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

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Hunting

 El Chapo or El Mayo, for Calderon's promised gift

A general with an incorruptible reputation starts to scale the highest peaks of the mountains that form El Triangulo Dorado, or the Golden Triangle, in command of an elite Army unit, for one of the last hunts being undertaken by the government of Felipe Calderón that's seeking a trophy before the end of his failed administration in combating narcos. The capture of el Chapo or el Mayo, the two leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, and they say, the world's most wanted.

The night of July 22, a group of soldiers belonging to the Army Special Forces entered the guarded region of San Lorenzo, dominated by the Sinaloa cartel, were they faced off against a commando of hitmen at the entrance of El Melon, receivership of Quilá.

On the night of the skirmish, it was reported that two suspected gunmen were killed and another one was arrested with guns and grenades, which was later made ​​available to the Attorney General's Office.

The elements also seized two vehicles, at least in an official manner, a black Chevrolet with TZ-04 924 plates, which had been reported as stolen, and a red Mercedes Benz, with special shielding and license plates MXD-540 from the State of Mexico.

The first unit was overturned, with the body of a gunmen still inside, while the armored car was in the middle of the road. The occupants apparently abandoned the vehicle and le
ft through other means. Inside were two AK-47 rifles and a AR-15. The escape had been unexpected.

Later, the Attorney General of the State (PGJE) identified the bodies as Santiago Ibarra Zamudio, 42, originally from Gomez Palacio, Durango, and residing in the city of Guamuchil. The second body was that of Magdaleno Madriles Santos of 40 years, residing in La Cruz de Elota.

In the military operation was also arrested Alexander Mariscal Millán, who was remanded by the federal Public Ministry of the Fourth District Court in Culiacan.

The offenses brought against him were the violations of the Federal Firearms and Explosives, the modality of carrying firearms and military artifacts (granades) which are an exclusive use of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

He was also accused of the crime of attempted manslaughter against the Army. The PGR information indicates that the court hearing was held on the 24th of July.

Mariscal Millan and the two men killed were identified by unofficial sources of the PGR as members of a cell that commands Orso Ivan Gastelum, alias El Ch
olo, a trusted assassin of Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, who escaped from the prison of Aguaruto in August of 2009.

The night of the raid in El Melon, Army sources said, that Special Forces were going for Joaquin Guzman Loera, one of the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, in an intelligence operation that seeks secrecy, until the look-outs discovered the movement and the leader began the departure from Quilá.

Neither the two Bell 412 helicopters or the twenty trucks of militia, whose numbers, according to local press, were covered up with tape to avoid being identified, where they could build networks to capture the drug lord who was present in the area.

GAFES group, according to reports from officers of the Ninth Military Region that's based in Culiacan, was addressed for an operation from Mexico City, were some of them had military detachments in the base of the town of Badiraguato. 

When the story emerged that the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA), had commissioned a general with an incorruptible reputation to carry out one of the last missions for Calderon, to catch el Chapo Guzman or Ismael el Mayo Zambada by establishing a military siege on the cartels influential points, especially in the so-called Golden Triangle, which covers the mountains of Sinaloa, Durango and Chihuahua.

Santiago, N.L.: Terror in a small community

A year after gaining world wide media attention for the kidnapping, torture, and execution of it's mayor, Santiago, Nuevo Leon, is once again in the cartel violence spotlight.

Thursday morning, four banners appeared in at least three communities threatening grenade attacks on school campuses on Friday, September 30.

Santiago Mayor Vladimiro Montalvo Salas said he asked state and federal authorities to step up security in the township, but urged parents to continue sending their children to school.

Montalvo Salas said he hoped the banners were just a bad joke.

Today we received an email from citizens claiming to be residents of Santiago.

According to one Santiago resident, who agreed to speak with the condition of anonymity, the threats against civil society began more than 15 days ago, just before the Independence day celebrations were to begin.

"A banner was hung in town saying the Zetas were leaving, but not before leaving us something to remember them by. Soon after it was rumored they were planning to attack one of the commercial plazas and a Church."

When asked whether there was a possibility the banners and threats were simply rumors, the source responded:

"We are always on alert , but generally I do not feel scared. Santiago is a small town and rumors are common. But when I saw the mayor on the news confirming the banners, I knew something was wrong. We have kidnappings, extortion, executions, and bodies dumped on a regular basis, but he has never personally confirmed anything of them, nobody has ."

Friday afternoon SEDENA confirmed the arrest of 13 Zetas in the community known as Los Rodriguez, Santiago. According to the press conference the 11 men and two women operated in Santiago, Allende, and Juarez, Nuevo Leon and stand accused of numerous kidnappings, extortion, executions, and attacks against public safety buildings.

While several local medias identified the detainees as those responsible for threatening Santiago schools, Milenio reported the detention took place Wednesday, September 28, one day before the banners appeared.

Santiago, located 20 km. south of Monterrey, is part of the 6 municipality citrus grove region of Nuevo Leon which due to cartel kidnapping and executions has recently been dubbed by Grupo Reforma the Narco-Corridor of Terror.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mexican drug traffickers complaining of U.S. prison conditions

By Dane Schiller
Thursday, September 29, 2011

Big-league Mexican drug traffickers imprisoned in the United States are contending that unnecessarily harsh conditions — locked up alone in ultra-high-security confinement — take a physical and psychological toll and may violate U.S.-Mexico extradition treaties.

The courthouse pleadings for relief come from men who cut their teeth and made their names in a criminal underworld that has carried out unheard of levels of brutality in Mexico, including murder by beheading, mutilation, hanging and massacre.

But at least one U.S. federal judge on Thursday conceded the claims have some merit. He ordered that Jesus Vicente Zambada Niebla, whose father runs the Sinaloa Cartel, a criminal syndicate in which Zambada was a ranking member, should be let out of his cell for outdoor recreation time on a roof top.

As Zambada waits to see if he'll face trial, he has been largely confined to a windowless 10-by-6-foot cell for “18 months of isolation without seeing the sun or breathing fresh air,” contended his lawyers in a request to the judge.

He and others admittedly are part of cartels that for decades have pushed tons of cocaine and marijuana into this country, and they have been sent to a U.S. justice system that is far tougher than that of Mexico.

“The word on the street in the United States is you can't bribe your way out of prison or bribe your way into better living conditions,” said former Houston-based federal prosecutor Mark W. White III. “In other places, it might not be as uncomfortable.”

Such high-profile prisoners have many enemies, and officials have said they are kept in isolation to ensure their security. Zambada, for example, contends he should not be prosecuted because while trafficking, he served as an informant for U.S. agents by giving them the cartel's intelligence on rivals.

Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsly said the length of a prisoner's sentence, as well as any history of violence and escapes are among the factors considered when determining where and how they should be held.

Also, a federal appeals court in California is deciding whether it is legal to automatically hold Jesus Hector “El Guero” Palma Salazar, one of the Sinaloa Cartel's founders, in isolated custody at the so-called supermax prison in Colorado.

“Supermax confinement is arguably in violation of international standards and numerous international treaties, many of which have been signed by Mexico,” his lawyers said in an appeal that was heard last month. Their argument is based on the premise that Mexico might have refused extradition if officials knew the cruel conditions prisoners would face.

The lawyers further say he is being kept there based on unproven allegations of murder and other crimes in Mexico, not on any misconduct in the United States.

They point to a Federal Bureau of Prisons notice that says Palma was placed in supermax because in Mexico he was involved in numerous acts of extortion, corruption of public officials and murders as well as ordering the slayings of a rival gang member's children in retaliation for the murder of his own wife and children.

Additionally, the notice said that keeping Palma in any prison less than a supermax would pose a threat to safety.

Former Gulf Cartel boss Osiel Cardenas Guillen, who was extradited from Mexico to Houston in 2007 to face trial, was shuttled between a variety of state and federal facilities — always kept away from other prisoners.

Without public explanation earlier this year, Cardenas, who is a citizen of Mexico, was moved from a federal penitentiary in Florida to the same supermax where Palma is held.

In addition to "El Guero" Palma and Osiel Cardenas Guiller, other drug lords known to be incarcerated in the U.S. Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado include Juan Garcia Abrego "La Muñeca", former head of the Gulf Cartel; Francisco Xavier Arellano Felix "El Tigrillo", former drug lord in the Tijuana Cartel; Juan Matta-Ballesteros, a former Honduran drug lord incarcerated for drug trafficking and his role in the 1985 kidnapping and murder of DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena

In some rare instances, U.S.-style security is being used in Mexico for high-profile prisoners, said Houston lawyer Kent Schaffer, who is representing Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez, a Texan who reputedly rose to the top ranks of a Mexican cartel.

Valdez is under heavy guard and being kept alone as he waits to see if he'll be sent to the United States to face trafficking charges.

He's rarely let out and is only allowed to read the Bible, Schaffer said.

“Personally, I think it is just a matter of time until he gets worn down,” Schaffer said. “You can just imagine the effect it has on somebody being cooped up in there.”

Schaffer, who represented R. Allen Stanford, jailed on charges rooted in a massive investment scandal, said his time in isolation made him almost unrecognizable.

“It was horrible. For the first couple of weeks, he was fine. After that, he was a totally different person, and it all started with solitary,” Schaffer said. “Can you imagine what it'd be like to be locked up all day like that for weeks or months or years?”

Read more:

10 Mexican Federal Cops Indicted for Extortion, Kidnapping

A Mexican judge has indicted 10 Federal Police officers in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez on a raft of charges, including extortion and kidnapping, officials said.

Judge Carlos Miguel Garcia Treviño formally accused the officers Wednesday after finding sufficient evidence of their involvement in crimes that also included causing bodily injury, abuse of authority, illegal weapons possession and crimes against health.

The officers were identified as Isaac Moreno Hernandez, Nicasio Garcia, Santiago Reyes Flores, Jose Juan Fuentes Rodriguez, Angel Miguel Cruz, Marcelo Xolo Ramirez, Raul Carrillo Perez, Agustin Tapia Felix, Alejandro Morales Lopez and Olegario Hernandez Ramos.

The judged based his decision on testimony from a Ciudad Juarez businessman who accused the officers of extortion and kidnapping and from agents with the federal Attorney General’s Office who arrested the suspects on Sept. 20.

Drugs and weapons were found in the officers’ possession at the time they were detained, although they said they had seized them after making an arrest.

The businessman accused the police of demanding a $5,000 payment in exchange for not planting drugs on him, as well as of kidnapping and beating him and stealing his bank cards.

Tens of thousands of Federal Police officers and army soldiers have been deployed in recent years to Mexican states to replace poorly paid, notoriously corrupt local cops.

Some 5,000 federal forces have been sent to Ciudad Juarez, which has been battered in recent years by a turf war pitting the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels with backing from local street gangs.

The Mexican chapter of London-based rights group Amnesty International last week issued an alert about a case of eight men from one Mexican family who were “disappeared” earlier this year in Chihuahua state, where Juarez is located, by a group of armed men wearing uniforms – one of which had “Federal Police” written on it.

AI said female relatives of the men reported the incident to the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office but that “evidence of police involvement was left out” of the official report.

Amnesty noted that Chihuahua has been especially hard hit in recent years by drug-related violence, which has claimed more than 40,000 lives nationwide since President Felipe Calderon took office in late 2006 and militarized the struggle against numerous heavily armed, well-funded drug cartels.

The rights group said “reports of human rights violations by military and police have risen sharply” in Chihuahua, including “arbitrary detention, torture, unlawful killings and enforced disappearances.”

It added that “some authorities have tried to attribute abuses committed by state agents to criminal gangs.”

Source: EFE

School threats spread to Nuevo Leon

Associated Press

Banners similar to those left by Mexican drug cartels appeared Thursday threatening to attack schools in three communities outside the northern Mexico city of Monterrey.

Similar banners and messages left near schools in the southern city of Acapulco led about 140 grade schools to close in late August.

But there was no immediate indication that the banners left in communities in the township of Santiago on the outskirts of Monterrey would affect classes there.

Santiago Mayor Vladimiro Montalvo Salas said he asked state and federal authorities to step up security in the township, but urged parents to continue sending their children to school.

Montalvo Salas said he hoped the banners were just a bad joke.

He said state police had taken down the banners, adding that it was unclear whether they contained any demands for protection payments as the messages in Acapulco did.

Drug gangs are known to operate in and around Monterrey. Last year, Montalvo Salas' predecessor as mayor was killed.

Santiago was once considered a quiet, bucolic weekend getaway for Monterrey residents, drawn by the town's quaint colonial-style streets. But the violent Zetas cartel began operating in the area around 2010.

Elsewhere in Mexico on Thursday, the navy reported that marines had killed suspected cartel gunmen in a shootout in Veracruz state on Mexico's Gulf coast.

The marines were responding to a complaint about armed men in the area around the city of Cosamaloapan when the gunmen opened fire on the patrol, the navy said.
Marines reported finding three rifles, drugs and a sport utility vehicle at the scene of Thursday's confrontation.

The Zetas cartel also operates in that area.

Additional Links:

Aparecen mantas amenazando a escuelas en Santiago, NL

Padres retiran a sus hijos de escuelas por temor tras choque armado en México

Cartels Trying to Move Operations to U.S.

By the numbers:
“Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw has testified to the fact that over the last 18 months, six of seven cartels have established command and control facilities in Texas cities that rival even the most sophisticated battalion or brigade level combat headquarters. Texas has suffered 22 murders, 24 assaults, 15 shootings and five kidnappings related to the cartels.”
Source: “Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment.”

The Brownsville Herald
While a special report commends Texas for the military-type campaign it has been waging against Mexican narco-terrorists, it also points to a lesson already learned: The state faces a lethal, elusive, creative, ruthless, well-armed and superbly financed enemy who is trying to learn and adapt at a faster pace than its American enemy.

The report also warns of the drug cartels’ intent to move operations into Texas border cities.

Titled “Texas Border Security: A Strategic Military Assessment,” the report says the success of Texas’ effort depends on the ability of state, local and federal agencies to work together to expand their war against intrusion by the Mexican cartels.

“The bottom line, however, is that while today Texas is the frontline in this escalating war, the potential consequences of success or failure will affect our entire nation,” the report states.

The report, unveiled this week, results from the Texas Legislature’s call to the Texas Department of Agriculture to assess the impact of illegal activity along the border on landowners and the agriculture industry.
TDA joined with the Texas Department of Public Safety and commissioned retired four-star Army General Barry McCaffrey and retired Army Major-General Robert Scales to conduct the assessment.

McCaffrey is the former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and former commander of all U.S. troops in Central and South America. Scales is the former commandant of the United States Army War College.

TDA Commissioner Todd Staples said the report offers a military perspective on incorporating the three levels of warfare — strategic, operational and tactical — to secure the border along the Rio Grande.
“It also provides sobering evidence of cartel criminals gaining ground on Texas soil,” Staples.

The report notes that Texas has become increasingly threatened by the spread of cartel-organized crime.

“The threat reflects a change in the strategic intent of the cartels to move their operations into the United States.

“In effect, the cartels seek to create a ‘sanitary zone’ inside the Texas border – one county deep – that will provide sanctuary from Mexican law enforcement and, at the same time, enable the cartels to transform Texas’ border counties into narcotics transshipment points for continued transport and distribution into the continental United States,” the report states.

Not only are drug cartels in Mexico warring for control of lucrative drug-smuggling corridors known as plazas, they also are fighting for drug-distribution networks in the United States, the study found.

“In a curious twist of irony, the more successful the Mexican military becomes in confronting the cartels, the greater likelihood that cartels will take the active fight into Texas as they compete against each other in the battle to control distribution territories and corridors,” the report states.

Bloggers and press freedom groups vow to fight on

Despite the murder and decapitation of Prima Hora advertising supervisor Maria Elizabeth Macias, purportedly in retaliation for her postings on an anti-crime website, some bloggers vowed to keep up the fight against powerful drug cartels. But they also warned users to trust no one.

"If we want to regain our peace and our freedom, we always have to fight on, I wouldn't ask anybody to take up arms, clearly, but with our reports, we can do them damage," said one poster logged on as "anon9113," who quickly added a note of distrust, "don't become friends with anybody on here ... we have to be careful with something as simple as giving out personal information."

Another poster agreed. "Exactly, this (Macias' death) should not be in vain, we should make it an example." Others said that despite the risk, they would continue reporting. One user posted that he had seen four drug-gang lookouts in a compact car near a gas station, and gave part of the car's license plate number.

Mexican citizens, including journalists, have been increasingly relying on social media chatrooms and sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, in the face of rampant censorship and threats of violence, Carlos Lauría, the senior Americas program coordinator for New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists, told on Tuesday.

Local media outlets, whose journalists have been hit by killings, kidnappings and threats, are often too intimidated to report the violence, he said. "The press is terrified and in the absence of press reports, citizens are turning to social media to fill in the void," Lauría said.

An editor at Primera Hora said Monday that Macias was the daily's advertising supervisor. The editor would not give his name for security reasons. He said the killing apparently was not related to Macias' job at the daily, which, in the face of intimidation and threats by drug gangs, had stopped even reporting on drug violence two years ago.

"We were taken by surprise, because since about two years ago, we don't even do crime reporting," said the editor. "We don't have a crime reporter."

He said police have not talked to the paper, nor given it any information on the killing. The paper, according to weekend editions posted on its website, has not even reported on her death.

The 39-year-old journalist's body was found by police last Saturday in Nuevo Laredo, just across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas. The journalist's legs and trunk were tossed in the grass, while her head was placed on a planter with a computer, mouse, cables, headphones and speakers. Macias, who signed her blog postings as "La nena de Laredo" (The Chick from Laredo), used social-networking sites to report on a criminal organization.

The note found with the body read: “For those who don’t want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for trusting the army and the navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl…ZZZZ.”

The gruesome killing may be the third so far this month in which people in Nuevo Laredo were killed by a drug cartel for what they said online.

Sources: Fox News Latino, and BBC News

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mexican Government Examines Videos from Anti-Cartel Vigilantes

Mexico’s government is analyzing video footage in which a group of self-styled vigilantes who may have killed 35 people in the Gulf coast port of Veracruz claimed to be waging an extermination campaign against the Los Zetas drug cartel.

The interior ministry said in a statement that the Attorney General’s Office has already launched an investigation.

Five hooded men dressed in black appear in the most recent video, distributed Sunday but supposedly filmed a day earlier, one of whom says that the “Mata Zetas” (“Kill Zetas”) are the “armed wing of the people” and that their “only objective is to wipe out the Los Zetas cartel.”

“Only by fighting them on equal terms can the Los Zetas cartel be eradicated from the root,” said the man, who instructed “officials and authorities who support Los Zetas to stop doing so.”

The Zetas, whose area of influence extends along Mexico’s Gulf coast, is one of the country’s most powerful and violent crime mobs and is notorious for the massacre of 72 undocumented migrants in August 2010 in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas and an Aug. 25 arson attack on a casino in the industrial city of Monterrey that killed 52 people trapped inside.

“Society can be sure and can trust that the Mata Zetas don’t extort, don’t kidnap, and will never affect people’s personal patrimony or that of the nation; that we respect the executive, federal, state and municipal powers in their fight against organized crime,” the group said in the five-minute clip.

On Sept. 20, two pick-up trucks were left abandoned in broad daylight on a busy Veracruz boulevard with 35 bodies in their beds and on the ground.

Investigators found a banner alongside the corpses in which the killers urged people not to allow themselves to be extorted by the cartel anymore and warned other Zetas members that they would meet the same fate if they remained in Veracruz.

In the video, the Mata Zetas did not refer directly to the 35 slayings but there were some similarities between the message on the banner and the content of the video.

“In Mexico, there’s no room for declarations or actions by people, groups or organizations that undermine or violate the rule of law, regardless of their cause, motivation or ultimate aim,” the interior ministry said in its statement on the videos.

Following the appearance of the clips, some analysts said the group could be an independent death squad that enjoys some support from the authorities or from business leaders tired of being extorted by organized crime elements.

Veracruz is home to one of Mexico’s largest Gulf of Mexico cargo ports and is famous for its boardwalk, 16th century fort, traditional Cafe Parroquia restaurant/coffee house and carnival celebrated in February and March.

Located some 410 kilometers (250 miles) east of Mexico City, it is a destination for domestic tourists who come to enjoy its white sand beaches and other attractions.

But its tranquil reputation is under threat from a recent spate of violence blamed on a bloody turf war involving the Los Zetas and Gulf drug cartels and breakaway members of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana mob.

Source: EFE

Calderon Orders Federal Forces to Veracruz

By Mark Stevenson
Associated Press
Mexican President Felipe Calderon's administration said Wednesday it is sending troops and federal police to a Gulf coast state where gunmen dumped 35 bound, seminude, tortured bodies on a busy avenue in front of horrified motorists.

Federal security spokesman Alejandra Sota said the federal forces will reinforce operational and intelligence work in the state of Veracruz. She didn't say how many troops and officers are being sent.

Sota said Veracruz's government asked federal prosecutors to take over the investigation of last week's body dumping.

Authorities have said the victims were linked to the Zetas drug cartel. The killers are believed to be from the New Generation gang, a group that is associated with the Sinaloa cartel.

The area had been dominated by the hyper-violent Zetas cartel, while Sinaloa is challenging their control.

Banners appeared in some Veracruz cities over the weekend accusing Mexican marines, who have taken a leading role in the government's offensive against cartels, of kidnapping residents and favoring the Sinaloa cartel.

On Wednesday, the navy said marines had detained three people who were carrying similar banners in their vehicle near the Gulf coast port of Tuxpan in Veracruz state. The three are believed to be linked to the Zetas, the navy said.

Marines pulled over their sport utility vehicle at a highway checkpoint Tuesday and found the banners, ammunition and a small amount of cocaine inside, the statement said.

The Zetas have extended their operations inland from the Gulf coast, and state police in the neighboring state of Hidalgo reported that two officers were wounded by grenade fragments in a shootout with alleged Zetas. One of the attackers was killed in the confrontation.

The assailants abandoned a vehicle with a grenade, two assault rifles and about 1,000 rounds of ammunition inside, authorities said.

In Tamaulipas state, to the north of Veracruz state, officials in the state attorney general's office said the hacked-up and burned body of a man believed to be a federal police officer was left on a road in the state capital. State and federal police could not confirm the man's identity.

A message left with the body said the Zetas had carried out the killing, in retaliation for the officer's alleged support for the Zetas' main rival, the Gulf cartel, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Federal police have been sent to several hotspots throughout Mexico to supplement often corrupt, intimidated or weakened local police.

In Ciudad Juarez, a border city where thousands of federal officers have been posted, the federal Attorney General's Office announced that 10 former federal officers had been arrested and ordered to stand trial on charges of extortion, abuse of authority and drug possession, among others.

Prosecutors said the officers were detained earlier this month on a citizen complaint. They were caught with a captive man in their vehicle, who told investigators the police had threatened to plant drugs on him and demanded money in return for releasing him.

An inspection of the officers' patrol vehicles found heroin, marijuana and unlicensed guns, prosecutors said.

Mexico Fears Rise of Vigilante Justice

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
A frame from a July video in which a paramilitary group vows to eliminate the violent Zetas drug gang.

Wall Street Journal

A self-styled drug-trafficking group calling itself the "Zeta Killers" claimed responsibility this week for the recent murders of at least 35 people believed to belong to the Zetas, Mexico's most violent criminal organization.

The claim by the "Mata Zetas" has stoked fears that Mexico, like Colombia a generation before, may be witnessing the rise of paramilitary drug gangs that seek society's approval and tacit consent from the government to help society confront its ills, in this case, the Zetas.

On Wednesday, Mexico's national security spokeswoman Alejandra Sota vowed in a statement that the government would "hunt down" and bring to justice any criminal group that takes justice into its own hands.

The issue surfaced last week after 35 bodies were dumped just blocks away from a hotel in the port city of Veracruz where Mexico's state attorney generals were due to hold a meeting the following day. Two days later, after the convention kicked off, an additional 11 bodies were found in different parts of the city.

The shocking scenes, suggesting mass murder in front of the country's top law-enforcement officials, were followed up days later by a video in which five hooded men took responsibility for the murders, saying the victims were all Zetas who had carried out crimes like extortion.

"Our only objective is the Zetas cartel," said a burly, hooded man who said he was a Mata Zetas spokesman, in the video. The man said that unlike the Zetas, his group didn't "extort or kidnap" citizens and were "anonymous warriors, without faces, but proudly Mexican" who would work "clandestinely" but "always to benefit Mexico's people."

The mysterious group appears to be part of the New Generation drug cartel, which operates in the northwestern state of Jalisco, according to an earlier video that showed some three dozen hooded men brandishing automatic rifles as a spokesman vowed to wipe out the Zetas in Veracruz. In that video, the spokesman lauded the work of the Mexican armed forces against the Zetas, and urged citizens to give information on their location to the military.

Acapulco: Severed heads found near elementary school

by CNN

Five severed human heads were found near an elementary school in Acapulco, Mexico, in an area where some schools had already canceled classes because of lack of security.

The heads were found Tuesday inside a sack that had been placed inside a small wooden crate, the Guerrero state public security secretariat said. Officials gave no further details other than to confirm that the heads had been found.

Photos of the scene showed a board with a message that had been left with the heads. The note, in an apparently sarcastic tone, told people to thank the governor for continuing "this war."

Teachers this month held protests over threats they received, presumably from drug cartels.

The calls threatened harm if teachers did not pay a portion of their salaries to the drug gangs.

Schools that refused to pay the kickbacks would be attacked, the threats said.

Late last month, right at the beginning of the school year, teachers fled from about 75 schools after receiving threats. Administrators and other personnel also refused to go to work and many schools were left empty and padlocked from outside for two weeks.

Juarez:Two officers close to police chief killed


Two law enforcement officers close to Police Chief Julian Leyzaola Perez were shot and killed within 12 hours of each other in Ciudad Juarez, the violence-plagued border city.

Local daily El Diario de Juarez said the first victim was Simon Saul Estrada Luevano, the acting chief guard at the Juarez prison (link in Spanish). He was killed just before 9 p.m. Saturday when gunmen stormed into his house. Estrada had recently taken the chief guard post on a provisional basis, El Diario said.

About 8 a.m. Sunday, Roberto Carlos Maldonado Ruiz, a 13-year veteran of the Juarez police force, was gunned down after leaving a night shift. Chief Leyzaola had recently assigned Maldonado to head the nighttime watch at the Babicora station, El Diario said.

The newspaper described the two victims as "trusted" by Leyzaola.

A former military officer and former police chief in Tijuana, Leyzaola has been police chief in Juarez since March. He has reportedly survived assassination attempts and in July accused the federal police in Juarez of attempting to kill him as he responded in person to a massacre at the Cereso prison. Tensions exist between local and federal law enforcement units in Juarez, complicating persistent violence that last left more than 9,000 dead there since the start of 2008.

Seventeen inmates including one woman and two U.S. citizens were killed in that prison attack. Since then, a number of prison guards have been killed or arrested and charged on suspicion of aiding the gunmen.

Separately, 10 federal police officers are accused of running an extortion racket in Juarez (link in Spanish). The federal officers were ambushed and arrested by fellow federal officers during an operation last week in which the suspects were meeting a car salesman to allegedly collect extortion money. The officers now facing charges were also found with large amounts of marijuana and heroin, the El Paso Times said.

And on Wednesday, the federal government announced it was sending army troops and federal police to yet another state, coastal Veracruz, where violence has escalated dramatically in recent days.

Sinaloa: Woman survives live grenade in face

By Joshua Norman

Mexican seafood vendor Karla Flores is being called the "Miracle Woman."


She survived having a live grenade lodged in her face.

One day relatively recently in her home state of Sinaloa, the mother of three was peacefully plying her business on the street when she heard an explosion and was knocked to the ground, Gizmodo reports.

Flores felt a burning sensation, saw blood after she touched her face, and then the next thing she remembered was waking up in the hospital, The Daily Mail reports.

At first, Flores thought a rock hit her, and doctors couldn't figure out what the large, round object stuck between her jaw and the roof of her mouth was, the Mail reports.

After medical imaging, they realized it was an unexploded grenade. If it went off, anyone within a 32-foot radius was likely to die. Flores was isolated immediately.
It is believed that the grenade was fired with a grenade launcher, hence the explosion Flores heard, Gizmodo reports. Why it didn't go off - and why Flores was targeted - is still a mystery.

At first, no one wanted to go near Flores to remove the grenade, but eventually four brave people - two anesthesiologists, a doctor, and a nurse - went with Flores and two explosives experts from the Mexican Army's to a far-removed open field to dislodge the grenade, the Mail reports.

Using only local anesthesia, the unprotected medical team gave Karla a tracheotomy so she could breath, and removed the grenade without it going off.

She lost half her teeth, the Mail reports, and video of Flores shows her with a large scar on the right side of her face, but she didn't die.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grenade attacks throughout Tamaulipas; shootouts reported

Photo: Twitter
Azteca Cinema: Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas

By: The Monitor

One of the most violent days recently in northern Tamaulipas took place Tuesday as one large firefight broke out in Matamoros, another firefight took place in Rio Bravo, and various grenade attacks occurred in Reynosa, Ciudad Victoria and Rio Bravo.

In Matamoros, fighting broke out about 5 p.m. near the intersection of Cuauhtémoc Avenue and Calle Doce. Soon after, another fight broke out along Calle Sexta near the intersection with Canales Avenue. The fighting soon moved to the San Francisco neighborhood, where it reportedly lasted close to 30 minutes. The fighting allegedly took place between two groups of gunmen with Mexican authorities arriving shortly after to make it a three-way fight.

As the fighting continued, gunmen set up road blocks along the city’s main streets to interfere with the deployment of Mexican troops.

Cameron County officials confirmed that Veterans International Bridge was temporarily closed as a result of the situation in Matamoros.

The Twitter and Facebook account used by the City of Matamoros to warn about violent incidents didn’t issue any alerts. However the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros issued a warning regarding the firefight.

“A gun battle that occurred on September 27, 2011 between the approximate hours of 5:45 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.,” the document stated. “During that time heavy gunfire was reported in different locations in Matamoros including the downtown area.”

The warning advised U.S. citizens to avoid unnecessary travel within the city.

Tamaulipas authorities issued a new release confirming the grenade attacks and condemning all forms of violence.

Sources: Fatal gunshots on McAllen expressway point to Gulf Cartel

by: The Monitor

Fatal gunshots volleyed from one vehicle to another along the expressway early Tuesday morning point to a power struggle within the Gulf Cartel, sources familiar with the victim said.

McAllen police continue to investigate the apparent murder of Jorge Zavala, 32, a Mission man slain as a volley of gunfire penetrated his Ford Expedition about 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Zavala and a 22-year-old man fell victim to the gunfire when an unknown shooter attacked their dark-colored SUV from a Chevrolet Tahoe with oversized rims as they headed west past the Jackson Road interchange.

Investigators believe the shots came from a semi-automatic rifle, but would not confirm how many struck the victims. The gunfire caused Zavala to lose control of the vehicle and crash along the expressway.

Police had no motive for the shooting as of Tuesday afternoon. But two sources familiar with the situation said Zavala had ties to Gulf Cartel members in Matamoros and Reynosa, which has shown signs of its own internal power struggle in recent weeks.


Zavala and another man were riding home from the Tex-Mex Lounge strip club, 2017 Owassa Road, Edinburg, when the shooting occurred, causing their vehicle to lose control and crash, McAllen police Chief Victor Rodriguez said.

Zavala died at the scene and the other man was transported to a local hospital where he was listed in serious condition Tuesday evening.

Police refused to say how many times the victims were shot, but preliminary autopsy results revealed that Zavala died from multiple gunshot wounds — not the crash.

A female employee at Tex-Mex said Zavala had been at the bar with a group of men. The suspected shooters were at the establishment, as well, but the employee refused to comment any further.

Public records show Zavala has a criminal history that dates to his youth. Offenses that date back to 1995 include arrests for burglary of a vehicle, tampering with government records, driving while intoxicated, theft of property, criminal mischief, failure to identify a fugitive and evading arrest.

Border Wars: Murder Capital

Sunday, October 2, at 10 PM ET/PT
El Paso is under constant threat due to its close proximity to Ciudad Juarez, the murder capital of the world. CBP agents face constant challenges from the spillage of Mexican drug cartel violence and human trafficking into the United States. Agents track down two illegal immigrants hiding in a school parking lot, discover a gas tank filled with 45 pounds of marijuana and catch two Guatemalan brothers crossing the border illegally.

Two officers leading away an apprehended man. Customs and Border Protection agents must be ready to arrest suspects who may be conducting smuggling operations or human trafficking. El Paso, TX. (Photo credit © NGT and Kevin Cunningham)

Video: Juarez Murders

Mexico rejects video call to exterminate Zetas

by Mark Stevenson

The Mexican government said it is investigating videos posted on the Internet in which a gang of masked men vow to exterminate the violent Zetas drug cartel, and said it opposes such vigilante methods.

At least two videos have been posted by a group believed linked to the powerful Sinaloa cartel that calls itself the "Mata Zetas," or "Zetas Killers." The Zetas were founded by deserters from an elite military unit and are known for their brutality.

In the most recent video, posted over the weekend, the group says it is attacking the Zetas because people are tired of the gang's kidnappings and extortion.

"We are the armed wing of the people, and for the people," says a man with a ski mask, who is seen in the video sitting at a table with four other masked associates and reading from a prepared statement. "We are anonymous warriors, with faces, but proudly Mexican." The speaker said his group was prohibited by its ethical code from carrying out kidnappings or extortion.

No group has formally claimed responsibility for that video, but the language and style of the declaration were similar to a video released in July, in which about two dozen armed men claimed to be "Mata Zetas" from the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel, or New Generation cartel, a group linked to the Sinaloa cartel.

The Interior Department said in a statement Monday night that the Attorney General's office "has opened an investigation into the videos that express the aforementioned ideas and are circulating on the Internet."

"While it is true that the criminal organization known as the Zetas should be defeated, that must occur by legal means and never by methods outside the law," the statement said.

While Mexican video-sharing sites and blogs frequently feature alleged statements by cartels, the "Mata Zetas" videos are being taken more seriously after a gang dumped 35 bound, seminude, tortured bodies on a busy avenue in front of horrified motorists in the Gulf coast city of Veracruz.

All 35 victims, who included 12 women and two minors, were linked to the Zetas cartel, and the killers were believed to be from the New Generation gang, said an official of the Mexican armed forces who couldn't be quoted by name for security reasons.

Local media reported that other banners appeared in Veracruz state over the weekend, accusing the Mexican Navy, which has been active in the anti-cartel offensive, of favoring the Sinaloa cartel, and of kidnapping local people.

While the Interior Department statement did mention those banners, it stressed that "any group or organization that operates outside the law and with violence, is being combated through (government) institutions, and without any favoritism."

However, security expert Edgardo Basucaglia has expressed fears that Mexico might be spiraling into a situation where paramilitary style organizations spring up, taking one side or another in the war between cartels, with the aid, cooperation or tacit tolerance of parts of the police or military forces.

Such a situation occurred in Colombia in the 1980s and 1990s, when officials allowed illegal far-right militias to spring up to fight leftist rebels. Those Colombian militias become deeply involved in killings and drug trafficking.

"In every country that has been studied throughout history, when they have faced this kind of institutional decadence, society has adopted private mechanisms of protection that give rise to paramilitary forces," Basucaglia wrote in a recent article. "Mexico today finds itself in the initial stage of the situation they went through."

The Interior Department, which is responsible for domestic security, rejected any vigilante or paramilitary action.

"In Mexico, there is no room for any person, group or organization to violate by word or deed the rule of law, for whatever reason or end," the statement said. "The federal government rejects any action that would stray from the path of legality."

El Chapo Guzmans' wife has twins in L.A. county Hospital


The spaces for “Name of Father” are blank. But the L.A. County birth certificates list the mother, who happens to be the young wife of one of history’s biggest and most sought-after drug lords, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Emma Coronel traveled to Southern California in mid-July, and on Aug. 15 gave birth to twin girls at Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster, according to birth records and a senior U.S. law enforcement official.

Turns out Coronel, a 22-year-old former beauty queen, holds U.S. citizenship, which entitles her to travel freely to the U.S. and to use its hospitals. By being born in California, her little girls now also have U.S. citizenship.

Full coverage: Mexico's drug war

Guzman, 54, the multibillionaire fugitive head of the Sinaloa cartel, married Coronel the day she turned 18 at a lavish wedding in the highlands of central Mexico in 2007. She is believed to be his third or fourth wife and is a niece of Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a one-time partner of Guzman who was killed in July 2010 in a shootout with the Mexican army.

U.S. federal agents apparently kept tabs on Emma Coronel even before she crossed the border at Calexico, through her hospital stay and until she left the country to return to Mexico. Although her husband tops most-wanted lists on both sides of the border, Coronel was not arrested because there are no charges against her, the law enforcement official said.

While she no doubt could have provided useful information on her husband’s whereabouts, drug agents have said the problem with apprehending Guzman has less to do with finding him and more with how Mexican troops can seize him. He surrounds himself with enormous bands of well-armed security and tends to stick to isolated, mountainous regions that are difficult to reach, agents say.

Coronel’s presence in the Los Angeles area and other parts of Southern California did not seem to attract attention. At the Antelope Valley Hospital, a spokeswoman declined to comment, citing privacy rules.

Birth certificates show the girls were born Aug. 15 at the Lancaster facility. The first came into the world, at 3:50 p.m. Her sister followed at 3:51.

In the spaces for the mother’s signature, Coronel opted to print her name.

Guzman, whose nickname means “Shorty,” is about 5 feet, 6 inches tall. He was arrested in 1993, but escaped prison in 2001 by bribing guards to hide him in a laundry basket.

U.S. authorities have placed a $5-million bounty on Guzman’s head and allege he and the Sinaloa cartel now control the bulk of cocaine and marijuana trafficking into the U.S. from Mexico and Colombia. Guzman’s forces last year moved into Mexico’s northeast shoulder around the border state of Tamaulipas, and he may currently be behind a ferocious push of gunmen into the coastal state of Veracruz to challenge the Zetas gang that dominates there. Scores of people have been killed or gone missing in recent days.

Coronel is said to have first caught Guzman’s eye when she entered the regional Miss Coffee and Guava beauty contest. He made his interest known, and she was crowned queen of the pageant. They married a few months later.

Updated, 8:30 p.m. Sept. 26: The post was changed to remove some personal information.

Monday, September 26, 2011

22 Criminals Die in Military Operation in Mexico

A 15-day operation staged by the armed forces in four states in northern Mexico resulted in the deaths of 22 suspected criminals in shootouts, the seizure of arms and drugs, and the rescue of 14 kidnapping victims, the Defense Secretariat said Monday.

The second phase of “Operation Scorpion” was carried out Sept. 10-24 by army and air force personnel, the secretariat said.

The operation’s goal was to “rein in the activities of the criminal organizations that operate in the states of Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Coahuila and San Luis Potosi in a forceful manner,” the secretariat said in a statement.

The four states have been plagued by drug-related violence blamed on a war for control of smuggling routes into the United States being waged by the Los Zetas and Gulf drug cartels.

Military personnel arrested 307 suspected criminals during the operation, the secretariat said.

The operation resulted in 13 engagements with criminal organizations, leaving 22 suspected gunmen dead and three soldiers wounded.

Military personnel seized 4.8 tons and 2,099 individual doses of marijuana, 6.9 kilos and 474 doses of cocaine, 2.3 kilos and 357 doses of crack cocaine, and 202 doses of crystal methamphetamine, the secretariat said.

The operation also led to the seizure of 459 rifles, 118 handguns, 108,000 rounds of ammunition, 3,237 ammunition clips, 84 grenades, 272 vehicles, including nine equipped with homemade armor, nine boats, $292,191 in cash and 7.2 million pesos (about $526,000).

Jonathan Emmanuel Estrada and Tomas Barbosa Sanchez, who allegedly participated in the Aug. 25 arson attack on the Casino Royale in Monterrey that killed 52 people, were arrested during the operation, the secretariat said.

The arrests of the two suspected Los Zetas drug cartel members had been announced last week.

Source: EFE

As Gangs Move In on Mexico’s Schools, Teachers Say ‘Enough’

Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Teachers in Acapulco marched on Sept. 14 against an extortion attempt that has led scores of schools to close.

The New York Times

The message is delivered by a phone call to the office of one school, a sheaf of photocopied papers dropped off at another, a banner hung outside a third.

The demand is the same: teachers have until Oct. 1 to start handing over half of their pay. If they do not, they risk their lives.

Extortion is a booming industry in Mexico, with reported cases having almost tripled since 2004. To some analysts, it is an unintended consequence of the government’s strategy in the drug war: as the large cartels splinter, armies of street-level thugs schooled in threats and violence have brought their skills to new enterprises.

But the threat to teachers here in this tarnished tourist resort has taken the practice to a new level. Since the anonymous threats began last month, when students returned to classes after summer break, hundreds of schools have shut down.

“This isn’t about money, this is about life or death,” Alejandro Estrada, an elementary school teacher, said as he marched in protest with thousands of other teachers down Acapulco’s seafront boulevard last week. “If you don’t pay, you die.”

The word here, in the tough neighborhoods that tumble down the far side of the mountains lining the once-splendid bay, is that everybody is paying protection money: doctors, taxi drivers, local stores.

“They come every week, and you just pay because you never know,” whispered a flower seller in a market in Emiliano Zapata, a section of town where shuttered stores and padlocked schools testify to the fear.

“Everybody thinks he’s a hit man these days,” she added, refusing to give her name for fear that the people who collect less than $20 a week from her might find out that she had talked.

But unlike other groups, which appear to be suffering in silence, the teachers belong to a powerful union that can easily summon large numbers to protest. And over the past month, the strikes have spread to schools that have not received any threats, which shut in solidarity or in fear.

“We are all scared,” said a high school drawing teacher who would give her name only as Noemi. “We are targets because we have a salary that is a bit more stable than the rest.”

Nationwide, the surge in extortion was wrenched into painful focus last month after men suspected of working for the Zetas drug cartel set fire to a casino in the northern city of Monterrey, killing 52 people inside. State officials said the owners had balked when the Zetas raised the protection fee. While powerful criminal organizations like the Zetas have long made extortion their calling card, it has since taken on a life of its own.

For much of the five years since President Felipe Calderón began his crackdown against drug cartels, the government’s strategy has been to focus resources on their leaders and fracture the large organizations into smaller groups. But when violent gangs are cut loose from bosses who know how to move drugs to markets in the United States or are pushed out of traditional drug-running routes, they look for new lines of work, experts say. Extortion is among the least risky.

“Three or four armed men can call themselves Zetas and dedicate themselves to extortion,” Guillermo Zepeda, a security expert at Iteso, the Jesuit University in Guadalajara, said. In parts of Jalisco, his home state, he said, shopkeepers have closed their stores rather than pay protection money and instead live off money sent from relatives in the United States.

But extortion has now spread to many parts of Mexico that had been relatively distant from the drug wars, according to a study by Eduardo Guerrero, a security analyst at Lantia Consultores, a Mexico City consulting firm.

“Extortion is the best business after international drug trafficking,” Mr. Guerrero said in an interview. “If you are sufficiently violent you can generate regular income.”

The business “always resorts to intimidation,” he wrote in the study, published this month in the magazine Nexos, “and as a result, habitually exerts more violence than drug trafficking.”

Moreover, unlike most cartel-on-cartel crime, the violence extends to ordinary citizens. That entanglement with innocent civilians can quickly whip up community anger and is the reason some drug gangs, notably the powerful Sinaloa cartel, eschew the practice as bad for business.

The popular revulsion over extortion has become so powerful that the New People gang, a rival battling the Zetas, took pains during a recent display of grisly hubris to distance itself from the practice. The gang dumped 35 bodies, believed to be Zetas, on a main road near the port city of Veracruz on Tuesday with a sign saying, “People of Veracruz, don’t let yourselves be extorted. Don’t pay any more ‘quotas.’ ”

Decapitated Woman Mourned by Social Media Website

More on the issue of the danger to the Social Media Networks and Ovemex quoted again, now in the LA Times:

By Daniel Hernandez
Los Angeles Times
Image: Screen shot of messages posted on Nuevo Laredo en Vivo discussing the reported death of a contributor known as NenaDLaredo. Credit: via Twitter.

A woman found decapitated in the border city of Nuevo Laredo is being mourned as an apparent member of a social networking site used by local residents to share information on drug cartel activity.

The victim was found early Saturday with a note nearby saying she was killed for posting messages online about violent or criminal incidents in Nuevo Laredo.

The Tamaulipas state attorney general's office identified the woman as Maria Elizabeth Macias Castro, 39, and said she was an editor at the newspaper Primera Hora (links in Spanish). The Associated Press, however, quoting an employee of the newspaper, identified the victim as Marisol Macias Castaneda, and said she held an administrative and not an editorial post at Primera Hora.

A web search of the newspaper's website found no mention of the woman's death or the discovery of a decapitated female body on Saturday.

But on the website Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, a banner image appeared memorializing a member known as NenaDLaredo. "You'll always be present," the display says.

At Saturday's grisly scene, the message left with Macias's body makes reference to the site and NenaDLaredo in particular, saying: "Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I'm the Nena de Laredo, and I'm here because of my reports, and yours."

The message was tagged with multiple Z's, indicating a link to the violent Zetas cartel.

A blogger and Twitter user known as @OVEMEX, who said he is based in northern Mexico and monitors social media, told The Times via email Sunday: "Apparently, from checking out the forum, which for the most part has been moved to private, it is her. Or at least she has not come back online to dismiss her own decapitation."

Social media sites have been essential outlets for Mexicans seeking to monitor or report on violent incidents and other activities linked to organized crime, as local news organizations frequently silence themselves under pressure from political or criminal forces. Primera Hora, for instance, is said to be a property of Nuevo Laredo's mayor, the daily Excelsior reported (link in Spanish).

The shift toward crowd-sourced drug-war reporting in Mexico has resulted in tension between social media users and local governments. The state of Veracruz attempted to try a man and woman for terrorism and sabotage for allegedly igniting a panic over attacks on schools in late August. The government later dropped the charges.

Earlier this month, two people were found mutilated and hanging from a Nuevo Laredo bridge alongside messages threatening social media users, but whether those victims were killed for posting messages on the Internet has not been corroborated by authorities or reliable news outlets.

Welcome To Tijuana

A recent article from the Associated Press indicated that the lull, or relative calm in Tijuana, came as a result of the Sinaloa cartel gaining control of the city, from the languishing remnants of the Arellano Felix dynasty. The article is not entirely untrue, or inaccurate, but beneath the surface is a complex and layered war for territory, and competition over retail drug sales, that contradicts the picture painted by the article.

At first glance the war would seem to be between cells loyal to Fernando Sanchez Arellano and cells loyal to the Sinaloa cartel, but the very structure of the cells and their leaders in Tijuana has changed, and this must first be examined, in order to understand the dynamics of the fighting in Tijuana.

January 2010:
For the last 18 months, Teodoro Garcia Simental, El Teo, and his soldiers had turned Tijuana and Baja California into a bloody war zone of gruesome mutilations and indiscriminate violence. Dozens of bodies were dumped and littered all over the city, burned, dismembered, castrated, baring mocking messages directed at Fernando Sanchez Arellano, 'El Ingeniero' the young Arellano nephew, who was fighting for control of the plaza he inherited from his uncles.

Seafood restaurants, nightclubs, and pool halls were left vacant, as gunmen executed patrons in broad day light, and buckets of human remains were left in front, warning the owners. El Teo, a longtime Arellano lieutenant had defected from the Arellano's, after Sanchez Arellano had ordered his lucrative kidnapping rings shut down. After a meeting to discuss terms went south, a bloody shootout followed, Sanchez Arellano had ordered Teo and his bodyguards dead, and Teo vanished from Baja, California and took refuge in Sinaloa that summer.

There are limited reports on the actual deal and terms discussed, but Teo came back to Tijuana that fall, with reinforcements from Sinaloa, and an agreement with Sinaloa cartel leaders, to transport their shipments and clean the plaza of Fernando Sanchez Arellano, and those who served him. Chaos and mayhem followed as the two cells battled for control, driving around Tijuana in convoys of luxury vehicles, taunting each other over radio frequencies.

In one recording the people of Ingeniero can be heard mocking the 'Teos', calling them tweakers and cowards. During the battle which lasted from September 2008 to January 2010, there were relative lulls in violence, and it was speculated, and later confirmed that the two men agreed to various truces and cease fires during the fight for Tijuana. Which suggested a mutual need to 'stop the bleeding', of both their men, and finances, as capos and valuable lieutenants were captured by the authorities, drug shipments seized, and the border tightened amid the frenzied violence. Wholesale prices on cocaine and marijuana skyrocketed across the border during this time period, climbing up to 24,000 a kilo.

Many speculated that Fernando Sanchez would be pushed out of his city, as banners calling him a mason and coward were posted up in Tijuana, but by the new year, 2010, neither Teo, nor Inge had fallen, though both had lost top leaders in their organizations.

The city seemed poised for more bloodshed. But, early one morning in mid January Federal Police raided a large house in an upscale La Paz neighborhood, and captured El Teo, overweight and wearing a red Nautica pul over he was paraded in front of the cameras, and sent to Mexico City. Sanchez Arellano gunmen, to push the remaining 'Teos' out, kidnapped the sister of Raydel Lopez Uriarte, 'El Muletas', a revered and feared leader of Teo's organization.

Because of pressure from authorities, or drawn out by the kidnapping, Lopez was captured, along with the younger brother of Teo, 'El Chiqluin'. Effectively removing the upper management, Los Teos were crippled. Cells existed, but were cuff off from leadership, as well as drugs and weapons supplies. Violence would continue in the city, but reign of El Teo, and his bloody style of violence was over.

Sometime in spring 2010, Alfredo Arteaga, 'El Achilles', loyal to the Sinaloa cartel negotiated with El Inge to bring peace to the plaza, agreed to have a non aggression pact regarding one another, and also to rid the city of the survivors, loyal to El Teo, including Hector Guarjdo Hernandez, 'El Guicho', and Jose Soto, 'El Tigre', and their cells. A relative clam followed, meaning executions continued, but without the mutilated bodies and hangings that were common.

This was also the beginning of the new strategy/organizational structure used by the Sinaloans, and agreed to by Sanchez Arellano, which is the cause of the violence today. Because of cell leaders and lieutenants, (ex. La Barbie, El Teo) gaining too much power and influence among the soldiers, in fact creating their own organizations, the two cartels had lost significant amounts of money, and time fighting these breakaway groups, and rebuilding after their removal, the newly implemented strategy was too prevent that.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The rising influence of paramilitarism: "Mata Zetas" issue a new communique

The campaign for the hearts and minds of Mexican society by the country’s drug cartels is apparent in the latest communiqué from the “Mata Zetas”, a paramilitary organization also known as the CJNG, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which reportedly operates as part of the Sinaloa cartel.

This is the latest evidence of the rising influence of paramilitary groups, as drug cartels increasingly resemble insurgent armies in response to the militarization of the drug war, and the role of drug cartels in society increasingly resembles that of a parallel state.

And maybe with this video communiqué we are beginning to see an attempt by a criminal organization to legitimize itself into a “movement”.

Is there a rising danger that militarized drug cartels will attempt to influence the outcome of Mexico’s 2012 presidential elections by targeting the civilian population with violence?

Only time will tell, but what does not bode well for Mexico is that what the attack on civilians in Monterrey’s Casino Royale that resulted in 52 deaths and the terrorizing of the people of Veracruz with this past week’s bloodbath or the murder of up to 200 innocent victims pulled from buses in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, tells us is that drug cartels have lost all respect for Mexican society.

In a video staged with spartan yet powerful theatrics the Mata Zetas/CJNG issued a new communiqué to the people of Veracruz, and more than likely a national audience.

An obviously educated and effective orator uses themes of patriotism, nationalism, morality, and respect for families and institutions to explain their role as protectors of the Mexican people.

Translation of the CJNG communique

Good afternoon, on this Saturday, 24th of September at 4:00pm we deliver the following communique.

To the federal, state and municipal authorities and society in general. As it is apparant to all of you the plight of insecurity that the country is experiencing is reflected within the nation's politics, economics, society and military.

In accordance with the above; we, the most vulnerable because of the circumstances of our way of life, want you to understand what is our role in this problem.

As an ethical principle we do not extort, kidnap, rob or oppress or in any other way disturb the national, familial, mental or moral well being.

Motivated by our personal experiences, we the members of this force that is the paramilitary arm of the people and for the people state that our only objective is the Zetas cartel, with all due respect to the armed forces that we understand cannot act outside the law, which we encourge.

We condemn the evil public servants whose support allows this scourge to continue against society, particularly in the communities of the port of Veracruz, Boca del Rio, Cardel, Xalapa, Poza Rica, Tuxpan, Panuco, Cordova, Orizaba, Perote, San Andres Tuxtla, Martinez de la Torre, Minatitlan, Acayucan, Alvarado, Coatzacoalcos and other municipalities in the state of Veracruz.

We do not avoid our responsibilities, but only fighting under equal terms will we succeed in eradicating the Zeta cartel from the roots up. To accomplish this we ask that that the functionaries and authorities who support the Zetas stop doing so.

That the armed forces be confidant that our only objective is to finish off the Zetas and that all of society be confidant that we, the Mata Zetas (Zeta killers), do not extort, do not kidnap, or in any way damage your personal or the national well being.

We respect the federal, state and municipal executive powers in their fight against organized crime, and we understand their position of not negotiating which obligates us to act covertly but always to the benefit of the Mexican nation.

We are anonymous warriors, faceless, but proudly Mexican.

We must not fall into the trap of external enemies that wield maliciousness, discredit and wickedness for truely predatory ends.

Shielded by the respect for God and democracy, we reiterate to the federal and local authorities that our fight is against Los Zetas. And if our actions have offended society, the Mexican nation and the federal authorities, we, as representatives of the force that we are part of, ask your forgiveness.

Our intention was to show the people of Veracruz that this scourge against society is not invincible, and that you stop letting yourselves be extorted

To each his battles and his fears, to us a single heart.

Thank You