Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Shootout in Ciudad Miguel Aleman

Sunday, February 28, 2010 |

A shootout between sicarios and police in Ciudad Miguel Aleman in pictures:

The vehicle driven by the sicarios during the encounter with military.
  
There appears to be at least four sicarios dead during the shootout.

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3rd Suspect Nabbed for Murder of Students in Juarez

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Former police implicated in the massacre of students in Villas de Salvarcar.

Ciudad Juarez, Chih - Military authorities arrested a third person suspected of involvement in the Jan. 31 massacre of 15 people, most of them teenaged students, in the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, officials said Saturday.

At a press conference given by military authorities and the Attorney General’s Office of Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located, the suspect was questioned before the media and said he shot at point-blank range at least one youth who tried to jump out the back of the house in the Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood where the massacre took place.

The suspected killer, an ex-municipal police officer from Ciudad Juarez identified as Aldo Flavio Hernandez Lozano, 36, who goes by the alias of “El 18,” said he belonged to the criminal group known as “La Linea,” a nickname for the Juarez cartel.

Besides the massacre of the young people, El 18 is suspected of 40 other murders, of which 16 were presumably committed last year. No details were given about the others.

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No Matter the Name

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"My government does not protect or shield anyone, and less, the mexican people."

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Treasury Sanctions La Familia

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Treasury Sanctions La Familia Michoacana Leadership

Action Marks First Derivative Designation Since President Identified This Violent Drug Trafficking Organization Last Year.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today designated seven key leaders of the international drug trafficking organization La Familia Michoacana (La Familia) as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs).

Today's designation targets two principal leaders of La Familia, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez ("El Chayo") and Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas ("El Chango"), and five of their lieutenants. OFAC also designated as an SDNT one company owned or controlled by one of La Familia's lieutenants.

Today's action, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals and entity and freezes any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction.

"Today's action targets the senior leadership of La Familia Michoacana, giving further effect to the President's April 2009 identification of this organization for sanctions," said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. "La Familia is one of Mexico's newest and most violent drug cartels.

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Justice Hidden

Saturday, February 27, 2010 |

Drug kingpin Cardenas’ sentencing hearing was wrongly kept from public view.

Houston Chronicle

Houston, TX - As bad guys go, Osiel Cardenas Guillen is one of the worst: Drug kingpin. Murderer. Enforcer. Money launderer. A modern-day Stalin, according to one retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Over the years, Cardenas' control of the Gulf Cartel drug empire has harmed the lives of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in this country and in Mexico — and in the most terrible and terrifying ways. From the hundreds who were executed for crossing him and his cartel to the untold thousands whose lives were ruined by addiction to the drugs he sold for profit, the evil wrought by Cardenas and his thugs has been appalling and pervasive.

Cardenas was sentenced to 25 years in a federal prison here Wednesday, but no member of the public was present to witness it. None of this proceeding, held in a federal courtroom, took place within public view. The sentencing hearing, conducted by U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle, was not listed on the judge's public schedule till after it was completed. It was kept closed without any explanation until after the fact.

Even the terms of the drug kingpin's sentence remain unclear, since most of the prosecution was handled through closed hearings and sealed documents. It is not clear, for example, how much time Cardenas will actually serve.

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U.S. Closes Consulate Due to Violence

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U.S. Closes Consulate in Mexican City Due to Narco-Violence

U.S. authorities announced Thursday the temporary closure of the consulate in the Mexican city of Reynosa due to recent drug-related shootouts in the town just across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas.

The U.S. consulate in Reynosa “is only assisting U.S. citizens” and “will remain temporarily closed until further notice,” an official with the U.S. consulate here in Monterrey, the capital of the state of Nuevo Leon, told Efe.

In recent days, there have been several shootouts in rural towns in Tamaulipas, where Reynosa is located, and neighboring Nuevo Leon, which have taken about 25 lives.

The reason for the clashes, according to Mexican authorities, is a conflict between the Gulf drug cartel and former allies “Los Zetas,” a band of special forces deserters turned hired guns.

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Wave of Violenve Leaves 40 Dead

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Wave of Drug-Related Violence in Mexico Leaves at Least 40 Dead.

Mexico City - Violence attributed to organized-crime groups has left at least 40 people dead in recent days, mainly in parts of northeastern and southeastern Mexico.

The area most affected by the latest spate of violence has been the northeastern Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas, where authorities said 19 people have been slain and eight wounded in clashes that either pitted the armed forces against cartel gunmen or rival gangs against one another.

The battles mainly occurred in cities along the eastern part of the U.S.-Mexico border, where fearful parents began keeping their children home from school beginning Tuesday.

Tamaulipas prosecutor Jaime Rodriguez said Wednesday that the gun battles took place between Sunday and Tuesday, resulting in the deaths of 19 people, including a municipal police officer, while six police are reported as missing.

Rodriguez said that in the wake of the violence a council made up of Tamaulipas authorities and federal security officials has been set up to analyze the situation and design strategies to combat the violence, although he did not indicate which groups may be behind the clashes.

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Mexico's Drug War Could Turn Into a Civil War?

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According to the most recent reports; President Felipe Calderón has ordered 50,000 troops to fight in the Mexican Drug Wars.

The mexican president also broke with tradition when he don a green army uniform in one address to frontline soldiers. However these efforts have yeild little success.

Some international observers believe that the Mexican Drug wars could be turning into a civil war with each side becoming more entrenched.
 
According to a recent Time's report, Mexican "Gangsters have long financed their own music genre (drug ballads) nurtured their own fashion style (buchones, crocodile-skin boots alongside designer bling) and revered an early 20th century bandit, Jesus Malverde, as a narco saint.
 
But the effort to forge their own religious sect is new, proof of a cultural autonomy to match their fearsome ability to defy Mexico City and Washington with impunity."

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Zetas are Ordered Held

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Iván Treviño Cardoza alias “El Trevi”

A federal Judge specialized in organized crime ordered detained for 40 days seven alleged associates of the Zetas, the armed wing of the Gulf cartel, according to the Attorney General's Office (PGR).

Military elite members of the Navy arrested Ivan Trevino Cardoza, "El Trevi," in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, an alleged member of criminal group "Los Zetas", devoted mainly in trafficking marijuana and theft of of oil. Trevino Cardoza was arrested along with six of his accomplices.

An arrest order was issued against Iván Treviño Cardoza, Lauro Olivares Saenz, Rafael Salmeron Hinojosa,  Arturo Robledo Sánchez, Sergio del Callejo Garza, Alejandro Torres Olivares and Faustino Reyes Betancourt.

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Gunmen Kill 13 People in Oaxaca

Friday, February 26, 2010 |

Massacre in Oaxaca.
Gunmen kill 13 people in the southern state of Oaxaca.

"When the time comes to die, it happens no matter where it is. I regret the delicate state of my fellow colleagues,"
Solomon Rojas, a Oaxaca police officer.


The Associated Press

Oaxaca - Police forces in Oaxaca and Veracruz were searching for the armed commandos that executed 13 people which included police and civilians in the community of Vicente Camalote, while a commander of the State Preventive Police is missing, according to the regional attorney for Justice Fernando Santiago Hernandez.

Gunmen stormed a rural town of Vicente Camalote in southern Mexico and killed 13 people, while the U.S. government warned Americans against traveling to cities in a northern border state where shootouts have left 19 people dead over three days. This town is located about 40 minutes from the state of Veracruz, which appears to be the place where the "gatilleros" (gunman) came from to target their objective. Besdies the four killed in a ranch, the sicarios also killed 9 others that included state and municipal police officers and humble labor workers. They opened their path while spilling blood with gunfire.

Hooded assailants in several vehicles killed nine police officers at a checkpoint in San Vicente Camalote, a town in southern Oaxaca state, state deputy attorney general Netolin Chavez said Wednesday.

The incident occurred in the community of Vicente Camalote when a group of 30 to 40 sicarios aboard seven trucks type Hummer with license plates from the State of Veracruz arrived at the ranch of the trader and rancher Alfonso Maciel Sosa, the brother of Adán Maciel Sosa, a PAN (National Action Party) candidate for mayor.

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"El Barbie" Bodyguards are Detained

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Ciudad Ayala, Morelos - Through an official statement issued by the 24th infantry of the Mexican Army, it was reported the arrest of two bodyguards of Edgar Valdes Villarreal, "El Barbie," in the town of Ciudad Ayala, located east of the State of Morelos.

This was accomplished by the Counter-Narcotics Units and  were held on illegal possession of firearms.

The arrest took place on Calle Lázaro Cárdenas in the plaza "Centro" of Ciudad Ayala. The sicarios had been seen in two vehicles with other armed men who were escorting Edgar Valdes Villarreal, "El Barbie."

These individuals were Felipe León Aguilar 55-year-old native of Chietla Puebla and Norberto León Coria native of Ahuehuetzingo Puebla.

They were also found in their possession with a green leafy substance wrapped in newspaper with the characteristics of Marijuana aboard two SUV's models Explorer and Expedition.

Those suspects, drugs and vehicles were made available to the federal prosecutor located in the Plaza of Cuautla, Morelos who will continue the investigation and interrogation of the suspects.

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2,000 More Federal Police To Juarez

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Ciudad Juarez, chih - An increased force of federal police conducted road blocks in Juarez checking vehicles without license plates and vehicles with dark tinted windows, this while searching for drug cartel members.

I just like the bike!

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Mayor Among Over a Dozen Killed in Mexico

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El Mezquital, Durango - The mayor of a city in Durango state was among more than a dozen people murdered in Mexico in the past two days, officials said.

Manuel Estrada Escalante, mayor of the city of El Mezquital, was gunned down at a restaurant on Monday night.

The 34-year-old Estrada Escalante, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, was buried on Tuesday.

At least six gunmen attacked the mayor and lawmaker Mariano Soto, who is listed in serious condition at a hospital, Mexican media reported.

Ramon Mendivil Sotelo, mayor of the city of Guadalupe y Calvo, was murdered last Thursday, Chihuahua state officials said.

A group of around 20 gunmen, meanwhile, killed 13 people, including five police officers, in a community in the southern state of Oaxaca, a municipal official said.

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Two Dead in Juarez Shooting

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2 dead after grocery store shooting in Juárez

El Paso Times

Ciudad Juarez, Chih - Two men were killed in a shooting Monday afternoon at a neighborhood grocery store in east Juárez, a Chihuahua state attorney general's office spokesman said.

Shortly after noon, Alejandro Menchaca Reyes, 32, was killed inside El Caporal No. 1 grocery while Jorge Alberto Terrazas Rodriguez, 28, died on a sidewalk outside the store in the Tecnologico area of the city, officials said.

Officials said investigators counted 13 (40 mm) bullet casings at the scene. Some news media reported the store-owner may have been killed for refusing to pay an extortion "quota," but authorities would not confirm a motive.

Also on Monday, Carlos Raul Gonzalez Gomez, 21, died at a Juárez hospital from gunshot wounds, officials said.

In the village of Guadalupe, Rodolfo Hernandez Garay, 28, was slain in a shooting where 30 rounds were fired from an AK-47, officials said.

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US Agents not Involved in Mexico Drug Fight

Thursday, February 25, 2010 |

DPA

Mexico City - The Mexican government denied a report published Wednesday by The Washington Post which says that US police officers were to take part in the fight against drug traffickers within Mexico. The Post reported that the US planned to embed American intelligence agents into Mexican law enforcement units "to help pursue drug cartel leaders and their hit men" in Mexico's most violent city, Ciudad Juarez.

The reportoperating in the most violent city in Mexico, according to US and Mexican officials," The Washington Post reported Wednesday, with reference to Ciudad Juarez.

The northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, in the state of Chihuahua, is regarded as the most violent in Mexico with more than 2,600 killings in 2009.

The Mexican Interior Ministry issued a statement denying the report.

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Osiel Cardenas Sentenced to 25 Years

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Mexican drug lord Osiel Cardenas jailed for 25 years in Texas.

A Former Mexican drug lord has been sentenced 25 years in prison and made to forfeit $US50 million of his personal fortune by a federal court in Texas.


Houston, TX - Osiel Cardenas, 42, who formerly headed Mexico's notorious Gulf cartel, was arrested in Mexico in 2003 and extradited in 2007 to the US, where he has been held behind bars without parole.

Today's sentence followed previously-entered Cardenas pleas of guilty to five charges including drug trafficking, money laundering and threatening to kill federal agents, the department said in a statement.

US District Judge Hilda Tagle in Houston, Texas, sentenced Cardenas to 25 years without parole in federal prison, and fined him $US100,000.

In addition, ``the court entered a preliminary order of forfeiture imposing a personal money judgment against Cardenas in favor of the United States in the amount of $US50 million.''

Former Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas being extradited to the US in 2007.

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Mexico Does Not Protect "El Chapo" Guzmán

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Mexico City - President Felipe Calderón denied that his government protects the Sinaloa Cartel, headed by Joauquín Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo". Calderón said that his government nor protects or shields or tolerate any group of drug dealers, no matter what name they have.

During a press conference with reporters in Los Pinos, the chief executive asserted that such accusations were false and malicious that fall "under their own weight."

He noted that his government has attacked indiscriminately all drug cartels.

He said that from the Sinaloa Cartel others have fallen like Vicente Zambada, Rogaciano Alba and more recently, "El Jabalí," the alleged operator for "El Chapo" Guzman.

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Mexican Cartel Figure Pleads Not Guilty

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In this courtroom artist's drawing Vicente Zambada Niebla appears before a U.S. District Judge Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010, in Chicago's federal court. Zambada-Niebla, accused of leading Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he conspired to import large quantities of heroin and literally tons of cocaine into the United States.

The Associated Press

Chicago, IL US - A man accused of being one of the leaders of a powerful Mexican drug cartel pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he conspired to import and sell large amounts of cocaine and heroin in the United States.

Jesus Vincente Zambada-Niebla, 34, listened silently to an interpreter as his New York-based defense attorney, Edward Panzer, entered the plea before Judge Ruben Castillo.

An especially large security contingent were on hand for the hearing in what prosecutors are calling the largest international drug conspiracy case in the Chicago's history.

Authorities say Zambada-Niebla was an influential, second-generation member of the Sinaloa drug cartel, and that he helped move large amounts of cocaine and heroin from South and Central America to the United States from 2005 to 2008. They say hundreds of kilograms of cocaine were taken to Chicago.

Zambada-Niebla was arrested last year in Mexico City and was turned over to U.S. authorities on Thursday in what Justice Department officials said was a major step forward in the war on drugs. The Drug Enforcement Administration led the Chicago-based portion of the investigation, but numerous other federal and local law enforcement officials also took part.

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U.S. Agents to Embed with Mexico Drug Units

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White House views cartel violence as a direct threat to American security.

MSNBC

Patricia Davila, center, aunt of the teenagers Marcos Pina Davila and Jose Luiz Pina Davila, both killed by unknown assailants on Jan. 31, shouts slogans during a protest against violence in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb. 13, 2010.

For the first time, U.S. officials plan to embed American intelligence agents in Mexican law enforcement units to help pursue drug cartel leaders and their hit men operating in the most violent city in Mexico, according to U.S. and Mexican officials.

The increasingly close partnership between the two countries, born of frustration over the exploding death toll in Ciudad Juarez, would place U.S. agents and analysts in a Mexican command center in this border city to share drug intelligence gathered from informants and intercepted communications.

Until recently, U.S. law enforcement agencies have been reluctant to share sensitive intelligence with their Mexican counterparts for fear they were either corrupt or incompetent.

And U.S. agents have been wary of operating inside Mexican command centers for fear they would be targeted for execution in the sensational violence and lawlessness in Ciudad Juarez that left more than 2,600 people dead last year.

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El Chapo in Honduras

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 |

Copan Honduras - The chief of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been seen around in the western and northern parts of Honduras, mainly in the provinces of Colon and Copan, local media press reported today citing official sources. "El Chapo" has been to Honduras himself, in the Copan region, and he was at a party, said the security minister of Honduras, Oscar Alvarez.

The Honduran official was interviewed by Jose Cardenas, on Radio Formula. He said that the information on "EL Chapo" was gathered though intelligence provided by informants in the new government.

"What we do know for certain is that Mr. Guzman had been in a place in Copan and in that meeting he was celebrating with a Mexican group and that is where the story goes.

Today the newspaper “La Tribuna” of Honduras released information about the presence of "El Chapo" in the South American country. The news quickly spread through the news agencies.

In the interview, the Honduran minister said that informants working with his government said that the Mexican popular music group Los Tigres del Norte entertained at the party.

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Mexico 'Favours' Sinaloa Cartel

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Culiacan, Sinaloa - Felipe Calderon, Mexico's president, has bet his presidency on his so-called war on drugs.

But his military-focused strategy has, so far, seen little results in a conflict estimated to have cost more than 15,000 lives since 2006. And now the government is being accused of ignoring the biggest drug gang of all.

Franc Contreras reports from Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa State.

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The Shootout in Reynosa

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From the archives

Pictures from the recent gunbattle in Tamaulipas.
Guns, vehicles and gear.

 
Carnage inside a luxurious truck

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Mexican Government Tilts to Sinaloa Cartel?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 |

WW4 Report

Critics of Mexican President Felipe Calderón and his so-called Drug War charge that the government is favoring the Sinaloa Cartel.

“There are no important detentions of Sinaloa cartel members,” Diego Osorno, an investigative journalist and the author of a book on the Sinaloa Cartel (El Cártel de Sinaloa: Una historia del uso político del narco, Grijalbo, México 2009), told AlJazeera. “But the government is hunting down [Sinaloa's] adversary groups [and] new players in the world of drug trafficking.”

Edgardo Buscaglia, a leading Mexican law professor and an international organized crime expert, has analyzed 50,000 drug-related arrest documents dating back to 2003, and said that only a small fraction of the them were against Sinaloa Cartel operatives, and low-level ones at that.

“Law enforcement shows you objectively that the federal government has been hitting the weakest organized crime groups in Mexico. The Familia Michoacana, mainly, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez,” he told AlJazeera. “But they have not been hitting the main organized crime group, the Sinaloa federation, that is responsible for 45% of the drug trade in this country.”

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Why Mexico's Drug War May Become Its Iraq

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A cross built by residents in the Ciudad Juarez graveyard symbolizes the death of a once thriving city.

Time

The no-nonsense government ads flash onto prime-time Mexican TV between soccer games and steamy soap operas.
 
Bullet-filled corpses are shown sprawled on the concrete; ski-masked special forces are seen storming down residential streets; and bearded bulky capos are dragged before the cameras in handcuffs. "Today these killers are behind bars," says a booming voice-over.
 
"We work using force for your security."

But while the spots boast of victories and progress, a rising chorus of voices across Mexico is complaining that the military approach to Mexico's crime problem is not bearing fruit. Leftists and human-rights groups have slammed the central role of the army and paramilitary police since President Felipe Calderón took office in 2006 and ordered 50,000 troops to fight the drug gangs.

But in recent weeks, critics have been joined by some of the government's key allies, including members of Calderón's conservative National Action Party, regional business lobbies and the Roman Catholic Church. Such pressure could affect how the President sees through the drug war during the second half of his term, which ends in 2012.

Most criticism centers on the relentless gang-related violence, which has only worsened, even as thousands of traffickers are jailed or extradited to the U.S. In total, there have been more than 16,000 murders that appear to be drug related since Calderón kicked off the crackdown, with this January being the bloodiest month yet.

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"'El Jabal"', operator for "El Chapo" Arrested

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Mexico captures Sinaloa cartel cocaine trafficker.

Santa Ana, Sonora - Federal police have captured a man described as a key operator of the powerful Sinaloa cartel who served briefly in the U.S. army before taking on the trafficking of 2 tons of cocaine a month into the United States. The arrest of the man known as "El Jabali" (The Wild Boar) was made in the northern state of Sonora, where Vazquez had his base of operations.

Jose Vasquez Villagrana, 40, was arrested Sunday in his home town of Santa Ana, Sonora, which borders Arizona, authorities said Monday.

He joined the U.S. military in Arizona in 1990 and deserted a year after getting his U.S. citizenship, according to Mexico's federal Public Safety Department. He is believed to have returned to Mexico, where he began trafficking.

Vasquez is accused of smuggling Colombian cocaine through Panama and other countries to the northern Mexican state of Sonora. Planes carrying drugs landed at ranches owned by Vazquez in the Sonoran towns of Santa Ana and Magdalena de Kino. The drugs were stored at his ranch and then sent to the United States.

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3rd Kidnapping Suspect Surrenders

Monday, February 22, 2010 |

3rd kidnapping suspect surrenders.

El Paso TX - A third man suspected in the September kidnapping of a Horizon City man surrendered to police on Saturday, sheriff's officials said.

Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Jesse Tovar said Rafael Vega, 26, surrendered early Saturday at police headquarters in Central El Paso. Police turned Vega over to sheriff's deputies a short time later.

Vega is suspected in the abduction of 30-year-old Sergio Saucedo, who was taken at gunpoint from his home in the 14000 block of Desert Sunset Drive about 3:40 p.m. Sept. 3. His wife told deputies Vega was tied up with duct tape and carried out the back door.

Witnesses reported hearing a gunshot and the victim struggling and yelling for help before he was taken away in a Ford Expedition. Children on a school bus also witnessed the daytime kidnapping.

On Sept. 8, Mexican authorities found Saucedo's mutilated body in Juárez. His hands were cut off and placed on his chest.

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15 Killed in Juarez

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15 Killed in Border City, 2 in Other Parts of Mexico.

Ciudad Juarez, Chih - Fifteen people, including two women, were murdered in separate incidents in Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, and considered the most dangerous city in Mexico, while two people were killed in shootings in three other states, officials said.

A family traveling in an automobile was attacked early Saturday by unidentified individuals in the northern section of Ciudad Juarez, which is in Chihuahua state.

A man and a woman died in the shooting, while two children between the ages of 5 and 7 were unharmed.

The couple was forced out of the vehicle and shot at point-blank range in front of the children, prosecutors said.

Two men were gunned down a short time later in the Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood, while the bullet-riddled body of a man was found in Valle de los Olivos, a neighborhood in southern Juarez, and a fourth man was shot to death in Loma Blanca.

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Shooting Reported in Matamoros

Sunday, February 21, 2010 |


Matamoros, Tamaulipas -  Matamoros is under a tight security this afternoon after a shooting was recorded between federal and several civilians that unofficially resulted in one person killed and several others injured.

The incident took place on Sixth Street and Boulevard Manuel Lerma Cabazos at approximately 4:30 pm. At the scene witnesses say they saw the bodies of four people. During the shooting elements of the federal police shot at a public bus and an ambulance but no one was reported injured, however the rescue unit received at least 14 impacts from bullets.

Until this time Manuel Cabazos Lerma Boulevard is under tight security from Sixth Street to Third Street.

We also know that CMI Hospital which is located on Avenida and Calle Oaxaca Longoria there is a person who has multiple injuries from a firearm that apparently resulted from the gunfire between the soldiers and civilians.

More as we get it.

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Fleeing the Drug War Torn City

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Mexicans flee drug war city in fear of killings, up to 200,000 people have fled the violence


Ciudad Juarez, Chhih - Tens of thousands of Mexicans are fleeing drug violence on the U.S. border in an exodus that is decimating a large city and threatening to leave a major manufacturing area short of skilled workers.

Up to 200,000 people have left Ciudad Juarez — more than 10 per cent of its 1.5 million population — in 18 months from fear of a turf war between cartels which has made the city one of the world's deadliest places.

Drug murders reach up to a dozen a day and bullet-riddled vehicles and bodies in pools of blood are commonplace on busy streets in a collapse of law and order.

Ciudad Juarez, which lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, hit perhaps its lowest point in years of violence when suspected drug gang hitmen burst in on a party of high school students in January and killed 15 people, most of them teenagers.

Kidnappings and extortions are also rampant as drug gangs seek extra income, despite a government security crackdown.

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Explosives Highjacked Found

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Mexican Police Find 18 Tons of Stolen Explosives

Mexico City - Federal police found 18 tons of explosives that had been stolen hours earlier in northern Mexico, the federal Public Safety Secretariat said.

The industrial-use explosives were stolen by a group of unknown assailants from a tractor-trailer on a highway near the border between the states of Nuevo Leon and Coahuila, prompting federal police and army soldiers to launch an operation to relocate the material.

The shipment was later recovered on a highway leading to the industrial city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon’s capital.

Security forces across that region of the country, which borders the United States, had been put on alert after Friday’s theft.

The truck carrying the cargo had departed from the northwestern state of Durango on Thursday afternoon but never arrived at its destination in the eastern state of Tamaulipas, Coahuila state Attorney General Jesus Torres said.

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The Brother of El Tigre Falls

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Roberto Sánchez Arras was arrested in Chihuahua, his brother Pedro was captured in 2008, and is considered the third in command of the Juarez cartel

Villa Ahumada, Chih - The Mexican army arrested Roberto Sanchez Arras, brother of Pedro Sanchez Arras, "El Tigre," considered the third in command of the Juarez cartel or "La Línea," who was captured in 2008.

Authorities of the Coordinated Operation Chihuahua indicated that on February 18, 2010, military personnel of the operation succeeded in arresting Robert Sanchez in the town of Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua.

They reported that the capture was achieved based on citizen's tips and intelligence work, which required for the operations to move to the city, where they apprehended Robert Sanchez Arras, who is brother to Pedro Sanchez Arras, "'El Tigre."

Roberto Sanchez was in possession of three long rifles, four handguns, all weapons typically used by the Army, a fragmentation grenade, 22 magazines of different weapons and 992 rounds of different calibers.

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And Then There was the Sister of El Muletas

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Tijuana, BC - Four suspected members of a kidnapping ring linked to the Arellano Félix drug gang were in custody on February 19, 2010, accused of at least six abductions in the Tijuana area, Baja California authorities said.

Authorities said they belonged to a criminal cell with more than 10 members who kidnapped and killed their victims. The detentions resulted from a six-month investigation by the state’s anti-kidnapping squad, said Attorney General Rommel Moreno Manjarrez.

Arrested Tuesday at a body shop was Andres Pacheco Contreras, 21, whose job was to make sure no police were around when crimes occurred, authorities said. The other detainees were Armando Molina Juárez, 37; César Guadalupe Peñuelas Cázares, 36; and Julio César Peñuelas Juárez, 35 who allegedly confessed to carrying out between 15 and 20 abductions.

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Mexican Army Hassling a Reporter

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A news cameraman in a public street was told by Mexican soldiers that he could not record an accident involving one of their trucks. He was told he could be there but not record the accident.

Here in the U.S. if you can be there, then you can record. In the surface, it looks bad, especially since it involves one of their vehicles, it gives the impression of a cover up at minimum.

This continues to be problematic, authorities having the right to protect a scene and reporters trying to do their job, if it's legitimate on both sides, there should be a middle ground of compromise.

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Two Police, Six Gunmen Killed in Mexico Clashes

Saturday, February 20, 2010 |

Two Police, Six Gunmen Killed in Mexico Clashes

Two police and six gunmen were killed in three separate clashes in the southern and western parts of the country, Mexican authorities said Friday.

Both of the police fatalities were in Tuxtla Gutierrez, capital of the southern border state of Chiapas, where an operation to rescue a kidnapped woman led to a shootout Thursday night.

Officers were greeted with shots when they entered the home where the captive was being held. The woman was freed safe and sound, but two police and four kidnappers died in the exchange of gunfire, an official in the Chiapas Attorney General’s Office said.

Three other cops and a suspect were wounded, while police seized nine assault rifles, eight handguns, a grenade-launcher with 36 grenades and ammunition cartridges from the residence.

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Six Found Decapitated in Mexico

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Six Found Decapitated in Mexico

Six people were found decapitated inside an abandoned car in the western Mexican state of Michoacan, the state Attorney General’s Office said Thursday.

The vehicle was left on a heavily traveled road linking Morelia, the state capital, with the city of Quiroga, authorities said.

All of the victims – five men and a woman – were bound and had the letter “Z” etched on their skin, sources in the AG office told Efe. The marks may refer to “Los Zetas,” a band of deserters from the Mexican special forces who now constitute the armed wing of the Gulf drug cartel.

The presence of the “Z” could indicate the victims were affiliated with the group or that the killings were the work of Los Zetas, currently at odds with the main criminal outfits in Michoacan.

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Narco Junior Extradited to the U.S.

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Mexico: Alleged "narco-junior" Vicente Zambada extradited to the U.S.

Los Angeles Times

Mexico City - Vicente Zambada, son of one of Mexico's top drug kingpins and allegedly a major operator in his own right, was extradited Thursday to the United States, where he will stand trial on federal trafficking charges, authorities in both countries said.

He joins a list of Mexican drug traffickers such as Juan Garcia Abrego, Osiel Cardenas, Francisco Javier Arellano Felix, Hector "El Guero" Palma, Miguel Caro Quintero Vicente Zambada Niebla all now serving sentences in U.S. jails

Zambada, 34, was flown to Chicago and will be arraigned on Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo.

Federal agents arrested Zambada in March of last year in an affluent neighborhood in southern Mexico City. He was picked up along with five heavily armed bodyguards. He has been held in a maximum-security prison in the northern border state of Tamaulipas and on Thursday was handed over to U.S. authorities at the border crossing at Brownsville, Texas.

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Cartel Conflict Continues in Reynosa

Friday, February 19, 2010 |

Reynosa, Mexico - Intelligence sources inside Mexico say the military have surrounded several cartel members in northwest Reynosa. One of those men is believed to be Miguel Angel Trevino or Zeta 40.

Trevino is one of the top wanted cartel members in the United States. He once served as the plaza boss for the Gulf cartel in Nuevo Laredo. However, Mexican officials have not confirmed any of this information.

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Abducted in El Paso, Executed in Juarez

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The Associated Press

Sergio Saucedo

El Paso, TX - Authorities filed aggravated kidnapping charges against four men in the abduction of a Horizon City man who was later found slain in Juárez with his arms chopped off.

Investigators haven't determined whether Sergio Saucedo was killed in the U.S. or Mexico, and they could bring further charges once they do.

Brothers Omar and Cesar Obregon, both 21-year-old illegal immigrants from Mexico, were arrested Wednesday by U.S. Border Patrol agents who spotted them trying to break into a house, El Paso County Sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Cross said Thursday. They were being held at the El Paso County jail on $250,000 bond each, Cross said.

Authorities are seeking the other two suspects - 26-year-old Rafael Vega and Ricardo Puentes Morales, whose age was unavailable. Both are U.S. citizens.

Vega and Puentes are affiliated with a Mexican cartel, but the Obregons are not, Cross said.

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Reporting on the Frontline of Mexico's Drug War

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Ciudad Juarez, Chih - Felipe Calderon, Mexico's president, has promised a new security plan for the city of Ciudad Juarez, which is at the centre of the government's battle against drug cartels.


Calderon has also named a new special prosecutor to focus on crimes against journalists. Nearly 90 per cent of murders of reporters go unsolved in Mexico, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Al Jazeera met Luz Soza, a crime reporter in Ciudad Juarez. Here's her story in her own words.

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Calderon Back in Juarez

Thursday, February 18, 2010 |

Mexican leader listens to border city on drug war

The Associated Press

Students protest in front police officers against the visit of Mexico's President Felipe Calderon in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2010. Protesters demanded the presidential resignation after a recent massacre that killed 15 teenagers with no known gang ties.

Ciudad Juarez, Chih - President Felipe Calderon promised federal investigations into all complaints of extortion and kidnapping in a Mexican border city overwhelmed by drug gang violence.

Calderon made the pledge after meeting Wednesday with hundreds of residents of Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

It was the second time Calderon visited the city since the Jan. 30 massacre of 15 people in a working class neighborhood fueled anger over the government's failure to stem the bloodshed. More than 2,600 people were killed in the city of 1.3 million people last year despite the presence of thousands of federal troops and police, making it one of the world's deadliest cities.

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Media gets Beat up in Juarez

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Juárez reporter claims police beat him, 3 others outside Calderón meeting

El Paso Times

Ciudad Juarez, Chih - A reporter says federal police beat him and three colleagues while they tried to interview protesters outside the Camino Real Hotel, where Mexican President Felipe Calderón was meeting with people.

David Fuentes, reporter with Juárez television station Channel 5, said police asked him to move from the area where protesters had gathered.

"They threw us to the floor and started beating us up," he said.

He said police also beat two radio reporters and a reporter for La Polaka, an Internet news operation.

Police executives were not immediately available to respond to the allegations.

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