Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

An Exclusive Look Inside Mexico's Drug War

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 |

Felipe Calderon Tells CBS News about Deadly Cartels, An Aggressive Offensive and His Top-Secret War Room

CBS 

With more than 10,000 drug-related murders in Mexico this year, President Felipe Calderon views his soldiers as his best hope in a blood-soaked clash that critics on both sides of the border are starting to call unwinnable, reports CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg.

"We are kicking them and kicking them really hard," Calderon said.

He has deployed 45,000 troops to 18 Mexican states in an aggressive offensive against the cartels.

Recently he toured an army base in the border city of Mexicali, honoring soldiers killed fighting the drug cartels by giving awards to their families.

"I know the Mexican soldiers are put in the place where they are risking their own lives," Calderon said. "Actually, we lost 80 soldiers in this battle against organized crime and, nevertheless, they realized that they are working for the future of Mexico."

The president showed us his top-secret, state-of-the-art, $100-million underground bunker - the Central Intelligence Command - in a secret location in Mexico City. Mexican security forces are literally wiring the country with cameras, sensors and computers to gather intelligence on organized crime.

"And when we were designing this, I said, 'Do you remember the program '24,' the TV show? Well, I want all the toys, all that. All the instruments needed to be superior to the criminals,'" Calderon said.

Advance army training like this is what he hopes will combat the drug lords. Yet despite all the technology and military muscle, more than 28,000 people have been murdered since Calderon took on the cartels four years ago. He cannot shake the perception that his country is in crisis - his drug war, failing.

"Every day there are news reports of killings, of massacres, of bodies found - more than 28,000 people killed. That's a staggering number, isn't it?" Greenberg asked.

"We have a serious problem, yes. However, we are facing the problem," Calderon said. "As I said to the Mexican people, it's going to take us money, it is going to take us time and unfortunately it is going to take human lives."

Last week when CBS News was in Mexico, dozens more lives were taken, including a three-hour shootout in the border city of Matamoros. Drug kingpin, "Tony Tormenta," was killed by hundreds of Mexican troops. In retaliation, the cartels set fires, set up roadblocks, fired guns. Near Acapulco, a mass grave with 18 decomposing bodies - all victims kidnapped by drug gangs.

Calderon insists the growing violence is a sign the cartels are feeling his government's heat.

"They are losing market, they are losing territory, they are losing capacity to do everything like in the past. So they are fighting each other in order to preserve their own territory," Calderon said.

But the casualties and violence, once isolated to border states, is spreading - to Monterrey in the east, to once quiet cities in the south and to resorts in the west. The death toll grows every year.

With more than 10,000 murders so far, 2010 is now turning into the bloodiest year on record, a 53 percent increase over last year.

"You are seeing the killings of family members, the assassination of mayors and police chiefs," said Fred Burton, the vice president for intelligence at global intelligence company STRATFOR.

Burton said Calderon is reading the situation wrong.

"The cartels are carrying out these kind of executions to show the government, the Mexican government, and the Americans to a large measure, that they are responsible for that geography and this is what is going to happen if you put your nose into places that it doesn't belong," Burton said.

Remarkably, despite U.S. State Department travel warnings tourism is up 20 percent in Mexico, including 5 million Americans.

And Calderon says his neighbors to the north are a key part of the problem. He says the $40 billion drug trade exists to feed an insatiable American appetite.

"We have a neighbor who is the largest consumer of drugs in the world and the problem is everyone wants to sell him drugs through my window or through my door, and that is beginning of the problem of violence in Mexico. So the United States needs to reduce the consumption of drugs one way or the other," Calderon said.

He claims American drug use is financing the cartels and smuggled American guns are arming them.

This is an example of the more than 90,000 weapons the Calderon government has confiscated in the last four years. Almost all of them high powered and all of them bought in the United States.

"The United States is the largest provider of weapons to the criminals in Mexico," Calderon said. "I'm talking like 50,000 assault weapons, Air 15s, machine guns, more than 8,000 grenades, almost 10 million bullets, which is amazing figures."

While U.S. has offered $1.6 billion in aid and equipment to help Mexico fight the cartels, President Calderon knows the burden of the war falls on him. And despite his best efforts, drugs, guns and violence all are increasing in his Mexico.

"What are the options for our government? Either you allow all those criminals to take over the country or you face the problem, and we decided to face that. And that's the most important decision of my government," Calderon said.

A high stakes decision with costly implications on both sides of the border.

Recently he toured an army base in the border city of Mexicali, honoring soldiers killed fighting the drug cartels by giving awards to their families.

"I know the Mexican soldiers are put in the place where they are risking their own lives," Calderon said. "Actually, we lost 80 soldiers in this battle against organized crime and, nevertheless, they realized that they are working for the future of Mexico."

The president showed us his top-secret, state-of-the-art, $100-million underground bunker - the Central Intelligence Command - in a secret location in Mexico City. Mexican security forces are literally wiring the country with cameras, sensors and computers to gather intelligence on organized crime.

"And when we were designing this, I said, 'Do you remember the program '24,' the TV show? Well, I want all the toys, all that. All the instruments needed to be superior to the criminals,'" Calderon said.

Advance army training like this is what he hopes will combat the drug lords. Yet despite all the technology and military muscle, more than 28,000 people have been murdered since Calderon took on the cartels four years ago. He cannot shake the perception that his country is in crisis - his drug war, failing.

"Every day there are news reports of killings, of massacres, of bodies found - more than 28,000 people killed. That's a staggering number, isn't it?" Greenberg asked.

"We have a serious problem, yes. However, we are facing the problem," Calderon said. "As I said to the Mexican people, it's going to take us money, it is going to take us time and unfortunately it is going to take human lives."

Last week when CBS News was in Mexico, dozens more lives were taken, including a three-hour shootout in the border city of Matamoros. Drug kingpin, "Tony Tormenta," was killed by hundreds of Mexican troops. In retaliation, the cartels set fires, set up roadblocks, fired guns. Near Acapulco, a mass grave with 18 decomposing bodies - all victims kidnapped by drug gangs.

Calderon insists the growing violence is a sign the cartels are feeling his government's heat.

"They are losing market, they are losing territory, they are losing capacity to do everything like in the past. So they are fighting each other in order to preserve their own territory," Calderon said.

But the casualties and violence, once isolated to border states, is spreading - to Monterrey in the east, to once quiet cities in the south and to resorts in the west. The death toll grows every year.

With more than 10,000 murders so far, 2010 is now turning into the bloodiest year on record, a 53 percent increase over last year.

"You are seeing the killings of family members, the assassination of mayors and police chiefs," said Fred Burton, the vice president for intelligence at global intelligence company STRATFOR.

Burton said Calderon is reading the situation wrong.

"The cartels are carrying out these kind of executions to show the government, the Mexican government, and the Americans to a large measure, that they are responsible for that geography and this is what is going to happen if you put your nose into places that it doesn't belong," Burton said.

Remarkably, despite U.S. State Department travel warnings tourism is up 20 percent in Mexico, including 5 million Americans.

And Calderon says his neighbors to the north are a key part of the problem. He says the $40 billion drug trade exists to feed an insatiable American appetite.

"We have a neighbor who is the largest consumer of drugs in the world and the problem is everyone wants to sell him drugs through my window or through my door, and that is beginning of the problem of violence in Mexico. So the United States needs to reduce the consumption of drugs one way or the other," Calderon said.

He claims American drug use is financing the cartels and smuggled American guns are arming them.

This is an example of the more than 90,000 weapons the Calderon government has confiscated in the last four years. Almost all of them high powered and all of them bought in the United States.

"The United States is the largest provider of weapons to the criminals in Mexico," Calderon said. "I'm talking like 50,000 assault weapons, Air 15s, machine guns, more than 8,000 grenades, almost 10 million bullets, which is amazing figures."

While U.S. has offered $1.6 billion in aid and equipment to help Mexico fight the cartels, President Calderon knows the burden of the war falls on him. And despite his best efforts, drugs, guns and violence all are increasing in his Mexico.

"What are the options for our government? Either you allow all those criminals to take over the country or you face the problem, and we decided to face that. And that's the most important decision of my government," Calderon said.

A high stakes decision with costly implications on both sides of the border.

Recently he toured an army base in the border city of Mexicali, honoring soldiers killed fighting the drug cartels by giving awards to their families.

"I know the Mexican soldiers are put in the place where they are risking their own lives," Calderon said. "Actually, we lost 80 soldiers in this battle against organized crime and, nevertheless, they realized that they are working for the future of Mexico."

The president showed us his top-secret, state-of-the-art, $100-million underground bunker - the Central Intelligence Command - in a secret location in Mexico City. Mexican security forces are literally wiring the country with cameras, sensors and computers to gather intelligence on organized crime.

"And when we were designing this, I said, 'Do you remember the program '24,' the TV show? Well, I want all the toys, all that. All the instruments needed to be superior to the criminals,'" Calderon said.

Advance army training like this is what he hopes will combat the drug lords. Yet despite all the technology and military muscle, more than 28,000 people have been murdered since Calderon took on the cartels four years ago. He cannot shake the perception that his country is in crisis - his drug war, failing.

"Every day there are news reports of killings, of massacres, of bodies found - more than 28,000 people killed. That's a staggering number, isn't it?" Greenberg asked.

"We have a serious problem, yes. However, we are facing the problem," Calderon said. "As I said to the Mexican people, it's going to take us money, it is going to take us time and unfortunately it is going to take human lives."

Last week when CBS News was in Mexico, dozens more lives were taken, including a three-hour shootout in the border city of Matamoros. Drug kingpin, "Tony Tormenta," was killed by hundreds of Mexican troops. In retaliation, the cartels set fires, set up roadblocks, fired guns. Near Acapulco, a mass grave with 18 decomposing bodies - all victims kidnapped by drug gangs.

Calderon insists the growing violence is a sign the cartels are feeling his government's heat.

"They are losing market, they are losing territory, they are losing capacity to do everything like in the past. So they are fighting each other in order to preserve their own territory," Calderon said.

But the casualties and violence, once isolated to border states, is spreading - to Monterrey in the east, to once quiet cities in the south and to resorts in the west. The death toll grows every year.

With more than 10,000 murders so far, 2010 is now turning into the bloodiest year on record, a 53 percent increase over last year.

"You are seeing the killings of family members, the assassination of mayors and police chiefs," said Fred Burton, the vice president for intelligence at global intelligence company STRATFOR.

Burton said Calderon is reading the situation wrong.

"The cartels are carrying out these kind of executions to show the government, the Mexican government, and the Americans to a large measure, that they are responsible for that geography and this is what is going to happen if you put your nose into places that it doesn't belong," Burton said.

Remarkably, despite U.S. State Department travel warnings tourism is up 20 percent in Mexico, including 5 million Americans.

And Calderon says his neighbors to the north are a key part of the problem. He says the $40 billion drug trade exists to feed an insatiable American appetite.

"We have a neighbor who is the largest consumer of drugs in the world and the problem is everyone wants to sell him drugs through my window or through my door, and that is beginning of the problem of violence in Mexico. So the United States needs to reduce the consumption of drugs one way or the other," Calderon said.

He claims American drug use is financing the cartels and smuggled American guns are arming them.

This is an example of the more than 90,000 weapons the Calderon government has confiscated in the last four years. Almost all of them high powered and all of them bought in the United States.

"The United States is the largest provider of weapons to the criminals in Mexico," Calderon said. "I'm talking like 50,000 assault weapons, Air 15s, machine guns, more than 8,000 grenades, almost 10 million bullets, which is amazing figures."

While U.S. has offered $1.6 billion in aid and equipment to help Mexico fight the cartels, President Calderon knows the burden of the war falls on him. And despite his best efforts, drugs, guns and violence all are increasing in his Mexico.

"What are the options for our government? Either you allow all those criminals to take over the country or you face the problem, and we decided to face that. And that's the most important decision of my government," Calderon said.

A high stakes decision with costly implications on both sides of the border.

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13 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

Cartels readjust to generate drug related income, when, for example it is harder to export to the USA due to tighter border crossing issues, or to increase income i.e. tap into and increase drug consumption in Mexico to generate more profits and not solely depend on the US.

BB has mentioned the numerous drug use houses in Juarez…it is said in Cd. Acuna, Coah there are at least 37 such houses under Zeta control. It is rumored that a $1k weekly, per house is paid to the President (Mayor) of that city for protection.

Consumption is now also a Mexican problem.

Anonymous said...

The narcoviolence will not cease until we also uproot the narcopoliticians that protect them. It seems tha the Military arrests them and the Ministerios Publicos release them. Just confirm how many arrestees actually reach and or serve jail-time.

Matamoros Boy

Anonymous said...

Calderon is right to take on crime,Mexicos future depends on success,which is a win. With each criminal killed, each day surley a message is being sent,don't tell me that the population of Mexico must be a cesspool of crime.

Anonymous said...

Even thru all the scrutiny the president takes in Mexico. I praise him for standing up against organized crime. Imagine if he wouldn't have taken that approach in 2006. How much more inflitrated would organized crime be in Mexico? The whole country would be under control of organized crime. There has to be a stability within a country. Yeah organized crime will always exist but it has taken a whole new level in Mexico. I praise the soldiers who have fought for the right cause in Mexico. I pray for the lost children, innocent men and women caught in the middle of the war...Either by being caught in the crossfire, kidnapped or other causes. I don't care or judge the lost souls who deserved death. They made their choice and for that there were consequences. Our ancestors in Mexico have turned over in their graves to see how we as people have become in Mexico. The government is doing the right thing for the sake of a society that needs to turn a new leaf! Americans should realize the cause they are fighting and see how directly all this will affect them in the future. As neighboring countries and trade partners. People don't realize but Mexico is under a narco civil war...BB has mentioned this many times and they hit it spot on. Mexicans killing other Mexicans...What is that called? Civil war...Fractions against other fractions for controll of money and territory..Thru the supply of drugs. I hope and pray for the sake of our good people...Things change for the best...

Anonymous said...

The injustice,the misery,the poverty bring violence and chaos.The only things the politicians and the big corporations(legal and illegal) want is money and power.This will destroy the human race in the future.In Mexico theres a lot of natural resources but benefit to few people.I`m really surprise that a lot of people don`t understand.

Anonymous said...

If anything, keep that rat bastard, double crossing a$$hole, Genaro Garcia Luna out of the intellegence bunker.

I don't know why the Mexican government hasn't done enough to investigate this scum. They found out he and his sister own million dollar properties and both of their salaries are publicly known and it just doesn't add up.

I'm very opptomistic about Calderons intentions only if he himselft is not involved or influenced by organized crime. Let's pray for the sake of Mexico he's not.

You would think with the intellegence bunker, they'd be able to find all these scum bags and not just the ones mentinoed above.

I'm a little skeptical on how none of the Sinaloa leadership has fallen (chapo and mayo) yet the other orgs are falling hard. Just look at how hard the milatary hit Matamoros to get Tony T. We need that same milatary force looking for Chapo!

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the raza suffering in Mexico.

Peace and Love
-T

Anonymous said...

'Fecal' (Felipe Calderon) is lying.

'"We are kicking them and kicking them really hard," Calderon said.
He has deployed 45,000 troops to 18 Mexican states in an aggressive offensive against the cartels.'

This is not an 'aggressive' campaign but a standard counter insurgency campaign organized from the US, where the US government has Mexican military most often standing off from the fighting, and hoping that rival cartels kill each other. They do, but they also kill thousands of unprotected Mexican civilians, too. And the Mexican military itself is well know to also kill directly many an innocent civilian, too.

Unsaid, too, by Fecal, is that he has surrendered Mexican sovereignty to the US government much in the way that the murderous Colombian government of the death squads did.


'The president showed us his top-secret, state-of-the-art, $100-million underground bunker - the Central Intelligence Command - in a secret location in Mexico City. Mexican security forces are literally wiring the country with cameras, sensors and computers to gather intelligence on organized crime.'

This has the stench of D.C. all upon it. In fact, another commentary just posted from Proceso shows that it is in fact part of a US coordinated plan to take over the command of the fighting from Mexico and to basically run it their way. 'Their US government way is what is dramatically now increasing the bloodshed, too.

The sicko elites of all counties always seem to think that high tech toys will 'win' it for them....

'"And when we were designing this, I said, 'Do you remember the program '24,' the TV show? Well, I want all the toys, all that. All the instruments needed to be superior to the criminals,'" Calderon said.
Advance army training like this is what he hopes will combat the drug lords.'

Calderon has shown himself to be a rather low class 'call girl for the US government. But the Gringoes set up two call girl agencies for themselves in Mexico. This whole war will then be run by the other call girl agency starting in two years. The other call girl agency is called PRI.

Ernest1

'lito 'brito said...

@ernest1

what the hell are you even talking about..call girls.???..you need to take a few days off the bong Spicoli...i bet you and all your coffee shop revolutionary "crew" just can't wait till the new radio head cd comes out ...dipshits like ypu don't have a clue as to what is going on in the world....I always watched out for you guys at actions,,,lots of us were sure you turnups were fbi agents ..always throwing rocks at the cops , getting people beat up and arrested ,,,but strangely enough you never get in trouble...agents provocateurs?

Mexico is in trouble, and it is very serious, some of you dumbasses think anarchy is cool...tell that to people who are afraid to go to the store, get robbed by the copz, anarchy where every man is king...yeah ..sounds great ...bubble bubble , cough...not so cool when it is really going on...every narco thinks he is gonna be scarface....cool huh..puff puff pass...think about that as you safely go to the 7 /11 tonight to get a munchy, you don't have to worry about getting picked up and killed ...in Mexico it is a real concern

burnouts like you shouldn't be trying to take advantage of the situation just to meet girls

Anonymous said...

All the other fractions like Gulf, Beltran, Zetas are not on the same level as Chapo or Mayo. You can't compare Tony Tormenta to Chapo Guzman or Don Mayo Zambada. Tony was never in that status. Imagine a man who employs 1,000's of people. Who is respected by all his employess and loyal to the death. Then you are talking about Chapo and Mayo. Two guys who have earned the loyalty and respect of not just Sinaloenses but people from all over Mexico and the US. By providing for many people who wouldn't have the opportunity elswhere. And yes by choice, but that is their way of thinking. They had nothing before but now they do. Thanks to these guys, who provide to these guys who then employ these guys. It's a chain of employment and loyalty. It is known that Chapo or Mayo just don't go around giving orders to any guy..He has a loyal base that he gives orders to who then give order these people who then give order to these people. It's an inner circle of trust that no one dares betray.... And to say that the Mexican government hasn't done anything to the Sinaloa cartel, they took down Don Mayos son Vicente Zambada who in his day ran a crew of hundreds of men and oversaw alot of the business. They took down El Nacho Coronel who was an old school capo well respected and a very profitable asset to the Sinaloa Cartel. They busted el JT in Sinaloa years ago another guy who moved tons of weight. They have tried to get el M1 el M2 and elsewhere. Lower profile guys that you may have not read until this year when most started following the drug war on blogs. But people have fell in the Sinaloa cartel. They just haven't been that affected. Why? Because they still operate stategically. Thru a checks and balances way...With people who still have accountability for their actions...The lesser of the evil in many peoples eyes...here and everywhere....

Anonymous said...

Well said ERNEST1....serioulsy, FeCal was basing his "operation" on a tv show, now that's laughable, and i guess we are used to it anyway...FeCal also said he is kicking the cartels hard, another laughable comment....

'lito 'brito said...

no body ever mentions the increasing drug problem INSIDE Mexico ...even though the big market is in the USA...there is a growing one in Mexico....i wonder when the stupid narcos will realize the profits to be made from selling it to tourists if they would settle down and encourage tourists to come to a totally safe Mexico...anyone who has ever been to Mexico falls in love with the people the land and the culture, it is like they are shooting themselves in the foot to destroy the tourist trade...balance the costs of doing business smuggling versus developing a thriving tourist drug market...i would wager the tourist drug business would tip the scales..especially if you factored in the complimentary vice business, gamblng, prostitution, bars/ alcohol sales...if this shit is all about money...any fool knows there is more profit in going legit..stupid culeros shooting each other up would soon become contra productive

Anonymous said...

@3:57 PM. You think it's funny that the president is 'kicking the cartels hard'? In Michoacan, where I'm from, we have definitely seen La Familia start to decline. There are not as many as there were before. It's still pretty bad, but the difference is definitely noticeable. If you don't believe me, look what one of the leaders who was caught today has to say about 'La Tuta', one of the main leaders of that cartel..http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/notas/724174.html

Anonymous said...

gracias a dios there is only one ERNEST1,,,two of them would be just about enough to make me abandon BB altogether...what a moron...

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