Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Arrested "El Che" presumed lieutenant of "El Chapo" in Chihuahua

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 |

Borderland Beat


Chihuahua. - Staff of the Department of National Defense in the state of Chihuahua detained José Salgueiro Nevarez, alias "El Che," alleged lieutenant of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, in that state.

Through a statement, the Department of Defense reported that staff of the Military Zone 42 attached to the Military Region XI, conducted an operation in the city of Hidalgo del Parral, where in addition to Salgueiro Nevarez  five more people were arrested.

The federal agency said that they are Víctor Javier Hernández Márquez, alias “el Negro” and/or “Dientes de Ajo”; David Ruíz Rubio; Efrén Salgueiro González, alias “el Maniaco”, Brian Salgueiro Zepeda and Erick Salgueiro Peña.

According to the Department of Defense, the alleged lieutenant maintained control of marijuana production in areas south of Chihuahua, the movement of drugs into the United States, drug dealing, extortion from shopkeepers and businessmen, mainly miners of Hildago del Parral .

Meanwhile, Salgueiro González, “El Maniaco”, led a cell of sicarios who presumably are responsible for the execution of nine people in a room rented for parties , on February 4 this year, in the city of Chihuahua.

The Department of Defense (Sedena) said that this capture,  affects the structure of leadership and operational capacity of "Pacific Cartel" (CDS), led by Guzman Loera in the state of Chihuahua, including affecting its operation at national and international level.

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"I Killed Brian Terry"

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Borderland Beat

 
Top photo from night of shooting

Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, one of the murderers of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, pled guilty to first degree murder in federal court in Tucson in exchange for prosecutors promising not to seek the death penalty.
Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza were charged with crimes including first degree murder, second degree murder, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempted interference with commerce by robbery, use and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence, assault on a federal officer and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.
Osorio-Arellanes, Jesus Rosario Favela-Astorga, Ivan Soto-Barraza, Heraclio Osorio-Arellanes and Lionel Portillo-Meza killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry with guns from the U.S. government’s failed gun running scandal, Fast and Furious, during a firefight with the Border Patrol agents.
Osorio-Arellanes and the others had illegally entered the United States from Mexico for the purpose of robbing drug traffickers of their contraband. In addition to the murder of Agent Terry, the five defendants assaulted Border Patrol Agents William Castano, Gabriel Fragoza and Timothy Keller, who were with Agent Terry during the firefight.
 
Operation Fast and Furious contributed to the deaths of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and an unknown number of Mexican citizens. It also created an ongoing public safety hazard on both sides of the border. The failures happened because of conscious decisions to encourage gun dealers to sell to known traffickers and avoid interdicting those weapons or even questioning suspects, all in the hope that would lead law enforcement to cartel connections and a larger case, according to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Manuel Osorio-Arellanes has been in custody since his arrest the night of the shooting.
Source: Arizona Daily

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Mi Sangre: Los Zetas Largest Supplier Arrested

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Borderland Beat

Jesús López Londoño, "Mi Sangre"
MEXICO CITY - After the capture of Colombian drug trafficker Jesús López Londoño, “Mi Sangre", the Mexican cartel, Los Zetas, are lacking their "the largest supplier of cocaine," said the director of the National Police  of Colombia, General José Roberto León.

López Londoño arrested on Tuesday the October 30, after a meeting with Los Zetas. He was wanted by Colombian authorities,  Interpol, and claimed by a Florida court for drug trafficking.

Carlos Mario, another alias with which the drug trafficker identified, left Colombia two years ago under pressure from security forces, and from then until his capture went through several countries in the region, until he was installed in the capital of Argentina, the General explained during a press conference.

Even, he said, there were two police operations before detaining "Mi Sangre," the first was in Argentina, where he managed to escape, and the second in Paraguay, a country in which a transaction was aborted because it coincided with the retirement of former President Fernando Lugo  last June.
"Two months ago he returned to Buenos Aires and we found him," said Leon, who stated that "Mi Sangre" was arrested thanks to intelligence reports and with the help of the Argentine authorities and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA , for its acronym in English), when allegedly processing documents in the embassy of Ecuador.

He said the kingpin lived in Argentina's capital with his wife and two children,  pretending to be a "Venezuelan businessman" and went on to live in up to six homes.

The criminal record of López Londoño  goes back to the 90s, while serving as one of the leaders of "Los Urabeños" a paramilitary group  for which he was a "financier," said the Colombian General.
"Mi Sangre" he said, controlled the remainder of the so called Envigado Office, which is based near Medellin, and is dedicated to laundering drug money as well as extortion and recruiting of assassins. The Envigado Office was created by Pablo Escobar, chief of the disappeared Medellin Cartel, after his death it was handed to Don Berna, alias of the drug dealer and paramilitary, Diego Fernando Murillo.

Don Berna was extradited to the US June 2008 together with 12 ex-chiefs of Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary organization with its dissolution in 2006 originated other drug dealing gangs like "Los Urabenos,"
According to the police chief, a series of "alliances with drug dealers and terrible delinquents" allowed López Londoño to know the Colombian geography and the distinct networks of drug dealing.

Their search and location for him utilized  technology to trace all his movements as well as satellite technogy in coordination with Argentine authorities.

Proceso



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National Guard Implement Changes with DTOs

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Borderland Beat

To fight the drug cartels in Mexico, the National Guard and the Naval Special Operations Command are integrating a Global Information Network (GINA,  acronym in English). From communications,  they can locate criminal groups and other transnational criminal organizations, said David Baldwin,  the Deputy General of the National Guard of California, yesterday

Deputy General David Baldwin
Network diagrams show drug cartel  communications, which appear as images in three dimensions, detailing the time and space.  The United States is able to interpret and locate the place and the time the communicate took place, and sometimes where they will be later.
"That way we can have that information to destroy them," he explained. Meanwhile, he said, the National Guard is implementing a new operational strategy to confront the Mexican drug cartels already expanded their presence in California , where they use land,  sea routes and continue to sow in federal parks.
Pot encampment in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks - after raid
Because of the danger posed by these criminal organizations, members of the National Guard are operating with weapons in national parks where drug traffickers have even installed camps with armed surveillance, the General Baldwin added.

An illegal marijuana encampment, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.
"Drug traffickers are using other routes to try to evade law enforcement and the military, why not just simply crossing in California, but also sailing to the coast and  near their established farms in the north woods, "explained General.

The actions taken by drug traffickers, he said, are being forcing us to change the way of attacking transnational drug trafficking organizations within the U.S. territory, which means new plans to react to that threat.

As a result of the expansion of drug trafficking routes into the sea, using big boats and then small boats to reach the coast, the National Guard also plans to use unmanned aircraft, for which awaits approval from the aviation authority of the United States.

Ultralight flights

Additionally, General Baldwin,  said the National Guard members are successfully using the "Sentinel" radar, in search of aerial surveillance evade U.S. space  especially useful to detect ultralight flights crossing the border to throw drugs into the United States. 


Since last April, the National Guard changed its strategy on the border with Mexico and increased air support instead of just adding to the number of elements on the border between the two countries. This strategy has increased surveillance capabilities in both air and ground, said the Department of Defense of the United States.

The National Guard members began the transition from  a  static rotation system ground support operations , to assets participating in mixed  aerial surveillance mixed to monitor  and detect threats on the border with Mexico, said Baldwin.





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The Knights Templar Ranch is Raided

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 |

Borderland Beat


In Michoacan, army troops seized a ranch allegedly owned by Enrique Plancarte Solis, "La Chiva"/ Kike Plancarte or just "Kiki," noted as one of the main leaders of the criminal organization The Knights Templar.

The Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) said yesterday in a statement that the confiscation took place last Saturday after a gun battle with an  number of people in which one of the suspects died.

The Mexican army seized weapons, drugs, and money on a ranch in the western state of Michoacan apparently owned by Enrique Plancarte Solís, one of the alleged leaders of the criminal organization the Knights Templar.

The rest of the "Knights" managed to escape from the ranch, located in the town of Los Cuiniques, in the town of Apatzingán.  The ranch "was used by organized crime for various illegal purposes."

In the building, military personnel found 15 handguns, 19 rifles, 1 Barret rifle, more than a hundred grenades, three rockets, 1 anti-tank rocket launchers, 339 magazines of different calibers, over 22,000 cartridges and five swords.

Also confiscated 1.1 million pesos (equivalent to about $85,000), $3123.10 in American dollars, two vehicles, and small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and crystal. 

According to the Ministry of Defense, this operation "managed to affect the Knights  of Templar's criminal organization through limiting their operational and logistical structures and their areas of influence."

The Knights Templar is a pseudorreligious organization that emerged din 2011 after the death of the leader of the Familia Michoacana, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, alias "El Chayo", in a clash with security forces in 2010.

Soon the group, led by Servando Gómez Martínez, alias "La Tuta"; Enrique Plancarte, "La Chiva," Dionisio Loya Plantare, "el Tio," managed to gain control of the drug trade in Michoacán and extended their  area of influence to neighboring regions.

Monday in Mexico 14 People Died  Alleged

MEXICO CITY (approved). - A total of 14 people, among them five women and a child, were killed Monday in separate cases in five states of the country, allegedly the incidents are related to organized crime.

In broad daylight, in a Guachochi supermarket , Chihuahua, gunmen executed a 30 year old woman identified as Elizabeth Castillo Carrillo, in front of a friend and her three year old son. She received seven bullets in her face, hands and chest outside a supermarket.

Castillo was shot when her  friend and her son were settling in the vehicle,  as she walked in the back of the car preparing to get inside. Still alive, paramedics took her to a hospital but died minutes later.

In Nuevo Leon, on Monday afternoon, two women and a 13 year old boy were killed while buying beer in the neighborhood Nuevo San Rafael, in Guadalupe.

Gunmen arrived on a premises on  Circunvalación and Privada Zuazua Streets, opened fire on their victims who were inside. Unofficially, it was reported that the three dead were relatives.

In Jalisco, seven people were shot dead in the last yesterday in different incidents allegedly related to organized crime

Tonala Police reported that Monday afternoon there was a shooting in streets of the town of San Miguel de la Punta, south of the metropolitan area of Guadalajara. 

According to police, gunmen stormed a house in the neighborhood Lomas de San Miguel. Three men died and the injured woman was rescued by local medical services while in one of the bedrooms.

Of the victims,  two of the men and women were apparently in the house, One of those who died was outside and assumed one of the alleged gunmen.

In another development, near José María Morelos, in the town of Tomatlan, on the north coast of Jalisco, the bodies of two men, ages 26 and 40 were found with multiple gunshot wounds. Both had been deprived of their freedom last Saturday night.

In addition, Monday morning, in an area at kilometer 23 of the road free  highway from Lagos de Moreno to Leon  the bodies of two  men about 25 years old were found. They show signs of being beaten and given the "coup de grace".

In Morelos, two women were killed in violent incidents in different municipalities Tlaquiltenango  and Yecapixtla, informed the Attorney General of Morelos.

One victim was found on a dirt road near the highway Cartonera to Yecapixtla, near Centennial Ranch. The body was lying on the ground and had various injuries.

The second was found in a building in the town of Tlaquiltenango on Isabel la Católica  in the neighborhood of Gabriel Tepepan. The woman's body was lying in one of the bedrooms of the house, with an impact from a gun.



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The Unnamed of Calderon Leave Their Mark

Monday, October 29, 2012 |

Mexico • 24,102 people: the equivalent of half a football stadium or a medium-sized town is the approximate number of bodies that have gone to the grave at the end of the current administration. And most importantly, it is a highly conservative estimate. It does includes full records of Mexico's most violent states, such as Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas.

Throughout the six years of Calderon's Presidency, thousands of bodies have been buried in obscurity. Several more bodies are added every week: They are migrants, innocents, homeless, homeless families, criminals, and victims of homicide. There are bones and bodily remains apparently unclaimed without owners, which are often buried and stacked in cemeteries across the country from the U.S. border to the Yucatan Peninsula. These faceless corpses are listed in official records only as NN.  No Name.
Extensive research from Milenio, based on over 470 records requests filed with state forensic medical services, municipal governments and even with the administration of small local cemeteries, brings a rough sketch that outlines a national atlas of unidentified bodies.

Among the data emerging from the research are two parallel events: 1) some attorneys general do not want to reveal the numbers of unidentified dead under their power. And 2) the number of bodies sent to grave has climbed every year since the beginning of Calderon's term, on par with the number of executed criminals and victims killed in violence overall. On average, 10 bodies unclaimed name or have been buried daily.

So far, with the figures for 2012 still unfinished and updated only through August 2011, and September, 2011 starts a period in which the remains of more people were placed in public areas, without the benefit of a tombstone which completely ending the identification process: 4, 927 corpses never were claimed in that year, during which, coincidentally, it was the year with the highest number of executions linked to organized crime in all of Felipe Calderón's administration.
The picture painted by the obtained documents clearly shows that in some cities, like Juarez and Monterrey, and Celaya, many corpses were in state of abandonment that were left to he abilities of the cemetery to process.. Consequently, new ditches in cemeteries have had to be excavated. It is a scenario that is repeated across the Republic, with mass graves or cemeteries running out of space, they have begun to recycle their spaces, removing and discarding the remains of seven years old.

Some cities and states saw the number of unidentified -NNs  (no-names) rapidly multiply. In Nayarit, the figures tripled in three years. In Baja California, they grew by 100 percent. In Torreón, they multiplied 10 times. In the port of Veracruz, there were over a thousand unidentified bodies in 2011. Durango, they went from having eight bodies buried without a name in 2006 jumpedto 438 in 2011 (see graphic above).
Not only that. The lack of control in the management of unidentified remains in many government entities, but also this  is found in many private entities as well, as evidenced by several of the responses in this process. The report which took more than three months in development and for which it was necessary to create a database from accumulated data with thousands of figures. But these are the ones that have been recovered: the missing may never be computed. Fifty municipalities have lost their files prior to 2008 and 2009 and many have lost records from the location of bodies which makes later further study, investigation and identification unlikely. 

Some states, such as Michoacan, never recognized integrating a state-based data on unidentified bodies and have only just begun that process, although the violence has left thousands killed in that state. The Michoacan Attorney General can not answer how many bodies  the medical examiner received in the administration. "No statistic has the" justified reliance.

"The information on unidentified bodies held by government which have entered the medical examiner is not located together in one place or  well documented in a single organized relationship over the entire state." But the PGJE-Michoacán said they are already working to correct this deficiency.

Requests for transparency, which will be available for public consultation www.milenio.com not only gives an idea of the general situation of unidentified bodies, but shows different levels of progress in terms of transparency in the country and states. 

To obtain the data, it was necessary to use emails and state portals (Infomex, Saimex, Guanajuato Unit), without neglecting numerous phone calls and liaison to Social Communication to correct "mistakes" such as file loss, illegible documents and pages offline for weeks. 

A total of 479 petitions submitted under pseudonyms, some were answered but some 191-230 all went unanswered. That is, they were completely ignored by the authorities. Another 40 applications were rejected, declared missing or classified as confidential state security. 

Many states and municipalities provided the information without delay, as the Federal District, Sonora, Chihuahua and Guanajuato, among others. Their municipalities administrations relations' prepared detailed statistics, held their forensic medical services and burial administrations open. In general, information was available in 25 of the 31 states and over 210 cities and towns. 
It is these responses that arise the well disguised facts detailing how Mexico processes the nameless dead. For example, the bodies in Jalisco after taking a DNA sample are burned. The remaining ashes and a small jar with genetic material remain in niches, waiting for a possible identification. On the other hand, Monterrey is very precise: keeps track of pathological parts, ie limbs, organs retrieved from hospitals or in public. Some cities in Sonora to open their old graves  of people who no longer have family and Pachuca records fetuses - aborted, or abandoned - among all the bodies sent to their graves.

But there is the other side. There are states that did their best not to reveal the number of unidentified bodies processed in forensic services. Despite repeated calls, it was impossible to locate any transparency in the Office of Tamaulipas and that agency spokesman, Ruben Dario, said flatly that "there is no such data anyway because there was a transition of government and we do not know what happened before.  He went further: Tamaulipas  does not collect corpses because "that is the job of the Attorney General."

Some states shaved their numbers or have calculation mistakes. The Attorney General of Sinaloa reported only a few bodies were  sent in to their company of calculation.   only 54 dead bodies from the mass graves in 2011,  and 227 in the entire administration. But a simple review of the medical service page, where scanned images are stored for unclaimed bodies, puts skepticism and doubts on those numbers. Its database of unidentified, unclaimed deceased located a total of 332 people during the administration.  91 bodies in 2011 alone, double the figure reported via transparency-were left in the hands the coroner.

In other states requesting the information, it turned out to be a tangled process and impossible to fulfill. In states like Oaxaca it is asked to bring a printed card facilities its attorney. In Campeche and Chiapas no transparency or even reliable systems: its pages are several months out of service and don't support questions. Baja California Sur has not bothered to open a service at all yet.

The State of Mexico deserves mention. Data from corpses in mass graves were obtained by their municipalities and their central government, which put various obstacles to prevent the information was disclosed. While most municipalities mexiquenses data revealed their bodies were sent to the pit, the Attorney General made "mistakes"  attaching files to the responses on its website.  the unit promised responsible for its transparency, "It will be resolved quickly," but a month has passed.

Beyond the technical problems, there are the negatives. That was the case of the Attorney General from the Offices of Veracruz and Aguascalientes as well as the prosecution office in Yucatán. The first two entities classified data as confidential, all information relating to the number of bodies received and processed by their respective forensic services (although municipalities delivered their data promptly without any problem). The Yucatan, for instance declared itself incompetent to answer any questions because, they said, that is not within its powers to have the bodies.


With respect to Veracruz, the argument went thus far: they literally said that the permanence of government, its institutions and to the territorial integrity of the state "would be at risk" to be known such data, in addition it would "invade privacy" of the unknown corpses.

Milenio appealed to the Veracruz Institute of Access Information (LAVI) to review that decision convinced that there is no invasion of privacy of a body without identity. Also cited was one of the criteria of the Federal Institute of Access to Information statistics stating that, whatever their nature, is public.

In the end, the LAVI ruled in favor of this newspaper to consider their arguments and held that the argument of the Attorney Veracruz "lacked legal validity." So far, the PGJE has not complied with the mandate to disclose its files of unidentified bodies.
Despite that, some thirty Veracruz municipalities themselves provided the information requested. And it was this that allowed the construction of a map, incomplete but functional, on the situation of unidentified bodies and unclaimed in Veracruz. From this data it was revealed that the state has resorted to more graves. In total, six years so far and still waiting for the state figures that  the attorney could generate, municipal administrations have documented burial of 5,245 people. The highest figure in the entire country.

24,102 people is the most concrete figure has been added under this methodology. And yet, it is a conservative figure. Beyond Monterrey, failed to ask the municipal level in violent entities such as Nuevo Leon-Guerrero much less, and the requests that were made to the municipalities of Sinaloa Infomex system disappeared  by a "computer error" that two months later, has not been corrected by the State Commission on Access to Public Information. There were lost data from Culiacán, Badiraguato, Mazatlan and Los Mochis that, most likely, it would have increased the number of NNs (no names).

Milenio

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Kingpin Strategy

Sunday, October 28, 2012 |

Borderland Beat


Earlier this month, the Mexican navy announced the death of Heriberto Lazcano, the leader of Mexico’s violent Zetas drug cartel, during a firefight with the marines. The slaying was hailed as a significant victory for the government of President Felipe Calderón, which has made the elimination of top cartel leaders a priority in its fight against organized crime. But will a strategy to target drug kingpins pay off in the long-term? Baker Institute fellows weigh the pros and cons of the approach in a five-day installment of the Baker Institute Viewpoints series. Today, Nathan Jones, and Gary J. Hale, the institute’s Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy, argues that alone, the strategy cannot “effectively manage organized crime networks in Latin America.”

The kingpin strategy is a 20-year-old targeting methodology developed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in 1992 to target the command-and-control elements of major drug trafficking organizations. The strategy initially targeted cocaine trafficking organizations operating out of Medellin and Cali, Colombia, with most of the focus placed on the Cali cartel. As the strategy evolved and resulted in important gains, it was adopted as a model by Colombia and Mexico, with some variations. Components of the kingpin strategy model are still in use today, though it has been further refined and currently operates under the larger U.S. Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime as a means by which to disrupt and dismantle any groups that would bring harm to U.S. national security.

The original kingpin strategy was developed after reviewing the drug trafficking business cycle, which included certain successive critical nodes of activity, namely production, transportation, distribution and recapitalization of the enterprise —  a process similar to any other commercial enterprise, such as a manufacturer of toys or furniture. In the case of drug trafficking organizations, the DEA reasoned that it was futile to attack the cartel’s business activities per se, and that the common thread among all of the critical nodes was the command-and-control elements that provided the leadership, authority, management and direction for those activities. It was decided that better success could be achieved by focusing on the people committing the crimes, and not the crimes themselves, especially given that many transnational criminal organizations are involved in multiple criminal activities around the world.

In the 1990s, the Medellín and Cali cartels dominated the cocaine business from the “source to the street” but by the end of the decade, both cartels were eliminated by the Colombian government. Several proof of concepts emerged from the binational campaign waged against those cartels. The best practices passed on by the United States to the Colombians, in the form of the kingpin strategy, were essential to the dissolution of the cartels. The Colombian application of the strategy focused on the destruction of the cartels — not for the purpose of stopping drug exports but rather, for the purpose of self-preservation, since the cartels were intent on destroying the government.

The Colombian government chose to employ their own version of the kingpin strategy to destroy the cartels — a strategy that hinged on locating, capturing and incapacitating the kingpins and key lieutenants, while vigorously attacking the vulnerabilities of their organizations, including disrupting their cash flow and sources of supply.

In the case of Mexico, President Felipe Calderón similarly describes his kingpin strategy as government efforts to arrest of key drug cartel leadership figures. The most common criticism Mexico’s kingpin strategy argues against the removal of command-and-control elements to debilitate an organization. Critics assert that arresting or killing cartel chieftains leaves a leadership void, fracturing the cartels and causing violence to increase in the areas of Mexico where the arrests took place. However, Calderón argues that removing kingpins does not increase the violence in states that are already among the most dangerous in Mexico.

The kingpin strategy has been proven effective in Mexico, when considered in the context of the Zetas’ evolution. When originally created, the Mexican Zetas began as the internal enforcement arm of the larger Gulf cartel. After splitting from the Gulf cartel in 2010, its leader, Heriberto Lazcano, greatly expanded the scope of Zeta criminal activities. Targeting the Zetas’ involvement in any one of of its expanded range of crimes — including drug trafficking, kidnapping, murder, extortion, liquor sales, prostitution, pirated DVD and CD sales, petroleum theft, corruption of politicians as well as “traditional organized criminal” activities — would have been much more difficult than targeting key leadership figures like Lazcano under the kingpin strategy.

By targeting criminals, not crimes, kingpin strategies and similar models have merit and have proved to be successful if applied properly against command, communications and control elements of the business cycle of transnational criminal organizations. When coupled with rule-of-law reforms and other law enforcement and intelligence institution building efforts, governments have a better chance of successfully confronting the criminality that affects national and regional security issues.

Kingpin strategies have become one of the most hotly debated tactics in the “war on drugs” and the “global war on terrorism.” Kingpin decapitations, or strikes as they are often called, disrupt illicit networks — but create instability and therefore unintended consequences such as increased homicide and kidnap rates. Additionally, illicit networks adapt to the strategy and restructure themselves accordingly. While kingpin strategies can fragment cartels, the root causes of drug prohibition and weak state capacity must be addressed in tandem to effectively manage organized crime networks in Latin America.

The notion of targeting insurgent or cartel leadership figures — also known as high value targets (HVTs) — has long been considered an efficient way to disrupt illicit networks. In warfare, it was historically considered “ungentlemanly” to target officers. Nonetheless, American revolutionaries targeted British officers to maximize the disruption, confusion and chaos in British units.

Targeting drug kingpins became a staple of Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Defense strategies to combat terrorist and narcotics networks in the 1990s. In Medellin, Colombia, the U.S. and Colombian governments targeted Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellin cartel. 

Colombian authorities did not target him for his trafficking but rather for the threat he posed to the state by engaging in car bombings, assassinations and the corruption of judges. As detailed in Mark Bowden’s Killing Pablo, getting Escobar was difficult until the intelligence given to the Colombians by the Americans was in turn fed to a paramilitary organization known as Los Pepes, which we now know was supported by the Cali cartel. Los Pepes began targeted assassinations of Escobar’s lawyers and accountants until Escobar was on the run and Colombian law enforcement authorities could kill him.

Networks adapt to these targeting strategies by increasing compartmentation. The Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) in Algeria compartmentalized cells to a degree never before seen in the face of French capture and torture, as shown in the film The Battle of Algiers.

Networks that are no longer hierarchically organized (i.e., flat networks) challenge states by limiting the disruption that the arrest or death of one leader can accomplish. For example, Al Qaeda was disrupted by the death of Osama bin Laden, but the network continues, as the apparent Al Qaeda attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya attests. Hierarchies can also be resilient in the face of decapitation strikes because they have immediate succession mechanisms — but those successors, if known, can be simultaneously targeted, allowing the entire command structure to be eliminated in one fell swoop.

Mexico’s drug war

Mexico refers to its conflict in the drug war as a battle against organized crime, rather than a struggle against drugs. Like drugs, organized crime is a problem that can only be managed — though a war against specific organized crime groups is ostensibly winnable as opposed to wars on societal problems like terrorism, drugs and poverty.

The kingpin strategy is a key component of Mexico’s war on organized crime. Indeed, Mexico’s government has published a most wanted list with 37 cartel capos, 23 of whom have been killed or arrested by government forces.  Additionally, rivals killed two, leaving only 12 of the original 37 remaining. The most recent kingpin killed was the head of Los Zetas, Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, killed in Progreso Coahuila approximately two weeks ago.

Unfortunately, where the Mexican government has decapitated these cartels, violence has increased. The argument has been that various factions of the networks fight among each other for dominance, resulting in higher homicide rates.  In an upcoming publication in the journal Trends in Organized Crime, I argue that in addition to increased homicide rates, one of the unintended consequences of kingpin decapitations is an increase in kidnap rates. This is the result of cells in networks that are cut off from drug-related profits; they then increase freelance activities by expanding into kidnapping and extortion. The El Teo faction of the Tijuana cartel in 2008 was a good example of this.

The  administration of President Felipe Calderón argue that these short-term spikes in violence are to be expected after decapitations, but will eventually result in a more peaceful equilibrium. This argument has lost resonance among the Mexican population, which punished his ruling party July’s presidential election. The assertion may be true over a long enough timeline and, indeed, appeared to be the case in Colombia where, following the decapitation of major cartels, the disbandment of paramilitaries and the weakening of left-wing insurgents resulted in security gains. It should be noted that 300-400 cartelitos now handle drug trafficking out of the country in an efficient yet lower level of violence (Colombia has had traditionally high homicide rates, so the significant relative improvement might not be obvious to an outside observer).

Addressing root causes

There are two root causes of drug violence in Mexico: (1) the global drug prohibition regime, and (2) weak state capacity. The global drug prohibition regime has allowed high profits for drug trafficking networks that allow them to corrupt and influence the state. On the other hand, the Mexican state has traditionally had little capacity to address the basic social needs of the society and has lacked the security apparatus to address potential threats like cartels.  During eras in which the government colluded with traffickers, this weakness, while present, was not apparent. 

As the Mexican government transitioned to an equilibrium of many trafficking networks and many weak law enforcement agencies, it has had scant ability to control traffickers.  The quality and size of those agencies must be dramatically improved in addition to improved social services and the expanded delivery of those services. Kingpin strategies have helped to improve state security capacity by forcing the Mexican government to invest in intelligence capacity.

Kingpin strategies will weaken illicit networks, but will also fragment them into smaller diversified criminal groups that necessitate improved state and local governance as they become hyper-violent local problems. The Mexican government is slowly but surely beginning to build improved state capacity. The final piece of the puzzle that will assist the Mexican government in achieving a more rapid and peaceful equilibrium as it weakens cartels and improves its own capacity is to address the fundamental political-economic source of profitable drug networks, the global drug prohibition regime.

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Life, times and tragedies of the Trevino clan

Saturday, October 27, 2012 |

Anabel Hernandez for Proceso 10-27-2012

Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat

Once the governments of Mexico and United States declared Heriberto Lazcano dead, the Zeta leadership passed to Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, "El Z-40", "La Mona", or "El Muerto". He is part of an extensive Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas,  family, made up of 13 brothers, of whom at least six have been involved in drug trafficking in the last 15 years. In intelligence files from both countries and court files from the United States, Proceso found  revealing facts on the life, criminal activities and the tragedy that surrounds the Trevino clan.

MEXICO, D.F. (proceso.com.mx) -- El Z-40 was born June 28, 1973, in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, a Zeta bastion for more than a decade. His parents are Rodolfo Trevino, who was already 49 years old when Miguel Angel was born, and Maria Arcelia Morales, then 34. 

The Trevino Morales couple procreated an extensive family: Juan Francisco, aka Kiko Ozuna (1955), Arcelia, Chelo (1957), Irma (1959), Alicia (1961), Rodolfo (1963), Maria Guadalupe (1964), Jose (1966), Ana Isabel (1968), Jesus (1970), Miguel Angel (1973), Oscar Omar, "Alejandro" or "El 42" (1976), Cristina (1978) and Adolfo (1980).

According to information from government intelligence agencies, Mexican as well as U.S.,  Maria Arcelia Morales was alive up to 2007; today she would be 74 years old.  She lived in Nuevo Laredo, had a passport to visit some of her children and grandchildren who live in the United States and had a Lincoln Navigator wagon registered in her name.

The Trevino criminal history began 19 years ago, with Juan Francisco, aka "Kiko Ozuna", the oldest son of the Trevino Morales couple.  On December 29, 1993, in a random inspection by the U.S. customs service, Juan Francisco's vehicle was stopped and he twice denied he was carrying more than $10,000 in cash. When they searched the car, they found $47,984.00, which was confiscated.

That year, the DEA and the Border Patrol had begun an investigation into the trafficking of tons of marihuana from Nuevo Laredo into Texas, but they only had a few pieces of the puzzle. According to criminal case file No. 3:95-CR--189-R, in the Northern District Court in Texas, of which there is a copy, in October 1994, the United States government charged Juan Francisco Trevino, another Trevino by the name of Armando -- it's not known if they are related--, Abraham Padilla (Benny), Abel Lopez, Fernando Quiroz (Vanna), Hipolito Ortiz (Polo), Oscar de Leon (Pelon), and Edel Isaac with criminal enterprise for possession of more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lbs) with the intent to distribute. At that time, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales was only 21 years old.

On October 18, 1994, Juan Francisco Trevino, Armando Trevino and Pedro Sanchez appeared before a magistrate and, based on the law then in effect, asked for a speedy trial which should have been held within 70 days after they voluntarily appeared in court.

On May 26, 1995, Juan Francisco filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him for violating his right to a speedy trial. On June 15, 1995, a court of original jurisdiction held a hearing and dismissed the charges that had been filed in October, 1994.

Kiko Ozuna believed he would be freed from prison immediately. He didn't know that some days prior, on June 7, the prosecution had filed new charges against him for another conspiracy to distribute more than a ton of marihuana in the United States. While he was waiting for a speedy trial, the DEA obtained sufficient evidence to convict him. As in the majority of these cases, the agency accomplished this through accomplices that went into the informants and protected witness program. Those statements completely sunk Juan Francisco.

Everardo Ramirez, introduced as a government witness by the prosecution, testified in court that an individual with the surnames Tovar Ozuna introduced him to Juan Francisco Trevino, who offered him employment. The work consisted of transporting marihuana from Nuevo Laredo to Dallas. Ramirez's first duty was to store the weed in his house for several days then take it to the house of Pablo de Luna.

"The following month, at the request of Tovar Ozuna, Ramirez agreed to store and deliver marihuana that was to be transported to Dallas. Tovar's job was to bring the marihuana across the (Rio Grande) river for Juan Trevino and (take it) to Ramirez. For his part, Ramirez would take it to Pablo de Luna's house, where it was stored and then transported using a business on the border," states the court file.

Ramirez testified that he had participated in trafficking marihuana from Nuevo Laredo to Dallas about three times a month for a year and a half. He added that the largest load he stored was 600 lbs (272 kilograms) and that on U.S. territory they transported the drug on Suburban station wagons, using private roads on a large ranch to avoid police checkpoints. Frank Staggs, owner of the ranch, testified that the ranch caretaker was Armando Trevino.

Everardo Ramirez also testified that he would go to a hotel in Dallas to meet with Jose Trevino Morales, the brother of Juan Francisco, who was in charge of paying him for his services. It took the United States government years to detect and stop Jose's criminal activities, who, 17 years later, turned out to be the head of the Zeta money laundering network in the United States through the quarter horse racing business.

Another key prosecution witness was Joe Chavez, who worked for Kiko Ozuna. In  December of 1993, he approached DEA Special Agent Armando Ramirez and offered to become an informant. "He had a feeling this thing (the criminal network) was going to collapse," the court file points out. On January 24, 1994, Joe tipped off the DEA special agent about a marihuana shipment that was going to be delivered to Dallas on January 26. Agent Ramirez, working undercover, helped Joe Chavez load more than 463 kilograms (about 1,019 lbs) of marihuana on a Suburban (parked) next to a mobile home in Laredo.

When the load got to Dallas, (law enforcement) agents were waiting and they arrested Riky Trevino and Abel Lopez. "Chavez testified that the marihuana that was seized was destined for, or belonged to, Francisco Trevino Morales," states the court file. That was enough for the oldest of the Trevino brothers to lose all hope of getting out of prison.

On December 1, 1995, Kiko Ozuna was sentenced to 22 years in prison, which will be completed in 2017, when he is 62 years old.  He was sent to a prison close to Laredo, and, according to the terms of the sentence, when he is released he will be on supervised probation for five years "with normal conditions and with four additional conditions."

Juan Francisco Trevino Morales is still in prison. His younger brother, Miguel Angel, followed in his footsteps and surpassed him, becoming the leader of one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the continent, the Zetas, which last year the Barack Obama administration classified as a "global menace" comparable to the Camorra in Italy, the Yakuza in Japan and the Circle of the Brothers in Russia.         

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Destroying Drug Cartels, the Mathematical Way

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Borderland Beat

By Sara Reardon
New Scientist


"Killing drug lords gets headlines, but complexity analysis suggests they are the wrong people to target to bring down a cartel."

One more gangland death

WHEN the Mexican navy announced on 9 October that Heriberto Lazcano, leader of the country's most violent criminal cartel, Los Zetas, had been killed it was hailed as a major victory in the war on drugs. But it's doubtful that Lazcano's death will be the end of Los Zetas - or reduce violence in Mexico. After all, there is already a new leader.

More useful targets might be those apparently minor players with key connections, according to a complexity analysis approach that could help Colombia - the world's largest producer of cocaine - investigate and prosecute cartel members.

Complexity analysis depicts drugs cartels as a complex network with each member as a node and their interactions as lines between them. Algorithms compute the strength and importance of the connections. At first glance, taking out a central "hub" seems like a good idea.

When Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was killed in 1993, for example, the Medellin cartel he was in charge of fell apart. But like a hydra, chopping off the head only caused the cartel to splinter into smaller networks. By 1996, 300 "baby cartels" had sprung up in Colombia, says Michael Lawrence of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation in Canada, and they are still powerful today.

Mexican officials are currently copying the top-down approach, says Lawrence, but he doubts it will work. "Network theory tells us how tenuous the current policy is," he says.

Now Colombian prosecutors have a new tool to add to their investigation methods: network analysis. This can be an integral part of the modern war on drugs, says Eduardo Salcedo-Albaran, director of the Vortex Foundation based in Bogotá.

Vortex uses network-analysis algorithms to construct diagrams for court cases that show the interactions between cartel members, governors and law enforcers. These reveal links that are not otherwise visible, what Salcedo-Albaran calls "betweeners" - people who are not well-connected, but serve as a bridge linking two groups.

In Mexico and Colombia, these are often police or governors who are paid by the cartels.

"The betweener is the guy who connects the illegal with the legal," says Salcedo-Albaran. Because many cartels depend on their close ties with the law to operate successfully, removing the betweeners could devastate their operations.

It's a reasonable strategy, says Michael Kenney of the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, although it shouldn't be the only one governments use. The ideal strategy depends on government goals. If it is the end of the drug trade they are after, removing the leaders may work.

But if the goal is to reduce violence, as incoming Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto has vowed to do, targeting kingpins like Lazcano will have the opposite effect, says Vanda Felbab-Brown of the Brookings Institution in Washington DC. Smaller organisations that emerge from a broken cartel tend to assert their power by torturing and killing people.

Fighting all these factions would require even more firepower. Sean Gourley, of the data analysis organisation Quid in San Francisco, used public data from nine recent insurgencies, including Colombia's drug war, to determine mathematically how these battles play out (Nature, doi.org/bv2tf5). "Unfortunately, if you put more forces on the ground, you elongate the violence," he says.

Data collected by the Transborder Institute in San Diego, California, supports this. Prior to the crackdowns that began in 2006, drug-related crimes in Mexico killed about 3700 people per year. In 2011, that number was more than 16,000.

"People keep saying that the violence [in Mexico] will get worse before it gets better, and the cartels are at the end of their lives, but those predictions have been going on for years," says Lawrence. At some point, he suggests, a more mathematical approach will win out.

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A Portrait of Maverick Official

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By Jason Buch
mysanantonio.com

Borderland Beat

Maverick County Commissioner Rodolfo Heredia is accussed of smuggling money into the United States from Mexico after selling his truck to a Zetas associate.

Maverick County Commissioner Rodolfo Bainet Heredia was involved in a bid-rigging scheme, engaged in sex tourism and sold his truck to the presumptive leader of the Zetas drug cartel, an FBI agent said Tuesday during Heredia's detention hearing.

A federal magistrate judge ordered Heredia, 54, to be held without bail on cash-smuggling and money-laundering charges.

Heredia, who was arrested last week, has been indicted only on those charges, fairly minor in comparison to the allegations made during the hearing.

His attorney, John Convery, called the allegations made by the FBI agent a “character assassination.”

FBI agent Jarrett Doss testified that Drug Enforcement Administration agents investigating the Zetas in Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras, Mexico, twin border cities downstream from Del Rio, began tapping Heredia's phone calls in 2009.

Because he's an elected official, the DEA handed the case over to the FBI, Doss said.

In 2011, Heredia sold his Ford pickup to an associate of the Zetas and had two associates smuggle the $13,000 paid to him back into the U.S., according to the indictment.

After the sale, agents were listening to Heredia's phone calls.

“Mr. Heredia said, ‘I'm selling my truck to ‘40,'' presumably the Zetas leader,” Doss said.

The agent testified that “40” is the call sign of Miguel Treviño Morales, a top-ranking member of the Zetas who is presumed to have taken over the cartel following the death of its leader earlier this month.

The U.S. Treasury Department forbids conducting business with the Zetas as an organization and Treviño Morales as an individual, Doss said.

The charges against Heredia don't warrant holding him without bond, Convery said.

The lawyer showed up at court with a stack of letters from Eagle Pass luminaries outlining why the longtime county commissioner should be released pending his trial.

The charges also shouldn't affect his role as an elected official, Maverick County Judge David Saucedo said.

“From what I can see, it's got nothing to do with his role as a county commissioner,” Saucedo said. “It's apparently a claim of money laundering from the sale of a private vehicle. I have spoken with the Texas Association of Counties. He's innocent until proven guilty, so we'll just have to wait until the case goes through the legal system.”

But Doss went on to outline allegations that went far beyond the charges against Heredia.

“Sources of information indicated that as part of Mr. Heredia's position as commissioner for Precinct 2, he's operating a bid-rigging and bribe kickback scheme,” the agent said.

And, with the courtroom full of Heredia's family and supporters, Doss alleged that the commissioner had committed sex crimes as well.

“There are various accounts of Mr. Heredia traveling to Mexico for sexual purposes, to have sex with underage people,” Doss said.

The agent testified that in wiretaps, agents heard Heredia make other references to the Zetas, and that his associates dealt with the organization as well.

On one occasion, Doss testified, one of Heredia's co-defendants was overheard speaking on the phone with a trafficker who boasted he had made someone “disappear into the mines.”

Prosecutors argued that because of his frequent travels to Mexico, Heredia constituted a flight risk, and because of his association with the Zetas, Heredia could be a threat to witnesses.

The commissioner's brother, Eagle Pass lawyer Claudio Heredia, said his sibling is a grandfather, a respected member of the community and isn't a flight risk nor a threat.

“Rudy is a gentle person. He's very kind to people. I've been approached by a lot of people after his arrest who say they're praying for him,” Claudio Herrera said. “He's respected. He's very well-liked. Of all my brothers, he's the least violent. He wouldn't hurt a soul.”

In his argument, Convery called Doss's testimony “a character assassination that has nothing to do with the charged offense.”

“There's a lot of mud-slinging in this very small case,” he said.

The judge didn't agree. Citing the allegations of Heredia's close association with the Zetas, Magistrate Judge Collis White ruled that Heredia, and co-defendant David Gelacio, 28, be held without bond.

A third defendant, Jose Luis Aguilar, 62, is scheduled to have a detention hearing Friday. All three face up to 20 years in prison.

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With Narco Tanks, and RPG7s, Radio Towers: Should They Still Be Labeled Drug Traffickers?

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Borderland Beat

Terrorists?

The term “Drug” Traffickers has become an incongruity.  With war like weaponry, 300 foot communication  towers, armored narco tanks,  holding the media, politicians and society entrapped by terror, isn’t it time the term be changed to Narco-Terrorists?  True is the fact  there is not a hard definition or legal definition of the word terrorist.  Also true,  the term is traditionally used to describe acts that cause terror in order to  overthrow and run the government,  or impose a religion or ideology by acts of terror. But I offer that what organized criminal groups has imposed on the United States of Mexico is unequivocally terrorism.
 When Dr. Robert Bunker (Small Wars) tells me this week “Pretty sad when RPGs are now so common” (in Mexico),  I say it is time we call these groups that have a large part of the nation controlled by terror, those who kidnap, extort, behead (then display), explode buildings, vehicles,   and terrorize a society…TERRORISTS.  There!  That is what they are, plain and complex, Narco-Terrorists. …Paz, Chivis
On guard as a relative of El Lazca is exhumed for DNA sampling
Ioan Grillo/Mexico City
 
When a Mexican SWAT team stopped a stolen Cadillac van in the border city of Piedras Negras, it was not a surprise when they were greeted by a tirade of bullets as the criminals blasted and ran. But after they kicked open the trunk, the officers realized they could have been victims of more catastrophic firepower. The gunmen had been in possession of an arsenal of weapons that included three Soviet-made antitank rockets complete with an RPG-7 shoulder-fired launcher. If the criminals had got a rocket off, they could easily have blown the SWAT vehicle to pieces. RPG-7s can also take out helicopters and were used in the Black Hawk Down episode in Somalia in 1993.
These are those found in Escalade SUV
The rockets, found on Saturday, are part of an increasingly destructive array of weaponry wielded by Mexican drug cartels, like the feared Zetas, in reaction to attacks on them by police and soldiers. While security forces have taken down several key cartel bosses this year, gunmen have struck back, setting off five car bombs, hundreds of fragmentation grenades and several shoulder-fired rockets. Soldiers even seized one homemade three-ton tank with a revolving gun turret. When Mexican marines on Oct. 7 claimed to have killed Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano, he was also alleged to be found with an RPG-7. (Lazcano’s corpse was stolen from the morgue, and the Zetas are now believed to be led by his No. 2, Miguel Treviño.)
  (Hit Probability)

The shoulder-fired rockets cause particular worry because of their range and explosive power. Mexican dignitaries often move in helicopters with the army flying Black Hawks supplied by the U.S. under the Mérida Initiative. “The RPG-7 is a weapon that causes incredible devastation from Iraq to Afghanistan,” says Rachel Stohl, an expert on arms proliferation at the Stimson Center in Washington. “When they fall into the hands of criminal groups, it changes the dynamics and escalates the conflict. Instead of just a gunfight on a street, you have military firepower.”
 
Combatants normally use RPG-7 rockets to target nearby vehicles, but they can reach up to 3,000 ft. (900 m) and are sometimes wielded as a form of artillery, scattering shrapnel at anyone close by. Those fearing spillover were quick to note that gunmen in Piedras Negras could potentially fire a rocket over the Rio Grande into the neighboring U.S. city of Eagle Pass. There have been sporadic gunfights across the river over the years, with gunmen recently firing at U.S. Border Patrol agents near the Texas town of Los Ebanos. (More often, Mexicans have been the victims, like when Border Patrol agents shot dead a 16-year-old boy in Sonora state this month.)
The gun trade has been a long-running bone of contention over the Rio Grande, with Mexico complaining that most of the firearms used by cartel assassins are purchased from U.S. stores. Of almost 100,000 guns seized at Mexican crime scenes since 2007, 68% have been traced to the U.S. The U.S. gun lobby argues that heavier weapons such as the Soviet rockets and fragmentation grenades come from the other direction, smuggled from Central America. Thousands of RPG-7s were used by all sides in the region’s Cold War conflicts in the 1980s. Since then, gangs have stolen many from lingering stockpiles in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras to sell them on the black market. The Honduran government reports that it lost 22 RPG-7s and several rockets in a single 2010 theft. On a visit to Honduras earlier this year, a senior police officer said he had intelligence of Zeta operatives going to the capital, Tegucigalpa, to buy hardware.
When groups like the Zetas wield rockets and tanks, some pundits question whether they should continue to be labeled as drug traffickers — or need a more martial description. The cartel was founded in 1998 by 14 Mexican army defectors, and they carried their battle tactics into the crime world. “The Zetas are a criminal paramilitary organization that is spreading through Mexico and Central America like the bubonic plague,” says Mike Vigil, former head of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The Zetas have used their firepower to make their stronghold in northeast Mexico, by the Rio Grande Valley, the country’s most violent corner. While other regions, like the area around Ciudad Juárez, have seen significant decreases in murders since 2010, Coahuila state, home to Piedras Negras, has witnessed its bloodiest year on record, with more than 640 gangland killings; neighboring Nuevo León has recorded over 1,000 such deaths since January. In total, almost 60,000 people have fallen in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderón took power in 2006 and declared a military offensive on cartels. In the same period, 25 of Mexico’s 37 most wanted cartel bosses have been killed or arrested.
The buildup of cartel weaponry could also be a problem for incoming President Enrique Peña Nieto when he takes office in December. Peña Nieto, who returns the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to power after 12 years in the wilderness, has promised to halve the number of homicides in Mexico in his first year. While all applaud the target, Peña Nieto has given little concrete information about how he will achieve the goal. When Zeta squads roam the countryside with RPG-7s, some say Peña Nieto could be forced to continue a military line similar to Calderón’s. “There will probably be a change in rhetoric,” says political analyst Jorge Chabat, “but there is a little room for maneuver in tactics.”
Source: Time World, Milenio, Zocalo

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