

La Laguna, a region comprising parts of Durango and neighboring Coahuila, is the object of a bitter turf struggle between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel.

Prison Scandal Engulfs Mexico

The story on the video of the interrogation of police officer Najera made it on CNN:

Six Men Executed by Alleged Cartel de la Sierra

A note found in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, announced the birth of a new cartel called "Cartel de la Sierra."

The incident occurred early yesterday morning after a citizen complained about an auto theft of a luxury vehicle on the highway "Del Sol." That same vehicle was found five hours later two blocks away on a neighborhood in the state capital. Inside the vehicle were six male bodies that showed evidence of torture and were bound on their hand and feet with duck tape. Many of the men had severe injuries to the head and throat.

One of the bodies was inside a black plastic bag and appeared to be decapitated.

The bodies were semi-nude, and none of them were found to have identification, however some tattoos were observed and one in particular reflected in the back the name "Karen."

The vehicle was found in the street Miguel Alemán with large amount of blood stains in the trunk and a sign that threatened all the extortionists, auto thieves, rapists, rats ("dedos" is slang for the same meaning as rats) and kidnappers that this will happen to them and was signed by the "Cartel de la Sierra."

Actual message in Spanish:
“Eso les va a pasar a todos los extorsionadores, roba carros, violadores, dedos, chapulines. Atte. El nuevo Cartel de la Sierra.”

The bodies that had not yet been identified and the crime scene were secured by the Mexican military.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Letter and Photo of Diego Fernández Revealed

A letter that supposedly came from Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, and a new picture, were released through the social network Twitter.

Journalist José Cárdenas, reporter of El Universal, revealed content of the letter via Twitter that he received by email and that was supposedly sent by kidnapper of the Panista (PAN political party).

The document is addressed to the eldest son of the former senator and asked him to make a serious counteroffer to the sum sought by the kidnappers so that he can be set free. He recommends Diego's son to act "as quickly as possible", since "I cannot describe the hell I live and I do not know how much more I can sustain."

Diego Fernandez de Cevallos was kidnapped on May 14 when he arrived at his ranch, located in the municipality of Pedro Escobedo in the state of Queretaro.

 The news was of the kidnapping was first announced on May 15, but the abduction actually occurred the night before. His truck was found abandoned on the outskirts of his estate. According to the night watchman of the farm he heard when the van arrived but did not notice anything alse.

José Cárdenas just recently reported in his column "Ventana," a publication published by El Universal, that Diego Fernandez de Cevallos is alive, that Lozano Gracia is leading in the negotiations, and that the family is attempting to sell real estate, cars and furniture of the Chief to collect the 30 million dollars in ransom.

He also revealed that the kidnappers are a militant guerrilla group based in the Bajio area for 20 years who depend on the ERPI, which is the "TDR-EP" (Tendencia Democrática Revolucionaria-Ejército del Pueblo) group that is headed by Constantino Alejandro Canseco Ruiz, alias "El Comandante José Arturo" or "Hugo," and his partner Blanca Estela, aka "La Porta" or "Frida."

Executions Around Mexico this Week

Organized-crime involvement is suspected in the killings of 17 people in two Mexican states, authorities said Monday.

Officials in the southern Pacific coast state of Guerrero said six people were found dead inside an SUV.

Five of the victims were bound with adhesive tape, while the sixth was wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag and accompanied by a message from the killers, the state Public Safety Office said in a statement.

Separately, two people were gunned down Sunday night inside a pool hall in the town of Ajuchitlan del Progreso.

Though authorities have yet to identify any victims or a motive in either case, the killings bore the hallmarks of organized crime, the statement said.

Nine people were slain in the western state of Sinaloa, a spokesman for the state Attorney General’s Office told Efe Monday.

Four bodies were discovered inside a burned-out SUV in Culiacan, the state capital, the spokesman said, adding that 22 shell casings from an AK-47 assault rifle were collected at the scene.

In the town of Navolato, four people who had been kidnapped elsewhere were found shot to death near a technical training school. Another person turned up dead in the community of El Quemadito.

News of the slayings in Guerrero and Sinaloa followed word that a dozen people were killed over the weekend in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital.

Police found the bodies of five people who had been gunned down inside a hair salon in the northern border city, the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office said.

Police homicide unit officers also found three bodies and a wounded man at a house in Juarez, located just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.

The wounded man was taken to a hospital, where he died a short time later.

Three other people were killed in separate incidents, the Chihuahua AG’s office said.

Ciudad Juarez has witnessed more than 5,000 murders since 2008 and this year’s death toll stands at more than 1,600.

The vast majority of the killings in Juarez and Chihuahua are attributed to a bitter turf battle among drug cartels and the related conflict between the criminals and the security forces.

Some 25,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.

More than 7,000 gangland killings have occurred so far this year in Mexico, Attorney General Arturo Chavez Chavez said recently.

The death toll for all of 2009 was 7,724.

Drug Cartel Video Leads to Arrests

It is by any measure a horrendous video. An abducted policeman from the Ciudad Lerdo, Durango police force, Rodolfo Najera, flanked by two Zeta gangmembers, has been savagely beaten and in a barely legible voice answers his interrogator’s questions, barked out by the now all too familiar rough, threatening voice.

Rodolfo Najera is about to die and this video of his interrogation and execution has already sent shockwaves throughout Mexico. In fact, this video threatens to destroy any credibility remaining in the state and local law enforcement institutions and governments in the areas of the country that are heavily infiltrated by drug cartels and are under attack by their paramilitary armies.

The pathetic truth of this video is that it took the Zetas torture of a corrupt to the core policeman to break the case of the massacre of 18 attendees of a birthday party in Torreon, Coahuila, last Sunday and the 2 other mass murders committed in the tri-city area of Torreon, Ciudad Lerdo and Gomez Palacio, Durango. This area is known as the Lagunera district.

Maybe we all believed that the inability to solve these crimes was because of ineptness, lack of proper training in police procedures and the pervasive “plata o plomo” intimidation by organized crime. Anybody with a wife and children can understand this fear.

However, after one hears the revelations in this video and learns of the forensic evidence discovered by the PGR (federal attorney general’s office), the only conclusion left is that the tri-city area authorities are in collusion with the perpetrators of these massacres

Some of these authorities may have been perpetrators themselves. Every local and state policeman, every state investigative agent and every Ministério Público (state prosecutorial magistrate) in the tri-city area must have known what is revealed.

Some of these authorities are certainly working for the Zetas also. Those two Zetas flanking Rodolfo Najera may very well be policemen that he knows.

Rodolfo Najera has been tortured, his face disfigured, and is under extreme duress. The first questions are introductory: name, age (25), occupation.

At 00:21 the nature of his corruption begins to unfold. He, a policeman, works for “el Pirata” (pirate) the boss of a gang of puchadores ijn Lerdo (street level, disposable barrio drug sellers, the lowest rung in the ladder) Najera is probably an halcon, a lookout or informant, for el Pirata.

He is then asked about “Arturo”. His first response is unintelligible but this Arturo has gone to Guadalajara. It is implied he is the head of a rival criminal gang fighting the Zetas for control of the Lagunera district. Maybe he is from the Sinaloa cartel or a member of La Resistencia at the head of the criminal gang fighting the Zetas for control of the Lagunera district.

At 00:59 Najera is asked about the kidnapping and death of Jesus Arroyo, an elderly gentleman and owner of Los Alfredos restaurant who was interrogated on a video by his captors and accused of being a Zeta collaborator

Najera says that he was kidnapped by el Pirata and el Cayo who are led by a prisoner in the CERESO prison by the name of Daniel Gabriel “el Delta”.

At 1:25 he mentions that el Delta is released nightly at 8:00 pm by “la directora” or the warden of the prison

At 2:33 Najera is asked who else in the police force protects the criminal group he works for and he begins to name other policemen who provide protection to “Arturo”.

At minute 3:21 the shorter Zeta with a blue shirt turns around to reveal a cap that is hard to identify. It’s worth checking to see if it’s a police cap but really, nobody would be that stupid.

At 4:01 the same Zeta tugs at Najera’s left ear which is barely hanging onto his head. The short slender thug seems bored. A fine example of the “banality of evil”

At 5:28 Najera is asked about “el Guero Pollero” a puchador who was sent by Arturo to kill people in the barrios of Torreon and repeats what someone off camera says that it was done to “ponerle gorro a los Zetas” (create problems for los Zetas)

It’s worth noting that its conceivable Najera is simply repeating answers he has been fed but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Najera. His answers are too imperfect for that. Sometimes it looks like he is reacting to a cue but that could be simply be that the person or persons who mauled him are within his field of vision and he is reacting to their movement

Mexican Police Arrest High-Level Juarez Cartel Boss

A top leader of Mexico’s Juarez drug cartel was arrested by Federal Police officers, the Public Safety Secretariat said.

Carlos Vazquez Barragan is suspected of being one of the top leaders of La Linea, the armed wing of the cartel headed by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, the secretariat said.

Vazquez Barragan, known as “El 20,” operated at the highest level of the cartel, officials said.

The 39-year-old Vazquez Barragan ran La Linea along with Juan Pablo Ledezma and Armando Corral.

Vazquez Barragan is from a community near Madera, a city in the northern state of Chihuahua, the Public Safety Secretariat said.The suspect smuggled large quantities of marijuana and cocaine into the United States, the secretariat said.

Vazquez Barragan laundered money from U.S. drug sales in Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The drug trafficker’s arrest was the product of an investigation conducted in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, the secretariat said.

Vazquez Barragan ran La Linea’s financial operations and paid the smugglers who handled the cartel’s shipments.

The suspect was also in charge of planning and ordering hits on rivals authorized by top cartel boss Carrillo Fuentes, who is known as “El Viceroy.”

Vazquez Barragan operated in Palomas, Ascension, Casas Grandes, Gomez Farias, Namiquipa, Bachiniva and Madera, all cities in Chihuahua.

The suspect, moreover, was in charge of all of the cartel’s retail drug sales territories across the northern state.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mexico, On The Brink Of Apocalypse

Reporte Índigo

In an interview by Carmen Aristegui, the security specialist Edgardo Buscaglia says that “The violence is like a perfect storm in which many factors are interacting to lead Mexico into a civil war scenario”

Will we see acting governors and even current cabinet members of Felipe Calderon’s administration in prison before the end of this presidential term? Could a full scale civil war erupt before 2012?

For as preposterous as this sounds, it could happen in the short term in Mexico, says Edgardo Buscaglia, a consultant to UNITAR, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and faculty member at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de Mexico and the University of Virginia.

Faced with the violent events this week in various parts of the country and how they occurred, some commentators caution that we face a new escalation of violence in Mexico: the stage of terrorism.

The car bomb explosion in Ciudad Juarez opened a debate about whether this could be classified as a terrorist act.

"It's important not to create the perception that it was an act indiscriminately aimed against civilians. It was not placed at a public market. It was clearly aimed at the police, "said Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, speaking at a forum in the U.S. Congress.

That terrorism does not exist has been the official view of the Felipe Calderon administration.

However, the ambassador did not mention what happened last Friday in Nuevo Laredo, where 12 people were killed and 21 wounded during armed clashes on the streets in broad daylight.

Neither did he speak of the slaughter of 18 innocent civilians at a birthday party that occurred in Torreon.

Perhaps because, as the PRI congressman Jorge Carlos Ramírez Marín stated, "Everybody knows that the explosion of car bombs are terrorist acts, and the government knows how serious it is to recognize an organized criminal group as a terrorist organization."

However, regardless of opinion, the fact is that the wave of violence increased last weekend, causing terror in Los Pinos, the official residence and offices of the Mexican presidency.

Maybe that's why the President Calderon, or his counsel, is seeking to change the perception of reality. The perception that his administration is overwhelmed by current events and that his strategy to gain the support required to turn his National Security Strategy into an official state policy that goes beyond his term has also failed.

Many see his National Security Strategy as a set of reforms and laws that limit civil liberties under the pretext of the urgency to create permanent anti-terrorism and anti-organized crime legislation.

Jalisco, Colima, Morelos, Sinaloa, Nuevo Leon, Nayarit, Sonora, Guerrero and above all Chihuahua and Tamaulipas have had to learn to live with the reality of daily terror.

And then there is the global murder capitol of Ciudad Juárez, where for some inexplicably lucky reason only 2 federal policemen and a civilian doctor died.

Where once the United States had been particularly attentive to what was happening in Ciudad Juarez, now it is also deeply concerned about what is happening in Nuevo Laredo.

Nuevo Laredo happens to be the largest inland port for commerce between Mexico and the U.S. where at least 12,000 tractor trailers full of industrial, agricultural and consumer goods pass daily. A permanent state of chaos in Nuevo Laredo would seriously impact trade between both nations.

Today it is assumed that the Mexican government is unable to control the violence that affects it’s innocent citizens. And if this is happening on the border with the U.S. then the national security of the U.S is also affected.

Four Bodies Found in Nuevo Laredo

The bodies of four men, handcuffed and tortured, appeared on Sunday morning in front of the plaza in Nuevo Laredo, where the perpetrators of the crime also left a warning for the public, a police source said.

Very early in the day, the office of public safety, received a "report of four bodies that were left on la plaza," said an official of the state agency.

The bodies were left along with a dead dog and cat in front of the "plaza de toros" bullring in Nuevo Laredo, which has a population of about 400,000 people and it's the largest commercial frontier between Mexico and the United States.

"I was the one who threw the grenade into the sports complex, I was paid $500 (dollars)," read the message written on a cardboard on one of the victims, while the other three men killed where identified as the father, brother and brother-in-law of the former.

"The Nuevo Laredo people know who helps them, this is what is going to happen to all and their family," said the written message about the victims who had not yet been identified.

Exact message in Spanish:

"Yo fui el que avente la granada en la unidad deportiva, me pagaron 500 dólares a mí y 500 a mi amigo Rubén como lo mataron a él dieron otro destino que no fue este (esto me pasa por pendejo) aquí está mi cuñado mi apa mi perro mi gato y Rubén mi amigo y mi cuñado mi mama mi hermana la hija de mi mama van al tambo porque los señores no quieren dejar tanto mugrero en la ciudad".

Another sign added:

"Esto es para toda la raza del pueblo no se crean de la gente que los quiere usar Nuevo Laredo no es de la gente de Nuevo Laredo si no pueden controlar sus terrenos menos aquí lo que están haciendo son actos de desesperación así que ya saben los neolaredenses el que les ayude esto es lo que les va a pasar con todo y familia tarde o temprano todo se sabe y nos vamos a dar cuenta como este pendejo".

On Wednesday Nuevo Laredo lived a day of fear from shootouts between gunmen and roadblocks that even left people trapped in cinemas and shops that were suddenly closed. Mexican soldiers fought late-night gunbattles with gangs who forced citizens from their cars and used the vehicles to block streets in a city across the border from Texas.

The Nuevo Laredo city government posted messages on Facebook warning citizens to stay indoors as the battles erupted at several intersections Wednesday night. Gangs used stolen cars and buses to block several main avenues in the city across from Laredo, Texas. Several residents called local newspapers to report thefts. "For your security, stay in your homes until the alert has passed," the city government wrote on Facebook

Authorities did not report any number of casualties, although it is believed that several people were killed and even more injured.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mexico Mass Grave Linked to Drug Gangs

At least 51 bodies have been discovered in nine unmarked graves in northern Mexico, officials say, in one of the more grisly recent turns in the country's rampaging violence linked to drug gangs.

Many of the victims, found earlier in the week in a series of graves located in a suburb of Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon state, had their hands bound and showed signs of torture, investigators said.

"There are 51 bodies that have been discovered so far," all but two of them male, state prosecutor Adrian de la Garza told a local television station. Officials said the victims had likely been dead for about 15 days.

The bodies, several of them bearing tattoos which investigators were studying, were exhumed beginning on Friday, when authorities said the remains of 38 people had been found. But on Saturday they announced the figure had risen by 13.

Authorities brought freezer trucks to the site to preserve the corpses, so that residents in and around Monterrey who were missing relatives could come to try to identify the remains.

The bodies were in an area spanning 3 hectares (about 7 acres) in the municipality of Juarez outside the state capital of Monterrey. Investigators were still searching for additional graves Friday, he said, according to Notimex.

The bodies were mostly males between ages 20 and 50, Notimex said, and many of them had tattoos.

Forensic investigators are performing DNA tests to identify the victims, Notimex reported.

Similar mass graves have been discovered in the Mexican states of Tamaulipas, Guerrero and Quintana Roo since late May. Authorities have linked them to Mexico's ongoing drug war.

Nuevo Leon, which borders Texas, has seen a spike in drug violence this year due to an intensifying rivalry between former partners: the Gulf cartel and a group know as the Zetas.

It is the second major finding this year of bodies deposited in mass graves, allegedly by members of Mexico's warring drug cartels, after the remains of 55 people were exhumed in June in the southern state of Guerrero.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tovex Car Bomb Explosive Recovered in Chihuahua

Armed clashes between a detachment of Mexican Army soldiers and a band of up to 60 gunmen resulted in the seizure of approximately 52 pounds of Tovex and 2 pounds of Detagel high explosives and a spool of detonation cord in the rugged highlands of the Sierra Madre in the state of Chihuahua.

Two separate clashes in an area known as “La Simona” in the municipality of Ciudad Madera occurred this Wednesday and Thursday (July 21-22) in the mountainous border area dividing the states of Chihuahua and Sonora.

According to a Sedena (defense ministry) press release, a detachment of 100 soldiers attacked an organized criminal group in their base of operations in La Simona. The first attack by the Army, around 1:00 PM Wednesday, led to the deaths of 8 of the gunmen and the capture of 6 more men.

It was during this attack that the explosives were seized. In addition, several assault weapons, rifles and side arms, communications equipment, 10 vehicles and 2 ATV’s, and 80 pounds of marijuana were also secured.

The second clash occurred on Thursday afternoon when gunmen attempted an ambush against the military but were repelled with the death of one more member of the criminal band.

No casualties were reported by the military and the allegiance of the criminal band was not announced. This area of Chihuahua where the Tovex explosive was seized is known to be a stronghold and marijuana growing area of the Juarez cartel.

La Linea, a group of enforcers and hitmen belonging to the Juarez cartel, claimed responsibility for the car bomb blast that killed 3 policemen and 1 civilian in Ciudad Juarez last week. Tovex is the same explosive used in that attack.

The deadly car bomb in Juarez is thought to have been composed of 10 kilos (22 lb) of Tovex. La Linea has threatened an attack using 100 kilos of Tovex if federal policemen connected to the rival Sinaloa cartel are not arrested within a 15 day deadline.

Link to the SEDENA press release for the La Simona operation:

Narco message in Chihuahua threatens to kill innocent civilians

A Narco banner placed in the city of Chihuahua on Wednesday, July 21, threatened Chihuahua state governor Jose Reyes Baeza and his Director of Public Security Gustavo Zabre with the death of innocent civilians unless their demand for the dismissal of Fernando Ornelas, the director of the Center for Police Intelligence.

The banner was signed by the Sinaloa Cartel

This is the first time in 30 months of war between the Sinaloa and Juarez drug cartels for control of Chihuahua, and Ciudad Juarez in particular, that a group threatens to kill innocent civilians.

Many innocent people have already been killed in Chihuahua since the beginning of the drug war in late 2007 although never directly targeted for terrorist attacks until now.

The threats by the Juarez cartel to reply with larger car bombs if their demands are not met, although not directly threatening innocent civilians, have the capability to inflict massive civilian casualties.

Juarez has suffered 6000 dead and the rest of Chihuahua has counted 3000 deaths since the start of the drug war in late 2007.

State Police officials declined to comment further on the banner and said that they, as well as municipal and federal police, will strengthen security protocols to prevent further attacks by members of organized criminal gangs.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

More Dead in Nuevo Laredo

Sister City erupts again with widespread gunbattles

Laredo Morning Times
Published: Thursday, July 22, 2010 2:26 AM CDT

More bloody gunbattles erupted in Nuevo Laredo on Wednesday night, leaving several people dead and an unknown number injured as armed gunmen fought each other through the streets near the center of the city, on Colosio Boulevard in the Parque Viveros area, on Guerrero, on Reforma and other parts of the city.

“I saw a dead body hanging out of a car,” near the restored historic train station downtown, said one witness who asked not to be identified.

Most of the heavy violence seemed to occur between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

At about 10:30 p.m., one government source said soldiers were patrolling the streets and things appeared to be slightly calmer, but that few people were venturing into the streets.

Sheriff Martin Cuellar said preliminary information indicated one gunbattle broke out near the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge.

“We’re on alert at this time,” Cuellar said at about 9 p.m.

Investigator Joe E. Baeza, Laredo Police Department spokesman, also said authorities had confirmed the gunbattles in Nuevo Laredo and that Laredo Police had received numerous calls from Laredo residents saying they could hear the gunfire across the river.

At about 9:30 p.m., the U.S. Consulate General in Nuevo Laredo issued a warden message, saying there were reports of gunbattles near the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge in Colonia Victoria and also in the Viveros area of town, where Expomex is located.

“There are reports of the gun battles now moving into other parts of the city at this time and all U.S. citizens are advised to shelter in place until further notice,” stated the message posted at the consulate’s website.

Reports of the gunbattles filled Twitter and Facebook, starting after 7 p.m. and continuing well into the night.

“Parece guerra … lluvia de balas!!!...esta horrible!!” (It looks like war … rainfall of bullets!!!) read one Twitter report from a Nuevo Laredo resident.

Another wrote: “De nuevo balaceras, carros atravesados en las calles … dios nos cuide...” (Again there are shootouts, cars blocking the streets … God protect us)

At a downtown gas station in Laredo, a taxi driver from Nuevo Laredo was overheard telling another motorist that his dispatcher was warning drivers in Nuevo Laredo to park their cars, take their keys and take cover because gunmen were carjacking vehicles to block roads.

Nextel traffic filled the airwaves as people trapped inside their workplaces and restaurants called family and friends to report the danger.

Streets were reported blocked at 15 de Septiembre and Reforma and Paseo Colon and Reynosa, among others.

At about 10:30 p.m., the City of Nuevo Laredo’s Facebook page reported that the risk appeared to be over for now and asked people who had abandoned their cars or whose cars were blocking streets to “please go pick them up, carefully.”

Wednesday’s attack was just the latest in a series of violent outbreaks in the Sister City.

On Friday, 12 people were killed in gunbattles between alleged drug traffickers and soldiers.

On Monday, an unknown person dressed in civilian clothes tossed a grenade into a late-night crowd at a sports complex, killing one person and injuring 16, including several children.

And on Tuesday, a grenade was lobbed at a police car parked at an auto repair shop, but no injuries were reported.

Warden Message: Nuevo Laredo (Mexico) Reports of Ongoing Gun Battles
Consular Affairs Bulletins

U.S. Consulate General Nuevo Laredo released the following Warden Message on July 21:

The U.S. Consulate General has received reports of ongoing gun battles near the International Bridge 2 in the Colonia Victoria and Viveros areas of town. There are reports of the gun battles now moving into other parts of the city at this time and all U.S. citizens in the area are advised to shelter in place until further notice.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's internet web site at where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers from Mexico, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). American citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to register with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the State Department's travel registration website at

For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate. The numbers provided below for the Embassy and Consulates are available around the clock. The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. You may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at: The Embassy's internet address is

The Consulate General in Nuevo Laredo is located at Allende 3330, Colonia Jardin, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. The Consulate General’s telephone number from the U.S. is (011)(52)(867) 714-0512; within Mexico, (01) (867) 714-0512. The fax number is (011)(52)(867) 714-6075. For additional inquiries,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

1 Dead, 16 Wounded in Nuevo Laredo Grenade Attack

A grenade attack was reported late Monday night in Nuevo Laredo at the Benito Juarez sports complex located on the east side of the river, near the Parque Viveros and the Rio Grande.

The incident occurred around 11pm when unknown assailants threw a grenade that detonated in the spectator’s section of a football field within the sports complex.

Some witnesses to the attack also reported a burst of gunfire directed at the football field.

Municipal police and a military unit responded to the attack but arrived too late to confront the attackers. As of Tuesday evening no official information on the attack as been released by city, state or federal authorities.

Mexican media reports stated that 5 people were wounded in the attack and
1 child died from shrapnel wounds at a local hospital.

However, the Laredo Morning Times, the Laredo Texas newspaper, reported Tuesday that Nuevo Laredo officials who wished to remain anonymous confirmed 1 death and 16 victims wounded.

Pools of blood and a child’s sandals were all that remained at the site Tuesday morning. A retaining wall at the site was marked by shrapnel impacts.

The motive for the attack remains unknown to the public at large. The attack could have been directed at one or several targeted individuals or may have been a terrorist attack on innocent civilians.

Details from Friday’s armed clashes between the military and gunmen in the streets of Nuevo Laredo continue to emerge. Although impossible to verify, rumors continue to persist among the inhabitants that the civilian death toll was much higher than the official death toll of 2 civilians announced by the authorities.

The official death toll is listed as 2 civilians in addition to 9 criminals and 1 soldier.

Witnesses continue to state that up to a dozen bodies of civilians littered the streets, mostly shot and killed by brutal, indiscriminate gunfire aimed at civilians by the criminals, thought to be Zetas, as they terrorized the streets of the city during the fighting.

This hysteria, manifested by widespread rumors, is understandable in light of the fact that the population is under a near total, surreal news blackout by the local media.

The Nuevo Laredo daily newspapers such as El Diario and El Manana amazingly refuse to cover any news story that is related to the actions of drug cartels. The grenade attack listed above was also ignored by both newspapers.

One incident that was confirmed by the Laredo Morning News was an unprovoked attack on a city bus full of innocent civilians by criminal gunmen. Three children are still in serious condition in local hospitals from this attack and a female passenger has been paralyzed from the waist down.

Rumors that there were several deaths among the passengers were not mentioned by the Laredo, Tx newspaper. However the following photographs show at least one dead victim aboard a city bus.

More photos ("Read More") of the aftermath of the "narco-terrorist" attacks on the streets of Nuevo Laredo-Friday July 16

Graphic content, discretion is strongly advised

Graffiti Message in Juarez Warns of Another Car Bomb

By Adriana Gómez Licón / EL PASO TIMES

A graffiti message found Sunday night in Juárez warned U.S. law enforcement that another car bombing will occur if they do not arrest corrupt federal police agents.

The unsigned message told the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate authorities that support the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Otherwise, there will be another car bomb placed in Juárez to kill federal police, the threat stated.

"If in 15 days, there is no response with detention of corrupt federales, we will put a car with 100 kilos of C4," the message read.

Composite 4, or C-4, was the plastic explosive used for an attack that killed three people Thursday in Downtown Juárez, according to military officials in Juárez.

FBI officials in El Paso said they will not investigate the nature of the message because it is in a foreign country.

"We only offer assistance when requested by that government," said Andrea Simmons, spokeswoman for the FBI.

DEA officials also said they only assist Mexican authorities when these ask for support.

Mexican federal police said they do not regard it as a credible threat.

"We don't give importance to those messages," said José Ramón Salinas, spokesman for the federal police.

A similar message, known as "narco-pinta," was found signed by the Juárez cartel warning they had more car bombs targeted to authorities helping Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Military officials in Juárez said 10 kilos of explosive rigged in a car were detonated from a cell phone that day.

It was the first attack of its kind since the Mexican government began cracking down on drug cartels

US official: Mexican car bomb likely used Tovex

Associated Press

Death Toll in Mexico Massacre Rises to 18

A woman wounded in the attack over the weekend on people attending a birthday party in the northern Mexican state of Coahuila has died, raising the death toll in the incident to 18, officials said Monday.

All 18 victims of the massacre in the city of Torreon have been identified, spokesmen for the state Attorney General’s Office said.

“Four of the dead were members of the Banda Rios, which provided the music for the birthday of one of the victims,” the AG’s office spokesmen said.

Twelve men and five women were pronounced dead at the scene at the Italia Inn restaurant, where police found 166 bullet casings.

Of the 18 wounded, one has died and six others were released from the hospital on Monday.

Some relatives of the victims suspended the wakes because they received threats, media outlets in Torreon reported.

Coahuila is one of the states that has been affected by the war between Los Zetas, a band of Mexican special forces deserters turned hired guns, and the Gulf drug cartel.

After several years as the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, Los Zetas went into the drug business on their own account and now control several lucrative territories.

Officials in the northern state of Nuevo Leon, meanwhile, said Monday that a man was killed in a gunbattle and three police officers were wounded in a grenade attack in the industrial metropolis of Monterrey.

Several of the main avenues in Monterrey, the state capital, were blocked with stolen city buses and trucks, a tactic often employed by organized crime groups to create chaos and prevent the army and police from responding quickly to incidents.

The first attack occurred Sunday night, when unidentified individuals riding in two vehicles went to the police station in the suburb of Guadalupe and threw a grenade at the building, a spokesman for Nuevo Leon’s AEI investigations agency said.

Three police officers were wounded by shrapnel, which also damaged the station and several parked patrol cars, the spokesman said.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

After Car Bomb, Mexico Braces for an Even Deadlier Drug War

By: Ioan Grillo

A 2009 episode of the award-winning TV drama Breaking Bad depicts a scene in Mexico's bullet-ridden border town of Ciudad Juárez: police are lured to a location to find an informant's severed head stuck on a turtle, which itself turns out to be a booby trap that explodes, killing and maiming the law enforcers after they approach it.

Seasoned correspondents of the real drug war in Mexico thought the sequence was an over-the-top depiction of gang tactics — until last week.

Federal policemen and explosive experts work at the site of a car-bomb attack in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on July 16, 2010.

In the real Ciudad Juárez on Thursday, July 15, gangsters kidnapped a man, dressed him in a police uniform, shot him and dumped him bleeding on a downtown street. A cameraman happened to film what happened after federal police and paramedics got close. The video shows medics bent over the dumped man, checking for vital signs.

Suddenly a bang rings out, and the image shakes vigorously as the cameraman runs for his life. The gangsters had used a cell phone to detonate 22 lb. of C-4 explosives packed into a nearby car. A minute later, the camera turns back around to reveal the remains of a burning car, smoke over screaming victims and charred corpses. Three people, including a federal police officer, were killed, and several others injured.

Mexico's drug war has become so brutal that nothing seems off-limits to the criminal imagination. It is as if rival cartels are competing for ever more shocking methods of execution. First, killers beheaded two policemen in April 2006.
The following September, a gang threw five severed craniums onto a disco dance floor. In 2008, a rival cartel decapitated 12 victims, filmed the craniums and uploaded the video to the Internet. The same year, gangsters threw grenades into a crowd of revelers celebrating Independence Day, killing eight. Now there are the corpse decoy and car bomb.

Mexican officials blamed the Juárez incident on La Linea, a gang that kills and enforces for the local drug-smuggling cartel. The bomb, they say, was reprisal for the arrest of alleged La Linea commander Jesus Acosta, a.k.a. El 35.

Federal police had released an interrogation video in which Acosta describes La Linea's tactics. It was the latest of several videos of captured cartel members describing how they allegedly set up murders and carved limbs and heads off victims. Critics accuse the police of obtaining the videos through torture; they also say the videos fail to provide clear evidence and may serve only to provoke gangsters to retaliate.

Monday, July 19, 2010

17 Massacred in Torreon Fiesta

Like an out of control locomotive, narco terrorist killings this weekend are propelling the body count to 25,000 mark since the beginning of the Calderon administration. Instead of slowing, the body count is gathering steam as we pass the halfway point of what may well be the bloodiest year in terms of violent deaths since the Mexican Revolution.

Sunday morning’s tragedy centers on Torreon, Coahuila, already the scene this year of two previous mass homicides in night clubs.

At 1:30 AM Sunday, an unknown number of gunmen traveling in a convoy of between 5 to 8 trucks entered a birthday party being held at a country villa known as the “Italia Inn” and massacred 17 partygoers, including 5 women.

Another 18 people survived the attack with gunshot wounds and many were in serious condition in local hospitals. At least 5 of the survivors were women.

The “Italia Inn” is a villa with gardens and a pool that is rented out for fiestas and special events such as dances and birthday parties.

According to statements from survivors, the gunmen blocked the entrance and shouting “kill them all”, opened fire on the fiesta.

During the day Sunday, a report from the Coahuila Attorney General’s office, which is in charge of the investigation, announced that the attack occurred against a group of gays and lesbians who hosted the party and that the invitation had been posted on a Facebook page.

However, the Attorney General’s office changed their statement later in the day and said that the party was held for the birthday of a man identified only as "Mota."

At this point it is unknown if this attack was a hate crime against the gay community in Torreon but that possibility remains.

Facebook page invitation for the party in the Italia Inn

There are several theories as to the identity of the attackers. One theory states that the killers were members of Los Zetas and another theory is that the owners of the Italia Inn have links to Los Zetas and the attackers were members of a rival organized criminal group, maybe from the Sinaloa cartel.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mexican cartels' familiar weapons

U.S.-made grenades sent to fight communism turn up again, with different targets

By Nick Miroff and William Booth
The Washington Post
Grenades made in the United States and sent to Central America during the Cold War have resurfaced as terrifying new weapons in almost weekly attacks by Mexican drug cartels.

Sent a generation ago to battle communist revolutionaries in the jungles of Central America, U.S. grenades are being diverted from dusty old armories and sold to criminal mafias, who are using them to destabilize the Mexican government and terrorize civilians, according to U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officials.

The redeployment of U.S.-made grenades by Mexican drug lords underscores the increasingly intertwined nature of the conflict, as President Felipe Calderon sends his soldiers out to confront gangs armed with a deadly combination of brand-new military-style assault rifles purchased in the United States and munitions left over from the Cold War.

Grenades have killed a relatively small number of the 25,000 people who have died since Mr. Calderon launched his U.S.-backed offensive against the cartels. But the grenades pack a far greater psychological punch than the ubiquitous AK-47s and AR-15 rifles -- they can overwhelm and intimidate outgunned soldiers and police while reminding ordinary Mexicans that the country is literally at war.

There have been more than 72 grenade attacks in Mexico in the last year, including spectacular assaults on police convoys and public officials. Mexican forces have seized more than 5,800 live grenades since 2007, a small fraction of a vast armory maintained by the drug cartels, officials said.

According to the Mexican attorney general's office, there have been 101 grenade attacks against government buildings since December 2006, information now made public for the first time. To fight back, U.S. experts in grenades and other explosives are now working side by side with Mexican counterparts.

The majority of grenades have been traced back to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, according to investigations by agents at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and their Mexican counterparts. ATF has also found that almost 90 percent of the grenades confiscated and traced in Mexico are more than 20 years old.

The administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush sent 300,000 hand grenades to friendly regimes in Central America to fight leftist insurgents in the civil wars of the 1980s and early 1990s, according to declassified military data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Federation of American Scientists.

Nacho Coronel, the ascending Capo

Ricardo Ravelo
Revista Proceso

Trained and nurtured under the protection of Amado Carrillo Fuentes and now considered among the most important leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel Villarreal in two decades has become one of the major drug lords in the country and has, according to Robert Mueller, head of the FBI, the power and ability to create his own cartel.

The DEA and FBI, for years on the trail of “Nacho”, say that he is untouchable and has operated with almost complete impunity throughout his career.

In little more than two decades, Coronel has consolidated his position as the fourth most important man of the Sinaloa cartel and has expanded his activities in the large scale traffic of drugs from South America to the United States and several European countries and controls major routes of the booming drug trafficking business.

Also known as Valdez Ignacio Urrutia, Dagoberto Rodríguez Jiménez, Nacho, The Engineer and the King of Ice, Coronel is part of the Federacion de narcotraficantes (the Federation) headed Joaquin Guzman Loera “El Chapo Guzman”, who in March 2009 Forbes magazine labeled a billionaire and one of the richest men in Mexico.

Like his peers, Coronel is secretive and often takes refuge in mystery. Some official documents recorded who was born on February 1, 1954, although no mention of the place. The PGR maintains that he is originally from Canelas, Durango. An FBI report dated April 17, 2003, that offers a reward of $ 5 million for his capture states he from the state of Veracruz.

Few photographs of Nacho Coronel exist. He is described as having brown hair, brown eyes, fair skin color and a weight of approximately 145 pounds. His occupation is described as “a businessman”.

In the 1980’s, Colonel began his criminal career as the leader of the Juarez cartel in the state of Zacatecas. He worked at that time under the shadow of Amado Carrillo Fuentes “the Lord of The Skies” and Eduardo González Quitarte “El Flaco” .

After the death of Carrillo Fuentes, Coronel, Juan Jose Esparragoza Moreno “El Azul” and Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada broke away from the Juarez cartel and joined the Sinaloa cartel, which regained its status as Mexico’s top cartel in 2001 after El Chapo Guzman’s escape from prison in Puente Grande, Jalisco.

At that time Coronel was associated with Luis Valencia Valencia, head of the cartel del Milenio and the Beltran Leyva brothers. Years later, when the Beltran Leyva brothers broke away from Guzman, Nacho Coronel stood firmly with the Sinaloa cartel.

Today Coronel is engaged in a bloody war with the Beltran Leyva cartel over control of drug trafficking operations in the state of Jalisco, especially in the Guadalajara metropolitan area.

Rumors have persisted since May of Coronel's arrest by military forces in the exclusive area on the shores of Lake Chapala known as El Molino. A version of the story states that the abduction of the prominant attorney and former PAN presidential Diego Fernandez was in retalition for the arrest.

However, there is no direct evidence that the arrest of Coronel actually occurred.

Despite his affiliation with the Sinaloa cartel, the DEA and FBI claim that over the past decade Colonel has consolidated his power and now operates as a free agent with a certain degree of independence.

"He has increased his power from the 1990’s and is now the head of a powerful criminal cell in Mexico, working directly with Colombian sources that supply him with hundreds of tons of cocaine” according to a criminal indictment prepared by United States authorities.

The Takeoff

Highly skilled in the drug trafficking business, "Nacho" Coronel expanded his range of activities in recent years: today, in addition to cocaine, he has established dozens of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories throughout the country, allowing him to control more 50% of the production of synthetic drugs in Mexico, according to the DEA.

According to the FBI, Colonel promotes his narcotics production and trafficking activities through bribery, intimidation and violence.

Car Bomb in Mexico Changes Ground Rules of Drug War

The blast that killed three people was one thing nobody expected -- even from the drug cartels.

The Associated Press

Mexico's General Attorney Arturo Chavez speaks during a press conference in Mexico City. Mexico's attorney general on Friday said he had no evidence that the country's drug gangs were involved in terrorism, after a deadly attack on two police cars in a northern border city.

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico - The first successful car bombing by a drug cartel brings a new dimension of terror to a Mexican border region already shocked by random street battles, bodies dangling from bridges, and highway checkpoints mounted by heavily armed criminals.

The attack, seemingly lifted from an al-Qaida playbook, demonstrated once again that the cartels are a step ahead of both an already guarded public and federal police, who have recently taken over command from the military of the battle against traffickers in Ciudad Juarez, a city across the border from El Paso, Texas.

"It's a lot like Iraq," said Claudio Arjon, who owns a restaurant near the scene of the attack and was surveying the damage from behind police lines Saturday. "Now, things are very different. It's very different. It's very ugly."

Members of the Mexican Federal Police arrive at the scene where a group of gunmen launched grenades at the police on the main avenue of Ciudad Juarez innorthern Mexico on July 15. Suspected drug gang members launched a car bomb attack on police in Mexico's border city of Ciudad Juarez for the first time, killing two police and two medics, a general said Friday.


People in Ciudad Juarez already live under siege. Like many restaurant owners, Arjon closes his business long before dark every day to avoid criminal gangs that threaten him and his clientele. Parents take separate cars to the same place so one can warn the other of dangers up ahead. Ambulance drivers and emergency room doctors come under fire from gang members trying to finish off wounded rivals.

A wall at a shopping center is covered by graffiti that reads in Spanish "What happened on the 16 (street) is going to keep happening to all the authorities that continue to support the Chapo (Guzman), sincerely, the Juarez Cartel. We still have car bombs (expletive) ha ha." Cartel assailants laid a trap for federal police and attacked them with a car bomb on Thursday the first time a drug cartel have used explosives to attack Mexican security forces, marking an escalation in the country's drug war.

The car bomb, which killed at least three people Thursday, was the one thing nobody was expecting. It was a carefully planned attack designed to catch the extremely wary population and security forces off guard.

A street gang tied to the Juarez cartel lured federal officers and paramedics to the site of the bomb by dressing a bound, wounded man in a police uniform and calling in a false report of an officer shot, said Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes.

Among those killed was a private doctor who rushed to the scene to help treat the wounded man. Among the injured was a local TV cameraman who had been filming the paramedics treating the man. Even in a country where beheadings and drive-by shootings are routine, they could not imagine the cartels would choose that vulnerable moment to strike.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Car Bomb and the Lure of the Feds

The mayor of Ciudad Juárez, José Reyes Ferriz said that the explosion of a car in that city was intended to attract federal forces.

In a radio interview with Jose Cardenas, the Mayor said that around 1900 hours, an armed group dropped off a person dress as a police officer, who was shot and the men drove away.

There was an immediately emergency call to report the execution of a man.

Minutes later elements of the federal police arrived and they thought that the person might still be alive. A renowned doctor, whose office is nearby, went to the person who was first believed to be a federal police officer.

Federal police began inspecting a suspicious parked car that appeared to be Ford Taurus according to the images captured on Channel 5. Inside the vehicle was an explosive device that was about ten kilograms of C-4 explosives and a cell phone that was used as a trigger.

Seconds later the vehicle exploded splitting it in half. The front of the vehicle crashed into one of the federal patrol trucks, this is why police initially though the suspicious car had hit the patrol truck before the explosion.

The doctor who was assisting the injured person was standing and was one of the first to receive the full impact of the bomb causing him to die instantly.

In addition to the doctor, the federal agent who was inspecting the vehicle died, while other police officers sustained minor injuries.

Gunbattles and "Narco" blockades reported in Nuevo Laredo

A press release issued by SEGOB, Mexico’s Interior Ministry, Friday night confirmed at least 3 armed encounters between Mexican Army soldiers and gunmen belonging to an organized criminal group in various locations in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

Nuevo Laredo, a city of approximately half a million inhabitants, is located across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas. The city is reputed to be a stronghold of the Los Zetas criminal group and home to one of its top leaders, Miguel Angel Treviño Morales (Z-40).

According to SEGOB, 12 people lost their lives in the clashes that began during the late morning hours. Nine of the dead were criminal gunmen, one was a soldier and two were innocent civilians.

SEGOB also reported 21 civilians wounded. Seven of the wounded, including 3 children, were in serious condition and the other 14 wounded were listed in stable condition. The report did not indicate if any of the wounded belonged to the criminal group.

Unofficial reports stated that that up to 8 gunmen had been apprehended.

In the press release the Federal Government expresses its sincere condolences to the families of both civilians and the soldier killed in the clashes and stated it would commit all available resources to care for the civilian wounded.

Link to SEGOB press release:

One of the shootouts occurred in the Infonavt Fundadores neighborhood in front of the Autonomous University of Tamaulipas campus where at least 5 gunmen were killed according to unofficial reports.

There was one other gunfight close to the municipal airport. The location of the third encounter was not disclosed.

During and immediately after the armed encounters gunmen set up roadblocks within the city and seized cars, buses and tractor trailers from the population to block streets and hinder the movement of authorities. There were various blockages on Avenida César López de Lara fro the south into the center of the city and also in the western area of the city on Avenida Revolucion, Eva Samano and the highway going to Anahuac, Nuevo Leon.

There was panic in the streets of the city as people tried to escape the shooting, carjackings and violence. As a result, many vehicle accidents also occurred which hindered movement even more.

As of Friday evening the streets of Nuevo Laredo were largely empty with little vehicular traffic. The International bridges were open but with little more than commercial traffic going into Laredo, Texas.

According to residents of the city sporadic gunfire was still being heard into the late afternoon in the Solidarity, Hidalgo, Las Torres, Los Fresnos, Paseo Colón, Lomas Sur neighborhoods and along the Airport Boulevard.

During the fighting the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo issued a statement alerting U.S. citizens to avoid crossing into Nuevo Laredo. The Consulate warning stated grenades were being used and that the violence was widespread.

Link to the U.S. Consulate bulletin:

This instability could not have come at a worse time for the residents of Nuevo Laredo as they are still recovering from some of the worst flooding in it’s history that resulted from the torrential rains caused by Hurricane Alex.

There were rumors on the streets this evening, most likely false, that Treviño Morales el Z-40 had been killed or apprehended by Army troops.