Title: Drugwar in Mexico
Description: all about the current power struggle
moribundo - May 9, 2007 02:04 PM (GMT)
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Tres cárteles se disputan el poder
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ABRIL 19, 2007 (UNIVERSAL).- Los cárteles de la droga en México se reorganizaron tras su confrontación y luchas internas por lo que actualmente sólo hay tres grandes organizaciones: el de Sinaloa-Juárez-Mlenio, el cártel del Golfo y el de los Arellano Félix, cuyo poderío se deriva de la facilidad que tienen para adquirir armamento de Estados Unidos en toda la frontera norte.
Al dar a conocer de la captura de un comando de miembros del cártel de Sinaloa-Juárez-Milenio dedicado al exterminio de sus rivales, “Los Zetas” en Guerrero, el subsecretario de Estrategia e Inteligencia Policial de la Secretaría de Seguridad Pública federal, Patricio Patiño Arias, informó que algunas organizaciones han evolucionado y otras se han debilitado o dividido.
Bajo la nueva reorganización de los cárteles, que contradice informes de la PGR y del Ejército, desaparecieron en los últimos meses los cárteles de Oaxaca y Colima, que controlaban las familias Díaz Parada y los Amezcua Contreras. Este último análisis señala que otras organizaciones han comenzado a debilitarse.
Entre los cárteles que comienzan a fragmentarse está el del Golfo, cuyos integrantes se debaten en una lucha interna en todo el corredor Veracruz, Tabasco y Campeche.
El funcionario dio a conocer que la nueva estrategia para el combate al crimen organizado, en especial al narcotráfico, comienza a tener resultados, pues ya no se busca exclusivamente la captura de los jefes de las organizaciones, sino el debilitamiento de toda la estructura, como se demuestra con las capturas de células de sicarios efectuadas en Guerrero y Campeche en las últimas 48 horas.
Anteriormente, dijo, se atacaban a las cabezas de los cárteles, pero normalmente lo que sucedía es que las estructuras se fortalecían rápidamente, “con una muy alta eficacia de reagrupamiento”.
Ayer un comando de sicarios del cártel de Sinaloa-Juárez-Milenio y que estaba dedicado a exterminar a sus rivales del grupo de “Los Zetas”, fue detenido por la Policía Federal Preventiva en el marco del operativo conjunto “Guerrero”.
El funcionario detalló que tras labores de inteligencia fue posible ubicar a Jorge Ramos García, Juan Carlos Pérez García, Jesús Ricardo Tapia López, Julio César Zazueta Hernández, Víctor Manuel Reyes Páez, Luis Armando Zazueta Martínez y Joel Jaramillo Ramírez, a quienes se les decomisó un arsenal y diversos objetos de usaban contra sus víctimas.
El funcionario federal abundó en la conformación de los tres grandes cárteles en México.
El cartel de Sinaloa-Juárez-Milenio tiene en Joaquín Guzmán Loera, “El Chapo” Guzmán, a su principal jefe y a él están ligados Ismael Zambada García, “El Mayo Zambada”; Juan José Esparragosa Moreno, “El Azul”; Vicente Carrillo Fuentes y Vicente Carrillo Leyva, además de los hermanos Marco Arturo, Mario Alberto, Héctor Alfredo y Carlos Beltrán Leyva; Edgar Valdés Villarreal, “La Barbie”, e Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, “El Nachito”.
En un segundo plano se encuentran jefes como Candy de Valerio Palma Salazar, además de Humberto y Jesús Loria, Manuel Alejandro Aponte, “El Bravo”, e igualmente el hermano del “Chapo” Guzmán, de nombre Ernesto.
Otro anillo de jefes de la organización, en Michoacán, la conforman los hermanos Luis y Óscar Orlando Nava Valencia, José Benavides Martínez, Juan Calixto Ramos Vázquez y José Silverio Martínez González. Esta es, a decir del subsecretario Patiño Arias, la organización criminal más poderosa que hay en México y que opera fundamentalmente en los estados de Sonora, Sinaloa, Nuevo León, Michoacán, Chihuahua, Jalisco y Tamaulipas, entidad esta última en donde tiene una confrontación con el cártel del Golfo, que incluso se ha extendido a otros estados de la república.
Por lo que hace al cártel del Golfo, considerada la segunda organización criminal en importancia en el país, su radio de acción se concentra en muy alta medida en Tamaulipas y hasta Nuevo León, e igualmente en Veracruz, donde hay al interior una disputa con el grupo que se denomina Gente Nueva, además de Tabasco y Campeche, y algunas partes de Chiapas.
Explicó que el cártel del Golfo tuvo una escisión muy fuerte y todo ello empezó con la captura del “Comandante Mateo”. Tras esto, hubo un rompimiento de liderazgos en la zona por lo cual “El Débora”, uno de los zetas originales, se va a Campeche, ya que incluso en la región Coatzacoalcos y La Venta, en Veracruz, y en Huimanguillo, Tabasco, no llegaron a un entendimiento y se produjeron pugnas entre ellos mismos.
Por otra parte, está el cártel de Tijuana, que dirigen los hermanos Arellano Félix, cuyo centro de operaciones es Tijuana, junto con algunas otras zonas y regiones de Baja California. Esta organización, aunque ha sufrido bajas muy sensibles en su estructura, sigue teniendo prácticamente el control de todo Tijuana, según el funcionario.
Mencionó que muestra del poderío del cártel de los Arellano Félix es el hecho de que sicarios a su servicio fueron los responsables de la balacera ocurrida en un hospital de Tijuana.
Hollander - May 15, 2007 09:20 AM (GMT)
Mexican anti-drugs officers slain
Two senior Mexican anti-drugs officials have been killed in separate shootings by suspected drug traffickers.
Federal prosecutor Jose Nemesio Lugo was gunned down in his car on the outskirts of the capital, Mexico City.
Hours later Jorge Altriste, one of the highest-ranking police officers in the border city of Tijuana, a drugs hotspot, was also shot and killed.
Almost 800 people are thought to have been killed in Mexico in drug-related violence so far this year.
Jose Nemesio Lugo, 55, investigated drug issues and organised crime in the office of Mexico's attorney-general, and headed a key department.
He was attacked, reportedly by up to three unknown gunmen, as he drove to work in the town of Coyoacan, in a southern area of Mexico City.
Mr Lugo's car was blocked by another vehicle before its occupants ambushed him and shot him dead, the Efe news agency reported.
Apart from drug issues and organised crime, Mr Lugo dealt with migrant smuggling and immigration issues, and had recently been appointed to head a major intelligence unit.
Mr Altriste worked as head of operations for Mexico's elite police force in Tijuana, close to the border with the US.
He was discovered in a crime-ridden neighbourhood of the city with three gunshot wounds to the head, the attorney-general's office told the Reuters news agency.
There were also some signs he had been tortured, Reuters reported.
Tijuana is a major transit point for drugs heading into the US and has become and increasingly violent battleground for the competing drug cartels.
Feuding drug cartels are blamed for many of the deaths in Mexico, which have continued despite a military offensive launched by President Felipe Calderon.
The cartels have been blamed for a series of brutal killings, with many bodies found showing evidence of torture or wrapped in plastic.
In January, Mexico's new President Felipe Calderon sent more than 3,000 soldiers to the northern border city of Tijuana to help fight drug trafficking and gang violence. More than 300 people were killed there in 2006.
This came a month after he dispatched 7,000 troops to Michoacan state on the Pacific coast, where more than 500 people died last year.
Hollander - May 16, 2007 10:43 AM (GMT)
Newly named drug fighter gunned down
Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
(05-15) 04:00 PDT Mexico City -- The newly appointed head of a drug intelligence unit in the Mexican attorney general's office was shot and killed Monday on a street here as apparent drug-related violence continued unabated across the country.
Over the weekend, two journalists for the Azteca television network were reported missing and assumed kidnapped in the northern city of Monterrey, and an army captain was kidnapped and slain in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state. Both regions have seen increasing violence as drug cartels fight each other, police and the army.
Jose Nemesio Lugo Felix had been appointed a month ago to head an intelligence unit specializing in analyzing the activities of the nation's drug cartels, officials said. He was shot in his car just outside an office of the attorney general in the southern Coyoacan district of Mexico City.
Lugo Felix previously had run a unit in the attorney general's office specializing in the investigation of child and immigrant smuggling, authorities said. According to news reports, witnesses said he was driving a sport utility vehicle when he was ambushed by men in another vehicle. He was shot five times.
In Monterrey, reporter Gamaliel Lopez Candanosa and cameraman Gerardo Paredes Perez have not been seen since Thursday, Azteca television said in a news release Sunday.
The two men were last seen after covering a Mother's Day event on Thursday, the television network said. Dozens of police officers and government officials have been killed in the Monterrey area in the past year.
Lopez Candanosa was a general assignment reporter and only occasionally covered the region's drug wars, officials said, though he did report last July on the discovery of a severed head and "narco message" in the city.
According to a count in the Mexico City newspaper El Universal, more than 1,000 people have been killed by organized crime groups this year. The newspaper Reforma counted 758 killed as of May 1.
Last week, a severed head was deposited at an army base in Veracruz, and four government bodyguards assigned to protect the children of the governor of Mexico state were slain in the city while escorting their charges on a beach vacation.
Hollander - May 17, 2007 08:07 AM (GMT)
Armed gang kills Mexican police
Four police officers have been killed and several other people abducted in the northern Mexican state of Sonora.
A group of about 40 armed men entered the town of Cananea near the US border and kidnapped the policemen from their patrol cars, reports said.
Eight of the attackers were reportedly killed by police hours later.
Almost 800 people are thought to have been killed in Mexico in drug-related violence so far this year, despite efforts to crack down on drug gangs.
Earlier this week two senior anti-drugs officers were shot and killed, one in the capital, Mexico City, and one in the northern border town of Tijuana.
There have been frequent attacks on police, military and intelligence officials as the government battles drug trafficking gangs.
According to reports the attackers drove into Cananea in a fleet of cars and surrounded the police, who were in two patrol cars.
Police said a fifth policeman, a petrol station owner and two other civilians were seized and taken into mountainous country outside Cananea.
They were freed hours later after a gunbattle with the attackers in hills near Cananea, the Associated Press reported.
Elsewhere, authorities in the northern state of Coahuila said men disguised as Mexican federal agents captured the state's chief anti-kidnapping investigator, AP said.
Correspondents say the continuing violence in Mexico is part of a struggle between drug traffickers and the government.
President Felipe Calderon sent more than 3,000 soldiers to Tijuana in January to fight trafficking and gang violence.
More than 300 people were killed there in 2006.
A month earlier he dispatched 7,000 troops to Michoacan state on the Pacific coast, where more than 500 people died last year.
moribundo - May 18, 2007 10:12 AM (GMT)
The BEGINNING OF THE WAR
THE WAR FOR NUEVO LAREDO:
LA GUERRA DEL NARCO POR DENTRO
Dos toneladas de coca, en el inicio de la disputa por Nuevo Laredo
Un cónclave de narcos en Cuernavaca. La traición de un narcotraficante local.
La furia de Osiel Cárdenas Guillén. Dos bandas de sicarios que utilizan armas de guerra.
La complicidad de la policía local, acostumbrada a servir a dos bandos.
Ingredientes de la ola de violencia que azota a una ciudad fronteriza, y cuyo saldo se acerca a las 80 ejecuciones. Aquí la historia contada por los protagonistas.
Como pocas veces, Osiel Cárdenas Guillén estaba contento: por fin, después de intensas negociaciones, había conseguido permiso para operar en Nuevo Laredo.
nARCOONo había sido una buena época. Un año antes, en abril de 2001, su principal puchador (encargado de cruzar droga a Estados Unidos) de cocaína, Gilberto García Mena, El June, había sido detenido en su casa de Guardados de Abajo, un pueblo ubicado a 15 minutos de la ciudad fronteriza.
La captura le significó al cártel del Golfo perder su cabeza de playa en esa región, la única que conservaba tras la captura de Juan García Abrego. El espacio perdido fue rápidamente ocupado por otros narcotraficantes, como Edelio López Falcón, El Yeyo o El Señor de los Caballos, quien mantenía una residencia justo a la mitad del territorio de Osiel.
Pero ese febrero de 2002, la mala racha parecía a punto de terminar. José Dionisio García, El Chacho, líder de una de las dos bandas que controlaban Nuevo Laredo Los Chachos, había autorizado a Cárdenas Guillén pasar dos toneladas de cocaína por su territorio, previo pago del derecho de piso.
La droga salió de Matamoros en tres camionetas blindadas con la custodia de Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sánchez, El Coss, acompañado de Los Zetas a quienes comandaba Heriberto Lazcano, El Lazca o Z-3.
Pero al llegar a Nuevo Laredo empezaron los problemas.
De acuerdo con la declaración ministerial de un miembro de Los Zetas, a quien la Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) identifica como Rafael, El Coss había pactado reunirse con el comandante en la plaza de la Agencia Federal de Investigación (AFI) para acordar los términos en que la cocaína cruzaría la frontera, pero el oficial, junto con una decena de sus elementos, pretendió arrestar a los enviados de Osiel.
Sin embargo, “en razón de que teníamos más elementos en otros puntos, es decir, en otras esquinas, llegaron de forma sorpresiva y sometieron tanto al comandante como a su gente”, relata el testigo. “El Costilla vía radio nos ordenó que los dejáramos; subimos a los vehículos y nos dirigimos a las afueras de Nuevo Laredo. En el trayecto nos siguieron los mismos federales que habíamos dejado”.
En la persecución también participaron policías municipales, quienes durante todo el trayecto dispararon a las camionetas de Los Zetas. La balacera terminó porque “en la carretera atravesamos una camioneta Lobo para frenarlos… (Los policías) la rodearon y dispararon, creyendo que había gente de nosotros”.
Osiel Cárdenas enfureció por la traición. Días después, señala el testigo protegido, acuarteló a todos los zetas en una casa de seguridad en Reynosa, conocida como la 40 Grande, y ordenó el asalto de Nuevo Laredo.
“Esa vez no entramos en caravana con vehículos particulares, sino que lo hicimos en camiones foráneos”, indicó Rafael. “Ya en la ciudad nos encontramos en una casa de seguridad que se ubica en la calle de Tamaulipas entre Morelos y Juárez”. Las armas para el operativo “las pasó Crispín Nava Pérez alias El Sosa, en un clavo (compartimiento secreto) de una camioneta Trail Blazer”.
En mayo de ese año El Chacho pagó la traición al ser levantado (secuestrado) en Monterrey, gracias al pitazo del comandante de la Policía Ministerial de Nuevo León, Arturo Pedroza Aguirre. El cuerpo de Dionisio García apareció, severamente torturado, en un solar de Río Bravo, Tamaulipas.
La nueva batalla por Nuevo Laredo había empezado.
En el mundo del narcotráfico a esta ciudad se le considera la joya de la corona, por las facilidades que tiene para el trasiego de todo tipo de mercancías.
EjecuNo es cualquier cosa. En Nuevo Laredo se realiza 36% de todo el comercio entre México y Estados Unidos; por sus puentes internacionales cruzan un promedio de ocho mil vehículos al día y el movimiento de personas suma 300 mil cada 24 horas.
Revisar a todos es imposible. Los agentes del servicio de aduanas estadounidense, por ejemplo, cuentan con 10.6 segundos para verificar a cada uno de los vehículos que cruzan la frontera, eso si trabajaran las 24 horas del día. Y en el caso de los peatones, el tiempo se reduce a 3.4 segundos.
La cantidad de drogas, armas y dinero que pueden cruzar la frontera es considerable.
Por eso la disputa por la plaza que, en términos reales, empezó tras la captura de Juan García Abrego, en 1996, y que desde entonces ha tenido varias etapas. La de este año, por ejemplo, se fraguó desde 2001, meses después de la fuga de Joaquín Guzmán Loera, El Chapo, del penal de máxima seguridad de Puente Grande.
De hecho, una de las primeras acciones del sinaloense (además de festejar durante tres días en su rancho de Los Caballero, en Badiraguato, Sinaloa), fue reunirse en Cuernavaca con varios líderes del narcotráfico.
Se trató de un encuentro de alto nivel. De acuerdo con un informe del Centro Nacional de Planeación, Análisis e Información para el Combate a la Delincuencia de la PGR (oficio C1/C4/ZC/03
40/05), en la reunión participaron cerca de 25 personas entre las que destacaron Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, jefe del cártel de Juárez y sus socios, Vicente Zambada Niebla y Alfredo Beltrán Leyva quien acudió en representación de Juan José Esparragoza, El Azul. Otro de los asistentes fue Ismael Zambada García, El Mayo, en aquel entonces líder del cártel de Sinaloa.
El tema del encuentro: “La reestructuración de la organización en todo el país para el tráfico, traslado y acopio de drogas”, lo cual incluyó apropiarse de Nuevo Laredo.
Y para conseguirlo, en el cónclave de Cuernavaca se designó a Beltrán Leyva, El Barbas o El Alfa, primo de El Chapo, operador en Sonora del Cártel de Sinaloa y buscado por la DEA (agencia antidrogas estadounidense) “como uno de los traficantes que utiliza aviones Velocity, que no son detectados por radares”.
El Barbas reclutó a Edgar Valdés Villarreal, La Barbie, nacido el 11 de agosto de 1973 en Laredo, Texas, y considerado por la DEA y la PGR como un sujeto altamente peligroso. Es el responsable de librar la batalla calle por calle en Nuevo Laredo, y para ganarla se vale de todos los medios, incluso contratar a pandilleros de la MS 13, la Mara Salvatrucha con quienes, revela el informe de la PGR, parece tener un acuerdo.
La Barbie también compra policías, como ocurrió con el director de operaciones especiales de la AFI, Domingo González Díaz, quien según el documento recibió 1.5 millones de dólares para fungir “como intermediario para destituir al comandante de la AFI en Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, y en su lugar poner a alguien que protegiera a la organización delictiva de los Carrillo Fuentes, además de expulsar a la banda de sicarios llamados Los Zetas“.
Quién sabe si cumpliría la encomienda (actualmente está prófugo), pero lo cierto es que el trabajo este año de la PGR en Nuevo Laredo resulta, por lo menos, sospechoso: de acuerdo con el subdelegado en la ciudad, Rafael García Fernández, de enero a mayo se logró el decomiso de cinco mil 843 kilos de marihuana, medio kilo de heroína… Y 496 gramos de cocaína.
Paradójicamente, la captura de varios líderes de cárteles ha sido un factor determinante en el control de Nuevo Laredo.
En los días de la traición a Osiel Cárdenas, por ejemplo, la plaza pertenecía al cártel del Milenio, de Armando Valencia, asociado a El Chapo y El Barbas.
De acuerdo con la declaración de un testigo protegido al que la PGR identifica como José Rodríguez, desde 2001 Valencia solía introducir con frecuencia hasta 300 kilos de cocaína por esta ciudad, e incluso se dio el lujo de perder varios cargamentos decomisados por la DEA en Atlanta, Estados Unidos.
José Rodríguez cobraba 130 mil dólares por cada operación, los cuales recibía en una casa de cambio de Guadalajara “cerca de la distribuidora de vehículos Porsche”.
Sin embargo, la ejecución de Dionisio García, El Chacho, de quien el testigo era puchador, permitió a Osiel Cádenas recuperar el control de la plaza. Y para su custodia asignó a sus mejores lugartenientes: Eduardo Costilla, El Coss, originario de Matamoros, líder de la banda de Los Sierra que se dedica al secuestro en la región, así como a Heriberto Lazcano, El Lazca.
También nombró a Kari Saucedo, hermano de Gregorio, El Caramuela, actualmente operador del cártel del Golfo en Reynosa, y a El Gordo Mata, quienes según el testigo protegido “se encargaban de negociar con la policía y administrar al grupo”. Los operativos “están al mando de un zeta conocido como El Rex, de apellido Reyes”.
La captura de Osiel en marzo de 2003 volvió a inclinar la balanza. En su testimonio José Rodríguez cuenta que, tras el incidente, Armando Valencia le pidió que rentara “de 15 a 20 casas en Nuevo Laredo porque iban a pelear la plaza y pretendía meter 200 gentes bajo su mando”.
Las viviendas debían estar amuebladas y equiparse con un circuito cerrado de televisión; para hacerlo el testigo recibió 150 mil dólares.
Las instrucciones fueron reforzadas por Arturo Beltrán con quien el puchador se reunió en la ciudad de México. En esa ocasión, cuenta, “me dijo que la guerra por Nuevo Laredo ya había comenzado, y que si yo tenía gente mejor la sacara del lugar para que no tuviera problemas con él”.
La operación, sin embargo, se retrasó por la captura de Armando Valencia y Eloy Treviño, en agosto de 2003, lo cual provocó que los sicarios arribaran en grupos pequeños a lo largo de ese año. Las casas fueron ocupadas por comandos de entre 10 y 15 gatilleros cada uno, a quienes desde entonces se les conoce como Los Chapos.
Mientras, Los Zetas lograron el control de la Policía Municipal, y fue por eso que, el 27 de septiembre pasado, La Barbie ordenó el ataque a la corporación. Fueron tres emboscadas con saldo de cuatro policías heridos y uno muerto.
Esa vez, cuenta Gaspar López Félix, detenido el mismo día del ataque, un comando de diez sicarios armados con granadas y rifles AK 47 salió de una casa de seguridad ubicada en la colonia Jardín, y al regresar dijeron haber matado “a unos cabrones, preguntándoles quiénes fueron y contestaron unos oficiales, ni modo, son de la misma gente de Los Zetas“.
Curiosamente, entre los policías agredidos ese día se encontraba Horacio Martínez Urbina, uno de los 41 elementos actualmente arraigados por agredir a elementos de la AFI a principios del mes pasado.
La respuesta de Los Zetas fue la ejecución de cinco chapos, el 9 de octubre. Sobre los cuerpos los ex militares dejaron un mensaje a La Barbie: “Mándanos más de estos pendejos”, decía el papel.
Mientras, la batalla por Nuevo Laredo se trasladó a la Policía Municipal, trinchera que reporta seis bajas este año. Y todos, revelan datos de una organización no gubernamental, estaban relacionados con Los Zetas, una de las “limpias” que en esta frontera suelen realizar con los cambios de gobierno.
Esta vez, la purga estaba aparentemente relacionada con el director jurídico del Ayuntamiento, Lamberto Rocha, a quien se le vincula con Los Chapos, junto con el ex director operativo de la corporación Carlos Martínez, ex jefe de grupo de la Policía Ministerial en Reynosa y quien hace varias semanas fue reubicado en Ciudad Victoria.
Nada raro. Desde 1997 la policía neolaredense trabaja para dos bandos: antes eran Los Chachos y Los Texas. Hoy son Los Chapos y Los Zetas.
El último capítulo de la batalla por Nuevo Laredo fue el descubrimiento de un secuestro masivo de Los Zetas, y de un rancho donde se incineraba a los ejecutados.
Típico de los gatilleros, quienes a fines del año pasado secuestraron a todo un pueblo en el municipio de San Fernando en castigo porque permitieron el desembarco de cocaína de El Chapo Guzmán.
La cremación tampoco es nueva, e incluso se realiza con un procedimiento que se sigue rigurosamente, al estilo militar: se llena un tambo con diesel, se le prende fuego y se mete a la víctima, viva o muerta.
A esto Los Zetas le llaman dar un baño.
Hollander - May 19, 2007 12:56 AM (GMT)
Blood marks new people's entrance into the drug war
Web Posted: 05/16/2007 11:33 PM CDT
Express-News Border Bureau
LAREDO — A series of chilling notes found attached to the bodies of homicide victims last month in Veracruz, Mexico, announced a new actor in the country's ongoing drug wars.
But no one is quite sure what to make of the shadowy and violent group that calls itself the "Gente Nueva," or New People — and authorities don't want to talk about it.
The methods employed by the Gente — the menacing notes, Web-posted videos, the types of torture and execution, the quasi-patriotic rhetoric — suggest a vigilante group is confronting the Gulf Cartel and its enforcement arm, known as Los Zetas, in the old port city.
"It's an ominous sign if that is in fact true," said Bruce Bagley, an expert on drug trafficking at the University of Miami.
Nationwide, some speak of the "Colombianization" of Mexico because the drug violence still is in full swing — with more than 700 narco-killings reported this year — despite strenuous federal efforts to tamp it down.
But Colombia's drug violence of the 1980s and 1990s was part of a de facto civil war involving guerillas and private armies.
Until now, Mexico's battles have been limited to feuding cartels and their enemies and allies among the police.
Mexican officials refused to talk about the Gente Nueva. One U.S. official familiar with the Veracruz area said, "we don't know much" about the group.
Another U.S. official based on the border referred to the Gente as vigilantes in one interview, but later said the group worked for the Sinaloa Cartel, the Gulf Cartel's bitter rival.
The only thing known for sure is that the group has stirred fear. In the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, a new chapter of the drug war is playing out.
Note 1: "We're Gente Nueva and this will befall everyone who supports the Zetas. For a clean Mexico. Sincerely, Gente Nueva."
Mexico was introduced to the Gente Nueva in a note found March 27 next to two bodies dumped in the port of Veracruz.
Unlike most cartel killings, where victims are usually executed with a shot to the head, these two had no bullet wounds. One had his throat slit, and the other was strangled, according to the state attorney general's office.
While police still were sorting out the crime and deciphering the note, a video was released on the Internet that answered some of the questions.
It showed the two victims, who identified themselves as Jesus Arano Servin and Victor Manuel Perez Rocha, tied to chairs and answering questions from an unseen interrogator, with four masked men holding automatic rifles behind them.
The pair claimed to be members of the Gulf Cartel. They spilled the beans about local cops on their payroll, listing names. They said that a new leader from Nuevo Laredo, identified only as Z-40, had been sent to take over Veracruz operations for the cartel.
Three days later, another video surfaced on the Web. A shirtless man also claiming to be a Zeta was beaten and then beheaded with a garrote — a brutal strangulation method associated with paramilitary groups.
"Do your patriotic duty, kill a Zeta," was the title of the video.
Note 2: "Greetings from the Gente Nueva: Z-40, here is Alvarado the errand-boy. And any (expletive) who supports the Zetas will be found just like this (expletive). You're next: Claudia, Andres, Javadia, Carranza, Napo, Norteño, Feyo, Travieso, Diego, Rosario and you Muñeco, you're following soon. Sincerely, Gente Nueva"
This second note, another threat against the Zetas, was attached to a body found in the city of Xalapa on April 8.
Officials said the man had been executed but didn't identify him. Reporters recognized some of the names on the note from the video confession of the first victims.
The mysterious Gente Nueva grabbed headlines in local newspapers, though no one knew who they were — some reports labeled the group as "paramilitary," some as just another drug gang.
The regional office of the federal attorney general's office, known by its Spanish acronym PGR, is investigating the slayings. It wouldn't comment on the case.
A week after the second note, a ferocious gun battle erupted on a highway near the town of Soledad de Doblado, near the port. Notiver, a local newspaper, said it was between the Zetas and the Gente Nueva and an unknown number of people were killed.
Police recovered a small arsenal of weapons and more than 3,000 spent shells and live rounds at the scene, the paper reported.
Note 3: "This for lending my ranch to those (expletive) who said they would protect me when the Zetas arrived, but left me to die alone. This is for you Florentino Estrada Rosas. I'm the deceased, Mario Cano Sanchez, Tenexpan," (sic)
The Zetas sent their own note April 16. It was found on a body in Xalapa.
The victim actually was named Mario Camo Sanchez, from Tenenexpan, a ranching community in Veracruz state. Camo was identified by local media as an area rancher whose land the Gente Nueva allegedly used as a base.
The street shootout and the tit-for-tat killing resembled a long-established pattern in other cities of reprisals between the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels.
The Gente Nueva "are paid and supported by Chapo's people," asserted the U.S. official who believes the group works for the Sinaloa Cartel, whose leader is Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
Rather than a vigilante group, the Gente Nueva could be part of an increasing number of minicartels, or "cartelitos," who align themselves with bigger operations, said Bagley, the university professor.
Because the evidence of its vigilante nature is strong, history says the Gente Nueva could be both.
In Colombia in the early 1990s, a vigilante group called Los Pepes went after drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in a similar fashion, killing his men and leaving threatening notes.
Los Pepes operated on its own but received some funding from rival cartels.
The danger in this precedent, Bagley said, is that Los Pepes eventually morphed into the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, a paramilitary group responsible for numerous human rights abuses. It continues to haunt that country.
Note 4: "Here we send you a gift (expletive) reporters (expletive). Many more heads will roll like this, Milo Vela knows and others will too. 100 heads for my father. Sincerely, son of Mario Camo Sanchez and the Gente Nueva."
The most recent note, found next to a human head in the city of Veracruz on May 3, was disconcerting to reporters, who took it as a threat to their profession.
"As simple mortals we can't do anything. We're always powerless against those who arrive with all of the power that some mob boss has given them," Notiver columnist Antonio Armenta Nuñez wrote about the wave of violence.
The note appeared to single out Emilio Vela, one of his Notiver colleagues.
As the killings continue, Veracruz is cowering.
"I've heard of the group, we all have," said Moises Gonzalez, spokesman for the state's ministry of public safety. "But I can't help you. I don't know who would dare to talk about that."
Hollander - April 27, 2008 11:46 AM (GMT)
13 dead in Tijuana shootouts
Suspected drug traffickers fired at each other while speeding through city streets
All the dead are believed to be drug traffickers, possibly from same cartel
Eight suspects and one federal police officer were wounded
Police recovered 21 vehicles, 54 guns and 1,500 shell casings
Next Article in World »
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) -- Massive gunbattles broke out between suspected drug traffickers who fired at each other while speeding down heavily populated streets of this violent border city early Saturday, killing 13 people and wounding nine.
All of the dead were believed to be drug traffickers, possibly rival members of the same cartel who were trying to settle scores, said Rommel Moreno, the attorney general of Baja California state.
"Evidently, this is a confrontation between gangs," Moreno said.
Eight suspects and one federal police officer were injured in the pre-dawn shootings, none gravely, said Agustin Perez Aguilar, a spokesman for the state public safety department. The suspects are being held on suspicion of weapons possession, among other possible charges.
Police recovered 21 vehicles, many with bullet holes or U.S. license plates; a total of 54 guns; and more than 1,500 spent shell casings at various points in the city where the battles broke out, Perez Aguilar said.
At one point, the alleged traffickers fired at one another as their sport utility vehicles sped down a six-lane boulevard lined with restaurants, car repair shops, medical offices and strip malls.
Bullet holes could be seen in the walls of a factory building and on the perimeter wall of a housing complex along the road, but no bystander deaths were reported. It was not clear how long the gunbattles lasted.
A mall security guard who did not want to give his name for fear of reprisals said he heard hundreds of gunshots fired, some of which passed near him.
"I hit the ground," the guard said. When he got up again, he saw bullet holes in the wall behind him, a dead man lying in a pool of blood and 11 abandoned, bullet-ridden SUVs on the street.
The first shootout claimed seven victims. Three subsequent gunbattles -- one outside a hospital -- claimed five more, police said. The body of a man who police believe to be the 13th victim turned up at a city hospital.
Tijuana, a sprawling metropolis just across the border from San Diego, California, is pervaded by frequent violence, much of it blamed on drug cartels battling for control of lucrative trafficking routes. The city is home to the Arellano-Felix drug cartel.
In January, eight people died in a gunbattle at a Tijuana safehouse apparently used by drug hit men to hold kidnapped rivals. In that confrontation, hit men holed up inside the house battled police and soldiers with automatic weapons for three hours.
Hollander - April 29, 2008 10:46 AM (GMT)
Officials silent after deadly gang shootout
Los Angeles Times-Washington Post
Published: April 29, 2008, 00:00
Mexico City: Following one of the bloodiest days in Tijuana's history, authorities held no news conferences on Sunday. The death toll in the gangland-style shootings early on Saturday between rival drug traffickers increased from 13 to 15, after two men died of their wounds. But not even the names of the dead were publicly released.
Instead, speculation, rumour and scattered news leaks filled the information vacuum surrounding yet another battle in Mexico's drug wars.
And there were only tentative answers to the larger questions that worry many here: Is all this violence between drug dealers actually a sign that the Mexican government is winning? Or is it just another symptom of a country slipping deeper into an abyss of lawlessness?
Official silence is common in Mexico, where thousands have been killed in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006.
But many analysts believe that Cald-eron's decision to crack down on the drug trade by sending thousands of army troops to Baja California, Veracruz, Michoacan and other Mexican states is reaping a type of dividend.
The government's efforts have disrupted agreements between trafficking organisations and corrupt officials, setting off turf wars between weakened organisations, according to analysts and government officials.
"We wouldn't see so much bloodshed if the Mexican government were more complicit with these [criminal] organisations and just letting them have their way," said David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego.
Hollander - May 10, 2008 09:26 AM (GMT)
Mexico's top cop says attacks against police show organized crime feeling heat
By JULIE WATSON,AP
Posted: 2008-05-09 16:01:24
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexico's top security official blamed organized crime for the brazen killing of an acting federal police chief, saying Friday his death shows a nationwide crackdown is hurting gangs.
Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said authorities would not be deterred by an onslaught of attacks against police as he presided over the funeral of Edgar Gomez Millan and two other federal officers killed this week.
Millan, 41, was shot 10 times early Thursday by gunmen who waited for him inside the courtyard of his Mexico City apartment complex. His two bodyguards were wounded.
The two other officers were killed Wednesday in a shootout with suspected drug traffickers in southern Morelos state.
The "attacks by organized crime against federal police in the last few days are in response to their interests being affected," Garcia Luna said as he stood near the three coffins guarded by heavily armed agents wearing bulletproof vests. "But we will not be intimidated."
President Felipe Calderon attended the funeral, hugging Millan's sobbing wife and handing her a folded Mexican flag. He did not speak publicly.
Millan was responsible for coordinating operations - many of them targeting drugs - between federal police and the army. He was named acting chief March 1 after his superior was promoted to a deputy Cabinet position.
On May 1, he announced the arrest of 12 suspected hit men tied to the Sinaloa cartel.
Hours later, a federal intelligence analyst was killed in Mexico City by assailants who tried to steal his car, and a federal commander was gunned down the next day.
Police would not comment on whether the Sinaloa cartel was behind Millan's killing, but said they were investigating possible drug links. Police were interrogating two suspects, including one of the alleged gunmen.
Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has sent more than 25,000 troops to drug hotspots. Cartels have responded with unprecedented violence, beheading police and killing soldiers. Drug-related violence killed more than 2,500 people last year alone.
In Washington, Thomas Shannon, the U.S. assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs, urged Congress to approve the Merida Initiative, a US$1.4 billion (euro0.91 billion) proposal to help fight drug crime in Mexico and Central America. The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush wants Congress to approve US$550 million (euro355 million) of the package, the majority of which would go to Mexico.
"Central America and Mexico are facing public security threats of tremendous proportions," Shannon told the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. "The leaders of the region have shown that they are committed to working together to put an end to the growing violence and crime, but their resources are limited."
05/09/08 16:00 EDT
Hollander - May 11, 2008 07:02 AM (GMT)
Who wants Rogaciano Alba dead in Mexico?
Posted on Fri, May. 09, 2008
MIGUEL TOVAR/AP PHOTO
A daughter of Rogaciano Alba who asked not to be identified holds a flyer asking for the whereabouts of her kidnapped sister Ana Karen, during a funeral mass outside her family's home in the town of Petatlan
PETATLAN, Mexico -- Somebody wants to kill Rogaciano Alba.
Dozens of gunmen attacked the house of the local political boss, killing his sons and kidnapping his daughter in a weekend rampage that left 17 dead. With Alba in hiding, the motive remains unclear, lost in the tangle of drugs, land disputes and rebellion that lurks amid Mexico's glittering beach resorts.
''If anybody has something against me, let them tell me to my face,'' Alba raged in a call to a local radio station. ``But [the victims] didn't steal or do anything to anybody. There was no reason to kill them like that.''
Alba is easily the most powerful man in Petatlán, a Pacific coast town near the resorts of Ixtapa and Zihuatenejo that was dependent on coconut plantations and cattle ranching until drugs and illegal logging pushed them aside in the 1980s.
Mexico's drug underworld has become ever more violent in recent years, with gunmen beheading victims and carving threats into their bodies. But almost like a code of honor, hit men targeting ranchers, businessmen, journalists and rival drug smugglers have largely left the victims' families alone.
The attack on Alba broke all the rules.
On Saturday, seven ranchers were killed as they returned from a union meeting led by Alba. The following day, gunmen disguised as police showed up at Alba's ranch. When they didn't find him, they lined up 10 of his relatives and friends in front of his sturdy, two-story brick house and mowed them down.
Alba's sons Alejandro and Rusbel were among the dead, and his 18-year-old daughter, Ana Karen, disappeared and is believed kidnapped, although no ransom has been requested. Alba immediately went into hiding.
''Only God and he knows where he is now,'' said one of his daughters, who asked her name be withheld for fear the gunmen would come back for her.
She and other relatives gathered late Tuesday before the house's bullet-scarred walls, arranging white flowers and candles in a simple altar to the dead. Then they prayed for the victims and condemned the faceless killers.
On Wednesday, police set up roadblocks as they searched for weapons, but Petatlán police director Horacio Lluck Mendiola said his 30 officers are outmanned and outgunned by criminals.
''The situation has spun beyond our control,'' he said. ``The federal government needs to take control of this business because of the magnitude of the massacre.''
He said no arrests had been made, adding: ''We believe it was a well-organized gang.'' However, the motive remains unclear -- largely because so many people have reason to want Alba dead.
Alba is a rural strongman who dominates economic and political life in one of Mexico's roughest stretches of countryside.
He was long active in the Ruben Figueroa Landowners Association, which worked with loggers gathering wood in the threatened forests of the coastal mountain range. Human rights groups say much of the logging was illegal.
Logging remains big business: Huge trucks continue to rumble down the coastal highway through Petatlan, groaning under the weight of old-growth fir and pine cut from dwindling forests.
In the 1990s when Alba was tied to the group, activists who tried to stop the loggers were threatened, jailed, shot at and sometimes killed. A group of Mexico City lawyers took up their cause, and the best-known, Digna Ochoa, was shot to death in Mexico City in 2001.
Investigators ruled her death a suicide, but activists believe she was killed and have demanded the investigation be reopened -- with Alba as a prime suspect. Mexico City prosecutors will not confirm whether there is an active investigation against Alba in the Ochoa case.
Others speculate the killings could be tied to drugs. Mexico's main drug cartels are fighting over the Guerrero coast, with their gun battles reaching even international resorts like Acapulco. Along the coast, boats laden with cocaine land from Colombia, and in the mountains farmers tend opium poppies and marijuana plantations.
Many farmers in the region are forced to plant, guard or transport drugs for the cartels, and it is hard to conceive that someone of Alba's stature wasn't at least approached by the cartels for help.
The violence could also be related to the leftist rebels who have fought along the Guerrero coast since the 1970s, and landowners' attempts to defeat them.
Human rights groups are pressing the government to investigate mass graves suspected of holding the victims of counterinsurgency campaigns dating back three decades. The biggest group now is the People's Revolutionary Army, which first appeared in the 1990s after a police massacre of peasant activists and now targets oil pipelines.
Peasant groups have recently taken up the cause of the anti-logging activists -- bringing them into direct confrontation with groups associated with Alba.
Family members say they have no idea what prompted the attacks. They deny that Alba was involved in anything illicit, pointing out that he served as Petatlan's mayor.
''People say a lot of things. But he is a rancher, that's all,'' said the daughter. ``There is no explanation for this.''
Meanwhile, Alba remains in hiding -- and will likely stay there until he figures out who is gunning for him. Nobody has much confidence that Mexico's police can keep him safe.
''The killers have better weapons than the police,'' Alba's daughter said. ``Most cops make barely a living wage. They're not going to risk their lives to take the gunmen on.''http://www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/story/527124.html
Hollander - May 11, 2008 07:06 AM (GMT)
Mexican drug gangs step up police murder war
Sat May 10, 2008 3:37pm EDT
By Ignacio Alvarado
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) - Suspected drug gunmen ambushed and killed a Mexican police chief on Saturday in a murder campaign against senior policemen that has escalated in the past week.
Juan Antonio Roman, the No. 2 policeman in the gritty border city of Ciudad Juarez, was riddled with bullets outside his home as he stepped from his pickup truck in the early hours of the morning, a police spokesman said.
He was the sixth senior policeman killed throughout the country this week in a blow to President Felipe Calderon's fight against well-armed cartels that smuggle cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines to the United States.
"He came home for a reunion with family and friends and arrived in his official vehicle, but the hired assassins were waiting for him," police spokesman Jaime Torres said.
Local media said the gunmen fired some 50 bullets at Roman.
Roman's name had been on top of a death list that drug traffickers left at a Ciudad Juarez police monument in January.
Hired gunmen believed to be in the pay of the Sinaloa cartel killed Edgar Millan, one of the country's top federal policemen, at his home on Thursday.
Some 1,100 people have died so far this year as the drug gangs battle each other and security forces. Calderon has deployed 25,000 troops and federal police to fight the gangs.
Calderon, a conservative, said on Friday that Mexicans had to take back their streets from drug peddlers and gunmen.
"We have to come together to confront this evil, we Mexicans have to definitively and categorically say, 'That's enough!'," Calderon said.
Dozens of hit men from a rival cartel killed a son of Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, who heads the Sinaloa cartel based in northwestern Mexico.
A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office confirmed that one of three people killed in the Sinaloa state capital was Edgar Guzman, the son of the drug lord.
Around 40 people opened fire on Guzman as he stepped out of an armored pickup truck outside a shopping center in Culiacan on Thursday night, El Universal newspaper said.
Investigators recovered 500 bullet shell casings.
Sinaloa chief "Shorty" Guzman escaped from a high-security prison in a laundry van in 2001 and is locked in turf wars with other Mexican cartels.
(Additional reporting by Chris Aspin)
(Editing by Xavier Briand)http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/i...0080510?sp=true
moribundo - May 26, 2008 11:09 AM (GMT)
I found an article about a possible new alliance between the Cartel del Golfo/Zetas and the Beltran Clan. The Beltrans are a influental Drugclan from Sinaloa and were up to now aliados of Guzman, Zambada and Esparragoza (aka la Federacíon; Sinaloa Cartel). If this article should be true they broke with their old friends and formed a new alliance with los Zetas. Thus the Cartel de Sinaloa would be threatend in their homeland. This new alliance could well be the reason for the latest blows to the federation in Sinaloa, like the killing of Guzmans son Edgar and others in Cualican.
Watch out for potential proves for this developtment
El pacto del cártel del Golfo y Beltrán
El narcotraficante Arturo Beltrán Leyva (El Barbas) y sus hermanos Alfredo y Alberto forjaron una alianza con el cártel del Golfo y su brazo armado Los Zetas para crear una nueva organización criminal que se está repartiendo el territorio mexicano y además pelea el control del tráfico de drogas a La Federación, grupo de organizaciones del narcotráfico encabezado por Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán e Ismael El Mayo Zambada, y antiguo aliado de los Beltrán, lo que ha desatado la narcoviolencia en Sinaloa.
Información del gobierno federal sostiene que a mediados de 2007, en Cuernavaca, Morelos, Beltrán Leyva negoció con Heriberto Lazcano, jefe de Los Zetas, el brazo armado del cártel del Golfo, la repartición de diversas plazas en el territorio nacional sin enterar de ello a los demás miembros de La Federación. Según una fuente federal, la ruptura de La Federación tuvo ahí su comienzo.
El contexto de esa pugna dentro de la alianza que había logrado previamente neutralizar a los cárteles del Golfo y de Tijuana sirve de preámbulo para la captura de Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, El Mochomo, en enero pasado, y de la que su hermano menor Arturo responsabilizó a Guzmán y a Zambada.
Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, de acuerdo con la información, envió un mensaje a su hermano Arturo para pedirle calma y asegurarle que ni Guzmán ni Zambada lo habían entregado a las autoridades federales. No se sabe si el mensaje llegó a su destinatario, aunque la violencia en Sinaloa lleva casi tres semanas con una intensidad inusitada.
La Federación es un grupo criminal que aglutinaba a los cárteles de Sinaloa y Juárez, y que es encabezado por los capos Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Loera, Ismael El Mayo Zambada García, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, Juan José Esparragoza Moreno y los hermanos Arturo, Alfredo Héctor y Alberto Beltrán Leyva.
De acuerdo con los informes oficiales, Arturo Beltrán Leyva ha dejado de formar parte de la llamada Federación y ahora está asociado con el cártel del Golfo, liderado por Osiel Cárdenas Guillén y cuyo brazo ejecutor es el grupo de Los Zetas. Alfredo Beltrán Leyva tiene relaciones afectivas fuertes con Zambada y Guzmán. Incluso, su pareja sentimental es sobrina de El Chapo Guzmán.
La alianza de Arturo Beltrán Leyva y Los Zetas ha convertido a Sinaloa en un campo de batalla en el que Beltrán libra una guerra contra Guzmán y Zambada, en Culiacán, y contra los Carrillo Fuentes, jefes del cártel de Juárez, en Navolato.
La violencia es tan acentuada debido a que Alfredo Beltrán Leyva era responsable de la seguridad de todos los familiares de los jefes de La Federación desde 2002, y cuando fue detenido la lista pormenorizada de sus direcciones fue recuperada por su hermano Arturo, según indicaron las autoridades federales, con lo cual se le ha facilitado la persecución y ejecución de sus adversarios.
Según la información, “la ruptura entre los hermanos Beltrán Leyva con los miembros de La Federación se dio a raíz de que Arturo Beltrán Leyva negoció con los integrantes del cártel del Golfo la repartición de las plazas a nivel nacional sin el pleno consentimiento del resto de los miembros de la confederación”.
La división entre los hermanos Beltrán Leyva y los demás miembros de La Federación, y en especial conIsmael El Mayo Zambada, se recrudeció, según las autoridades federales, luego de la captura de Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, El Mochomo, el pasado 21 de enero. El otro golpe que incrementó su suspicacia de una delación fue cuando se detuvo a 11 miembros del grupo de su seguridad denominado las Fuerzas Especiales de Arturo (FEDA) en el Distrito Federal, agregaron.
Nace una alianza
El nacimiento de la relación entre Arturo Beltrán Leyva y el cártel del Golfo, según se desprende de las informaciones federales, se dio cuando él fue designado por La Federación para alcanzar un pacto con el cártel del Golfo, organización criminal comandada por Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, en los principales estados que disputaban: Guerrero, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Michoacán y Quintana Roo, detalla el informe oficial.
Con Cárdenas en la cárcel, el representante del Golfo fue Lazcano, apodado El Lazca o El Z1, considerado por la justicia como el jefe del grupo paramilitar Los Zetas, conformado en su origen por militares de élite desertores del Ejército.
Los Beltrán Leyva eran los encargados de la seguridad de los jefes de La Federación, de captar y entrenar a los sicarios, además de apoyar el trasiego de droga, según información del gobierno federal mexicano, y de la Agencia Antidrogas de Estados Unidos (DEA).
Alfredo Beltrán Leyva comandó a grupos regionales de sicarios como Los Pelones, en Guerrero, y Los Güeros, en Sonora. Arturo Beltrán Leyva, por su parte, tiene integrado un grupo conocido como las Fuerzas Especiales de Arturo, que cuenta con poderosos arsenales que incluyen lanzacohetes y rifles de asalto como los utilizados por las Fuerzas Armadas de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN) y que incluso bordan las iniciales FEDA en los chalecos tácticos negros que utilizan sus integrantes.
La sangrienta lucha en Sinaloa y los ajusticiamientos de familiares de narcotraficantes ha llegado incluso a romper las viejas reglas entre este tipo de criminales en las que se respetaban las vidas de los parientes más cercanos.
Hollander - June 8, 2008 12:29 PM (GMT)
Taking police playbook on Mafia to Mexico
Lessons learned by U.S., Italy may help break drug gangs
Ralph Blumenthal, New York Times
Sunday, June 8, 2008
The headline in the New York Times that morning in 1984 was macabre, if unintentionally hilarious: "Unknown Arm of Sicilian Mafia Is Uncovered in the United States."
The arm in question was not a body part but rather an overseas cell of the Italian criminal underworld operating alongside its better-known American counterpart - the Bonanno family in Brooklyn. Through neighborhood fronts around the country, the Italians had been masterminding the billion-dollar heroin pipeline that became known as the Pizza Connection.
What Americans didn't know at the time was that five years earlier a pair of FBI agents operating out of a hole-in-the-wall on Queens Boulevard had stumbled on the trail that led to the cell - and to a storied Italian-American law enforcement partnership that eventually destroyed the invincibility of the Mafia on both sides of the ocean and built a sturdy alliance that continues to this day.
Now, law enforcement experts wonder whether there are lessons that can be applied to the escalating crisis in Mexico, where close to 500 police officers and soldiers have died at the hands of warring drug gangs since 2006. Is there something in the way the Americans and Italians worked together that could be applied to a partnership with the Mexicans?
Certainly it is in the interest of the United States to seek such an alliance to stop the flow of drugs, guns and crime across the border, just as the Italian alliance helped stop that flow across the Atlantic. Indeed, President Bush has been pushing Congress to approve the first $500 million installment of a crime-fighting aid package to Mexico. Last week, American border governors met in Mexico with President Felipe Calderon to rally support for the effort and praise him for focusing on the drug lords.
And for its part, Mexico, struggling with a problem that seems to get bloodier and more intractable with each passing week, might well benefit from the expertise and experience of American law enforcement.
But the hurdles are high. Trust was a cornerstone of the American-Italian collaboration, and as hard as that trust was to gain, it could be even harder to achieve closer to home. With the trust built, though, the Italian collaboration thrived. For a start, investigators on both sides shared crucial intelligence. Equally crucial, Americans conducted operations that the Italian police lacked the legal authority to do in their own country - making drug buys, for example, and eavesdropping and conducting electronic surveillance. Perhaps most important, the Americans were able to guard endangered informers in the Federal Witness Protection Program.
In some ways, the Mexicans are ahead of where the Italians started, said Pino Arlacchi, an Italian sociologist and former senator who devised Italy's most effective weapon against the mob, the DIA, or Direzione Investigativa Antimafia. Even into the 1980s, Arlacchi said, the Italian government knew little about the shadowy Cosa Nostra.
The enemy the Mexicans are fighting is not so entrenched and impenetrable as the Sicilian Mafia was, said Arlacchi, who served in the 1990s as U.N. undersecretary-general for drug control. Rather, he said, the Mexicans face a fragmented and loose confederation of heavily armed feuding gangs with a propensity for public killings unmatched by the Mafia. That makes them more dangerously unpredictable, yes, but also, in theory, easier to overcome.
"The things we're seeing in Mexico today, we saw the same glimmers in Italy" - the beginnings of a crusade - said Charlie Rooney, recalling the days when he and his FBI partner, Carmine Russo, puzzled over the brazen assassination of the fearsome Bonanno family boss Carmine Galante, in the backyard of an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn's Bushwick section in 1979.
Five years and millions of agent-hours later, the trail had led to a worldwide money-laundering empire; a fugitive Sicilian boss of bosses, Gaetano Badalamenti, in Spain; one of the largest drug trafficking rings ever exposed; and the discovery of the franchise of the Sicilian Mafia in America.
It would take similar patience also in Mexico, said Rooney, now a private investigator in Virginia. "You have to have the will to fight and identify those you can work with."
The last was a tall order at the time, particularly when it came to partnerships in Italy, said Tom Sheer, who as assistant FBI director in New York was Rooney's boss. Italian officials, with some reason, were widely distrusted as corrupt. And the FBI was not known for its generosity with colleagues, acknowledged Sheer, now a security consultant in Florida. "We were the catchers," he said. "They pitched, we caught."
The Americans were indeed difficult partners, said Arlacchi, then an academic studying the Mafia and later an Italian government adviser. "We considered the Americans arrogant," he recalled. "They just wanted to get information, not give. We gave them everything and they said, 'Thank you very much.' "
The resentment turned to alarm, Arlacchi said, when American agents started operating in Italy, making undercover drug buys - forbidden to the Italian police. At one point, he said, Giovanni Falcone, Italy's leading investigative magistrate and anti-Mafia champion, threatened to arrest the Americans. But relations turned around after Falcone and his wife, who was also a judge, and three bodyguards were assassinated in the bombing of their motorcade near Palermo in May 1992. Weeks later, his successor, Paolo Borsellino, was blown up.
"We told the Americans there was no reason not to trust us," Arlacchi said. "We were risking our lives."
Soon Italian and American investigators were working hand-in-hand, and the FBI was protecting the most valuable Sicilian Mafia boss ever to turn snitch, Tommaso Buscetta, who became a star witness in New York.
In Mexico, a collaboration of sorts, albeit a looser one, already exists, which is a good start. Mexican officials say they enjoy their highest level of cooperation ever with the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration. Like the Italians, they say, they have created new legal tools patterned on American statutes to seize criminal assets, and they have asked the Americans to help protect crucial witnesses and extradite drug lords.
And like the Italians who sought to insulate the police from retaliation and corruption by flooding Sicily with outsiders, police officers from the north, the Mexicans have replaced local officers with 27,000 federal police officers and 30,000 troops. And they too have paid a price: Of the 4,402 deaths from the violence since late 2006, at least 449 have been officers and soldiers, says the Mexican attorney general, Eduardo Medina-Mora.
Some experts, however, question whether the two nations have shed enough of their suspicion to reach the cohesion achieved by the United States and Italy. Calderon has bridled at American conditions that would tie aid to greater transparency on the Mexican military's human rights record.
The Americans, in turn, the Mexicans say, need to do more to control their drug demand and the gun traffic across the border - weapons that are killing their police officers.
Some wonder too whether Mexico, struggling with poverty, can bring to bear the resources mobilized by a wealthier nation like Italy.
The way Medina-Mora, sees it, Mexico has no choice. "If we do not win it together," he said, "we will lose it together." http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c.../MNKS1117AM.DTL
Hollander - June 19, 2008 09:42 AM (GMT)
On the trail of Mexico's drugs gangs
By Duncan Kennedy
BBC News, Mexico City http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7457153.stm
Hollander - June 26, 2008 02:45 PM (GMT)
|QUOTE (moribundo @ May 26 2008, 05:09 AM)|
| NEW ALLIANCE?|
I found an article about a possible new alliance between the Cartel del Golfo/Zetas and the Beltran Clan. The Beltrans are a influental Drugclan from Sinaloa and were up to now aliados of Guzman, Zambada and Esparragoza (aka la Federacíon; Sinaloa Cartel). If this article should be true they broke with their old friends and formed a new alliance with los Zetas. Thus the Cartel de Sinaloa would be threatend in their homeland. This new alliance could well be the reason for the latest blows to the federation in Sinaloa, like the killing of Guzmans son Edgar and others in Cualican.
Watch out for potential proves for this developtment
Valdez Villarreal born in the USA.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Negros
Hollander - June 26, 2008 10:52 PM (GMT)
20 people killed in 3 days in Mexican border city, police say
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Mexican police say 20 people have been killed in less than three days in a crime-ridden border city.
State police spokesman Cesar Ramirez says victims include a father and son who were killed at their home while sleeping. A third victim was a man whose body was cut up in pieces and dumped in an empty lot.
Ramirez says that this year alone more than 500 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.
The city is home to the powerful Juarez drug cartel and has been among the hardest-hit cities in an explosion of violence across Mexico.
President Felipe Calderon has deployed 25,000 troops across the country to wrest territory from drug gangs, which have fought back with bold attacks.
Hollander - June 26, 2008 10:54 PM (GMT)
Hollander - June 27, 2008 12:16 PM (GMT)
Major Mexican Cartels are joining forces to battle the Mexican Army
The drug cartel alliance is believed to now include: Juárez, Sinaloa, Los Negros, Tijuana, Gulf, (Los Zetas), Guadalajara, Sonora, and Colima drug cartels. And other cartels are being invited to join.http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/62237
Hollander - July 7, 2008 11:16 PM (GMT)
Charred bodies dumped in Tijuana, drug gangs believed responsible
12:54 PM PDT, July 7, 2008
TIJUANA -- Police found six charred bodies, one still on fire, dumped on a street in the northern Mexican city of Tijuana today, in the latest brutal killing on the U.S.-Mexico border.
A police spokesman said drug gangs were believed to be behind the attack.
"Some of the victims were shot dead or beaten. It's not clear if any were burned alive," said the spokesman, who declined to be quoted by name.
Tijuana is one of the most gruesome fronts in Mexico's three-way war between rival drug cartels and security forces, as Mexico's most-wanted man Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman tries to wrestle control of smuggling routes into California from the city's long dominant Arellano Felix cartel.
Following two months of relative quiet in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, California, drug murders and kidnappings are rising again, police say. At least 14 people have been killed in drug violence since early Sunday.
Shootouts between drug gangs have killed some 300 people in the city this year, making up a chunk of the more than 1,700 drug murder victims across Mexico since the start of 2008.
Today's burnt bodies were found two days after suspected drug hitmen in southern Mexico dumped a severed human head inside a black bag in the tourist city of Oaxaca, along with a threatening message for Mexican law enforcement, the state public prosecutor's office said.
President Felipe Calderon has sent thousands of troops to Tijuana and across the country to fight warring drug gangs but the military operations have failed to curb the violence. Killings have increased this year to unprecedented levels.
U.S. and Mexican anti-drug officials say higher street prices show fewer narcotics are getting through to the United States and that increased drug violence is a sign that cartels are weakening.
In Mexico, a byline can bring death
Reporters targeted by drug dealers
Los Angeles Times / July 7, 2008
VILLAHERMOSA, Mexico - Rodolfo Rincon had reason to feel cheery when he left his newspaper office on a January evening last year.
His report on drug dealing in coastal Tabasco state had made a splashy, two-page spread that day in the Tabasco Hoy.
That night, Rincon, considered one of the best police reporters in the state, put the finishing touches on a story about ATM thieves for the next day's edition.
He strode from the glassy newsroom and hasn't been seen since.
Colleagues believe Rincon, 54, was captured, and probably killed, by drug gangs aggrieved by his crime coverage. He is among more than 30 reporters killed or missing in Mexico since 2000 as drug violence has skyrocketed, according to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.
In many ways, Mexico's democratic evolution has afforded the news media greater freedom than at any time in modern history. But at the same time, reporters are working on a battlefield: Mexico is considered the most dangerous Latin American nation in which to be a journalist, and one of the riskiest in the world.
"Every day it's more difficult to practice journalism in Mexico, especially from the middle of a war between the government and narcos," said Ricardo Ravelo, a reporter at the national weekly magazine Proceso who covers drug trafficking. "We are in a no man's land."
Besides killings and disappearances of reporters, newspapers have been attacked by crime gangs with high-powered rifles and grenades. Anonymous threats are commonplace. Reporters have been seized, held for hours, and beaten.
Journalists who want to report on crime increasingly are forced to consider the risk of retribution by gangsters employing ever more gruesome methods.
In early June, for example, someone propped a man's decapitated head in front of a newspaper here and taped up a handwritten threat against its director, Juan Padilla.
The newspaper, El Correo de Tabasco, recently had run numerous front-page stories and photographs about drug gangs, including an erroneous report that a top gunman in Tabasco for the Gulf cartel had been captured.
When a second threatening note appeared in the same spot two days later, Padilla fled the country. His reporters now steer clear of the drug story, arguably the dominant topic in Mexico.
"We're not going to cover it," a veteran police reporter said.
News organizations, especially those along the US border and in other drug hot spots, must tiptoe through a minefield of potential hazards. Increasingly, Mexican journalists say, they withhold details about crimes unless provided in official statements by police or prosecutors.
Some newspapers stopped mentioning drug trafficking groups by name.
In Nuevo Laredo, a border city where drug gangs have battled ferociously for dominance, one newspaper editor acknowledged privately that it was safer to leave out such details so no crime boss would think that coverage showed his side losing.
Other times, in a macabre twist on public relations, Mexican journalists have been pressured to publicize decapitations or other violent acts. Drug gangs view such publicity as a way to scare rivals and enhance their own standing in the underworld.
Self-censorship by news organizations means residents must rely on the grapevine to find out what is going on in their communities.
"If there is a gunfight in the middle of the street and hundreds of people witness it, there is no assurance you'll read about it in the next day's newspaper," said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The New York-based group has pushed for a law that would treat violations of free expression as a federal crime.
Currently, cases involving violence against journalists usually are handled by authorities at the state level. They seldom result in arrests.
Two years ago, amid escalating attacks, Mexico's federal government created a special prosecutor's office to investigate crimes against journalists. But media advocates say it has accomplished little because it is barred from pursuing drug cases and often must wait for state officials to act first.
Media defenders say the best protection might be better journalism. Some Mexican journalists, who generally are paid poorly, have been bought off or coerced into supporting a particular crime group through what they choose to publish or leave out.
But reporting that is honest, well-grounded, and impartial can shield journalists against perceptions of favoritism, which often invite trouble, advocates say.
"We don't opt for silence. We opt for being rigorous," said Ravelo of Proceso magazine, which tracks the drug story closely. "We don't shut up. We prepare better."
In Villahermosa, discretion remains the better part of valor.
At Tabasco Hoy, a four-person team of crime reporters works under a sign that says "Justicia." Nearly 18 months after Rincon's disappearance, his computer still contains his working files, brimming with tidbits about the drug trade and hit men.
But the newspaper's rules of conduct have changed, said team leader Roberto Cuitlahuac, a seasoned, 45-year-old reporter with close-cropped hair and a photographer's vest.
Stories about organized crime now omit the reporter's name, a growing precaution among Mexican papers. And there is a level of fear among his colleagues that didn't exist before Rincon vanished, Cuitlahuac said.
A night earlier, he said, one of his reporters refused to cover a fatal shooting because she was afraid. Cuitlahuac had to call on someone else. But he understood.
Hollander - July 13, 2008 01:46 PM (GMT)
Mexico probes online 'hitmen ads'
Mexican police are investigating a number of classified ads on the internet which purport to be from hitmen offering the services.
The ads can be found alongside ones for private tuition or domestic help.
In one of them, a person describing himself as an ex-military killer offers "discreet, professional services" for $6,000 (£3,000).
Hired killers are a problem across a country which has seen at least 1,400 killings this year.
Most of the killings are related to drug cartels battling for control of the illegal drugs trade to the US. Reports say the cartels have camps to train killers.
The dead include dealers and gunmen as well as more than 400 police officers and other public officials, this year. Some 25,000 troops are now deployed around Mexico to try to break the cartels.
But correspondents say an ineffective justice system means many killers are never caught.
That may be why they are prepared to publically look for work. In the online adverts on one classified site, one advert reads: "Assassin ex-military professional and discreet. Work guaranteed in 10 days or less. Have worked in Spain. $6,000. Serious requests only" and gives a hotmail address as a contact.
Another offering "hitman for hire" asks: "Problems with a certain person? Do you want me to solve it? Write to me. 100% professional, we don't take money in advance."
The classified ads site also appears to be a place where those needing the services of a killer might go.
One advert in the Wanted section reads: "I need to contact a killer for a probable contract in the DF (Federal District of Mexico) must be reliable. it is a simple job."
Police spokesman Miguel Amelio said the problem of hitmen is one that "the whole country is facing: people who offer their service and charge for killing someone".
He told the Reforma newspaper that police had not ruled out the fact that the ads were fake, but all were being investigated.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7503519.stm
Published: 2008/07/12 15:06:26 GMT
Hollander - July 14, 2008 11:54 AM (GMT)
8 shot dead killed in embattled Mexican state of Sinaloa
The Associated Press
Sunday, July 13, 2008
MEXICO CITY: Local news media say gunmen opened fire on four cars on a busy street in the Mexican city of Guamuchil, killing eight people.
The government news agency Notimex reports that Sinaloa state officials say three teenagers are among those killed in the early morning attack. No one answered the phone at Sinaloa police headquarters Sunday.
The local newspaper El Debate says police found about 300 shells at the scene.
Several major drug trafficking groups have their roots in the Pacific coast state, which has seen a wave of drug-related violence.
On Saturday, assailants killed a state police officer in the port city of Mazatlan and hid in a shopping mall. The group seized hostages but freed them in a deal to escape.
Hollander - July 15, 2008 10:00 AM (GMT)
Mexican cartels 'threaten state'
The head of Mexico's intelligence service has said that drug cartels are threatening the country's democratic institutions, including Congress.
Guillermo Valdes told the Financial Times newspaper that drug traffickers were trying to take over the power of the state.
Gangs have infiltrated police forces, justice departments and government bodies, he said.
Mexico has seen a sharp increase in drug-related violence this year.
Mr Valdes, who is the head of Cisen, the government's intelligence agency, said he could not rule out the possibility that drug money was involved in the campaigns of some members of the national Congress.
"Drug traffickers have become the principal threat because they are trying to take over the power of the state," he told the Financial Times and a small group of foreign media.
The gangs, he said, had grown wealthy from the lucrative drugs trade and had recruited members of police forces, the judiciary and government organisations in order to protect their business.
Congress is not exempt... we do not rule out the possibility that drug money is involved in the campaigns
Head of Mexico's intelligence agency
He said that even federal institutions such as Congress itself could have been targeted by the powerful cartels.
"Congress is not exempt... we do not rule out the possibility that drug money is involved in the campaigns (of some legislators)," he said.
Earlier this month US President George W Bush signed into law a $400m aid package to provide training and equipment for the fight against drug trafficking.
It is believed that only $20m will go to Mr Valdes's service.
Since coming to power in 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has deployed thousands of police and soldiers to tackle drug-trafficking.
There have been an estimated 4,700 drug-related murders during that period.
Mexico has seen a surge in drug-related violence and killings during 2008. On Sunday, eight people, including two youths and a 12-year-old girl, were shot dead when gunmen opened fire on their cars, Mexican officials said.
The attack happened as the victims were waiting at traffic lights in the city of Guamuchil in the state of Sinaloa.
Hours earlier gunmen in Mazatlan, on Sinaloa's coast, killed a policeman and then took dozens of people hostage in a restaurant before escaping.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7506581.stm
Published: 2008/07/14 20:52:16 GMT
Hollander - July 31, 2008 10:06 AM (GMT)
Cop killed by hitman colleague
From correspondents in Cuidad Juarez, Mexico | July 31, 2008
A MEXICAN police officer working as a hit man for drug gangs killed one of his police colleagues in the violent border city of Ciudad Juarez.
Francisco Ventura was shot and killed by gunmen in two vehicles as he drove home early on Wednesday in the city, across the US border from El Paso, Texas.
Federal police arrested three men following the shootout, including the police officer accused of leading the gunmen.
Police declined to give more details but Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes said the discovery of a police officer working as a hit man showed the urgent need for a "total cleansing" of the city's police force.
"We know there are officers who are in the pay of organised crime and that is why we need to flush out bad police," Mr Reyes said.
Despite the deployment of 3000 troops and federal police in Ciudad Juarez this year, more than 550 people have been killed in drug violence in the city, Mexico's most lethal front in a drug war that has killed 1900 people nationwide in 2008.
In July alone, 127 people have been killed in drug-related violence.
Daylight gun battles have erupted on city streets and buildings set on fire as Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, fights drug baron Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, boss of the Juarez cartel, for control of Ciudad Juarez and its lucrative smuggling corridor into the US.
Hollander - August 15, 2008 06:06 PM (GMT)
Gunmen assault prayer service, kill 17 in Mexico attacks
First Posted 03:29:00 08/15/2008
CIUDAD JUAREZ -- An armed gang killed nine people during mass in a drug rehabilitation center in this northern Mexican border town, and eight others died in separate attacks in the area overnight, police said Thursday.
The gunmen "entered (the building) shooting at people who were praying" late Wednesday, police said, adding that 10 more people were wounded.
After the shooting, the assassins left the scene and calmly passed a group of security forces, who did nothing to detain them, said a statement from the municipal office of public security, quoting witnesses.
In an escalation of drug-related violence in Mexico's northern border regions, two people were also killed in a nearby rehabilitation center last weekend.
Meanwhile, five men were kidnapped and later executed in Chihuahua town, capital of Chihuahua state, and three others were violently killed in separate attacks in Ciudad Juarez.
Federal authorities have deployed more than 36,000 soldiers across the country, including 2,500 in Ciudad Juarez, in an effort to combat drug trafficking and related violence, but some 2,000 people have been killed so far this year.
Authorities attribute some 780 assassinations in Ciudad Juarez this year to turf wars between drug cartels.
Hollander - August 19, 2008 09:40 AM (GMT)
Last Updated: Monday, August 18, 2008, 19:15
'Hitmen' kill 13 at party in Mexico
Suspected drug hit men opened fire on a family gathering at a tourist town in northern Mexico killing 13 people including a baby over the weekend, it emerged today.
The masked hit men sprayed the party with bullets on Saturday as they drove past the dance hall where the family was gathered outside in Creel, Chihuahua state, near the US border.
The shower of bullets killed a 1-year-old in the arms of an adult, as well as three teen-agers and a university professor, said a spokesman for the Chihuahua attorney general's office today.
"They can kill each other, but to shoot dead innocent people, young students, professors ... it is not possible," a weeping 60-year-old resident told local Chihuahua daily El Diario after the attack.
The shooting was believed to be part of a drug gang feud and the government sent 160 federal police and soldiers to Creel following the attack.
Creel in the remote and snowy Sierra Tarahumara mountains is a key narcotics smuggling point en route to Mexico's border with the United States.
It is also the town where tourists start a train journey through Mexico's spectacular Copper Canyon that is home to the Tarahumara Indians.
More than 2,000 people have died this year in Mexico's drug war, mostly between rival gangs, in a fight for control of smuggling corridors into the United States.
The shooting follows a deadly attack by hit men on a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Chihuahua's border city of Ciudad Juarez last week, when hooded gunmen killed eight patients during a prayer session.
Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, is fighting local drug baron Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, boss of the Juarez cartel, for control of Chihuahua state and its lucrative smuggling corridor into the United States.
Hollander - August 24, 2008 01:05 AM (GMT)
Mexican police raid border city casino, arrest suspected drug cartel hit man
By DAN KEANE , Associated Press
Last update: August 23, 2008 - 11:34 AM
TIJUANA, Mexico - Mexican police say they chased a suspected drug cartel hit man through the streets of Tijuana and into a crowded casino, arresting him and an accomplice after hundreds of frightened gamblers were ordered to the floor.
Mexico's federal Public Security Department said the suspects arrested Friday are believed to be Ruben Rios Estrada, a key gunman for the Arellano-Felix cocaine cartel, and Hector Manuel Mora Mendoza, another suspected gang member. They were flown to Mexico City under heavy guard, the agency said.
Federal troops and policemen chased the suspects at high speed through the streets before they fled into the casino, the department said. Federal agents caught them as they gambled, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported, citing witness accounts.
The casino company — owned by former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon — complained to local newspapers that the raid by masked, heavily armed police terrified and endangered some 1,300 customers.
Federal police said they found a shotgun, two pistols, hundreds of bullets and five shirts emblazoned with police insignia in the suspects' vehicle.
Elsewhere in the border region, Mexican authorities are struggling to maintain even minimal law and order in the face of the drug cartels' power.
Hours after the dramatic raid south of San Diego, police in Chihuahua state found the bullet-riddled body of Villa Ahumada's newly appointed police chief Jesus Blanco Cano on a ranch outside the town, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of El Paso, Texas, said Alejandro Pariente, a spokesman for the regional deputy attorney general's office.
Blanco, 40, had been on the job for just a day before he was beaten, blindfolded and shot with his hands tied behind his back. Twelve bullet casings were found at the scene.
The previous police chief, two other officers and three residents were killed in May when 70 gunmen barged into Villa Ahumada, a town of 1,500 people virtually taken over by drug gangs.
The rest of its 20-member police force then quit in fear, forcing the Mexican military to take over, and in the months since then, the town had slowly been recruiting new officers, without a police chief until Blanco took the job. The troops eventually left.
Five of the town's eight "vigilantes" — unarmed policemen — quit in fear Friday night, according to Jose Aguilar, one of the three remaining on the force. Soldiers from Ciudad Juarez patrolled after the chief's body was found, Aguilar said.
Some set up camp at a local gymnasium while others guarded the outskirts of the town. Three trucks of Chihuahua state police also patrolled.
The town's mayor, Fidel Chavez, has spent much of the year in the state capital for his own safety. He said Friday that he has no way of providing for his people's security.
Associated Press writer Marina Montemayor contributed to this report from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Hollander - August 28, 2008 11:18 AM (GMT)
Three drug hitmen die in attack on Mexican army
10:59 a.m. August 27, 2008
MEXICO CITY – Suspected drug hitmen attacked a group of sleeping soldiers with grenades in central Mexico, sparking a battle that killed three gunmen, a state attorney general's office said Wednesday.
Around 15 drug gangsters in vehicles surprised the soldiers while they were camped out in the central state of Guanajuato Tuesday night, shooting at them with automatic weapons.
“Two soldiers were injured in the clash in a firefight that lasted several minutes,” a spokesman for the Guanajuato state attorney general's office said.
Guanajuato state is famed for its beautiful historic state capital popular with U.S. and European tourists, but drug violence is creeping up in the once quiet area as drug gangs fight over smuggling routes to the United States.
More than 2,300 people have been killed in drug violence across Mexico this year, a faster rate than in 2007, as Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, vies with rivals for control of the country's lucrative drug trade.
President Felipe Calderón has made crushing drug gangs the main goal so far of his six-year term, sending troops across Mexico on taking office in December 2006.
But drug violence has spiraled as rival gangs fight each other and the army. Endemic police corruption has further complicated efforts to rid Mexico of cartels.
(Editing by Sandra Maler)
Hollander - August 29, 2008 10:20 AM (GMT)
12 decapitated bodies found in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula
The discovery is the first sign of a major outbreak of drug cartel violence in Yucatan.
By Ken Ellingwood and Cecilia Sanchez, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
August 29, 2008
MEXICO CITY -- In a sign of the spreading violence in Mexico, 11 decapitated bodies were found late Thursday near the colonial city of Merida on the Yucatan peninsula, officials said.
The bodies bore signs of torture and some were unclothed. Yucatan state officials said a 12th decapitated body was found later about 120 miles south of Merida, a city that is often used as a tourist gateway to the famed Maya ruins at Chichen Itza.
Warring drug gangs have routinely decapitated rivals during the last two years as they battle for coveted routes for smuggling drugs into the United States.
Four decapitated bodies were found in Tijuana this week, killings that appeared to be linked to fighting among traffickers over control of the corridor into San Diego.
Headless bodies also have turned up in other corners of Mexico as violence has spread beyond traditional battlegrounds along the U.S. border.
The website of the newspaper El Universal said the bodies found in Yucatan were handcuffed and showed signs that they had been beaten. Reuters news agency, citing unnamed police officials, reported that the bodies were marked with star signs and tattooed with the letter Z.
State authorities said they were alerted to the bodies by an anonymous phone call. The discovery prompted an emergency meeting of the state's governor, Ivonne Ortega, and top security officials.
The Yucatan peninsula has seen scattered violence but had not been a scene of severe fighting between drug-trafficking groups.
Drug-related violence in Mexico has grown more savage amid a crackdown on traffickers by the government of President Felipe Calderon.
This year, more than 2,500 people have died in drug violence, according to unofficial tallies by Mexican news organizations.
The government's campaign has disrupted traditional smuggling arrangements and aggravated rivalries among gangs seeking to keep their piece of the lucrative U.S. drug market.
Hollander - August 30, 2008 03:37 PM (GMT)
Mexican governor blames Gulf cartel for beheadings
5:11 p.m. August 29, 2008
CANCUN, Mexico – The beheadings of twelve people in southern Mexico were probably the work of the powerful Gulf cartel based across the border from Texas, a state governor said Friday.
Eleven beheaded bodies with signs of torture were dumped outside the city of Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula Thursday. A 12th beheaded body was found 50 miles away in a small town to the east of Merida, also showing signs of torture.
“This seems to be the work of the Gulf cartel,” Yucatan Gov. Ivonne Ortega told reporters, adding that she had received several threats from suspected drug gangs over the past three months.
Authorities say the cartel controls drug smuggling in seven states along the Gulf of Mexico from southern Mexico into Texas.
“We will have to see where the heads turn up. I am sure they will try something spectacular to shock society,” she said.
Three armed men were arrested Friday after ignoring instructions to stop at a police checkpoint on the road between Merida and the popular Caribbean beach resort of Cancun, federal police said.
The men fired shots at the checkpoint and police gave chase and captured and detained them on a dirt track. Inside the vehicle, police said they found three guns, an axe and more than 500 rounds of ammunition.
The checkpoint had been set up because of the beheadings, although police did not say if the men arrested were suspected of being involved in the grisly killings.
Investigators said the victims were drug dealers and all 12 had their heads cut off while they were still alive, reported the Reforma newspaper.
The bodies had tattoos, mainly of “Saint Death,” a ghoulish grim reaper figure that gangsters believe protects them, Ortega said. Police said the bodies had the letter “Z” tattooed on them.
The Gulf cartel's feared armed wing, the Zetas, were among the first hit men to start beheading victims two years ago when Mexico's drug war flared.
In 2006, drug traffickers rolled several heads onto the floor of a nightclub in Michoacan state in a blunt message to rivals and the government.
President Felipe Calderón has made crushing drug gangs a top priority, sending troops across the country in an attempt to restore law and order.
But drug violence has only spiraled, with more than 2,300 people killed this year, as rival gangs fight each other and the army. Endemic police corruption has further complicated efforts to rid Mexico of cartels.
The United States has approved $465 million to help Mexico and Central America battle drug cartels.
Hollander - August 31, 2008 09:53 AM (GMT)
Mass anti-crime rallies in Mexico
Mexico march against killings
Hundreds of thousands of people have marched throughout Mexico to protest against a continuing wave of killings and kidnappings in the country.
The rallies were held in all of Mexico's 32 states, with more than 150,000 people gathering at Zocalo square in the capital, Mexico City.
They were mainly dressed in white, and marched in silence, holding candles.
At least 2,700 people have been killed and 300 kidnapped so far this year, mostly in drugs-related violence.
Earlier this week, a dozen headless bodies were found in the Yucatan Peninsula.
The marches also come a week after President Felipe Calderon announced new measures to deal with the violence.
'No more impunity'
Dressed in white, tens of thousands of Mexicans walked in silence along the capital's main boulevard, holding candles and lanterns, to show that they had had enough of the murders and kidnappings plaguing their country.
Many carried national flags - a sign that they want a unified country in the fight against crime.
Others carried banners bearing slogans such as "No more impunity" and "No more revoking sentences". Others carried pictures of their children who had been kidnapped.
"The most frustrating thing has been the indolence of many of the authorities, their insensitivity," said the father of Monica Alejandrina Ramirez, who was kidnapped in 2004 and has not been heard of since.
"I have often asked myself, why? Why me? Why my daughter?"
Once everyone had arrived at Zocalo square and the sun had set, they sang the national anthem, and put out their candles together.
There were similar co-ordinated scenes in dozens of towns and cities across Mexico as thousands of others staged "Iluminemos Mexico", or "Let's Illuminate Mexico", silent marches.
The organisers hoped to emulate a similar march in 2004, when almost half a million people protested against violence, forcing the government to target police corruption and introduce reforms.
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Mexico City says the marches are a visible sign of how anxious people continue to be about the violence, and their frustration at the government's inability to reduce it.
"The message is: Get to work or we'll hold you accountable," said Eduardo Gallo, whose 25-year-old daughter was kidnapped and murdered in 2000. "We are angry."
Last week the country's political and security leaders drew up an emergency, 74-point plan to try to combat the wave of violence.
Measures include sacking corrupt police officers, equipping security forces with more powerful weapons, new prisons for kidnappers and strategies to combat money-laundering and drug-trafficking.
President Calderon has already deployed more than 25,000 troops across the country to combat the powerful drug cartels.
Washington is also pumping in hundreds of millions of dollars to help.
But the cartels and kidnappers are well organised and often have the acquiescence of corrupt police officers, our correspondent says.
The organisers of this march know restoring a sense of calm and order will need wholesale changes in Mexican society, something one march on one day cannot achieve, he adds.
Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7590272.stm
Published: 2008/08/31 09:36:53 GMT
Hollander - August 31, 2008 12:27 PM (GMT)
I really hope these massive rallies work in Sicily and Italy they did.
Hollander - August 31, 2008 02:59 PM (GMT)
Hollander - August 31, 2008 03:27 PM (GMT)
Mexican authorities say Guzman has also expanded his links into China, importing ephedrine -- used to treat bronchitis and asthma -- to make the recreational drug methamphetamine. The United States has put a $5 million bounty on him.
"Will he become the Pablo Escobar of his day? Probably yes," said Jorge Chabat, a drug trade expert at the CIDE social science institute, referring to the Colombian drug lord who became one of the world's most powerful kingpins before his death in 1993.
Guzman stands just 5 feet tall (1.55 meters) and escaped from prison in a laundry van in 2001. He leads a powerful coalition of drug gangs from the Pacific state of Sinaloa, which went to war with the Gulf cartel based on the Atlantic Coast in 2003.
Despite President Felipe Calderon's army crackdown on drug cartel violence, Guzman remains locked in a fight with the rival cartel, unleashing an unprecedented wave of drug violence in the last three years. Their battles have littered Mexico with beheaded corpses, mass graves and increased kidnappings.
"Guzman is directly responsible for this very bloody battle going on in Mexico today," said Chabat. "He wants to grow his business, to find new smuggling routes, new markets."
Hollander - September 13, 2008 11:19 AM (GMT)
Police find 24 bodies in Mexico
Posted 5h 10m ago
TOLUCA, Mexico (AP) — Mexican police said on Friday they have found the bodies of 24 men who were bound and shot to death execution-style outside the capital.
The bodies found Friday represent one of the largest single mass executions in Mexico in recent memory.
Police and soldiers were at the scene of the crime in a rural area just west of Mexico City, which has been marked by gangland slayings and land disputes between farming communities.
CRIME RESPONSE: Hundreds of thousands protest Mexican crime
The killings are "without doubt" linked to organized crime, said Alberto Bazbaz, the attorney general of Mexico State, which borders Mexico City.
"The only thing we have to identify them is that they all appear to be between 20 and 35, all of them have military-style haircuts, and they were wearing clothing appropriate for a warm climate," Bazbaz told the television network Televisa.
The mountains around Mexico City are colder, and Bazbaz said it was likely they were from the warmer, drug-plagued neighboring states of Michoacan or Guerrero.
In a statement, the federal Attorney General's Office said it was considering taking over investigations into the case, an additional indication that organized crime — a federal offense — was involved.
Mexico's drug cartels and criminal gangs have been slaying their rivals in increasingly large numbers, and publicly dumping their corpses, although not in the numbers seen on Friday.
On Aug. 28, 12 decapitated bodies were found outside Merida, the capital of Yucatan state.
Investigators say three suspected killers detained in the Yucatan case belonged to the "Zetas," a group of hitmen for the Gulf drug cartel.
Hollander - September 15, 2008 09:42 AM (GMT)
Posted on Sun, Sep. 14, 2008Organized crime takes control in parts of Mexico
By JANE BUSSEY
McClatchy NewspapersRelated Content http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/51527.html
MORELIA, Mexico --As helicopters circled overhead, trucks carrying Mexican army troops lurched through the colonial streets of this provincial capital to a central plaza, where a grenade had been discovered near the cathedral.
Law enforcement agents cordoned off the plaza and removed the grenade. But the latest attempt at intimidation in Michoacan, the state where Mexican President Felipe Calderon first dispatched the military to confront the Mexican drug cartels, appears to have succeeded.
Fear of the drug gangs pervades this city about 200 miles west of Mexico City.
"Don't go to Aguililla or to Tepalcatepec or to Coalcoman!" is the warning Victor Serrato, president of the State Commission on Human Rights in Morelia gives visitors. There is a risk of abduction, mistreatment or worse, he said.
Paracuaro, which human-rights experts considered a "safe" town, turned out not to be. Not long after this reporter and a photographer sat down at a restaurant to interview a local resident about drug violence, two police officers arrived and sat down - only to rush off when they spotted the visitors. We took the hint and quickly left town.
Gruesome gangland-style murders and targeted assassinations of law enforcement officers have claimed headlines in what Mexicans now refer to as war.
The chilling reality of Mexico is the mounting evidence that organized crime has become the de facto power in parts of the country, and local authorities can no longer protect citizens and impart justice.
"Michoacan is one of the states where you feel most the breakdown of the social fabric because of this criminal activity," Serrato said.
"These cartels, which previously were dedicated to the narcotics business, have now turned to control a whole other series of activities," he said. "They are demanding payoffs not only from owners of illicit businesses, but what is more serious, they are demanding them from people who sell clothing in markets or the owners of small restaurants."
The winnings from the trafficking of illegal cocaine, marijuana and other drugs are on view in Uruapan: There are luxury car dealerships, stores selling expensive furniture and homes that locals say belong to drug traffickers, distinguished by having no windows facing the street and thick walls on all sides and strings of electrified wires atop the walls.
Violence between competing drug gangs reached a peak in 2006, when drug commandos knows as the Zetas tossed five severed human heads on a night club floor in Uruapan, some 290 miles west of Mexico City. But there is no sign that the bloodshed has ended. In the last week in August, the state was the site of four gangland killings and the abduction of Uruapan's town council secretary, Maribel Martinez, who was snatched after the attended an evening mass. Her bodyguards were wounded.
"This happens all the time: killings, kidnappings, robberies, rapes," said Morelia college student Francisco Paredes, who put on a brave face. "I was afraid; not anymore."
Life in some parts of Mexico is part Colombian-style violence, part Al Capone's Chicago in the 1920s and part civil war, although the gangs are not fighting for any cause beyond self-enrichment.
Despite the 2,673 deaths in the violence through mid-August - more than in all of 2007 - life goes on. Some 14,000 people recently ran a Mexico City marathon, "12 Angry Men" played to packed audiences in Mexico City in August, and Wal-Mart Mexico opened 14 stores in June.
But Mexicans in Michoacan and other parts of the country described in dozens of interviews the growing sense of despair that organized crime has moved beyond just drug trafficking to kidnapping and extortion of ordinary people, overwhelming law enforcement with their spoils of crime, estimated at $25 billion to $40 billion annually.
Like Michoacan, residents in Tamaulipas, which borders the U.S., say that drug cartels control widespread intelligence-gathering networks, for example paying waiters to keep tabs on whether diners are talking about drug gangs or spotters in small towns to report on visiting outsiders. The majority of kidnappings go unreported.
Hollander - September 15, 2008 10:52 AM (GMT)
Mexico safety chief's tough job: policing the police
Drug money and corruption have long tainted law enforcement. But Genaro Garcia Luna, with President Calderon's backing and the aid of technology, may succeed in reforming the system, analysts say.http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/wo...,0,514108.story
Hollander - September 25, 2008 11:46 AM (GMT)
Hollander - September 30, 2008 02:21 PM (GMT)
Sep 29, 2008 8:23 pm US/Pacific
Mexican Police Find 12 Bodies Next To School
TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) ¯ Investigators believe 16 of the victims found dumped in empty lots in Tijuana were killed by warring drug gangs.
In all 18, bodies were found. A spokesman for the Baja
California attorney general's office says the other two were victims of street crime.
Twelve bodies were found dumped in an empty lot next to a Tijuana elementary school this morning, an hour before children were scheduled to arrive.
Minutes after that grisly discovery, four other bodies were found in an empty lot in Tijuana and two other bodies were discovered late Sunday in a lot next to a factory.
The director of the Binational Center for Human Rights says the killings come as the Arellano Felix cartel suffers internal strife and seeks to fend off Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman's push into the region.
Hollander - October 8, 2008 10:33 AM (GMT)
Hollander - October 8, 2008 12:10 PM (GMT)