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 Drugwar in Mexico, all about the current power struggle
Junior
Posted: Feb 5 2012, 09:46 AM


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'Sinaloa cartel enforcer' Marrufo arrested in Mexico
BBC News, February 4, 2012

Police in Mexico say they have arrested the suspected leader of the Gente Nueva gang, the armed wing of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Prosecutors suspect Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo of ordering the 2009 attack on a drug treatment clinic in Ciudad Juarez in which 18 people were killed.

The patients were lined up against a wall and shot dead.

Police said the gunmen were targeting rival gang members which sometimes use clinics as safe houses.

'Severe blow'

Mr Torres Marrufo was arrested in Leon, in central Guanajuato state, along with his bodyguard.

Police seized weapons and crystal meth they said belonged to the two men.

Counter-narcotics Police Chief Ramon Eduardo Pequeno said Mr Torres Marrufo's capture was a severe blow to the Sinaloa cartel.

The cartel, which is led by Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, is one of Mexico's most powerful.

Prosecutors say Mr Torres Marrufo led its armed wing, called Gente Nueva (New People).

They accuse him of drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, and murder.

Gang warfare

Among the crimes he is suspected of ordering is the 2009 attack on a drug rehabilitation clinic in Ciudad Juarez.

Hooded gunmen burst into the drug clinic, forced patients into a corridor, lined them up and shot 18 of them.

Security officials said at the time that drug cartels were using the clinics to recruit new members and as safe houses.

They said they suspected the attack had been a settling of scores between rival gangs.

Mr Marrufo Torres is suspected of having been in charge of eliminating rival gang members in the Sinaloa cartel's fight to take over control of Ciudad Juarez from the Juarez cartel.
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Junior
Posted: Feb 6 2012, 10:39 AM


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What the Rise of a New Gang Means for Juarez
Written by Patrick Corcoran, InSight
Sunday, February 5, 2012

The emergence of an aggressive new gang in Juarez has sparked a wave of attacks on local police, demonstrating just how difficult it is to engineer a lasting security improvement in Mexico's most violent city.

The New Juarez Cartel, or NCJ for its initials in Spanish, earned headlines last week for a series of messages promising to kill local officers unless police chief Julian Leyzaola resigned, and the group’s possible links to the killings of at least eight officers this year. In response to the threats, Mayor Hector Murguia announced that local police will be allowed to carry their weapons even when off duty, and have been encouraged to start living out of hotels.

While the gang doesn’t have a long track record of operating in Juarez, this is not the first appearance of the NCJ. Gustavo Rosa, the human rights ombudsman in the state of Chihuahua (where Juarez is located), first mentioned the surge of a new group last February, which authorities later said was in fact the NCJ. Messages attributed to the group subsequently began to pop up last September, at which point the Federal Police announced the existence of the new group.

Much of the NCJ’s correspondence has focused on the supposed bias of Mexican agencies toward the Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquin Guzman, alias “El Chapo.” A video posted to the internet in October shows a handful of armed, ski-masked NCJ members interrogating a local prison guard about his colleagues’ links to Guzman’s organization. The guard, who said that some of his colleagues are ex-soldiers imported from other regions of the country who also operate as hitmen, was later found murdered.

Authorities have said that the NCJ is little more than the recomposition of the diminished Juarez Cartel and its network of allied gangs, principally La Linea and Los Aztecas. Both groups originally had security and assassin duties for the Juarez Cartel, which has faded from view along with its longtime leader, Vicente Carrillo Fuentes. La Linea's core is allegedly composed of ex-police; Los Aztecas are a Mexican-American gang with roots in the US prison system.

One recent report from el Diario de Juarez quotes authorities identifying the group’s boss as Juan Morales Gonzalez, an alleged member of the Los Aztecas, which also has a presence in El Paso. The 51-year-old Morales subsequently denied the report in an interview, saying he has no idea how his name became implicated and that he’s never been involved in gangs. Previous reports linked the NCJ to Cesar Carrillo Leyva, a relative of Carrillo Fuentes, the longtime leader of the Juarez Cartel.

As InSight has reported, the strength of this collection of organizations has declined markedly in recent months, leading to increased influence in Juarez for Guzman. The decline of La Linea has also been a fundamental factor in the improvement of security in Juarez, where the number of murders linked to organized crime declined by roughly 50 percent in 2011 from the previous year.

Such a reorganization of fading older groups into new networks is common in Mexico, and has often led to the further spread of violence. After the death and arrests of all but one of its foremost leaders, the formerly vaunted Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), for instance, disintegrated into the South Pacific Cartel, the Mano con Ojos, and various other largely regional gangs sprinkled around the country. While these groups have nowhere near the influence that the original group did, they have sparked fighting in Mexico State, Guerrero, Morelos, and other Mexican states.

In other cases, the impact of this reorganization is not so severe. In Michoacan, for example, the rebranding of the Familia Michoacana as the Caballeros Templarios has sparked a comparatively mild increase in violence. Overall, however, the constant process of destruction and regeneration has been a force for greater levels of bloodshed spread across a larger expanse of the nation.

The impact in Juarez depends a great deal on whether the NCJ can reconstitute the a force capable of standing up to Guzman’s troops for any length of time. The disappearance of Vicente Carrillo as a genuine rival suggests that the decline of the local groups’ has much to do with diminished leadership. Under a new banner and led by a new cohort, it’s not implausible that the locals would be able to better defend their city from Guzman’s imported gunmen.

Thus far, however, the NCJ doesn’t seem a credible threat to reopen a fight for control of Juarez. While the appearance of a new group and the attacks on police may be alarming, the number of reported killings in January, roughly 120 around the city, does not represent a sharp increase from the pattern over the past several months.
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Junior
Posted: Feb 9 2012, 07:31 PM


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Mexico marines find 15 bodies in two graves in Veracruz
BBC News, February 9, 2012

A suspected member of Mexico's Zetas drugs gang has led authorities to two graves in Veracruz state holding 15 bodies, the Mexican navy says.

Marines unearthed the decomposing corpses on two ranches near the town of Acayucan, in the south of the state.

The suspect gave details of the two sites after being arrested when he tried to evade a military checkpoint.

Veracruz has seen a rise in violence in recent months, blamed on feuding between the Zetas and their rivals.

Hundreds of bodies have been found in mass graves in the last few years, many of them in the northern state of Durango and Tamaulipas.

Marines went to the reported grave sites after a suspect identified as Juan Francisco Alvarado Martagon gave information to the authorities.

Initially 10 bodies were found but officials later said a total of 15 victims had been recovered.
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Junior
Posted: Feb 9 2012, 07:33 PM


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Massive methamphetamine seizure in Mexico
BBC News, February 9, 2012

The Mexican army says it has seized 15 tonnes of methamphetamine in the western state of Jalisco.

Soldiers found the synthetic drug, thought to be the largest amount ever seized in Mexico, at a ranch after a tip-off by a local.

The production of methamphetamine is on the rise in Mexico, with the powerful Sinaloa cartel smuggling huge amounts into the United States.

Methamphetamine creates a powerful psychological dependency.

Soldiers discovered the cache at a ranch in Tlajomulco de Zuniga, south of the state capital, Guadalajara.

'Historic seizure'

Gen Gilberto Hernandez Andreu said the ranch had been used as a lab to manufacture the drug, which can be swallowed, sniffed, smoked or injected.

"It's an historic seizure: more than 15 tonnes of methamphetamine, five kilos of crystal, and around seven tonnes of precursor chemicals," General Hernandez Andreu said.

Soldiers also seized equipment used to produce the drug, but no arrests were made.

The Mexican Defence Ministry said the security forces had discovered seven drug laboratories in Jalisco so far this year.

Over the past few months, the authorities have also seized a record amount of precursor chemicals used to produce the drug.

On 18 January, they found 12 shipping containers full of the precursor chemical methylamine in the Pacific coast port of Lazaro Cardenas.

A 2011 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said amphetamine-type stimulants had become the second most widely used illegal substances.

According to the report, the main producers of synthetic drugs remain the Netherlands and Burma, but manufacture has spread to Latin America.
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Junior
Posted: Feb 11 2012, 03:28 PM


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Mob lynches two suspected kidnappers in Mexico
BBC News, February 11, 2012

Security officials in Mexico say two men have been killed and a third injured by a mob for allegedly trying to kidnap a youth.

Local residents in Chalco, near Mexico City, beat the men and forced them into a car, which they then set alight.

Police have detained at least a dozen residents they suspect of the lynching.

Kidnappings are common in Mexico, where criminal gangs make money by abducting people for ransom.

Police described how around 600 locals armed with bars, clubs and bottles surrounded the three suspects and dragged them to the town's main square.

Municipal police officers managed to save one of the men, but residents locked the other two in their car, doused it with petrol and set it alight.

In a travel warning issued on Wednesday, the US State Department warned of the rising number of kidnappings and disappearances in Mexico.

Analysts say accurate figures for the number of kidnappings are hard to come by, as many abductions only last for hours or a few days, until the ransom is paid.

Most are never reported to the authorities for fear of reprisal from the criminal gangs who carried out the kidnapping.
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Junior
Posted: Feb 15 2012, 12:59 PM


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Mexico Captures Sinaloa Meth Maker, in Latest Blow to Cartel
By Jake Harper, InSight, Wednesday, February 14, 2012

Federal police arrested a major methamphetamine producer for the Sinaloa Cartel in northwest Mexico, in another blow to Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman's criminal organization.

Jaime Herrera Herrera, alias “El Viejito”, had been working for the cartel since 2002, producing the drug in two ranches outside the city of Cuiliacan, reports El Informador. He was arrested in the US in the 1990s and later released on bail, after which he began distributing methamphetamine in Los Angeles, California and eventually producing the drug in Mexico.

Another man was arrested with Herrera, and police found weapons, 202 kilograms of methamphetamine, and other drugs.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrest of one of the cartel’s major methamphetamine producers is a reminder of the increasing importance of the drug to its operations. With the decline of the Familia Michoacana, the Sinaloa Cartel is thought to have become Mexico’s biggest meth producer.

There have been at least five major arrests of Sinaloa Cartel members since November, as El Informador notes, and Herrera’s capture could represent a serious blow for the group. This has caused speculation that the government is increasing pressure on the organization, and that fugitive boss Joaquin Guzman, alias "El Chapo," could be captured soon.
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Junior
Posted: Feb 18 2012, 12:08 PM


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Mexico drug wars: Murders down in Ciudad Juarez
BBC News, February 18, 2012

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has said murders in the country's most violent city, Ciudad Juarez, almost halved since hitting a record in 2010, when more than 3,000 people died.

Mr Calderon said job creation had been key to the fall in violence.

Most of the murders were the result of a turf war between rival drug gangs.

Analysts say the reduction could mean that the Sinaloa cartel has succeeded in edging out its rivals from the Juarez cartel from the city.

Ciudad Juarez has been notorious for brutal killings, which rocketed from around 300 in 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2010.

Most of that violence has been linked to a deadly war between the Sinaloa and the Juarez rival cartel for control of the lucrative drug smuggling routes to the United States.

Gang warfare

President Calderon said a multi-million dollar investment programme to create more employment had been key in turning Ciudad Juarez around.

Speaking at an employment fair in the city on Friday, he said a lack of opportunities, poor education and poor health care had weakened the social fabric of the city.

President Calderon said that the government investment programme "We're all Juarez", launched two years ago, had played a major role in improving security.

Quoting figures from the Citizens' Council for Public Security, he said the murder rate in Ciudad Juarez had dropped 45% between 2010 and 2011.

He said the figures for the first six weeks of 2012 were even more promising, suggesting a 57% drop in homicides compared to the same time period in 2011.

In its annual report, US geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor also noted the drop in Ciudad Juarez's murder rate.

Analysts have long maintained that the spike in violence in 2010 was caused by the Sinaloa cartel moving into the city and the subsequent war between it and the Juarez cartel.

They argue that the drop in violence could be down to the battle having been won by the Sinaloa cartel.
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Junior
Posted: Feb 18 2012, 06:32 PM


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Mexico Arrests Four in Sex Trafficking Ring
Written by Geoffrey Ramsey, InSight
Thursday, February 16, 2012

Officials have dismantled a sex trafficking ring in central Mexico which reportedly smuggled teenage girls to the US, where they were forced to work as prostitutes.

Yesterday, the Mexican Attorney General’s Office (PGR) publicized the arrest of four individuals who stand accused of running a sex trafficking venture for the past decade. According to PGR deputy Jose Cuitlahuac Salinas, the network was run by members of a family based in the central, poverty-stricken state of Tlaxcala, where they lured girls aged 15 to 18 under false romantic pretenses and eventually smuggled them into the US. Once there, the girls were coerced into working as prostitutes in New York.

Cuitlahuac told local press that the investigation into the case began in January 2011, in response to concerns raised by the US Embassy in Mexico. While the full extent of the network is unknown, it is believed that at least seven other members are based in the US.

InSight Crime Analysis

The arrests are an encouraging sign of Mexico taking action against the illegal sex trade, where the number of human trafficking investigations, prosecutions, and convinctions remain low. A 2011 report by Mexico City's Human Rights Commission (CDHDF) estimated that 10,000 women were victims of human trafficking in the capital city alone, but documented only 40 official investigations into the crime, with a mere three convictions there in 2010.

Last summer President Felipe Calderon approved a set of laws aimed at making it easier to prosecute human trafficking, and also urged congress to pass a nationwide law that would impose stricter penalties for the crime. As congresswoman Rosi Orozco told the Washington Post in July, “If narcotics traffickers are caught they go to high-security prisons, but with the trafficking of women, they have found absolute impunity.” The law was recently approved by two legislative committees, and is expected to come to a vote sometime this year.
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Junior
Posted: Feb 19 2012, 11:52 AM


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Twenty inmates killed in gang fight in Mexican prison
BBC News, February 19, 2012

At least 20 people have died in a prison riot in northern Mexico.

Security officials said the inmates had either forced or bribed a number of guards to open the doors between two separate wings of the jail.

A fight broke out between the prisoners, in which the killings occurred.

Deadly prison fights between rival gangs are not uncommon in Mexico, last month 31 inmates were killed in similar circumstances in Tamaulipas state.

Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said inmates at the Apodaca prison had also set fire to mattresses and other flammable objects.

He said the security forces were now in control of the situation.

Relatives of the prisoners have gathered outside the prison, north of the city of Monterrey, to find out news about who has been killed and injured.

Mr Domene asked them to be patient.

"We have more than 3,000 inmates in this jail and we have to account for all of them first," he said.

Mexican jails are notorious for overcrowding, corruption and rioting.

In January, 31 inmates were killed at a prison in Altamira, in Tamaulipas state, when rival gangs confronted each other with homemade weapons and knives.
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Junior
Posted: Feb 20 2012, 06:16 PM


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'Zetas' Youth Gangs on the Rise in Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Written by Christopher Looft, InSight.com
Monday, February 20, 2012

The Mexican Navy said youth gang activity has risen by between 200 and 500 percent in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, much of it consisting of small groups adopting the Zetas franchise name.

An Excelsior report says that street gangs have been multiplying in Nuevo Leon since 2009, according to an unnamed source in the Mexican Navy. The Navy then defines "street gangs" as small groups who engage in common crime, like carjackings, "express" kidnappings, and theft. The members are between 13 and 26 years old.

The gangs, not fully intergrated into the Zetas or other cartels, claim affiliation in order to intimidate their victims. These street gangs sometimes pay the larger organizations for permission to operate under the more famous franchise name.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Navy's recognition of the issue follows a study by Southern Pulse predicting that by the end of 2014 street gangs would supplant cartels as the top cause of violence in Mexico. The prediction follows a 2010 report by the organized crime division of the Attorney General's Office, which found that as many as 5,000 youth criminal gangs are contracted out to the country's major drug cartels. The report notes that in Juarez alone there may be as many 1,500 local gangs.

The rise in street gangs is bad news for Nuevo Leon, one of Mexico's most troubled states, with over 2,003 homicides registered in 2011. And if street gangs are expanding, the effectiveness of local law enforcement is not. As of October 2011, the state had sacked 3,200 policemen for "loss of trust."
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Junior
Posted: Feb 21 2012, 05:23 PM


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33 Zetas drug gang members at large
IOL News, February 21, 2012

Thirty members of a feared Mexican drug cartel were on the loose on Tuesday after dozens of rival gang members were killed in a prison massacre apparently organised with the aid of authorities.

The massacre early on Sunday, in which 44 inmates were stabbed or bludgeoned to death, was apparently a grisly smokescreen planned to aid the escape, according to officials, who said nine wardens had confessed to taking part in the plot.

The escaped prisoners were all from the Zetas drug gang, while those killed were all from the rival Gulf cartel. The two crime syndicates have been locked in a bloody turf battle since their alliance broke down in 2010.

The massacre on Sunday in the Apodaca prison, an overcrowded facility 30 kilometres north of Monterrey, the state capital of Nuevo Leon, was among the deadliest incidents in years in Mexico's notoriously violent prisons.

“Nine of the 18 (detained) guards said they were actively involved in the escape,” state security spokesman Jorge Domene said late Monday, calling it a “betrayal of public officials who allied themselves with the criminals.”

He said the other nine guards and three senior prison officials were still being questioned.

The escape took place between 1.00am and 1.30am (07.00-07.30 GMT) on Sunday, followed by the attack on the inmates, which lasted around an hour and a half, until prison officials called for reinforcements, Domene said.

Rodrigo Medina, governor of Nuevo Leon, had earlier released names and pictures of the fugitives, and posted rewards of up to 10 million pesos ($775 000) for information leading to their capture.

Among them was Oscar Manuel Bernal, nicknamed “The Spider,” who was head of the Zetas in the industrial city of Monterrey when he was detained in October 2010, accused of ordering the killing of a local police chief.

The riot came just days after a fire in a jail in Honduras left 359 dead, highlighting severe overcrowding in Latin American prisons.

Rampant drug trafficking, score-settling between gang members and official corruption have turned prisons into human tinder boxes.

The prison population in Mexico and Central America has swollen in line with the region's increasingly important role in cocaine trafficking, meaning outdated facilities are straining at the seams.

The Mexican prison housed about 3 000 inmates, twice its intended capacity.

Distraught families gathered outside the Apodaca prison awaiting news of loved ones in a desperate scene, with some women fainting.

Mexican prisons have often been the scene of deadly violence.

In early January, 31 inmates were killed and 13 wounded in a brawl in the Altamira prison in the northern state of Tamaulipas. On October 15, 20 people were killed in another Tamaulipas prison.

Two days earlier, seven inmates were killed and 12 wounded in a fight at Nuevo Leon's Cadereyta prison.

The northern regions along the US border have seen an upsurge in violence in recent years as rival cartels have battled over lucrative smuggling routes.

About 50 000 people are believed to have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since the launching of a military crackdown on the gangs in 2006.

In Honduras, the toll of Tuesday's blaze at the overcrowded Comayagua prison, thought to be the world's worst-ever prison fire, rose by one to 359 dead, after an inmate succumbed to severe burns.

Only 38 bodies have so far been identified in the morgue in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, and just 21 have been returned to their families for burial.

Expert teams from the United States, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru are helping the Honduran authorities with their investigations into the fire, the cause of which remains unclear. - AFP
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Junior
Posted: Mar 5 2012, 01:17 PM


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Mexico Gang Turns to Women to Hold Key City
Written by Patrick Corcoran, InSight
Sunday, March 4, 2012

In the midst of a years-long fight against the Zetas for control of prized sections of borderland territory, the Gulf Cartel is increasingly relying on a previously untapped resource: women.

As Excelsior reported last week;

“The army has evidence that women have begun to occupy important positions inside the Gulf Cartel; in [Reynosa] they have begun to obtain information that not only is the number of women who are dedicated to assassinations rising, but they have also gone from managing safe houses and administering funds to carrying out intricate operations for the purchase and smuggling of drugs and undocumented immigrants ...The Gulf Cartel has bet on women to come and fortify an organization that has been worn down by casualties suffered in confrontations with the Zetas.”

Despite being one of the most powerful groups in Mexico over the past two decades, more than two years of warfare with the Zetas, their one-time enforcer arm, along with the arrest of a number of leading figures, have rendered the group a shell of its former self. As InSight Crime reported last month, of the men who led the group at its height in the early 2000s, the only remaining figure is Eduardo Costilla, alias “El Coss”. Yet Reynosa, a Tamaulipas town of some 600,000 people across of the border from McAllen, Texas, remains a Gulf Cartel stronghold in the group’s dwindling swatch of territory in northeastern Mexico.

While often overlooked, women playing a role in organized crime groups is nothing new in Mexico. As InSight Crime has noted, the number of women working in the drug trade is estimated to have grown by 400 percent between 2007 and 2010. This includes a number of now-notorious figures, principal among them Sandra Avila, who earned notoriety as the "Queen of the Pacific" following her arrest in 2007 accused of drug trafficking. Many of the initial charges were subsequently dismissed, though she remains in jail on money laundering charges, and an extradition request from the US is pending.

The idea of an all-powerful female criminal boss has spilled out into Mexican popular culture as well. "La Reina del Sur," a novel about a Sinaloa women forced to flee her homeland, who subsequently sets herself up as a major trafficker in southern Spain, is among the most popular recent pieces of crime lit, and was spun off into a telenovela with longtime star Kate del Castillo. Scores of "narcocorridos" (drug ballads) have been written about leading females in the drug trade, and a handful of non-fiction accounts of their exploits have appeared on the shelves of Mexican book stores.

In most cases the role of women is portrayed as secondary, and their involvement comes across as isolated cases of happenstance -- Avila, for instance, married her way into the drug trade -- rather than as part of a broader strategy. In Reynosa, however, the women are not mere add-ons, but, according to Excelsior, central figures.

Insofar as the use of women is a shift forced upon the Gulf Cartel by difficult circumstances, it demonstrates the group’s weakening. If Gulf leaders have been forced to turn to women, who they consider less effective, because they could not maintain their operation otherwise, this is an indication of a group that may be in its last days.

Such a lack of access to manpower could well have been provoked by the Zetas' success in identifying Gulf reinforcements sent from elsewhere in the country; their efforts to wipe out these fighters have been blamed from the mass disappearance of bus passengers in Tamaulipas in recent years.

An alternative interpretation, however, is that the Mexican gangs’ failure to integrate women into their organizations represents a needless and limiting oversight. Just as legitimate multinational corporations have benefited from the influx of women into their boardrooms, so too could smuggling organizations increase their efficiency by no longer ignoring half the population.
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Junior
Posted: Mar 14 2012, 05:33 PM


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How Arrest of Gang Leader Sparked Chaos in Guadalajara
Written by Patrick Corcoran, InSight.com
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The capture of the leader of an emerging gang in Guadalajara sparked days of chaos, suggesting the CJNG still has the strength to strike back, but the arrest could mark a changeover of criminal power in Mexico's second largest city.

Following a shootout on Friday, Mexican Army troops arrested Erick "El 85" Valencia Salazar, the alleged leader of the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG), in Zapopan, a wealthy suburb of Guadalajara. Two other men, one of whom the army identified as Valencia’s chief lieutenant, were also detained in the operation. Authorities seized dozens of firearms, including assault rifles and grenade launchers, and 69,000 rounds of ammunition.

In response to the arrest, CJNG members apparently launched a campaign of chaos in Jalisco. According to state officials, 25 vehicles were set on fire and used to block roadways in the hours after the Friday afternoon capture. At least three people were reportedly murdered, though it is not clear how many of those killings were related to Valencia’s arrest.

The CJNG has emerged over the past couple of years as the heir to the network run by Ignacio Coronel, a Sinaloa Cartel capo killed in a shootout with government troops in July 2010. The group operates principally in Pacific coast states like Colima, Michoacan, and Jalisco, but it has also popped up in Veracruz, with a CJNG cell calling itself the Mata Zetas (Zeta Killers).

The group’s operations have coincided with some of the most significant accelerations of violence in recent years. Jalisco, where Guadalajara is located, saw murders spike to 1,222 last year, according to Mexican government statistics, up from 888 in 2010 and 570 in 2009. In Veracruz state, the group was blamed for dumping the bodies of scores of murdered Zetas in Boca del Rio and Veracruz city, and was largely responsible for a massive increase in murders linked to organized crime in those two cities. According to analyst Eduardo Guerrero, the number of such killings leaped from nine in 2010 to 185 in 2011 in Veracruz, and from two to 129 in Boca del Rio.

Because of its efforts to extinguish the Zetas, including the release of a threatening video last year with a pseudo-military tinge, the gang has also been interpreted as a symptom of rising paramilitarism. However, the government has been quick to assert that Valencia’s group is a drug trafficking network, and nothing more.

The CGNJ has often been described as a local branch of the Sinaloa Cartel, though it appears to operate with a significant amount of autonomy. While the gang is best known for its fights with the Zetas, it has long battled another local gang, the Resistencia, for supremacy in Jalisco and the surrounding region. Other gangs, such as the Milenio Cartel and the Familia Michoacana, have also been reported as operating in Jalisco, often in tandem with the principal local gangs.

As noted by InSight Crime earlier this year, the CJNG’s rapid rise to prominence and the chaotic web of alliances in Jalisco reflects a broader trend in Mexico. Whereas for most of the nation’s recent history a small number of hegemonic groups have between them controlled organized crime in the region, the last five years have seen the rise of a welter of smaller regional gangs. These groups gain power and lose it with greater frequency than the larger networks, lending Mexico’s criminal landscape a greater degree of instability and a more intense cycle of creative destruction, which is itself a major factor in the recent spike in violence.

It’s not clear whether Valencia’s arrest will ultimately spell the end of the group, but the chaos that erupted in response to his detention suggests that this is an organization whose power does not rest on a single leader alone. However, arrests of high-profile members pose a particular threat to newer, less established groups with a smaller command structure; consistent government pressure has caused gangs like the South Pacific Cartel and the Mano con Ojos to all but disappear in a matter of months. Furthermore, given the level of competition in the regions where the CJNG operates, even a slight weakening will open the door for the group’s adversaries.

The fierce reaction also demonstrates the precarious line the government must walk between arresting capos on one side, and protecting public security on the other. While Mexican gangs have not tended to carry out terrorist-style attacks on civilians in response to kingpins’ arrests, it has become more common to use blockades to provoke chaos after blows by the security forces, and attacks on government officials often spike as well. The Familia Michoacana, for instance, responded similarly following the December 2010 death of its leader, Nazario Moreno. If this practice continues to expand, the nuisance and outright danger that a major arrests poses to the general population will grow along with it.

This risk of greater violence only rises in the weeks and months that follow a major arrest. As many analysts, including InSight Crime, have pointed out, the arrests or killings of big capos often cause a spike in bloodshed, as erstwhile lieutenants and adversaries battle over his empire. The news that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was recently almost nabbed in Los Cabos by the Federal Police has fueled speculation that his arrest is imminent, and sparked worries that this could gravely complicate Mexico’s attempts to consolidate recent security improvements.

That’s not to suggest that the government errs by targeting capos. Ultimately, a safer, more modern Mexico is impossible while figures like Guzman are on the loose. But the transition to a nation without Guzmans, where public security is stable enough that the arrest of a capo barely registers among the population at large, will be slow and painful.
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Posted: Mar 20 2012, 11:18 AM


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Mexican policemen killed after beheadings
BBC News, March 19, 2012

Gunmen in western Mexico have killed 12 policemen investigating the beheadings of 10 people.

The officers were attacked as they searched for bodies after severed heads were found near the town of Teloloapan in Guerrero state on Sunday.

Messages threatening the La Familia drug cartel were found with the heads.

Correspondents say La Familia and the Knights Templar, a rival cartel, are fighting for control of the drugs trade in Guerrero state.

Few details have been released about the ambush, which occurred late on Sunday. At least nine agents were injured and are being treated in hospital.

Some 4,000 Mexican police and army are involved in operations against drug traffickers in the area, where major tourist destinations like Acapulco and Zihuatanejo are located.

However, the problem is still rampant - 50,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006.

Pope Benedict is due to arrive in Mexico on Friday and is expected to comment on drug-related violence in the country.

The BBC's Will Grant in Mexico says people are hoping for a respite from the violence during the Pope's visit - but they may not get one.
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Posted: Mar 23 2012, 10:21 AM


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Pope condemns Mexico's drug wars ahead of visit
BBC News, March 23, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI has denounced drug-related violence in Mexico and urged young people to renounce it, ahead of his visit to the country.

On his way to Mexico, the Pope said it was vital "to fight this evil which destroys our young".

He spoke of teaching moral responsibility and ending "the worship of money which enslaves men".

After Mexico he will visit Cuba, where he said Marxism was no longer working.

He believes the ideology no longer corresponds to reality and called for "new models" to be found in a patient and constructive way.

He made it clear that "the Church is always on the side of freedom of thought and of religion".

Camp sites

Before he reaches Cuba the Pope will go to Silao, Leon and Guanajuato in Mexico.

Some 300,000 people are expected to attend Mass on Sunday and huge camp sites have been set up to give pilgrims somewhere to stay.

Pope Benedict said: "I share Mexicans' joy and hope but also their anguish and grief," referring to the country's drug related violence, which has taken 50,000 lives in the past five years.

He warned that young people were particularly vulnerable to the cartels, some of whom claim to be Catholic.

The Pope faces sensitive issues in Cuba.

This week the campaign group Amnesty International reported that life was getting harder for dissidents there.

Earlier this month, activists were evicted from a church they had occupied in the capital, Havana, demanding an audience with the Pope.
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Posted: Mar 23 2012, 01:57 PM


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Jalisco Cartel Promises Mexico Govt it will Take Down Rival Gang
Written by Patrick Corcoran, InSight, Friday, March 23, 2012

The Jalisco Cartel - New Generation has released a video asking the government not to hinder their efforts to drive a rival drug gang out of south Mexico, in order to bring "peace" to local people.

The video, featured on Blog del Narco, features purported members of the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG) promising to attack the Caballeros Templarios (Knights Templar) in the states of Guerrero and Michoacan.

The video’s speaker proclaims:

All you Caballeros Templarios are a bunch of dirty bandits along with your leaders, the people deserve peace and we, the warriors of the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation have come to give it to them, and do away with these degenerates that have invaded the tranquility of the people of Guerrero and Michoacan. Because we dedicate ourselves to trafficking drugs, not to robbery or kidnapping like those dirtbags from the Caballeros Templarios.

The speaker goes on to promise the government that the group will take down the various Caballero leaders, and asks state agencies to allow them to go about their work unhindered. He assures viewers that the CJNG has no problem with the government, and that its only enemies are rival gangs (watch video below).

The video is noteworthy for a number of reasons. One is that it demonstrates that the CJNG is not on the verge of disappearing, despite the arrest of big shot Erick Valencia Salazar earlier this month in Guadalajara. Indeed, it evidently feels strong enough to take the fight to two long-simmering states where the Caballeros (and their criminal progenitors, the Familia Michoacana) are deeply entrenched.

With this latest gambit, the CJNG is continuing past tactics. The declaration of their move into a foreign territory calls to mind last year’s videotaped announcement that they would take Veracruz from the Zetas. The subsequent incursion put Veracruz among the states with the biggest rises in violence in 2011, with massacres carried out in Boca del Rio and Veracruz city. In both videos, the CJNG has used paramilitary-style language, promising to do away with their enemies in order to "protect" local people.

The video also demonstrates how Mexico's criminal groups have begun to utilize public relations techniques, claiming to be motivated by the wish to protect the people. Various gangs have grown accustomed to proclaiming their intentions and justifying their actions with public banners, often called "narcomantas," videos uploaded to the Internet, and even interviews with major media outlets. More often than not, the groups try to take the moral high ground against their enemies, as the CJNG does in its latest video, tarring the Caballeros as kidnappers and thieves.

It’s not always clear what is motivating this tendency for gangs to paint themselves as the good guys and their enemies as the villains. Sometimes, it’s clearly in a group’s interest to distance themselves from a particularly heinous crime or assuage fears that they might seek to overthrow the government, to try deflect the attention of the authorities. But most citizens, to say nothing of the government, will put little stock in any group’s proclamations that they are the noblest of the gangsters.

The video is also interesting for what it says about the Caballeros. The fact that the CJNG targeted them rather than the Familia indicates that the Caballeros have consolidated themselves as Michoacan’s foremost gang, definitively displacing the older organization. It seems unlikely, however, that they have such a firm hold over Guerrero. Acapulco in particular has been contested by a bevy of different groups in recent years, from the Zetas to the Sinaloa Cartel, the South Pacific Cartel, and the Barredora. The Caballeros, and now the CJNG, are just one group among many trying to win control.

Finally, the speaker alleges that Nazario Moreno, who was reported killed in December 2010 in a shootout with government forces, is still alive and remains at the head of the Caballeros. The same claim was made by a captured Mexico City gang boss last year, and previously in posters signed by the Familia. Given that his death was a major success for the government and precipitated the collapse of the Familia, this allegation would be a bombshell if it proved true.

Such conspiracy theories are common in Mexico. One popular tall tale is that Amado Carrillo, the Juarez Cartel founder who died in plastic surgery in 1997, faked his own death and remains at large. Anabel Hernandez, in her muckraking 2011 book "Los Señores del Narco," claimed that the deceased Sinaloa boss Ignacio Coronel was also still alive. There's not much evidence to support any of these allegations, and there’s little reason to believe any of them are accurate.

However, it is also true that while the Hernandez had a clear interest in winning publicity with scandalous stories -- a tactic that has landed her in legal trouble with former Attorney General Jorge Carpizo, who was attacked in the book -- it’s not obvious what the CJNG would have to gain by falsely claiming that Moreno was still alive.
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Posted: Mar 23 2012, 01:59 PM


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Mexico Deploys 8,000 Troops in Michoacan
Written by Geoffrey Ramsey, InSight
Friday, March 23, 2012

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony for a new army garrison in Michoacan, the Mexican president revealed that a total of 8,000 troops are currently deployed in the state as part of an effort to crack down on crime.

On March 20, the Mexican government opened a military base in the southern Michoacan municipality of Tiquicheo. President Felipe Calderon spoke at the ceremony, and announced that the 600 troops posted at the garrison brings the total number of soldiers in the state to 8,000.

According to the president, these deployments were made in order to address the “irrational, absurd and inhumane” level of violence in the southwestern state. Calderon also indirectly addressed recent reports of abuses committed by security forces, calling on the troops to respect human rights in their efforts to protect the population.

InSight Crime Analysis

Michoacan, Calderon’s home state, was the first to see a military deployment after he took office in 2006. The president initiated another major troop surge in February to quell violent clashes between the remnants of the once-mighty Familia Michoacana and their rival splinter group the Caballeros Templarios.

With 8,000 soldiers, Michoacan is now the state with the second-largest troop presence after Tamaulipas (where 15,400 are stationed). However, it remains to be seen whether this deployment will bring security to Michoacan, which saw a rash of drug violence last year that displaced thousands of residents.

Although Mexican authorities tout the recent drop in homicides in Veracruz as proof that military presence can bring down violence, some believe otherwise. Calderon’s critics claim that deploying soldiers only aggravates violence, and can pose a threat to civilians. A January 2011 analysis of homicide data from 2006 to 2009 by sociologist and crime analyst Fernando Escalante supports this claim, indicating that troop deployments to “drug war” hotspots actually resulted in increased violence in those areas.
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Posted: Apr 5 2012, 09:27 AM


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Mexican troops shoot dead 'casino arson plotter'
BBC News, April 5, 2012

One of the alleged plotters of last year's deadly arson attack on a Mexican casino has been killed in a gunbattle with troops, the defence ministry says.

Francisco Medina Mejia and three other gunmen were shot dead near the northern city of Nuevo Laredo, officials said.

The fire at the casino in Monterrey, which killed 52 people, was reportedly the work of the Zetas drug cartel.

Other suspects arrested over the fire say the casino was targeted because the owners had not paid protection money.

The torching of the Casino Royale in broad daylight shocked Mexico.

Some 20 people, including at least three other alleged masterminds, have been arrested in connection with the attack.

Mr Medina Mejia, known as El Quemado or The Burned One, was said to be an aide to Miguel Angel Trevino, one of the top leaders of the Zetas.

The Zetas are one of Mexico's most powerful and violent drugs gangs, and have been expanding their influence in recent years.

Monterrey - a major industrial city close to the border with Texas in the US - saw rising violence last year as the Zetas battled the rival Gulf cartel for control of territory and smuggling routes.
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Posted: Apr 9 2012, 04:25 PM


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Juarez Sees Record Drop in Violence During Easter Week
By Tatiana Faramarzi, InSight, Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter was the least violent week that Ciudad Juarez has seen in four years, even as some Central American countries, including Guatemala, continued to see high murder rates during what is typically one of the most peaceful holidays in Latin America.

As reported by El Diario, the first eight days of April saw the lowest number of criminal acts registered in Ciudad Juarez since drug-related violence began to escalate in 2008. According to the Attorney General's office, 13 people were killed between April 1 and 8, representing an average of 1.6 homicides daily. This is the lowest homicide rate reported since January 2008, when an average of 1.4 people were killed daily.

Other reports indicate there was relative calm in coastal states like Veracruz and Guerreo, popular tourist destinations which saw dramatic increases in homicides last year. Resort city Acapulco, which reportedly saw 2011's largest increase in violence at the municipal level, saw hotels reach 80 percent occupancy, the Guerrero government told AFP.

Other countries in Central America also reported seeing the expected decreases in crime-related homicides during Holy Week, although there was still a significant number of killings reported.

El Salvador's National Police counted 49 homicides, a 46 percent decrease from the numbers registered last year.

The decrease was more neglible in Guatemala, where, according to President Otto Perez, Holy Week saw 85 crime-related deaths, compared to 97 registered in 2011.

Police in Honduras did not release statistics on the number of homicides registered during Holy Week, although Proceso reports that the morgue in San Pedro Sula, one of the world's most violent cities, received "over 40 bodies" during one three-day period.

The National Police of Nicaragua reported 33 deaths during holy week, 21 of which were criminal acts.

InSight Crime Analysis

Crime rates usually drop during Holy Week, but the record low in homicides in Ciudad Juarez -- arguably the city most identified with drug-related violence -- points to some significant security advances. According to El Diario, the average number of daily homicides has been dropping in Juarez since August 2011, with 4.8 daily murders in September, 3.4 in November, and 2.8 in February. Even as Juarez remains the most violent city in Mexico, Holy Week provided another window into the city's undeniable security gains.

But the relatively high death tolls in Central America are another remind of how crime-related violence is becoming more widely dispersed across the region. The exception seems to be El Salvador, where the most powerful criminal gangs have accepted a truce reportedly brokered by the Church.
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Posted: Apr 12 2012, 06:21 AM


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Gunmen kill eight taxi drivers in Mexico's Monterrey
BBC News, April 11, 2012

Eight taxi drivers have been shot dead on the outskirts of the northern Mexican city of Monterrey.

The men were killed in separate attacks on two taxi ranks in the same area of the suburb of Guadalupe.

Police sources said the drivers were operating without permits. At least two bystanders were wounded in the shootings, including a young girl.

The industrial city of Monterrey has in recent years been hit by a wave of drug-related violence.

Monterrey has become a battleground for the rival Zetas and Gulf drugs cartels, who are fighting for control of smuggling routes into the US.

Correspondents say Mexican taxi drivers have been targeted for refusing to pay extortion payments or because they were suspected of working for rival gangs.

A security spokesman for the state of Nuevo Leon, Jorge Domene Zambrano, told the AP news agency that police are investigating a former driver who threatened co-workers after being sacked for allegedly selling drugs.

Last year, 52 people died in an arson attack on a Monterrey casino that was reportedly the work of the Zetas.
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Posted: Apr 12 2012, 01:47 PM


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Mexican Traffickers Recruit 'Drug Mules' With Newspaper Ads
Written by Tatiana Faramarzi, InSight.com
Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mexico’s drug trafficking gangs are increasingly using newspaper ads to recruit couriers unaware of their cargo, a tactic that is both inexpensive for criminal groups and difficult for authorities to counter.

As the Associated Press reports, drug traffickers have been advertising jobs for security guards, housecleaners, and cashiers in the classified ads of Mexican papers, mentioning that applicants will need to drive company cars to the United States and therefore must be able to legally cross the border.

Border officials say they have reason to believe the trend is on the rise, primarily in the San Diego area. Since February 2011, 39 people who claimed to have fallen for the misleading ads have been arrested at the city's two border checkpoints. In total, police have seized 3,400 pounds of marijuana, 75 pounds of cocaine, and 100 pounds of methamphetamine from individuals tied to the scam.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) launched a counterstrike against the technique this week, purchasing ads (pictured) in Tijuana newspapers to alert job-seekers to the trap. However, Victor Clark of Tijuana's Binational Center for Human Rights tells the AP that the measure may not work, as the ICE ads offer no instruction on how to identify legitimate companies.

InSight Crime Analysis

For the same reasons that it is effective, recruitment through newspaper advertisements will be difficult for authorities to crack down on: the mule ads are difficult to differentiate from true job ads, and offer an income generating activity that is seemingly legitimate.

As InSight Crime reported, the lack of employment opportunities in Mexico has only enhanced criminal organizations’ role as job suppliers. The classified advertisement technique means that criminal groups can now target even those who are looking for honest jobs.

According to the Associated Press, the hired drivers often make between $50 and $200 per trip, incurring little cost to drug traffickers who pay experienced couriers anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000 each trip. The fact that many of the recruited employees are unaware that they are transporting drugs offers another advantage for criminal groups, because the couriers appear less worried as they pass through border inspection.
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Posted: Apr 17 2012, 09:51 AM


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Female Skeletons Found Near US-Mexico Border Are Reminder of Juarez Femicides
Written by Edward Fox, InSight.com, Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The skeletal remains of 12 people found earlier this year close to Mexico's Ciudad Juarez have been identified as female, bringing attention once more to the city's high rate of murders against women.

Mexican authorities announced Monday that six of the 12 victims discovered in January and February in Juarez Valley have been identified as girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years. The girls had been missing since 2009 and 2010, reports the LA Times. The other six have also been identified as female, though their ages are unknown.

The cause of death remains unclear, as little more than the bones have been found.

Activist leader Victoria Caraveo of the NGO Women of Juarez (Mujeres de Juarez) told the Associated Press that the discovery suggests the work of a "well-organized gang ... with some people kidnapping them, others mistreating, using or raping them, and others dumping the bodies."

InSight Crime Analysis

Ciudad Juarez has been afflicted by a high rate of "femicides" (gender-based killings of women) over the past two decades. More than 500 cases have been documented since 1993, though the actual number may be far higher. These authorities have generally failed to bring about any prosecutions, and activists protesting the lack of action by Mexico's government have become targets, as evidenced by the rape and murder of campaigner Susana Chavez in January 2011. In November last year, the government was forced into making an apology for the state's failure to prevent the killings, and the continued impunity.

The motives behind the murders of women are often unclear, though they are thought to be driven in part by the macho culture linked to the drug trade, and the resulting violence that has engulfed Ciudad Juarez in recent years.

What's more, Mexico's criminal gangs have increasingly moved into human trafficking, increasing the levels of violence against women. According to Mexican congresswoman Rosi Orozco, there are some 800,000 cases of sex trafficking in the country each year. Ciudad Juarez's location as a border town and key transit point for people and goods moving north to the US increases the potential for violence associated with these trades.

Based on a recent report by the Small Arms Survey entitled " Femicide: A Global Problem," while Mexico overall has a low rate of femicide compared to others in Central America, with 2.5 cases per 100,000 people between 2004 and 2009, the rate in Ciudad Juarez stood at 19.1 per 100,000 in 2009.
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Posted: Apr 18 2012, 01:46 PM


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Juarez Businessman Murdered After Testifying Against Police
By Christopher Looft, InSight, Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Mexican businessman who accused 10 federal police officers of extortion and kidnapping has been murdered in Ciudad Juarez, and while authorities say they suspect the motive was robbery, it seems possible that it was a revenge attack.

Eligio Ibarra was found stabbed to death in his residence near El Paso, Texas, on the US-Mexico border. His body was 70 percent covered in burns, making him difficult to identify.

One suspect has been arrested in connection with the murder.

Ibarra filed a complaint in September 2011 against 10 federal police officers, who he said demanded $5,000, threatening to plant drugs on him if he did not comply. He accused the officers of kidnapping, beating, and robbing him. At the time of their arrest, the officers had marijuana, heroin, and illegal weapons in their possession.

When Ibarra filed his complaint, he told online publication Norte Digital that he had received threats and feared for his life, as the El Paso Times reports. Based on his complaints, the agents were arrested and indicted on a variety of charges, including extortion, abuse of authority, kidnapping, and carrying illegal weapons. They were found guilty by a federal judge and currently await sentencing.

When his case became public, Ibarra fled Juarez, a state human rights official told El Paso Times. He had returned to participate in court proceedings against the officers.

InSight Crime Analysis

Despite the fact that Ibarra received threats, state and federal authorities suspect the killing was motivated by robbery, and that Ibarra knew his killer, due to evidence collected at his scene and the fact that only his family and friends knew when he was staying in his Juarez residence. One of Ibarra's cars was stolen, and the lock to his garage had been tampered with, suggesting the suspect or suspects had attempted to steal his other car.

Authorities have painted a picture of an unlikely-sounding robbery-homicide, in which somebody close to Ibarra stabbed him in the heart, burnt his body almost beyond recognition, all while navigating the closed-circuit cameras protecting his residence, in order to rob him.

If, on the other hand, Ibarra was killed in a revenge attack, perhaps even by colleagues of the officers he helped put behind bars, this would point to a deep level of corruption in the federal police. This would be a bad sign for security in Mexico, since the federal force is generally seen as a more reliable and less corrupt alternative to state and municipal police. The fact that Ibarra had no official protection despite his high-profile complaint against the police is telling of the dangers faced by those who report corruption in the security forces.
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Posted: Apr 21 2012, 02:53 PM


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Controversial Mexican General Mario Acosta shot dead
BBC News, April 21, 2012

Police in Mexico are investigating the killing on Friday of controversial General Mario Acosta Chaparro.

Gen Acosta was shot dead by an unidentified gunman as he dropped off his car at a garage in Mexico City.

The retired general had been convicted of protecting one of Mexico's most powerful drug lords, but was later cleared of the charges.

Gen Acosta had also been investigated for human rights abuses, but the charges were dismissed.

He had survived a similar attack in 2010.

Police said Gen Acosta was shot three times in the head by the gunman, who approached the General at a garage in the Anahuac neighbourhood of Mexico City.

He is one of the highest-ranking military officials to be killed in Mexico in recent years.

Legal battles

In 2000, Gen Acosta was arrested on suspicion of protecting Amado Carillo Fuentes, a leader of the Juarez drug cartel.

He was found guilty and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

But in 2007, an appeals court said prosecutors had failed to prove his alleged links to Amado Carillo Fuentes.

He was freed and given back his rank of general.

He was also accused of participating in the disappearance of leftist activists in the 1970s and 80s, but the charges against him were dismissed.

Police said the fact that Gen Acosta was shot in the head three times from a short distance suggested the motive was not robbery, but a settling of scores.

Gen Acosta had survived an earlier attack on him two years ago.

On that occasion, he was shot in the stomach. The assailants were not caught.
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Posted: Apr 23 2012, 01:35 PM


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Mexican General's Murder Raises New Questions over Narco Ties
Written by Edward Fox, InSight.com, Monday, April 23, 2012

Retired Mexican General Mario Acosta Chaparro, accused of ties to the Juarez Cartel, was murdered in Mexico City, raising suspicions over his relationship with the criminal underworld.

Acosta (pictured) was shot three times at a garage in Mexico City on April 20. According to eyewitnesses, the ex-general was murdered by a lone gunman who then fled the scene on a motorcycle, reports the LA TImes.

Acosta was arrested in 2000, and sentenced to 16 years in prison two years later for aiding and protecting former Juarez Cartel leader Amado Carillo Fuentes. However, the conviction was overturned in 2007, when a panel of judges ruled that the prosecutors had failed to successfully prove the links between Acosta and Carillo. After Acosta's release, his rank of general was reinstated shortly before his retirement the following year.

The former general was also accused of involvement in the disappearances and killings of Mexican left-wing activists during the 1970s and 1980s, when the government of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) waged a so-called "dirty war" against suspected rebels. These charges were similarly dismissed.

A motive for the killing has yet to be established according to Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Rodriguez Almeida.

InSight Crime Analysis

Acosta was briefly brought out of retirement by President Felipe Calderon to act as government representative in negotiations with some of Mexico's biggest drug gangs, according to Proceso. Between 2008 and 2009, Acosta is alleged to have met with the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Beltran Leyva Organization and the Zetas, among others, in an attempt to get them to reduce the levels of violence. These talks ultimately failed, the magazine said.

Calderon's choice of Acosta as a representative points to the former general's murky dealings with the Mexican underworld and his stature within it. Acosta had previously survived an assassination attempt in 2010, which suggests that there was certainly a strong vendetta (or perhaps several vendettas) against him.

Acosta's alleged ties to the Juarez Cartel, while serious, is only one of the most noteworthy cases involving collusion between the military and organized crime. Troops in Juarez may have at one point collaborated with former Zetas members, according to a 2009 US State Department cable released by WikiLeaks. There are also fears that many military deserters have found new employment in the ranks of criminal groups. The whereabouts of over 40 percent of the 56,000 who have deserted the military during the Calderon administration is unknown, prompting fears they may have changed sides in the hope of receiving better pay from drug gangs.
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Posted: Apr 25 2012, 12:04 PM


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Posted: Apr 26 2012, 02:28 PM


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Mexico Set to Compensate Victims of Drug Violence
Written by Hannah Stone, InSight.com
Thursday, April 26, 2012

Mexico's Senate has approved a law to compensate victims of organized crime, one of the major demands of the peace movement led by poet Javier Sicilia.

The law obliges the state to help and protect victims of violence and human rights abuses connected to organized crime, reports El Universal. Under the law, the state will provide compensation of up to 934,000 pesos ($70,000) to victims.

The legislation would create a National System for Attention to Victims, which will provide support to those hurt by crime and oversee compensation payments. The body would include representatives of victims' groups and of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights.

Poet and activist Javier Sicila was a major force campaigning to get the law passed. He became deeply involved with the peace movement after his son was killed, along with six friends, by a drug gang in 2011 (image, above, shows members of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity cheering after the Senate's decision.)

The law must be approved by the House of Representatives before it can take effect. This looks likely to happen -- leading congresspeople have committed to passing the bill by Monday at the latest.

InSight Crime Analysis

It is not clear how the Mexican state will judge who qualifies as a victim, as so many crimes are never brought to trial. It could also prove extremely costly to provide compensation to all the Mexicans who have been victims of organized crime, with at least 50,000 people estimated to have died in organized crime-releated killings since 2006.

There are high hopes for the law, with Senators Fernando Baeza and Tomas Torres saying that it "lays the foundations to reconstruct the social fabric which has been so gravely affected by violence." However, the drug violence in Mexico has not ended, though there are signs that the violence has peaked -- it may be impossible to begin the healing process while violence continues.

The law invites comparison to Colombia's Victims Law, passed last year, which sets out reparations for people hurt by the five-decade civil conflict. A key difference between the two is that Colombia's law is aimed at victims of the state, paramilitary groups, and guerrillas, all of whom are combatants in the conflict. In Mexico, on the other hand, there is not a civil conflict between insurgent groups.
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Posted: Apr 30 2012, 05:43 AM


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Mexico probes journalist Regina Martinez's death
BBC News, April 29, 2012

Police in Mexico are investigating the death of a journalist in the eastern state of Veracruz.

Regina Martinez was found in her home in Xalapa on Saturday, apparently beaten and strangled to death.

She was a correspondent for the weekly news magazine Proceso.

Pressure groups say Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist, with more than 40 journalists killed or disappeared since President Felipe Calderon took office.

Police had found Ms Martinez's body in the bathroom of her house after being alerted by neighbours who had noticed the main entrance door had been left open all day.

Rise in killings

State prosecutors said her body showed signs of heavy "blows to her face and body".

A spokeswoman for the Veracruz government said all lines of investigation would be exhausted, and that "the fact that she was a journalist is one of them".

Ms Martinez had been working for investigative news magazine Proceso for 10 years.

Before that, she had worked for local newspapers in the Veracruz region.

Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte has ordered an exhaustive investigation into Ms Martinez's death.

The state has seen a rise in killings in recent months.

Much of the violence has been blamed on a battle for control of drug-trafficking routes between two of Mexico's most powerful drugs gangs - the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel.

Dozens of journalists have been killed in Mexico over the past decade, but there are conflicting data on how many of them were killed as a direct result of their profession.

Pressure groups agree that whatever the exact figures, Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world.
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Junior
Posted: May 1 2012, 12:22 PM


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Mexico Cartels Stealing Gold to Launder Drug Money
Written by Elyssa Pachico, InSight.com
Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mexican authorities say that, since 2008, criminal gangs have robbed so many trucks carrying gold shipments that some mining companies have been forced to switch to aerial transportation. This highlights the convenience of gold as a means to launder dirty cash.

Drug cartels primarily use the gold to launder their proceeds, usually reworking it into jewelery and selling it on the legal market, reports Excelsior.

Theft of gold bar shipments has been reported in some of the states most affected by drug violence, including Chihuahua, Sonora, and Durango. One miners' association in Sonora told the newspaper that their production costs have increased 15 percent due to security issues, and because they are forced to move their product mostly by plane.

The report does not provide a total for the number of such robberies registered in the past four years, but says the gold stolen during that period is worth some $3 million. The Attorney General's Office reportedly has seven open investigations into gold robberies, all of which involve drug trafficking groups. Some organizations even have the technology to melt down the stolen gold and recast it into bars with a higher level of purity, the report reveals.

InSight Crime Analysis

Gold has various advantages that are appealing to money launderers, including its easy convertibility, and the fact that it can be transferred with relative anonymity on the world market.

Both Colombia's Cali and Medellin Cartels favored gold as a way to launder the proceeds of drug trafficking. It is typically used a means to transfer money from drug sales in the US back to the cartel's country of origin. There are a couple of ways such laundering schemes could work. One is buying gold with dirty cash, and reworking the metal so that it is disguised as a common household or fashion item, then exporting this back to the drug cartel's home country, refining it, and selling it for cash. Another method involves exchanging cash for gold, and using the gold itself to represent the proceeds gained from drug trafficking.

A popular method used by the Medellin Cartel involved importing bars of gold mixed with lead, which were reported as fine gold. By overcharging for the low-purity gold and fudging the invoices, the cartel was able to disguise its profits.

It is likely that the Mexican cartels are also employing a wide variety of ways to use gold to launder proceeds from organized crime. The fact that the Mexican groups have elected to steal the gold outright, rather than purchasing it from legitimate jewelry sellers as the Colombian cartels used to, is one sign of the boldness of the Mexican criminal syndicates. It could also be that stealing gold shipments is viewed as easier and more convenient than going through the hassle of building a relationship with a supplier, which could explain why some Mexican groups have elected to use theft as their primary means of obtaining gold.
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Posted: May 3 2012, 03:17 AM


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Mexico drug violence: Sinaloa shootout leaves 12 dead
BBC News, May 2, 2012

A gunfight between the Mexican army and suspected drug gang members has left at least 12 people, including two soldiers, dead, officials say.

The clash happened in Guasave in the north-western state of Sinaloa.

Gunmen using grenades and automatic weapons ambushed an army patrol before retreating to a hotel as police and military reinforcements closed in.

Sinaloa is one of the Mexican states worst affected by drug-related violence.

Schools and businesses in the area remained closed after the fighting broke out on Wednesday morning.

Security forces seized vehicles and weapons, including a high-powered rifle capable of penetrating armoured vehicles, Sinaloa state prosecutors said.

"An operation is under way to ensure that calm and security return to the Guasave area," state governor Mario Lopez Valdez said.

He rejected suggestions that the authorities were losing control of security in Sinaloa, Efe news agency reported.

The state on the Pacific coast is home to the powerful Sinaloa cartel, led by Mexico's most-wanted drug trafficker, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

But the cartel's control of smuggling routes into the US is challenged by rival criminal gangs.

At least 20 people were reported in clashes between troops and gang members in other parts of the state last weekend.

Around 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon began deploying troops to fight the cartels.
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Junior
Posted: May 4 2012, 01:10 AM


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Judge: 'Mexico Will Win Fight Against Organized Crime in Juarez"
Written by Edward Fox, InSight, Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Spanish judge best known for issuing an arrest warrant against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet has said that Mexico is winning the war against organized crime in Ciudad Juarez. But the statement is best described as rhetoric, rather than an accurate description of Juarez's more complex reality.

Speaking at a press conference following a security forum held in Ciudad Juarez, Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón stated that progress is being made in the battle against organized crime in Juarez, Chihuahua, and that "without a doubt ... [the authorities] will win the game against organized crime," reports El Heraldo de Chihuahua.

Garzon added, "It is positive ... that something is being done, that there are rules being enforced where they hadn't been previously, that there is political will where there wasn't previously ... in short, that there is positive will."

Ciudad Juarez had a total of 300 murders in 2007 before the figure shot up to over 3,000 in 2010, making it the most violent city in the world. This number fell by 45 percent in 2011, according to President Felipe Calderon, and the murder rate reportedly continues to fall during 2012.

Much of the violence has been blamed on the battle between the Sinaloa Cartel's Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and the Juarez Cartel for control of this crucial trafficking corridor to the US.

InSight Crime Analysis

Despite the fact that Juarez remains Mexico's most violent city -- its 2011 homicide rate of 148 per 100,000 beating Acapulco's 128 per 100,000 -- its dramatic drop in homicides has enabled the Calderon administration to hold it up as a relative success story.

However, this fall has come with a cost. A report by Proceso magazine earlier this year highlighted how Julian Leyzaola, the controversial municipal police chief in charge of anti-crime efforts, has been responsible for leading and even personally carrying out extrajudicial killings and prison house beatings. The police force have also been accused of arbitrarily detaining people on minor offences, fining them in order to improve the department's finances. This would all appear to run counter to what Garzon talked about in his speech, stating that security gains made by the authorities must be within legal limits.

Furthermore, Garzon's positive assertion that the war against organized crime will ultimately be won is highly optimistic, at least in the short term. While the city has effectively come under the control of the Sinaloans, Juarez remains crucial territory to drug gangs and could therefore continue to see battles, even if they are on a diminished scale. Though the rise of new gangs like the New Juarez Cartel (NCJ) has yet to materialize into a new battle for Juarez, the threat certainly remains.
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Junior
Posted: May 4 2012, 01:13 AM


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Mexico violence: Two journalists killed in Veracruz
BBC News, May 4, 2012

Two missing Mexican journalists have been found dead in the eastern state of Veracruz, prosecutors say.

The dismembered remains of photojournalists Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna had been dumped in bags in a canal along with two other bodies.

Their deaths come days after another reporter was killed in Veracruz.

Mexico is one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, with many killings blamed on drugs gangs.

Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna were reported missing on Wednesday after they did not return from an assignment.

Organised crime

Their bodies were found in the port of Veracruz in Boca del Rio municipality.

Prosecutors said both showed signs of torture and blamed organised crime for the killings.

Mr Huge - who worked for the newspaper Notiver - had recently returned to Veracruz after leaving the state following the murder of two colleagues last year.

Mr Luna - who was his nephew - worked for the photo agency Veracruznews.

Also discovered were the bodies Mr Luna's girlfriend, Irasema Becerra, and former photojournalist Esteban Rodriguez.

The bodies were found on International Press Freedom Day.

Last weekend another journalist in Veracruz - Regina Martinez of the national news magazine Proceso - was found killed in her home in the city of Xalapa.

A total of seven journalists have been killed in Veracruz since the beginning of 2011.

The state has been the scene of a bloody battle for control of drug-trafficking routes between two of Mexico's most powerful gangs - the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel.
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Junior
Posted: May 5 2012, 03:14 AM


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Mexico drugs: 23 bodies found in Nuevo Laredo
BBC News, May 4, 2012

At least 23 people have been killed in gruesome circumstances in the Mexican city of Nuevo Laredo, on the US border.

Nine bodies with signs of torture were found hanging from a bridge.

Hours later, 14 decapitated bodies were discovered in a vehicle, police said. Their heads were found in ice boxes dumped outside the mayor's office.

Nuevo Laredo is the scene of a feud between two of Mexico's biggest drugs gangs, who are fighting for control of smuggling routes into the US.

A message left with the hanged bodies said they were members of the Gulf drugs cartel who had been killed by the rival Zetas gang.

Police said they believed the dead were members of a criminal gang, but could not confirm who was responsible.

Pictures showed the blood-stained bodies - some of them bound and gagged - hanged by the neck from the bridge over the main road from Nuevo Laredo to Monterrey.

Mexican media reports suggest the decapitations may have been carried out in retaliation for the hangings, but the authorities have not confirmed this.

Mexico's drugs cartels have long been engaged in bloody battles for control of smuggling routes into the US.

Around 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon began deploying troops to fight the cartels.

Discontent over the bloodshed has boosted support for opposition parties ahead of July's presidential election.
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Junior
Posted: May 10 2012, 11:37 AM


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Mexico Arrests Female Zeta Assassin Accused of 20 Murders
By Geoffrey Ramsey, InSight, Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Police in the northern city of Monterrey have arrested a woman who allegedly worked as an assassin for a local Zetas outfit, and is suspected of killing at least 20 people for the criminal organization.

On May 7, state police officials in Nuevo Leon announced that they had broken up a cell of the Zetas drug cartel. At its head was Maria Jimenez, “alias La Tosca,” a 26 year-old woman who reportedly confessed to the murder of 20 individuals, including that of a local police detective.

La Cronica de Hoy reports that authorities arrested three men who allegedly formed part of Jimenez’s hit squad, as well as three women accused of selling drugs for the gang. According to Milenio, all seven individuals were arrested on May 1, after police noticed a grey van without license plates matching the description of a stolen vehicle.

InSight Crime Analysis

Much of the English-language press about the arrest has focused on Maria Jimenez’s gender and the fact that few other female cartel operatives have been suspected of so many murders. However, this may be a reflection of the media’s tendency to overlook the complex roles that women play as participants in Mexico’s “drug war.” A number of female assassins have been apprehended in Mexico in recent years, and a female plaza chief for the Zetas was arrested outside Monterrey in August.

Indeed, when officials broke up a Zetas training camp last June, they were surprised to find that half of the trainees were females. Even if female assassins are not common, these incidents at the very least suggest that gender roles are shifting as the drug conflict heats up.
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Junior
Posted: May 10 2012, 11:43 AM


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Mexico police find 18 mutilated bodies in Jalisco state
BBC News, May 10, 2012

Police in Mexico have found 18 mutilated bodies dumped in two cars in the western state of Jalisco.

A threatening note left with the bodies suggested they were victims of a gangland killing.

The region has seen a rise in violence as the Zetas drug cartel tries to wrest control of the area from its rival, the Sinaloa cartel.

Around 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon came to power in 2006.

Jalisco State Prosecutor Tomas Coronado did not rule out there could be more victims.

Initially police counted 12 bodies, but following further examination of the vehicles, they said said 18 victims had been found.

Extreme violence

The bodies were so badly mutilated, forensic experts have not yet been able to tell if they are male or female.

Police found the remains in two abandoned cars by the side of a road leading to Lake Chapala, an area popular with foreign tourists and US expatriates.

Officials said they had received an anonymous tip-off early in the morning leading them to the bodies.

They said a threatening note found in one of the cars suggested the Zetas drug cartel was behind the gruesome killing.

According to US geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor, the Zetas have become Mexico's largest drug cartel operating in more than half of all Mexican states.

The Zetas are infamous for resorting to extreme violence in their battle to take over control of drug-trafficking routes

Jalisco, once under the influence of the Sinaloa cartel, has witnessed a series of multiple murders over the past year.

In one of the most recent, the bodies of 26 people were found in three cars in the state capital, Guadalajara, in November.
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Junior
Posted: May 13 2012, 12:46 PM


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Mexico violence: Monterrey police find 49 bodies in bags
BBC News, May 13, 2012

Forty-nine mutilated bodies have been found wrapped in plastic bags near the northern Mexican city of Monterrey.

The bodies of 43 men and six women were found dumped on a road 110 miles (180 kilometres) from the US border.

The killings appear to be the latest in a string of brutal murders linked to feuding drug cartels.

Tens of thousands of people have died in Mexico since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon deployed the army to combat these gangs.

The discovery, near the town of San Juan at 04:00 local time (09:00 GMT), led the authorities to close a highway from Monterrey to the border city of Reynosa.

The grim find comes just days after police discovered the dismembered, decapitated bodies of 18 people in two abandoned vehicles in western Mexico.

Drug gangs have previously left bodies scattered in public places as warning to rivals.

In September 2011, 35 corpses were found in the city of Veracruz, while 26 were discovered in Guadalajara in November.

The BBC's Will Grant, in Mexico City says there is not yet any indication as to which drug gang might have carried out the latest attack.

He adds that the latest killings suggest that, despite the fact many Mexicans felt the drug violence had been easing this year, the conflict is still claiming many lives, often in the most brutal circumstances.

More than 47,000 people have been killed since Mr Calderon launched his crackdown on the drug cartels six years ago.
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Junior
Posted: May 17 2012, 11:41 AM


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Mexican generals detained over alleged drug gang links
Reuters in Mexico City, The Guardian
Thursday 17 May 2012

Investigators are questioning Mexico's former deputy defence minister and a top army general for suspected links to organised crime, in the highest level scandal to hit the military in the five-year-old drug war.

Mexican soldiers on Tuesday detained retired general Tomás Angeles Dauahare and general Roberto Dawe González and turned them over to the country's organised crime unit, military and government officials said.

Angeles Dauahare was number 2 in the armed forces under President Felipe Calderón and helped lead the government's crackdown on drug cartels after soldiers were deployed to the streets in late 2006. He retired in 2008.

Dawe González, still an active duty general, led an elite army unit in the western state of Colima and local media said he previously held posts in the violent states of Sinaloa and Chihuahua.

An official at the attorney general's office said they would be held for several days to give testimony and then could be called in front of a judge.

"The generals are answering questions because they are allegedly tied to organised crime," the official said.

Angeles Dauahare said through a lawyer that his detention was unjustified, daily Reforma newspaper reported.

If the generals were convicted of drug trafficking, it would mark the most serious case of military corruption during Calderón's administration.

"Traditionally the armed forces had a side role in the anti-drug fight, eradicating drug crops or stopping drug shipments," said Alejandro Hope, a security analyst who formerly worked in the government intelligence agency.

"After 2006, they were more directly involved in public security, putting them at a higher risk of contact [with drug gangs]," he said.

About 55,000 people have been killed in drug violence over the past five years as rival cartels fight each other and government forces.

Worsening drug-related attacks in major cities are eroding support for Calderón's conservative National Action Party, or PAN, ahead of a 1 July presidential vote.

Over the weekend, police found 49 headless bodies on a highway in northern Mexico, the latest in a recent series of brutal massacres where mutilated corpses have been hung from bridges or shoved in iceboxes.

Opinion polls show Calderón's party is trailing by double digits behind opposition candidate Enrique Peña Nieto from the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which says the government's drug strategy is failing.

Traditionally, the military has been seen as less susceptible to cartel bribes and intimidation than badly paid local and state police forces, who are often easily swayed by drug gang pay offs.

But there have been cases of military corruption in the past. Angeles Dauahare himself oversaw the landmark trial of two generals convicted of working with drug gangs in 2002.

Those two generals were convicted of links to the Juárez cartel once headed by the late Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who was known as the Lord of the Skies for flying plane load of cocaine into the United States.

Since then, the Sinaloa cartel - headed by Mexico's most wanted man Joaquín "Shorty" Guzmán - has expanded its power and is locked in a bloody battle over smuggling routes with the Zetas gang, founded by deserters from the Mexican army.
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Junior
Posted: May 20 2012, 01:22 PM


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3rd Mexico Army General Probed for Cartel Ties
By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO Associated Press
MEXICO CITY, May 18, 2012 (AP)

Mexico's army said it had detained a third general for questioning on Thursday, hours after a judge placed the two other officers under a form of house arrest pending an investigation for possible links to the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.

A Defense Department statement did not say specifically whether retired Gen. Ricardo Escorcia was detained in connection with same allegations pending against the other two generals, who were brought in on Tuesday.

But it did note that the detention order for Escorcia's was issued "simultaneously with the two previous detentions, with the aim of having him testify in the investigations" being carried out by civilian prosecutors.

Escorcia retired from active service in 2010 after reaching mandatory retirement age. He previously served as head of the military base in Cuernavaca, a city just south of the Mexican capital that has been considered Beltran Leyva territory.

The leader of the cartel, Arturo Beltran Leyva, was killed in a shootout with Mexican marines at an apartment complex in Cuernavaca in 2009. The marines were reportedly called in to look for the capo after the army appeared to be slow to act on U.S. intelligence indicating the drug lord's location, according to a leaked U.S. Embassy diplomatic cable from late 2009.

The army said that Escorcia was detained by military personnel and turned over to the Attorney General's Office, which had no immediate comment on whether he is named in the same probe as the other two generals.

The office said in a statement earlier Thursday that the other two army officers, retired Gen. Tomas Angeles Dauahare and Gen. Roberto Dawe Gonzalez, will remain under arrest at least 40 days while prosecutors strengthen their case.

The investigation against Angeles Dauahare and Dawe Gonzalez is based on a case from 2009 that includes "the testimony of several people on trial, including some soldiers," the office said.

An official at the Attorney General's Office said the generals protected members of the Beltran Leyva group, which has been battling the Sinaloa cartel since 2008, when they ended an alliance. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to discuss the case.

President Felipe Calderon named Angeles Dauahare as assistant defense secretary in 2006. He left the post in 2008, when he retired. He is the highest ranking military official to be linked to drug traffickers under the current administration.

Dawe Gonzalez is currently assigned to a military base in the western state of Colima.

Angeles Dauahare's lawyer, Alejandro Ortega, told The Associated Press Thursday he hasn't been given access to court files or allowed to talk to his client. He said the general told his wife he is being accused of taking money from associates of Edgar Valdez Villareal, who was allegedly top hit man for Beltran Leyva. Valdez Villareal was arrested in 2010.

Ortega said the general supports himself with an army pension and owns a house and an apartment. He said the general's wife also owns a house she inherited.

A few senior military officers have been arrested for alleged links to traffickers during Mexico's long struggle to control the cartels.

Retired Gen. Juan Manuel Barragan Espinosa was detained in February for alleged links to organized crime and Gen. Manuel Moreno Avina and 29 soldiers who were under his command in the border town of Ojinaga, across the border from Presidio, Texas, are being tried on charges of torture, homicide, drug trafficking and other crimes.

In 1997, Gen. Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo was arrested when he was Mexico's drug czar. He was charged with protecting then-cocaine kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes.

More than 47,000 people have been killed in drug violence since Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers to drug hotspots, according to government figures.
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Junior
Posted: May 20 2012, 06:30 PM


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Mexico Arrests 8 'Gulf Cartel Members' over Nuevo Leon Massacre
Written by Geoffrey Ramsey, InSight, Friday, May 18, 2012

The Mexican military has detained eight alleged members of the Gulf Cartel in connection with the dumping of 49 mutilated corpses in Nuevo Leon, a massacre which the Gulf apparently tried to blame on rival group the Zetas.

Officials from the Mexican Defense Department (Sedena) announced Thursday that the men were captured in the Nuevo Leon municipality of China by a military unit acting on a tip that Gulf Cartel operatives were in the area. The soldiers seized a kilo of white powder (likely cocaine), four rifles, a handgun, ammunition, and three hand grenades, as well as tactical and communications equipment.

The men are suspected of involvement in the recent dump of 49 dismembered bodies along a highway in the northern border state, and sources consulted by Milenio claim that the suspects may be able to lead investigators to where they disposed of the victims’ heads, hands and feet.

State authorities are investigating the authenticity of a YouTube video depicting the unloading of the bodies from a truck, which was accompanied by a warning in the name of the Zetas.

InSight Crime Analysis

The fact that the authorities suspect the Gulf Cartel of committing the massacre supports statements apparently released by Zetas, who Nuevo Leon state officials initially said were behind the violence. In response to these allegations, the group posted a series of banners, or “narcomantas,” in several states denying any part in the incident. They pointed out that a message left with the 49 bodies did not follow the group’s “house style” for referring to their rival. “[W]hen we hang banners we say ‘Las Golfas,’ and they say ‘Golfo,’” the banners stated.

The massacre was likely an attempt by the Gulf Cartel to “heat up the plaza,” a tactic used by drug traffickers, who commit acts of violence in another group’s area of influence in the hopes of sparking a law enforcement crackdown there.
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Junior
Posted: May 23 2012, 05:50 PM


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Mexicans march for more security in Guadalajara
BBC News, May 24, 2012

Around 30,000 people have been holding a peace march in the Mexican city of Guadalajara.

Dressed in white and walking in silence, participants demanded increased security for the city's residents.

Guadalajara, in the west of Mexico, has seen a steep rise in violence blamed on warfare between rival drug cartels.

Earlier this month, 18 mutilated bodies were found dumped outside the city.

The protest was called by the University of Guadalajara after 11 of its current and former students died in the recent surge of violence.

University of Guadalajara head Marco Antonio Cortes Guardado demanded that "the authorities meet their constitutional duty of protecting their citizens".

"We believe the government must act quickly and efficiently to counter the rampant criminality which is affecting us all," Mr Cortes Guardado said.

Student union leader Marco Antonio Nunez Becerra told the Jalisco state government to "solve the murders, or get out".

The western state of Jalisco, of which Guadalajara is the capital, has witnessed a series of gruesome murders in the past year.

On 9 May, an anonymous tip-off led police to two cars abandoned outside the city, in which the remains of 18 people had been dumped.

Officials said a threatening note found in one of the cars suggested the Zetas drug cartel was behind the killing.

Around 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon came to power in 2006.
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