Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Panic in La Laguna

Thursday, August 2, 2012 |

Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat


TORREON, COAHUILA (Proceso). 8-1-2012. At the Specialists Hospital Number 71 of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), doctors, nurses, patients and insureds went into a panic the afternoon of (July) 23, after they heard an explosion and saw that the fourth, fifth and sixth floors were engulfed in flames. Civil Protection personnel began to cordon off the area of the accident and to evacuate the 450 patients interned there. It was 7:45. Rescue workers said the explosion was caused by a gas leak. Just before that, the Municipal Police said the fire was caused by a ballast exploding. Everything was confusion.

Several nurses assure Proceso that, some hours before, they had started to get anonymous messages on their cell phones warning them not to go to work because "the hospital was threatened." And, when the hospital was on fire, the warnings came again: "This is just the beginning"...

A pair of nurses was walking around the the hospital grounds, located on Revolucion Avenue. They were holding each other and trying to give each other support. Each of them would check her cell phone to see whether more messages had come in.  The mobilization of rescue workers continued. The sound of sirens filled the air.

At 8:30 p.m. ambulances and firemen from nearby towns continued to arrive at the hospital. Inside there was chaos. Medics, male nurses and assistants were helping patients transfer; some carried cables, oxygen tanks, catheters for administering serum and other medications.

"When we started to get the threatening phone calls, some female employees asked to be transferred to Clinic No. 16", located on the same Revolucion Avenue, very close to the Specialists Hospital that treats people in the Lagunera province (Comarca Lagunera), says one of them.

The incident on the 23rd was the second incident that month. The first one took place recently, when a group of killers went up to the fourth floor to finish off a man wounded in a shootout and the bodyguard who was guarding him.

On Tuesday, the 24th, the Municipal Police issued a second statement which clarified that the "conflagration" was caused by a "general short circuit". With respect to the "attempted arson," the hospital's own staff controlled it immediately, concluded the statement.

The evacuation of the 450 patients from Hospital 71 is the most serious (incident) in the last two years. From that date, the approximately 700,000 city residents live immersed in a social crisis. It worries them, they say, that the Laguna area has become the place with the third highest number of violent murders in the country, just behind Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua) and Acapulco.

"La Laguna is today the best example of how corruption and complicity of the authorities with organized crime can sink a society in desperation and gloom," a local businessman, who asks not to be identified, tells Proceso.

These days, city night life is minimal. Small and mid-size businesses were the first to close down due to extortion by the Zetas; the businesses on the downtown streets, like Morelos street, followed soon after. Attempts by police to control violence in 2011 were largely for public relations purposes.

In October of that year, just weeks before his death, Mexican Secretary of Governance Francisco Blake Mora announced Operation Safe Laguna. The first thing he did was to replace mid- and high-level commanders in the Gomez Palacio, Lerdo and Torreon municipalities. Then 746 Army troops arrived. But the violence did not decrease. At the end of the year there were more than 740 murders.

During the first months in 2011, murders related to organized crime fluctuated between 30 and 40 per month. With  operation (Laguna Segura), they shot up to 50. Next month there were 60. During the last quarter, the average was 80 (per month).

At the beginning of 2012, the statistic shot up. In La Laguna, the office of the State Attorney General warned that this year it could get more violent because the homicide numbers increased 14% the first two months, with 102 murders. According to authorities, 80% of violent deaths are due to struggles between drug cartels for (control of) the city; 15% are caused by the Army in its confrontations with criminal groups. Although some casualties are from "collateral damage", the rest are due to local crimes.

Web of corruption

The Sinaloa cartel lusts after La Laguna. Its killers (sicarios) control several Durango municipalities, among them Gomez Palacio and Lerdo. The Zetas, who maintain an iron grip on Torreon, Matamoros and San Pedro, are also greedy for La Laguna.

From the time they came to Coahuila the Zetas could count on protection by authorities at all levels of government. In fact, several (Zeta) leaders established residence in the state. From here, they coordinate operations in Monterey and other cities in the area.

Kingpins like Sigifredo Najea Talamantes, "El Canicon"; Juan Oliva Castillo, "La Rana", who ordered the attack on the Casino Royale, and Alberto Jose Gonzalez Xalate, "El Paisa", arrested in April of 2012, all had their center of operations in Saltillo.

In its February 26, 2012, edition, Proceso documented the manner in which the Zetas infiltrated the Army, the Mexican Office of Attorney General (PGR), the Federal Police, the State Attorney General and state police agencies. The arrest of four Zeta leaders uncovered complicity of high-ranking government officials, who were getting paid fabulous salaries by the criminal organization.

In the criminal investigation (captioned) PGR/SIEDO/UEIDCS/041/2012, it was revealed that Lt. Col. Manuel de Jesus Cicero Salazar, who acted as chief of the Coahuila State Operational Police, protected the Zetas (Proceso 1843).  The Assistant Attorney General of the PGR in Saltillo, Claudia Gonzalez Lopez, was also implicated and was removed from office.

According to the same information, among the high ranking Army commanders who were receiving pay checks from the drug traffickers were lieutenants Javier Rodriguez Aburto, Socrates Humberto Lopez Gonzalez and Julian Castilla Flores. Each got 50,000 pesos a month. Their companion Marcos Augusto Perez Cisneros only got 30,000 pesos because "he was very lazy."

According to the investigation being referred to, the corruption network included second lieutenants, sergeants and corporals, whose job it was to act as go-between to transmit orders from the Zetas to the military commanders. The inquiry indicates that the corruption also reached the commanders of the Federal Investigations Agency (AFI), some of which had "narcosalaries" of 100,000 pesos a month. One commander second class received 70,000 (pesos); officer Jose Guadalupe Ballesteros Huescas, 50,000 pesos, while five agents of the Federal Public Ministry got from 25,000 to 30,000 pesos. Some of them received expensive cars as gifts.

The investigation also shows that Humberto Torres, brother of the head of the Coahuila Office of State Attorney General, received bribes of up to $100,000.00 dollars and BMW and Mustang cars when he worked as legal director of the State Department of Health. He's at large now.  (The report) adds that these government officials and military officers allowed the Zetas to build an empire for the sale of drugs, and to extort and kidnap business owners in the state. Meanwhile, from Durango, Chapo Guzman's army would heat up the "plaza" with constant battles. Because the majority of fights took place in downtown Torreon, since the Sinaloa gunmen only had to cross the Nazas River, soon the streets were left desolate with dozens of closed businesses.

During the drug war in this capital city there have been three massacres reported; the Ferry Bar massacre, where 8 men died at the end of January, 2010: the one on May 15, at the inauguration of the Juanas Bar, where 10 people died, and a third one at the Quinta Italia Inn, in the early hours of July 18 of that same year (2010), where 17 young people were killed by gunfire.

The PGR revealed that in those massacres, official (government) assault rifles were used that belonged to prison guards from Cereso Dos de Durango (a prison), then headed by Margarita Rojas Rodriguez. The state authorities accused the government official and several of her collaborators of allowing a group of prisoners to go out at night and use the guards' weapons and official vehicles to carry out "acts of revenge."

With the capture of some corrupt government officials the confrontations decreased, but disappearances and kidnappings  increased on the Coahuila part of La Laguna. Businessman Alejandro Gurza Obregon says the same thing; he states that business extortions have increased, but, he admits, the most serious (problems) are the abductions. The violence and insecurity also led many businessmen and store owners to leave the city, concludes Gurza.

The Juan Gerardi Human Rights Center asserts that, since 2010, the main problems that it deals with are related to disappeared persons. The organization Forces United for our Disappeared in Coahuila (Fundec) has reports of more than 230 disappearances, but the Commission estimates that there may be 600, although many of them have not been reported to the authorities.

"We constantly get people who are not organized and who come here to ask us for an evaluation. We have cases from the Matamoros, San Pedro, Francisco I. Madero and Cuencame municipalities," says Antonio Esparza, spokesperson for Fundec. Information about the abduction of migrants on their way to the United States also gets to the organization, he says.

The violence does not stop. Early this past June another massacre took place in the Tu Vida Sobre la Roca A.C. Rehabilitation Center, where 11 residents were murdered.

Notice to readers.-

Drug trafficking cartels continue to impose their control over practically the entire country. Proceso has adopted a policy of protecting its reporters and contributors by providing --  in exceptional cases-- certain notes and reports related to drug trafficking without their signature. Our editorial house takes responsibility for the content of these works.

   

             

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27 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

I am been reading about the drug violence in Mexico for years. The more I read, the more I am starting to believe that Mexico is in more trouble that I initially believed. This is a country where ordinary people can't even live normal lives, run normal business, children scared to pay in the streets, people afraid to leave their homes.

Mexico is fighting a police action but in reality it should be fighting a civil war by means on a revolution. Mexico must produce a leader who will lead the general populace to clean out these murderers. This will have to be a dirty revolution with many people killed, including traitors, corrupt people.....no mercy on anything against the people. This is the ony way that the destruction of this country can stop. Mexico needs to be mean, tough and kick major ass or else it's over for that beautiful country. Surely in all of Mexico there is a hero to come to the rescue of the people.....start small and before you know it, it will spread like wildfire. Maybe then the USA will get on board more that it is presently.

So Mexico....show you balls and find the best spot to start this revolution, maybe Chapis or somewhere where the poeple are stading up to these pendejos.

Anonymous said...

Of all places THE HOSPITALS should have been set up with army type protection, enough to withstand any attack yes for quite some time already NOTHING OF THE SORT has been set up to guard THE MOST IMPORTANT members of society. When we get ill enough ¿who do we turn to?: to the kindness of the medical society! This REALLY IS Soooo frustrating, to see that the very little protection has been set up at hospitals.

María

Anonymous said...

Alright then, the army should be waiting for these terrorists, hiding in the wings ready to pounce on the mother f....s! What about parking a helicopter on top of the hospital roof for example, so that when the terrorists appear, THIS TIME they can be follow by aircraft.

SB

Anonymous said...

If its not safe in a hospital , then its not safe. Torreon used to be a nice place to visit.
But, now its ruined.

Anonymous said...

As with some of the articles posted on BB before it seems the the Zetas pay people well. Thats a powerful tool in a land of not. But where ever they go the local economies crash, its just a matter of time. What a tangled web. Some folk say the Zetas are a ground swell, a crime wave from below contradicting corruption from above. What do folk south of the border think about this?

Whatever the case, those countries to the south who have a working relationship with the U.S. tend to have corrupt, top heavy economies.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing that isn't a surprise in there. Mexico is a narco state, corrupt from top to bottom. It's the Latin equivalent of Somalia which may be an insult to Somalia.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:09PM -- The difference between Mexico and Somalia is that Somalia doesn't pretend to be a functioning state, where Mexico puts on an act like they have a legit government and fair courts, control and security. The web of deception is so tangled in Mexico that you can never hope to untangle it, and there is no clear way to tell the difference between the wolfs and the sheep. This is why the citizens have nowhere to turn for help, it is a dismal terrifying scenario that is playing out just south of us.

-520

Anonymous said...

I spoke to someone from Saltillo recently that brought up a good point about the violence in this area. He mentioned that the violence there is attributed to somewhat a political battle between the PRI who are heavily entrenched in this area with 'nexos' to the narcos, and the PAN (Calderon) sending the troops to the area to take control. Always makes you wonder, who is pulling the strings, politicos or the narcos.
He also mentioned that he preferred the Marinos and the PFP being there because the municipios are too corrupt, and hat the Marinos/PFP are not perfect, they are the lesser of two evils. He said that the Marinos shoot suspected halcones on site, which is obviously problematic, but synonymous with this type of conflict.

Anonymous said...

"Surely in all of Mexico there is a hero to come to the rescue of the people.."

I am sorry to say that using the techniques taught by the School of the Americas
any hero as an individual will be executed.
by the way school of the Americas fort Benning Georgia is using the new name WHINSEC Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation = SOA

www.soaw.org

no guns no worry a razor broadhead will kill a 180 lb man just as easily as it does a 300 lb wild hog.

tons of improvised weapons on youtube.
words to use
self made
bow
arrow
slingshot
slingbow they shoot arrows

even explosives are possible.

always use a larger group to take a smaller group.
squad tactics
pray

Anonymous said...

Ah just out of curiosity what the hell was the hospital thinking not taking threats seriously? Not looking out for the welfare of citizens and patients. Well, who do you go to in Laguna. I guess you stay home to die!

Anonymous said...

So after reading this article I went and looked at a map to understand the geography involved. It's crazy that Sinaloa controls one side and u cross te river and it's totally controlled by the rival zetas!the durango side being Sinaloa and the Coahuila side being zetas. Once u understand this then u know what govt. forces work for whom. I'm from el paso and it's difficult to know who's in who's pocket over in Juarez.i would think municipal would be in carrillos side . Maybe some state police and then the rest for chapo including the army. That makes sense rite. If anyone knows please tell me. I ask people from Juarez and they maintain diehard loyalty that cartel de Juarez still is in charge of plaza. If u talk to people from el paso they say Sinaloa is in charge. What is the truth?

Anonymous said...

well for what it is worth i called my local news station after reading this and told him about the burning hospital and i quote what he said
" where did it happen? "TORREON, COAHUILA" I said".
he says, "not close enough to the border."
I hung up the phone with the knowledge that the USA does not give a flip about Mexico.
you guys are on your own.
survival of the fittest, law of the jungle.

Anonymous said...

August 2, 2012 10:25 PM You ask who is in charge? Satan is in charge.

Anonymous said...

"Surely in all of Mexico there is a hero to come to the rescue of the people"
It is possible,god knows,maybe we all need some change away from the corporate dominated world we live in.I think to us,it seems outrageous that this madness is happening,but to Mexicans,it is not so crazy.Maybe it is cultural to some extent,but the people getting hurt both physically and monetarily are the dirt poor.
As someone above said,the Mexican economy is not only top heavy business wise,it is hugely top heavy in terms of wealth distribution.The social strata at the top hold nearly all of the wealth.You had Pena Nietos daughter commenting just before he was elected"oh they are just envious and jealous of people with money"or words to that effect?This shows the mentality of some of these people.Do they not look at their fellow countrymen and think"is there a way to make jobs"to spread wealth,to create new manufacturing jobs?Who knows,but maybe they do need another revolution,to sweep people like this away.This kind of social strata applys in most countries,to a greater or lesser extent.It is idealism to think we could construct something better.2012 and we still have babies starving to death ?

Anonymous said...

Until a "Che" type cabrone stands up to All that is Powerful in Mexico in the present climate nothing will ever get done because
nobody wants to fight both Army/Cops and Cartels
at the same time. This is the typ of war that takes years to complete to fruition..!

Anonymous said...

We have military policing the whole world and it seams our government (In my opion the best government in the world) does not see fit to look into the future and see we are going to have to fight the war that is growing larger and spilling over into our great country more and more everyday. The longer we wait the more it is goning to cost us in lives and money.

Anonymous said...

.

I was curious to find out if the word Satan can be arrange to spell another word" Santa

Who invented language, SECRET SOCIETIES BENT ON LEADING THE SHEEP (we, the common folk)?

And we just happen to have Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses, and a great many people fall for that stuff--"Prince Charles is coming to OUR country!!, GRAB THE CAMERA HONEY!" And we have other representatives like a Pope and, Presidents, AND BIG STINKY BANKERS one of whom SOMEHOW managed to accumulate 350 TRILLION DOLARES!! Let me see, if I keep washing dishes for a long enough period of time ¿how much will I eventually GATHER?!!

"Once upon a time there was a Santa and a Satan."

"Once upon a time there was a Little Red Riding Hood and a Big Mean HUNGRY WOLF!" ... See the same pattern?

T. de Café

Anonymous said...

Great writing 7:56 AM. (Aug 3). If you're not already a reporter and public spokesman, you should be!

SenB.

Anonymous said...

Somalia The Land were Islamic Extremists walk the land killing any
one who is what they call infadel/Christian/Jew Ect. And there's not a
Lot of food or clean water In somalia.
Mexico The land were you can buy
Beers n smokes at a young age.
the land were you can pay off the
cops if you get cought in a jam.
In Somalia the government is
ISLAM.IN MEXICO The government is
the Mafia. So these two countrys
Are very different but at the same time they have a similarity to them
Like Child soldiers.
Beheadings.
Murders no investigations.
No justice.
No freedom.
Harsh reality.-Al Quds. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

So you say a che/Communist
can change Mexico?
I don't think Americans like the
Communist/Che so if that happened
then what A new cold war?but this
Time its Mexico?

Anonymous said...

Well said. We need liders who are whilling to fight back.

Anonymous said...

SenB.
You know who wrote that,im not a thoughtless thug.
We always arguing about violence,maybe its because i have it,and you dont.And as i say,as humans we are all different,saludos MP.

Anonymous said...

Hola 5:41 PM (August 4)

Gracias por tu visita y mensajito '5:41 PM'.
Usted es reportero de BB ?


Por cierto, un SALUDOS a ti también compa

SenB.

Anonymous said...

Your right Santa dose
Sound like Satan
Actually if you look up
How to say Satan in Spanish
You will be supprised
on how you say Satan in espanol.
Al quds.God bless.

Anonymous said...

Hello again 5:41 PM,

Your mentioning violence has gotten me thinking. It can be brought on by the physical body when it reacts to food or drugs. Look up "Drugs That Trigger Violent Behavior" on the internet.

Did you receive vaccines in your life? Some vaccines can damage the immune system and from then on, when you ingest food your immune system may teact negatively to what you have eaten IF it interprets that food as an enemy. I can't eat carrots because they create such a nasty reaction in me: I lose focus and I can't drive a car; I'm also an emotional wreck, the brain energy is affected badly and I have to lie donw till my system eventually recovers. I received MANY vaccines when I was younger. Look up "thimerosal in vaccines"

Your sugar metabolism may not be functioning properly and that can be another reason why your inner experience can get chaotic.

Stimulants like coffee can create havoc in a person. It can bring on big headaches if you drink enough of it, affect your digestive system and give you the runs, plug your nasal system and so on.

Long term lack of sleep at night can soon turn you into a mess and affect your mental-emotional health.

Do you work too many hours daily?

So consider those things. Perhaps you're not violent but instead you get very angry about things which is an inner violence. Outwardly violence takes on a different dimension, it can verbal violence aimed at others or physical violence but it still stems from angry reactions happening In You.

SenB.

Anonymous said...

Yes 1:12 PM, the accent falls on the last 'a', "Satanás". I myself never use the word I use the word Diablo instead ja ja ja.

Thanks for bringing that up!


Ya! saben quiEn soy jijiji,

Saludos

Anonymous said...

SenB.
You sound like a gentle person.No,it is not just inside,unfortunately.I to have thought about certain things,why.I just believe that we are different as humans.That is the enigma.As humans,we can do great things,but we can also do awful things.You may be right about certain things about mood swings,headaches,but,what i am talking about is much different.Dont you think it is part of the human make up?It is as legitimate as love,hate,jealousy,envy,intellect,etc,some have more of one than the other.Are we arguing again SenB.You see,we are the same yet different ?
tener cuidado hermano .

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