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Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #300 on: April 21, 2011, 11:54:03 PM »

Mexico’s TCOs Recognized as ‘Narco-terrorists’

By: Anthony Kimery

04/21/2011 ( 9:25am)


Testifying before the Senate Committee on Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee last week, William Wechsler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for counter-narcotics and global threats, told lawmakers that the US is directly assisting Mexico’s military to carry out "counter-narcoterrorism missions."


Clearly, Wechsler was implying that Mexico’s narco-cartels, which Homeland Security Today has pointed out today have morphed into transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) – the same types of TCOs that elsewhere in the world directly support insurgent and Islamist terrorist organizations – have become terroristic by nature.


Wechsler disturbingly told lawmakers that "TCOs are becoming increasingly networked as they form relationships with each other and at times with insurgent or terrorist groups,” and that “these relationships range from tactical, episodic interactions at one end of the spectrum, to full narcoterrorism on the other. This ‘threat networking’ also undermines legitimate institutions in ways that create opportunities for other threats. TCOs are increasingly diversifying into other forms of criminal activity in order to spread risk and maximize potential profit. In some regions, for example, drug trafficking TCOs also engage in kidnapping, armed robbery, extortion, financial crime and other activities."


And these are the much broader criminal enterprises that Mexico’s TCOs are now engaged in, as Homeland Security Today has reported.


Wechsler said that with regard to “emerging threats closer to home, Mexico continues to confront escalating drug-fueled violence particularly along its northern border with the US  Gunmen associated with drug trafficking organizations routinely carry out sophisticated attacks against Mexican law enforcement and military personnel.”


Wechsler said “it is important to recognize that when we discuss the transnational nature of this threat, this includes criminal activities that take place outside as well as within the United States.  For instance, the influence of Mexican TCOs extends well beyond the Southwest border to cities across the country such as Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit. Unfortunately, coordination of domestic and international activities can be especially challenging. Such coordination is, however, also increasingly important in an age when criminal globalization, threat networking, and diversification are making distance and borders less important.”


“The Department of Defense’s counternarcotics support to Mexico is implemented primarily through US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and includes training, equipment and information sharing as well as indirect support to units of the Mexican armed forces with counter-narcoterrorism missions,” Wechsler stated. “We are also working with US Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) and USNORTHCOM to develop a joint security effort in the border region of Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Most of DoD’s cooperation with Mexico falls under the Department’s counternarcotics program, and we expect to allocate approximately $51 million in FY2011 to support Mexico.”


“This allocation is a dramatic increase from previous funding levels for Mexico,” Wechsler noted, adding that “before 2009, for example, funding for Mexico was closer to $3 million a year.”


The escalation in funding and assistance highlights the equally escalating nature of the threat that the TCOs pose to the US homeland, according to US intelligence officials involved in understanding the ties between Mexican-based TCOs and Islamist terrorist organizations long established throughout Latin America, including Central America.


Continuing, Wechsler told the subcommittee that “Central America continues to face increasing pressure from drug trafficking and related violent crime, largely as a result of the progress that has been made by the governments of Mexico and Colombia in confronting these organizations.  A Congressional Research Service report published this March illustrated this graphically by mentioning that, despite the incredible drug-fueled violence in Mexico, the homicide rate per 100,000 inhabitants for all Central American nations is significantly higher (with the exception of Costa Rica). These trends are directly attributable to illicit trafficking of all forms of contraband such as drugs, weapons, bulk cash, counterfeit and stolen goods and persons.”


Wechsler stressed that “these law enforcement issues have important ramifications for the national security of Mexico, the nations of Central America and the United States. The Central American Citizen Security Partnership, announced by President Obama in El Salvador last month, seeks to ‘address the social and economic forces that drive young people toward criminality.’ The implication for DoD is that we will work even harder to broaden and deepen our interagency and international partnership approach and take a holistic view of security. As always, DoD will play a supporting role to the overall strategy, led by the White House and the State Department, avoiding any over-emphasis on military responses.”


Continuing, Wechsler said “I recently traveled to West Africa to get a first-hand look at a region where weak governance is increasingly being exploited by drug traffickers as they target the lucrative and growing European market for cocaine. This trend has a number of important national security implications, such as undermining governance and stability in the region and providing a funding stream to Western Hemisphere criminal organizations that traffic drugs to the United States.”


A short-term strategic analysis performed by the Pentagon several years ago concluded that the very situation that exists in Mexico today could cause this nation to become unstable and unravel, at which point it would pose a direct national security threat to the US mainland.


“Drug trafficking and other forms of organized crime have become a truly global phenomenon,” Wechsler stated, pointing out that “the globalization of the legitimate economy has benefitted the illicit economy in many of the same ways. Today, nearly every country in the world now suffers to some degree from illegal drug consumption, production, or drug-related corruption and violence. Where once DoD’s counternarcotics efforts were focused in the Western Hemisphere, today we are supporting counternarcotics activities worldwide - most notably in Afghanistan and with its neighbors, but also in places such as West Africa and Central and Southeast Asia.”


"The transnational illicit drug trade is a multi-faceted national security concern for the United States,” Wechsler stated. “The drug trade is a powerful corrosive force that weakens the rule of law in affected countries, preventing governments from effectively addressing other transnational threats, such as terrorism, insurgency, organized crime, weapons trafficking, money laundering, human trafficking and piracy."


Continuing, Wechsler said "many of the global and regional terrorists who threaten interests of the United States finance their activities with the proceeds from narcotics trafficking. The inability of many nations to police themselves effectively and to work with their neighbors to ensure regional security represents a challenge to global security. Extremists and international criminal networks frequently exploit local geographical, political, or social conditions to establish safe havens from which they can operate with impunity."



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« Reply #301 on: April 29, 2011, 04:52:36 PM »

Mexican drug cartels continue to war with one another and with the government. While the situation has long been fluid, the past 18 months have seen the Sinaloa Federation rapidly expand at the expense of other groups. The following are key events in the evolution of Mexico’s cartel landscape over the last four and a half years:

(click here to view interactive slideshow)
December 2006: Mexican President Felipe Calderon takes office, promising to fight back against drug cartels. His first two years in office show strong successes against the cartels, with large drug seizures and the capture of several organizations’ leaders. The government’s chief target is the Gulf cartel, the most powerful in Mexico.

December 2008: A two-yearlong campaign by the Calderon government against the Gulf cartel has left it crippled. The cartel’s enforcement arm, Los Zetas, splintered off in spring 2008 and now controls much of what used to be Gulf territory. The government’s success is a double-edged sword, however: The decline of the Gulf cartel has left a large power vacuum, encouraging other organizations — and factions within those organizations — to fight to increase their influence.

December 2009: As the government pressures powerful cartels, the situation in Mexico becomes more volatile and two distinct but interconnected wars begin to emerge: the government’s fight against the cartels, and the cartels’ fights between and among themselves. The geography of cartel influence does not change significantly, though one notable exception to this is the rise of the infamous La Familia Michoacana (LFM), which has captured media attention by marrying drug-trafficking activities to a pseudo-religious ideology.

May 2010: A major rift emerges in the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) after the death of leader Arturo “El Jefe de Jefes” Beltran Leyva. Two factions emerge, one under Arturo’s brother, Hector, and the other made up of elements of the BLO’s brutal enforcement wing and run by Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal.

December 2010: Tensions between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas also have boiled over into open war in the country’s east, with the Gulf cartel reaching out to its former rivals in Sinaloa as well as LFM to align under the name “New Federation” and pushing Los Zetas from one of their traditional strongholds, Reynosa, though not out of Nuevo Laredo or Monterrey. In its weakened state, Los Zetas began increasing operations outside the normal scope of drug trafficking, such as kidnapping for ransom, and giving rise to a trend that STRATFOR eventually would dub Mexico’s third war: that of the cartels on the Mexican public. Cartel-related violence in the country reaches new heights, with more than 11,000 deaths on record.

April 2011: Violence continues to rise in all parts of the country. The Sinaloa Federation continues to expand its territory north and east, taking over areas formerly under the influence of the Carrillo Fuentes Organization and the Arellano Felix Organization. With the help of Sinaloa, the Gulf cartel has been able to repel offenses from Los Zetas in Reynosa and Matamoros, though the Zetas are proving resilient. LFM appeared to implode in January, but now a large subset of the former LFM seems to have simply rebranded itself as the “Knights Templar.” Its size and capabilities remain unclear.
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« Reply #302 on: May 11, 2011, 11:40:53 AM »

Gunbattles in Matamoros

A series of gunbattles flared up May 5 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, resulting in the emplacement of several cartel roadblocks in and around the city. This is a tactic not typically employed by the Gulf cartel, which controls that territory. One of the battles started in the street in front of the Tamaulipas state police building just before 7:30 a.m. and continued for almost an hour.

According to the state attorney general’s office, the firefights involved federal troops and unidentified cartel gunmen, but there is conflicting information and evidence of a third significant element: Los Zetas. Posts on Internet forums and Twitter describe gunfire and explosions that morning in several areas of Matamoros and along the 50 kilometers (30 miles) of highway between Matamoros and Valle Hermoso. The series of roadblocks included one blockade very near the Matamoros side of the Veterans International Bridge point of entry, which caused a temporary closure of the southbound lanes of the point of entry by U.S. authorities.

What is significant about these events is the use of trailers and vehicles to block roads after the gunbattles, which is a tactic regularly employed by Los Zetas. Matamoros is home turf for the Gulf cartel, and the presence of roadblocks indicates the possibility that the fighting was a significant probe by Los Zetas. Information posted on the Internet by possible witnesses indicated that the battles involved two cartel groups — gunmen connected to Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen (incarcerated in a U.S. federal penitentiary but known to still be running many Gulf operations via proxies) and a contingent of Zetas gunmen. The placement of the roadblocks after the main battle and the running gunbattle from southern Matamoros to Valle Hermoso make it likely that Zetas gunmen were involved.

Judging from the reported events, and what is known of Zetas tactics, it appears they successfully penetrated the Gulf’s outlying surveillance posts surrounding the city and pushed into central Matamoros, nearly to the U.S. border. Last February, in the last major round of Zetas incursions into Matamoros, the violence remained at a sustained level for a couple of weeks. It is likely that this latest probing action will be followed by a series of battles in the next week or two, and extreme caution should be exercised by anyone conducting business in the region.

Arrests in Mexico City

Federal authorities arrested Jose Efrain Zarco Cardenas and another suspect May 7 in Mexico City. Zarco Cardenas was the latest leader of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA), and according to Mexican media reports he was restructuring CIDA and working to forge alliances with the Gulf cartel and the hybrid group La Familia Michoacana/Knights Templar. Media reports also suggest that Zarco Cardenas may have been headed to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, to acquire weapons, drugs and/or money from the Gulf cartel.

Despite its name, CIDA’s area of influence stretches beyond the local Acapulco area. STRATFOR sources recently indicated that CIDA has as many as 180 gunmen in Morelos state distributed in three groups and covering a triangular region about 65 kilometers south of Mexico City, with the triangle’s corners centered on the cities of Cuernavaca, Cuautla and Amacuzac.

The arrest and possible incarceration of CIDA’s leader could further destabilize the cartel, but not enough is known about its membership to rule out the possibility that it can withstand the loss. Given the group’s shaky footing in the Pacific coast areas of Guerrero and southern Michoacan states, where it has been marginalized, CIDA’s apparently strong presence in the triangular area south of Mexico City may be the result of an effort to rebuild its membership and strength. This could mean a CIDA resurgence over the next three to six months, and if that occurs we will expect to see the group try to re-establish itself in strength in the Acapulco seaport area.

Firefight on Falcon Lake

A firefight reportedly occurred the afternoon of May 9 on Falcon Lake, which straddles the U.S.-Mexico border between Laredo and McAllen, Texas. Although few details have emerged about the incident, a Mexican navy patrol on the lake apparently encountered a group of Zetas gunmen on an island about 3.5 kilometers from Nueva Ciudad Guerrero. A gunbattle began, and marines reportedly were called in to reinforce the navy patrol. It is unclear whether any gunmen were captured, though 12 gunmen and one marine reportedly were killed. Mexican forces seized 19 firearms, including a Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifle and a 5.56 mm light machine gun.

STRATFOR’s initial take on the significance of this event is that Los Zetas appear once again to have ramped up their marijuana-smuggling operations across Falcon Lake. Following the shooting of David Hartley in September 2010, there was an increase in law enforcement and military patrolling of the lake on both sides of the border, and it was apparent that Zetas operations had withdrawn while the organization lay low. Now Los Zetas appear to be using the islands again, in the same area of the lake where they were last summer when they encountered the Hartleys (who reportedly were sightseeing at the Old Guerrero church ruins). The area is remote, with few residents, and Los Zetas need more smuggling routes to increase revenue in order to buy more weapons and train more gunmen. With hot weather setting in, the increasing number of U.S. citizens plying the lake in watercraft should heed the warnings and stay well away from border buoys and not venture anywhere near the Mexican side.

(click here to view interactive map)

May 2

Soldiers in the La Hacienda neighborhood of Apodaca, Nuevo Leon state, chased and killed two suspected cartel gunmen in a car. A third gunman reportedly escaped, leaving behind a suitcase full of ammunition.
Security forces arrested nine suspected members of the Cartel Nueva Generacion in the municipality of Tequila, Jalisco state. The men were arrested with 17 firearms, four bulletproof vests, 14 radios and approximately 4,140 rounds of ammunition.
Local residents found the body of a man wrapped in a blanket in the Jardines de la Silla neighborhood of Juarez, Nuevo Leon state. The victim had been shot in the head.
A group of unidentified gunmen shot and killed a police officer, injured two others and stole seven firearms from municipal police officers during three separate incidents in the municipality of Acapulco, Guerrero state.

May 3

Police found four decapitated bodies in an abandoned car in the San Antonio neighborhood of Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico state. A message was left near the victims’ severed heads saying they were murdered for “working with the H and the CC.” In the place of a signature on the message were three question marks. Reports indicated that the message came from Cartel del Centro.
Police found the bodies of four men who had been shot to death in the town of Tablillas San Dimas, Durango state.

May 4

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped three highway patrol officers in Linares, Nuevo Leon state. Three gunmen were reportedly killed in the incident.
Workers at a department store in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state, discovered a dismembered body in the store parking lot. A message attributing the crime to “El Sapo Guapo,” an alleged local leader of La Familia Michoacana, was found near plastic bags containing the body parts.
The Public Security Secretariat announced that federal police officers freed 16 migrants being held hostage in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state.
Unidentified gunmen in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico state, shot and killed two police officers in a drive-by shooting. The content of a message found near the officers’ bodies was not reported.

May 5

Unidentified gunmen in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, used stolen vehicles to block several roads, including Pedro Cardenas, Sendero Nacional, Canales, Sexta, Portes Gil and the Ignacio Zaragoza International Bridge.
The decapitated body of a man wrapped in plastic bags was found in the Ciudad Cuauhtemoc neighborhood of Ecatepec, Mexico state. The victim’s head was found a short distance from the body.
Unidentified gunmen wearing uniforms similar to those worn by federal police officers shot and killed two men and two women travelling in a car in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. The victims were shot after a brief chase.
Police in Pachuca, Hidalgo state, arrested 20 people, including five police officers, for alleged links to Los Zetas.
Soldiers arrested 23 police officers in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state, for alleged links to organized crime.

May 6

Unidentified gunmen travelling in two vehicles shot and killed six people outside a taco stand in the municipality of Ebano, San Luis Potosi state.
Soldiers in the Nuevo Leon Estado de Progreso and Agropecuario neighborhoods of Escobedo, Nuevo Leon state, freed nine people held hostage and killed one suspected cartel gunman. Two other suspects were arrested during the raid. The soldiers had been searching for gunmen believed to be responsible for a firefight in Escobedo earlier in the day.
Authorities found the decapitated body of a man wrapped in a blanket in the El Refugio neighborhood of Durango, Durango state. The victim’s head was found in a different location.
Federal police arrested Jose Efrain Zarco Cardenas, the leader of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, in Mexico City along with another suspect.

May 7

Soldiers in the municipality of Poncitlan, Jalisco state, seized approximately 720 kilograms (1,600 pounds) of methamphetamine and more than 3,000 liters (800 gallons) of chemicals at a drug lab.
Unidentified gunmen opened fire in a seafood restaurant in Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, killing a man and injuring a woman.
Federal police officers in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, stopped a pickup truck for speeding and discovered that two Guatemalans traveling in the vehicle had no identity documents. The people in the vehicle led police to a house from which 16 migrants were seized.

May 8

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed the former deputy director of prevention and social re-adaptation in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Unidentified gunmen traveling in two vehicles shot and killed a prison guard in the San Ignacio neighborhood of Durango, Durango state.
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Posts: 42494

« Reply #303 on: May 19, 2011, 12:34:17 PM »

By Scott Stewart

As one studies Mexico’s cartel war, it is not uncommon to hear Mexican politicians — and some people in the United States — claim that Mexico’s problems of violence and corruption stem largely from the country’s proximity to the United States. According to this narrative, the United States is the world’s largest illicit narcotics market, and the inexorable force of economic demand means that the countries supplying the demand, and those that are positioned between the source countries and the huge U.S. market, are trapped in a very bad position. Because of this market and the illicit trade it creates, billions of dollars worth of drugs flow northward through Mexico (or are produced there) and billions of dollars in cash flow back southward into Mexico. The guns that flow southward along with the cash, according to the narrative, are largely responsible for Mexico’s violence. As one looks at other countries lying to the south of Mexico along the smuggling routes from South America to the United States, they too seem to suffer from the same maladies.

However, when we look at the dynamics of the narcotics trade, there are other political entities, ones located to Mexico’s north, that find themselves caught in the same geographic and economic position as Mexico and points south. As borderlands, these entities — referred to as states in the U.S. political system — find themselves caught between the supply of drugs flowing from the south and the large narcotics markets to their north. The geographic location of these states results in large quantities of narcotics flowing northward through their territory and large amounts of cash likewise flowing southward. Indeed, this illicit flow has brought with it corruption and violence, but when we look at these U.S. states, their security environments are starkly different from those of Mexican states on the other side of the border.

One implicit reality that flows from the geopolitical concept of borderlands is that while political borders are clearly delineated, the cultural and economic borders surrounding them are frequently less clear and more dynamic. The borderlands on each side of the thin, artificially imposed line we call a border are remarkably similar in geographic and demographic terms (indeed, inhabitants of such areas are often related). In the larger picture, both sides of the border often face the same set of geopolitical realities and challenges. Certainly the border between the United States and Mexico was artificially imposed by the annexation of Texas following its anti-Mexico revolution as well as the U.S. annexation of what is now much of the U.S. West, including the border states of Arizona, California and New Mexico, following the Mexican-American War. While the desert regions along the border do provide a bit of a buffer between the two countries — and between the Mexican core and its northern territories — there is no geological obstacle separating the two countries. Even the Rio Grande is not so grand, as the constant flow of illicit goods over it testifies. In many places, like Juarez and El Paso, the U.S.-Mexico border serves to cut cities in half, much like the Berlin Wall used to do.

Yet as one crosses over that artificial line one senses huge differences between the cultural, economic and security environments north and south. In spite of the geopolitical and economic realities confronting both sides of this borderland, Texas is not Mexico. The differences run deep, and we thought it worthwhile this week to examine how and why.

Same Problems, Different Scope

First, it must be understood that this examination does not mean to assert that the illicit narcotics market in the United States has no effect on Mexico (or Central America, for that matter). The flow of narcotics, money and guns, and the organizations that participate in this illicit trade, does have a clear and demonstrable impact on Mexico. But — and this very significant — that impact does not stop at the border. This illicit commerce also impacts the U.S. states north of the border.

Certainly the U.S. side of the border has seen corruption of public officials, cartel-related violence and, of course, drug trafficking. But these phenomena have manifested themselves differently on the U.S. side of the border.

In the United States there have been local cops, sheriffs, customs inspectors and even FBI agents arrested and convicted for corruption. However, the problem is far worse on the Mexican side, where entire police forces have been relieved of their duties due to their cooperation with the drug cartels and where systematic corruption has been traced all the way from the municipal mayoral level to the Presidential Guard, and even to the country’s drug czar. There have even been groups of police officers and military units arrested while actively protecting shipments of drugs in Mexico — something that simply does not occur in the United States. And while Mexican officials are frequently forced to choose between “plata o plomo” (Spanish for “silver or lead,” a direct threat of violence meaning “take the bribe or we will kill you”), that type of threat is extremely rare in the United States. It is also very rare to see politicians, police chiefs and judges killed in the United States — a common occurrence in Mexico.

That said, there certainly has been cartel-related violence on the U.S. side of the border with organizations such as Los Zetas conducting assassinations in places like Houston and Dallas. The claim by some U.S. politicians that there is no spillover violence is patently false. However, the use of violence on the U.S. side has tended to be far more discreet on the part of the cartels (and the U.S. street gangs they are allied with) than in Mexico, where the cartels are frequently quite flagrant. The cartels kill people in the United States but they tend to avoid the gruesome theatrics associated with many drug-related murders in Mexico, where it has become commonplace to see victims beheaded, dismembered or hung from pedestrian walkways over major thoroughfares.

Likewise, the large firefights frequently observed in Mexico involving dozens of armed men on each side using military weapons, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades have come within feet of the border (sometimes with stray rounds crossing over onto the U.S. side), but these types of events have remained on the south side of that invisible line. Mexican cartel gunmen have used dozens of trucks and other large vehicles to set up roadblocks in Matamoros, but they have not followed suit in Brownsville. Cities on the U.S. side of the border are seen as markets, logistics hubs and places of refuge for cartel figures, not battlefields.

Even when we consider drug production, it is important to recognize that the first “super labs” for methamphetamine production were developed in California’s Central Valley, not in Mexico. It was only pressure from U.S. law enforcement agencies that forced the relocation of these laboratories south of the border. Certainly, meth production is still going on in many parts of the United States, but the production is being conducted in mom-and-pop operations that can produce only relatively small amounts of the drug, usually of varying quality. By contrast, Mexican super labs can produce tons of meth that is of very high (almost pharmacological) quality. Additionally, while Mexican cartels (and other producers) have long grown marijuana inside the United States in clandestine plots of land, the quantity of marijuana the cartels grow inside the United States is far eclipsed by the industrial marijuana production operations conducted in Mexico.

Even the size of narcotics shipments changes at the border. The huge shipments of drugs that are shipped within Mexico are broken down into smaller lots at stash houses on the Mexican side of the border to be smuggled into the United States. Then they are frequently broken down again in stash houses on the U.S. side of the border. The trafficking of drugs in the United States tends to be far more decentralized and diffuse than it is on the Mexican side, again in response to U.S. law enforcement pressure. Smaller shipments allow drug traffickers to limit their losses if a shipment is seized, and using a decentralized distribution network allows them to be less dependent on any one link in the chain. If one distribution channel is rolled up by the authorities, traffickers can shift their product into another sales channel.

Not Just an Institutional Problem

Above we noted that the same dynamics exist on both sides of the border, and the same cartel groups also operate on both sides. However, we also noted the consistent theme of the Mexican cartels being forced to behave differently on the U.S. side. The organizations are no different, but the environment in which they operate is very different. The corruption, poverty, diminished rule of law and lack of territorial control (particularly in the border-adjacent hinterlands) that is endemic to the Mexican system greatly empowers and emboldens the cartels in Mexico. The operating environment inside the United States is quite different, forcing the cartels to behave differently. Mexican cartels and drug trafficking are problems in the United States, but they are problems that can be controlled by U.S. law enforcement. The environment does not permit the cartels to threaten the U.S. government’s ability to govern.

A geopolitical monograph explaining the forces that have shaped Mexico can be found here. Understanding the geopolitics of Mexico is very helpful to understanding the challenges Mexico faces and why it has become what it is today. This broader understanding is also the key to understanding why the Mexican police simply can’t be reformed to solve the problems of violence and corruption. Certainly, the Mexican government has aggressively pursued police reform for many years now, with very little success. Indeed, it was the lack of a trustworthy law enforcement apparatus that led the Calderon government to turn to the military to counter the power of the Mexican cartels. This lack of reliable law enforcement has also led Calderon to aggressively pursue police reform. This reform effort has included unifying the federal police agencies and consolidating municipal police departments (which have arguably been the most corrupt institutions in Mexico) into unified state police commands, under which officers are subjected to better screening, oversight and accountability. Already, however, there have been numerous instances of these “new and improved” federal- and state-level police officers being arrested for corruption.

This illustrates the fact that Mexico’s ills go far deeper than just corrupt institutions. Because of this, revamping the institutions will not result in any meaningful change, and the revamped institutions will soon be corrupted like the ones they replaced. This fact should have been readily apparent; the institutional approach has been tried in the region before and has failed.

Perhaps the best example of this failure was the “untouchable and incorruptible” Department of Anti-Narcotics Operations, known by its Spanish acronym DOAN, which was created in Guatemala in the mid-1990s. The DOAN was almost purely a creation of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The concept behind the creation of the DOAN was that corruption existed within the Guatemalan police institutions because the police were undertrained, underpaid and underequipped. It was believed that if police recruits were carefully screened, properly trained, well paid and adequately equipped, they would not be susceptible to the corruption that plagued the other police institutions in the country. So the U.S. government hand-picked the recruits, thoroughly trained them, paid them generously and provided them with brand-new uniforms and equipment. However, the result was not what the U.S. government expected. By 2002, the “untouchable” DOAN had to be disbanded because it had essentially become a drug trafficking organization itself and was involved in torturing and killing competitors and stealing their shipments of narcotics.

The example of the Guatemalan DOAN (and of more recent Mexican police reform efforts) demonstrates that even a competent, well-paid and well-equipped police institution cannot stand alone within a culture that is not prepared to support it and keep it clean. In other words, over time, an institution will take on the characteristics of, and essentially reflect, the environment surrounding it. Therefore, significant reform in Mexico requires a holistic approach that reaches far beyond the institutions to address the profound economic, sociological and cultural problems that are affecting the country today. Indeed, given how deeply rooted and pervasive these problems are and the geopolitical hand the country was dealt, Mexico has done quite well. But holistic change will not be easy to accomplish. It will require a great deal of time, treasure, leadership and effort. In view of this reality, we can see why it would be more politically expedient simply to blame the Americans.

Read more: Corruption: Why Texas is Not Mexico | STRATFOR
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Posts: 42494

« Reply #304 on: May 30, 2011, 06:49:42 PM »

Last week, gun battles between warring drug cartels in the central Mexican state of Michoacán lasted three days, brought down a police helicopter, caused a small flood of refugees, and took an as-yet undetermined toll in lives.

It's almost a surprise the story made the news at all. "The conflict was slow to get out because local media in states like Michoacán have largely stopped covering the carnage on orders from drug gangs," reported The Journal's David Luhnow and José de Córdoba on Friday. More than 20 reporters have been killed in Mexico since the drug wars began in earnest in 2006. Last year, Mexico tied Iraq, and was second only to Pakistan, in journalist fatalities.

Then there is the numbing regularity with which news of drug-related atrocities dominates the international media's coverage of Mexico. The decapitation of 27 Guatemalan farm hands by the Zetas gang two weeks ago. The 146 corpses discovered in April in mass graves in the state of Durango. The hanging in March of five victims from bridges in the resort town of Mazatlan. The apparently deliberate killing in February of U.S. immigration officer Jaime Zapata (and the shooting of his partner) on a highway north of Mexico City.

And on, and on, and on.

Yet a funny thing happened on the way to Mexico becoming another failed state. To wit, the "failed state" boomed.

In 2010, a year when there were more than 15,000 drug-related killings (up by nearly 60% from the year before), the economy grew by 5.5%—the fastest rate in a decade. The Mexican peso appreciated against the dollar. Inflation was essentially flat. Foreign reserves rose to $113 billion. Twenty-two million tourists visited the country. Trade with the U.S. reached an all-time high of nearly $400 billion. In Ciudad Juárez, where 3,000 people were killed last year, the maquiladora industries added some 20,000 jobs. The percentage of the population living below the poverty line declined to 47.4% in 2008 (the last year for which the World Bank has data) from 63.7% a decade earlier. Literacy rates surpassed 90%. Life expectancy continues to rise to near-First World levels.

In the U.S., sociologists are puzzling over the paradox of falling crime rates in an era of high unemployment and economic uncertainty. The Mexican paradox appears to be the reverse.

Then again, what most people consider a paradox is simply the crash of reality against our own unexamined clichés and preconceptions.

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Bloomberg News
Felipe Calderón, president of Mexico
.Consider the idea that crime in Mexico is out of control. The homicide rate in Mexico (about 12 per 100,000 in 2009) was more than twice that of the U.S. (five per 100,000) but well below Brazil's rate of 20.5 in 2008, to say nothing of the U.S. Virgin Islands, where it's about 50. In Mexico City, home to some 20 million people, the murder rate actually fell over the last decade. In 2009, it was about one quarter of the rate in Washington, D.C.

So how shall we define "out of control"? And what shall we make of the fact that the vast majority of the victims of Mexico's drug wars are themselves members of drug gangs? "They constitute a portion of population, that is worse than useless in any community," said Abraham Lincoln about the gamblers of Vicksburg in 1838. "And their death, if no pernicious example is set by it, is never a matter of reasonable regret with anyone." Something similar might be said of the drug cartels in their current orgy of mutual annihilation.

Then there's the idea that Mexico would have been better off had it never picked a fight with the cartels. I grew up in that Mexico, in which a corrupt and authoritarian government made its peace with—and took its cut from—the cartels.

That Mexico, built on conspiracies of silence and fear, could not survive the country's transition to democracy. It's no surprise that, even now, in the fifth year of his presidency and after 34,612 deaths, Felipe Calderón has an approval rating of 54%. Mexicans have no shortage of misgivings about his methods, but not many are proposing a viable alternative to taking the cartels head on. And by "viable," that means something other than the fantasy of expecting Ron Paul to win the presidency and end the war on drugs. Not that libertarians will ever stop proposing that utopia as their sole idea in what otherwise amounts to a feckless counsel of despair.

Last week I asked former Colombian President Álvaro Uribe whether Mexico can defeat the narcos. "Colombia is a typical case demonstrating that we can win," he answered—with the statistics to prove his case. He stressed that the key to winning was what he called a "permanent pedagogy" to convince people that the war on the cartels is "a necessary fight, not a partisan cause."

Mr. Uribe rescued Colombia from a plight far worse than what Mexico confronts today. But the central challenge is the same: how to establish a rule of law that has the legitimacy of consent and the courage of its convictions. Doing just that was Mr. Uribe's achievement, and it remains Mr. Calderón's challenge. Not much of a paradox here. Mexico's current prosperity is the bet that its market-friendly policies won't soon be betrayed by a government that can be cowed or seduced by criminals.

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« Reply #305 on: June 10, 2011, 10:52:32 AM »

From a retired USMS friend:

At least 14,000 "armed criminals" are in the northern Mexican cities of Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua, working for the drug cartels that are fighting for control of smuggling routes into the United States, Chihuahua state Attorney General Carlos Manuel Salas said.


RF: Based upon approx. 650 soldiers per rifle battalion (the number back in my day), that's like 21 battalions of narco gunmen in those two cities...
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« Reply #306 on: June 14, 2011, 11:47:39 AM »

Money-Laundering Targets

Another significant facet of Monterrey’s strategic value to the cartels made the news May 25 when four casinos were robbed. Heavily armed gunmen reportedly emptied out the cashier cages at Casino Hollywood, Casino Royale, Casino Red and Casino Miravalle Palace, all in the same general area between Monterrey proper and the westside city of San Pedro Garza Garcia.

Los Zetas are currently fighting with the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels for Monterrey. The Zetas hold the city, but the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels want to take it because it sits astride intersecting smuggling corridors for drug and human trafficking. But that is only part of the story. The greater Monterrey area has about three dozen casinos, most of the more than 40 casinos in northeast Mexico. To an extent that no other business sector can be, large casino operations are essential to laundering the billions of dollars generated by Mexico’s cartels. Clearly, the tit-for-tat operations in which Gulf and Zetas elements target each other’s vital support networks appear to have been elevated to a higher level with bigger stakes.

Mexican media have indicated that “millions” were taken in the heists, but no source has quantified how much money was taken or whether the currency was in pesos or U.S. dollars. Furthermore, the reports have offered confusing or conflicting information about the order in which the heists occurred, so much so that a sequence may not be easily determined. In this situation, however, such tactical details are less important than the larger implications of the apparently well-coordinated heists.

Last January, the Casino Royale was the scene of an apparent effort to eliminate two high-profile members of the Juarez cartel who were gambling in the casino. Gunmen entered the establishment and started firing hundreds of rounds, but the reported targets got away — and later were apprehended by authorities. Almost as an afterthought, one online report mentioned in its last sentence that “in the confusion” the casino’s cashier cage was robbed and all of the casino’s security-camera tapes disappeared. STRATFOR has found no direct link in the media between the January shooting-robbery and the May robbery at Casino Royale. But we find the events more than coincidental. In all likelihood, the first heist in January was a test run for the coordinated multi-casino robberies conducted May 25.

Certainly, U.S. interdiction efforts have put a financial strain on all of the Mexican cartels, making casino robberies a tempting proposition, but the successful theft of millions of dollars or pesos may only have been a bonus on top of the larger reward of hitting a rival cartel at a vulnerable spot: its money-laundering operations.

Two years ago, Monterrey was something of a neutral zone where all top cartel families made use of the affluent stability and superior schools and medical care. In late January 2010, however, Los Zetas started consolidating their hold on the city after declaring open war on their former parent organization, the Gulf cartel. Last summer, after taking losses on the border at Reynosa and Matamoros, Los Zetas retreated to Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey. In Monterrey, the Zetas forces were entrenched for about two weeks when Hurricane Alex roared into the Rio Grande Valley and catastrophic flooding demolished huge sections of the city’s transportation arteries — effectively pulling up the drawbridge behind the Zetas.

Despite the heavy Zetas presence, Monterrey’s longer history as relatively neutral ground means that the casinos robbed May 25 were likely laundering funds for any number of drug trafficking organizations. The Zetas’ control of the Monterrey metropolitan area does not equate to exclusive use of its black market infrastructure, and dozens of large casinos have far more strategic worth as money-laundering operations than they do as extortion targets.

On the Quiet Coahuila Front

With the exception of Torreon and Saltillo, Coahuila state has been fairly quiet in Mexico’s cartel wars. The state is sparsely populated, lacks high-volume interstate highway arteries and remains largely undisputed Los Zetas territory. But several recent events along with an increasing Mexican military presence could point to a coming change in Coahuila’s security conditions.

According to official government news releases and confirmed by STRATFOR sources in the region, there has been a gradual increase in the deployment of military assets to Coahuila and in military activities in 2011. Mexican marines seized just over a ton of cocaine at a ranch northwest of Monclova on May 24. Then on June 1, Mexican army personnel found 38 narcofosas, or hidden graves, in the village of Guerrero, 50 kilometers (30 miles) southeast of Piedras Negras. It is not yet clear how many victims were disposed of at the Guerrero site — the meter-deep pits contained thousands of bits of charred human bones, metal buckles, buttons, and other personal items, and three 55-gallon drums also were found in which human bodies had been cremated. Also on June 1, the Mexican military uncovered a large cache of firearms and munitions on a farm in Nadadores, including 161 weapons and 92,039 rounds of ammunition of various calibers.

By no means are these recent events in Coahuila unique for Mexico, but the increase in military personnel and operations in the sparsely populated state is notable. As that military presence grows, STRATFOR expects significant clashes between Los Zetas and Mexican troops over the next few months. In Mexico, cartels have demonstrated that they will absorb a low level of losses as “the cost of doing business.” However, losses can reach a point where they are no longer acceptable to an organization, and violent countermeasures tend to result. In the quieter areas of Coahuila, particularly in the western and northern parts of the state where the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels have not bothered to contest Zetas control, Los Zetas may soon respond to the Mexican government’s inroads with direct and violent action against the military.

(click here to view interactive map)

May 31

Unidentified people asphyxiated a man and abandoned his body in a vacant lot near the Francisco Madero avenue in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. The victim was tortured and beaten before being killed.
Soldiers arrested four men in Acapulco, Guerrero state, for transporting a dismembered body in the trunk of a car. A fifth suspect managed to escape. The men had been stopped at a military roadblock but attempted to flee and crashed into another car.

June 1

Unidentified gunmen in the Dale neighborhood of Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, shot and killed Fernando Oropeza, the former deputy director of a low-risk prison. Oropeza had resigned from his post after a clandestine bar was discovered at the prison.
Two people were killed and one was injured in a firefight between suspected members of drug trafficking gangs in the Region 233 neighborhood of Cancun, Quintana Roo state. The incident reportedly began when six members of a criminal gang arrived at a food vendor’s stall and opened fire on several members of a rival group identified only as “LGD.”
Relatives of journalist Noel Lopez identified his body among those found in a mass grave in Chinameca, Veracruz state. Lopez had last been seen headed to Soteapan on March 8.

June 2

Unidentified gunmen in the Jardines de Oriente neighborhood of Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, opened fire on a municipal police vehicle, killing a police officer.
Federal police officers arrested Candido Ramos Perez, the suspected head for Cartel Pacifico Sur of the Cuernavaca “plaza” in Morelos state, during vehicle inspections on the Cuernavaca-Mexico City highway near the southern boundary of the Federal District. A suspected cartel lookout riding in Ramos Perez’s vehicle also was arrested.

June 3

Military authorities announced the seizure of 161 firearms and 92,039 rounds of ammunition reportedly belonging to Los Zetas in the municipality of Nadadores, Coahuila state.
Security guards at the Sinaloa state government palace in Culiacan discovered a severed head and hands on the building’s exterior stairs. A preliminary report stated that the victim could be a state police officer.
The Mexican prosecutor general’s office announced the seizure of two large containers holding 80 barrels of monomethylamine, a precursor used to manufacture chemical drugs, at container-ship facilities in Manzanillo, Colima state. Another 80 barrels were seized from a separate ship, bringing the total amount of precursors seized to 34,848 kilograms.

June 4

Soldiers arrested Jorge Hank Rhon, a former mayor of Tijuana, Baja California state, during a raid in response to a citizen complaint. Approximately 50 firearms were seized from Rhon’s house.
Federal police announced the arrest of Victor Manuel Perez Izquierdo, the head of Los Zetas in Quintana Roo state, during an operation in Cancun. Ten other members of Los Zetas were arrested along with Perez Izquierdo. Authorities said the operation resulted from the arrests of 10 Zetas in Cancun on May 28.

June 5

Military authorities announced the seizure of four armored vehicles and 23 tractor-trailers during raids on vehicle workshops in Reynosa and Camargo, Tamaulipas state.
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed the municipal police commander of Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, in the San Angel neighborhood as he headed to his house.
Police in the Mitras Norte neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, discovered the bodies of two men hanging from a pedestrian bridge. Signs bearing undisclosed messages to members of a criminal group were found near the bodies.
Unidentified people abandoned a taxi with a dismembered body outside a police station in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state. A message found in the vehicle included a threat to the mayor of Guadalupe, warning that she would be next.

Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Casino Attacks in Monterrey | STRATFOR
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« Reply #307 on: June 14, 2011, 03:30:33 PM »

Narco gangster reveals the underworld-Houston Chronicle


Narco gangster reveals the underworld
Cartels have taken cruelty up a notch, says one drug trafficker: kidnapping bus passengers for gladiatorlike fights to the death
June 13, 2011, 12:26AM

The elderly are killed. Young women are raped. And able-bodied men are given hammers, machetes and sticks and forced to fight to the death.

In one of the most chilling revelations yet about the violence in Mexico, a drug cartel-connected trafficker claims fellow gangsters have kidnapped highway bus passengers and forced them into gladiatorlike fights to groom fresh assassins.

In an in-person interview arranged by intermediaries on the condition that neither his name nor the location of his Texas visit be published, the trafficker also admitted to helping push cocaine worth $5 million to $10 million a month into the United States.

Law enforcement sources confirm he is a cartel operative but not a fugitive from pending charges.

His words are not those of a federal agent or drawn from a news conference or court papers.

Instead, he offers a voice from inside Mexico's mayhem — a mafioso who mingles among crime bosses and foot soldiers in a protracted war between drug cartels as well as against the government.

If what he says is true, gangsters who make commonplace beheadings, hangings and quartering bodies have managed an even crueler twist to their barbarity.

Members of the Zetas cartel, he says, have pushed passengers into an ancient Rome-like blood sport with a modern Mexico twist that they call, "Who is going to be the next hit man?"

"They cut guys to pieces," he said.

The victims are likely among the hundreds of people found in mass graves in recent months, he said.

In the vicinity of the Mexican city of San Fernando, nearly 200 bodies were unearthed from pits, and authorities said most appeared to have died of blunt force head trauma.

Many are believed to have been dragged off buses traveling through Mexico, but little has been said about the circumstances of their deaths.

The trafficker said those who survive are taken captive and eventually given suicide missions, such as riding into a town controlled by rivals and shooting up the place.

The trafficker said he did not see the clashes, but his fellow criminals have boasted to him of their exploits.

Killing 'for amusement'
Former and current federal law-enforcement officers in the U.S. said that while they knew Mexican bus passengers had been targeted for violence, they'd never before heard of forcing passengers into death matches.

But given the level of violence in Mexico — nearly 40,000 killed in gangland warfare over the past several years — they didn't find it tough to believe.

Borderland Beat, a blog specializing in drug cartels, reported an account in April of bus passengers brutalized by Zeta thugs and taunted into fighting.

"The stuff you would not think possible a few years ago is now commonplace," said Peter Hanna, a retired FBI agent who built his career focusing on Mexico's cartels. "It used to be you'd find dead bodies in drums with acid; now there are beheadings."

Even so, Hanna noted, killing people this way would be time-consuming and inefficient. "It would be more for amusement," he suggested. "I don't see it as intimidation or a successful way to recruit people."

Hidden behind designer sunglasses and a whisper of a beard, the trafficker interviewed by the Houston Chronicle talked at a restaurant's back table. He had silver shopping bags filled at Nordstrom, but seemed anything but a typical wealthy Mexican on a Texas shopping trip.

As a condition of the interview, he asked that he be referred to only as Juan.

He has worked as a drug-trafficker in Northern Mexico for more than a decade, he said, but has grown tired of gangsters running roughshod over each other and innocent civilians.

Juan, who has worked with the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, the two major drug organizations that control territory along the South Texas-Mexico border, said that back home, he sleeps with a semiautomatic rifle by his bed and a handgun under his pillow.

"It is like the Wild West. You can carry a gun and you are Superman," he said of gangsters and killing at will. "Like everybody says, it is out of control now. We have to put a stop to it."

A recent U.S. Senate report contends the Zetas are the most violent of Mexico's cartels. Its members are believed to be responsible for the recent killing of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was shot on a Mexican highway.

'They brag about it'
Just on Thursday, authorities in Mexico said they arrested members of the Zetas and seized 201 automatic weapons, 600 camouflage uniforms and 30,000 rounds of ammunition.

"I am not defending the Sinaloa or the Gulf Cartel," Juan said of the Zetas' main rivals. "I earn more money with the Zetas, but I know the (crap) they do," he said. "They brag about it."

With the recent killing of the ICE agent and perhaps other attacks, the Zetas also are breaking the golden rule for Mexican traffickers: Don't kill Americans, he said. It brings too much heat.

If the Zetas are crushed, violence will lessen, he said, and Mexico's older cartels will go back to the older way of doing business - dividing up territory and agreeing not to clash with each other.

Death toll has exploded
Mike Vigil, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was the chief of international operations, said Mexican gangsters used to understand that violence should be used sparingly.

"They love brutality," Vigil said of the Zetas. "They do not care whether you are a police officer, a trafficker or an innocent bystander.

"The drug-trafficking organizations are eventually going to have to deal with the Zetas."

The death toll has exploded since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and dispersed military troops throughout the country to fight the cartels. The resulting battles have wrought carnage among local politicians, soldiers, gangsters and civilians alike.

As for the military, Juan said, "They are not helping," noting that the soldiers, like the gangsters, seem to kill whoever they want.

He also discussed some of the finer points of drug trafficking.

Checkpoints no problem
"We don't hide it," he said, telling stories of openly off-loading tractor-trailer rigs of cocaine in parking lots. "These are not lies. Everybody in Mexico knows it."

Even the checkpoints Mexican officials operate along the highways between Central Mexico and the border do not pose much of a problem, Juan said.

The trick, he confided, is to send someone in advance to bribe a commander so a drug load won't be bothered.

"It is better to tell them," he said. "It will cost you more if they catch it."

Tries not to be flashy
As for how he's been able to survive a decade, Juan said the secret is not being greedy or flashy enough to draw attention from other gangsters, who these days show no hesitation to cut down rivals.

He said he can quickly size up in a bar or cafe who is likely to be a trafficker, from the money they spend to the way they talk, sit or eat.

"You can tell in a restaurant or anywhere - that guy is moving dope," Juan said.

Other keys to longevity in the business: knowing your place in the Mexican under­world's hierarchy and not giving the impression you are making more money or interested in taking a chunk out of another gangster's livelihood.

"You keep doing the work you do," Juan said. "Stay at your level."

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« Reply #308 on: June 14, 2011, 04:30:23 PM »

Narco gangster reveals the underworld-Houston Chronicle


Narco gangster reveals the underworld
Cartels have taken cruelty up a notch, says one drug trafficker: kidnapping bus passengers for gladiatorlike fights to the death
June 13, 2011, 12:26AM

The elderly are killed. Young women are raped. And able-bodied men are given hammers, machetes and sticks and forced to fight to the death.

In one of the most chilling revelations yet about the violence in Mexico, a drug cartel-connected trafficker claims fellow gangsters have kidnapped highway bus passengers and forced them into gladiatorlike fights to groom fresh assassins.

Amazing, in a horrific sort of way. Good thing that border is secure!
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« Reply #309 on: June 16, 2011, 07:05:32 AM »

By Scott Stewart

We talk to a lot of people in our effort to track Mexico’s criminal cartels and to help our readers understand the  dynamics that shape the violence in Mexico. Our contacts include a wide range of people, from Mexican and U.S. government officials, journalists and business owners to taxi drivers and street vendors. Lately, as we’ve been talking with people, we’ve been hearing chatter about the 2012 presidential election in Mexico and how the cartel war will impact that election.

In any democratic election, opposition parties always criticize the policies of the incumbent. This tactic is especially true when the country is involved in a long and costly war. Recall, for example, the 2008 U.S. elections and then-candidate Barack Obama’s criticism of the Bush administration’s policies regarding Iraq and Afghanistan. This strategy is what we are seeing now in Mexico with the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) criticizing the way the administration of Felipe Calderon, who belongs to the National Action Party (PAN), has prosecuted its war against the Mexican cartels.

One of the trial balloons that the opposition parties — especially the PRI — seem to be floating at present is the idea that if they are elected they will reverse Calderon’s policy of going after the cartels with a heavy hand and will instead try to reach some sort of accommodation with them. This policy would involve lifting government pressure against the cartels and thereby (ostensibly) reducing the level of violence that is wracking the country. In effect, this stratagem would be a return of the status quo ante during the PRI administrations that ruled Mexico for decades prior to 2000. One other important thing to remember, however, is that while Mexico’s tough stance against the cartels is most often associated with President Calderon, the policy of using the military against the cartels was established during the administration of President Vicente Fox (also of PAN), who declared the “mother of all battles” against cartel kingpins in January 2005.

While this political rhetoric may be effective in tapping public discontent with the current situation in Mexico — and perhaps obtaining votes for opposition parties — the current environment in Mexico is far different from what it was in the 1990s. This environment will dictate that no matter who wins the 2012 election, the new president will have little choice but to maintain the campaign against the Mexican cartels.

Changes in the Drug Flow

First, it is important to understand that over the past decade there have been changes in the flow of narcotics into the United States. The first of these changes was in the way that cocaine is trafficked from South America to the United Sates and in the specific organizations that are doing that trafficking. While there has always been some cocaine smuggled into the United States through Mexico, like during the “Miami Vice” era from the 1970s to the early 1990s, much of the U.S. supply came into Florida via Caribbean routes. The cocaine was trafficked mainly by the powerful Colombian cartels, and while they worked with Mexican partners such as the Guadalajara cartel to move product through Mexico and into the United States, the Colombians were the dominant partners in the relationship and pocketed the lion’s share of the profits.

As U.S. interdiction efforts curtailed much of the Caribbean drug flow due to improvements in aerial and maritime surveillance, and as the Colombian cartels were dismantled by the Colombian and U.S. governments, Mexico became more important to the flow of cocaine and the Mexican cartels gained more prominence and power. Over the past decade, the tables turned. Now, the Mexican cartels control most of the cocaine flow and the Colombian gangs are the junior partners in the relationship.

The Mexican cartels have expanded their control over cocaine smuggling to the point where they are also involved in the smuggling of South American cocaine to Europe and Australia. This expanded cocaine supply chain means that the Mexican cartels have assumed a greater risk of loss along the extended supply routes, but it also means that they earn a far greater percentage of the profit derived from South American cocaine than they did when the Colombian cartels called the shots.

While Mexican cartels have always been involved in the smuggling of marijuana to the U.S. market, and marijuana sales serve as an important profit pool for them, the increasing popularity of other drugs in the United States in recent years, such as black-tar heroin and methamphetamine, has also helped bring big money (and power) to the Mexican cartels. These drugs have proved to be quite lucrative for the Mexican cartels because the cartels own the entire production process. This is not the case with cocaine, which the cartels have to purchase from South American suppliers.

These changes in the flow of narcotics into the United States mean that the Mexican narcotics-smuggling corridors into the United States are now more lucrative than ever for the Mexican cartels, and the increasing value of these corridors has heightened the competition — and the violence — to control them. The fighting has become quite bloody and, in many cases, quite personal, involving blood vendettas that will not be easily buried.

The violence occurring in Mexico today also has quite a different dynamic from the violence that occurred in Colombia in the late 1980s. In Colombia at that time, Pablo Escobar declared war on the government, and his team of sicarios conducted terrorist attacks like  destroying the Department of Administrative Security headquarters with a huge truck bomb and bombing a civilian airliner in an attempt to kill a presidential candidate, among other operations. Escobar thought his attacks could intimidate the Colombian government into the kind of accommodation being in discussed in Mexico today, but his calculation was wrong and the attacks served only to steel public opinion and government resolve against him.

Most of the violence in Mexico today is cartel-on-cartel, and the cartels have not chosen to explicitly target civilians or the government. Even the violence we do see directed against Mexican police officers or government figures is usually not due to their positions but to the perception that they are on the payroll of a competing cartel. There are certainly exceptions to this, but cartel attacks against government figures are usually attempts to undercut the support network of a competing cartel and not acts of retribution against the government. Cartel groups like Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) have even produced and distributed video statements in which they say they don’t want to fight the federal government and the military, just corrupt officers aligned with their enemies.

This dynamic means that, even if the Mexican military and federal police were to ease up on their operations against drug-smuggling activities, the war among the cartels (and factions of cartels) would still continue.

The Hydra

In addition to the raging cartel-on-cartel violence, any future effort to reach an accommodation with the cartels will also be hampered by the way the cartel landscape has changed over the past few years. Consider this: Three and a half years ago, the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) was a part of the Sinaloa Federation. Following the arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva in January 2008, Alfredo’s brothers blamed Sinaloa chief Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, declared war on El Chapo and split from the Sinaloa Federation to form their own organization. Following the December 2009 death of Alfredo’s brother, Arturo Beltran Leyva, the organization further split into two factions: One was called the Cartel Pacifico del Sur, which was led by the remaining Beltran Leyva brother, Hector, and the other, which retained the BLO name, remained loyal to Alfredo’s chief of security, Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal. Following the August 2010 arrest of La Barbie, his faction of the BLO split into two pieces, one joining with some local criminals in Acapulco to form the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA). So not only did the BLO leave the Sinaloa Federation, it also split twice to form three new cartels.

There are two main cartel groups, one centered on the Sinaloa Federation and the other on Los Zetas, but these groups are loose alliances rather than hierarchical organizations, and there are still many smaller independent players, such as CIDA, La Resistencia and the CJNG. This means that a government attempt to broker some sort of universal understanding with the cartels in order to decrease the violence would be far more challenging than it would have been a decade ago.

Even if the government could gather all these parties together and convince them to agree to cease hostilities, the question for all parties would be: How reliable are all the promises being made? The various cartels frequently make alliances and agreements, only to break them, and close allies can quickly become the bitterest enemies — like the Gulf cartel and its former enforcer wing, Los Zetas.

We have heard assertions over the last several years that the Calderon administration favors the Sinaloa Federation and that the president’s real plan to quell the violence in Mexico is to allow or even assist the Sinaloa Federation to become the dominant cartel in Mexico. According to this narrative, the Sinaloa Federation could impose peace through superior firepower and provide the Mexican government a single point of contact instead of the various heads of the cartel hydra. One problem with implementing such a concept is that some of the most vicious violence Mexico has seen in recent years has followed an internal split involving the Sinaloa Federation, such as the BLO/Sinaloa war.

From DTO to TCO

Another problem is the change that has occurred in the nature of the crimes the cartels commit. The Mexican cartels are no longer just drug cartels, and they no longer just sell narcotics to the U.S. market. This reality is even reflected in the bureaucratic acronyms that the U.S. government uses to refer to the cartels. Up until a few months ago, it was common to hear U.S. government officials refer to the Mexican cartels using the acronym “DTOs,” or drug trafficking organizations. Today, that acronym is rarely, if ever, heard. It has been replaced by “TCO,” which stands for transnational criminal organization. This acronym recognizes that the Mexican cartels engage in many criminal enterprises, not just narcotics smuggling.

As the cartels have experienced difficulty moving large loads of narcotics into the United States due to law enforcement pressure, and the loss of smuggling corridors to rival gangs, they have sought to generate revenue by diversifying their lines of business. Mexican cartels have become involved in kidnapping, extortion, cargo theft, oil theft and diversion, arms smuggling, human smuggling, carjacking, prostitution and music and video piracy. These additional lines of business are lucrative, and there is little likelihood that the cartels would abandon them even if smuggling narcotics became easier.

As an aside, this diversification is also a factor that must be considered in discussing the legalization of narcotics and the impact that would have on the Mexican cartels. Narcotics smuggling is the most substantial revenue stream for the cartels, but is not their only line of business. If the cartels were to lose the stream of revenue from narcotics sales, they would still be heavily armed groups of killers who would be forced to rely more on their other lines of business. Many of these other crimes, like extortion and kidnapping, by their very nature focus more direct violence against innocent victims than drug trafficking does.

Another way the cartels have sought to generate revenue through alternative means is to increase drug sales inside Mexico. While drugs sell for less on the street in Mexico than they do in the United States, they require less overhead, since they don’t have to cross the U.S. border. At the same time, the street gangs that are distributing these drugs into the local Mexican market have also become closely allied with the cartels and have served to swell the ranks of the cartel enforcer groups. For example, Mara Salvatrucha has come to work closely with Los Zetas, and Los Aztecas have essentially become a wing of the Juarez cartel.

There has been a view among some in Mexico that the flow of narcotics through Mexico is something that might be harmful for the United States but doesn’t really harm Mexico. Indeed, as the argument goes, the money the drug trade generates for the Mexican economy is quite beneficial. The increase in narcotics sales in Mexico belies this, and in many places, such as the greater Mexico City region, much of the violence we’ve seen involves fighting over turf for local drug sales and not necessarily fighting among the larger cartel groups (although, in some areas, there are instances of the larger cartel groups asserting their dominance over these smaller local-level groups).

As the Mexican election approaches, the idea of accommodating the cartels may continue to be presented as a logical alternative to the present policies, and it might be used to gain political capital, but anyone who carefully examines the situation on the ground will see that the concept is totally untenable. In fact, the conditions on the ground leave the Mexican president with very little choice. This means that in the same way President Obama was forced by ground realities to follow many of the Bush administration policies he criticized as a candidate, the next Mexican president will have little choice but to follow the policies of the Calderon administration in continuing the fight against the cartels.

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« Reply #310 on: June 22, 2011, 09:05:30 PM »

Vice President of Tactical Intelligence Scott Stewart looks at the implications of the arrest of drug cartel leader Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas or “El Chango.”

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

In today’s Dispatch we’re going to be looking at the arrests yesterday in Aguascalientes State, of Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, “El Chango” (the monkey), the leader of one of the factions of the La Familia Michoacana cartel.

To understand what the arrest of El Chango means, we have to really go back and look at the flow, or really the context, of what has been happening with the Mexican cartels over the last year. A year ago this time, the La Familia or, as we call them, “LFM,” (La Familia Michoacana), the LFM cartel was an up-and-coming cartel, it was rising in power and prominence, and it had banded together with two other powerful cartel groups, the Sinaloa Federation and the Gulf Cartel, to assist them in their battle against the Zetas and their allies.

Now one of the things that we’ve seen happen over the years with the Mexican cartels is that when any one figure — especially in the Sinaloa Federation — gets too powerful, they have a tendency to run into accidents, and that’s what we saw happen last July. There was a gentleman by the name of Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, “El Nacho.” Ignacio Coronel had an issue with the authorities, was taken out, and this created a vacuum in Jalisco and Guadalajara. Now at this time what happened is we had the LFM cartel saw that vacuum of power that was started by the removal of Ignacio Coronel, and they decided to move in and try to assume control of Jalisco and Guadalajara. This then initiated a war between the Sinaloa Federation and the LFM for control of this very lucrative place. As LFM began fighting with Sinaloa, we saw Sinaloa Federation becoming really dominant and getting the upper hand in that fight, and that struggle culminated in the death, late last year, of the leader of the LFM, a guy by the name of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez, “El Mas Loco,” (the craziest one).

Following the death of El Mas Loco, what we saw happen was that it devolved into two different organizations that were basically coalescing around different powerful leaders — lieutenants of El Mas Loco. The first of these lieutenants was Jose Mendez Vargas, “El Chango.” The second one was Servando Gomez, “La Tuta,” (the teacher). La Tuta’s faction began using the name the Knights Templar. The other organization — the faction that formed around El Chango — kept using the name La Familia. So over the last few months, as these organizations have formed up, we’ve seen them locked in a very bloody battle for control of Michoacan. So over the next weeks and months we’re going to be watching for indications of which way this is going to be going: whether or not this LFM faction will be able to stay united, whether they’ll be able to be able to fend off the offensive of the Knights Templar, and whether or not they could become more closely allied with Los Zetas.

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« Reply #311 on: June 28, 2011, 11:39:34 AM »

El Chango’s Arrest

The leader of a faction of La Familia Michoacana (LFM) — the faction that continues to use the LFM name — was arrested June 21 without incident in  Aguascalientes state in central Mexico. At the time of his arrest, Jose de Jesus “El Chango” Mendez Vargas and his branch of the LFM were under heavy pressure from the other LFM faction, known as the Knights Templar (KT) and led by Servando “La Tuta” Gomez Martinez, as well as from Mexican authorities and the Sinaloa Federation.

Mendez Vargas’ arrest clearly is a  short-term blow to his faction of LFM, but it is too early to tell if it will result in the end of the group. More important, it is unclear what effect it will have on the battle for control of the drug flow through Michoacan state.

Mendez Vargas’ faction of the LFM is the weaker of the two currently fighting for control of the LFM territory and business. In fact, STRATFOR sources and media reports indicate that Mendez Vargas’ faction was losing the battle against the Knights Templar. Mendez Vargas’ forces had experienced some significant losses in the weeks prior to his arrest, and banners posted by the Knights Templar alleged that Mendez Vargas was so desperate that he had even reached out to his former enemies in Los Zetas for assistance.

Presently, it appears that the Knights Templar has placed itself in a position to assume control of the LFM empire. The Knights Templar is a local organization with local support, and many of its members have a long history of close ties to the community. However, after being weakened by the fight with Mendez Vargas’ faction, it is not altogether clear if the Knights Templar will have the strength to fend off a renewed push by its enemies in the Sinaloa Federation. It is also possible that the remnants of Mendez Vargas’ organization will become even more closely aligned with Los Zetas, which will allow the Zetas to expand their presence in Michoacan by working through locals. All this means that the capture of Mendez Vargas may have removed one cartel leader, but it will likely do little to quell the violence in the state.

Troops in Tamaulipas

Around 2,800 Mexican soldiers deployed during the week of June 19 to 22 cities in Tamaulipas state along the U.S.-Mexico border. The objective of the deployment is to put the military in charge of security operations in the state while stamping out corruption in local police forces. After relieving all officers of duty, the military will conduct interviews and drug tests on new officers to determine who will receive further training and continue in law enforcement. Many of the officers who are not rehired likely will begin working for the cartels.

The military has taken control in Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and San Fernando, border towns that saw violence increase just last week, along with the state capital of Victoria. An audacious raid in Matamoros by Los Zetas on June 17 looked to be an indication that the violence was only going to get worse in Tamaulipas. In this context it is not surprising that the Tamaulipas state government felt the need to ask the federal government for help.

The government position is that the presence of the military in Tamaulipas will lead to a decrease in violence. However, statistics on murders in Juarez, Chihuahua state, where the military took control in early March 2009, are evidence that military deployments do not necessarily correlate with a reduction in violence. In 2008, prior to the deployment, there were 1,600 murders in Juarez attributed to organized crime, according to Spanish newspaper Diario Universal. In 2009, the number went up to 2,650. The attorney general’s office in the state’s northern zone reported 3,200 murders in 2010, and as of June 15 there were already 1,500 murders on record for 2011.

The military cannot be everywhere at once, and it would take far more than 2,800 soldiers to secure the entire state of Tamaulipas. Cartels know the military presence will not last forever, so while there occasionally can be direct conflicts, more often the cartels will hunker down and wait for the military to leave or simply strike where the military has no presence.

Also, the Mexican military cannot risk being in a location too long because it faces the same corruptive forces that continually destroy the police departments. The longer the military comes in contact with those forces, the harder it is to guarantee soldiers are not being corrupted. The value of the military is that it has long been kept separate from the drug war and therefore has not been the focus of the cartels’ corruption efforts. This is already changing, and authorities must be careful with using the military to fight the war.

Another issue is that populations tend to tire of the presence of soldiers, who lack the police skills and training necessary to manage a civilian population. An extended deployment increases the chances of an incident that could upset the locals, and at the very least it is a hindrance to civilians’ daily lives.

The arrival of the military in Tamaulipas state is not a guarantee of security and tranquility. Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel are currently locked in a brutal battle for control of the northeast. The way they fight their battle may be altered a bit due to the presence of the military, but we believe that based on the experience of past military deployments in places such as Juarez, the violence between the two groups will continue despite the deployment.

(click here to view interactive map)

June 20

A journalist, his wife and son were found murdered in their house in Veracruz, Veracruz state. The journalist, the second murdered in the state this month, wrote about crime and politics for the newspaper Notiver.
Five bodies were found throughout Michoacan state with a narcomanta on each claiming responsibility on behalf of the Knights Templar.
The police chief in Morelia, Michoacan state, was detained for possession of drugs and weapons for military use only.
More than three tons of methamphetamine and precursor chemicals were found in an industrial area of El Marques, Queretaro state.

June 21

A cache of weapons and military tactical gear, including camouflage uniforms, were found in Coneto de Comonfort, Durango state.
The burned bodies of three traffic cops were found on the street in Guadalupe, Chihuahua state.
Eight suspected members of the Knights Templar were detained in Piedras de Lumbre, Michoacan state. Among the detained were the group’s leaders in Tuxpan and Zitacuaro, Michoacan state.

June 22

A man’s body was found in Jesus Maria, Aguascalientes state, with a narcomanta alluding to the detention of Mendez Vargas, the LFM head who was detained by police the previous day.
A group of marines was ambushed by unknown gunmen in Panuco, Zacatecas state, leaving one marine dead.
The police chief in Praxedis G. Guerrero, Chihuahua state, and her family were attacked and held at knifepoint during a robbery in the state of Chihuahua.
The municipal police chief of Ciudad Isla, Veracruz state, Ricardo Reyes Alvarez, was attacked by gunmen. The police chief was killed and three others were injured in the attack.
Three individuals working for the criminal organization led by Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal were detained in Tlaltizapan, Morelos state. The suspects were arrested with two kilograms (more than four pounds) of marijuana, one kilogram of cocaine and firearms.

June 23

A group of suspected extortionists opened fire on an escort vehicle in the convoy of Julian Leyzaola Perez, the municipal security chief in Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Leon state. One attacker was injured in the ensuing firefight.
Seven individuals suspected of belonging to a gang of kidnappers operating in Pachuca and Mineral de la Reforma were detained in Hidalgo state. The individuals are responsible for at least two kidnappings and one murder.
Seventy-eight Central American migrants were detained at a railway station in Irolo, Hidalgo state. Among the migrants were Hondurans, Salvadoreans, and Guatemalans.

June 24

Ninety-one police officers were arrested in Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala state, on charges of robbery and collusion among public officials.
Four Salvadorans were arrested in San Salvador, El Salvador, in connection to the August 2010 massacre in San Fernando, Tamaulipas state, that left 72 immigrants dead. The Salvadorans were responsible for transferring undocumented migrants to Mexico.
Approximately 60 undocumented migrants were kidnapped by armed men in Veracruz. The migrants were on a freight train headed from Oaxaca to Veracruz when the train was stopped by three vehicles parked in its path.
Eleven graves containing human remains were found in Nuevo Leon by the Mexican army.
The Mexican government announced the deployment of around 2,800 Mexican troops to Tamaulipas to take charge of public safety and counter corruption within the police force.

June 25

Mexican Federal Police captured alleged Los Zetas leader Albert Gonzalez Pena, aka “El Tigre,” in Xalapa, Veracruz state. He was responsible for moving drugs farther into northern and central Mexico and was also linked to various other criminal activities in Veracruz state.
Nine women from the Institutional Revolutionary Party were assaulted and received death threats allegedly due to political affiliations in Pachuca, Hidalgo state. The attackers are allegedly working for the campaign of a rival candidate.
Seven bodies were found in the municipalities of Ixtapaluca and Valle de Chalco, Mexico state. A message from LFM was left with them.
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« Reply #312 on: July 08, 2011, 10:53:30 AM »

**So how exactly should law enforcement officers determine citizenship status if asking citizenship status isn't allowed because it's raaaaAAAAaaaaacist?

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A Mexican national was executed Thursday for the rape-slaying of a teenager after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down an appeal to spare him that was supported by Mexico and the White House.

In his last minutes, Humberto Leal repeatedly said he was sorry and accepted responsibility.

"I have hurt a lot of people. ... I take full blame for everything. I am sorry for what I did," he said in the death chamber.

"One more thing," he said as the drugs began taking effect. Then he shouted twice, "Viva Mexico!"

"Ready warden," he said. "Let's get this show on the road."

The 38-year-old mechanic was pronounced dead 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began flowing into his arms.

He was sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of 16-year-old Adria Sauceda, whose brutalized nude body was found hours after he left a San Antonio street party with her. She was bludgeoned with a chunk of asphalt.

Leal was just a toddler when he and his family moved to the U.S. from Monterrey, Mexico, but his citizenship became a key element of his attorneys' efforts to win a stay. They said police never told him following his arrest that he could seek legal assistance from the Mexican government under an international treaty.

Mexico, the Obama administration and others had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to delay Leal's execution so Congress could consider a law that would require court reviews in cases where condemned foreign nationals did not receive help from their consulates. They said the case could affect not only foreigners in the U.S. but Americans detained in other countries.

The court rejected the request 5-4. Its five more conservative justices doubted that executing Leal would cause grave international consequences, and doubted "that it is ever appropriate to stay a lower court judgment in light of unenacted legislation."

"Our task is to rule on what the law is, not what it might eventually be," the majority said.

The court's four liberal-leaning justices said they would have granted the stay.

Leal's attorney Sandra L. Babcock said that with consular help her client could have shown that he was not guilty. But she added, "This case was not just about one Mexican national on death row in Texas. The execution of Mr. Leal violates the United States' treaty commitments, threatens the nation's foreign policy interests, and undermines the safety of all Americans abroad."

Prosecutors, however, said Congress was unlikely to pass the legislation sought and that Leal's appeals were simply an attempt to evade justice for a gruesome murder.

Mexico's foreign ministry said in a statement that the government condemned Leal's execution and sent a note of protest to the U.S. State Department. The ministry also said Mexican ambassador Arturo Sarukhan attempted to contact Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who refused to speak on the phone.

The governor's office declined to comment on the execution Thursday.

Leal's argument that he should have received consular legal aid that could have helped his case was not new. Texas has executed other condemned foreign nationals who raised similar challenges, most recently in 2008.

Leal's appeals, however, focused on legislation introduced last month in the U.S. Senate by Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy. Leahy's measure would bring the U.S. into compliance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations provision regarding the arrests of foreign nationals, and ensure court reviews for condemned foreigners to determine if a lack of consular help made a significant difference in the outcome of their cases.

"Americans detained overseas rely on their access to U.S. consulates every day," Leahy said after the Supreme Court decision was announced. "If we expect other countries to abide by the treaties they join, the United States must also honor its obligations."

The Obama administration took the unusual step of intervening in a state murder case last week when Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. joined Leal's appeal, asking the high court to halt the execution and give Congress at least six months to consider Leahy's bill.

The Mexican government and other diplomats also contended that the execution should be delayed so Leal's case could be thoroughly reviewed. Some also warned his execution would violate the treaty provision and could endanger Americans in countries that deny them consular help.

Measures similar to Leahy's have failed at least twice in recent U.S. congressional sessions. The Texas Attorney General's office, opposing the appeals, pointed to those failures in its Supreme Court arguments and said "legislative relief was not likely to be forthcoming."

After his execution, relatives of Leal who had gathered in Guadalupe, Mexico, burned a T-shirt with an image of the American flag in protest. Leal's uncle Alberto Leal criticized the U.S. justice system and the Mexican government and said, "There is a God who makes us all pay."
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« Reply #313 on: July 19, 2011, 11:59:09 PM »

Knights Templar-Orchestrated March in Michoacan

In Apatzingan, Michoacan state, a large protest materialized July 13 in which the drug-trafficking organization Los Caballeros Templarios (aka the Knights Templar or KT) figured prominently. Demonstrators carried signs supporting the cartel and protesting the presence of federal security forces in Michoacan. This was not the first time that a cartel has orchestrated a “popular protest” in Mexico. Los Zetas, the Sinaloa Federation and the Juarez cartel are known to have contrived public demonstrations to enhance their public image. What makes the KT-engineered protest in Apatzingan interesting is that the cartel leadership seemed so adamant about the turnout and timing.

In three recorded telephone conversations believed to have been released to the media a day after the march, a mid-level KT leader insisted that all residents and business owners in Apatzingan participate and warned that those who did not would be “fined.” The KT organizers arranged for food and drink to be served to the marchers and ensured that the Mexican press would cover the event. We find the recorded conversations interesting not so much for their content — which was revealing — but because of their sourcing. Who recorded them and put the tapes in the hands of the Mexican media outlet Milenio Television? What was the purpose?

However the recordings were obtained and whatever their intent, they do suggest two possible motives for the KT to organize the July 13 protest. First, there is a good possibility that the prearranged presence of the Mexican press made the march the kick-off event of a propaganda campaign in Michoacan to pressure the federal forces to leave. Another possible motive is misdirection. The federal forces have been targeting the Knights Templar as well as La Familia Michoacana, and the increased federal presence may be hampering KT smuggling activities; the group is reportedly having difficulties receiving shipments of methamphetamine precursors and moving the finished product north to the border to generate revenue.

In one of the recorded discussions, an apparent boss ordered an underling to mobilize all of the people in Apatzingan and march immediately. When the underling said arrangements had already been made for the protest to begin, the boss relented. Timing was obviously an issue, so the question arises: Why stage the protest now? It could be that the KT needed to create a diversion — make a lot of noise, protest the federal presence, require that every resident participate, ensure that the country’s national press would be present with cameras.

We may not end up developing all the facts, but a well-publicized public protest could be an effective way to ensure that the bulk of the federal forces in the state are focused on — or removed from — one particular area of Michoacan.

Prison Break in Nuevo Laredo

On July 15, 59 prisoners believed to be members of Los Zetas escaped from the federal prison in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Immediately before their escape, a large fight broke out that resulted in the deaths of seven inmates, all believed to be members of the Gulf cartel. Following the escape, it was determined that the prison’s warden was missing.

This was not the first time that a large group of inmates had broken out of the federal prison in Nuevo Laredo; the last major escape occurred in December 2010 and involved 151 escapees, all believed linked to Los Zetas. Nor is this particular prison an anomaly: A year ago in Gomez Palacio, Durango state, Zeta assassins left the prison in street clothes, driving official prison vehicles and armed with prison guards’ weapons. After killing 17 people attending a birthday party, the gunmen returned to the prison, gave the weapons back to the guards and re-entered their cells. It was later determined that they had conducted such operations from the prison on two previous occasions in 2010.

Mexican authorities have tried rotating prison staff and spending more money on training, but so far it has had little long-term effect. Many incarcerated cartel operatives, especially those who have leadership positions, seem to be able to get out of prison almost any time they wish. Until these problems are corrected, the federal effort in the cartel war can only be a qualified success.

Ambush in Sinaloa

On July 16, a convoy carrying members of Grupo Elite, a special operations unit of the Sinaloa state police, was ambushed on a highway near Guasave, Sinaloa state, in an area that has been hotly contested by cartels this year. The personnel were travelling in officially marked but unarmored trucks when they were attacked, and 10 members of the unit as well as one civilian were killed.

According to media reports, the convoy had just finished providing security for the chief of the Ministry of Public Security in Sinaloa state, Francisco Cordova Celaya, at an appearance in Los Mochis. (Cordova Celaya was not with the convoy, having departed Los Mochis by helicopter.) Though there is not yet any evidence to indicate this, the intent of the ambush may have been to kill Cordova Celaya.

Most notable about the ambush are the topographic features of the site. In other cartel ambushes seen over the past two years, geography has offered obvious tactical advantages for the ambush team such as high ground, roadblock-created kill zones, existing fighting positions, protective cover and limited visibility. In this case, the highway is in flat, level terrain, with two lanes in each direction separated by a “k-rail,” a low concrete partition common to many highways around the world. Other than the k-rail, which is high enough to prevent vehicles from crossing it and heading in the opposition direction, photographs and video of the scene show no other cover from which to conduct an effective ambush.

How, then, were cartel gunmen able to surprise a group of highly trained, well-armed law enforcement personnel traveling in multiple trucks and having excellent visibility and fields of fire? If a stationary roadblock were used, the Grupo Elite officers would have seen it well in advance and been able to take adequate measures to avoid or deal with the attackers. Similarly, a rolling roadblock, in which attacking vehicles box in the target vehicle while moving and force it to slow down, stop or crash, would have been easy to detect, and with multiple vehicles in the convoy such a tactic would have been difficult to pull off.

We suspect that a ruse was used to get the convoy to slow or stop voluntarily, such as a staged accident scene. Whatever it was that stopped the police convoy, it appears that security protocols were not followed and situational awareness was minimal at best. Even for well-trained security forces travelling in numbers, complacency can kill.

(click here to view interactive map)

July 11

Thirteen individuals were charged in a July 8 shooting at a bar in Valle de Chalco, Mexico state, that left 11 people dead. The shooting was a result of fighting between the Knights Templar and La Familia Michoacana.
Five members of Los Zetas were arrested in Ixcan, Peten, Guatemala, including a Mexican national. The arrests were the result of an ongoing investigation of a massacre that killed 27 people in Peten.
A lieutenant of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Luis Fernando Bertolucci Castillo, was arrested in the Dominican Republic. During the lieutenant’s interrogation he revealed the Sinaloa Cartel’s attempt to use the Dominican Republic as a base for drug-smuggling operations.

July 12

Two police officers were killed by residents of San Crisobalito in the municipality of San Andres, Chiapas. The police were following a man who was accused of stealing a vehicle. When the police entered San Cristobalito they were detained by residents then thrown into a ravine that was more than 200 meters deep.
A grenade thrown from a moving vehicle exploded at an Institutional Revolutionary Party office in Saltillo, Coahuila.
The public security director in Tuzantla, Michoacan state, was reported missing. His vehicle was found empty in Benito Juarez.

July 13

Five police officers were arrested in Mexico state for the June 26 execution of eight individuals in Valle de Chalco, Mexico state.
Five minors were killed after playing a soccer game in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. The bodies of the youth were found inside a truck.
Javier Beltran Arco, an alleged leader of Knights Templar also known as “El Chivo,” was arrested in Apatzigan, Michoacan.
A protest march organized by the Knight Templar was held in Apatzigan, Michoacan. A man identified as “Pantera” organized the march in response to federal troop deployments in the area.

July 14

Five vehicles that were replicas of typical police vehicles in the area were seized in San Luis Potosí.
Mexican authorities discovered a 300-acre marijuana plantation in Baja California, thought to be the largest cultivated marijuana operation ever found in Mexico.
Roadblocks and firefights involving the Mexican navy were reported in Matamoros, Tamaulipas.

July 15

A firefight between armed groups in Torreon, Coahuila, left four people dead and two injured.
Fifty-nine prisoners, many of whom were thought to be Los Zetas, escaped from a federal prison in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas. Seven inmates thought to be members of the Gulf cartel were killed before the escape.
A convoy made up of members of the state police unit Grupo Elite was ambushed while traveling along a highway in Guasave, Sinaloa. At least 10 police officers were killed.

July 16

Mexican soldiers discovered 114 kilograms of cocaine in a truck in Sonora.

July 17

A firefight between two groups in south Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, lasted for 45 minutes and included the use of high-powered rifles and grenades.
The Mexican army captured a Los Zetas leader, Cristobal “El Golon” Flores Lopez, in Anahuac, Nuevo Leon. El Golon is thought to have trafficked drugs from northern Mexico into the United States for the last eight years.

Read more: Mexico Security Memo: A Diversionary Protest by the Knights Templar? | STRATFOR
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« Reply #314 on: July 20, 2011, 11:39:31 PM »

 « Back to Article

U.S. federal court employee kidnapped, killed in Mexico
Details murky, but apparent kidnap unrelated to job ended in stabbing.
By Guillermo Contreras

Updated 09:53 p.m., Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Online votes sought for preservationRiver Road house avoids demolitionHasan's top lawyer off defense teamArrest made in 2002 killing of “check-cashing grandma”Durango's renamingcan proceed for nowPage 1 of 1
A court interpreter who worked for the San Antonio-based federal district that covers West Texas was found dead across the border in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, after reportedly being kidnapped for ransom.

Jorge Luis Dieppa, 57, had worked for the Western District of Texas for seven years as a Spanish-English interpreter in El Paso, and was a part-time lecturer at the University of Texas at El Paso and a martial arts instructor.

Dieppa disappeared July 5, apparently kidnapped, and was found dead July 6 after his family was unable to come up with $10,000 ransom, Mexican officials said in new releases that didn't identify Dieppa by name.

The victim was bound and gagged with duct tape and stabbed repeatedly, the releases said.

The officials said three people were arrested, including a stripper claiming to be his lover, and two more suspects are being sought.

Federal sources Wednesday confirmed Dieppa's identity and said the FBI in El Paso had been called in to assist the family since he was a U.S. citizen. The FBI declined to comment, as did Dieppa's family.

“He was a dedicated and loyal court family member,” said Fred Biery of San Antonio, chief judge of the Western District. “He leaves behind a widow and two sons.”

His kidnapping and death are not believed to be related to his status as a federal employee, and court officials had been told he crossed the border to have some work done on his car.

The Mexican news outlet Puente Libre, however, reported on its website that one of the suspects, a stripper named Lizbeth Nayeli Rodríguez Alanis, said Dieppa had been her lover for five years. Rodríguez claimed she and her accomplices decided to kidnap him after learning he taught college courses in El Paso, Puente Libre reported.

Other news organizations reported he was killed because he recognized Rodríguez as one of his captors.

A UTEP spokesman said Dieppa was a part-time lecturer in the school's languages and linguistics department. He also was involved in the El Paso Interpreters & Translators Association and was a sword instructor with the Hsin Lu Tau Academy of Martial Arts in El Paso.

“We are all saddened by the loss to his family and our court family,” Biery said. “People just have to be careful on where they go and with whom they associate.”

Services are pending.

Read more:
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« Reply #315 on: July 21, 2011, 09:17:33 AM »
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« Reply #316 on: July 26, 2011, 12:35:11 PM »

From a very reliable source:

Juárez authorities were dealing with a riot at the Cereso prison late Monday night, a police spokesman said. Multiple gunshots heard from inside the prison. Soldiers, state and federal police officers were deployed to the prison. It is unknown if anyone was injured.  The Norte newspaper reported on its website that some prisoners may have been disguised as security guards and were heavily armed during a possible escape attempt .At the same time, authorities were also dealing with a burning car on Norzagaray boulevard and a shootout between gunmen and federal police on Eje Vial Juan Gabriel.

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« Reply #317 on: July 27, 2011, 11:27:20 AM »

Surprise tongue high up white official knew of the fast and furious operation.  Obviously Holder will look the other way.  But Congress has the power to appoint a special prosecutor to look for the cover up:

******CBSNews Investigates   
 (Credit: CBS/AP) At a lengthy hearing on ATF's controversial gunwalking operation today, a key ATF manager told Congress he discussed the case with a White House National Security staffer as early as September 2010. The communications were between ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office, Bill Newell, and White House National Security Director for North America Kevin O'Reilly. Newell said the two are longtime friends. The content of what Newell shared with O'Reilly is unclear and wasn't fully explored at the hearing.

It's the first time anyone has publicly stated that a White House official had any familiarity with ATF's operation Fast and Furious, which allowed thousands of weapons to fall into the hands of suspected traffickers for Mexican drug cartels in an attempt to gain intelligence. It's unknown as to whether O'Reilly shared information with anybody else at the White House.

Congressional investigators obtained an email from Newell to O'Reilly in September of last year in which Newell began with the words: "you didn't get this from me."

"What does that mean," one member of Congress asked Newell, " 'you didn't get this from me?' "

"Obviously he was a friend of mine," Newell replied, "and I shouldn't have been sending that to him."

Newell told Congress that O'Reilly had asked him for information.

"Why do you think he asked for that information," Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked Newell.

"He was asking about the impact of Project Gunrunner to brief people in preparation for a trip to Mexico... what we were doing to combat firearms trafficking and other issues."

Today, a White House spokesman said the email was not about Fast and Furious, but about other gun trafficking efforts. The spokesman also said he didn't know what Newell was referring to when he said he'd spoken to O'Reilly about Fast and Furious.

President Obama has said neither he nor Attorney General Eric Holder authorized or knew about the operation. Holder has asked the Inspector General to investigate.******

*****Special prosecutor
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A special prosecutor generally is a lawyer from outside the government appointed by an attorney general or, in the United States, by Congress to investigate a government official for misconduct while in office. A reasoning for such an appointment is that the governmental branch or agency may have political connections to those it might be asked to investigate. Inherently, this creates a conflict of interest and a solution is to have someone from outside the department lead the investigation. The term "special prosecutor" may have a variety of meanings from one country to the next, from one government branch to the next within the same country, and within different agencies within each government branch. Critics of the use of special prosecutors argue that these investigators act as a "4th branch" to the government because they are not subject to limitations in spending or have deadlines to meet.*****
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« Reply #318 on: July 27, 2011, 12:20:24 PM »

Congress hasn't had the statutory authority to name a special prosecutor since 1999.
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« Reply #319 on: July 27, 2011, 12:25:12 PM »

Is the Wikepedia blurb above outdated?  It claims Congress can do this.

How could one expect the DOJ to investigate itself or in this case the connected WH?
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« Reply #320 on: July 27, 2011, 12:53:07 PM »

The politics around the special prosecutor led Congress to refuse to re-up the statute.
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« Reply #321 on: July 29, 2011, 06:19:53 AM »

« Last Edit: July 29, 2011, 06:59:44 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #322 on: July 29, 2011, 07:17:21 PM »
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« Reply #323 on: August 05, 2011, 10:47:32 PM »
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« Reply #324 on: August 07, 2011, 11:11:43 AM »

WASHINGTON — The United States is expanding its role in Mexico’s bloody fight against drug trafficking organizations, sending new C.I.A. operatives and retired military personnel to the country and considering plans to deploy private security contractors in hopes of  turning around a multibillion-dollar effort that so far has shown few results.

The United States is assisting Mexican police forces in conducting wiretaps, running informants and interrogating suspects.
In recent weeks, small numbers of C.I.A. operatives and American civilian military employees have been posted at a Mexican military base, where, for the first time, security officials from both countries work side by side in collecting information about drug cartels and helping plan operations. Officials are also looking into embedding a team of American contractors inside a specially vetted Mexican counternarcotics police unit.

Officials on both sides of the border say the new efforts have been devised to get around Mexican laws that prohibit foreign military and police from operating on its soil, and to prevent advanced American surveillance technology from falling under the control of Mexican security agencies with long histories of corruption.

“A sea change has occurred over the past years in how effective Mexico and U.S. intelligence exchanges have become,” said Arturo Sarukhán, Mexico’s ambassador to the United States. “It is underpinned by the understanding that transnational organized crime can only be successfully confronted by working hand in hand, and that the outcome is as simple as it is compelling:  we will together succeed or together fail.”

The latest steps come three years after the United States began increasing its security assistance to Mexico with the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative and tens of millions of dollars from the Defense Department. They also come a year before elections in both countries, when President Obama may confront questions about the threat of violence spilling over the border, and President Felipe Calderón’s political party faces a Mexican electorate that is almost certainly going to ask why it should stick with a fight that has left nearly 45,000 people dead.

“The pressure is going to be especially strong in Mexico, where I expect there will be a lot more raids, a lot more arrests and a lot more parading drug traffickers in front of cameras,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a counternarcotics expert at the Brookings Institution. “But I would also expect a lot of questioning of Merida, and some people asking about the way the money is spent, or demanding that the government send it back to the gringos.”

Mexico has become ground zero in the American counternarcotics fight since its cartels have cornered the market and are responsible for more than 80 percent of the drugs that enter the United States. American counternarcotics assistance there has grown faster in recent years than to Afghanistan and Colombia. And in the last three years, officials said, exchanges of intelligence between the United States and Mexico have helped security forces there capture or kill some 30 mid- to high-level drug traffickers, compared with just two such arrests in the previous five years.

The United States has trained nearly 4,500 new federal police agents and assisted in conducting wiretaps, running informants and interrogating suspects. The Pentagon has provided sophisticated equipment, including Black Hawk helicopters, and in recent months it has begun flying unarmed surveillance drones over Mexican soil to track drug kingpins.

Still, it is hard to say much real progress has been made in crippling the brutal cartels or stemming the flow of drugs and guns across the border. Mexico’s justice system remains so weakened by corruption that even the most notorious criminals have not been successfully prosecuted.   

“The government has argued that the number of deaths in Mexico is proof positive that the strategy is working and that the cartels are being weakened,” said Nik Steinberg, a specialist on Mexico at Human Rights Watch. “But the data is indisputable — the violence is increasing, human rights abuses have skyrocketed and accountability both for officials who commit abuses and alleged criminals is at rock bottom.”

Mexican and American officials involved in the fight against organized crime do not see it that way. They say the efforts begun under President Obama are only a few years old, and that it is too soon for final judgments. Dan Restrepo, Mr. Obama’s senior Latin American adviser, refused to talk about operational changes in the security relationship, but said, “I think we are in a fundamentally different place than we were three years ago.”


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A senior Mexican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, agreed. “This is the game-changer in degrading transnational organized crime,” he said, adding: “It can’t be a two-, three-, four-, five- or six-year policy. For this policy investment to work, it has to be sustained long-term.”

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The New York Times

Several Mexican and American security analysts compared the challenges of helping Mexico rebuild its security forces and civil institutions — crippled by more than seven decades under authoritarian rule — to similar tests in Afghanistan. They see the United States fighting alongside a partner it needs but does not completely trust.

Though the new United States ambassador to Mexico was plucked from an assignment in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Obama administration bristles at such comparisons, saying Mexico’s growing economy and functioning, though fragile, institutions put it far ahead of Afghanistan. Instead, administration officials more frequently compare Mexico’s struggle to the one Colombia began some 15 years ago.

Among the most important lessons they have learned, they say, is that in almost any fight against organized crime, things tend to get worse before they get better.

When violence spiked last year around Mexico’s industrial capital, Monterrey, Mr. Calderón’s government asked the United States for more access to sophisticated surveillance technology and expertise. After months of negotiations, the United States established an intelligence post on a northern Mexican military base, moving Washington beyond its traditional role of sharing information to being more directly involved in gathering it.

American officials declined to provide details about the work being done by the American team of fewer than two dozen Drug Enforcement Administration agents, C.I.A. officials and retired military personnel members from the Pentagon’s Northern Command. For security reasons, they asked The New York Times not to disclose the location of the compound.

But the officials said the compound had been modeled after “fusion intelligence centers” that the United States operates in Iraq and Afghanistan to monitor insurgent groups, and that the United States would strictly play a supporting role.

“The Mexicans are in charge," said one American military official. “It’s their show. We’re all about technical support.”

The two countries have worked in lock step on numerous high-profile operations, including the continuing investigation of the February murder of Jaime J. Zapata, an American Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

Mexico’s federal police chief, Genaro García Luna, put a helicopter in the air within five minutes after receiving a call for help from Mr. Zapata’s partner, the authorities said. Then he invited American officials to the police intelligence center — an underground location known as “the bunker” — to work directly with Mexican security forces in tracking down the suspects.

Mexican officials hand-carried shell casings recovered from the scene of the shooting to Washington for forensics tests, allowed American officials to conduct their own autopsy of the agent’s body and shipped the agent’s bullet-battered car to the United States for inspection.

In another operation last week, the Drug Enforcement Administration and a Mexican counternarcotics police unit collaborated on an operation that led to the arrest of José Antonio Hernández Acosta, a suspected drug trafficker. The authorities believe he is responsible for hundreds of deaths in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, including the murders of two Americans employed at the United States Consulate there.

While D.E.A. field officers were not on the scene — the Mexicans still draw the line at that — the Americans helped develop tips and were in contact with the Mexican unit almost every minute of the five-hour manhunt, according to a senior American official in Mexico. The unit, of about 50 officers, is the focus of another potentially ground-breaking plan that has not yet won approval. Several former D.E.A. officials said the two countries were considering a proposal to embed a group of private security contractors — including retired D.E.A. agents and former Special Forces officers — inside the unit to conduct an on-the-job training academy that would offer guidance in conducting operations so that suspects can be successfully taken to court. Mexican prosecutors would also work with the unit, the Americans said.

But a former American law enforcement official familiar with the unit described it as one good apple in a barrel of bad ones. He said it was based on a compound with dozens of other nonvetted officers, who provided a window on the challenges that the Mexican police continue to face.

Some of the officers had not been issued weapons, and those who had guns had not been properly trained to use them. They were required to pay for their helmets and bulletproof vests out of their own pockets. And during an intense gun battle against one of Mexico’s most vicious cartels, they had to communicate with one another on their cellphones because they had not been issued police radios. “It’s sort of shocking,” said Eric Olson of the Woodrow Wilson Center. “Mexico is just now learning how to fight crime in the midst of a major crime wave. It’s like trying to saddle your horse while running the Kentucky Derby.”
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« Reply #325 on: August 18, 2011, 09:40:58 AM »

The Buffer Between Mexican Cartels and the U.S. Government
August 17, 2011

By Scott Stewart

It is summer in Juarez, and again this year we find the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization (VCF), also known as the Juarez cartel, under pressure and making threats. At this time in 2010, La Linea, the VCF’s enforcer arm, detonated a small improvised explosive device (IED) inside a car in Juarez and killed two federal agents, one municipal police officer and an emergency medical technician and wounded nine other people. La Linea threatened to employ a far larger IED (100 kilograms) if the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) did not investigate the head of Chihuahua State Police intelligence, whom the VCF claimed was working for the Sinaloa Federation.

La Linea did attempt to employ another IED on Sept. 10, 2010, but this device, which failed to detonate, contained only 16 kilograms of explosives, far less than the 100 kilograms that the group had threatened to use.

Fast-forward a year, and we see the VCF still under unrelenting pressure from the Sinaloa Federation and still making threats. On July 15, the U.S. Consulate in Juarez released a message warning that, according to intelligence it had in hand, a cartel may be targeting the consulate or points of entry into the United States. On July 27, “narcomantas” — banners inscribed with messages from drug cartels — appeared in Juarez and Chihuahua signed by La Linea and including explicit threats against the DEA and employees of the U.S. Consulate in Juarez. Two days after the narcomantas appeared, Jose Antonio “El Diego” Acosta Hernandez, a senior La Linea leader whose name was mentioned in the messages, was arrested by Mexican authorities aided by intelligence from the U.S. government. Acosta is also believed to have been responsible for planning La Linea’s past IED attacks.

As we have discussed in our coverage of the drug war in Mexico, Mexican cartels, including the VCF, clearly possess the capability to construct and employ large vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) — truck bombs — and yet they have chosen not to. These groups are not averse to bloodshed, or even outright barbarity, when they believe it is useful. Their decision to abstain from certain activities, such as employing truck bombs or targeting a U.S. Consulate, indicates that there must be compelling strategic reasons for doing so. After all, groups in Lebanon, Pakistan and Iraq have demonstrated that truck bombs are a very effective means of killing perceived enemies and of sending strong messages.

Perhaps the most compelling reason for the Mexican cartels to abstain from such activities is that they do not consider them to be in their best interest. One important part of their calculation is that such activities would remove the main buffer that is currently insulating them from the full force of the U.S. government: the Mexican government.

The Buffer

Despite their public manifestations of machismo, the cartel leaders clearly fear and respect the strength of the world’s only superpower. This is evidenced by the distinct change in cartel activities along the U.S.-Mexico border, where a certain operational downshift routinely occurs. In Mexico, the cartels have the freedom to operate far more brazenly than they can in the United States, in terms of both drug trafficking and acts of violence. Shipments of narcotics traveling through Mexico tend to be far larger than shipments moving into and through the United States. When these large shipments reach the border they are taken to stash houses on the Mexican side, where they are typically divided into smaller quantities for transport into and through the United States.

As for violence, while the cartels do kill people on the U.S. side of the border, their use of violence there tends to be far more discreet; it has certainly not yet incorporated the dramatic flair that is frequently seen on the Mexican side, where bodies are often dismembered or hung from pedestrian bridges over major thoroughfares. The cartels are also careful not to assassinate high-profile public figures such as police chiefs, mayors and reporters in the United States, as they frequently do in Mexico.

The border does more than just alter the activities of the cartels, however. It also constrains the activities of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. These agencies cannot pursue cartels on the Mexican side of the border with the same vigor that they exercise on the U.S. side. Occasionally, the U.S. government will succeed in luring a wanted Mexican cartel leader outside of Mexico, as it did in the August 2006 arrest of Javier Arellano Felix, or catch one operating in the United States like Javier’s oldest brother, Francisco Arellano Felix. By and large, however, most wanted cartel figures remain in Mexico, out of the reach of U.S. law.

One facet of this buffer is corruption, which is endemic in Mexico, reaching all the way from the lowest municipal police officer to the presidential palace. Over the years several senior Mexican anti-drug officials, including the nation’s drug czar, have been arrested and charged with corruption.

However, the money generated by the Mexican cartels has far greater effects than just promoting corruption. The billions of dollars that come into the Mexican economy via the drug trade are important to the Mexican banking sector and to the industries in which the funds are laundered, such as construction. Because of this, there are many powerful Mexican businessmen who profit either directly or indirectly from the narcotics trade, and it would not be in their best interest for the billions of drug dollars to stop flowing into Mexico. Such people can place heavy pressure on the political system by either supporting or withholding support from particular candidates or parties.

Because of this, sources in Mexico have been telling STRATFOR that they believe that Mexican politicians like President Filipe Calderon are far more interested in stopping drug violence than they are in stopping the flow of narcotics. This is a pragmatic approach. Clearly, as long as there is demand for drugs in the United States there will be people who will find ways to meet that demand. It is impossible to totally stop the flow of narcotics into the U.S. market.

In addition to corruption and the economic benefits Mexico realizes from the drug trade, there is another important element that causes the Mexican government to act as a buffer between the Mexican cartels and the U.S. government — geopolitics. The Mexico-U.S. relationship is a long one that has involved considerable competition and conflict. The United States has long meddled in the affairs of Mexico and other countries in Latin America. And from the Mexican perspective, American imperialist aggression, via the Texas War of Independence and the Mexican-American War, resulted in Mexico losing nearly half of its territory to its powerful northern neighbor. Less than a century ago, U.S. troops invaded northern Mexico in response to Pancho Villa’s incursions into the United States.

Because of this history, Mexico — as with most of the rest of Latin America — regards the United States as a threat to its sovereignty. The result of this perception is that the Mexican government and the Mexican people in general are very reluctant to allow the United States to become too involved in Mexican affairs. The idea of American troops or law enforcement agents with boots on the ground in Mexico is considered especially threatening from the Mexican perspective.

A Thin Barrier

While Mexican sovereignty and international law combine with corruption and economics to create a barrier to assertive U.S. intervention in Mexico’s drug war, this barrier is not inviolable. There are two distinct ways this type of barrier has been breached in the past: by force and by consent.

An example of the first was seen following the 1985 kidnapping, torture and murder of U.S. DEA special agent Enrique Camarena. The DEA was not able to get what it viewed as satisfactory assistance from the Mexican government in pursuing the case despite the tremendous pressure applied by the U.S. government. This prompted the DEA to unilaterally enter Mexico and snatch two Mexican citizens connected to the case. Because of his involvement in the Camarena case, Honduran drug kingpin Juan Matta-Ballesteros was also rendered from his home in Honduras by U.S. government agents.

As a result of the U.S. reaction to the Camarena murder, the Guadalajara Cartel, Mexico’s most powerful criminal organization at the time, was decapitated, its leaders — Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo, Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo and Rafael Caro Quintero — all arrested and convicted for their part in ordering the killing. The tremendous pressure applied to Mexican authorities by the U.S. government to arrest the trio, coupled with the fear that they too might be rendered, ultimately led to their detention, although they did maintain sufficient influence to ensure that they were not extradited to the United States.

The Guadalajara Cartel also lost its primary connection to the Medellin cartel (Matta-Ballesteros) as a result of the Camarena case, and the cartel was eventually fractured into smaller units that would become today’s Sinaloa, Juarez, Gulf and Tijuana cartels. The Camarena case taught the Mexican cartel bosses to be careful not to provoke the Americans to the point where it will bring the full power of the U.S. government to bear upon their organizations (a lesson recently demonstrated by the unilateral U.S. operation to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan).

But in addition to unilateral force, sometimes the U.S. government can be invited into a country despite concerns about sovereignty. This happens when the population has something it fears more than U.S. involvement, and this is what happened in Colombia in the late 1980s. In an effort to influence the Colombian government not to cooperate with the U.S. government and extradite him to the United States, Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, leader of the Medellin Cartel, resorted to terrorism. In 1989 he launched a string of terrorist attacks that included the assassination of one presidential candidate, the bombing a civilian airliner in an attempt to kill a second presidential candidate and several large VBIED attacks, including the detonation of a 1,000-pound truck bomb in December 1989 targeting the Colombian Administrative Department of Security (DAS, Colombia’s primary national intelligence and security service) that caused massive damage in the area around the DAS building in downtown Bogota. These attacks had a powerful impact on the Colombian government and Colombian people and caused them to reach out to the United States for increased assistance despite their concern about U.S. power. The increased U.S. assistance eventually led to the death of Escobar and the systematic dismantling of his organization.

The lesson in the Escobar case was: Do not push your own government or population too far or they will turn on you and invite the Americans in.

Full Circle

So, in looking at the situation in Mexico today, there are indeed cartel organizations that have been hit hard. Over the past few years, we have seen groups such as the Beltran Leyva Organization, the Arellano Felix Organization, the VCF and Los Zetas heavily damaged. Many of these groups, particularly the VCF, the Arellano Felix Organization and Los Zetas, have been forced to resort to other criminal activity such as kidnapping, extortion and human trafficking to fund their operations. However, they have not yet undertaken large-scale terrorist attacks. The VCF tiptoed along that line last year, with La Linea’s small-scale IED attacks, as did the Gulf cartel, but these groups were careful not to use IEDs that were too large, and La Linea never employed the huge IED it threatened to. In fact, the overall use of IEDs is down dramatically in 2011 compared to the same period last year — despite the fact that explosives are readily available in Mexico and the cartels have the demonstrated capability to manufacture and employ them.

It is also important to recognize that in the past couple of years, when the United States has become heavily interested in attacks linked to the Mexican cartels, the cartel figures believed to be responsible for these actions have been arrested or killed. This has happened in cases such as the March 2010 murders of three people with ties to the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, the September 2010 murder of David Hartley on Falcon Lake, the February 2011 murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata, and even the previously mentioned July 27 threats against U.S. interests in Juarez. This means that the chances of a cartel such as the VCF getting the United States directly involved without the cartel being directly impacted are probably quite slim. In other words, if the VCF attacks the U.S. Consulate in Juarez, it can expect to be targeted directly by the U.S. and Mexican governments, instead of the governments focusing on other cartel players in the city, such as the VCF’s rival, the Sinaloa Federation.

As noted in our last cartel update, we anticipate that in the coming months the Mexican government campaign against Los Zetas will continue to impact that group, as will the attacks against Los Zetas by the Gulf cartel and its criminal allies. We also anticipate that the aforementioned Sinaloa pressure against the VCF in Juarez will not diminish. Nor will Mexican government pressure: We have seen reports that Luis Antonio Flores (also known as El Comen 2 or El Tarzan), El Diego’s replacement as the leader of La Linea, was arrested Aug. 16. However, we have seen nothing that would indicate that this pressure will cause these groups to lash out in the form of large-scale terrorist attacks like those associated with Pablo Escobar. Even when wounded, these Mexican organizations have shown that they seek to maintain the buffer protecting them from the full power of the U.S. government.

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« Reply #326 on: August 23, 2011, 11:46:31 AM »

Gunfight at a Soccer Match in Torreon

A gunfight erupted in Torreon, Coahuila state, at around 8 p.m. on Aug. 20, after a three-vehicle convoy of gunmen reportedly crashed through a security checkpoint outside the  Territorio Santos Modelo soccer stadium. No one was killed or seriously injured during the shootout. Security forces closed the doors of the stadium — likely preventing the deaths of fans who might have panicked and run out into the gunfight — and established a security cordon around the facility.

Adelaido Flores Diaz, the director general of public security in Torreon, confirmed that the gunmen were targeting a Public Security Patrol, rather than the stadium or the fans therein. Stray bullets did enter the stadium. The gunmen evaded arrest by using caltrops (small, four-pointed spikes used to deflate vehicle tires) to slow pursuing authorities. Their truck was found abandoned and containing three high-caliber weapons and two grenades.

(click here to enlarge image)
The shootout in Torreon illustrates the role geography plays in Mexico’s drug trafficking operations — a role of which cartel leaders keenly understand the importance. Cartels must not only move contraband into and out of the country, but also across it. Situated in central Mexico at the intersection of a couple of major highways, Torreon is a critical hub for cartels moving product to northern Mexico and, eventually, into the United States. Control of Torreon helps facilitate the movement of product from Mexico’s Pacific coast across the country to smuggling corridors, such as Nuevo Laredo and Ciudad Juarez, on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Because cartels understand the importance and vulnerability of their own supply routes, such gateway cities have become hotly disputed territory. Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation have been fighting for control of Torreon for some time, and members of one or both of those groups were very likely among those involved in the shootout. We can expect to see continual violence in the city as the Zetas and Sinaloa continue to vie for unfettered control of transit routes. Unfortunately for Torreon, its geographic location predisposes it to such violence and increases the psychological impact of “terror,” which STRATFOR has previously addressed.

Indeed, aside from the geographic issue, there is also a notable psychological component to the incident in Torreon. Soccer is by far the most popular sport in Mexico, often used as a means to escape the realities of daily life. In a country where the populace does not often have much reason for optimism — corruption is rampant and violence, often grotesque and public, is commonplace — fans can always cheer for their home team and take pride in their city when victorious. While Torreon is unlikely to stop hosting soccer matches altogether, the psychological impact of the Aug. 20 gunfight is an affront to a cherished pastime. It signifies a permeation of violence into every aspect of Mexican life and robs Torreon’s citizens of a respite from news of prolific violence, making a return to normalcy seem all the more remote.

Moreover, the game was a high-profile event, airing not only in Mexico but also the United States, and a number of fans documented the episode on cameras and phones. (None of the fans actually recorded anything but the sounds of the gunfire. During the live telecast, the game’s announcers discussed what was happening, who was responsible and how to escape.) Such publicity serves as a reminder that while Mexico’s war on drugs directly affects comparatively few — those in cities such as Torreon — the violence it causes can be seen by anyone with an Internet connection.

Violence in Acapulco

On Aug. 17, two bus drivers and an assistant driver were killed in separate incidents in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The first incident took place on the Acapulco-Mexico highway at an area known as La Llave de Agua, where a bus driver and his assistant were found dead in their bus, near a number of shell casings. In the second incident, a female driver was found shot and killed in her bus on the Avenida Adolfo Ruiz Cortines.

The violence in Acapulco is a result of its strategic geographic location. The port is a natural coastal harbor and provides excellent shelter. It has become an important port, not only for legitimate economic enterprises, but also for the drug industry. Though far smaller than Lazaro Cardenas, it is still a critical hub for the import of precursor chemicals used in the production of methamphetamine, and of cocaine that arrives at port from Colombia. It also straddles the Pacific coastal highway, which traverses nearly the entire country. Acapulco is currently being fought over by several different criminal groups. One of these is the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA), which consists of a faction of the former Beltran Leyva Organization that was loyal to Edgar “La Barbie” Valdez Villarreal and that joined with local Acapulco criminals to form CIDA. This group has long been locked in a bloody war with the Sinaloa cartel and the Cartel Pacifico Sur, which is headed by Hector Beltran Leyva.

As cartel infighting continues to escalate, so too does violence against transportation employees. This violence can occur for many reasons. The first is extortion. Like other businesses, many bus companies and taxi companies are forced to pay “taxes” to the criminal organizations that control the city in which they operate. Failure to pay these organizations frequently results in violence. Conversely, in a city where various groups are vying for control, one group can target a business that it believes is providing financial support to a rival organization. This leaves businesses facing a deadly situation: Failure to pay may result in death, while paying one cartel over others invites reprisal from rival cartels.

Finally, some transportation workers serve as “halcones” — a name given to those working to supply street-level information to various cartels. Certainly not all of those working in the transportation industry work for the cartels, but those who do are vital assets of their respective intelligence apparatuses. They have an inherent cover story and the ability to access different areas of a city (bus drivers even have scheduled, predictable routes). Cartels, therefore, have every incentive to target those halcones they believe to be on the take of their rivals.

As violence continues in the struggle to control Acapulco, it will impact bystanders as well as those supporting the various combatants.

(click here to view interactive map)

Aug. 15

A decapitated body was hung off a bridge in Huixquilucan, Mexico state, with a narcomanta from La Mano con Ojos. The message stated that the decapitated individual thought the La Mano con Ojos organization was disjointed and decided to work for himself. The message follows the arrest of Oscar Osvaldo “El Compayito” Garcia Montoya, the former leader of the group.
Police seized 2 tons of marijuana in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, after an armed individual was spotted discarding a package in the presence of police. No arrests were made.

Aug. 16

Federal police arrested the presumed successor to the leader of La Linea, Jose Antonio “El Diego” Acosta Hernandez. He was arrested in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. “El Coman 2,” who operates under the aliases Luis Antonio Flores Diaz and Jose Antonio Rincon, replaced Acosta after his arrest on July 29.
The Mexican army killed eight gunmen traveling in a three-vehicle convoy in Michoacan state’s Tacambaro region. As the army patrol approached, two of the vehicles sped away while the third engaged in a gunfight with the soldiers.
Gunmen shot and killed Francisco Torres Ibanez, the intermunicipal police commander of Veracruz-Boca Del Rio, while he was on patrol in Veracruz, Veracruz state.
A severed pig head was discovered in a cooler at a university in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, with a note stating that the pig head was for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The message was signed “El Coman 2.”

Aug. 17

During a reconnaissance operation, Mexican authorities seized a drug lab in Chilchota, Michoacan state, containing approximately 1 ton of chemical precursors.
Federal police seized approximately 116 kilograms (256 pounds) of marijuana from a vehicle in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.
Five coolers containing severed human remains were found throughout Acapulco, Guerrero state. The identities of the victims and the killers remain unknown.

Aug. 18

Multiple narcomantas were posted throughout Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, criticizing Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Some of the banners were critical of the lack of reporting of clandestine graves in Durango and accused Calderon of a cover-up.
Ten Los Zetas members were killed when the Mexican army approached a safe house in Agualeguas, Nuevo Leon state. At least 20 gunmen escaped during the fight.

Aug. 19

The Mexican army detained 10 members of the group Comando Del Diablo, in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The arrests were a result of an investigation conducted after members of the group left coolers with human remains in Acapulco on Aug. 17.

Aug. 20

The mayor of Zacualpan, Mexico state, was found dead in Teloloapan, Guerrero state. He was kidnapped Aug. 19 after he and his bodyguards were attacked by gunmen.
A gunfight erupted between police and gunmen in Torreon, Coahuila state. The gunfight occurred outside of a soccer stadium where a game was being played.
Nine dead bodies with multiple gunshot wounds were found along a highway near Mora, Nayarit state. The bodies were found with their hands bound.
After stopping traffic and firing gunshots, gunmen hung a narcomanta off a bridge in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, addressed to Calderon and state Gov. Rodrigo Medina. The narcomanta warned of an upcoming prison escape at the Apodaca prison in Nuevo Leon.

Aug. 21

Three human heads were discovered in a plastic bag along a busy street in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The authorities have not dismissed the possibility that the heads belong to headless corpses found in Acapulco on Aug. 19.

Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Violence Shows Strategic Value of Torreon, Acapulco | STRATFOR
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« Reply #327 on: August 28, 2011, 08:53:33 AM »

No citation, but from a reliable source.  For those not familiar with Mexico, know that the presence of foreign troops and/or police is an unusually hot button in Mexico, , , and that understates matters.  For a writer with the impeccable Mexican credentials of Carlos Fuentes to call for such, is quite remarkable.

Hours before accepting a literary prize Saturday night in Spain, Carlos Fuentes, one of Mexico's most accomplished writers, spoke decisively about the country's crisis of violence and drug trafficking.

"They should decriminalize drugs and get help from the Israeli, French or German police forces who have proven effective in combating crime," he said.

The 82 year old Mexican writer, and social and political activist, acknowledged that he was stunned by the horrific "narco" attack at the Casino Royale in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, that killed 53 people.

"Unless steps are taken to legalize drugs in coordination with the United States, which is the biggest drug market, and unless more effective internal police actions are forthcoming, the drug cartels will defeat the Mexican Army and the country's unarmed society," argued Fuentes.
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« Reply #328 on: August 28, 2011, 09:52:37 AM »

Crafty, you know far more about Mexico than I do, but no where in your post do I see Carlos Fuentes calling for "foreign troops".  He does call for the decriminalization of drugs, a controversial subject, and suggests help from Israeli, French, or German police forces.  I take this as a slap against the US since from what I've read, our various "police" forces (DEA, FBI, CIA) have been advising and cooperating with Mexico but to no avail.  Perhaps having Israeli, French, or German police assist might be less controversial rather than US advisors since America, as the primary consumer of drugs, is indirectly much of the cause of the violence in Mexico.
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« Reply #329 on: August 28, 2011, 09:57:29 AM »

I'll point out that the Israeli, French and German police operate under greater freedoms to use force in doing their jobs. Yeah, this was a slap at the US.
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« Reply #330 on: August 28, 2011, 10:08:46 AM »

It was not my intention to say that CF called for foreign troops for he did not.  My bad. embarassed

As for the calling for other than US police, I suspect this is due to intense traditional Mexican concerns about being manipulated, controlled, invaded, and such by the US.
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« Reply #331 on: August 28, 2011, 10:10:15 AM »

Traditional Mexican anti-americanism.
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« Reply #332 on: August 29, 2011, 11:33:28 AM »

Mexico’s economy
Making the desert bloom
The Mexican economy has recovered somewhat from a scorching recession imported from America, but is still hobbled by domestic monopolies and cartels
Aug 27th 2011

HOT and high in the Sierra Madre, the city of Saltillo is a long way from Wall Street. Stuffed goats keep an eye on customers in the high-street vaquera, or cowboy outfitter, where workers from the local car factories blow their pesos on snakeskin boots and $100 Stetsons. Pinstriped suits and silk ties are outnumbered by checked shirts and silver belt-buckles; pickups are prized over Porsches.

The financial crisis of 2008 began on the trading floors of Manhattan, but the biggest tremors were felt in the desert south of the Rio Grande. Mexico suffered the steepest recession of any country in the Americas, bar a couple of Caribbean tiddlers. Its economy shrank by 6.1% in 2009 (see chart 1). Between the third quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009, 700,000 jobs were lost, 260,000 of them in manufacturing. The slump was deepest in the prosperous north: worst hit was the border state of Coahuila. Saltillo, its capital, had grown rich exporting to America. The state’s output fell by 12.3% in 2009 as orders dried up.

The recession turned a reasonable decade for Mexico’s economy into a dreary one. In the ten years to 2010, income per person grew by 0.6% a year, one of the lowest rates in the world. In the early 2000s Mexico boasted Latin America’s biggest economy, measured at market exchange rates, but it was soon overtaken by Brazil, whose GDP is now twice as big and still pulling away, boosted by the soaring real. Soon Brazil will take the lead in oil production, which Mexico has allowed to dwindle. As Brazilians construct stadiums for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, Mexicans, who last year celebrated the bicentenary of their independence from Spain, are building monuments to their past (and finishing them late).

Mexico’s muscles

Yet Mexico’s economy is packed with potential. Thanks to the North American Free-Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and a string of bilateral deals, it trades more than Argentina and Brazil combined, and more per person than China. Last year it did $400 billion of business with the United States, more than any country bar Canada and China. The investment rate, at more than a fifth of GDP, is well ahead of Brazil’s. Income per person slipped below Brazil’s in 2009, but only because of the real’s surge and the peso’s weakness. After accounting for purchasing power, Mexicans are still better off than Brazilians.

Though expatriates whinge about bureaucracy, the World Bank ranks Mexico the easiest place in Latin America to do business and the 35th-easiest in the world, ahead of Italy and Spain. In Brazil (placed 127th) companies spend 2,600 hours a year filing taxes, six times more than in Mexico. Registering a business takes nine days in Mexico and 26 in Argentina. The working hours of supposedly siesta-loving Mexicans are among the longest in the world. And although Mexico’s schools are the worst in (mainly rich) OECD countries, they are the least bad in Latin America apart from Chile’s.

These strengths have helped Mexico to rebound smartly from its calamitous slump. Last year the economy grew by 5.4%, recovering much of the ground lost in 2009. Exports to the United States, having fallen by a fifth, have reached a record high. In the desert there are signs of life: Saltillo’s high street, where four out of ten shops closed during the recession, is busy again. CIFUNSA, a foundry that turns out some 400,000 tonnes of cast iron a year for customers such as Ford and Volkswagen, shed 40% of its staff in 2009, but has rehired most of them and is producing more than it did before the slump.

However, the jobs market has yet to return to its pre-recession state. Nationally, the official unemployment rate is 5.4%, having peaked at 6.4% in 2009. Javier Lozano, Mexico’s labour secretary, believes that the pre-recession mark of 4.1% will not be matched within the term of this government or the next (ie, before 2018). What’s more, the new jobs are not as good as those that were lost. Average pay last year was 5% lower than in 2008. Because of this, and rising food prices, more Mexicans have slipped into poverty: last year 46.2% of them were below the official poverty line (earning less than 2,114 pesos, or $167, per month), up from 44.5% in 2008.

Just as recession came from the gringos, recovery depends partly on them. Many analysts who once predicted economic growth of 5% this year cut their forecasts to under 4% after a downward revision of American GDP in July. Exports account for nearly a third of Mexico’s trillion-dollar GDP, and most go to the United States. Remittances provide $190 per person per year (down from $240 in 2007). Now America faces several years of lacklustre growth, which poses a dilemma for Mexico.

Some look at the recent explosive growth of Brazil and wonder if it is time to follow its example and look to new markets. In 2009 only 3% of Mexico’s exports went to Brazil, Russia, India or China, whereas Brazil sent 16% of its exports to its fellow BRICs. Industrialised countries receive less than half of Brazil’s exports but 90% of Mexico’s. The Inter-American Development Bank, the biggest lender in the region, describes a “two speed” Latin America, in which economies, such as Mexico, which do most of their trade with developed countries, lag behind those, such as Brazil, that have forged links with emerging markets.

South or north?

Mexico has already diversified its exports. America’s share of them has fallen from 89% in 2000 to perhaps 78% this year and will fall further, according to Miguel Messmacher, head of economic planning at Mexico’s finance ministry. Sales to Latin America and Asia are growing twice as fast as those to America. The automotive industry, Mexico’s biggest exporter, is ahead of the trend: though exports to America continue to rise, they now make up only 65% of the total. Eduardo Solís, head of the industry’s national association, says he would like to get the figure down to 50% by focusing on Latin America and Europe.

Others say Mexico’s economic future will always be to the north. “We can’t just become a commodity exporter and start sending soy beans to China,” says Jorge Castañeda, a former foreign secretary. History, geography and natural resources have wedded Mexico to its wealthy neighbour: “It’s not something we chose,” he says. If the American economy is growing slowly, Mexico will just have to get a bigger chunk of it.

That task has been made harder by China. Since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001 its share of American imports has grown fast and is now the biggest. The shares of Canada and especially Japan have fallen. Mexico’s share, which almost doubled in the seven years after NAFTA came into effect, slipped after 2001. But it is edging up again (see chart 2).

China’s low wages, which lured factories away from Mexico, are rising rapidly. In 2003 Mexican pay was three times Chinese rates but now it is only 20% higher, Mr Messmacher says. The rising yuan and the cheap peso accentuate this trend.

Proximity to America, Mexico’s trump card, has been made more valuable by the high oil price. The resolution in July of a long dispute has allowed Mexican lorries to make deliveries in America, which the Mexican government reckons will reduce firms’ shipping costs by 15%. The rise of China may also help Mexico too, by forcing American companies to compete more keenly. Detroit carmakers cannot export cars to South Korea, but a Mexican factory using American parts can, notes Luis de la Calle, a former trade minister.

Luring foreign investors has been made trickier by a spike in violence. Since 2007, a crackdown on organised crime has caused Mexico’s drug-trafficking “cartels”, as they are known (though they are in fact rather competitive), to splinter and fight. Last year the murder rate was 17 per 100,000 people, a little lower than Brazil’s, but more than two-thirds up on 2007. Ernesto Cordero, the finance minister, has estimated that the violence knocks about a percentage point off Mexico’s annual growth rate.

The fighting is highly concentrated: last year 70% of mafia-related killings took place in 3% of the country’s municipalities. In Yucatán state, where tourists scramble around Mayan ruins, the murder rate is no higher than in Belgium. Last July was the busiest ever for Mexico’s foreign-tourist trade, but there are signs that the drip of bloody stories is starting to hurt bookings. In the first five months of this year, arrivals were 3.6% lower than last. Acapulco, which caters mainly to domestic tourists, has virtually emptied thanks to frequent shootings in the heart of the hotel zone.

Many of the roughest areas are in the north, where foreign investment is concentrated. In Ciudad Juárez, a centre of maquila factories that assemble products for export, the murder rate has climbed to one of the highest in the world, as the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels battle for control of the border crossing, little restrained (and often aided) by the local police. In Tamaulipas, a border state where violence surged last year, the unemployment rate has risen to 7.5%, the highest in the country. The head of a Mexican multinational with operations there found recently that his local manager had been siphoning company money to the cartels. Many rich businessmen have moved their families to America; the governor of one border state is rumoured to have done the same (his office denies it).

Investors have largely held their nerve. Foreign direct investment, which reached $30 billion in 2007 but fell to half that in 2009, is expected to recover to $20 billion this year. Businessmen play down the violence: Mr Solís admits that some car transporters have been robbed on highways, but says that this year has been better than last. This month Honda became the latest carmaker to announce plans to expand in Mexico, in spite of the insecurity.

Still, insecurity adds costs and delays. The road from Saltillo to Monterrey, the nearest big airport, has become dicey, so more people rely on Saltillo’s own tiny airport, where a single airline offers flights to Mexico City for upwards of $400. Conferences, concerts and sporting fixtures have been cancelled in Monterrey. In Coahuila on August 20th a football match was abandoned after shots were fired outside the stadium. Some foreign companies are even nervous about sending executives to Mexico City, although it has a lower murder rate than many American cities.

From Uncle Sam to Uncle Slim

Despite Mexico’s difficulties, one of its citizens is the richest person in the world. Carlos Slim, the son of a Lebanese immigrant, has made a fortune estimated by Forbes at $74 billion. The magazine reckons that last year his net worth rose by $20.5 billion.

Nearly two-thirds of Mr Slim’s wealth is thought to lie in América Móvil, the biggest or second-biggest mobile-phone operator everywhere in Latin America except Chile (where it is third). In Mexico Mr Slim’s grip is particularly strong, with 70% of the cellular market and 80% of landlines. In half the country’s 400 local areas, only his company has the infrastructure to put through calls to landlines. Not surprisingly, after accounting for purchasing power home landlines in Mexico cost 45% more than the OECD average and business lines 63% more (see chart 3). Mobiles are better value, particularly for those who do not make many calls. But basic broadband access costs nearly ten times more (per megabit per second of advertised speed) than in the rest of the OECD.

Telecoms is not the only monopolised sector. A study by the OECD and Mexico’s Federal Competition Commission (CFC) found that 31% of Mexican household spending went on products supplied in monopolistic or highly oligopolistic markets. The poorest tenth suffered most, 38% of their expenditure going on such things.

The cost of these captive markets is ruinous. Until recently, for example, firms selling generic medicines were required by law to operate a plant in Mexico. This, along with a system that allows doctors to prescribe medicines by brand rather than by generic compound, means that the market is dominated by expensive brands. Generics account for less than 17% of the drugs market, against 66.5% in America. Medicine is a third pricier than in Britain.

Transport is expensive too. The handful of budget airlines that arrived in the past decade have struggled to get take-off and landing slots at Mexico City’s airport, which are dished out by a committee dominated by incumbents. The CFC found that flights to and from Mexico City were between 40% and 80% dearer than those to less strangled airports. Intercity bus routes are dominated by four firms that have divided up the country. Fares are 10% higher than they ought to be, the CFC estimates.

Banking is similarly uncompetitive. Two banks control almost half the market for deposit accounts and two-thirds of the credit- and debit-card markets. The lack of choice means that 95% of account-holders have never switched banks. Top of the list of Saltillo businesses’ complaints is the scarcity and cost of credit.

Some of these pinch points are being addressed. The collapse last year of Mexicana, North America’s oldest airline, has presented an opportunity to auction landing slots to nimbler competitors. Drugs should get cheaper thanks to an auction system devised by the CFC for Mexico’s social-security institute. In April a new competition law introduced penalties of up to ten years in jail for collusion, and empowered the CFC to make surprise inspections. The same month it fined Mr Slim’s mobile-phone operator a record $1 billion for abusing its market dominance.

Banking has been opened to entrants such as Walmart, which has already shaken up Mexican retailing. Commercial credit is expanding: it stands at 19% of GDP, nearly double the ratio in 2003. Lending is still less than half of what it was before the banking crisis of 1994, suggesting plenty of room for growth—certainly more than in Brazil, where credit already equals about half of GDP.

Forcing competition on cosy industries is still not easy. When the government decided in 2009 to shut down Luz y Fuerza, a state-run electricity company that was costing the taxpayer $3 billion a year, it required 1,000 police in riot gear to occupy the firm’s offices. Since Luz y Fuerza shut, the wait for new connections in Mexico City has fallen from ten months to four. But its ex-employees still bring parts of the capital to a halt with protests. Labour-reform efforts, to ease hiring and firing and allow six-month trial contracts, have met opposition in congress. Even with the new competition law, few people fancy the authorities’ chances against Mr Slim’s lawyers.

The answer is to open the economy and let foreign competition force Mexican firms to adapt, believes Mr de la Calle. “If you have free trade, you don’t need structural reforms because the companies have to compete,” he says. He cites the pork industry, which used to be blighted with hog cholera. Farmers resisted pressure to eradicate it, preferring to sell low volumes at high prices. When tariffs were dropped, cheap pork from America forced Mexican farmers to clean up their act. Cholera was eliminated, output rose and prices fell.

Other industries are ripe for similar treatment. Oil is a prime candidate. Pemex, a state monopoly, handles everything from exploration to petrol pumps. Its profits contribute a third of government revenue, allowing Mexico to maintain a generous and feebly enforced tax regime. But decades of underinvestment have hurt production, which fell from 3.4m barrels a day in 2004 to 2.6m. Brazil, which has allowed foreign investment in its oilfields, is producing around 2m barrels a day and expects to be pumping 6m by 2020.

Pemex’s output has stabilised in the past year, and this month it awarded its first performance-based contracts, a precursor to getting oil majors to explore the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But efforts to make the company more efficient have been vetoed by the oil workers’ union. Refineries are poorly run; petrol stations forbid self-service.

The Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a think-tank, estimates that the GDP growth rate could be raised by 2.5 percentage points if the oil industry were opened up and labour and competition laws reformed. Reeling from an American-made recession, however, Mexico is hardly in the mood for a more open economy. With a presidential election next year, it would be easier to keep puttering along in the shadow of Brazil, an economy which in some ways Mexico outclasses. Mexico’s rebound from slump and its resilience to lawlessness show its underlying strength. If it could only bust the monopolistic dams that have parched its economy, its desert might one day start to bloom.

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« Reply #333 on: August 29, 2011, 12:36:41 PM »

Good read CCP.
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« Reply #334 on: August 29, 2011, 12:44:29 PM »

Well we have wondered why Mexicans come here for work.

Carlos Slim didn't get to be worth 74 billion being a nice guy:

"Nearly two-thirds of Mr Slim’s wealth is thought to lie in América Móvil, the biggest or second-biggest mobile-phone operator everywhere in Latin America except Chile (where it is third). In Mexico Mr Slim’s grip is particularly strong, with 70% of the cellular market and 80% of landlines. In half the country’s 400 local areas, only his company has the infrastructure to put through calls to landlines. Not surprisingly, after accounting for purchasing power home landlines in Mexico cost 45% more than the OECD average and business lines 63% more (see chart 3). Mobiles are better value, particularly for those who do not make many calls. But basic broadband access costs nearly ten times more (per megabit per second of advertised speed) than in the rest of the OECD."

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« Reply #335 on: August 31, 2011, 10:35:29 AM »


Above the Tearline: Reconstructing the Monterrey Arson Attack from Surveillance Footage
August 31, 2011 | 1347 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton demonstrates how video surveillance footage is used to reconstruct the recent arson attack in Monterrey, Mexico.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

In this week’s Above the Tearline, we’re going to show you how agents utilize video surveillance tape to reconstruct the crime using the recent casino fire in Monterrey, Mexico, as an example.

Let’s take a look at the first video, which takes place before the crime occurs. This is surveillance footage at a gas station, and you see the suspects have purchased gas that they have placed in the back of this pickup truck in these white barrels. Note that you could digitally enhance this and get a very good tag number. You also can get a make and model the vehicle, and notice the distinct clothing and attire on this one suspect on the right. And you’re going to have a good date time stamp as when this truck pulls out of the gas station.

This is our second video surveillance tape, and notice the truck that was at the gas station pulling out onto a public highway in Monterrey. So you’re going to be able to sync up the time of the gas purchase when the vehicle pulls out on the highway. I want you to note this vehicle up in the corner. It’s a mini — a white mini with black markings. It rolls in behind the pickup truck along the same route. This vehicle will subsequently show up at the crime scene as well.

Before I roll the tape here, you will see a third vehicle rolling in behind the mini that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well. So you have the truck leading the convoy; you have the mini; and now you have a third vehicle in the mix right here. You’ll see a fourth vehicle that subsequently shows up at the crime scene as well.

Our next video is taken from a security camera at the casino. Notice you’ll have the first, second and third suspect vehicles already pulled up into the parking lot, and it will be quickly followed by a fourth vehicle — right here — that I’m going to show you. Now you have all four of the vehicles seen on the highway, and you have the truck that had purchased the gasoline earlier in the videotape on the scene. You’ll see the suspects start to deploy out. As we roll the videotape, you’ll see individuals carry the cans of gasoline from the bed of the truck into the actual casino. Notice here also the countersurveillance elements here. You’ll have the security arm of the cartel members — in this case believed to be Zetas — on the scene of the attack site. They’re watching. They’re looking for cops, no doubt. You’ll see the first mini — these guys are getting kind of antsy; they’re wanting to move on. You’ll see the black smoke start to billow, and, pretty soon, the actual video footage is going to be obscured completely by the smoke billowing out.

Let’s take a look at a photograph from the crime scene from a different perspective. The video surveillance camera that we had seen where the video was shot was up in this area shooting downward. You can see the upward turn of the driveway. So the suspects came in from this direction and pulled this way. You’ll see the windows that had been broken, probably by the fire department for ventilation to let the smoke clear.

The Above the Tearline aspect with this video footage is the significant value that security videotape has to help you piece together the elements of the crime. There is also the tactical ramifications. You know they’re going to have additional attacks tomorrow or the next day in Mexico, and the police and the military can study this to learn the Zeta methodology when they go to carry out a similar attack down the road.

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« Reply #336 on: September 13, 2011, 12:27:17 PM »

Zetas Communications Network Disrupted in Veracruz

The Mexican navy on Sept. 8 dismantled a communications network used by Los Zetas throughout Veracruz state. Among the equipment seized were mobile radio transmitters, computers, radio scanners, encryption devices, solar power cells and as many as seven trailers that served as base stations, according to media reports. A spokesman for the Mexican navy said some 80 individuals have been arrested over the past month in connection with the operation, itself the result of months of work by naval intelligence officers.

Los Zetas have been known to utilize more sophisticated communications networks than other cartels, due in large part to the organization’s origins in military special operations. The Zetas needed to augment sparse communications in some areas they control, and the Veracruz network likely was for the purpose of “off the grid” communications. Since cellphones are relatively easy for authorities to monitor, Los Zetas have sought to diversify their telecommunications capabilities, a fact of which Mexican authorities are aware.

It is possible that the seizure of this communications equipment means the navy is preparing to launch operations to push the Zetas out of the Veracruz port region. Indeed, a navy spokesman said the immediate result of the operation was the disruption of the Zetas’ “chain of command and tactical coordination.” If the navy is about to engage the Zetas in Veracruz, dismantling the Zetas’ communications network would be one of the first moves it would make.

There is not yet enough evidence to conclude with certainty that an operation is in the works, but STRATFOR will continue to watch for signs of increased military operations against the Zetas in Veracruz.

Hand Grenade Attacks in Rio Bravo

On Sept. 10, armed men in an SUV and an accompanying car reportedly threw five hand grenades at two businesses in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas state, killing two people. Beginning at 2:30 p.m., the assailants lobbed three grenades at a bar on the city’s east side, an unnamed police official said; one of the grenades failed to detonate. A few minutes later, unidentified men threw two grenades at a strip club in downtown Rio Bravo, causing the building to catch fire and injuring three people.

It is unclear who conducted the attacks, but they are believed to be the work of Los Zetas, who are engaged in a turf war with the Gulf cartel in the wider region. At present the Gulf cartel controls the Rio Bravo plaza, but Los Zetas have been known to “heat up” a plaza — increase attacks to soften their target — prior to an offensive, as was the case in Matamoros in mid-June.

The targets are significant in that they are “legitimate” businesses. Businesses can serve as money-laundering hubs for cartels and thus are not immune to attack. Also significant is that the attacks occurred during daylight hours. While violence in Mexico is unpredictable and by no means limited to nighttime hours, there is a general sense that the goings-on of a normal day are spared from targeted violence. Incidents such as the Sept. 10 grenade attacks show that this is not always the case.

If the Zetas did not conduct the attacks, they could be a symptom of infighting within the Gulf cartel. The recent death of Samuel “El Metro 3” Flores Borrego, the Gulf cartel’s Reynosa plaza boss and overall No. 2, suggests rifts are forming within the cartel. Rio Bravo can expect to see reprisal attacks regardless of who is responsible.

U.S. Citizens as Couriers for Money, Guns

Mexican authorities arrested seven individuals Sept. 7 in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state, and confiscated firearms, ammunition, radio communication equipment, two vehicles and the equivalent of $600,000. The Ministry of National Defense has not disclosed the identities or nationalities of those arrested, but local and state media have reported that they are all U.S. citizens.

It is not uncommon for a cartel to use individuals with U.S. citizenship as couriers. These individuals have unfettered access to the United States and, while highly visible due to their frequent border crossings, they may receive less scrutiny from border security. Therefore, U.S. citizens are useful in moving guns and money south into Mexico (but they are less useful coming north, as security checks are more robust when coming from Mexico to the United States). This is particularly true in an area such as Coahuila state, where authorities have recently uncovered several large weapons caches.

The corridor of Piedras Negras and its sister city in the United States, Eagle Pass, thus is valuable not as a route to smuggle drugs north but as a route to move guns and money south. (A lack of drug-smuggling routes makes the area desirable territory, so the Zetas are the only ones operating there.) As recently as Sept. 7, in a separate incident from the seven arrests, Texas law enforcement stopped a van with Texas license plates that was carrying 14 assault rifles, a sniper rifle and more than 500 assault rifle magazines.

But the incident in which seven U.S. citizens were arrested, if true, is interesting because those arrested reportedly only had enough weaponry to protect the money they were transporting. This means they were not moving guns but cash, most likely proceeds from drug sales in the United States, the beneficiaries of which are Los Zetas.

(click here to view interactive graphic)

Sept. 5

The Mexican military dismantled a drug lab in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, containing 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of methamphetamines and chemical precursors.
Mexican authorities attempted to stop a stolen vehicle traveling on a road in Cadereyta municipality, Nuevo Leon state. The vehicle, along with two accompanying vehicles, refused to stop, leading authorities on a chase that turned into a gunfight in which four gunmen were killed.

Sept. 6

Gunmen in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, shot and killed two women traveling in a vehicle with Texas license plates. The four-year-old daughter of one of the women survived the attack.
Federal police arrested four members of Los Aztecas in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, including a leader of the group.
A criminal group sent a message to the Department of Education in Acapulco, Guerrero state, demanding a percentage of the salaries of teachers who matched certain criteria. The message also demanded identification information on teachers in the city.
Gunmen attacked a deputy traveling in his vehicle in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco state. During the attack, the deputy left his vehicle and was subsequently hit by a semitrailer.
Mexican authorities arrested a U.S. citizen in Mazatlan, Sinaloa state. The individual was charged with trafficking weapons from the United States for the Sinaloa cartel.

Sept. 7

Three members of Los Zetas were arrested in a neighborhood of Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state, while attempting to kidnap an individual. One of the members arrested was in charge of the “halcones” (Zetas lookouts) in Nuevo Leon.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office identified 18 Los Zetas operators who were involved in the attack on the Casino Royale in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, that killed 52 people. The Mexican government is offering a reward of 15 million pesos ($1.2 million) for information leading to the arrest of each individual.
Mexican soldiers seized approximately 2.5 tons of marijuana after receiving a tip on the existence of a drug camp in Cerro del Borbollon, Durango state. Soldiers also found a vehicle with Baja California license plates.

Sept. 8

Federal police killed seven gunmen during a firefight in Villanueva, Zacatecas state. A conflict with the gunmen had erupted earlier when two federal police officers were kidnapped in the area.
Authorities announced that an operation conducted throughout Veracruz state resulted in the dismantling of a Los Zetas telecommunications network. More than 80 members of the cartel were arrested, and a variety of communications equipment was seized, including solar power cells, high-powered transmitters, encryption devices and secure radio communication systems.

Sept. 9

A drug courier transporting 1 kilogram of cocaine was arrested at Mexico City International Airport after authorities discovered the drugs. The individual’s itinerary indicated he was flying to Rome via Madrid.
The Knights Templar posted a narcomanta over a bridge in Zamora, Michoacan state, offering a 500,000-peso reward for information leading to the location of the Los Zetas members listed on the banner.
The Mexican military seized approximately 9 tons of marijuana, 51 firearms and 8,000 rounds of ammunition hidden in a cave near Reynosa, Tamaulipas state.

Sept. 10

Unidentified men threw five hand grenades in two separate locations in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas state. The first incident involved gunmen traveling in a vehicle who threw three grenades at bar, and the second attack involved an individual who tossed two grenades at a strip club. The attacks killed two people.

Sept. 11

The Mexican military captured Veronica Mireya “La Vero” Moreno Carreon, Los Zetas’ plaza boss for San Nicolas de los Garza, Nuevo Leon state. Also know as “La Flaca,” she was discovered to be the plaza boss after she was arrested while traveling in a stolen vehicle.
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« Reply #337 on: September 21, 2011, 08:12:42 AM »

Judith Miller

The Mexicanization of American Law Enforcement
The drug cartels extend their corrupting influence northward.
Customs and Border Protection agents have been bought off by drug dealers.
Leslie Hoffman/AP Photo
Customs and Border Protection agents have been bought off by drug dealers.

Beheadings and amputations. Iraqi-style brutality, bribery, extortion, kidnapping, and murder. More than 7,200 dead—almost double last year’s tally—in shoot-outs between federales and often better-armed drug cartels. This is modern Mexico, whose president, Felipe Calderón, has been struggling since 2006 to wrest his country from the grip of four powerful cartels and their estimated 100,000 foot soldiers.

But chillingly, there are signs that one of the worst features of Mexico’s war on drugs—law enforcement officials on the take from drug lords—is becoming an American problem as well. Most press accounts focus on the drug-related violence that has migrated north into the United States. Far less widely reported is the infiltration and corruption of American law enforcement, according to Robert Killebrew, a retired U.S. Army colonel and senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for a New American Security. “This is a national security problem that does not yet have a name,” he wrote last fall in The National Strategy Forum Review. The drug lords, he tells me, are seeking to “hollow out our institutions, just as they have in Mexico.”

Whistle-blowers allege corruption, cartel ties
By Diana Washington Valdez \ El Paso Times
Posted: 09/19/2011 12:00:00 AM MDT

Two former law enforcement officers allege that they cannot get anyone to investigate allegations that the Mexican drug cartels have corrupted U.S. law officers and politicians in the El Paso border region.

Greg Gonzales, a retired Doña Ana County sheriff's deputy, and Wesley Dutton, a rancher and former New Mexico state livestock investigator, said that instead of arrests and prosecutions of suspects, their whistle-blowing activities have resulted only in threats and retaliation against themselves.

"I lost my job for a security company at the federal courthouse in Las Cruces because I would not keep my mouth shut, and someone threatened me by holding a knife to my throat," Gonzales said.

Dutton, a rancher in Southern New Mexico, said an election official stopped by his ranch to ask him what was it going to take for him to retract his allegations concerning the official.

Confidential sources

Both men were confidential sources for the FBI in El Paso and assisted with investigations over an 18-month period.

Gonzales and Dutton allege that the FBI dropped them after "big names" on the U.S. side of the border began to surface in the drug investigations.

FBI Special Agent Michael Martinez said that the FBI cannot comment on its former or current relationships with confidential sources.

Dutton said an FBI official who used to be in El Paso sent a memo to other law enforcement agencies in the area to dissuade them from talking to him and Gonzales or
having anything to do with them.

Gonzales and Dutton said both or either one of them helped with federal investigations that were successful, including the arrest of Special FBI Agent John Shipley. Shipley was convicted of weapons-related charges after a weapon he sold someone turned up in Chihuahua state at a scene where a firefight took place between Mexican soldiers and drug traffickers.

However, they said, they are concerned that other serious allegations have not found their way to court.

Hit on agent

"One of the street gangs that works for the Juárez cartel put a hit out on FBI Special Agent Samantha Mikeska, and I told the FBI as soon as I heard about it," Dutton said. "We also had information on campaign fundraisers and parties in La Union that the cartel held for officials from New Mexico and El Paso. A lot of important people were at those parties, such as bankers, judges, and law enforcement officers."

Mikeska is a high-profile agent whose investigations of the Barrio Azteca gang led to prosecutions of gang leaders. The gang, which has members in West Texas and New Mexico, is linked to the Carrillo Fuentes drug cartel.

Gonzales said a U.S. law enforcement officer was suspected of selling to a street gang with Juárez drug cartel ties a list of U.S. Marshals that included their telephone numbers.

"With their number, the gang was able to 'clone' the agents' cell phones and intercept their calls," Gonzales said. "That way, they would know when one of the agents was trying to serve an arrest warrant against one of their members."

Dutton and Gonzales said small aircraft regularly drop drug loads on ranches or other properties along the U.S.-Mexico border, and that some U.S. law officers escort the loads to the next stop.

The two whistle-blowers said that drug cartels have managed to obtain computer access codes to U.S. surveillance systems that let them see where and when Border Patrol agents are monitoring the border.

They also alleged that drug cartels have given big donations to politicians, which are unreported, to influence appointments of key law enforcement officers.

Some of these allegations were contained in a letter that Dutton provided to Gov. Rick Perry, who is seeking the Republican Party's nomination for president in the 2012 election.

"Our office received the letter and referred it to the appropriate agency, which was the Department of Public Safety," Josh Havens, a spokesman for the Texas governor's office, said last Friday.

Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety and a former FBI agent from El Paso, said last Friday that he was interested in talking to Dutton. Then, about a half-hour later, McCraw said that Dutton had no credibility.

'Nothing there'

"We looked into it and there was nothing there," McCraw said.

Dutton said in response, "How can they say there was nothing when they didn't even look at what I have?"

Dutton said he has videos, telephone records, and other documents gathered over the 18 months he worked with the FBI.

"The DPS never asked to see any of it," Dutton said.

During his work with the FBI, Dutton said the FBI asked him to accept drug shipments from Mexico through his ranching company.

"The drugs were concealed in horse saddles, and we started getting a lot of them," Dutton said. "But the FBI kept putting me off when I asked for the money to pay the cartels for the drugs. I had to use my own funds. The FBI still owes me thousands of dollars for these out-of-pocket expenses.

"I asked the FBI for help when I started getting threats, but the only thing that happened is that everyone starting running for cover to protect their careers," Dutton said. "One of the FBI agents said politics got in the way, and that they had to close out the investigation and end their relationship with me."

As a state livestock investigator, Dutton made arrests like any other law enforcement officer, collaborated with sheriffs' offices, seized drugs and investigated thefts. He also developed intelligence that drug cartels used cross-border cattle shipments to transport drugs across the border at Santa Teresa.

Zetas cartel

Dutton said other informants told him that the Zetas drug cartel has a high-level member in Las Cruces whose wife holds a non-law enforcement job in the "DA's office," referring to the Doña Ana County District Attorney's Office.

The whistle-blowers also alleged that the corruption they've encountered includes a prominent doctor in El Paso who provides prescriptions for drugs to people who need to pass lie-detector tests.

"The FBI was provided with all this information, and I guess that's why they're now saying that we're crazy," Dutton said.

Dutton and Gonzales said their frustration over the lack of investigations has compelled them to turn to U.S. lawmakers and to Judicial Watch for help.

Judicial Watch is a conservative, nonpartisan educational foundation in Washington, D.C., which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

The organization publishes a list each year of the "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" of both major political parties.

Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch research director, confirmed that Dutton has been in contact with his office.

"These are very serious allegations that should be investigated by law enforcement," Farrell said. "There are too many details and specifics to just ignore them. The threats against them (Dutton and Gonzales) also should be investigated."

Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at; 546-6140.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #338 on: September 21, 2011, 08:41:49 AM »

This is VERY bad stuff!  Once a cancer like this takes root, it is terribly hard to undo and terribly destructive of civic culture.

I would point out GM that BBG and I have pointed out numerous times in the War on Drugs thread that one of the costs of the WoD is that the supra-profits it creates will fuel tremendous corruption.

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #339 on: September 21, 2011, 08:45:34 AM »

Decriminalize corruption then?   evil

Seriously, it's a cultural issue. Those that are incorruptable will remain so no matter what the amount of money is that is offered in bribes. Every black market has profits, thus allowing for the potential for bribes.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #340 on: September 21, 2011, 09:07:25 AM »

...time to legalize human trafficking. rolleyes

Mexican cartels move into human trafficking

Anne-Marie OConnor/The Washington Post - Mexican Congresswoman Rosi Orozco, the sponsor of a new Mexican law against human trafficking, with girls rescued from sex traffic.

By Anne-Marie O’Connor,

MEXICO CITY — The Salvadoran single mother was hoping to support her children in the United States. Instead, gunmen from the Zeta drug cartel kidnapped her in Mexico and forced her to cook, clean and endure rapes by multiple men.

Now the survivor of this terrifying three-month ordeal is a witness for a growing group of legislators, political leaders and advocates who are calling for action against the trafficking of women in Mexico for sexual exploitation.

More than a thousand people have been arrested in an operation targeting suspected human traffickers in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez. (July 25)

As organized crime and globalization have increased, Mexico has become a major destination for sex traffic, as well as a transit point and supplier of victims to the United States. Drug cartels are moving into the trade, preying on immigrant women, sometimes with the complicity of corrupt regional officials, according to diplomats and activists.

“If narcotics traffickers are caught, they go to high-security prisons, but with the trafficking of women, they have found absolute impunity,” said Rosi Orozco, a congresswoman in Mexico and sponsor of a proposed law against human trafficking.

In Mexico, thousands of women and children are forced into sex traffic every year, Orozco said, most of it involving lucrative prostitution rings.

“It is growing because of poverty, because the cartels have gotten involved and because no one tells them no,” said Teresa Ulloa, the regional director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and Girls in Latin America and the Caribbean. “We are fighting so that their lives and their bodies are not merchandise.”

“This is an inferno of sexual exploitation for thousands and thousands of women,” President Felipe Calderon told officials in mid-July after they heard the testimony of a young survivor. “With this new law, we will all be obliged to act, and no authority can say it’s not my responsibility or turn a blind eye to the terrible crime of human trafficking.”

Mexico passed a law against human trafficking in 2007.

Hopes for enforcement have been raised by the appointment of Mexico’s first female attorney general, Marisela Morales, who was praised for her efforts against human trafficking this year when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honored her as an International Woman of Courage.

Authorities said federal police mounted a massive raid against human trafficking in bars and hotels in Ciudad Juarez last weekend, arresting hundreds of suspects and recovering a missing 15-year-old girl and four other minors who were being used for sexual exploitation.

But convictions are still rare, making the attention seem like empty political rhetoric or a response to international pressure, said Saul Arellano, an analyst at the CEIDAS think tank. He viewed the proposed law as a much-needed step in the right direction, but he said it would have to be matched by a stronger effort to arrest and convict traffickers.

 A ‘godfather’ sentenced

U.S. prosecutors have won stiff sentences for Mexican traffickers in recent years, often in cooperation with Mexican authorities. In Georgia, a Mexican “padrote,” or “godfather,” from a trafficking stronghold in Tlaxcala state, was sentenced to 40 years in March for luring 10 victims, one of them 14, to the Atlanta area and then forcing them into prostitution. If they refused to work, he beat them.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #341 on: September 21, 2011, 10:06:51 AM »

"Those that are incorruptable will remain so no matter what the amount of money is that is offered in bribes"

Sorry, but that seems simplistic to me.  Lots of people, indeed perhaps most people have a price.  The cartels were paying $400,000US a month to someone on Calderon's staff at one point.  Combine that with "plata o plomo" (silver or lead, i.e. take the money or we will kill you) and most people will break.

Human trafficking is not an example of a "victimless crime" and as such should remain illegal and the resources currently wasted on the WoD could be brought to bear.

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #342 on: September 21, 2011, 12:50:03 PM »

A secure border would make a serious dent into the ability of criminal cartels to smuggle anything into the US, yet a decade after 9/11 it isn't because of various political elements.

A crime is still a crime, no matter if there is a direct victim or not.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #343 on: October 18, 2011, 01:11:56 PM »
Power User
Posts: 7833

« Reply #344 on: October 18, 2011, 01:52:41 PM »

Cain joked something about setting up an electified fence with a sign saying you will be killed if you touch this.

The response from the left and Scarborough was of course to mock him and use this as fodder to demonstrate that he is not Presidential material.

Yet we have a silent war going on with Mexico drug dealers and Brock is totally ineffective and actually presided over giving the murderers guns.  Yet the MSM is silent!

Instead of travelling around playing class warfare and campaigning and supporting the bums marching for more government payouts the real bum in the WH should have his butt on the border addressing this.

I don't expect the left to get it but the "establishment" Republicans?   This has all the appearances they are just protecting their power and financial interests. 

We keep hearing the "est." right saying the party is not what it used to be.  Well thank God.  I am getting more frustrated and angrier every day.
Hello Kitty
« Reply #345 on: October 18, 2011, 06:36:28 PM »

It's our border. I don't know why we just don't mine it and to hell with whoever thinks what about it. The fact that the United States exists, does not give someone the right to trespass here, regardless of whatever the would be trespasser does or does not have going on in their personal situations.

The problem is and always will be that anything done outside of "political correctness" in this country is quickly ostracized and demonized by the Left, including defense of one's own country and self (reference the border patrol agent who was having stones thrown at him and shot his attacker).

In Russia, there isn't this problem to the extent that there is here (Tajakistanis) and the reason why is that Russia doesn't tolerate anyone speaking against her defending herself...humanitarians and apologists be damned.
Power User
Posts: 42494

« Reply #346 on: October 19, 2011, 12:20:27 AM »

The Russian approach has quite a few problems of its own.  It is not clear to me that theirs is a road we wish to travel.  I think it would more than suffice here were we to simply patrol the border properly, and deport those who don't belong here AND improve the efficiency, rationality, and coherence of legal admission to the country.
Power User
Posts: 2268

« Reply #347 on: October 19, 2011, 05:38:42 AM »

Deportations at an all time high:
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #348 on: October 19, 2011, 07:39:53 AM »

And with the border still unsecured, they are often back in a week or two.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #349 on: October 19, 2011, 07:41:47 AM »

Love the Amerikan Criminal Liberties Union take on deportations. As long as it hurts the US, they are for it.
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