Thursday, March 31, 2011

Narco Message Implicates CPS in Seven Victims Executed; A War of Narco-Messages with CDG

As previously reported by Mexican media, on Monday seven bodies were found inside a vehicle in front of the Hotel Paris, located in the community of Las Brisas, in Temixco, Morelos.

It was initially reported that a banner left at the scene had been signed by CDG (Gulf Cartel) but was in fact signed by CPS South Pacific Cartel. We will leave the messages as reported, as this fact is sketchy without actually seen the banners and we let you formulate your own conclusion.

Next to the bodies of a woman and six men was a narco-message that was signed by the Cártel del Pacífico Sur (CPS):

Full text:

Texto integro:

In this message signed by the CPS it indicated that those killed had made anonymous calls denouncing the aforementioned criminal cartel.

The official report on the identity of the deceased was as following:


At around 0630 hours the agency of the Ministerial Police were informed that in the street of Tampico in the community of Las Brisas in the town of Temixco were seven dead people inside a car.

At the scene was a sand-colored Honda Civic bearing license plate GZM-4202 from the state of Guerrero State that had the bodies of the people inside which appeared to have 3 bodies in the interior of the car and 4 bodies inside the trunk. Also found at the scene was a banner with a message signed by the CDG.

The deceased were found tied on their hands and feet, showed signs of torture and suffocation, and so far authorities have identified 6 of the 7 deceased.

A short time later authorities reported that they had in fact identified the seventh victim, who answered to the name of Jesus Chavez Vazquez, 24 years of age, the young man was a construction worker.

By Monday night there appeared at least three narco-banners around Cuernavaca signed by the Gulf Cartel (CDG), where they disclaim any responsibility of the slaughter that shocked the city.

Decapitaed Discovered in Guerrero

In the early hours of Thursday authorities in the state of Guerrero found a gruesome discovery, right in the entrance on to Tepecoacuilco there was a decapitated body that was covered with in black plastic bags.

Among the clothing was an ID with the name of Rene Hernandez Castrejon, 36 years old. Next to the corpse was a message on a narcobanner that read:

Full text:

Texto integro:


An hour later after finding the torso of the dead man officers of the Huitzuco Preventive Police were dispatched to streets of the community Arenal where they discovered the head of the dead man. The head was located at the entrance of the sport stadium Rubén Uruiza Castro.

At the scene was another banner that had the same message that had appeared next to the body.

Families of Bodyguards at Risk

The drug cartels are focusing their attacks on families of security escorts and police in general, warned the Mexican Society of Bodyguards "Sociedad Mexicana de Guardaespaldas" (SMG).

With this strategy, the criminal cartels are trying to undermine the defenses and prevention used to protect lives, said the organization, and challenged the three levels of government to develop more efficient strategies to protect police officers, public security and their relatives.

In a press release the organization also condemned the attack on Tuesday in Chihuahua where commandos killed Brenda Carrillo González, wife of Sergio Antonio Chivet Ponce, a member of the protective detail of governor Horacio Cesar Duarte Jaquez, also killed in that attack was the 5 year old daughter.

In addition, the organization also criticized the attack against Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, Mayor of the city of Garcia, Nuevo Leon, where one of his bodyguards was killed and five of them were wounded defending the mayor.

Given these facts, the SMG reiterated that it is essential that all police forces and personal protective details (bodyguards) of dignitaries and politicians maintain a low profile and rethink a new strategy for the protection of people.

"In the same manner, within their circle of family and social interaction, they should use special care with information derived from their professional activities in order to protect the integrity of their loved ones," said the agency.

This is precisely why the SMG warned months ago of a new modus operandi on the part of organized crime that would target the families of police and bodyguards, putting them at risk.

Just in 2010, 149 police officers from different agencies were killed in Ciudad Juárez alone, exceeding the 67 killed in 2009.

Last Tuesday, the coordinator of the Crime of Investigation Unit from the prosecutors office, Brenda Hugette Carrillo González, and her 5 year old daughter, who are wife and daughter of a bodyguard for the governor of Chihuahua, were executed when they left their home in the community of Infonavit Panorámico while inside of an official vehicle.

At the time of the attack, the husband and father of the victims was inside the house.

Carrillo Gonzalez and her daughter were on board of a 2011 red Ford Lobo pickup owned by the State Government. According to witnesses, a group of armed men opened fire on them with assault rifles.

Mexican cops held on corruption charges released


State and city police officers, detained on charges of working with organized crime, are lined up during a presentation for journalists at Mexico's military airbase in Tijuana on Thursday, July 29.

Three policewomen arrested last July along with 59 other officers on corruption charges in the Mexican border city of Tijuana have been released from jail due to lack of evidence, defense attorneys and officials told Efe.

A judge threw out the statements of two protected witnesses linking the female officers to drug cartels, defense attorneys said.

Thirty-five other officers, who are being held at a prison in the eastern state of Veracruz, are also being released, attorneys said.

Army troops arrested 62 Tijuana municipal police officers and Baja California state police officers on July 29 for allegedly having links to drug traffickers.

The police officers were taken into custody by soldiers as they reported to work.

The round-up of allegedly corrupt cops was aimed at reducing the violence in Baja California, whose largest city, Tijuana, has endured bloody turf wars between rival drug gangs.

The commander of the 2nd Military Zone, Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mugica, said he was surprised by the judge's ruling, but the army respected the law and would accept it.

The protected witnesses who testified against the officers are former members of the Tijuana drug cartel, which is led by the Arellano Felix family.

The officers should be provided with psychological counseling and compensation for the treatment they received, Baja California state human rights prosecutor Heriberto Garcia said.

Please read original Sign on San Diego/Union Tribune arrests article by Sandra Dibble (in English) here.

Mexico Attorney General resigns as drug war rages-media

Source: Reuters and BBC
Mexico's attorney general has resigned, Mexican media said on Thursday, as the government battles to contain growing nationwide drug violence and to keep cartel suspects behind bars.

Dailies Reforma and Milenio said on their websites that Arturo Chavez, who became Mexico's top prosecutor in 2009, stepped down amid criticism over failed attempts to prosecute more than two dozen officials accused of corruption in Michoacan, President Felipe Calderon's home state.

Mr Chavez had been leading efforts to tackle Mexico's violent drugs cartels and reform the justice system for 18 months.

He said he was leaving for urgent personal reasons.

Mr Chavez is to be replaced by investigative prosecutor Marisela Morales, who will be Mexico's first female attorney general.

President Calderon thanked Mr Chavez for his service, saying he had helped bring many cartel leaders to justice.

"His work has been fundamental to Mexico's efforts to establish the rule of law and guarantee security," he said.

The appointment of Marisela Morales must still be approved by the senate.

President Calderon said her mission would be "to deepen the strategic role of the attorney general's office, in particular in the fight against organised crime".

Earlier this month Ms Morales, 41, was given a bravery award by the US government for her role in the fight against drug trafficking.

The resignation of Arturo Chavez comes three weeks after the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks released a US diplomatic cable describing his appointment in 2009 as "totally unexpected and inexplicable".

In his previous role as the top prosecutor in Chihuahua state, he was accused of mishandling investigations into the murder of women in Ciudad Juarez on the US border.

He is the second attorney general to resign since President Calderon began deploying the army to fight drug-trafficking gangs in 2006.

Around 35,000 people have since been killed in drug-related violence.

Authorities in Awe of Drug Runners' Jungle-Built, Kevlar-Coated Supersubs

Photo: Christoph Morlinghaus

By Jim Popkin

The clatter of helicopter blades echoed across the jungles of northwestern Ecuador. Antinarcotics commandos in three choppers peered at the mangroves below, scanning for any sign of activity. The police had received a tip that a gang of Colombian drug smugglers had set up a clandestine work site here, in a dense swamp 5 miles south of Colombia’s border. And whatever the traffickers were building, the tipster had warned, was truly enormous.

For decades, Colombian drug runners have pursued their trade with diabolical ingenuity, staying a step ahead of authorities by coming up with one innovation after another. When false-paneled pickups and tractor-trailers began drawing suspicion at US checkpoints, the cartels and their Mexican partners built air-conditioned tunnels under the border. When border agents started rounding up too many human mules, one group of Colombian smugglers surgically implanted heroin into purebred puppies. But the drug runners’ most persistently effective method has also been one of the crudest—semisubmersible vessels that cruise or are towed just below the ocean’s surface and can hold a ton or more of cocaine.

Assembled in secret shipyards along the Pacific coast, they’ve been dubbed drug subs by the press, but they’re incapable of diving or maneuvering like real submarines. In fact, they’re often just cigarette boats encased in wood and fiberglass that are scuttled after a single mission. Yet despite their limitations, these semisubmersibles are notoriously difficult to track. US and Colombian officials estimate that the cartels have used them to ship hundreds of tons of cocaine from Colombia over the past five years alone.

But several years ago, intelligence agencies began hearing that the cartels had made a technological breakthrough: They were constructing some kind of supersub in the jungle. According to the persistent rumors, the phantom vessel was an honest-to-goodness, fully functioning submarine with vastly improved range—nothing like the disposable water coffins the Colombians had been using since the ’90s. US law enforcement officials began to think of it as a sort of Loch Ness Monster, says one agent: “Never seen one before, never seized one before. But we knew it was out there.”

Terrorist tag is sought for drug cartels

By Stewart M. Powell
Houston Chronicle

In a potential escalation of the U.S. attack on Mexican drug cartels, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, introduced legislation Wednesday to designate four Mexican drug cartels as “foreign terrorist organizations” — a designation that could expose Mexican drug traffickers and U.S. gun runners to charges of supporting terrorism.

McCaul unveiled his legislation targeting the Arellano Feliz Organization, Los Zetas, the Beltran Leyva Organization and LaFamilia Michoacana as his House Homeland Security subcommittee prepares for hearings designed to elicit support for the proposal from four Obama administration officials.

Cartels have used violence to seize political and economic control over parts of northern Mexico, with spill-over crime resulting “in the abandonment of property and loss of security on the U.S. side of the border,” declared McCaul, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee’s panel on oversight and investigations.

McCaul spokesman Mike Rosen said it was the first time a member of Congress had proposed the designation for the powerful Mexican drug gangs.

If adopted, McCaul’s proposal would enable prosecutors to seek up to 15 additional years in prison and up to $50,000 in additional fines for each conviction of providing “material support or resources” to the four designated cartels.

Mexican drug cartels may not be “driven by religious ideology” that propels al-Qaida, the Taliban or Hezbollah, McCaul said. But the Mexican gangs are “using similar tactics to gain political and economic influence,” relying on “kidnappings, political assassinations, attacks on civilian and military targets, taking over cities and even putting up checkpoints in order to control territory and institutions.”

A total of 47 so-called “foreign terrorist organizations” have been listed by the State Department — most of them with ties to al-Qaida, Iran or Islamic fundamentalist terror organizations.

Others include the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Peru’s Shining Path and the Irish Republican Army.

To qualify for the designation, the State Department says an organization must have carried out terror attacks or “engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism.”

The designation has served as “an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business,” the State Department says.

The designation enables the State Department, the Treasury Department and the Justice Department to coordinate punitive actions against the organizations and individuals associated with them.

The designation isn’t without controversy.

The State Department, sensitive to the pressures besetting Mexican President Felipe Calderón, downplayed terrorist activities in Mexico in its latest public evaluation of terrorism country-by-country a- cross the globe.

“No known international terrorist organizations had an operational presence in Mexico and no terrorist incidents targeting U.S. interests and personnel occurred on or originated from Mexican territory,” the State Department said in a report made public last August.

“Cartels increasingly used military-style terrorist tactics to attack security forces. There was no evidence of ties between Mexican organized crime syndicates and ..... terrorist groups.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, counseled caution about designating Mexican cartels terrorist organizations.

“Cartels are in it for one thing — money,” Cornyn said. “To me, we need to be clear about what is happening in Mexico. We have got to be careful about the label because sometime those labels can create misleading impressions.”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

3 Sinaloa cartel members face death penalty in Malaysia

Three brothers, Jose Regino, Luis and Simon Gonzalez Villarreal, natives of Culiacan, Sinaloa, may soon become the next foreigners to be executed by hanging in the Southeast Asian country of Malaysia.

Malaysia’s drug laws are severe and a mandatory death sentence is the punishment if convicted of violating its strict laws against drug trafficking. Under Malaysia anti-drug laws any person found in possession of at least 15 grams (1/2 ounce) of heroin, 200 grams (7 ounces) of marijuana, 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of cocaine and 50 grams (1.76 ounces) of methamphetamine is presumed by law to be a drug trafficker.

The three men are accused of being part of the Sinaloa cartel and members of an international network for the production and distribution of methamphetamine in Southeast Asia.

The three were arrested together with a Malaysian and a Singaporean in March 4, 2008 at a secluded factory in the city of Johor Bahru in Malaysia's southern Johor state where police found a drug laboratory and approximately 240 kilograms of methamphetamine. The lab was believed to have been operating for about six months before the raid.

(The amount of methamphetamine seized varies widely. El Noroeste, a newspaper in Sinaloa, Mexico reports the men were found in possession of 240 kilograms while the Houston Chronicle says the amount was 29 kilograms worth $15 million)

The other two accused are Lim Hung Wang, a Singaporean, and Lee Boon Siah, a Malaysian.

All five were charged with drug trafficking and face the mandatory penalty of death by hanging if convicted. The Gonzalez brothers have been held in a maximun security prison near the border with Singapore since their arrest in 2008.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court is scheduled to hear defense lawyers present their case April 27, said prosecutor Umar Saifuddin Jaafar. The judge hearing the case, Judge Mohd Zawawi, is known for his strict adherence to the law and in recent years has condemned more than 30 people to the gallows.

The High Court ruled last month it was unreasonable to conclude that it was a mere coincidence that the Mexican brothers were at the factory during the raid, according to Umar Saifuddin. At the time the brothers were in Malaysia on tourist visas.

If the defense attorneys are unable to convince the judge of the brothers innocence in April, they will be convicted and sentenced to death.

Kitson Foong, a lawyer for the three brothers, who has been on the case since January, sent a plea to the Mexican media for help after his attempts to request assistance from the Mexican Embassy were unsuccessful.

Noting that his clients are in real danger of dying, the lawyer has urged that a translator be sent help prepare the defense. "Until now the embassy has not contacted them or me," he said.

If the defense attorneys are unable to convince the judge of the brothers innocence in April, they will be convicted and sentenced to death.

The Mexicans' other brother, Jose Gonzalez Villarreal, has urged their country's government to help them, saying the family has only spoken to the three suspects twice since their arrest and have little knowledge of developments in the case.

"My parents are in despair over the situation," he said in a telephone interview from the western city of Culiacan. "We really haven't been able to do anything because of our lack of resources. We are poor people."

The three brothers have no criminal record in Mexico, according to Martin Gatelum, a spokesman for the attorney general's office of the western state of Sinaloa, a major drug trafficking hub and the cradle of a powerful Mexican cartel of the same name.

A un paso de horca 3 culichis en Malasia

3 Mexicans face hanging in drug trial

U.S. Offers $5 million in Killing of ICE Agent

Two ambushed along highway, likely by a Mexican drug cartel

By Jerry Seper
The Washington Times
The Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security announced Wednesday a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the Mexican gunmen who shot and killed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata and wounded his partner, Victor Avila Jr.

The two agents were ambushed Feb. 15 on a major highway in the state of San Luis Potosi, 250 miles north of Mexico City. They were purportedly attacked by members of the brutal Los Zetas drug cartel.

Agent Zapata was shot five times and died en route to a hospital. Agent Avila, who was transported back to the U.S. for treatment, was shot in the legs. Both agents were assigned to ICE’s attache office in Mexico City. Neither man was armed, as the Mexican government does not authorize U.S. law enforcement personnel to carry weapons in that country.

U.S. and Mexican law enforcement authorities have said the two agents were southbound on the four-lane federal toll highway in an armored blue Chevrolet Suburban with diplomatic plates when they stopped about 2:30 p.m. at what appeared to be a checkpoint by men dressed in camouflage and carrying automatic weapons.

The agents identified themselves, in Spanish and English, as Americans and as diplomats, authorities said, but were shot anyway.

“This reward reflects the U.S. government’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that all those responsible for the murder of Special Agent Zapata are brought to justice,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Violence has been commonplace in Mexico since a raging war between drug-smuggling cartels began in 2006, claiming 35,000 lives. The Los Zetas cartel is considered among the most violent drug gangs now seeking to control lucrative smuggling routes into the U.S.

San Luis Potosi police said the agents’ bullet-ridden Suburban was found off to the side of the highway. Law enforcement authorities said at least 10 assailants were involved in the shooting, some of whom were armed with high-powered weapons.

Mexican federal police have taken more than 30 suspected Zetas into custody in the shooting, including the gang’s suspected paymaster, Mario “El Mayito” Jimenez, accused of managing the payroll for Zetas’ hit men in addition to collecting proceeds from drug sales and purchasing real estate and equipment for the cartel’s operations.

Also arrested by the Mexican navy was Sergio “El Toto” Mora, the reputed head of the Zetas in San Luis Potosi.

U.S. captures major Guatemalan drug trafficker

Photo: Members of the armed forces escort Juan Alberto Ortiz, known as "Chamalé" and "hermano Juan", alleged kingpin of a major cartel in Guatemala.


U.S. and Guatemalan agents captured Guatemala's top drug trafficker on Wednesday as the United States pitches in to help curb drug cartels' expanding reach in Central America.

Soldiers and police in helicopters swooped into Guatemala's second largest city, Quetzaltenango, and arrested Juan Ortiz-Lopez in his home, where he appeared to be only lightly guarded by two men, the Guatemalan interior ministry said.

Ortiz-Lopez, 41, is considered Guatemala's most important drug smuggler by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, an indictment by a U.S. prosecutor said.

Heavily armed agents landed at the air force base in Guatemala City with Ortiz-Lopez, handcuffed and wearing a leather jacket, and escorted him and two bodyguards to court.

The suspects are accused of smuggling tonnes of cocaine through Guatemala to Mexico and the United States over the past decade, according to the U.S. indictment.

"This is the capture of a big fish," Guatemala's Interior Minister Carlos Menocal told a news conference.

He said Ortiz-Lopez and his associates were likely to be extradited to the United States.

Ortiz-Lopez's capture follows the arrest in October of his henchman, Mauro Solomon, in another joint operation as Washington tries to stop Guatemala from being sucked deeper into Mexico's drugs wars.

Guatemala is struggling to prevent Mexican cartels from destabilizing parts of the country, a poor but democratic U.S. trading partner and a major coffee and sugar exporter.

Officials worry that Central America's weak governments do not have the capacity to contain the spreading threat of cartels as their armies and police are no match for gangs equipped with rocket launchers and semi-automatic weapons.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced $200 million in fresh funds for the drug fight in Central America this month during a trip to neighboring El Salvador. [ID:nN22188254] Until now, most U.S. aid is for Mexico, where turf wars between the gangs have killed more than 36,000 people over the past four years.

(Reporting by Mike McDonald in Guatemala City and Kevin Gray in Miami; writing by Robin Emmott. Editing by Christopher Wilson)

Firepower, Dope and Bloodshed: Mexico Drug Cartels Branch Out to Foreign Continents

Firepower, Dope and Bloodshed: Mexico Drug Cartels Branch Out to Foreign Continents. What's the Real Story Behind This Unbelievable Invasion?
By Clarence Walker,
Crime Journalist,
Houston Texas.

As published by Gangsters Inc

The Following Story is Part-1 of An Occasional Investigative Series Involving International Drug Trafficking Across the Globe By Organized Gangs And the Mafia.

Philosopher Roy Baumstein once wrote in a popular book called "Evil" : "In simple terms...violence is a tool for taking power; violent people gain power over the other."

This ominous scenario can best describe the awesome violence of Mexican drug cartels that has rapidly spilled over into Central America, threatening to overpower fragile countries already bursting at the seams with vicious crimes, brutalities, murders and corruption, according to the United Nations, the U.S. government and foreign law enforcement agencies.

Since 2006, over 30,000 murders have been reported in Mexico during the upheaval stemming from the government crackdown on the major drug cartels and their associates.

Located in the Northern Triangle of Central America, countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras has been a major smuggling route for drugs and illegal products transported to the U.S. for years. These countries are ripe for takeover by the Mexican cartels armed with more sophisticated technology and manpower.

As Mexico President Felipe Calderon (left) put the deadly grip on drug trafficking with assistance from the U.S., the Mexican drug lords and their allies, to keep the dope flowing, and to avoid capture or death by Calderon's relentless army, they are spreading narco-violence to Central America and other foreign countries weakened by strife, internal wars and poverty.

Experts have argued that when Mexican drug dealers began invading onto foreign soil from Mexico it is another indicator the drug war that Washington and Mexico government have waged against the cartels have suffered perverse effects.

Antonio Acosta, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes, said that Central American and Caribbean countries "are trapped in the cross fire of drugs and arms." Acosta points out that one-half of the world's cocaine is consumed in the United States and the entire annual production is located in South America.

In a strategic move to corner the drug market in South America the Mexican Cartels defected from their primary Colombian partners including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)--to deliver tons of drugs into the U.S.

The end results of this technique paved the way for importation of the illicit drugs passing through certain regions in Central America now jammed in the middle.

"The more pressure there is in Mexico, the more the drug cartels will come to Central America looking for a safe haven," says General David Munguia Payes, a defense minister based in El Salvador.

A U.N. report discovered that the highest murder rates in the countries where the cartels invaded were not particularly in the largest cities but in provinces with strategic value to drug traffickers like the borders, coastlines and jungles.

"Central America face a very real challenge in confronting these organizations," said David Gaddis, chief of operations of the U.S. DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration).

In this first installment for Gangsters Inc, this documentary explores the deep underworld of Mexico's Drug Cartels as they venture into neighboring countries (map below) to carry out a systematic operation of firepower, drugs and bloodshed to conquer territories and rule the land.

El Salvador Invasion: Case Study Number# 1
Plastered on an expansive colorful billboard overlooking the Salvadorean capital, a brutish man with a defiant attitude points to a slogan on his muscle t-shirt that speak volumes: "No one can intimidate El Salvador."

This unique advertisement promote a government-funded anti-violence campaign as many Salvadoreans worry that an overflow of Mexico's drug violence has finally struck this Central American nation.

President Mauricio Funes sounded the alarm over the growing threat in April 2010. "We have information the Mexico cartels has entered El Salvador with exploratory purposes," Funes told BBC news.

Funes is convinced the massive, effective crackdown against Mexican drug gangs by President Calderon forced them to scout for fresh territory. National police investigator Douglas Garcia said intelligence suggests that drug gangsters are already in action, "being used by operatives to transport drugs and money towards the United States which goes through Mexico."

"We are certainly worried and that's why we want to act in a preventive manner," Hugo Martinez, El Salvador's foreign minister also told BBC news.

M14 Falls; Presumed Cartel Leader in Durango

Bernabé Monje Silva, M14, one of the alleged bosses of the Cártel del Pacífico in Durango, was captured in that city by Federal Police, said the police agency in a formal statement.

According to the agency, Monje Silva was a member of the criminal group La Línea and a judicial police officer in the city of Chihuahua.

A network on investigations revealed that the criminal organization of El M14 criminal was involved in arms trafficking, auto theft and drug distribution in service of the Cártel del Pacífico or the Pacific Cartel, whose area of operation included Durango, Sinaloa and Mexico City.

His arrest took place in the community of Jardines de Durango, where besides the arrest of M14, they also apprehended the following:

Ricardo Domínguez Nogal, El Gordo, allegedly identified as the man responsible for altering the serial number of stolen vehicles for the Cártel del Pacífico, as well as transporting weapons and drugs to the municipalities of Santiago Papasquiaro and Tamazula that were hidden in secret compartments of vehicles.

Also arrested was Jorge Eduardo Pascual Torres, El Gordo Dos, allegedly responsible for moving weapons and currency for the Cartel, bound for Durango, Mexico City and the city of Mazatlan, Sinaloa.

At the time of their arrest police also confiscated, three assault rifles AK-47, three handguns, five magazines of various caliber, 79 rounds of ammunition of different calibers, a plastic bag containing 500 grams of the drug known as crystal, 13 cellular phones, seven cellular phone chips, two USB memory cards and three cars of different makes.

The detainees and property were turned over to the Agency of the Federal Public Ministry, attached to the Office of Special Investigations on Organized Crime (SIEDO) in Mexico City.

Source: El Universal

Mexican mayor, Jaime Rodriguez, survives 2nd attack in 32 days


About 40 gunmen attacked the mayor of Garcia, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, killing a bodyguard, wounding four others but failing to kill the municipal official.

Mayor Jaime Rodriguez survived the attack, which was the second attempt to kill him in just over a month.

Rodriguez described the attack in an interview with a television station in Nuevo Leon, a crime-ridden state located on the border with the United States.

Gunmen traveling in 15-20 vehicles opened fire on the SUV that was carrying eight bodyguards, Rodriguez said.

The gunmen were apparently trying to neutralize the bodyguards so they could kill the mayor, who was in an armored SUV.

The mayor's vehicle was hit by gunfire, but none of the rounds penetrated the level 5 armor.

The attack occurred Tuesday night on Abraham Lincoln avenue in Garcia, a city in the Monterrey metropolitan area.

The mayor's bodyguards killed three gunmen who tried to kill him on Feb. 25.
Rodriguez, a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, said the attack may have been ordered by Los Zetas, a drug cartel that operates in northeastern Mexico.

Nuevo Leon and neighboring Tamaulipas state have been rocked by a wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.

The violence has intensified in the two border states since the appearance in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, in February 2010 of giant banners heralding an alliance of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia drug cartels against Los Zetas.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mexico's forgotten victims of the drug war

Guillermo BarrosMail & Guardian

Mexico's battle with its powerful drug cartels has seen almost 35 000 deaths since 2006, but it has also seen the disappearances of an unknown number of others, often without trace.

A United Nations (UN) commission will on Tuesday receive information from distraught families and rights groups about 250 people who have disappeared in recent years in northern Mexico, the area worst-hit by the drug violence.

In most cases, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) blame organised crime for the disappearances, but in around 50 they allege participation by security forces.

Some victims are petty criminals, some are illegal immigrants, others are simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Yolanda Moran is convinced that soldiers abducted her son, Dan Jereemel Fernandez, a father of four, in December 2009 in Torreon, in northern Coahuila state.

One week after the abduction, police arrested a soldier driving Fernandez's car.

"I talked to the soldier but he didn't want to say anything to me," Moran told Agence France-Presse. "His statement helped them to arrest three other soldiers. But when the four soldiers were transferred to a Torreon prison, an armed gang broke in and killed them."

'They don't exist'

Another soldier also suspected in the crime was arrested in March 2010 and, shortly afterwards, killed during a prison fight, according to Moran.

In the investigation, authorities are now seeking a former soldier suspected of leading a cell of the violent Zetas drug gang, which was founded in the 1990s by elite military deserters.
Fernandez's family is one of 118 to have sought help since 2007 from the Fray Juan de Larios Centre for Human Rights, set up in Saltillo, Coahuila.

The UN working group on forced or involuntary disappearances is visiting the town on Tuesday.

Many families believe the authorities are barely investigating their cases and the Mexican government is failing to act.

"There are more than 34 000 killed, but no one knows how many are missing. They don't exist. Everyone ignores them," Moran said.

'Dirty war'

The scale of the phenomenon has become more apparent with the discoveries of hidden graves used by the gangs to hide their victims' bodies.

One grave discovered in June contained 55 bodies.

In a sinister case two years ago, a henchman for the Sinaloa cartel in Tijuana said he had dissolved about 300 bodies using acid.

The cases bring back painful memories of forced disappearances between the 1960s and 1980s, in a "dirty war" against the extreme left. At least 789 disappeared then, according to an official report.

The method reappeared in the past four years -- coinciding with the deployment of 50 000 troops to take on organised crime since 2006 -- according to the 24 NGOs making up the National Campaign against Forced Disappearances.

NGOs hope that the UN delegation will encourage Mexican officials to intensify investigations into missing people and create legislation to prevent and persecute the crimes.

"I hope that the group will understand the situation and pressure the government to listen to us," Moran said.


Police Chief's Escort Accused of Kidnapping

The controversial police chief Julian Leyzaola appears to have faltered as new Secretary of Municipal Public Security, after being appointed to the post just this March 10 in the city of Ciudad Juarez, considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

His personal bodyguards are accused in the kidnapping and the disappearance of 4 young people not older than 27 years, which were forced in to the municipal police cars 540, 420, 417, 506 and 509, but, to date, their whereabouts are unknown.

The victims are described as Félix Vizcarra, Dante Castillo, Juan Carlos Chavira and Raúl Nevárez, whose relatives filed a formal complaint Tuesday with the Justice Department and said they feared for their lives.

Neither the Municipal Police nor the City Hall have responded to the matter.

The abductees are 3 employees of Nextel and a mechanic, who were abducted on Saturday by a commando of municipal police officers in a market on the street De la Paz, in the community of breaking Oasis Revolución.

Poll: Mexicans think cartels are winning drug war

By Tim Johnson
McClatchy Newspapers

Mexicans are in a funk over their president, and a majority of them think that he's losing control of the country, an opinion poll released Tuesday found.

Six out of 10 Mexicans think that organized crime gangs are getting the upper hand in the war that President Felipe Calderon launched against drug trafficking when he came to office in late 2006, the poll by Demotecnia found.

The poll may augur a change in the country's approach to its huge drug-trafficking problem when a new administration takes over after elections next year.

Calderon, 48, is in the fifth and defining year of a six-year presidential term. His National Action Party is struggling to find a suitable candidate for the 2012 presidential elections - Mexico's presidents serve only one term - and Calderon recently suggested that the party should look outside its ranks for a candidate.

While the army-backed offensive that Calderon launched when he took office has disrupted drug gangs and netted a handful of drug barons, it's coincided with a rising death toll. Last year, 15,273 Mexicans were killed, a spike over the 9,600 killed a year earlier. In total, more than 35,000 people have died in drug violence since Calderon took office.

In a telephone poll of 500 Mexicans conducted Saturday, Demotecnia found that 59 percent of respondents said the country was as bad off or worse off than it was when Calderon took office.

Asked who's gaining the upper hand in the war against narcotics cartels, 59 percent also said drug traffickers were winning, the Mexico City polling group said.

In another question, respondents were asked whether Calderon had a firm grip on the reins of the country or matters were falling out of his control. Sixty-seven percent picked the latter option.

Sedena weapons imports diverted to criminal groups

Armamento importado por Sedena “se desvia” hacia grupos criminals
WikiLeaks en La Jornada
Blanche Petrich

Bushmaster assault type weapon on dead sicario, Nuevo Leon, 2011

In addition to weapons smuggled from the U.S., drug traffickers and criminal gangs in Mexico are also making use of another arms source to supply their gunmen. They also using weapons imported legally through proper channels by Sedena, Mexico’s Ministry of Defence that at some point in their path to their final recipient are "diverted" and fall into the wrong hands.

This is the story of an R-15 rifle recovered by Michoacan state police after a confrontation between municipal police and gunmen in the town of Panindícuaro on November 18, 2009.

The weapon was imported in 2006 and delivered in 2007 to the Ministry of Public Security in the state of Michoacan. After reaching its destination the weapon was "lost." U.S. agents conducting the investigation concluded that Michoacan authorities "have no reliable mechanisms" for the safeguard of its arsenal.

This R-15 is just a drop in the so-called "iron river" (referring to the uncontrolled flow of arms) that enters the country legally or illegally and has given organized crime, today, more firepower than the State, according to the government itself.

According to information contained in a pair of cables released by WikiLeaks (09MEXICO3376 and 09STATES7530) the journey of this “lost” R-15 was reconstructed by Blue Lantern (an end-use monitoring program for arms exports managed by the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Political Military Affairs, DDTC office) and the ATF’s E-Trace program.

Blue Lantern keeps a strict registry of all documents concerning U.S. arms exports (which are massive and distributed worldwide) and aims to ensure that all routes from the manufacturer or vendor to its final destination are legally documented.

The R-15, serial number L428091, was part of a consignment of one thousand and thirty 5.56mm rifles bought from Bushmaster International, a manufacturer based in Maine, a leading global provider of this type of weapon, which has two variants: the "sport" and the military model.

Sedena made the purchase in 2006 under the license 050016624, to provide weapons to the state police agencies of Michoacán, Baja California and Chihuahua.

These contracts specifically prohibit any subsequent resale of the weapons. Sedena is the only entity allowed to import weapons into Mexico and their exportation is legally banned.

The first consignment of 507 weapons arrived in Laredo, Texas, on December 12, 2006. According to the documentation this first lot included the serial number L428091. On January 5, 2007, the remaining lot of 523 weapons arrived.

On January 10, 2007, Sedena personnel received the shipment in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. An armaments broker, and Bushmaster's legal representative in Mexico, Eduardo Jordán, acted as sales agent.

The Customs agency Central de Aduanas de Mexico, S.A. de C.V., with offices in Monterrey that specialize in imports and exports through Laredo-Nuevo Laredo port of entry, managed all the customs permits and moved the shipment through the port of entry to make the transfer. All parties were under the microscope of ATF and Blue Lantern.

Finally, the authorities demanded that Sedena demonstrate step by step the legality of the operation. "Sedena insists that it undertakes a very strict control over all the weapons that enter Mexico legally," says the cable.

On May 15, Sedena sent a batch of 121 R-15 rifles to the Public Security Secretariat of Michoacan. On behalf of the state government an official named Francisco Gabriel Huerta signed receipt. L428091 was included in that batch. And there the trail of L428091 goes cold.

The 81 rifles that were not sent to the destination states remained under guard at Military Camp Number One, in Lomas de Tecamachalco.

The investigation led to the authorities in Michoacan. According to the cables, "there is no evidence that state officials have strictly implemented the regulations and the chain of custody once they received the weapons from Sedena. Given the lack of reliability of the methods to safeguard custody once arms arrive at the state government level, our agents have good reasons to think that’s where many weapons simply disappear."

The cables failed to answer the ultimate question. Who was responsible for the R-15 falling into the hands of a gang of criminals in the Purépecha Plateau of Michoacan?


Why Mexico’s War on Drugs is Unwinnable

by Laura Carlsen
In Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, a student peace protester is gunned down by the Federal Police. Pictures of the intestines bursting from his ruptured gut make the rounds on the Internet, shocking even the world’s bloodiest city.

In Matamoros, Tamaulipas, schools close down after officials receive bomb threats. Newspapers timidly report that the threats “could be related to” Gulf Cartel retaliation for the killing of one of their leaders, Tony Tormenta, in a military operation days earlier. President Obama calls President Calderon to congratulate him on taking down the drug lord. Mexican authorities predict a new wave of violence in the state, as the Zetas move in to wrest control from the weakened Gulf Cartel.

Whether measured by increased public safety, reduced supply of illegal drugs on the U.S. market, or the dismantling of drug trafficking organizations, the war on drugs is failing. It has been four years since President Felipe Calderon announced the offensive and sent tens of thousands of soldiers into the streets. The results are a record 37,000 drug-war related homicides so far and thousands of complaints of human rights abuses by police and armed forces. Arrests of drug kingpins and lesser figures have set off violent turf wars, with no discernible effect on illicit flows. The murder of politicians, threats to civilians and disruption of daily life have furthered the downward spiral.

None of this should come as a surprise. Although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has held up Plan Colombia as a model for Mexico, the drug war didn’t work there either. A full decade and $7 billion dollars after Plan Colombia began, regional drug production remains stable and smaller paramilitary groups have replaced the large cartels as traffickers. Some violent crimes, such as kidnappings, have gone down but corruption has deepened with scores of Congressional representatives under investigation, prosecution or sentencing for ties to paramilitaries.

Militarization with the combined rationale of the war on drugs and counterinsurgency has left Colombia with one of the worst human rights record in the hemisphere. Diplomatic relations have been affected as many neighboring nations view U.S. military presence and involvement in Colombia’s drug war as a threat to regional self-determination.

Seven Sicarios Fall after a Shootout in Guadalupe

After a confrontation with military forces who were backing up the State Police, seven people, that included one a suspected leader of a cell of sicarios from organized crime, were apprehended in possession of weapons in Guadalupe.

The suspected traffickers were surprised in an ambushed by the preventive police Monday night around 2215 hours in the roads Escobas and Dos Ríos in the community of Santa Cecilia, and were presented at the General Headquarters of the State Public Security early in the morning yesterday.

They were in possession of two AR-15 assault rifles, two AK-47 assault rifles, a 9mm submachine gun, about a thousand rounds of various caliber, 34 magazines for the assault rifles, military uniforms, a police badge of the State Investigation Agency, a ballistic vest, 5 radios, 6 cell phones and spikes to disable tires of vehicles.

Although it was stated that the capture of these people happened when they ran head-on with the military forces, police sources said the apprehension was due to an intelligence police operation.

The arrest of the sicarios could be related with the arrest of six other sicarios, also members of this criminal organization, who on Monday also sustained a gun battle with state officials in the same municipality.

The alleged leader of the sicarios that were apprehended Monday night was identified as Gerardo Vargas Olvera, 44, nicknamed "El Alacrán", a native of Monclova, Coahuila.

The other six were identified by the authorities as Víctor Adrián Rodríguez de León, 19, Alfredo Ramirez, 23, and Jesus Santos Mendoza Ramirez, 28.

Also Angel Mario Saldaña Betancourt, 22, Juan Francisco González Segovia, 32, and Hugo Alejandro Cervantes Villarreal, 28, all born in Nuevo Leon.

The version reported that elements of the supporting military forces patrolling the area were attacked by occupants of two Tacoma trucks, one gray and the other red and silver-gray Mustang.

The troops then repelled the attack and after a chase, they were able to ambush the sicarios in one of the trucks and the car. The other truck managed to escape.

It was confirmed that both vehicles had been previously reported as stolen.

After a confrontation that lasted a few minutes, the criminals were apprehended by the police who were transported to the heavily guarded headquarters of State Public Security.

Mexican cartels get heavy weapons from CentAm, U.S. cables say


The most fearsome weapons wielded by Mexico's drug cartels enter the country from Central America, not the United States, according to U.S. diplomatic cables disseminated by WikiLeaks and published here Tuesday by La Jornada newspaper.

Items such as grenades and rocket-launchers are stolen from Central American armies and smuggled into Mexico via neighboring Guatemala, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City reported to Washington.

The assertions appear in embassy cables written after three bilateral conferences on arms trafficking that took place between March 2009 and January 2010 in Cuernavaca, Mexico; Phoenix; and Tapachula, Mexico, respectively.

The cables' authors note that Mexican officials and politicians never hesitate to remind U.S. diplomats that Mexico's drug war - which has claimed 35,000 lives in the last four years - is fueled by Americans' demand for illegal drugs and by guns bought in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

Yet one of the cables maintains that 90 percent of the heavy armament Mexican security forces seize from cartel gunmen comes from Central America.

The cable, which does not offer any particulars or supporting documentation, does acknowledge that the vast majority of the handguns and many of the assault rifles used by the cartels enter Mexico from the United States.

A message drafted after the October 2009 conference in Tapachula blamed the Mexican government for not doing enough to patrol the southern border with Guatemala.

"While there are 30,000 U.S. CBP (Customs and Border Protection) officers on the 1,926 mile Mexican/U.S. border, only 125 Mexican immigration officials monitor the 577 mile border with Guatemala," the embassy cable says.

La Jornada's publication of the cables follows revelations in the United States about a botched sting operation, "Fast and Furious," that saw members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allow close to 2,000 weapons to be smuggled from Arizona to Mexico over 15 months.

Around 1,200 of the those guns were never tracked down by authorities, according to the Center for Public Integrity, a U.S. think-tank.

U.S. President Barack Obama said that neither he nor Attorney General Eric Holder gave authorization for Fast and Furious.


La Jornada/WikiLeaks

Los M's Interrogating Two Sicarios in Durango

BDN uploaded a new video in which five heavily armed men with military-style uniforms conduct an interrogation of two sicarios belonging to El Flaco Salgueiro.

Men who call themselves Víctor Flores García and César Humberto Ríos Delgado, confess to being sicarios, making a point that they had been only one month in the state of Durango, with the objective to "heat up" la plaza of Los M's by order of by Felipe Cabrera.

One can see how nervous they are when saying that they receive 1, 500 dollars a month as payment for their criminal activities. They also provide several names of elements of the Secretariat of National Defense which they claim have ties to organized crime.

At the end of recording one of the armed men sends greetings to Manuel Meza aka El Meño Ranch.

Featured for its news value

Los Ms' and La Gente Nueva had left a narco banner on March 11 where they made threats again El Flaco (referred to Noel Salgeiro) in Durango, it appears this is a result of that conflict:

State Investigator, 4 year old daughter gunned down in Chihuahua

Tuesday morning, 28 year old State Attorney General Investigator, Brenda Carrillo González, was attacked by gunmen outside her home.

An lead investigator with the Chihuahua state Attorney General's Office and her 4-year-old daughter were gunned down outside their house in Chihuahua city on Tuesday, Mexican officials said.

Brenda Carrillo and her daughter were leaving the house when a group of gunmen traveling in at least two vehicles opened fire on them.

Carrillo was killed instantly and the little girl died while being transported to a clinic, the AG's office said.

The investigator's husband, who is a State provided bodyguard for the Governor of Chihuahua, Cesar Duarte, was saved by being inside the home, behind closed doors.

Carrillo had a degree in psychology and was assigned to the Property crimes division of the State Attorney General Office.

One of the drug cartels that operate in Chihuahua left a message about a week ago on a street in Chihuahua city, the state capital, threatening to kill a state law enforcement agent every day because certain commanders were allegedly supporting a rival cartel.

The attacks against state law enforcement agents have not ceased since then, leaving three dead and at least five others wounded.

About 30 agents gathered Tuesday outside the AG's office to demand to that the commanders whose names appeared in the message resign.

Chihuahua, Mexico's largest state, has registered more than 8,500 registered deaths blamed on drug-related violence in the past four years.

Sources: EFE, Meoqui Tribune, La Policiaca

The Cocaine Wars: Invasion of the Drug Submarines

By John Otis/Bahia Malaga

 In recent years, the boat of choice for Colombian cocaine smugglers has been the semisubmersible, a vessel that cruises just below the ocean's surface with only its air and exhaust pipes sticking out of the water.

Since the semisubs have proved so successful at dodging interdiction, it seemed inevitable that traffickers — who in the past have commandeered entire passenger jets to move their product — would upgrade to even more elusive full-fledged submarines. But narco U-boats were a murky legend of the depths, the drug-cartel version of the Loch Ness monster.

Not anymore. In February, at a clandestine shipyard near Colombia's Pacific coast, the military impounded a homemade submarine 70 ft. (21 m) long — with three tons of cocaine nearby, ready to be loaded into a storage compartment that can hold eight tons.

That discovery came seven months after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) helped capture a 100-ft.-long (30 m) diesel-powered sub along a river tributary to the Pacific south of the Colombian border in Ecuador. It was about to make its maiden voyage, and though no drugs were found aboard, officials say they're certain it was a narcosub. Both busts make fairly plain that Colombian traffickers have now taken "a quantum leap in technology," says Jay Bergman, who heads the DEA's Andean division. "It's the difference between building a motor-scooter and building a car."

The subs are also a testament to the ingenuity of traffickers working at secluded dry docks deep inside the equatorial jungle. "Pictures do not do them justice," says Bergman. "You have to see the subs to get a perspective of how large they are and how much effort it takes to build them."

The 70-footer captured in February, for example, is a fascinating hybrid of high and low technology. It sports a large conning tower (the platform atop a sub) with night-vision cameras. The stern holds a 346-horsepower diesel engine and tanks that can hold 1,700 gallons of fuel — enough for the two-week run to cocaine drop-off points near Mexico and Central America. Inside are compressed-air tanks for ballast, bunk beds, GPS equipment and touchscreen controls. It can cut its engine and dive down some 30 ft. (9 m) to hide from interdiction boats and aircraft.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mexico Defends Drug War Before OAS Panel


A Mexican government delegation on Monday defended “the necessity and the efficacy” of the war on drug trafficking during a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a body of the Organization of American States.

The under-secretary for Juridical Affairs and Human Rights within Mexico’s interior ministry, Felipe de Jesus Zamora, said that the national strategy against organized crime had been applied “with strict respect for human rights.”

Representatives of 18 NGOs who also appeared before the OAS panel on Monday offered a much different appraisal.

The war on drug cartels launched by newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon in December 2006 has been counterproductive, given that “violence, the murder rate and citizen insecurity have skyrocketed,” said Carlos Karin Zazueta, with the Citizens in Support of Human Rights organization.

The complaints, along with the well-documented reports of arbitrary arrests, torture and harassment committed by the security forces, were rejected by Zamora, who said that the fight for security is, in itself, “a fight for human rights.”

The Mexican delegation focused its efforts on claiming that the war on drug trafficking was “necessary” to halt the advance of organized crime, and it defended that battle’s effectiveness without discussing specific figures.

Zamora acknowledged that the results of this strategy will not be seen in the short term and when repression is intensified then violence increases “at first,” but he went on to say that “later it falls, and it will fall.”

11 Bodies dumped, 4 Gunmen killed: Nuevo Laredo Update

Over the weekend, Nuevo Laredo authorities found eleven bodies dumped near the Nuevo Laredo-Monterrey highway.

According to police reports, around 6:00 a.m. Sunday they were alerted to the scene by passing motorists. Seven bodies were found shot execution style at Km.#7 and and the remainder at Km.#11 of Federal Highway 2 which connects the freight only World Trade Bridge to the Nuevo Laredo- Monterrey Highway.

At this time the victims, many with similar buzz cuts and are estimated to be between the ages of 17 and 29, remain unidentified.

How they got there and who killed them is still being investigated.

The Mexican defense ministry, SEDENA, sent out an email stating that it did not have any information about the deaths at the moment.

Saturday morning, The Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) released information on an armed confrontation at Km. 12 of the Nuevo Laredo-Monterrey highway that resulted in the deaths of three gunmen and the destruction of a large amount of munitions and weapons.

There as been no official statement regarding a possible relation between the two events.

Information provided by Grupo Savant, a Washington, D.C. think tank, indicated the weekend gunfights were started by the Gulf Cartel.

The acts represent a renewed push against the Zetas.

On Thursday, the Gulf Cartel and its allies, operating under the banner of “La Nueva Federación,” announced its latest offensive with narcomantas, which indicated they would be conducting a “cleansing” of Zetas and Zeta interests throughout the region.

In a separate note, on Monday, SEDENA reported a confrontation which left four gunmen dead in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.

The event took place in the Guerrero neighborhood when soldiers on patrol came upon several suspicious individuals. The individuals opened fire causing the military to return fire.

The confrontation led to the death of four unidentified gunmen and the confiscation of 2 vehicles, 6 rifles, 74 magazines, and 1110 cartridges, among other items.

Warning: Graphic Content

Around the Borderland Beat

Police found 11 bodies over the weekend at two highway rest stops in Nuevo Laredo, a border city in the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, officials said.

The unidentified bodies were discovered Sunday morning on the highway that links Nuevo Laredo to Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon state, police spokesmen told Efe.

Seven bodies were found at kilometer 7 and the other four were at kilometer 11, and all the victims had been shot, police said, adding that the killers left messages next to the bodies.

Three suspected drug traffickers, meanwhile, were killed in a shootout Friday with soldiers in Nuevo Laredo, located across the border from Laredo, Texas, the Defense Secretariat said.

The incident occurred at kilometer 13 of the Nuevo Laredo-Monterrey federal highway, the secretariat said.

The shootout started when soldiers from a unit assigned to the 4th Military Region stopped a tractor-trailer that was being “driven in an erratic manner,” the secretariat said.

A group of armed men inside the trailer opened fire when the soldiers tried to open the door.

“An explosion was heard inside the cargo compartment” during the shootout, the secretariat said.

The blast started a fire that killed the three gunmen, the secretariat said.

Soldiers found three partially burned bales of cocaine, a package containing synthetic drugs, 31 rifles, nine handguns, a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), 16 other grenades, a fragmentation grenade, 156 ammunition clips for different types of weapons, 24 rounds of loose ammunition, 13 cell phones, cash and other gear inside the truck.

Most of the weapons were burned, the secretariat said.

The border state of Tamaulipas has been the scene since early last year of a war for control of territory and smuggling routes between the Gulf and Los Zetas drug cartels.

A total of 15,270 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico last year, and more than 35,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the country’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.

Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.

The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels’ ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking officials.

Source: EFE

Anglos Unfazed by Mexico's Encroaching Drug War

By David Agren,

John McWilliams traded a Victorian home in Galveston, Texas, 13 years ago for a bed-and-breakfast in this village of cobblestone streets and later a three-bedroom abode overlooking Lake Chapla, where an estimated 20,000 U.S. and Canadian expatriates — split roughly equally between the two nationalities — reside during the winter months.

He also traded insecurity for tranquility, having suffered three robberies back in Texas. Even with Mexico's organized-crime violence now encroaching on the region, McWilliams and his partner of 40 years, Earl French, maintain, "We feel safer here than there."

McWilliams and French formed part of a foreign relocation wave in which retirees began moving to Mexico, taking advantage of the cheaper prices, idyllic climate and welcoming local culture.
Not to mention opportune real estate investments.

The financial crisis diminished the relocation trend as aging Baby Boomers were left with lower home prices and smaller retirement nest eggs. Organized-crime activities now threaten to diminish the trend further — and violence has flared in Chapala (the municipality containing Ajijic) and its environs.

Graves known as narcofosas were discovered last November, while thugs with guns and grenades later attacked the local police chief's home.

Blockades known as narcobloqueos, in which gunmen hijack and torch vehicles, have occurred on the Guadalajara-Chapala highway.

Such stories appear to have fazed few expatriates, and many compare the violence to random attacks in high-crime cities north of the border.

The U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara, 40 miles north of Chapala, recommends against driving the Guadalajara-Chapala highway at night, one of the "nerve-rattling tidbits" of information that El Paso native and real estate agent Tony Harries says U.S. citizens receive.

Some residents ignore the advisory.

"I worry more about animals on the highway" than violence, says Christy Wiseman, a retired teacher from Reno, adding that Mexican friends express concerns about her driving the road at night.
Concerns from worried relatives are common.

Mexico City an unlikely draw for those fleeing drug war violence

When the highway shootouts and roadblocks by gunmen in her hometown finally became too much, Karla Garza found sanctuary in the unlikeliest of places: the big, bad capital, Mexico City.

Garza, a 21-year-old marketing student, switched campuses in December after her parents decided that even with its rampant robberies and kidnappings, Mexico City was safer than their home in Monterrey, a once-quiet northern city that for months has served as a battlefield for warring drug gangs.

"Ten years ago, my parents never would have imagined sending me to live in [Mexico City]. It would have been insane," Garza said. Now, though, "the bad news is coming from Monterrey."

Mexico City used to be an emblem of runaway crime, viewed by many Mexicans as a viper pit that was best avoided if you didn't want to be mugged or forced at gunpoint to withdraw money from ATMs and hand it over. But four years of drug violence across much of the rest of the country suddenly has Mexico City looking like an island of tranquillity, despite its rampant petty crime.

"We haven't had heads cut off. We don't have blockades. We don't have houses on fire. We don't have bombs. We don't have shooting in the streets," said Eduardo Gallo, president of the anti-crime group Mexico United Against Crime. "We have some robberies, but we don't see armed people in vans and trucks chasing each other."

Not yet, at least. The winds have been known to shift quickly in this drug war, and metropolitan Mexico City, with 20 million residents, is hardly free of cartel activity.

But drug traffickers are aware of the risks of igniting major provocations in a city that is home to the federal police, army, navy and intelligence services, not to mention many of the cartel leaders' families. And Mexico City's size and complexity are a barrier to control by any one crime boss.

Stakes are also high for authorities. Gun battles amid high-rise offices and stately monuments of Mexico's political and economic hub would be a disaster for President Felipe Calderon, who launched his offensive against organized crime in December 2006.

"Mexico City is the place where the drug traffickers live, the place where drug traffickers do business, the place where drug traffickers have their families," said Jorge Chabat, a national security scholar in Mexico City. "There's some sort of an agreement, not an explicit agreement, that Mexico City is a neutral place."

Even so, several mass killings in and around the capital recently have stirred worry that the extreme violence besieging other zones may be nibbling at the edges.

VIP Addicts

By: Samuel Mayo
For Milenio Semenal

CUERNAVACA, Mor.- In the world of illicit drugs, there is always an opening for someone with everything to lose. Daniel (ficticious name) had just received his degree in international business; the board had offered him a good job in Villahermosa and he planned to start a new life alongside his girlfriend and the child they were expecting, until cocaine quit being a pastime and it pushed him to the edge.

Before he knew it, this 24 year old young man had lost his girlfriend.

He hadn’t showered in days, his kitchen table was cluttered with beer cans, drugs, and weapons. “It got to the point where I smoked crack with my baby in the car. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t regret it.” Sitting in the garden at a rehabilitation center in Cuernavaca, Daniel tries to justify the four year long nightmare that included his consuming 20 doses of crack a day.

He had grown up attending private schools, he was a good athlete, and he wanted for nothing. “I think a lot about the neglect that has always accompanied me. I remember my stepfather and how he tried to buy my affection, but at family get-togethers, I was alone,” he affirms with his eyes shaded by the bill of his white baseball cap.

Neglect and money are words that go hand in hand amongst the hundreds of upper class young people like Daniel who fall victim to drugs. They are the main buyers of the more than four tons of meth-amphetamines and the 300 million dollars worth of cocaine that is consumed annually in Mexico, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, but they draw little suspicion: they live in upscale neighborhoods, they attend private schools and wear designer clothing.

During a meeting of foreign correspondents in Mexico City last January, the Health Secretary, José Ángel Córdova Villalobos, declared that in the last six years, cocaine consumption [in Mexico] has doubled. In this same period 2.5 percent of the Mexican population, in other words, nearly 3 million of the total population of 110 million, has consumed cocaine, a statistic reiterated by the secretary of Public Health, Genaro García Luna, during the meeting of the Comisión Permanente del Congreso which took place this past January.

The narcos have found in these upper class young people an excellent potential market for marijuana, crack, and synthetic drugs. “We all start out with the first one free,” says Daniel. From there it’s a rapid decline toward ruin, the destruction of the family and one’s physical and psychological well-being.

Daniel left Mexico City behind to embark upon a university education in Villahermosa, spending thousands of pesos exploring the “excesses” of the nightlife. “I tried cocaine at a party. At first it was good to counter the effects of alcohol,” he says. But doing lines of cocaine ruined his nose, so he started doing crack, also known as “piedra” or rock, a combination of cocaine and ammonia that, when smoked, is even more powerful and addictive. From that moment, he lost control of his life.

He put a price on his body and began prostituting himself out to men and women alike to make money to calm “the beast,” he remembers, “It got to the point where my arms were paralyzed.” The twitching of his muscles scared him, but addiction does not understand fear.

A client offered him drugs in return for sex, a mix of crack and marijuana, a concoction that nearly caused Daniel to lose consciousness, even though he could still make out the blurry face of the man pulling his pants down in front of him. “I don’t know how it came to that extreme. The drug addict hears, but doesn’t listen,” he says during the interview.

It seemed nothing mattered to him: the portrait of his son, his girlfriend’s words, nor his heart beating at 120 beats a minute every time he inhaled cocaine. But hell was a little further away and it had a name: Los Zetas. His dealer offered him easy money for a simple job: to spy on business executives and upper class people and to pass along their addresses and information regarding their daily routines.

The drug distributors formed part of the Zetas’ criminal pyramid, people dedicated to local drug dealing who were high enough up in the hierarchy of the organization to be armed, and Daniel had entered the business of robbery, kidnapping and extortion by passing along information in exchange for a few grams of cocaine. After four years, there wasn’t a sign left of that young man with a promising future.

Mexico's Largest Media Corporation Behind Plan to Censor Drug War Coverage

The “Mexico Initiative” PR Campaign Returns To Distort and Sanitize News Reports.
By Erin Rosa
Narco News
Editorial cartoon from Mexican artist El Fisgón in La Jornada. From left to right: “So we’re not going to be able to portray criminals as if they were heroes?” “Does that include ex-presidents, governors, police chiefs, and businessmen?”

Last week, Mexican media companies cooked up an agreement to regulate the way journalists report on the drug war, proposing methods to restrict both images and speech in news broadcasts. Behind the accord is the Mexico Initiative, a massive public relations campaign that has been accused of using the media to try and stamp out public dissatisfaction and rebellion.

Televisa, the nation’s largest media corporation, created the Mexico Initiative in 2010 during the lead-up to the country’s bicentennial celebrations.

Partnering with its main rival TV Azteca and dozens of radio stations, newspapers, and businesses, the initiative became a consortium of Mexico’s most powerful and wealthy information handlers.

They combined their resources to launch a PR blitz of TV ads, radio spots, and billboard endorsements, encouraging Mexicans to “bury their complexes” and “evolve.” After disappearing when the bicentennial festivities ended, the Mexico Initiative has returned with the agreement, which some federal lawmakers are now proposing become law.

On Thursday, the initiative’s backers held a press conference at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City to roll out the Mexico Initiative 2011 and ten-point accord (PDF) on media coverage of the drug war. It was broadcast on more than 450 stations throughout the country. “The Mexico Initiative can’t ignore the violence that accompanies us Mexicans on a daily basis in all areas of our lives,” said Sergio Sarmiento, a newspaper columnist and a presenter at the conference, when introducing the agreement.

“Mexico is living in an unprecedented situation due to the levels and the ways that organized crime has used violence. This situation has strained the state’s ability to fight the groups that have made terror their modus operandi.”

The Mexico Initiative accord calls for creating mechanisms to regulate images and photographs that show “acts of violence,” including where, how, and how many times they are published. Journalists must “avoid language and terminology used by the criminals,” and never portray criminals or alleged criminals as “victims” or “heroes.” In order to protect journalists in dangerous areas, the initiative recommends that reporters not report live from “the most violent areas.”

Reports that could jeopardize police or military operations against organized crime will not be published. The agreement doesn’t disclose exactly who will be deciding what is violent, what constitutes criminal terminology, and what type of content would be considered a national security threat.

President Felipe Calderón, the conservative head-of-state who declared war on drug trafficking groups when he began his term in 2006, issued his support for the declaration in a press release. Federal legislators with Calderon’s National Action Party (PAN in Spanish initials) applauded the move, while their rivals with the Institutional Revolutionary Party in the Senate said they would work to make the agreement into a law so that all media outlets would be forced adhere to it.

In the United States there was no mention of the Mexico Initiative’s involvement with the agreement. The Mexico representative for the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists praised the accord as a “national breakthrough that could set professional standards well into the future.”

There were media outlets who refused to sign the agreement due to concerns over censorship, including La Jornada, a major left-leaning daily based in Mexico City; Proceso, a magazine that has criticized Calderón’s drug war; and Reforma, a large Mexico City daily that generally publishes articles favorable to the PAN. Despite the dissenters, industry analysts estimate that the Mexico Initiative represents 90 percent of the media industry in the country.

The text of the agreement shows that Televisa and its partners are dead set on supporting the government’s policies, even as violence from the drug war continues to rise.