Monday, February 28, 2011

ATF: Gun in US agent's death traced to Texas man

TERRY WALLACE, Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — Three people suspected of smuggling guns to Mexico were arrested in a Dallas suburb on Monday after federal investigators traced the gun used in the killing of a U.S. agent in Mexico to one of them, officials said.

Agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrested the suspected gun smugglers in morning raids in the southern Dallas suburb of Lancaster, Texas, ATF spokesman Tom Crowley said. Crowley referred questions on other details to the U.S. Justice Department in Washington. A department spokeswoman said no statement was planned for Monday.

The ATF said the gun was used in a Feb. 15 shooting of two federal agents who were driving on a highway near the northern city of San Luis Potosi on Feb. 15. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata was killed and agent Victor Avila was wounded.

Dangers higher for federal agents
By Jason Buch

As they cruised the streets of Matamoros, Mexico, with an informant in November 1999, a pair of U.S. federal agents were forced off the road and surrounded by cartel gunmen.

In what has become a legendary showdown between U.S. agents and narcos, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Joe Dubois and FBI agent Daniel Fuentes talked their way out of the jackpot, convincing the gunmen — including Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cárdenas Guillén — that harming them would bring down the wrath of the United States.

That incident stands in stark contrast to the Feb. 15 attack on two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Presumed cartel gunmen forced Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila off the road in Mexico's San Luis Potosí state. Like Dubois and Fuentes, the two ICE agents reportedly tried to negotiate with the gunmen. But as soon as they cracked the window to parley, one of the gunmen shoved the barrel of his weapon into the car; Zapata was killed, and Avila was wounded.

Alleged members of the Zetas drug gang who have been accused of the killing said that although the agents were traveling in a vehicle with diplomatic license plates, they thought the men were rival cartel members. It was the first time in more than 20 years that a U.S. agent was killed in the line of duty in Mexico.

Those who follow U.S. law enforcement activity in Mexico and on the border say the danger to federal agents has increased since Dubois and Fuentes stood down the gunmen in Matamoros. Criminal organizations have grown beyond their leaders' control, and conflicts between cartels have become more frequent and more violent, raising the stakes for traffickers and making it more dangerous for federal agents.

Zapata's death comes on the heels of a Border Patrol agent's killing in Arizona, a suspected Guatemalan drug trafficker with ties to a Mexican cartel accused of offering money to kill U.S. agents in his country and the home invasion of an ICE agent in San Antonio.

“It is more dangerous now than it was 10 years ago,” said Alonzo Peña, a former deputy director of ICE. “(Mexican) President (Felipe) Calderón courageously tried to take on the cartels to break their impunity. Because of that action, unfortunately, a consequence has been that the cartels are fighting back. They're threatened by the government, and they're also threatened by rival cartels, and that has somewhat changed the landscape in terms of the violence.”

In the case of the San Antonio ICE agent, masked gunmen broke into his house near Shavano Park on Jan. 13. One of the men held his wife at gunpoint and groped her while the other ransacked the house, according to a police report.

Police say they're investigating the incident as a robbery. But Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council, said evidence — the gunmen had their gloves taped to their jackets, they asked for the agent by name and they showed up at a time he was normally home — makes him believe that it wasn't a random robbery attempt.

“We definitely think this guy was targeted based on his job,” Crane said.

“I think that that's the direction this whole thing is headed in,” he added. “I think things are escalating. I think (the gangs) are getting a little bit more gutsy.”

In response to the attack on Avila and Zapata, U.S. law enforcement officials made raids across the country last week, seizing drugs and guns and making arrests.

The heads of criminal organizations on both sides of the border understand that attacking federal agents brings unwanted attention and intense law enforcement scrutiny and hurts their bottom line, said Ray Leal, a criminal justice and criminology professor at St. Mary's University.

But the organizations have grown so large that the bosses have trouble controlling their underlings, Leal said.

“It's like controlling a good-sized military force that's spread out over a large area of territory,” he said. “Who knows who's in charge?”

The fear of drawing U.S. attention isn't always a deterrent for high-level traffickers. Edgar Leonel Estrada Morales, who is accused of being a major pseudoephedrine supplier for Mexico's La Familia cartel, was arrested last month in Guatemala.

An indictment out of a federal court in Virginia accuses Estrada of trying to have two DEA agents and a U.S. Embassy employee in Guatemala killed. He offered $10,000 apiece for the killings, the indictment says.

But most of the recent incidents of violence against U.S. agents appear to involve low-level traffickers who are too quick to pull the trigger. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in a December shootout with bandits in Arizona, and a Houston police officer was wounded Thursday as he helped federal agents serve warrants during retribution raids for Zapata's killing.

“We're looking at an increase (in violence),” Peña said. “When they feel like they're cornered or they're threatened, they're going to react.”


Monterrey, nothing short of a nightmare

Altata, a Sinaloan seafood bar and restuarant in Monterrey was until recently, a hotspot for hundreds of young "regios", especially on Wednesdays when they offered a midweek “chillout” with two for one beers, shrimp aguachile, and live music.

At 11:55 pm on February 16, while more than 100 customers enjoyed a live band, an unprecedented event occurred: Seven armed men wearing ski masks, and vests marked with A.F.I.( Federal Investigative Agency)stormed the place, shooting their guns into the air. Before it was over, they had robbed the customers and raped nine women.

For several minutes after the men arrived, an eerie silence loomed in the air, only to be broken when, at gunpoint, they ordered everyone on the ground before demanding all cell phones, wallets and purses.

Two of the men went from table to table, collecting the loot. The other gunmen began separating the men from the women. “Men stay here, women to the other side”, ordered the leader.

One couple attempted to hide. They thought they had found safety until a gunman flipped the table from under which they were hiding and grabbed the young woman. Her boyfriend held tight to her wrist, refusing to let her go, until the gunmen placed a sub-machine gun to his head and ordered: "Let her go you little bastard or I’ll fucking kill you". The young man did as he was told, and watched helplessly as his girlfriend was dragged away kicking and screaming.

After the women were separated from the men, they were taken back to the kitchen and forced to undress. After seeing each woman nude, the gunmen began taking their pick. Of those chosen, some were taken to the restrooms; others were raped in the kitchen as the other women watched in horror.

Personal identifications:

Altata, with it's thatched roof and plastic tarps for walls, is a type of open air cantina. Those customers who were lucky enough to have been sitting along the open sides were able to flee while the criminals abused the women and emptied the cash register of the $70,000 peso earnings for the night.

Before the criminals left, they issued a stern warning: “We have your cell phones and your personal identifications. If you dare report this we will come for you and your family. “

A cell phone rang. One of the gunmen quickly found the young man who had hidden the phone and beat him repeatedly in the head and ribs with the butt of his weapon. The leader demanded all car keys. The vehicles they wanted were stolen, only after first identifying and, again, threatening their rightful owners.

A group of gunmen grabbed several of the naked women and fled through the rear entrance of the establishment, leaving the others, panties and bloodstains behind.

A witness reported seeing three or four naked women running towards Revolution Avenue, they were crying hysterically as they quickly flagged down a taxi and sped off into the night.

The, now closed, restaurant bar is located in Rincon de la Primavera, near Revolution Avenue. A little over a week has passed. Nearby are several other open air places to eat, their employees, who worked that night, agree the incident was nothing short of a nightmare.

One of the girls ran out. According to one of the employees, she ran straight to a police patrol car she found parked at a nearby gas station and quickly got in. The policemen, instead of helping the frightened young women, threw her out on the street. They were, said the witness, protecting the criminals.

“The State police and the criminals are one and the same, that’s why Southern Monterrey is the way it is."

Two days later, the only formal police complaint filed, was that of the owner of Altata.

Facebook and Twitter

Although authorities claim the event never happened and justify their inaction by citing the lack of formal complaints, social networking sites tell a different story.

Shortly after 1:30 in the morning, some of the young people began to give testimony to what had they had experienced. “They took the gals, forced them to undress and raped them…, we were having such a good time, just listening to the band, and then it happened”, wrote one young man in Facebook.

Another responded, “They beat me in the head and ribs with their guns, and then hit me several times in the face. I was in the women’s restroom, it was there they brought the women, forced them to get undressed and bent them over; they raped one of them right there in front of us.”

The first young man answered: “I was originally in the men’s restroom; they sent me to the kitchen. They got two other gals there”

Another of the young victims of the attack wrote: "As I was getting down on the ground, one of the gunmen kicked me in the back, I stayed there, with my chest and head to the ground. They had on ski masks, jeans and AFI vests. The gals were stripped naked, but since I was facing the other direction, I didn’t see what else they did. From what I could hear, they took several of them because one of them was shouting: “Move it, get in.”

Marissa, who's husband is a gynecologist in a private clinic, said two young women aged 18 and 21, went to the clinic the following morning with their mothers. They said they and several other women had been raped in a bar near Revolution. When the girls ran out, after it was over, they found two police patrol cars had been guarding the bar. Although the clinic tried to convince them to file a police report, they refused; their identification cards had been taken by the attackers. The only reason they even went to the clinic, they said, was out of fear of pregnancy. They wanted morning after pills.

Twitter and Face book users have not only become important sources of information, but also street guardians, offering immediate, real-time warnings and updates of shootings, robberies, narco-blockades, and attacks.

Common Criminals

Three days after the events of Altata, three masked gunmen attacked a Southern Monterrey Carl's Jr. There were more than 50 customers, including children celebrating a birthday party. One of the assailants fired into the air. Between the panic and terrified cries of children and adults, the subjects stole 3 thousand pesos from the cash registers and stripped a client of his belongings. These clients, too, chose not to report the attack.

A few weeks before, Starbucks, on Eugenio Garza Sada Ave. was attacked; as were two different Generales, Alitas, and Anacua. “In all, more than 10 southern Monterrey businesses have been violently attacked recently, says Jorge Guerrero Martínez, president of the National Chamber of the Restaurants (CANIRAC). He adds that these businesses have reported up to a 75% decrease in nighttime sales.

Lack of security has drastically changed Monterrey’s night life. After 10:00 pm. The once busy streets, are deserted. Crime figures collected by private agencies reflect assaults on businesses have increased by 75%, voluntary manslaughter, 526%, and auto theft 620%.

The attacks not only affect restaurants, there have also been assaults and shootings in supermarkets, hospitals, businesses, and residencies. According to Jorge Domene, Security spokesman of Nuevo Leon, these assaults are not the acts of organized crime, but of common criminals taking advantage of society’s overwhelming sense of fear of organized crime. Furthermore, the official asked for all victims to come forward and formally report the crimes.

Facts vs Figures

Accurate figures are virtually impossible to collect. Victims have been threatened, they fear for their lives. On Sunday, February 20, 3 gunmen entered a Nogales neighborhood medical center where they robbed both the patients and the funds from the administrative office. The same thing happened at a women’s medical center near Obispado. A lone hooded gunman entered the facilities and assaulted two patients and the administrative office.

Due to the increase of assaults on restaurants, CANIRAC has distributed new preventative training manuals for employees. The mayor of Monterrey, Fernando Larrazabal, is promoting the so-called panic button in restaurants, bars and businesses. While owners in Monterrey will be charged a onetime fee of between 8 and 10 thousand pesos, the municipality of Guadalupe has begun offering them to business free of charge.

A witness of the attack on Altata painted a tragic picture of Monterrey, when he said: “You cannot live like before in Monterrey. I got caught up in the attack on the seafood restaurant, the next day at S-Mart, and yesterday, another in front of my house in Sierra Ventana. After a while, you just get used to it.”(the shootings.)

We're leaving - there is no justice

Today in a radio interview on MVS Communications with Carmen Aristegui in Mexico City, Sara Salazar the matriarch of the Reyes-Salazar family announced that she and her four remaining children are seriously considering accepting refugee status being extended by several countries in order to escape the violence of Ciudad Juárez, she would not reveal which countries were involved.

"Juarez is a violent city, there is no law here, here people get killed and are left lying in the streets, and no one investigates it," she said.

She refused to discuss the accusation being made against her son Miguel Angel Reyes Salazar, 26, who in a statement from the Ministry of National Defense, accused him of being a part of a group of assassins known as "The Escajeda."

Sara Salazar said that no state of Chihuahua authority had to date approached her family to offer an explanation on the murders.

According to Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, inspector of the State Commission for Human Rights in Chihuahua; during the funeral of the Reyes - Salazars which took palce on Saturday morning, there were an estimated 500 soldiers guarding the family and the funeral cortege, but nobody even bothered to help dig the three graves.

Last Friday, the bodies of Malena and Elías Salazar and Luisa Reyes Ornelas Soto, siblings and sister-in-law of the activist Josefina Reyes Salazar, who was murdered in January 2010 were found in the middle of the Juarez-Porvenir road. The three were kidnapped on the afternoon of Feb. 7th.

The victims are siblings and a sister-in-law of Josefina Reyes Salazar, an activist who had been fighting for human rights and a vocal opposition to the abuse by the military and federal police in the Juárez Valley.

Although international human rights groups had alerted the authorities to the dangerous threats the family was enduring, the activist was murdered in January 2010 and later year in August her brother Ruben Salazar Reyes was also killed.

Elias, whose body was found on Friday morning had also received death threats because of his repeated demands for the government to investigate the murder of his sister Josefina and his brother Ruben.
No suspects in any of the killings have ever been identified.


Another family massacred in Juárez

Four people were shot and killed earlier today at the intersection of Plutarco Elias Calles and Ejército Nacional, among them a woman and a 10 year old child that was almost decapitated due to the high powered munitions that were used in the attack.

Two other survivors a teenage about 15 years of age and a 5 year old were rushed to IMSS General Hospital's emergency ward, located less than four miles from the scene of the brutal atttack.

Witnesses indicate that the surviving victims had various injuries, including bullet wounds to their heads. The victims were all passengers in a white 2000 Taurus.

The initial information indicated that the vehicle was attacked as it slowed down at an intersection. Several gunmen inside a van approached the white Taurus and began shooting.
Story developing -

Source- El Diario de Juarez

Mexican Navy Presents "El Toto", Zeta boss linked to death of U.S. agent

Monday morning, the Secretariat of the Mexican Navy (Semar) formally presented Sergio Antonio Mora Cortés, alias 'Toto', leader of Los Zetas in San Luis Potosi and the boss of 'El Piolin, who is allegedly responsible for an attack on two U.S. agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, one of whom died.

'Toto', who was arrested Sunday morning in Coahuila, has also been accused of the February 3, 2011 killing of the Public Safety Protection and Nuevo Laredo, General Manuel Farfan Carriola, and three others, as well as the escape of more than 150 Nuevo Laredo prisoners last December .

Together with Mora Cortes were arrested five suspected Zetas members, including a Honduran citizen. Six grenades were seized as well as 15 thousand dollars in cash and several vehicles.

At a press conference, Semar spokesmen, José Luis Vergara Ibarra identified Mora Cortes as the leader of Los Zetas in San Luis Potosi, and confirmed that he was the boss of Julian Zapata Espinoza, alias 'El Piolin'

'Toto' is said to also have direct links to Miguel Angel Treviño," Z-40", one of the top leaders of Los Zetas.

Vergara said the detention of 'Toto' and his accomplices took place in a hotel in the city of Saltillo, Coahuila, following intelligence from U.S. and Mexican authorities.

On Sunday, Federal Police arrested Luis Miguel Rojo Ocejo, "El Oso Rojo". 27 year old Rojo Ocejo is accused of managing the financial operations of Los Zetas in San Luis Potosi.


Sources: Grupo Reforma, Milenio, Univision, You Tube

La Resistencia leader, El Papirrín arrested

  El Universal

The Federal SSP has announce this morning the arrest of Víctor Manuel Torres García, a.k.a Edgar Mauricio Barrera Corrales, alias El Papirrín, who is alleged to be a high-ranking leader of criminal organization in Jalisco, La Resistencia.

Federal Police officers located him in the city of Uruapan, Michoacán.

Intelligence reports indicate that Torres García, alias El Papirrín was previously aligned with the Beltrán Leyva cartel. After the arrest of Alfredo and the death of Arturo Beltrán Leyva,He continued to operate under the direction of Oscar Orlando Nava Valencia, alias El Lobo Valencia who was arrested in October of 2009 by elemnets of the Mexican army. Som of El Lobo's lieutenants re-organized themselves to form La Resistencia, which also includes members of La Familia, Gulf Cartel and the Milenio Cartel. They currently have operations in Jalisco, the state of México, Michoacán and the D.F.

The lines of investigation suggest that the presumed leader of  La Resistencia was found in Uruapan, because he was there for and interview with the leaders of La Familia.

It was a known fact that Víctor Manuel Torres García, a.k.a Edgar Mauricio Barrera Corrales,was well aquainted with the security forces of the industrial and banking systems of the state of  México.

Along with Víctor Manuel Torres García, Juan Antonio González González and María del Sol Rojo González, were also arrested.

The groups was found to be in possession of and AK-47 with two ammunition clips, a Glock 9mm pistol with two amunition clips, a Glock .380 with two clips, 278 rounds of 7.62 x 39, 40 rounds of 9mm, 20 rounds ofútiles .380, one large bag of cristal, two large bags of powder and rock cocaíne, respectively.

The three of them are currently being held by SIEDO.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

ABQ Cartel murder case goes to AMW

Man shot 28 times then set on fire

His body was riddled with bullets and set on fire, but the killers couldn't cover their tracks, and now the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department hopes plastering their mugs on America's Most Wanted will do them in.

The T.V. show is airing a special episode Saturday night, 50 criminals from 50 states, and detectives said the men wanted in New Mexico aren't your ordinary killers.

In 2008, a charred body was found dumped on the west mesa, but that's not all.

“We found 28 shell casings and that seemed to match up with the number of holes they put in him to be quite honest,” Sgt. Mark Kmatz said.

Kmatz, who is with the Sheriff's Department, said 53 year old Danny Baca was working as a drug runner for a mexican drug cartel.

He brought a load of marijuana over the border and up to Albuquerque, but when there was a dispute about his pay for the job, he took off with the load.

“The people came to collect,” Kmatz said. “He didn't have the drugs he didn't have the money.”

Kmatz said Baca was kidnapped from his Albuquerque home in front of his family. Three men then took him to the desert and executed him. It took detectives a year to figure out who the killers were.

“Jaime Veleta and Mario Talavera were two of the key people involved in his kidnapping and murder,” Kmatz said.
The third suspect is still unknown. On the day detectives went to arrest Talavera at this Albuquerque halfway house where he was staying because of drug charges, he took off.

Kmatz believes someone told Talavera that investigators were close to linking him to the murder.

“These are the kind of people that we need to put away,” Kmatz said.

America's Most Wanted will now plaster Talavera's face on national T.V. Kmatz said they hope the publicity will lead detectives to all three killers.

“They have family here they are coming back and forth it's just a matter of catching them at just the right time,” he said. “If these people are capable of committing this type of crime what kind of danger are they to the rest of us?”

America's Most Wanted airs over on 2 KASA-fox at 9 pm.

Sócrates Rizzo: PRI Presidents oversaw drug trafficking

Sócrates Rizzo Garcia, former Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Governor of Nuevo Leon (from 1991 to 1996) during the Salinas and Zedillo PRI presidential administrations.

In a conference with students held on Wednesday, February 23, at the Law School of the Autonomous University of Coauhuila in Saltillo, Socrates Rizzo delivered a bombshell that has rocked Mexico as the campaign for the 2012 presidential election approaches.

During an interview session the former PRI Governor admitted that previous PRI presidents held strong control over drug trafficking routes that prevented the attacks on civilians and the violence that Mexico is undergoing today.

Although an open secret in Mexican society and a charge occasionally leveled publicly by the country’s two other major political parties, the National Action Party (PAN) and the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), this is the first time in recent history that a former or current PRI politician has admitted publicly that this arrangement existed.

"Somehow the problems with drug trafficking were avoided, there was a strong State control and a strong President and a strong Attorney General and a tight control of the Army.”

"Somehow they (drug traffickers) were told: 'You go through here, you here, you there', but do not touch these other places," he said in his speech.

The former Governor added that this strategy allowed the State to ensure the social peace that has been lost in the war on drugs launched by the PAN administration of Felipe Calderon.

"What the old guard says is that we had control by the Government and the Army. The big problem is consumption, and while consumption exists in the U.S. there will be drug trafficking in that direction.”

"What control by the PRI governments guaranteed was that drug trafficking did not disturb the social peace."

Socrates Rizzo, who was the PRI Governor of Nuevo Leon between 1991 and 1996, said the government control ended with the PAN administrations of Presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón, who failed to listen to advice on how things were done in previous years, thus sparking the current violence.

"This dilemma was lost due to problems of professionalism, it is natural that new officials come without experience, they wanted to do things differently and they did not take advice because the last thing they wanted to hear was anything from the PRI, they said that the PRI were the 'snake in the grass’ and with that they refused counsel.”

"Although there was a change of party, you should have had continuity with what the past government was doing, I think not taking advice on past arrangements relaxed discipline and mechanisms of control and now we see the results."

Rizzo denied that the governors were involved in the agreements between the federal government and the drug trade because those were times when the President had broad powers to the extent that the state executives had to obey.

However, the growth that has occurred with drug consumption in Mexico makes it impossible to resume the negotiation schemes between the government and the drug traffickers, said the former governor.

"These are new times, we are in another world. We now have a drug consumption problem and the problem of ‘disorganized’ crime of robberies and extortions.”

"We didn’t have those problems in the past. At that time there was a strong President with an iron grip on the Army that could maintain social peace and with drug trafficking, that demand determined supply."

(It is believed that the formalized arrangements with drug traffickers began during the PRI administration of Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado from 1982 to 1988 under the direction of his Interior Minister Gobernacion), Manuel Bartlett Diaz, who used the Interior Ministry police force, the Federal Security Directorate (DFS), to coordinate and control the drug trade, which became a protected activity.

Miguel de la Madrid (left)

During this period DFS positions and posts were sold to members of drug cartels, in effect granting them the power to operate with impunity.

This protection continued during the PRI presidency of Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who disbanded the DFS and transferred the coordination and protection of drug traffickers to the Army, Federal Judicial Police and prosecutors such as Enrique Alvarez and Javier Coello Trejo.

The belief remains strong that Luis Donaldo Colosio, Carlos Salinas’ handpicked successor to the presidency of Mexico, was assassinated during the presidential campaign of 1994 because of his refusal to deal with the drug trafficking underworld.

The Salinas administration was so corrupt that even De La Madrid regretted his decision to chose Carlos Salinas as his successor. In interview with journalist Carmen Aristegui, De la Madrid said that Raul Salinas, Carlos’ brother, was the link with drug cartels during the Salinas administration between 1988 and 1994, an administration that De La Madrid denounced as marked by "immorality ".

Raul Salinas (above) and Carlos Salinas (below)

“Raul Salinas was the one who kept contact with the drug cartels and who got the money to accounts in Switzerland and France, through operations with American banks."

"I am very disappointed that I was wrong, but then I had no evidence about the morality of Salinas.”

Previous classified statements that Sócrates Rizzo made to the Monterrey U.S. Consul General in cable 09MONTERREY31 and revealed by Wikileaks show that pacts between political figures of all parties and drug cartels are possible even now,

[Organized Crime and the Elections
3. (SBU) Particularly worrisome, Rizzo observed, was the
prospect of the upcoming gubernatorial, state, and municipal
elections, scheduled to take place in Nuevo Leon on July 5.
While the two principal parties - PRI and PAN - had both taken
steps to guard against the infiltration of narco-money in the
campaigns, in practice it would be practically impossible to
prevent organized crime from bankrolling candidates. One way
the cartels could impact the race would be to just bribe
television anchorpersons and the commentators, thereby ensuring
that their particular candidate received favorable coverage.
Alternatively, he said, organized crime could provide a
candidate's staff with walking around money to distribute to
voters. Meanwhile, another contact pointed out that the
applicable campaign finance regulations only cover the
candidate, so that it would be easy to simply funnel the narco
money to a family member.])

Federal Police Detain "El Oso Rojo", Zeta Member Connected with Murder of ICE Agent

Press Bulletin No. 141

Mexican Federal Police captured Luis Miguel Rojo, "El Oso Rojo", who is responsible for a financial aspect of Los Zetas and has been connected with the murder of US ICE agent Jaime Zapata in San Luis Potosi on February 15, 2011.

The apprehension was the result of intelligence officers of the Federal Police, whom discovered the location of Rojo Ocejo in the state of San Luis Potosi. According to intelligence reports, the detainee is accused of handling the financial operations of the criminal organization of Los Zetas. Luis Miguel Rojo Ocero of 27 years of age is also accused of being linked to:

Jesus Enrique Aguilar, "El Mamito", one of the alleged leaders of Los Zetas and a member of Mexico's most wanted list of the PGR, the Republic Attorney General.

Sergio Mora, " El Toto", allegedly responsible for criminal activity in the state of San Luis Potosi.

Luis Miguel Rojo Ocejo, "El Oso Rojo", will be charged before the Federal Public Ministry Agent of SIEDO, the deputy attorney general specializing in organized crime.

It has also been reported that searches of various homes in San Luis Potosi and Nuevo Laredo were the result of coordinated efforts by the Federal Police, Mexican Militay and SIEDO personnel.

These actions further the Secretary of Public Security's promise of protecting and serving the community.

Mexican Navy Captures Boss of 'El Piolin', the Alleged Assassin of ICE Agent

Sergio Mora Cortez, 'El Toto', alleged boss of the Zetas plaza in San Luis Potosi, was apprehended by Mexican Navy infantrymen in Saltillo, Coahuila this morning.

The suspect is believed to be the boss of Julian Zapata, 'El Piolin', the alleged assassin of ICE agent Jorge Zapata, who was gunned down on a San Luis Potosi highway on February 15, 2011.

The Navy Secretary has confirmed the capture of the Zeta boss of San Luis Potosi and at this moment the prisoner is being transported to Mexico City, Mexico where he will undergo investigation by SIEDO, the deputy attorney general's office specializing in organized crime.

More Retaliation - This Time a Policewoman in Cd. Juarez

A policewoman assigned to the Cuauhtémoc precinct was executed shortly after being kidnapped at her home located in the El Mezquital subdivision of Cd. Juárez. 

Around 2:30 pm yesterday, neighbors reported that near the corner of Terranova and Tierra de Gigantes streets, gunmen had forcefully removed  a woman from her home and then set fire to it before taking her away.

Agents from the Benito Juarez precinct who responded to a call a few minutes later; about a body lying in the street, quickly realized that the executed woman was an off duty police agent.

Anastasia Arellano Zavala, 39, who was assigned  to the Cuauhtémoc precinct, was found dead with visible gunshot wounds.

Authorities found the victim laying semi-naked from the waist down on the corner of Oaxaca and Fortin Soledad streets, where the forensic unit collected 20, 9mm spent casings as evidence.

Neighbors covered the dead woman with a sheet, which quickly became drenched with blood. The execution occurred just 5 blocks from police Babícora headquarters.

The woman had been assigned to the Municipal Public Security Secretariat (SSPM) less then two years ago, according to the spokesman, Adrián Sánchez Contreras, who said her official hire date was October 3, 2009.

Source: El Diario de Juarez - Staff

It Takes More then Bravery to Live in "El Valle de Juarez"

"In Mexico, or in the state of Chihuahua and in the Juárez Valley to be brave is to end up paying with one's blood, said a grieving Saul Reyes Salazar, noting that his family had paid the ulimate price by denouncing military abuses being committed in his farming community.

In fact, said added the distrust of the government forces is so great that we suspect that the threatening cardboard messages or "narco-messages" found with the bodies of his brothers and his sister-in-law were "planted" by the authorities, because his nephew never saw them when he initially came across the bodies dumped in the middle of the well traveled road.

Swollen red eyes from lack of sleep and hours of crying, the only male sibling left alive in the Reyes family, was at the camp site early Saturday morning.

It was the one that had been improvised outside of the Attorney General's Northern Zone headquarters, where his family members and relatives joined by other activists had demanded the thorough search for the kidnapped Elias and Maria Magdalena Reyes Salazar and Luisa Ornelas, who were found dead 18 days later.

Yesterday that public space became a huge chapel where an improvised wake was held. Then, after their wake the bodies were taken to Guadalupe, where the latest victims of the Reyes family would be finally laid to rest. Their burial at the small farming town's municipal cemetery that now is now home to six of its family members.

Standing before the coffins of his brother and sister, Saul said he doubted any outcome from the investigation, either state or federal. "But If the culprits are caught, then great", he said.

"We will not wait for a the final results, we are going to try and rebuild our lives, start from scratch because our properties have been looted, others burned to the ground and what remains of the family, which is less than half are all going to relocate to another place and try to rebuild what remains of our family, "he said.

He added, "For our mother is who is 76 years old, it will much harder but she also understands that there is no other option."

He considers that his family has fought long for justice for many others that have been affected, people who have suffered what they now suffer, and warns that we must protect ourselves and change our strategies, but this can't be left as is."

"To fight for justice and ask of it here in Mexico, he said, "comes at a high price, four brothers (murdered) to this day ... it is very costly."

He then paused, his tears begin to flow and his voice begins to tremble, but then he gathers himself.

He doesn't know if it was all worth it, "The feeling of fighting for a worthy cause is carried within and one can't measure its consequences, I'm sure my brothers who were killed did what they did out of conviction. To second guess ourselves or want to do change things now, will not change this situation."

"Now it is personal, it's affected our family and it's cost was high, but we will, maybe from some other location continue this fight for justice," he added.

To the citizens of Valle de Juarez he told them that the fact that they remain is a symbol of their courage. He urged them to be cautious, especially the activists, and the youth who have supported his family throughout all of their activism.

He stated that the presence of authorities in the Valley have been useless. "All they have done is raise suspicions against themselves, especially the Mexican Army which has happened coincidentally, to be nearby each time something happened to my family."

He explained, "When Josefina was murdered, she had just gone through a military check point, (Josefina Reyes Salazar his sister was slain over a year ago on January 3, 2010 in Cd. Juárez.  She was a well known activist who had led protests against alleged abuses by the Mexican soldiers in the Juarez Valley )."

in the case of Ruben (another brother who was killed last August and his body was found about a mile from the military checkpoint where they discovered the bodies and where a detachment of soldiers is currently located), a police car had been patrolling the town as Ruben was seen walking and the patrol car was no more than 900 feet from where he was killed."

"My Mother's house was less then 300 feet from a makeshift military barracks, when it burned to the ground, (on February 16, the sibling's mother, Sara Salazar's house burned to the gorund while she was peacefully protesting in Cd. Juarez that authorities take action and find the people responsible for the kidnapping of her two grown children and daughter in law). 

He suggested that the authorities probably made the criminals uncomfortable with their constant search activities. As a way of saying "just let us be," they dug up the bodies and put them in the middle of the road, so that the authorities would find them and return to Juarez and let them continue their illegal activities.

Saul Reyes Salazar also rejected the narco-messages found yesterday on the bodies of their loved ones. He considered that it may be a ploy by the authorities to criminalize the victims and to try to divert attention away from the current social pressure.

He said his nephew who is a college student was the one who saw the bodies laying in the middle of the road before he went for to seek help from the soldiers. The nephew never saw the card board messages on the bodies.

"He immediately went to contact the family and when he returned he found the narco- messages on the bodies, with the area already having been cordoned off by the military, which makes us all suspect that someone planted them on the bodies," he added.

Photographs of the narco-messages were distributed to the media by the state's Attorney General, which he considered unusual because in such cases where intentional homicide is suspected they have never released any similar messages especially ones left at the scene of the crime. A white colored narco-message had threats of killing Marisela Reyes Salazar next.

"It's unfair to do this, they (the victims) had disabilities, they even needed assistance to walk, how can you believe that? That they were falcons or hired assassins, they all had humbly worked at the bakery all their lives," said a family member who requested to remain anonymous.

Saul, the only male living sibling of the Reyes Salazar family, said he senses that the authorities are trying to link their family to organized crime, but added that they were willing to undergo any extensive investigation to refute that claim.

Sources: El Diario de Juarez - Staff

Chicas Kaláshnikov

By Alejandro Almazán
Photo by Adrián Duchateau

Alejandro Almazán is an investigative journalist who has won Mexico's Premio Nacional de Periodismo three times. He is also the founder of the weekly magazine Emeequis. This piece appears in Gatopardo at this link:

They have left us alone on the prison patio and the first thing I ask Yaretzi is how much would she charge to kill me. She says with an air of a femme fatal, "You’re worth as much as anyone else. Nothing.” Seven years ago, when she turned 18, Yaretzi acquired a special talent in military school: the ability to kill with a gun.

Those talented hands led her to the town narco, a narco who recruits people who have the nerve to pull the trigger and the need to earn dollars. He taught her other tricks: how to torture, how to fire an automatic weapon at a moving car, to kidnap and “disappear” people. Yaretzi was on her twenty-sixth murder, but she was arrested with two AK-47s before she could complete the job. That is why we are here, on the prison patio, in a location I had better not remember.

This short statured “chica” began killing when death lost the strict order that once governed it. At least here in Chihuahua death had meaning before Vicente Carrillo joined with the Zetas to finish off Chapo Guzmán. Back then you would get your brain bashed if you lost a shipment, if you were a rat, or for not comprehending that betrayal and contraband are inseparable.

A colleague who has accompanied me to the prison says those were good times. Nowadays, just as Yaretzi will later inform me, names and logic do not matter. As she tosses her shiny black hair back, she will say, "Those of us who do the work of ‘sicarios,’ we don’t need a motive.” As this artist of death heads back to her cell, I will think, killing on a whim has become the favorite pastime of contemporary Mexico, and life is a mere agent toward that end.

But this will happen at the end.

For now, let me tell you that Yaretzi arrived at the prison patio escorted by a guard who thought she was all that. “I just want to know how your world works,” I said to Yaretzi, and then she realized that the guy in front of her wasn’t there to solve the murders. She went along, under one condition. As if she were seeking redemption, she said, “You have to write that I believe in God and that I am sorry.” Alright then. But first we have to begin when she still worked for the devil.

Let’s say my name is Yaretzi, like my mom. Maybe then when she reads this story she will come and visit me. I’m sure she has told my two kids that their mother, aside from slutting around, also kills people. But, like I said, us sicarios are not born, we are made. For me it was the military school. Seriously! I came out of there with a heart of stone, hating people. In those schools it’s really strange the way they teach you to not love anyone.

Since I hung out in the street and I wasn’t one to stick around the house, that’s how I met my patrón. I still call him that even though they killed him. First he baptized my daughter, then my son. They abducted him about a month after I had [my son] Brandon. According to his wife, they told her that they cooked him alive in Ciudad Cuauhtémoc.

That’s why, if one day they pick me up, I hope they kill me before they torture me or cut my head off. I don’t want to look those dogs in the eye because I am the type that will hunt them down in hell. But like I was saying: I didn’t get into this because they killed my patrón. No. It was for the money.

Men, they do it for fun, because they enjoy killing, it makes them feel like big shit. Screw that. Us women, we get into this for the money. Well at least that was the way it was for me. That we get into this for love, that’s bullshit. Like I was saying: I got into this when I was twenty years old.

At first I was a “cleaner,” I mopped up vomit and blood. After I was a messenger and a gopher, and from there, I moved up to a “condor”—I hunted down the enemies. Then I was a “lynx”—I abducted and tortured people, and from there I became a sicaria. That’s the way it went down, vato. Since then, I’ve been a killer.

Just yesterday, at night, in a restaurant in Ciudad Juárez, La Güera offered to be my guide in the world of lipstick wearing killers.

She showed up making noise with her high heels, as if she wanted to leave a mark. That woman was so beautiful she provoked inappropriate thoughts. Maybe the legend that men were born to adore her was true. She oozed Ed Hardy. "I’m the sicaria, la Güera,” she said, introducing herself with the air of "Camelia la Texana.”

Amado Carrillo, the Tony Soprano of Chihuahua and virtuoso of death, had a horse named Silencio. Silence, that is the last thing you’d accuse La Güera of. She bragged saying she slept with a Kalashnikov under her pillow. She would tell an extravagant story only to conclude by pointing out that her killing days left a bad taste in her mouth, not because being a “pistolera” didn’t sit well with her, but because, just like beer, after you have your fill, it gets boring.

During a long line of confessions, during the last twenty minutes [of the interview] la Güera admitted that she had made a lot up. Her job within the cartel was different [than being a sicaria], albeit no less risky: to flirt with the rival narcos, to learn everything about them, never sharing anything about herself, and then to turn them over to her boss so he could rip their fingers off, cut off their testicles, and make holes in their heads.

Some low ranking narcos who have been arrested claim that these modern day Mataharis are remnants from La Línea, the hired guns of the Juárez Cartel who have employed the oldest known strategy: kill your enemies. Today it is known that the Sinaloa Cartel hasn’t left women out of its business plan either. The narcos of the last decade have come to understand that there a lot of people to kill and they need willing and ready hands.

Los Artistas Asesinos, los Aztecas, los Mexicles, and la Güera and many more cold blooded individuals are part of this cheap hired hand. La Güera, in contrast with these other gangs, won’t say for which cartel she Works. At first, given the disgust with which she referred to Chapo Guzmán, I figured her patrón was Vicente Carrillo, but then she cursed Vicente too and wished to the Santa Muerte that el Chapo, her paisano, would conquer this country of the dead.

Whoever she works for, la Güera has contributed her drop of blood so that 29% of the executions in Mexico happen in her state. It can be said that this pretty girl has sufficiently reddened the Rio Bravo with blood, helping murder displace diabetes as the number one cause of death in Chihuahua.

La Güera, for her part, turned a cop over to the cartel to whom, in the bedroom, she had promised eternal love. She endured beatings and brutal sex from a drug dealer in order to drop him at a cartel safe house where he was tortured then decapitated with a chainsaw. She had to flirt with a fat guy whose breath smelled of insecticide because he laundered money for “los rivales.” “That one, they cooked him,” said la Güera with reptile indifference.

“You mean to tell me that you never dream about all of those people you turned over to be butchered?” I asked her, and she just drummed her fingernails on the table.

“If I thought about it, regret would get the best of me,” she responded, and then smiled, a smile capable of bringing el Chapo and Vicente Carrillo to the same table to make peace. “I’m not laughing at you,” she said, “it’s just that I just remembered a certain son-of-a-bitch.”

That son-of-a-bitch was a little killer who, from the looks of things, didn’t even love his own mother. All day long he was up to his eyebrows in cocaine and killed with the same speed as he spoke. He sold out to another cartel and to save his life, he went and hid out at a little ranch in Parral.

La Güera found him out there in a cantina. "It cost me work to turn him over to my boss because the dude was always armed and guarded,” La Guera told me. "I had to sleep with him for a whole month,” she complained, and then she said that they dismembered him, and burned two of his guards. "Right after they picked them up, they threw gas on them and burned them alive.”

I must admit I still don’t know what part of this crime made la Güera smile.

70 bodies found at property of "El Pozolero".

 AFN Tijuana

 Fernando Oceguera, president of the Citizens Association Against Impunity, informed the public that this Saturday that around 4pm, the bodies of several people were found in the basement of a house in colonia “Loma Bonita.” The property is believed to have once belonged to José Santiago Meza López, alias "El Pozolero".

Oceguera said that after four days of searching, investigators have found a number of people who disappeared from colonias 3 de Octubre, Maclovio Rojas, El Niño and el Vaso de la Presa.

Cadaver dogs led investigators to a yellow house with pine trees lining the driveway. SIEDO officials and ministerial state police soon discovered the presence of  human remains.

(SIEDO) “Deserves a vote of confidence on behalf of the Association" Oceguera said. In the same statement he informed the public that at least 70 corpses have been found buried in an area that was considered an illegal target shooting range operated by "El Pozolero" that was referred to as a "Stand" de tiro.

“This is not the best situation for a grieving family but at least its a small bit of closure that can be brought to those who want to know what happened to their loved ones." said Oceguera.

He added that he has begun calling the families of identified victims, and to publicly denounce the actions of Santiago Meza. As the exhumation of the bodies continues, the number of victims of this terrible crime may rise.

Santiago Meza was arrested last January of 2009. He is beleivd to have participated in the murder and disposal of over 300 victims of Teodoro Eduardo García Simental, alias "El Teo" who was at the time allied with the Arellano-Felix cartel

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"El Güicho" Cell Taken Down in Tijuana

AFN Tijuana

Officers of the Preventative State Police (PEP) arrested 13 members of a cell that was operating under the direction of  Héctor Eduardo Guajardo Hernández, (a) "El Güicho", who is working for the Sinaloa cartel in Tijuana. The officers also found them to be in possession of drugs, weapons and cash.

The arrests occurred when a citizen alerted the authorities that there were armed men occupying a small business that was located in colonia Maestros, which is a municipality of Ensenada. PEP was able to respond rapidly and quickly took 10 suspects into custody. Inside the vehicles, weapons and drugs were found.

One of the people detained was was identified Cristian Moran Matus, age 23, mentioned that his father worked for a man named ‘’El Güicho.” Another suspect was known as "El Trejo." Both are accused of trafficking arms and kidnapping people.

They also confessed that they were looking for a rival group that was transporting drugs in a '89 BMW at the time of their arrest.

Another vehicle was located near colonia Lucio Blanco that contained several packets of "crystal" and marijuana.

As the officers drove away from the initial scene of the arrests, they noticed that a Nissan Altima was following them The vehicle contained the last 3 members of the cell, who were trying to see if they could find an opportunity to  liberate their detained comrades. They were taken into custody and found to be in possession of an AK-47 and several packages of marijuana.

Total amount of drugs and weapons:

20 kilos of marijuana, 290 grams of heroin, 39 grams of ‘’ice’’, 1 AK-47 with 30 rounds, a .22 caliber handgun with 85 rounds, a 9 mm handgun with 14 round, 1 silencer, 1 mil 300 pesos y 4 mil 232 dólares.

Gulf Cartel vs Zetas... One Year Later

The chatter began in September 2009. Mass emails and rumors began circulating stating relationships were being broken and new, previously unimaginable alliances, were being formed. "The War", as it was being called, was said to begin mid-month. I remember thinking: Just in time for Independence Day. Of course, September turned into October, October to November, and by the time New Years 2010 came and went, it was pretty much considered just another rumor.

On February 24, 2010 hundreds of trucks marked with C.D.G, XXX, and/or M3 hit the streets of northern Tamaulipas.

On that same day a tsunami of violence overwhelmed cities and towns south of the border with Texas. Shootings and grenade attacks in Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Cd. Mier, Matamoros, Valle Hermoso, and Rio Bravo forced schools and businesses to close. The U.S. consulates and American Citizen Services closed in at least two of the border towns, with no specific date for resuming services.

For several days citizens remained locked in their homes. They watched in fear, shock and dismay as their towns became war zones. Neither police nor the military came to their rescue.

In Nuevo Leon, similar acts occurred. Unprecedented violence and executions also spread throughout the state, beginning in the towns on the state line with Tamaulipas and spreading to the mountain city of Monterrey.

The violence is said to have derived from the breaking of an agreement which was made between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas.

After the 2003 arrest and subsequent extradition of Gulf Cartel leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen, Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, El Coss, took charge of the Gulf cartel along with Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, aka Tony Tormenta, as Los Zetas are led by Heriberto Lazcano and Miguel Treviño Morales.

According to sources, until December 2009 the two groups had agreed to work on the same routes and defend their territory as if it were a single organization, but each with their own leaders.

U.S. officials stated that based on information from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the relationship between Zetas and the Gulf cartel was formally broken on January 18, 2010.

The break in the relationship resulted when El Coss sent assassins to Reynosa to kill Victor Peña Mendoza, El Concord 3, the chief of finance for the Zetas, and close friend of Miguel Treviño Morales, Z-40.

Within days of the start, citizens began to take audio, video, and photographic documentation of the violent events. These echoes were posted by the dozens on You-Tube.

Although local media was silent, #Reynosafollow in Tamaulipas and Mexico Nueva Revolucion in Nuevo Leon, began to unite Mexican “Twiteros” to give 24 hour real time updates on happenings within their cities and towns. They alone took on what no other local media had dared: Reporting, debunking and confirming the suspicious acts, roadblocks, gunfire, grenade attacks, and kidnappings of two warring mega cartels. They were, and continue to be the eyes, ears, and guardians of many, if not all.

By early March 2010, although State authorities continued to down play the events, narco banners began appearing in which groups named La Nueva Federacion (New Federation and Carteles Unidos (United Cartels) requested permission from Felipe Calderon to exterminate the Zetas. At the same time videos signed by La Nueva Federacion and addressed to the citizens of each state began to appear on You Tube.

As the weeks turned into months, narco-banners, kidnappings, videotaped interrogations, beheadings, mass mutilations, executions, grenade attacks, car jackings, roadblocks, and massacres became of daily life for the population caught in the crossfire. The carnage started in Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas but spread like a cancer to states such as San Luis Potosi, Vera Cruz, Coahuila, Tabasco and Quintana Roo.

For the most part, citizens continue living their day to day lives: going to work, taking their kids to school, taking the family to the movies, buying groceries, visiting family and friends; but life has changed.

Every day is filled with looking over their shoulder, checking their surroundings, listening. Trust is non-existent. Everyone, everywhere, and everything is now thoroughly scrutinized.

Young children are taught how to survive shoot-outs in school. Parents talk less to their older kids about safe sex, drug use, or drinking and driving and more about what to do in case of a kidnapping, armed confrontation, or grenade attacks.

Preventative roadside “rules” are imperative: Don’t honk, don’t stare, don’t drive aggressively, yet don’t portray yourself as passive. Take house and/or business keys off your keyring, and remove all identifying documents from your vehicle.

Anxiety, insomnia, gastritis, panic attacks, and headaches run rampant in the young and old alike. Tension and fear is everywhere, there is no true "downtime".

At times these adaptations can feel less like living and more like waiting to die, especially for the small rural communities and ranches of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, where “The War” has held them hostage, literally cut off from the rest of the world.

Although attacks against civilians, mayors, police and prison officials, bridge hangings, car bombs, mass mutilations and mass homicides have caused an increase in Federal Police and Mexican Military units patrolling the affected states, the violence and insecurity has only increased. Now, one year and thousands of lives later “The War" continues its harvest in blood.