Sunday, September 30, 2012

7 immolated bodies found in Michoacan state

By Chris Covert

A total of seven unidentified immolated bodies were found in Michoacan state Sunday morning, according to Mexican news accounts.

A report posted on the website of Cambio de Michoacan news daily reported that the find was made at around 1050 Sunday morning on Kilometer 4 of the Yurecuaro, Michoacan-La Concepcion, Jalisco road in Yurecuaro municipality.

The bodies were found aboard a Chevrolet sedan, which had been reported carjacked last September 16th.  Four of the victims had been decapitated.

According to data compiled at, including this latest find, since September 14th a total of 31 victims have been found in the Michoacan-Jalisco border region where a new conflict between Los Zetas and Los Caballeros Templarios drug gangs has intensified, since an internal power struggle within Los Zetas has made itself apparent.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for

7 die in Nuevo Laredo

By Chris Covert

Seven unidentified men were found butchered and stuffed into two vehicles in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, according to Mexican news accounts.

A news dispatch posted on the website of Vanguardia news daily reported that the victim were stuffed into a Ford Lobo (F-150) pickup truck and a Ford Explorer.. The site was discovered at around 1100 hrs Sunday morning near the local Walmart shopping center.

All but one of the victims were in their 30s, with the other in his 50s. All victims had been dismembered.

According to data compiled from news reports which appeared on, at least 44 individuals have been killed in Tamaulipas state in drug related violence since September 7th, which includes executions and murders, intergang gunfights and security forces encounters with armed suspects.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for

Something is Broken: Mexican Justice

Borderland Beat

The Road to Mend the Mexican Justice System

The Mexican criminal justice system is in crisis.  Mexico is facing historic rates of criminality and violence, mostly because of the State’s inability to punish those who break the law. For understanding where the challenges of criminal justice system lie, it is fundamental to know what happens in the process from the time a crime is committed until it is punished, or not; which authorities are involved and where the bottlenecks occur. In this process, the statistics are an indispensable tool for measuring the institution's performance at each phase of the process. Unfortunately, the available public data on security is difficult to compile, compare or systematize. Acknowledging that the first step for solving the problem is understanding it, CIDA worked with the publicly available data. The document below, presents 27 figures for aid in understanding  the country’s insecurity problem. Only some of the data is featured. To enlarge any chart below in "Statistics," simply click on the image.

U.S. Shifts Mexico Drug Fight

Military Aid Plummets as Washington Turns Focus to Bolstering Legal System

MEXICO CITY—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets her Mexican counterparts at a security summit in Washington Tuesday to discuss the next phase in the drug war: how to train the judges and prosecutors that will be trying suspected drug lords.

The Merida Initiative, the U.S.'s $1.9 billion assistance program to Mexico, began mostly as a means to buy military hardware like Black Hawk helicopters for Mexico. But over the past two years, it has entered a new phase, in which purchases for the Mexican military are taking a back seat to measures to mend the branches of Mexico's civilian government.

The former director of Colorado's penitentiary system has trained more than 5,000 Mexican prison officials in recent years. Mexican jurists are running mock trials with visiting American judges to prepare for a transition to oral hearings that will replace Mexico's enigmatic closed-door meetings where sentences are handed down.

"Different things have come to the fore at different times, but strengthening the rule of law in Mexico is the area that's crucial right now," says Roberta Jacobson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Reuters: Police escort prisoners in Mexico in August. 
U.S. aid efforts are turning toward legal and police training.
Officials in both countries increasingly believe the root of Mexico's problem lies in creating an honest police force, professional judges and a prison system comparable with that in the U.S

The challenges are harder to measure but will take center stage at the so-called High-Level Consultative Group on Tuesday, where Mrs. Clinton will be joined by Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Attorney General Eric Holder and top officials from Mexican President Felipe Calderón's cabinet. The two sides will also discuss topics ranging from border security to seizing assets of drug cartel members in the U.S.

"Our efforts to confront transnational crime on both sides of the border benefited from a clear understanding that we had to multitask," says Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhán.

While Mexico has had success at catching criminals, it's had less luck in putting them behind bars—the country has a meager 2% conviction rate for most crimes. A new test came just last week with the capture of Jorge "El Coss" Costilla, the alleged boss of Mexico's powerful Gulf Cartel. He is the 23rd in Mexico's "37 Most Wanted" list to have either been killed or captured under Mr. Calderón; after six years of fighting, the original heads of Mexico's drug gangs are mostly gone.

That reality is being reflected in how U.S. aid is being spent in Mexico. Assistance to the Mexican military has nearly collapsed, with counternarcotics and security aid falling from a height of around $529 million in 2010 to $67.5 million planned for next year.

Meanwhile money meant for strengthening institutions from law schools to prisons doubled in the last year, to $201.8 this year from $105 million in 2011.

Training Mexico to handle its own struggle could be more cost-effective for the U.S.—total aid this year to Mexico is at $330 million, less than half its number 2010—in large part because training police and prosecutors is less expensive than financing a military with big purchases like helicopters.

One example both sides are touting has to do with Mexico's courts, which are undergoing a radical overhaul. Unlike the U.S., most trials in Mexico take place in closed proceedings where judges aren't present nor even meet the defendant. Attorneys and witnesses gather in a cubicle where a clerk takes notes and prepares a file, later sent to the judge for a decision. There are no juries.


In 2008, Mexico's congress approved a change to have trials be conducted orally—with attorneys arguing in an open courtroom before a judge—with a complete rollout by 2016. The overhaul is hoped to boost conviction rates and guarantee fair trials.
Since the new system will be similar to the way trials are conducted in the U.S., the government has sent legal experts to train their Mexican counterparts in everything from witness protection to plea bargaining. So far more than 7,500 Mexican judicial personnel have received U.S. training at the federal level, and more than 19,000 at the state level.

A delegation from the U.S. Supreme Court met with Mexican judges in taking oral testimony, a first in Mexico. Members of the U.S. Bar Association are training lawyers.

"There was a skepticism that Mexican judges had coming into this, for this new role, but now they have enthusiasm," says John Feeley, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere. "Judges are going to be the linchpin in this."

Another key area is the Mexican police. Experts believe most drug-related crime in Mexico is never reported because the populace mistrusts the police. Such problems were on full view last month when members of the Federal Police wounded two U.S. government employees after opening fire on their car in the hills outside of Mexico City. The police say they mistook the car for that of fugitive kidnappers they were looking for.

The U.S. is trying to avoid incidents like that in the future by taking a hand in training the police themselves.

A Mexican police academy in the central state of San Luis Potosí is now partially staffed by American law enforcement agents who have trained more than 4,500 federal police. Mr. Feeley says the program is being expanded to develop similar academies that will work with state and local police in other Mexican states. Spanish-speaking U.S. agents from border states now work with the Mexicans and the U.S. even hired the former director of Colorado's state penitentiary system to give classes to Mexican corrections officers.

Still, both the U.S. and Mexico agree that no amount of training will solve crime problems if corruption remains in institutions such as the police and judiciary.

Despite the collaboration, one reality can't be avoided when the leaders meet Tuesday: Mexico still has a long way to go in this second phase of the drug war.

Eric L. Olson, a Mexico expert at Washington think-tank the Wilson Center went to an oral trial in Morelos, one of the first adopters of the new system, and says the hearings reached an awkward moment where a judge was scolding the attorneys for wanting to read from sheets rather than argue properly.

Mr. Olson says the proceedings were a step in the right direction, even if there are missteps. Still, he says: "Both sides have always had difficulty defining what the criteria for success are," he says. "That has not happened yet."


Thank you DD!
Thank you Chivis!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Federales bag five armed suspects in Torreon

By Chris Covert

A Policia Federal (PF) road patrol element encountered several unidentified armed suspects near a farm in Torreon, Coahuila, killing five, according to Mexican news reports.

According to a news item posted on the website of Vanguardia news daily, the shootout took place just after noon Saturday near the Matamoros-Torreon road near the Puerta de Torreon, where a PF patrol designated Grupo Geo observed five armed suspects in Sol de Oriente colony. When shots were exchanged, the criminal group fled into a farm house on calle Toyama.

The armed suspects continued fire on PF agents from inside the house, when agents decided to use pepper gas against the suspects. One suspect attempted to leave the farmhouse but was dropped by police gunfire. At the conclusion, PF agents found four armed suspects dead inside the house.

PF agents found two AK-47 and one AR-15 assault rifles, and one 9mm pistol.

In Torreon, in southern Coahuila state and Piedras Negras in northern Coahuila has experienced what can only be termed a severe uptick in drug and gang related violence especially since the prison break 12 days ago in the border city of Piedras Negras. According to Spanish and English language reports, Piedras Negras has experienced shootings nearly every day since the prison break.

According to Mexican press accounts many of those released from prison were members of Los Zetas criminal group.

According to a report published in last Wednesday's Eagle Pass, Texas Business Journal, the municipality of Piedras Negras has been under martial law.

However, under the Mexican Constitution, martial law can only be imposed by the Mexican president of the republic and only with consent of the Chamber of Deputies and the president's cabinet.  

No other Mexican media outlet or even social media have confirmed that the municipality was under martial law, or that a declaration of martial has been announced.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for

The dumb war (La guerra boba)

Sabina Berman

Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat

MEXICO, D.F. (Proceso. 9-24-2012).  Global phenomena occur in the form of a net. Causes happen simultaneously in several regions of the globe and their effects in other regions, also simultaneously, and without government control. This is the case with climate change. Or the recession. With new forms of communication. Or with drug trafficking.

Mexico should be especially interested in recognizing how the causes of drug trafficking, with its peculiar characteristics, occur in Europe and the United States, and should suspend a war that attacks drug trafficking as if it were a local phenomenon. This is the equivalent of lighting bonfires in the Anahuac Valley to return our long Mexican spring, shortened in this 21st century by the melting of polar ice caps. 


Please raise your hands, those of you who have smoked marijuana or snorted cocaine, I ask the audience in the Berlin Book Fair. Six out of every ten people raise their hands.

Raise your hands, those of you that believe that drugs are the Devil. Not one hand is raised and laughter runs through the audience.

Raise your hands, those of you who have had problems with the police from having smoked marijuana or sniffed cocaine. Again, not one hand is raised and, again, the laughter. 

These are the numbers according to the UN's World Report on Drugs: 34 million Europeans consume coke or marijuana as part of their lifestyle. In the United States, the number is 44 million consumers.

If it ever did, today the police in the First World don't go after the distribution or consumption of drugs. Drugs are as near as the neighborhood pusher. Call him on his cell phone and he will bring the merchandise to the house.

In London, I visit the Queensway jail on a Saturday, a night of druggies and crazies. This is where they bring drug users who are acting strange to get over the turbulence caused by an overdose. Their girlfriends or friends, or their mothers or their neighbors call the police. The police pick them up, put them in a cell so they can act out their craziness in solitary. Yell incoherently, slam themselves against the wall, piss in a corner. In the morning, when they're sober, they get breakfast and a recommendation for treatment.

It bears repeating, this is where they bring the victims of an overdose, not any drug user. Consumption of drugs is treated as a public health matter, not a crime.


Drugs have simply lost their diabolic aura in the highly developed countries where they are consumed. That's why no politician dares launch an offensive against them. But neither does any politician propose their legalization to erase the incongruity that they are allowed but are criminalized. Nobody would applaud that. One lives with this matter in a convenient hypocrisy.

Only in this remote country called Mexico does drug trafficking provoke gunshots, people cut to pieces, bodies left in car trunks, protest marches, 95 thousand deaths, billions of dollars in costs, a social malaise that translates into hostility in daily life.

But if there's a robbery in London or Berlin, the police are there in the blink of an eye. A robbery, a homicide, a fight. The police arrive in less than ten minutes and apprehend the offenders and take care of the victims. A judge dictates sentence promptly. Punishments are given out under a reliable system that provides an ethical certainty to daily life. 


Mexico has made a mistake. Alone, it fights a war against a global phenomenon that only matters to a few. That makes the headlines in every case because of its unusual cruelty.  

Yes, President Obama declares his admiration for the Mexican Army and sends some weapons. Yes, European heads of state wrinkle their brows and congratulate the stupid relative, Mexico.

Actually, Mexico has no obligation to carry on a war to get a pat on the shoulder. We urgently need something else: to reach the level of civilization in those countries, and to achieve that, we need to emulate them, not Colombia. 

Mexico's anti-drug policy should emulate that of the First World. That is, like them, we should do nothing against the trafficking and consumption of drugs. To legalize these substances would be congruent, but it would be enough to look the other way, like the Europeans and the United States.

And, above all, we should emulate their policy against crime. Build a reliable and efficient  police and system of justice. So long as we lack that police and those judges, so long as we do not construct the circumstances to have these things for the first time in the nation's history, we will continue to lag ten degrees behind the civility that reigns in Europe or in the United States. 

In this barbarism with islands of civility.    


This is why our next president's upcoming visit to Colombia, to discuss with the executors of that 40 year war against drugs, is worrisome. That's why one worries over his talks with Janet Napolitano, National Security Secretary of the United States, who, with her stern face and luxurious phrases, recommends that he continue the heroic effort against the narco. 

It would be desirable for this president to have a clear vision of Mexico's place on this planet and a deep mistrust for all the bla-bla-bla that our more civilized brethren use to encourage us to keep on killing ourselves in this twice-tragic war. one, because any war is tragic. Two, because it's dumb.


Forced Disappearances Increase in Tamaulipas

Translated by Vato for Borderland Beat

13 year old Milynali is an US citizen, she disappeared returning from the US

El Diario. 9-24-2012.
Distrito Federal.(EFE) -- Forced disappearances have increased at an "alarming" rate in several Mexican states, like Tamaulipas, one of the most violent states in the country, where the press has been silenced and complaints to "incompetent" authorities are the exception, according to victims and activists.
In that region in the northeast part of the country, which the organization Mexico United Against Crime (MUCD: Mexico Unido Contra la Delincuencia) considers "practically a zone of exception", or a "failed state", Milynali Pina Perez, a 13 year old girl, disappeared more than a month ago, along with three cousins and her uncle.
In an interview with EFE, Milynali's mother, Graciela Perez, narrates her tragedy, and with it that of many families who have lost track of a loved one in a country with more than 24,000 disappeared persons, according to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH: Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos). 

"I'm not afraid," says the 43 year old teacher of English, convinced that the only way to find her daughter, a U.S. citizen, and her four relatives is to carry out her own search because the authorities haven't done anything. 
Mother is unafraid to sepak out
Her daughter, her brother Ignacio and three of her nephews disappeared August 14 in Tamaulipas when they were coming back from a trip to the United States.

The last phone contact they had with their family, originally from the city of Tamuin, San Luis Potosi, was when they were in Ciudad Mante, only two hours from their destination. Their uncertainty grew when her relatives stopped answering their phones, recalls Perez. The next day, they filed a complaint with the Public Ministry.

The five persons, who were traveling in a pickup truck back to Tamuin, are classified as "disappeared" because no group has asked for ransom payment, she explains. 

The Public Ministry (PM: investigating and prosecuting entity) says that that zone is "very dangerous" and that's why (it's agents) do not go to the scene of these incidents to obtain information. While the military personnel who arrived a few months ago to Ciudad Mante are looking for the family, they have no capacity to investigate, says the ministry. "Nothing disappears by magic," states Perez, who confesses that her family "is devastated" and feels "powerless" at the lack of results.

"We have tried the government (agency) road and have accomplished nothing," she points out after naming, one by one, the doors she has knocked on, from the Presidency to the Fiscalia (State Attorney General's office), through the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros and the FBI.

"I feel that my daughter is alive," says Gabriela, with tears in her eyes, who tried to find out from a photograph shown to her by the military whether her daughter was among the ten bodies found in a clandestine grave in Xicotencatl, near Mante. 
Vanished between point A and B, only 79 miles to Tamuin
She traveled to Mante to make an identification, but when she got there, the body had been buried, and she had to be satisfied with a photograph, which left her full of doubts, which is why she wants a DNA comparison test to be sure.

Before a cadaver goes to a common grave, authorities are required to take DNA samples and prepare a file with all of the victim's information and compare it with reports, but many times this is not done, MUCD's Juan Francisco Torres Landa tells EFE.

Graciela believes, "because of the way they operate," that the Zetas deprived her relatives of their freedom to use them as "merchandise." Vicente Hernandez, a friend of the family, explains that the Gulf Cartel and its former armed element, "Los Zetas", are disputing control of this (drug) corridor to the U.S. 

The way they operate is they "capture people to extort, exchange prisoners or to cover their escapes. They also keep victims in safe houses and expose them when the authorities arrive so they can make their escape," he says.

All this takes place without the authorities doing anything about it. Residents don't file complaints, many have been threatened and fear for their lives, says Graciela, who goes on to say that businesses won't even allow her to put up photographs of her disappeared relatives.

"You can smell the fear" in southern Tamaulipas, the forgotten part of the state, in contrast with the north, which captured the limelight in 2010 with the death of 72 migrants, most of them from Central America, in the municipality of San Fernando," she says.
The bodies of the 72 migrants executed in Tamaulipas in August 2010
This is why she has resorted to (filing) a formal complaint, to draw attention  to her case and to many other cases in Tamaulipas, where authorities refuse to provide information about persons reported as "disappeared."   Questioned by EFE, Ruben Dario Rios, the spokesman for the state Attorney General, limited himself to providing the reporter the statistics found on the agency's web page, where among the most common crimes were vehicle and home robberies. 

Homicides, disappearances and kidnappings do not even show up on a list of the ten most common crimes in a state that, according to Torres Landa, is in a "state of emergency: "If police officers admit that they cannot carry out a field investigation...because they feel defenseless, that sounds very much like a failed state." 

This situation is not limited to Tamaulipas. "The list (of states) now is really very long," proof that Felipe Calderon's strategy of attacking crime indiscriminately, "has failed miserably," he adds.

Even though the "road is uncertain", Graciela says she will keep on knocking on doors until "someone turns around and sees me."          

The Treatment of Americans in Mexican Prisons

Chivis Martinez Borderland Beat
Julio and Tony Americans serving time in a Mexico City prison
You may have read Vato's post regarding the complaints of Narcos in American prisons, now we take a look at how Americans are treated in Mexican prisons. It doesn’t differ much from the treatment of Mexicans in Mexican prisons,  however the distinction is critical, Americans are targets by all other prisoners,  as it is thought they have money to steal.

The conditions are deplorable, making conditons in the US prisons Club Med by comparison.  It is unfortunate that Mexican narcos can't spend time in Mexican prisons, but truth be told they would have it far differently than the conditions in this video.  Money buys everything wanted in Mexican prisons.
I had the “opportunity” to vist a prison as a “guest” of the prison director.  If I ever go on a return visit I will not eat before I go.  If the conditions don’t turn the stomach the smell surely will.  Perhaps it is because water is scarce in the prisons, water for drinking or enough to partially fill a bucket to bathe.  It is estimated that bathing occurs every couple of weeks.  Water and food are withheld from prisioners for 23 or the 24 hours they are locked in a cell., prisoners will bang on cell walls and bars chanting "Water! Water! Water!", going almost a complete day without.   The meal they are provided is slop, cooked in a kitchen that shares its space with the sewer and rats as big as small cats.
One of the rats sharing the kitchen with prison cooks and sewer below

Half of the food is stolen and “sold” as barter.  This means the meal will run out before all prisoners are served.  Starving bad guys are not happy and this can lead to violence.  Prisoners have created a system of trade, either by work such as tatooing or gambling.

Killing and being killed is the number one issue of each prisoner.  Killings are rampant and Americans are targeted by just about everyone and the suicide rate is extremely high.  Often to escape the conditions will lead one to death, or rivals on the outside will send a message “we have your family, die or they will be killed”

This full length video follows the lives of the inmates of two of the worlds toughest prisons. Julio and Tony are former LA gang members serving time for homicide in Mexico Citys high security prison - Santa Martha.

Seen as outsiders with money they have both been attacked many times but they are more than willing to fight back Lurigancho Prison in Peru was built for 3600 inmates but now houses nearly 10,000, with only 100 unarmed guards. To control the prisoners the authorities have handed over the running of the prison to a council of inmate leaders.  This video is a rare look inside a Mexican prison and its every day life.

Water and a "meal" are given once a day to the "lucky"
 Full length video
 Now a look at the living conditions and luxury cells capos and the wealthy enjoy in the same Mexico City prison and others in Chihuahua and throughout Mexico.  It will cost 6000USD per month but nothing is off limits.  Sex, drugs, VIP game rooms with fully stocked bars, 3 and 4 room air conditioned "cells", with refrigerators, microwaves and stoves, living areas with sound systems, and Television/DVD players.  In VIP sections there is work out area with equipment and patio areas with tables with umbrellas, and outdoor kitchens and bars. Chef's and women are brought in for parties.
If you read the book the last narco you will remember the desciption of El Chapos cell and surroundings.  These EFE photos will give you a visual.

The ZETA Prison Escapes to Replenish Zetas Ranks

Borderland Beat

Posted in Borderland Beat Forum by AJ

Besides being one of the most violent organizations. The ZETAS are increasingly consolidating their dominance throughout the country. In recent years, Los Zetas have imposed their law in most prisons in the north. In those places, co-opted directors and trustees have helped with organized mass escapes, like the one in Piedras Negras, on Monday, September 17, 2012, to free its members and supporters and replenish their organization in their war against the Gulf Cartel and to combat the Mexican military and police.

The Zetas control most of the prisons in the north and for the last four years, in complicity with their managers, have organized mass escapes in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Zacatecas and Coahuila. In their latest prison break, in Piedras Negras, 131 inmates escaped the Social Rehabilitation Center (Cereso) of Piedras Negras through the front doors.

During that time, the group's criminal evasion, consisted of 546 organized thugs and sympathizers, according to figures from the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security, which allowed them to replace their fallen members.

The leakage of Piedras Negras Cereso inmates took to the streets, where two buses were waiting to take them, admitted the state attorney, Homero Ramos Gloria, and the owner of the local Public Security, Jorge Luis Delgado Moran. The tunnels that they dug were only used as a screen to "cover up officials" who helped facilitate the escape.

The ruse did not work, so a Rio Grande judge issued a 40 day warrant against 16 prison officials identified as suspects of the crime of the escapes of the prisoners, including Cereso director, José Miguel Resendiz Perez, the head and Deputy Director of Security and Custody, Héctor Miguel Anguiano Saul Rosales and Francisco Ambriz Jacques and several guards.

According to state officials, several of the inmates were transferred to Tamaulipas and others sent to strengthen the Zetas in their war against the Gulf Cartel (CDG).
Another Zeta prison break was in the morning of February 19, 2012, in the Apodaca Prison, in Nuevo Leon, when 37 inmates climbed the tower and slipped six ropes to the street where gunmen were waiting for them in several trucks.

Previously, guards had taken 44 members of the CDG in ambulances to be beaten to death in the courtyard of the prison while guards gave the Zetas protection.

Nuevo Leon Governor, Rodrigo Medina Cruz, said the next day, that the custodians of 'tower six' were questioned. The officers and 29 prison guards, confessed to receiving money from Los Zetas cells to allow them luxuries; the freedom to sell drugs, extort internally and have parties with mariachis and women in the prison.

Jorge Domene, security spokesman for Nuevo Leon, said the prison director, Geronimo Miguel Andrés Martinez, received bribes from the Zetas of about $35,000 pesos per month, while the head of the guards got between $20,000 and $25,000. Shift managers and custodians were given around $10,000.

The fugitives were taken by Los Zetas to a ranch in the town of upstate, Anahuac. Among them were three 'drug lords', who were reassigned as regional managers of cells that were formed in the Monterrey metropolitan area and in rural municipalities of the state.

Among the leaders were Oscar Soriano Manuel Bernal, "El Spider", Rogelio "Chacha" Quintanilla, "El Yeyo" and Jose Ricardo Barajas Lopez, "El Bocinas". To date, 17 have been recaptured, including "El Yeyo" and two were killed in clashes with the military.

"El Bocinas" remains at large but the Mexican Army has him as the focal point for implementation of 49 people whose bodies were abandoned in Cadereyta, last May. They say he even recorded the execution with his cell phone and then uploaded the video to YouTube, where it was available for only a few hours.

The largest mass escape organized by Los Zetas occurred the morning of December 17, 2010 at the Center of sentencing (Cedes) of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas where two vehicles [a van and a school bus] were used to pick up 151 convicts. Days after, Gov. Eugenio Hernandez Flores, said the escape was carried out in collusion with the trustees: "It was a betrayal of the trust placed in them," he said.

He reported that the director of the state prisons, Horacio Sepulveda, who was seventh in charge in his administration, and the director of Cedes, Efrain Hernandez [with only two months in office] were both found missing. Forty-one trustees of the Attorney General's Office were charged with allegations regarding the prison escape.

On May 19, 2009 there was another mass prison escape in Cieneguillas, Zacatecas. This time 53 prisoners fled. The operation was documented in a video that showed the ease to which the Zetas have access to prison system and how easy it is for them to get their accomplices.

The outside cameras recorded the time in which 10 trucks arrived and were allowed inside the prison without showing any documents. The guards of the main entrance alerted, by radio to their superiors about the arrival of the convoy.

The video shows the entry of a group of gunmen who locked the custodians and minutes later you can see the prisoners run into the vans and then the vans drive out of the prison without any confrontation from the prison security.

The Secretary, Carlos Pinto Nunez, said that the prison guards had facilitated the escape, "The guards didn't even resist and left the cells unlocked making it easy for the prisoners to escape."

Recruiting system
A colonel who heads the operations of Special Forces in the country's northeast region, described their identity; the exponential growth of Los Zetas during the administration of Vicente Fox.

At first, he says, the group was consolidated in Nuevo Laredo, where they were sent in 2001 by Osiel Cardenas to defend the city and prevent Edgar Valdez Villarreal "La Barbie" [who worked for the Sinaloa Cartel] and his sicarios, to settle in the area.

From there it spread rapidly to the main cities of that region and Nuevo Leon. The Zetas began recruiting members of the municipal police, who were in charge of caring for the 'narco-tienditas' that were reproducing like a fungus", he says.

During the Fox administration, the CDG-Zetas dispute against their rivals, the Sinaloa Cartel and other smaller groups caused over 10 000 deaths, including police chiefs and other police officers. "At that stage, Los Zetas were within reach of hundreds of trained assassins in the municipal and state police departments." He mentions that in some municipalities in the metropolitan area of ​​Monterrey, the word "cartel" was synonymous with "law enforcement agencies".

He began purging the police in Nuevo Leon, in the town of Garcia, where 99% of the police department were dismissed. [In Escobedo, 90%; In Guadeloupe, more than 70%; and in Santa Catarina and Monterrey, more than 60% were fired or prosecuted.]

Los Zetas changed their approach and began to recruit 'hitmen' and 'halcones' and strengthened their stakes with the street gangs in thousands of marginalized areas. There they found an endless vein of 'cannon fodder', but these street soldiers were inexperienced in handling firearms", added the colonel. "Besides, the Zetas would easily replace these inexperienced gang members by recruiting them with new members from the prisons."

Criminal Control
The organization, Citizens in Support of Human Rights, founded on April 23, 1993 between the Christian based communities of Guadalupe City, Nuevo Leon, worked several years with the inmates in the penal institution.

Its director, Consuelo Morales, says that the members of that organization have left that job because the prisons are controlled by organized crime. Everyone knows, he says, that prison officials are working for the CDG and Los Zetas, either by threats or bribes.

The cartel capos inside the prison control everything in the prisons which includes every aspect of business from the drug trade, which includes trading at expensive prices, to charging for spaces on the floor to sleep. They have imposed a system of terror to the extent that families of prisoners must pay daily to avoid being hit.
In Topo Chico Prison, Zetas members get up to 15 million pesos every month for their illegal activities.

The Diocese of Saltillo, represented by Bishop Raul Vera Lopez, also has been performing pastoral work in the prisons, but in recent months his work has been hampered by the cartels.

"We know that the prisons of our region are in the power of organized crime. In nowhere else, in any other prisons in the world, have there been leaks like this."
In regards to the prison break on Monday 17, in Piedras Negras, local media reporter, Vera Lopez, said, "Prisons have laws and governments themselves, imposed by organized crime, which causes suffering to the common criminals. There is no order of legality and justice, much less a state of law in which we can trust."

"To change this situation", she said "honesty is required in the administration of the prison system from the highest levels.", She concluded "It is unfortunate the degree of disorder we have reached and it seems that things could go worse, and with the change of Political Administration, it doesn't seem like the corruption is going to end."

Source: Proceso

Rincón said he Avoided Lethal Meeting

Borderland Beat
More information from the trial of Rincón Rincón reveals deatils of a lethal meeting: 
Mark Reagan
A special agent stationed in Mexico with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration testified Thursday in the trial of Juan Roberto “Comandante” Rincón Rincón that a team of hit men from a rival Gulf Cartel faction in Reynosa ordered Rincón, his men and Jose Luis “El Wicho” Zúñiga Hernandez to a meeting on a dirt road Oct. 26.

Special Agent Elias Lee Gonzalez testified that Rincón told him during an Oct. 27 interview that he did not go to the 11 a.m. meeting because he thought everyone who showed up would be killed, and that a few of his men who did go were killed.

The night before, Gonzalez said, “Metro-4,” whom he identified as Hector Delgado Santiago, sent a hit man to kill Rogelio Guerra, whose code name was “X18,” and Rincón feared the same fate.
Thursday was the fifth full day of testimony in Rincón’s trial. He is charged with two counts of conspiracy to transport cocaine and marijuana, according to court records.
The Gulf Cartel split into two factions in early September 2011 after the slaying of Samuel “Metro-3” Flores Borrego, the criminal organization’s leader for the Reynosa region. Gonzalez testified that after Rafael “El Junior” Cárdenas Vela was arrested in Port Isabel in October, Mario Cárdenas Guillén became de facto plaza boss of Matamoros.
The friction in the cartel developed, with the Cárdenas family in Matamoros along with Mario “Pelon” Ramirez Treviño and “Metro-4” in Reynosa forming one faction; the other was led by the head of the Gulf Cartel, Jorge Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez, Gonzalez testified. Rincón, who was loyal to Costilla, was stuck in the middle at the Rio Bravo plaza, Gonzalez testified.
Rincón was arrested with Zúñiga and three other men about a week after Cárdenas Vela was arrested in Port Isabel. The men were fleeing a gunbattle in Mexico against rival factions from Reynosa and Matamoros that had surrounded them, Homeland Security Investigator Moises Gonzalez testified last week.
“I couldn’t believe these two individuals crossed into the U.S. after (Cárdenas Vela) had been arrested so recently,” Elias Lee Gonzalez testified.
He testified that Rincón told him he had a payroll of $95,000 a week for three groups who worked under him that totaled 90 men. The DEA agent also testified that plazas designate boundaries like city limits.
“Nothing happens within that plaza without them having knowledge from their scouts,” Elias Lee Gonzalez said of plaza bosses, adding that it’s not often that a drug load goes through their territory without their knowledge.

When Taliban called Z40 a Traitor, Trevino Responded

When Taliban called Z40 a traitor, Trevino responded by taking steam shovel to one of Tailban's homes.

Posted in Borderland Beat Forum by DD

With Ivan Velazquez Caballero, the reputed narco boss known as “Taliban” now behind bars in Mexico, Dudley Althaus reports today on the shifting, bloody geopolitics of narcotics near the South Texas border.

We’re also hearing from solid sources in Mexico that matters have gotten especially nasty. When banners purportedly signed by Velazquez recently appeared in various cities — accusing rival Miguel Trevino and his followers of being traitors — Trevino reportedly sent steam shovels and earth-moving equipment to smash one of Velasquez’s homes in the Zacatecas city of Fresnillo. The Committee to Protect Journalists took photos:

(Committee to Protect Journalists.)

Meanwhile, check out the thick, interesting federal document posted at the bottom of this page regarding this Zeta players. I’ve not seen many like it, but this is one of the U.S. cases against El Taliban and the others.

Dudley Althaus’ story:

Mexican marines have captured a renegade leader of the Zetas known as El Taliban in the latest blow by the U.S.-backed commando campaign against the violent gang operating south of the Texas border.

 "El Taliban"
 Ivan Velazquez Caballero, 42, was dragged Wednesday evening from a safe house in a middle class neighborhood in the city of San Luis Potosi. Though accompanied by two bodyguards, Velázquez apparently was seized without a shot being fired. He and his two alleged accomplices were presented to the media early Thursday.

“It was a great job on the part of the Mexican government and military,” said Rusty Payne, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman in Washington. “We’re working side by side in Mexico. We pass them leads. We give them information and they act upon it. We’ve definitely helped the Mexicans put the puzzle together.”

Mexico’s government put a $2.5 million price on Velázquez’s head last spring. He also faces a U.S. criminal indictment on drug-trafficking charges in the Houston-based Southern District of Texas.

Broke with Zetas
Formerly a senior Zetas lieutenant, Velázquez had broken with the gang’s top bosses in recent months, allying himself with remnants of the rival Gulf Cartel and Knights Templar gangs to vie for control of key border cities and smuggling routes.

His fall, combined with the Navy’s capture this month of two Gulf Cartel leaders, could bolster efforts by Zetas kingpins

Miguel Angel Trevino
Miguel Angel Trevino known as Z-40, and Heriberto Lazcano to consolidate underworld control along the entire south Texas border.

Velázquez’s arrest came hours after marines captured 18 alleged Zetas gunmen close to the border upriver from McAllen, an area that lately has been considered Gulf Cartel territory. But running battles also erupted later Wednesday between marines and gunmen in the center of Piedras Negras, which shares the Rio Grande with Eagle Pass and is considered to be under Treviño’s sway.

The quickly shifting alliances and battlefronts can make the gangster feuds resemble a full-blown war. But Mexican and U.S. officials stress that at its heart, the violence is about criminal enterprise – primarily getting illegal drugs to American and other consumers and bringing the profits home.

“The whole battle is for the routes, getting the drugs and money across,” said a U.S. official in Mexico, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Nuevo Laredo and other towns and cities bordering south Texas rank among the biggest prizes.

The Zetas split from their former patrons in the Gulf Cartel in February 2010 and have since grown into one of Mexico’s leading criminal syndicates, trailing only Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s so-called Pacific Federation.

Eduardo Costilla
Marines this month arrested Gulf Cartel leaders Mario Cardenas Guillen and Eduardo Costilla, further weakening that once-dominant gang.

Started as a teen
Velázquez grew up in Nuevo Laredo and began his criminal career as a teenager stealing cars. Like Treviño, he joined the Zetas after the group was formed in the late 1990s and was among the few to rise to leadership in the group who were not ex-soldiers, like Lazcano, officials said.

In addition to being indicted on drug-trafficking and money-laundering charges, court documents and testimony in recent years tie Velázquez to several murders across the border in Laredo.

The split between Velázquez and his former Zetas bosses became public in mid-August with the discovery of the bodies of 14 Velázquez gunmen stuffed into a van parked outside San Luis Potosi. Scores also have been killed this month in Nuevo Laredo as the factions battle it out.

From the blog "Narco Confidential" at

Following the story is a copy of a 40 page US Indictment out of Laredo of Taliban, Z-40 and a whole slew of others.  Here is the link if you want to read it all:

Mayhem in Monterrey: 13 busted in shooting

By Chris Covert

A total of 13 unidentified individuals were detained by Mexican security forces in Monterrey Friday afternoon following a shooting, according to Mexican news accounts.

A news report which appeared in the web edition of El Diario de Coahuila news daily said that the shooting began when six plainclothes members of Nuevo Leon Fuerza Civil were on surveillance duty in their parked Nissan Versa near the Loz-Mar communication store near the intersection of avenida Federico Gomez and Revolucion in Buenos Aires colony.

About ten shots were fired at the vehicle, which prompted the vehicle's driver to flee, but who instead crashed the car into a Dodge Charger sedan parked nearby.  When the officers tried to flee the scene, guards with the store detained them, brought them into the store and commenced beating them.  In the meantime, officers had apparently called for backup, bringing Mexican Army,  Fuerza Civil and Policia Estatal road patrols converging to the scene.

Detained in the incident were the four armed guards, eight store employees and one female.

A total of six individuals were killed in ongoing drug and gang related violence in and around Monterrey, according to several dispatches posted on the website of Milenio news daily.
  • An unidentified man in his 30s was found shot to death near Escobedo municipality early Saturday morning.  The victim was found just after midnight near avenida Manuel L Barragan, shot nine times including one shot in the head.  The vicitm had been bound by foot.  A number of rifles were also found near the body.
  • An unidentified man in his 30s was found shot to death in San Nicholas de los Garza municipality early Saturday morning.  The victim was found near the intersection of calles Barranca and Vereda in the La Enramada colony, shot in the back three times with a 9mm weapon, as he tried to flee the attack.
  • A man wanted by Mexican police for murder was found dead in Salinas Victoria municipality Friday. The victim was identified as Jesus Eduardo Reyes Garcia AKA El Gomaz, 21, who was wanted for a series of murders and kidnappings in south Monterrey and around Allende.  Although the body was in an advance state of decomposition it had been determined he was shot with an AR-15 assault rifle.  Reyes Garcia was associated with the criminal group allegedly involved in the murders of Carlos and Raul Fortino Sergio de la Garza last May near Allende.
  • An unidentified man was found shot to death early Saturday morning in Apodaca municipality.  The victim was found near the intersection of  calles Tala and Estado de Jalisco in Noria norte colony.  The victim had been decapitated.  The head was found in a nearby pay phone booth.  The victim has reportedly been kidnapped some time before.
  • An unidentified individual was killed in a series of shootings and car crashes in San Nicholas de las Garza municipality early Saturday morning.  At around 0100 hrs, police responded to calls of a series of shootings and car crashes in Estancia Minera colony, where an apparent intergang shootout was taking place.  The report fails to identified how the victim died, or if the victim was even involved in the shootings.  The report does note the victim was found on avenida Romulo Garza and then transported to a local hospital where the victim died.
  • An unidentified man in his 30s was found by police shot to death early Saturday morning in Apodaca municipality.  The victim was found near the intersection of calles de Garza Garcia and Iturbide  near Zona Centro of the municipality, shot once in the head. The report said the victim had been mugged.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for

5 Sicarios Die in Fight with Marines, 2 Federal Police Dead, Tortured in Zacatecas

Borderland Beat

Zacatecas, Zac.  - Yesterday in the ongoing struggle against organized crime in Zacatecas, two Federal Ministerial Police officers were found dead with signs of torture.  Also,  five alleged gunmen were killed in a shoot-out with Marines. In addition, authorities seized automatic weapons and explosives from students in a home located in the municipality of Enrique Estrada. The students reportedly attended Autonomous University of Zacatecas (UAZ).

The bodies of the Federal Police were abandoned early Friday morning on Hidalgo street in Fresnillo. According to the testimonies collected by authorities, several vehicles entered this road and threw the bodies out on the the pavement. After the office of the State  Attorney General had the bodies transported to the Forensic Service, they were identified as members of the Federal Police. The two bodies had signs of torture.

In Fresnillo, Marines arrested five members of the municipal police, after making an operational check of weapons in the  facilities management of Municipal Public Security.
The preventative police were transferred to Mexico City, presumed to have links to organized crime, and were to be filed with the PGR 

In Valparaíso, a Marine convoy patrolling the area faced shots with alleged members of organized crime, when they met them head-on the state highway. The Marines ordered the crew in the suspicious vehicles to stop, but they ignored the Marines and started shooting instead. Thus, the confrontation began, and there were five dead alleged killers as a result of the shooting.

In other events, elements of the Marines and Federal Police agents secured weapons, thousands of rounds of ammo, radio equipment, drugs at a checkpoint and they got an address for a search.

At a checkpoint on Ramón López Velarde Avenue, Marines stopped a luxury SUV Escalade carrying five young people identified by their credentials as attending UAZ and the Autonomous University of Durango.

A source at the Ministry of Public Security reported that they checked inside the car and found four rifles, cartridges, shortwave radios, several Nextel cellular devices, and drugs in an amount  which was not specified.

In the municipality of Enrique Estrada,  federal authorities secured over 10,000 cartridges and 14 finger explosives which made them perform a search of a house on Gladiolas Street in neighborhood of Jardines. 

In the property they found also found eight AK 47 rifles and at least 700 chargers for various calibers.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mexican Army reinforces southern Veracruz port city

By Chris Covert

A total of 500 additional Mexican Army troops have been dispatched to the southern ports city of Coatzacoalcos in southern Veracruz state, according to Mexican news accounts.

According to a report which appeared in news website, Coatzacoalcos already has 600 army troops in the area since it is a garrisoned city.  The new deployment brings the total troops in the city to 1,100.  The deployment is equivalent to two rifle battalions.

Veracruz state itself is the location of Seguro Vercruz, a security operation which seeks to concentrate Mexican security forces along main shipment routes used by drug cartels.  Both Mexican Naval infantry as well as army troops participate in the ongoing security operation.

According to news reports, the additional troops will be tasked with operating military checkpoints into the city, and to reinforce patrols in the city.

Reports also say that troops with the Mexican 29th Military Zone are the elements slated to deploy.

The 29th Military Zone is commanded by General de Brigada DEM Luis Ricardo Diaz Palacios, while the Coatzacoalcos military garrison is commanded by General de Brigada DEM Hilario Miguel Mata Aguilar.

Coatzacoalcos is home to four major petrochemical plants and is where, according to its English language Wikipedia entry, Pemex has 85 percent of its production.

Two security incidents have occurred with regard to Pemex in the last two weeks.

The Mexican national Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR) or attorney general is still trying to identify the last nine victims of the 30 killed ten days ago in an explosion at a Pemex gas pipeline near Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

Two days ago two Pemex officials were executed in Salamanca, Guanajuato in southern Mexico. Both officials were in charge of oil terminals in the state and were attacked by several armed suspects in the Bellavista residential colony.

Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for

Two of CAF detained in Tijuana

Two alleged CAF operators detained in Tijuana

A man, 'considered' to be a 'leader' of the Arellano Felix group in Tijuana, was arrested today by the PEP, Alfredo Cesar Meza Garcia, 36, was wanted in the US by the DEA, as well as the ICE.  The arrest was made on Blvd. Agua Caliente, authorities from the US, and Mexico contributed intelligence, leading to the capture.  

After the arrest, Meza Garcia, 'El Tachuelas', identity was verified, including the extradition warrant to the US, for charges relating to organized crime.  Meza Garcia is being held in Tijuana, and is expected to be sent to Mexico City over the weekend.  

More arrests followed the detainment of Tachuelas.  State police, shortly after the earlier arrest descended upon Colonia Mexicali, and stopped one man, carrying a kilogram of cocaine in a backpack.  He was identified as Luis Angel Zazueta, a 20 year old native of Chula Vista, San Diego.  He told the arresting authorities he was paid $500 to transport the cocaine. 

In Paseo De Lomas, Tijuana, officers pulled over several men in a 2002 black Ford Explorer, including Adrian Vasquez Lagunas, 30, from the state of Veracruz, and operating under the direction of the CAF, in Tijuana.  Lagunas, nicknamed, 'El Macho Prieto' had two guns in his waist band, on the right and left set, both .380's with an extra magazine.  Lagunas had 16 wraps of crystal, packaged for retail sale, in addition to the pistols.  This 'Macho Prieto' shares the alias of the longtime Sinaloa lieutenant, who is charge of Mexicali on the behalf of Ismael 'El Mayo' Zamabada. 

Lagunas is said to be working for, or under 'El Chapito' Uriarte, a cousin of Raydel Lopez Uriarte, 'El Muletas', detained in Tijuana, in Febuary 2010, after the apprehension of his collaborator, Teodoro Garcia Simental, who were united against their former boss Fernando Sanchez Arellano.  Zeta Magazine rececntly ran a story detailing the Uriarte's and their role in retail drug sales in Tijuana.  The Zeta article contended that the Uriartes work for Alfredo Arteaga Azarte, 'El Aquiles', and run tienditas for the Sinaloa Cartel.  However, this recent arrest alleges that the detainees were under CAF.  It is doubtful the Uriarte's would have reunited with El Inge, due to the blood spilled in the war for the plaza, and the personal nature of the betrayal.

Also, in a subsequent operation, Jose Francisco Prado Farias, 28, of Mexico City was arrested in Colonia Buena Vista, with packages of crystal prepared for retail sale.  Tijuana is a complex plaza, because of the nature of the relationships between organized crimes, which are not entirely antagonistic, yet there are still disputes, and murders of retail dealers continue.

 A recent article on AFN Tijuana stated that Sinaloa Cartel groups had largely displaced the cells of CAF, which took heavy hits, earlier in the year, with the detention of 'El M-4', and 'El Mono', Luis Toscanco, who was in charge of retail sales in the Zona Norte area.  Unverified sources have said that the upper level of CAF prefers to be paid plaza by retail dealers, rather then use their people to engage in retail sales.  

The most well known leaders of organized crime in the region are, 'El Chapito' Uriarte, the newly appointed head of the Sinaloa retail groups, Jose Soto 'El Tigre', a Sinaloa loyalist from the Los Teos, who has influence in the Rosarito Beach area, as well as Tijuana, the previously mentioned 'El Aquiles', as well as 'El Melvin', a Sanchez Arellano lieutenant. Things are more complex in Southern Baja, where Beltran Leyva cells, under the banner of 'La Oficina' attempt to gain control and influence in quiet plazas like Los Cabos, and La Paz.  

Sources: AFN Tijuana, Zeta Tijuana. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Piedras Negras Violence

Borderland Beat
I reached my associates in Piedras Negras to inquire how the situation is today.  I was told all is calm, for the time being but people are in extreme fear.  Though the government advise to stay indoors as much as possible people are moving about and going to work and living their normal schedules.  I was very surprised to learn from an associate that is the chief of education for the region but based in PN, that school is in session.  She asked for permission from Saltillo to close the schools until Friday or Monday but was told most parents worked and had no place to leave their children, so schools would be better than left home alone.  Rumors say though calm today most expect great violence to erupt.  As for the apprehension of Z42 the brother of Miguel Trevino the co leader of the Zetas, that appears to have been untrue.....Paz, Chivis
Fatality of an innocent
The City of Piedras Negras, Coahuila, Mexico was placed under martial law yesterday, Wednesday, September 26, 2012, by local and federal authorities after multiple, intense gun battles between federal and state special forces and criminal elements throughout the day continuing until the late-evening. 
According to Mexican press reports, a female in her early 30′s was killed in her automobile caught in the crossfire of an intense gun battle. Mexican authorities have not reported how many persons and officers were killed or injured in these multiple gun battles throughout the city. 
Piedras Negras residents are living in great fear for their lives staying indoors at all times as required by the martial law imposed. One Piedras Negras resident said ‘the devil is loose in Piedras Negras.’. Residents huddled with their children inside their homes listening to the loud gun battles occurring in their neighborhoods.

Another Piedras Negras resident described the situation as ‘Piedras Negras is a war zone.’ Residents are advised to stay inside their homes until further notice by authorities.
Yesterday, Wednesday, September 26th, the City of Eagle Pass International Bridge No. 2 was closed down at 10:30 a.m. after the discovery of a grenade on the American side, signaling that the violence in Piedras Negras extended into the United States. All American federal, state, and local authorities have been placed on high alert.
Since the massive prison escape of 132 prisoners from the Piedras Negras CERESO prison, there has been a massive influx of Mexican federal and state special forces in Piedras Negras to hunt and capture the escapees. To date, seven escapees have been captured or killed.
It is unknown how much longer this nightmare experience will have to be lived by the loyal and fair citizens of Piedras Negras. As one resident said ‘Pray to God that this situation passes us by without any material and collateral damage to our residents.
Video is audio
Source: EaglePassBusinessJournal Photos: Vanguardia de Coahuila