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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #100 on: November 08, 2008, 08:30:42 AM »

  #1       Yesterday, 09:48 PM 
ex-racer 
Senior Member   Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: San Francisco, TX. I mean Austin...
Posts: 222 
 
 Mexico Seizes Hundreds of Drug-Cartel Weapons in Record Raid

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ok, so who is thinking about responding with "they better not check out my basement"? you should go to this link and check out the extra photos. i like the gold plated desert eagle.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,449045,00.html

Friday, November 07, 2008

 AP

Nov. 7, 2008; Soldiers stand guard around a presentation of arms captured in an operation against the Gulf cartel in Mexico City.

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican army on Friday announced that it has made the largest seizure of drug-cartel weapons in Mexico's history.

The cache of 540 rifles, 165 grenades, 500,000 rounds of ammunition and 14 sticks of TNT were seized on Thursday at a house in the city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, Mexican Assistant Attorney General Marisela Morales said.
"The seizure ... is the largest in the history of Mexico involving organized crime," Morales told reporters at Defense Department headquarters, where the army displayed hundreds of rifles, pistols, and shotguns, and laid out rows of grenades and crates of ammunition.

Morales said the largest previous bust involved a cache of 280 weapons found in 1984.

The weapons in this latest seizure belonged to the Gulf drug cartel, an official said after Morales made her statement. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media.
Soldiers detected the cache when they chased suspects into the home after the men refused orders to stop, Morales said. Three suspects were detained.

It was unclear whether the raid was related to an FBI intelligence report obtained by a Texas newspaper in October that warned the Gulf cartel was stockpiling high-powered weapons in Reynosa to prepare for possible confrontations with U.S. law enforcement. Morales did not take questions from reporters.

The man who allegedly leads the cartel's hit squad in the area, Jaime Gonzalez Duran, was mentioned in the FBI report as having ordered dozens of hit men to the Reynosa area as part of those plans.

Gonzalez Duran was arrested in Reynosa on Friday.
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« Reply #101 on: November 08, 2008, 08:37:43 AM »

No worries. Obama will give them amnesty and a "path towards citizenship" in exchange for their votes in 2012.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #102 on: November 13, 2008, 12:12:15 AM »

Worrying Signs from Border Raids
November 12, 2008
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

Last week, the Mexican government carried out a number of operations in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, aimed at Jaime “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran, one of the original members of the brutal cartel group known as Los Zetas. According to Mexican government officials, Gonzalez Duran controlled the Zetas’ operations in nine Mexican states.

The Nov. 7 arrest of Gonzalez Duran was a major victory for the Mexican government and will undoubtedly be a major blow to the Zetas. Taking Gonzalez Duran off the streets, however, is not the only aspect of these operations with greater implications. The day before Gonzalez Duran’s arrest, Mexican officials searching for him raided a safe house, where they discovered an arms cache that would turn out to be the largest weapons seizure in Mexican history. This is no small feat, as there have been several large hauls of weapons seized from the Zetas and other Mexican cartel groups in recent years.

The weapons seized at the Gonzalez Duran safe house included more than 500 firearms, a half-million rounds of ammunition and 150 grenades. The cache also included a LAW rocket, two grenade launchers and a small amount of explosives. Along with the scores of assorted assault rifles, grenades and a handful of gaudy gold-plated pistols were some weapons that require a bit more examination: namely, the 14 Fabrique Nationale (FN) P90 personal defense weapons and the seven Barrett .50-caliber sniper rifles contained in the seizure.

Matapolicias
As previously noted, the FN Five-Seven pistol and FN P90 personal defense weapon are very popular with the various cartel enforcer groups operating in Mexico. The Five-Seven and the P90 shoot a 5.7 mm-by-28 mm round that has been shown to be effective in penetrating body armor as well as vehicle doors and windows. Because of this ability to punch through body armor, cartel enforcers call the weapons “matapolicias,” Spanish for “cop killers.” Of course, AK-47 and M-16-style assault rifles are also effective at penetrating body armor and vehicles, as are large-caliber hunting rifles such as the 30.06 and the .308. But the advantage of the Five-Seven and the P90 is that they provide this penetration capability in a much smaller — and thus far more concealable — package.

The P90 is a personal defense weapon designed to be carried by tank crew members or combat support personnel who require a compact weapon capable of penetrating body armor. It is considered impractical for such soldiers to be issued full-size infantry rifles or even assault rifles, so traditionally these troops were issued pistols and submachine guns. The proliferation of body armor on the modern battlefield, however, has rendered many pistols and submachine guns that fire pistol ammunition ineffective. Because of this, support troops needed a small weapon that could protect them from armored troops; the P90 fits this bill.

In fact, the P90 lends itself to anyone who needs powerful, concealable weapons. Protective security details, some police officers and some special operations forces operators thus have begun using the P90 and other personal defense weapons. The P90’s power and ability to be concealed also make it an ideal weapon for cartel enforcers intent on conducting assassinations in an urban environment — especially those stalking targets wearing body armor.

The Five-Seven, which is even smaller than the P90, fires the same fast, penetrating cartridge. Indeed, cartel hit men have killed several Mexican police officers with these weapons in recent months. However, guns that fire the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge are certainly not the only type of weapons used in attacks against police — Mexican cops have been killed by many other types of weapons.

Reach Out and Touch Someone
While the P90 and Five-Seven are small and light, and use a small, fast round to penetrate armor, the .50-caliber cartridge fired by a Barrett sniper rifle is the polar opposite: It fires a huge chunk of lead. By way of comparison, the 5.7 mm-by-28 mm cartridge is just a little more than 1.5 inches long and has a 32-grain bullet. The .50-caliber Browning Machine Gun (BMG) cartridge is actually 12.7 mm by 99 mm, measures nearly 5.5 inches long and fires a 661-grain bullet. The P90 has a maximum effective range of 150 meters (about 165 yards), whereas a Barrett’s listed maximum effective range is 1,850 meters (about 2,020 yards) — and there are reports of coalition forces snipers in Afghanistan scoring kills at more than 2,000 meters (about 2,190 yards).

The .50-BMG round not only will punch through body armor and normal passenger vehicles, it can defeat the steel plate armor and the laminated ballistic glass and polycarbonate windows used in lightly armored vehicles. This is yet another reminder that there is no such thing as a bulletproof car. The round is also capable of penetrating many brick and concrete block walls.

We have heard reports for years of cartels seeking .50-caliber sniper rifles made by Barrett and other U.S. manufacturers. Additionally, we have noted many reports of seizures from arms smugglers in the United States of these weapons bound for Mexico, or of the weapons being found in Mexican cartel safe houses — such as the seven rifles seized in Reynosa. Unlike the P90s, however, we cannot recall even one instance of these powerful weapons being used in an attack against another cartel or against a Mexican government target. This is in marked contrast to Ireland, where the Irish Republican Army used .50-caliber Barrett rifles obtained from the United States in many sniper attacks against British troops and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

That Mexican cartels have not used these devastating weapons is surprising. There are in fact very few weapons in the arsenals of cartel enforcers that we have not seen used, including hand grenades, 40 mm grenades, LAW rockets and rocket-propelled grenades. Even though most intercartel warfare has occurred inside densely populated Mexican cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo — places where it would be very difficult to find a place to take a shot longer than a few hundred meters, much less a couple thousand — the power of the Barrett could be very effective for taking out targets wearing body armor, riding in armored vehicles, located inside the safe house of a rival cartel or even inside a government building. Also, unlike improvised explosive devices, which the cartels have avoided using for the most part, the use of .50-caliber rifles would not involve a high probability of collateral damage.

This indicates that the reason the cartels have not used these weapons is to be found in the nature of snipers and sniping.

Snipers
Most military and police snipers are highly trained and very self-disciplined. Being a sniper requires an incredible amount of practice, patience and preparation. Aside from rigorous training in marksmanship, the sniper must also be trained in camouflage, concealment and movement. Snipers are often forced to lie immobile for hours on end. Additional training is required for snipers operating in urban environments, which offer their own set of challenges to the sniper; though historically, as seen in battles like Stalingrad, urban snipers can be incredibly effective.

Snipers commonly deploy as part of a team of two, comprising a shooter and a spotter. This means two very self-disciplined individuals must be located and trained. The team must practice together and learn how to accurately estimate distances, wind speed, terrain elevation and other variables that can affect a bullet’s trajectory. An incredible amount of attention to detail is required for a sniper team to get into position and for their shots to travel several hundred meters and accurately, consistently strike a small target.

In spite of media hype and popular fiction, criminals or terrorists commit very few true sniper attacks. For example, many of our sniper friends were very upset that the media chose to label the string of murders committed by John Mohammed and Lee Boyd Malvo as the “D.C. Sniper Case.” While Mohammed and Malvo did use concealment, they commonly shot at targets between 50 and 100 meters (about 55 yards to 110 yards) away. Therefore, calling Mohammed and Malvo snipers was a serious insult to the genuine article. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as the killing of Dr. Bernard Slepian, also have been dubbed sniper attacks, but they actually were all shootings committed at distances of less than 100 meters.

Of course, using a Barrett at short ranges (100 meters or less) is still incredibly effective and does not require a highly trained sniper — as a group of Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents found out in 1993 when they attempted to serve search and arrest warrants at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. The agents were met with .50-caliber sniper fire that ripped gaping holes through the Chevrolet Suburbans they sought cover behind. Many of the agents wounded in that incident were hit by the shrapnel created as the .50-caliber rounds punched through their vehicles.

While it is extremely powerful, the Barrett is however a long, heavy weapon. If the sniper lacks training in urban warfare, it might prove very difficult to move around with the gun and also to find a concealed place to employ it. This may partially explain why the Mexican cartels have not used the weapons more.

Moreover, while the Zetas originally comprised deserters from the Mexican military and over the years have shown an ability to conduct assaults and ambushes, we have not traditionally seen them deploy as snipers. Today, most of the original Zetas are now in upper management, and no longer serve as foot soldiers.

The newer men brought into the Zetas include some former military and police officers along with some young gangster types; most of them lack the level of training possessed by the original Zetas. While the Zetas have also brought on a number of former Kaibiles, Guatemalan special operations forces personnel, most of them appear to be assigned as bodyguards for senior Zetas. This may mean we are not seeing the cartels employ snipers because their rank-and-file enforcers do not possess the discipline or training to function as snipers.

Potential Problems
Of course, criminal syndicates in possession of these weapons still pose a large potential threat to U.S. law enforcement officers, especially when the weapons are in the hands of people like Gonzalez Duran and his henchmen. According to an FBI intelligence memo dated Oct. 17 and leaked to the media, Gonzalez Duran appeared to have gotten wind of the planned operation against him. He reportedly had authorized those under his command to defend their turf at any cost, to include engagements with U.S. law enforcement agents. It is important to remember that a chunk of that turf was adjacent to the U.S. border and American towns, and that Reynosa — where Gonzalez Duran was arrested and the weapons were seized — is just across the border from McAllen, Texas.

Armed with small, powerful weapons like the P90, cartel gunmen can pose a tremendous threat to any law enforcement officer who encounters them in a traffic stop or drug raid. Over the past several years, we have noted several instances of U.S. Border Patrol agents and other U.S. law enforcement officers being shot at from Mexico. The thought of being targeted by a weapon with the range and power of a .50-caliber sniper rifle would almost certainly send chills up the spine of any Border Patrol agent or sheriff’s deputy working along the border.

Armed with assault rifles, hand grenades and .50-caliber sniper rifles, cartel enforcers have the potential to wreak havoc and outgun U.S. law enforcement officers. The only saving grace for U.S. law enforcement is that many cartel enforcers are often impaired by drugs or alcohol and tend to be impetuous and reckless. While the cartel gunmen are better trained than most Mexican authorities, their training does not stack up to that of most U.S. law enforcement officers. This was illustrated by an incident on Nov. 6 in Austin, Texas, when a police officer used his service pistol to kill a cartel gunman who fired on the officer with an AK-47.

While the arrest of Gonzalez Duran and the seizure of the huge arms cache in Reynosa have taken some killers and weapons off the street, they are only one small drop in the bucket. There are many heavily armed cartel enforcers still at large in Mexico, and the violence is spreading over the border into the United States. Law enforcement officers in the United States therefore need to maintain a keen awareness of the threat.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #103 on: November 17, 2008, 12:21:22 PM »

November 17, 2008

For More of Mexico’s Wealthy, Expenses Include Guards

By MARC LACEY
MEXICO CITY — When José hops into his Ferrari, presses his Ferragamo loafer to the floor and fills the night air with a deep roar, his bodyguards hustle into a black sport utility vehicle with their weapons at the ready, tailing their fast-moving boss through the streets.

José, a business magnate in his 30s who said he was afraid to have his full name published, makes sure his two children get the same protection. Bodyguards pick them up from school and escort them even to friends’ birthday parties — where the bodyguards meet other bodyguards, because many of the children’s classmates have similar protection.

With drug-related violence spinning out of control and kidnappings a proven money-maker for criminal gangs, members of Mexico’s upper class find themselves juggling the spoils of their status with the fear of being killed.

Dinner party chatter these days focuses on two things that are making their lives, still the envy of the country’s masses, far less enviable: the financial crisis, which is chipping away at their wealth, and the wave of insecurity, which is making it more perilous for them to enjoy what remains.

Mexico’s violence afflicts both rich and poor, but the nation’s income gap is so pronounced that criminals scour the society pages for potential kidnapping victims, for whom they demand, and often receive, huge sums in ransom. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that Mexico had the largest divide between rich and poor of the group’s 30 member nations, virtually assuring that wealthy targets stand out.

Wealthy Mexicans have long hired bodyguards, but experts say the numbers of those seeking protection have jumped since President Felipe Calderón challenged the drug cartels, bringing unprecedented levels of related violence — which had been mainly confined to the areas bordering the United States — into the major cities.

High-profile and sometimes gruesome crimes have stoked people’s fears.

In one of the worst cases, a 5-year-old boy from a poor family was plucked from a gritty market this month and killed by kidnappers, who injected acid into his heart.

Early this month, white-coated doctors in Tijuana protested after one of their own, a prominent kidney specialist, was plucked from outside his office by heavily armed men. He has since been released.

“It’s out of control,” said Dr. Hector Rico, the leader of the local medical association.

Confronted by the irate doctors at a public meeting, José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, the governor of Baja California State, said the answer to the rising insecurity was to come together and fight.

“We’re not going to cede one millimeter of territory to these criminals,” he said of the federal government’s war on drug traffickers.

But hundreds of well-off families along the border have become so consumed by their fears that they have moved out of Mexico, at least temporarily, often using business visas granted because of their work in the United States.

“It’s a bad feeling to have to leave your country behind,” said Javier, a prosperous Tijuana businessman, who moved his family across the border to San Diego last year after a group of armed men tried to kidnap him. “But I didn’t really have a choice.” He insisted that his last name not be used, out of fear that criminals might track him.

“There’s an exodus, and it’s all about insecurity,” said Guillermo Alonso Meneses, an anthropologist at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana. “A psychosis has developed. There’s fear of getting kidnapped or killed.

“People don’t want to live that way,” he continued, “and those who can afford it move north.”

Still, most of the wealthy have chosen to stay put, hiring armies of protectors to continue enjoying their gilded lives.

Although there are few firm figures for the number of Mexicans employed to guard their fellow citizens — most security companies ignore requirements to register with the government — experts say business is booming for the estimated 10,000 security companies operating in the country.

In the border state of Chihuahua, the Mexican Employers’ Association recently reported a 300 percent increase in the number of bodyguards. In that violence-torn state, some luxury hotels now offer their guests bodyguards and bulletproof vehicles.

For many affluent families, the guards and bulletproof cars, homes and even clothing have become a way of life. Some Mexicans say the protection has even become a status symbol.

In Mexico City, some people being protected by men wearing earpieces strut along in designer clothes, using their armed guards to clear a path.

A stylish woman at a Starbucks in the well-off Coyoacán neighborhood held out her cappuccino the other day while chatting with friends. A member of her two-man security detail discreetly slipped a cardboard sleeve on the cup so that the woman’s fingertips were protected, along with the rest of her.

“It’s a different life,” said José, the well-protected Ferrari driver, who agreed to provide a glimpse of that life. “I’ve gotten used to it.”

Indeed, José hands out designer clothing and other expensive gifts to his family’s two dozen or so bodyguards and invites them to his mother’s house weekly for a meal. He is being benevolent but also practical, given that many crimes in Mexico are inside jobs.

“I want them to feel like they’re part of the family,” he said. “And if something happens to me, I want them to react. They won’t risk their life for a paycheck. They will risk their life for a friend, for family.”

Some security consultants and academics point out that at least the upper crust has options, while other Mexicans must rely on law enforcement agencies, known for their corruption and ineffectiveness, to protect them from the violence. Many families who struggle to make ends meet find their loved ones grabbed for ransom. And shootouts between traffickers and the police and soldiers pursuing them erupt with no regard for the income level of bystanders.

“There’s reason for everyone to be fearful,” said Dr. Alonso, the Tijuana anthropologist, who hears gunfire at night in his middle-class neighborhood and, like many others, rarely ventures out after dark.

Despite José’s expensive clothing, eye-catching jewelry and luxury home in the hills, he insists that his family is different from many others in their income bracket.

“We’re not nouveau riche,” he said with a huff. “Those people want guards to show how important they are.”

As for the Ferrari, which he acknowledged is the opposite of discreet, José said it was the car’s engine that attracted him to it. “It’s not to sit back and have everyone look at me,” he said. “It’s to drive.”

But people do gawk. And José’s bodyguards worry about the attention his rare sports car attracts on the roads of Mexico.

“Of course, he shouldn’t be driving himself,” one of José’s bodyguards said. “But he’s like a presidential candidate who likes to go into crowds. Our function is to provide the security around the life he’s living.”

That life includes late-night stops at exclusive nightclubs and humble taco shops. José understands what he puts his guards through, because he completed bodyguard training in Guatemala to learn what his employees should be doing.

José also conducts background checks before hiring his bodyguards and sends them for regular refresher courses, meaning they are a cut above the run-of-the-mill Mexican bodyguard, who might be a washout police officer or soldier with modest training and little discipline for the job.

Javier, the businessman who now lives north of the border, said he did not believe bodyguards were the answer.

“One bodyguard, two bodyguards, even three of them can’t do anything with these criminals, who come in groups of 20 with high-powered arms,” he said. “If they want to hunt you down, they will get you.”

Even José is taking a break from Mexico. He recently headed to Canada with his family, for what he insisted was a respite rather than an abandonment of his country.

“I’m not running away,” he said. “I have an opportunity, and I’ll be back. But I’m not going to miss the insecurity. Not at all.”

Especially appealing, he said, was that his 6-year-old son would be able to ride his bike to school instead of being escorted in a bulletproof vehicle driven by a private paramilitary force.

“For my children, they don’t understand,” José said. “They’re happy to have these guys around. When they get out of school, there’s someone to take their backpack. There’s always someone around to play. I try to teach them that this isn’t normal. It shouldn’t be this way.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/17/wo...mexico.html?hp
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #104 on: November 17, 2008, 06:44:41 PM »

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1858151,00.html?imw=Y

In Mexico, a Theme Park for Border Crossers
By Ioan Grillo / Parque Alberto Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2008Tour guide Poncho leads a night walk for Saturday night revelers
Alan Gonzalez for TIME

Men in border-patrol caps tackle a young Mexican to the ground amid jagged rocks and cacti. "You need papers to come to this country. This is not a game!" shouts one agent as he yanks the man's arms behind his back, almost tearing them from his shoulders. It looks like a scene on the U.S. border that would get human rights groups yelling. But actually, it is a game, and it takes place in the mountains of central Mexico. All of the participants are Mexicans, many of whom have paid to be part of the re-enactment of the arrest, part of a border-crossing experience for Saturday-night revelers.

The so-called night hike in the highlands of Hidalgo state is a curious testimony to Mexico's identity as an emigrant nation, in which enormous numbers of young men and women continue to risk their lives sneaking into "El Norte" for a perceived better life. Every weekend, dozens of participants pay about $20 apiece to scramble up hills, slide down ravines and run through tunnels pursued by siren-blaring pickup trucks and pumped-up border-patrol agents shouting in accented English. (See pictures of the fence between the U.S. and Mexico.)

To many outsiders, this seems an odd way to enjoy a night out. But the participants and organizers all say it is both a great deal of fun and an important way to raise consciousness about the migrant experience. "It was fantastic. It totally exceeded my expectations," says medical saleswoman Araceli Hernandez, nursing a bite from a giant ant and brushing off dust after the five-hour slog. "But it makes me feel sad thinking about what the real migrants go through."

The hike was started four years ago by a group of Hnahnu Indians on their ancestral lands. Some of the poorest people in Mexico, the Hnahnu first began crossing into the U.S. in the late 1980s, and within a decade most of their young had left their ramshackle villages in search of dollars. While the fruits of the exodus transformed the Hnahnu's home landscape, allowing migrants to build walled mansions and paved roads, it also divided the community, separating families by thousands of miles and an ever more fortified border. The Hnahnu of the Parque Alberto community then began an eco-tourism project as a local jobs program so more of their people could stay home. The border-crossing simulation soon became their most famous attraction.

"We wanted to have a type of tourism that really raised people's understanding," says founder Alfonso Martinez, who dresses in a ski mask and goes by the name Poncho. "So we decided to turn the painful experience all of us here have gone through into a kind of game that teaches something to our fellow Mexicans." Poncho and other ski-masked comrades play polleros, or chicken herders — the human smugglers who guide wannabe migrants over the deserts and rivers into the U.S. Having made the real journey dozens of times to work as a gardener in Nevada, Poncho is well versed in mimicking the polleros' tactics closely. He moves swiftly over the side of the mountain, commanding participants with authority and ordering them to hold tight in the brambles for long periods and then suddenly sprint for miles.

In hot pursuit are the migra, or border-patrol agents, played by other Hnahnu. Most migrants have been nabbed at least once and know well what it feels like to get a pair of handcuffs slapped on after days of exhausting travel. The actors play their nemeses with energy and zest, tearing across fields to get the migrants and insulting them in a colorful language: "Don't you speak Spanish. You are not in Mexico now, my friend. Tell me who the boss is."

The participants are mostly middle-class professionals and students from Mexico City and other urban areas. While many have friends or family who have crossed illegally into the U.S., they all say they will not do it themselves: the simulated border-crossing is adventure enough for them. At one point the group walks through a nest of giant ants that bite people's legs. One girl starts screaming after injuring herself on the trip and has to be supported by friends as she hops along. The group slides down a steep ravine, a particularly hard task in the middle of the night, and many come through with cuts and bruises. But by the time the group arrives at the base camp and sings a lively rendition of the Mexican national anthem, no one complains that it was too hard.

Poncho hopes the experience will be life-changing for the participants. With the night-hike tours, he envisions himself as a revolutionary fighting for a better world. In a final pep talk, he drills the group about their class differences and how they can overcome them. "What do you call our ethnic group?" he asks in a booming voice. "You call us Indians, and say we are lazy and ignorant. Don't worry, I'm used to it. This experience is about showing we are human beings."

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« Reply #105 on: November 18, 2008, 02:57:20 PM »

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...guns-to-agent/

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/...10312008_7.xml

http://www.voanews.com/english/archi...01-26-voa1.cfm

http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/20...s-neighborhood

and most damning of all:
http://www.judicialwatch.org/news/20...ursion-reports

=====================================

Mexico Security Memo: Nov. 17, 2008
Stratfor Today » November 18, 2008 | 0014 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Mexicans Detained in Buenos Aires-Area Cocaine Seizure
Federal police in Argentina made one of the largest narcotics seizures in the South American country in recent years on Nov. 13, when they confiscated 752 kilograms of cocaine from a warehouse in the San Miguel area just north of Buenos Aires. In addition to the cocaine seizure, three Bolivian nationals and two Mexican nationals were taken into custody. The cocaine is thought to have come from Colombia and to have been destined for Europe. The tip that led to the seizure allegedly originated from Federico Faggionatto Marquez, the lead investigator into ephedrine smuggling involving Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel. In recent months, Argentine officials have made several arrests of suspected Sinaloa cartel members, including the reported head of the ephedrine smuggling operation, Jesus Martinez Espinoza, who was arrested in Paraguay and extradited to Argentina on Nov. 14 to face narcotics-related charges.

The United States still remains the largest and most lucrative drug market for the Mexican cartels. But the increased law enforcement presence along the U.S.-Mexican border could have prompted the Sinaloa cartel to diversify its markets by shifting its focus southward, something suggested by evidence of increased Sinaloa operations in South America. Argentine officials have only been investigating Sinaloa’s presence in the South American country since August, so it probably will take some time before the full extent of the Sinaloa cartel’s operations and presence in South America is known.

Doubts Over Plane Crash Investigation
In a poll conducted by the periodical Milenio, 56 percent of Mexicans told surveyors that they believe the plane crash that killed Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino and former Deputy Attorney General Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos was not accidental. According to Stratfor sources, that sentiment is echoed among many members of the Mexican government as well. The Mexican government asked the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board to help with the investigation, which reassured most observers that the investigation would be handled competently.

Even though the results finding pilot error were handed over by a reputable U.S. agency, the cartels’ demonstrated ability to assassinate high-level Mexican federal employees has left many Mexicans skeptical of government claims that the Nov. 4 crash was an accident. Doubts over official explanations of political figures’ deaths are not new for Mexico. For example, many Mexicans still doubt Mexican government claims that a lone gunmen shot Institutional Revolutionary Party presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio at a campaign rally in Tijuana, Baja California, in March 1994, instead suspecting that the Arellano Felix Organization ordered the assassination.





(click to view map)

Nov. 10
The mayor of Ciudad Juarez said he favors allowing citizens to use firearms to protect themselves.
The United States began the process of requesting the extradition of Jamie “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran, who faces drug-trafficking charges in the United States.
In a survey conducted by Milenio.com, 56 percent of those questioned believe the plane crash that killed Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino was not accidental.
Three bodies with bound hands and feet, blindfolded, and showing signs of torture were discovered below a dam near Durango, Durango state.
Citizens of the indigenous community of Cheranastico, Michoacan, kidnapped 17 Paracho municipal policemen in protest of the arrest of Juan Escamilla Lucas for arms violations.
A group of armed commandos kidnapped 27 workers from a ranch in northern Sinaloa state.
Mexican military members confiscated nearly 1 ton of marijuana in the Huetamo municipality of Michoacan state.
Three men with high-powered rifles attacked members of the Mexican military’s 76th Infantry Battalion conducting an operation Chihuahua state, during which the military personnel seized 12 tons of marijuana.
Nov. 11
Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said that the Mexican government has underestimated the true power of the drug cartels.
Four alleged leaders of the international street gang MS-13 were detained in the southern state of Chiapas following an anonymous tip that led police to their safe house.
A confrontation between peasants and indigenous villagers in Chiapas state capital Tuxtla Gutierrez left one woman dead and nine others in police custody. Authorities also seized various firearms and magazines.
Twenty-seven day laborers kidnapped from a ranch in northern Sinaloa state on Nov. 10 were released. The ranch involved reportedly is connected to the crime family of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, who heads the Juarez cartel.
The burned bodies of two individuals were found along the federal Acapulco highway in Guerrero state.
One male and one female prison guard were shot dead in a local jail in Culiacan, Sinaloa.
Nov. 12
Mexican military personnel decommissioned a cocaine processing laboratory near the center of Culiacan, Sinaloa.
Mexican military personnel detained 22 policemen of various ranks for alleged connections to drug-trafficking organizations.
Six heavily armed assassins executed the director of public security for the city of Patzcuaro, Michoacan, as he left the public security department headquarters.
Mexican army personnel seized more than 120 firearms of various calibers, 1,500 rounds of ammunition and about 140 pounds of marijuana during operations in eastern Michoacan state.
Mexican army personnel guarded the offices of the Anti-Organized Crime Unit of the Mexican attorney general’s office as 21 police officers arrived from Baja California state for investigation into their presumed connections to drug trafficking.
Federal police seized more than 2 tons of marijuana, two firearms and three vehicles during operations in Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas state.
Nov. 13
Municipal police arrested 13 presumed members of the Milenio cartel in Tonala, Guadalajara, traveling in three trucks. Police seized 13 long arms, three short arms, various fragmentation grenades, and body armor with Federal Investigations Agency insignia.
Baja California state has asked for U.S. assistance in the search for ten municipal policemen associated with drug trafficking.
In three separate operations, police in Chiapas detained 13 men and women belonging to three different kidnapping gangs: “El Aguila,” “La Zorrita” and “Los Melendez.”
The U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, was closed after gunshots were heard near the building; consulate operations were suspended indefinitely.
Elements of the Mexican military seized 19 airplanes, various aeronautical equipment and several weapons reportedly used by drug traffickers in Cajeme, Sonora.
A body riddled with bullet holes was discovered in the Lomas de Guadalupe neighborhood of Culiacan, Sonora.
Nov. 14
A group of armed men stormed an immigration checkpoint in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Oaxaca state, kidnapping 12 women of Central American origin. State police officials indicated that the group might be linked to Los Zetas, the armed wing of the Gulf cartel.
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) members in the Mexican Senate have proposed reforms that will provide police officers and government officials with guarantees of protection during and after their commissions and entitle them to pensions. In response to an increase in infiltration of the police by drug cartels and attacks against authorities, PRI Sen. Francisco Herrera said that the safeguard will help “return to society not only hope, but also confidence in the security of the state,” El Milenio reported.
A group of armed men in Tijuana, Baja California state, shot four men and one woman. Shell casings found at the scene indicate the gunmen used 7.62mm-by-39mm and 2.23 caliber weapons, the police said.
Speaking in Acapulco, Mexican President Felipe Calderon praised the Mexican navy for recent success in the war against the drug cartels; naval cocaine seizures have reached nearly 43 tons.
Four people were shot and killed in two separate incidents in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, including a former farm leader and former alderman of the Democratic Revolutionary Party. The first incident involved a roadside shooting by gunmen armed with 9 mm pistols. The other incident involved a double execution with AK-47 rounds.
Elements of the State Judicial Police arrested three alleged members of the La Familia Michoacana criminal organization in Teoloyucan, Mexico state for allegedly threatening employees of the public safety department.
A group of armed men attacked a political convoy on one of the main avenues in Tijuana, Baja California state. Authorities reported that no one was injured during the incident.
Nov. 15
A man was found dead in the town of Churumuco, Michoacan state; the victim had two bullets in his skull.
Guerrero state Gov. Zeferino Torreblanca Galinso confirmed a report from a commanding officer of the Federal Investigations Agency that organized criminal elements are funding at least two social organizations in Guerrero state. The organizations’ names were not specified.
Five people were killed in Tijuana; two were shot with assault rifles at a restaurant, one man was shot dead in a pool hall, and two bodies were found in the street.
Nov. 16
Mexican drug dealers have established bases of operation in 42 of the 50 U.S. states, Mexican newspaper Milenio reported Nov. 16, citing Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) findings. According to the DEA, Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Montana, Alabama, Arkansas, Vermont and South Dakota are the only states that Mexican drug dealers do not occupy. The report indicates that the Juarez cartel is present in at least 21 states, including the U.S.-Mexican border states; the Sinaloa cartel in 17; the Tijuana cartel in 15; and the Gulf cartel in 13.
Tell Stratfor What You Think
« Last Edit: November 18, 2008, 03:46:35 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #106 on: November 19, 2008, 07:23:54 PM »

   
The Barrio Azteca Trial and the Prison Gang-Cartel Interface
November 19, 2008
By Fred Burton and Ben West

Related Links
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

On Nov. 3, a U.S. District Court in El Paso, Texas, began hearing a case concerning members of a criminal enterprise that calls itself Barrio Azteca (BA). The group members face charges including drug trafficking and distribution, extortion, money laundering and murder. The six defendants include the organization’s three bosses, Benjamin Alvarez, Manuel Cardoza and Carlos Perea; a sergeant in the group, Said Francisco Herrera; a lieutenant, Eugene Mona; and an associate, Arturo Enriquez.

The proceedings represent the first major trial involving BA, which operates in El Paso and West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The testimony is revealing much about how this El Paso-based prison gang operates, and how it interfaces with Mexican drug cartel allies that supply its drugs.

Mexico’s cartels are in the business of selling drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin in the United States. Large amounts of narcotics flow north while large amounts of cash and weapons flow south. Managing these transactions requires that the cartels have a physical presence in the United States, something a cartel alliance with a U.S. gang can provide.

Of course, BA is not the only prison gang operating in the United States with ties to Mexico. Prison gangs can also be called street gangs — they recruit both in prisons and on the street. Within the United States, there are at least nine well-established prison gangs with connections to Mexican drug cartels; Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos, the Mexican Mafia and the Texas Syndicate are just a few such groups. Prison gangs like BA are very territorial and usually cover only a specific region, so one Mexican cartel might work with three to four prison or street gangs in the United States. Like BA, most of the U.S. gangs allied with Mexican cartels largely are composed of Mexican immigrants or Mexican-Americans. Nevertheless, white supremacist groups, mixed-race motorcycle gangs and African-American street gangs also have formed extensive alliances with Mexican cartels.

Certainly, not all U.S. gangs the Mexican cartels have allied with are the same. But examining how BA operates offers insights into how other gangs — like the Latin Kings, the Texas Syndicate, the Sureños, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and transnational street gangs like MS-13 — operate in alliance with the cartels.

Barrio Azteca Up Close
Spanish for “Aztec Neighborhood,” BA originated in a Texas state penitentiary in 1986, when five inmates from El Paso organized the group as a means of protection in the face of the often-brutal ethnic tensions within prisons. By the 1990s, BA had spread to other prisons and had established a strong presence on the streets of El Paso as its founding members served their terms and were released. Reports indicate that in the late 1990s, BA had begun working with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s Sinaloa Federation drug trafficking organization, which at the time controlled drug shipments to Ciudad Juarez, El Paso’s sister city across the Rio Grande.

According to testimony from several different witnesses on both sides of the current trial, BA now works only with the Juarez cartel of Vicente Carrillo-Fuentes, which has long controlled much of Mexico’s Chihuahua state and Ciudad Juarez, and broke with the Sinaloa Federation earlier in 2008. BA took sides with the Juarez cartel, with which it is jointly running drugs across the border at the Juarez plaza.

BA provides the foot soldiers to carry out hits at the behest of Juarez cartel leaders. On Nov. 3, 10 alleged BA members in Ciudad Juarez were arrested in connection with 12 murders. The suspects were armed with four AK-47s, pistols and radio communication equipment — all hallmarks of a team of hit men ready to carry out a mission.

According to testimony from the ongoing federal case, which is being brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, drugs are taken at discount from the supplier on the Mexico side and then distributed to dealers on the street. These distributors must then pay “taxes” to BA collectors to continue plying their trade. According to testimony from Josue Aguirre, a former BA member turned FBI informant, BA collects taxes from 47 different street-level narcotics operations in El Paso alone. Failure to pay these taxes results in death. One of the murder charges in the current RICO case involves the death of an El Paso dealer who failed to pay up when the collectors arrived to collect on a debt.

Once collected, the money goes in several different directions. First, BA lieutenants and captains, the midlevel members, receive $50 and $200 per month respectively for compensation. The bulk of BA’s profit is then transferred using money orders to accounts belonging to the head bosses (like Alvarez, Cardoza and Perea) in prison. Cash is also brought back to Ciudad Juarez to pay the Juarez cartel, which provided the drugs in the first place.

BA receives discounts on drugs from the Juarez cartel by providing tactical help to its associates south of the border. Leaders of Carrillo Fuentes’ organization in Juarez can go into hiding in El Paso under BA protection if their lives are in danger in Juarez. They can also order BA to track down cartel enemies hiding in El Paso. Former BA member Gustavo Gallardo testified in 2005 that he was sent to pick up a man in downtown El Paso who had cheated the Juarez cartel of money. Once Gallardo dropped him off at a safe house in El Paso, another team took the man — who was bound with rope and duct tape — to Ciudad Juarez, where Gallardo assumes he was killed.

BA and the World of Prison Gangs
Prison gangs are endemic to prison systems, where safety for inmates comes in numbers. Tensions (usually along racial lines) among dangerous individuals regularly erupt into deadly conflict. Prison gang membership affords a certain amount of protection against rival groups and offers fertile recruiting ground.

Once a prison gang grows its membership (along with its prestige) and establishes a clear hierarchy, its leader can wield an impressive amount of power. Some even wind up taking over prisons, like the antecedents of Russian organized crime did.

It might seem strange that members on the outside send money and answer to bosses in prison, since the bosses are locked up. But these bosses wield a great deal of influence over gang members in and out of prison. Disobedience is punishable by death, and regardless of whether a boss is in prison, he can order a hit on a member who has crossed him. Prison gang members also know that if they end up in prison again — a likely outcome — they will once again be dependent on the help of the boss to stay alive, and can perhaps even earn some money while doing time.

BA’s illegal activities mean its members constantly cycle in and out of prison. Many BA members were involved in smaller, local El Paso street gangs before they were imprisoned. Once in prison, they joined BA with the sponsorship of a “godfather” who walks the recruit through the process. BA then performs a kind of background check on new recruits by circulating their name throughout the organization. BA is particularly interested in any evidence that prospective members have cooperated with the police.

Prison authorities are certainly aware of the spread of BA, and they try to keep Mexican nationals separated from known BA members, who are mostly Mexican-American, to prevent the spread of the gang’s influence. BA has organizations in virtually every penitentiary in Texas, meaning that no matter where a BA member is imprisoned, he will have a protection network in place. BA members with truly extensive prison records might personally know the leader of every prison chapter, thus increasing the member’s prestige. Thus, the constant cycling of members from the outside world into prison does not inhibit BA, but makes its members more cohesive, as it allows the prison system to increase bonds among gang members.

Communication challenges certainly arise, as exchanges between prisoners and those on the outside are closely monitored. But BA seems to have overcome this challenge. Former BA member Edward Ruiz testified during the trial that from 2003 to 2007, he acted as a clearinghouse for jailed members’ letters and packages, which he then distributed to members on the outside. This tactic ensured that all prison communications would be traceable to just one address, thus not revealing the location of other members.

BA also allegedly used Sandy Valles New, who worked in the investigations section of the Office of the Federal Public Defender in El Paso from 1996 to 2002, to pass communications between gang members inside and outside prison. She exploited the access to — and the ability to engage in confidential communications with — inmates that attorneys enjoy, transmitting information back and forth between BA members inside and outside prison. Taped conversations reveal New talking to one of the bosses and lead defendants, Carlos Perea, about her fear of losing her job and thus not being able to continue transmitting information in this way. She also talked of crossing over to Ciudad Juarez to communicate with BA members in Mexico.

While BA had inside sources like New assisting it, the FBI was able to infiltrate BA in return. Josue Aguirre and Johnny Michelleti have informed on BA activities to the FBI since 2003 and 2005, respectively. Edward Ruiz, the mailman, also handed over stacks of letters to the FBI.

BA and the Mexican Cartels
As indicated, BA is only one of dozens of prison gangs operating along the U.S.-Mexican border that help Mexican drug trafficking organizations smuggle narcotics across the border and then distribute them for the cartels. Mexican drug trafficking organizations need groups that will do their bidding on the U.S. side of the border, as the border is the tightest choke point in the narcotics supply chain.

Getting large amounts of drugs across the border on a daily basis requires local connections to bribe border guards or border town policemen. Gangs on the U.S. side of the border also have contacts who sell drugs on the retail level, where markups bring in large profits. The current trial has revealed that the partnership goes beyond narcotics to include violence as well. In light of the high levels of violence raging in Mexico related to narcotics trafficking, there is a genuine worry that this violence (and corruption) could spread inside the United States.

One of the roles that BA and other border gangs fill for Mexican drug-trafficking organizations is that of enforcer. Prison gangs wield tight control over illegal activity in a specific territory. They keep tabs on people to make sure they are paying their taxes to the gang and not affiliating with rival gangs. To draw an analogy, they are like the local police who know the situation on the ground and can enforce specific rules handed down by a governmental body — or a Mexican cartel.

Details emerging from the ongoing trial indicate that BA works closely with the Juarez cartel and has contributed to drug-related violence inside the United States. While the killing of a street dealer by a gang for failure to pay up on time is common enough nationwide and hardly unique to Mexican drug traffickers, apprehending offenders in El Paso and driving them to Ciudad Juarez to be held or killed does represent a very clear link between violence in Mexico and the United States.

BA’s ability to strike within the United States has been proven. According to a Stratfor source, BA is connected to Los Zetas — the U.S.-trained Mexican military members who deserted to traffic drugs — through a mutual alliance with the Juarez cartel. The Zetas possess a high level of tactical skill that could be passed along to BA, thus increasing its effectiveness.

The Potential for Cross-Border Violence
The prospect for enhanced cross-border violence is frightening, but the violence itself is not new. So far, Mexican cartels and their U.S. allies have focused on those directly involved in the drug trade. Whether this restraint will continue is unclear. Either way, collateral damage is always a possibility.

Previous incidents, like one that targeted a drug dealer in arrears in Phoenix and others that involved kidnappings and attacks against U.S. Border Patrol agents, indicate that violence has already begun creeping over from Mexico. So far, violence related to drug trafficking has not caused the deaths of U.S. law enforcement officials and/or civilians, though it has come close to doing so.

Another potential incubator of cross-border violence exists in BA’s obligation to offer refuge to Juarez cartel members seeking safety in the United States. Such members most likely would have bounties on their heads. The more violent Mexico (and particularly Ciudad Juarez) becomes, the greater the risk Juarez cartel leaders face — and the more pressure they will feel to seek refuge in the United States. As more Juarez cartel leaders cross over and hide with BA help, the cartel’s enemies will become increasingly tempted to follow them and kill them in the United States. Other border gangs in California, Arizona and New Mexico probably are following this same trajectory.

Two primary reasons explain why Mexican cartel violence for the most part has stopped short of crossing the U.S. border. First, the prospect of provoking U.S. law enforcement does not appeal to Mexican drug-trafficking organizations operating along the border. They do not want to provoke a coordinated response from a highly capable federal U.S. police force like the Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or FBI. By keeping violence at relatively low levels and primarily aimed at other gang members and drug dealers, the Mexican drug-trafficking organizations can lessen their profile in the eyes of these U.S. agencies. Conversely, any increase in violence and/or the killing of U.S. police or civilians would dramatically increase federal scrutiny and retaliation.

The second reason violence has not crossed the border wholesale is that gangs like BA are in place to enforce the drug-trafficking organizations’ rules. The need to send cartel members into the United States to kill a disobedient drug dealer is reduced by having a tight alliance with a border gang that keeps drugs and money moving smoothly and carries out the occasional killing to maintain order.

But the continued integrity of BA and its ability to carry out the writ of larger drug-trafficking organizations in Mexico might not be so certain. The Nov. 3 trial will undermine BA activity in the crucial trafficking corridor of El Paso/Ciudad Juarez.

The indictment and possible incarceration of the six alleged BA members would not damage the gang so badly — after all, BA is accustomed to operating out of prison, and there must certainly be members on the outside ready to fill in for their incarcerated comrades. But making BA’s activities and modus operandi public should increase scrutiny on the gang and could very well lead to many more arrests.

In light of the presence of at least two FBI informants in the gang, BA leaders have probably moved into damage control mode, isolating members jeopardized by the informants. This will disrupt BA’s day-to-day operations, making it at least temporarily less effective. Stratfor sources say BA members on both sides of the border have been ordered to lie low until the trial is over and the damage can be fully assessed. This is a dangerous period for gangs like BA, as their influence over their territory and ability to operate is being reduced.

Weakening BA by extension weakens the Juarez cartel’s hand in El Paso. While BA no doubt will survive the investigations the trial probably will spawn, given the high stakes across the border in Mexico, the Juarez cartel might be forced to reduce its reliance on BA. This could prompt the Juarez cartel to rely on its own members in Ciudad Juarez to carry out hits in the United States and to provide its own security to leaders seeking refuge in the United States. It could also prompt it to turn to a new gang facing less police scrutiny. Under either scenario, BA’s territory would be encroached upon. And considering the importance of controlling territory to prison gangs — and the fact that BA probably still will be largely intact — this could lead to increased rivalries and violence.

The Juarez cartel-BA dynamic could well apply to alliances between U.S. gangs and Mexican drug-trafficking organizations, such as Hermanos de Pistoleros Latinos in Houston, the Texas Syndicate and Tango Blast operating in the Rio Grande Valley and their allies in the Gulf cartel; the Mexican Mafia in California and Texas and its allies in the Tijuana and Sinaloa cartels; and other gangs operating in the United States with ties to Mexican cartels like Mexikanemi, Norteños and the Sureños.

Ultimately, just because BA or any other street gang working with Mexican cartels is weakened does not mean that the need to enforce cartel rules and supply chains disappears. This could put Mexican drug-trafficking organizations on a collision course with U.S. law enforcement if they feel they must step in themselves to take up the slack. As their enforcers stateside face more legal pressure, the cartels’ response therefore bears watching.



 
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« Reply #107 on: November 19, 2008, 08:53:50 PM »

It is kind of sad really.
Mexico City is a beautiful city; cosmopolitan, cultured, fabulous restaurants and beautiful architecture and wonderful people.
I have been there a few times and always enjoyed it very much.

That being said, I did a photo shoot with a very rich Korean girl this past weekend here in LA.  Previously, she lived in Mexico City.  i asked
her why her family moved to LA and she said she had been kidnapped for ransom three times in Mexico City.  Their house was a fortress; it was no way to live.
And they obviously lived in a very nice section of town.

We take safety for granted, but it is not always available. 
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« Reply #108 on: December 01, 2008, 10:42:56 AM »

Mexico Has Made Big Strides on Economic Policy Calderón was smart enough to hedge against falling oil prices.
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY


Much has been written about the "cultural" divide between Norte Americanos and Latinos. But with the burst of the asset bubble, we've learned that politicians, north and south, react similarly in the face of economic crisis.

This commonality occurred to me over breakfast in New York last week with Mexico's minister of finance, Agustin Carstens. The University of Chicago-trained economist was explaining the rationale behind President Felipe Calderón's "stimulus" package. I kept thinking about President-elect Barack Obama's promised further spending spree on this side of the border. The Mexican version is not nearly as ambitious but the concept is the same. "He's taking my money in order to spend it better than I can," a Mexican friend shot back sardonically when I asked him his views on Mr. Calderón's plan. We're all keynesianos now.

The Keynesian theory, calling for government spending as a way to boost aggregate demand during economic downturns, has repeatedly failed to deliver on its promises. But it endures because of its political expediency. It is the best excuse ever invented to expand government. It is both frightening and discouraging to hear politicians offering more Keynes at a time when what is most needed is a way of restoring the appetite of the private sector for risk.

Yet the news from Mexico is not all bad. As I listened to Mr. Carstens discuss his government's economic options, what also came through is how different Mexico is from 15 years ago. These changes may keep the country from backsliding under the strain of the current financial panic.

To be sure, Mr. Carstens believes in the state's capacity to stimulate economic activity. "If you can get the economy going and you have the instruments to do it, it is important that you use them," he told me. Then he added a historic footnote: "But we have limits to how much we can borrow and finance prudently." He went on: "Thinking that we are going to run a fiscal deficit without thinking of how we will finance it? That would be irresponsible."

For a country that has repeatedly gotten itself into fiscal and monetary trouble by running up big budget deficits, this is a tectonic shift in thinking. It is true that Mr. Carstens's predecessor, Francisco Gil-Diaz, also kept a tight grip on the purse strings during the government of Vicente Fox. But for a Mexican finance minister to be worried about excessive borrowing during a global economic slump of the magnitude now expected is a meaningful departure from tradition.

It isn't the only new-found prudence in Mexico. Twenty five years ago when oil prices skyrocketed, Latin oil producers spent the windfall as fast as it flowed in -- and more besides. Now Mexico takes a different approach. Earlier this year when Maya crude -- Mexico's main blend for export -- was topping $120 per barrel, Mr. Carstens instructed his team to begin using derivatives to lock in a floor price of $70 per barrel. "Prices had risen to such a high level that the only direction left was down," he explained to reporters in Mexico City last month.

In today's Opinion Journal
 

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

America's Other Auto IndustryMessing With Malpractice Reform

TODAY'S COLUMNISTS

Information Age: Let's Move Intelligence Out of the 1970s
– L. Gordon CrovitzThe Americas: Mexico Has Made Big Strides on Economic Policy
– Mary Anastasia O'Grady

COMMENTARY

Lessons From 40 Years of Education 'Reform'
– Louis V. Gerstner Jr.Deepak Blames America
– Dorothy RabinowitzEgypt's Jew Haters Deserve Ostracism in the West
– Amr BargisiWith this hedge, Mexico has covered its net oil exports for 2009 at $70 while Maya crude is now trading around $45. What is important here is not that Mr. Carstens's hedge worked but that this time an oil boom didn't turn into a government binge.

Yet another big change in Mexico is on the trade front. By now most economists recognize that closing domestic markets in hard times only makes things worse. But candidate Obama's campaign vow to force protectionist changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement demonstrates the constant temptation for politicians to protect special interest groups from foreign competition.

Yet while Mr. Obama and Congress are talking up more trade barriers, Mr. Calderón's government is going the other way. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, last month, the Mexican president warned that changes to Nafta would damage both sides of the border. Mexico has numerous free trade agreements but Mr. Carstens told me at breakfast that working to lower tariffs on imports from non-FTA countries is a Calderón priority.

With these advances Mexico may muddle through this recession. But there are also grave risks to its strategy. The much-touted reform of state-owned oil monopoly Pemex is too timid to boost output in the near term. Elsewhere Mr. Carstens says he is working toward eventual tax cuts and simplification of the tax code but adds that now is not the time to go there. The trouble is that as he waits for the right time, the private sector could decide that the cost of doing business in Mexico is just too high. That will leave Mexico more dependent on Mr. Carstens's strategy of government spending out of the treasury and state-owned "development" banks. That would be a throwback to an unrewarding past.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com

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« Reply #109 on: December 05, 2008, 12:19:13 PM »

ospitals Now a Theater in Mexico’s Drug War

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

December 5, 2008

Hospitals Now a Theater in Mexico’s Drug War

By MARC LACEY
TIJUANA, Mexico

The sedated patient, his bullet wounds still fresh from a shootout the night before, was lying on a gurney in the intensive care unit of a prestigious private hospital here late last month with intravenous fluids dripping into his arm. Suddenly, steel-faced gunmen barged in and filled him with even more bullets. This time, he was dead for sure.

Hit men pursuing rivals into intensive care units and emergency rooms. Shootouts in lobbies and corridors. Doctors kidnapped and held for ransom, or threatened with death if a wounded gunman dies under their care. With alarming speed, Mexico’s violent drug war is finding its way into the seeming sanctuary of the nation’s hospitals, shaking the health care system and leaving workers fearing for their lives while trying to save the lives of others.

“Remember that hospital scene from ‘The Godfather?’ ” asked Dr. Héctor Rico, an otolaryngologist here, speaking about the part in which Michael Corleone saves his hospitalized father from a hit squad. “That’s how we live.”

An explosion of violence connected with Mexico’s powerful drug cartels has left more than 5,000 people dead so far this year, nearly twice the figure from the year before, according to unofficial tallies by Mexican newspapers. The border region of the United States and Mexico, critical to the cartels’ trafficking operation, has been the most violent turf of all, with 60 percent of all killings in the country last month occurring in the states of Chihuahua and Baja California, the government says. And it has raised fears that violence could spill across the border, because dozens of victims of drug violence have been treated at an El Paso hospital in the last year.

The federal government argues that the rising death toll reflects President Felipe Calderón’s aggressive stance toward the cartels, which has forced traffickers into a bitter war over the dwindling turf that remains.

In fact, most of the deaths do appear to be the result of infighting among traffickers. But plenty of innocent people are dying too, and the spate of horrifying killings — bodies are routinely decapitated or otherwise mutilated and left in public places with handwritten notes propped up nearby — has left people from all walks of life worried that they might be next.

“If a patient is in the E.R. bleeding, we should be focused on the wounds,” said Dr. Rico, who has led doctors in street demonstrations to protest the rising violence in and around Tijuana, where 170 bodies were discovered in November alone, the bloodiest month on record. “Now we have to watch our backs and worry about someone barging in with a gun.”

Doctors feel particularly vulnerable. When they leave their offices, they say they face the risk of being kidnapped and held for ransom, as about two dozen local physicians have been in the last few years. Doctors also complain about receiving blunt threats from patients or patients’ relatives. “Sálvame o te mato,” save me or I will kill you, is what one orthopedic surgeon said he was told by a patient, who evidently did not grasp the contradiction.

Adding to the anxiety, hospitals and health care workers have to notify the authorities when a patient comes in with a gunshot or knife wound, a legal requirement that the traffickers know well. That leads to further threats.

Then, there is the risk of shootouts.

Authorities suspect that the killers and the victim in the intensive care unit at the private hospital, Hospital del Prado, had links to the drug cartels that are wreaking so much havoc across Mexico. Nowhere to be found were the police, who received a call from the hospital authorities when the shooting victim, who was in his 20s, first arrived, as is required by law. The police did not show up until after the gunmen had come and gone and bullet casings littered the hospital floor.

Hospital General de Tijuana, the city’s main public hospital, has twice been ringed by police officers and soldiers in the past 20 months. The first time, in April 2007, gunmen stormed the building either to rescue a fellow cartel member who was being treated in the emergency room or to kill a rival, said the police, who were not certain which scenario it was. Two police officers were killed, and all but one of the gunmen got away.

A video taken by a hospital worker revealed a terrifying scene, with two state police officers firing inside the emergency room to protect patients while doctors, nurses and others cowered in closets, under gurneys and wherever else they could find cover.

An elderly woman in a wheelchair is seen hiding under a blanket, while a patient in a hospital gown is sprawled on the floor near his hospital bed.

Meanwhile, panicked patients were escorted out of the building, some with IVs in their arms, to a nearby sports field.

The second time was this past April, when soldiers in camouflage ringed Hospital General de Tijuana, shutting it down while doctors treated eight traffickers who were wounded in various shootouts in the city. The Mexican Army was apparently trying to prevent a repeat of the 2007 shootout. In a recent third episode, soldiers were sent to the hospital for a bomb scare.

“Fear has become part of our lives,” said one of the doctors at Hospital General de Tijuana, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from organized-crime figures. “There’s panic. We don’t know when the shooting is going to break out again.”

The violence is already affecting service, as hospitals armor themselves with more police officers and guards. To protest the spate of killings, some doctors closed their offices for a day in November. And Tijuana clinics are closing earlier on a regular basis, with more and more doctors shunning late-night medical care as too risky.

In Ciudad Juárez, which abuts El Paso, the local Red Cross hospital called a halt to 24-hour emergency service earlier in the year after gunmen killed four people who were being treated for gunshot wounds. Emergency service now ends at 10 p.m.

Paramedics in Ciudad Juárez temporarily stopped treating gunshot victims one day in August after receiving death threats over their emergency radios. They resumed ambulance service later the same day, but only after they were provided armed police escorts.

An episode that took place in the early morning hours of Oct. 5 in Tijuana shows the complicated new environment in which health care workers find themselves. After a major shootout, two wounded men were carried to Clínica Londres, a private health clinic that was closed for the night. There was a lone nurse inside the locked facility, tending to the patients there, and she initially did not open up to the small group of anxious people outside.

The nurse was not qualified to treat gunshot victims, and the clinic did not offer emergency care. But the crowd outside included two men dressed in law enforcement uniforms, who banged menacingly on the door.

Frightened of the men in uniform — criminals routinely wear police uniforms in Mexico — she eventually relented, she told authorities. What happened next is shrouded in confusion.

Tipped off, the army and the police arrived at the clinic and asked the nurse and two other employees who had since arrived if they were treating gunshot victims, and they were told no. Then, hearing a groan from another room, the authorities discovered the two wounded men — the men in uniform had already fled — and accused the health care workers and the group of people who arrived with the patients of having links to the drug traffickers.

The clinic workers, who have been detained for two months while authorities decide whether to charge them, deny that they did anything wrong. “It is not true that this is a narco-clinic,” said their lawyer, Rafael Flores Esquerro.

Another Tijuana doctor, Fernando Guzmán Cordero, has also found himself denying connections to traffickers. Dr. Guzmán, a prominent general surgeon, was kidnapped in April and suffered a bullet wound to his leg. But the kidnappers released him 36 hours later, even giving him cab fare home.

Then two weeks later, after another Tijuana shootout, a group of gunshot victims were taken to his clinic for treatment. In radio call-in shows and on Internet chat sites, local residents wondered whether the traffickers were now in cahoots with Dr. Guzmán, something he vehemently denied.

“People can say whatever they want,” he said. “They say I kidnapped myself or made a pact with them. They say a million things. I know who I am. Why would I get involved with criminals?”

The problem everyone in Tijuana faces, no matter their line of work, is that they might be associating with traffickers without even knowing it. Doctors say they now screen their patients carefully. Traffickers pay well and in cash, but they are not worth the trouble they bring, doctors say.

But hospitals do not have that luxury. “We’re not judges,” said Carolina Aubanel Riedel, whose family owns Hospital del Prado. “We treat those who arrive.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/wo...mexico.html?hp
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« Reply #110 on: December 06, 2008, 01:45:12 PM »

Jewelry store patrons murdered as a part of the ongoing Mexican drug war:

http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fg-monterrey7-2008dec07,0,2178649.story?track=rss

Quite graphic.
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« Reply #111 on: December 09, 2008, 09:56:57 PM »

Stratfor
Part 1: A Critical Confluence of Events
December 9, 2008 | 1213 GMT
Summary

Mexico is facing the perfect storm as the global financial crisis begins to
impact the country's economy and as the government's campaign against the
drug cartels seems to be making the country even less secure. Mexico also
faces legislative elections in the coming year, which will involve much
jockeying for the 2012 presidential race. The political implications of the
financial crisis will be reflected in a decline in employment and overall
standard of living. In a country where political expression takes the form
of paralyzing protest, the economic downturn could spell near-disaster for
the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Analysis
Editor's Note: This is the first part of a series on Mexico.



Mexico appears to be a country coming undone. Powerful drug cartels use
Mexico for the overland transshipment of illicit drugs - mainly cocaine,
marijuana and methamphetamine - from producers in South America to consumers
in the United States. Violence between competing cartels has grown over the
past two years as they have fought over territory and as the Mexican army
has tried to secure the embattled areas, mainly on the country's periphery.
It is a tough fight, made even tougher by endemic geographic, institutional
and technical problems in Mexico that make a government victory hard to
achieve. The military is stretched thin, the cartels are becoming even more
aggressive and the people of Mexico are growing tired of the violence.


At the same time, the country is facing a global economic downturn that will
slow Mexico's growth and pose additional challenges to national stability.
Although the country appears to be in a comfortable fiscal position for the
short term, the outlook for the country's energy industry is bleak, and a
decline in employment could prompt social unrest. Complications also loom in
the political sphere as Mexican parties campaign ahead of 2009 legislative
elections and jockey for position in preparation for the 2012 presidential
election.

Economic Turmoil

As the international financial crisis roils economies around the world,
Mexico has been hit hard. Tightly bound to its northern neighbor, Mexico's
economy is set to shrink alongside that of the United States, and it will be
an enormous challenge for the Mexican government to face in the midst of a
devastating war with the drug cartels.


The key to understanding the Mexican economy is an appreciation of Mexico's
enormous integration with the United States. As a party to the North
American Free Trade Agreement and one of the largest U.S. trading partners,
Mexico is highly vulnerable to the vagaries of the U.S. economy. The United
States is the largest single source of foreign direct investment in Mexico.
Even more important, the United States is the destination of more than 80
percent of Mexico's exports. A slowdown in economic activity and consumer
demand in the United States thus translates directly into a slowdown in
Mexico.

In addition to the sale of most Mexican goods in the U.S. markets, the
United States is a major source of revenue for Mexico though remittances,
and together these sources of income provide around a quarter of Mexico's
gross domestic product (GDP). When Mexican immigrants send money home from
the United States, it makes up a substantial portion of Mexico's external
revenue streams. Remittances to Mexico totaled US$23.9 billion in 2007,
according to the Mexican Central Bank. The slowdown in the U.S. housing
sector has brought remittances down during the course of 2008 from highs in
the middle of 2007. As of the end of September 2008, remittances for the
year were down by US$672.6 million from the same period in 2007.

The decline in remittances is being matched by a slowdown in Mexico's
economy across the board. The Mexican government estimates that Mexico's GDP
will slow from 3.2 percent growth in 2007 to 1.8 percent in 2008. Given that
the U.S. economy is sliding into recession at the same time, this is likely
only the beginning of the Mexican slowdown, and growth is expected to bottom
out at 0.9 percent in 2009.

With growing pressure on the rest of the economy, the prospect of rising
unemployment is perhaps the most daunting challenge. So far, unemployment
and underemployment in Mexico has risen from 9.77 percent in December 2007
to 10.82 percent in October 2008, (some 27 percent of the workforce is
employed in the informal sector). But slowed growth and declining demand in
the United States is sure to cause further declines in employment in Mexico.
As happened in the wake of Mexico's 1982 debt crisis, Mexicans may seek to
return to a certain degree of subsistence farming in order to make it
through the tough times, but that is nowhere near an ideal solution. The
government has proposed a US$3.4 billion infrastructure buildup plan to be
implemented in 2009 that will seek to boost jobs (and demand for industrial
goods) throughout Mexico, although it is not clear how quickly this can take
effect or how many jobs it might create.

Further compounding the employment issue is the possibility of Mexican
immigrants returning from the United States as jobs disappear to the north.
Stratfor sources have already reported a slightly higher-than-normal level
of immigrants returning to Mexico, and although it is too early to plot the
trajectory of this trend, there is little doubt that job opportunities are
evaporating in the United States. As migrants return to Mexico, however,
there are very few jobs waiting for them there, either. This presents the
very real possibility that the available jobs will be in the black markets,
and specifically with the drug cartels. Demand for drugs persists despite
economic downturns, and the business of the cartels continues unabated.
Indeed, for the cartels, the economic downturn could be an excellent
recruitment opportunity.

The turmoil in U.S. financial markets has directly damaged the value of the
Mexican peso and has caused a loss of wealth among Mexican companies.
Mexican businesses have lost billions of dollars (exact figures are not
available at this time) to bad currency bets. Mexican companies in search of
extra financing have had trouble floating corporate paper, which has forced
the government to offer billions of dollars worth of guarantees. The upside
to this is that a weaker currency will increase the attractiveness of
Mexican exports to the United States vis-à-vis China (for a change), which
will boost the export sector to a certain degree.

The fluctuating peso has also forced the Mexican central bank to inject
about US$14.8 billion into currency markets to stabilize the peso.
Nevertheless, the peso has devalued by approximately 22.6 percent since the
beginning of 2008. Partially as a result of the currency devaluation,
inflation appears to be rising slightly. The government has reported a
12-month inflation rate of 6.2 percent, through mid-November. This is
actually fairly low for a developing nation, but it is the highest inflation
has been in Mexico since 2001.

Mexico's financial sector is highly exposed to the international credit
market, with about 80 percent of Mexico's banks owned by foreign companies,
and the banking sector has been unstable in recent months. Foreign capital
has, to a certain degree, fled Mexican investments and banks as capital
worldwide veered away from developing to developed markets, in response to
the global financial crisis. The result is a decline in investments across
the board, and there was a sharp decline in the purchase of Mexican
government bonds. After a four-week fall in bond purchases, the Mexican
government announced a US$1.1 billion bond repurchase package Dec. 2 in an
attempt to increase liquidity in the capital markets and lower interest
rates. Although investors were not responsive, it is an indication that the
government is taking its countercyclical duties seriously.

As the government seeks to counter falling employment and other economic
challenges, it will need to lean heavily on its available resources. The
central bank holds US$83.4 billion in foreign reserves, as of Nov. 28, and
can continue to use the money to implement monetary stabilization. Mexico
also maintains oil stabilization funds that total more than US$7.4 billion,
which provides a small fiscal cushion. The 2009 Mexican federal budget calls
for the first budget deficit in years - amounting to 1.8 percent of GDP -
and has increased spending by 13 percent from the previous year's budget, to
US$231 billion.

Some 40 percent of this budget is reliant on oil revenues generated by
Mexican state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex). Despite the
fall in oil prices, Mexico has managed to secure its energy income through a
series of hedged oil sales contracts. These contracts will sustain the
budget through the duration of 2009 with prices set from US$70 to US$100 per
barrel. Mexico is a major exporter of oil - ranked the sixth largest
producer and the 10th largest exporter. The energy industry is critical for
the economy, just as it is for the government.

In the long term, however, Mexico's energy industry is crippled. Due to a
history of restrictive energy regulations, oil production is falling
precipitously (primarily at Mexico's gigantic offshore Cantarell oil field),
with government reports indicating that production averaged 2.8 million
barrels per day (bpd) between January and September, which is far from
Mexico's target production of 3 million bpd. Thus, even if Mexico has
secured the price of its oil through 2009, it cannot guarantee its
production levels in the short term, and perhaps not in the long term.

To try to boost the industry's prospects, the Mexican government has passed
an energy reform plan that will allow Pemex to issue contract agreements to
foreign companies for joint exploration and production projects. The
government has also decided to assume some of Pemex's debt in order to ease
the company's access to international credit in light of the tight
international credit market.

These changes could help Mexico pull its oil production rate out of the
doldrums. However, most of Mexico's untapped reserves are located either in
deep complex formations or offshore - environments in which Pemex is at best
a technical laggard - making extraction projects expensive and technically
difficult. With the international investment climate constrained by capital
shortages, foreigners barred from sharing ownership of the oil they produce
and the price of oil falling, it is not yet clear how interested foreign oil
companies will be in such partnerships.

The decline in the energy sector has the potential to produce a sustained
fiscal crisis in the two- to three-year timeframe, even assuming that other
aspects of the economic environment (nearly all of which are beyond Mexico's
control) rectify themselves. The slack in government revenue will have to be
taken up through increased taxes on other industries or on individuals, but
it is not yet clear how such a replacement source of revenue might be
created.

The overall political implications of the financial crisis will be reflected
in a decline in employment and the standard of living of average Mexicans.
In a country where political expression takes the form of paralyzing
protest, the economic downturn could spell near-disaster for the
administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

The Shifting Political Landscape
In power since 2000, the ruling National Action Party (PAN) has enjoyed a
fairly significant level of support for Calderon both within the
legislature - where it lacks a ruling majority - and in the population at
large, particularly given the razor-thin margin with which Calderon won his
office in 2006. The Calderon administration has launched a number of reform
efforts targeting labor, energy and, of course, security.

Although the PAN has maintained an alliance with the Institutional
Revolutionary Party (PRI) for much of Calderon's administration, this is a
unity that that is unlikely to persist, given that both parties have begun
to lay out their campaigns for the 2012 presidential election.

For the ruling party, there are a number of looming challenges on the
political scene. Mexico has seen a massive spike in crime and drug-related
violence coincide with the first eight years of rule by Calderon's PAN after
71 straight years of rule by the PRI. To make things worse, the global
financial crisis has begun to impact Mexico - through no fault of its own -
and the impact on employment could be devastating. Given the confluence of
events, it is almost guaranteed that Calderon and the PAN will suffer
political losses going forward, weakening the party's ability to move
forward with decisive action.

So far, Calderon has been receiving credit for his all-out attack on the
drug cartels, and his approval ratings are near 60 percent. As the economy
weakens and the death toll mounts, however, this positive outlook could
easily falter.

The challenge will not likely come from the PAN's 2006 rival, the
Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD). The PRD gained tremendous media
attention when party leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador lost the
presidential election to Calderon and proceeded to stage massive
demonstrations protesting his loss. Since then, the PRD has adopted a
less-radical stance, and the far-left elements of the party have begun to
part ways with the less radical elements. This split within the PRD could
weaken the party as it moves forward.

The weakening of the PRD is auspicious for Mexico's third party, the PRI,
which has been playing a very careful game. The PRI has engaged in
partnerships with the PAN in opposition (for the most part) to the leftist
PRD. In doing so, the PRI has taken a strong role in the formation of
legislation. However, the PRI's prospects for the 2012 presidential election
have begun to improve, with the party's popularity on the rise. As of late
October, the PRI was polling extremely well - at the expense of both the PAN
and the PRD - with a 32.4 percent approval rating, compared to the PAN's
24.5 percent and the PRD's 10.8 percent.

In the short term, the June 2009 legislative elections will be a litmus test
for the political gyrations of Mexico, a warm-up for the 2012 elections and
the next stage of political challenges for Calderon. As the PRI positions
itself in opposition to the PAN - and particularly if the party gains more
seats in the Mexican legislature - it will become increasingly difficult for
the government to reach compromise solutions to looming challenges. Calderon
is somewhat protected by his high approval ratings, which will make overt
moves against him politically questionable for the PRI or the PRD.

Although a great deal could change (and quickly), these dynamics highlight
the potential changes in political orientation for Mexico over the next
three years. In the short term, the political situation remains relatively
secure for Calderon, which is critical for a president who is balancing the
need for substantial economic resuscitation with an ongoing war on domestic
organized crime.

Mexico's most critical challenge is the convergence of events it now faces.
The downturn in the economy, the political dynamics or the deteriorating
security situation, each on its own, might not pose an insurmountable
problem for Mexico. What could prove insurmountable is the confluence of all
three, which appears to be in the making.
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« Reply #112 on: December 09, 2008, 09:59:23 PM »

second post of the day:

WHY ARE MEXICAN PASSPORTS SHOWING UP IN MUMBAI, INDIA?

By Todd Bensman
The San Antonio Express-News

Three Afghani Muslim men caught posing as Mexican nationals last month while
en route to Europe were part of a human smuggling operation and carried what
are now believed to be altered but genuine Mexican passports for which they
paid $10,000 each, Indian investigators told The San Antonio Express-News.


An ongoing transcontinental investigation, which now involves Mexican and
Indian authorities, began Feb. 11 when a suspicious airport customs official
in Kuwait noticed the three Afghanis, traveling under Mexican pseudonyms,
could not speak Spanish during a layover on their air trip from New Delhi,
India to France.

The three Afghani travelers were detained and deported to India, where they
remain in custody while Mexican and Indian authorities try to learn about
their backgrounds, where they were going and who sold the apparently real
government-issue passports. A U.S. source confirmed the FBI and Immigration
and Customs Enforcement investigators also are looking into the matter.

At issue to some U.S. national security experts is whether another of
Mexico's embassies and consulates abroad might be implicated in selling
travel documents to people from countries like Afghanistan where terrorist
organizations are active, a circumstance that potentially could bring
terrorists to American borders. It wouldn't be the first time a Mexican
embassy was implicated in such an affair.

In 2003, a Mexican investigation into a Lebanon-Mexico human smuggling
operation produced firings and indictments of Mexican embassy personnel in
Beirut for allegedly selling travel documents to Lebanese citizens. One man
who bought a Mexican visa for $3,000 turned out to be a ranking Hezbollah
operative smuggled over the California border in the trunk of a car. Mahmoud
Kourani was convicted in 2004 of supporting the terrorist group from
Detroit.

Interdicting U.S.-bound travelers from the Middle East "was our number one
concern," said recently retired FBI Assistant Legal Attaché James Conway,
who for four years after 9-11 oversaw the bureau's counterterrorism programs
in Mexico City. "That's the national security concern from our southern
flank."

Travelers from Islamic countries carrying passports that are valid but
altered with fake names and photographs are among the most difficult to
detect, he said. In the black markets of human smuggling, real national
passports with embedded security bar codes rank among the most valuable
travel documents because they enable their bearers to more easily slip
through airport inspections.
==============
"If you've got a Mexican passport you've already crossed the bridge," Conway
said. "And you can become part of the flood of people who cross into the
U.S. If terrorists wanted to exploit the infrastructure in place, they can.
It's there."

TERRORISTS OR REFUGEES?

V.G. Babu, superintendent of immigration police at Cochin International
Airport, told the Express-News in a telephone interview the passports were
genuine government-manufactured passports and that the three men admitted to
buying them for $10,000 each in Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, which
hosts a Mexican consulate office.

Babu said the three men initially tried to convince Indian authorities that
they were Mexicans. But the story quickly fell apart when two of the three
couldn't prove they spoke Spanish, he said.

"We broke them," because of the language issue, he said, and handed the men
over to federal Indian police for further investigation.

Investigators learned that a third Afghan who did speak some Spanish had
more than casual dealings with the Mexican embassy personnel in New Delhi
and was known to speak several languages, according to one Indian news
report.

Babu said he could offer no further details. Mexican foreign service
officials would only confirm that a multi-ministry investigation was
underway.

The Mexican Embassy in New Delhi declined to comment on the case. However, a
Feb. 16 Newindypress.com report cited New Delhi-based Ambassador Rogerlio
Granguillhome as confirming to Indian authorities that the passports were
likely real and asking that the documents be handed over so they can be
traced to their origins at an embassy or consulate office.

Ricardo Alday, a spokesman for Mexico's embassy in Washington D.C., also
would not answer questions specific to the investigation. But he did say his
government "has applied strong measures and invested considerable resources
to continuously improve the security of its travel documents."

"Mexico is a committed partner with the U.S. in ensuring . our borders are
not used to threaten or undermine our common security," Alday said in an
email.

Whether the Afghanis are connected to terrorist organizations battling with
American troops in Afghanistan and how they obtained the passports remain
unknown as the obscure investigation unfolds.

But Afghanistan is one of 43 predominantly Islamic nations listed by the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security as "countries of special interest"
because Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups operate in them.

Many Afghans caught crossing the U.S. southern border in recent years have
been determined to be economic immigrants, not terrorists, but many others
are presumed to have crossed and not been caught. Between 2002 and 2006, the
U.S. border patrol caught about 63 Afghanis crossing the borders, according
to agency capture data.

Conway, the former FBI legal attaché to Mexico, said that during his tour
the FBI got many "hits" running the names of captured immigrants from those
countries through terror watch list databases. He declined to elaborate,
citing national security rules against disclosure, and it remains unknown
what was learned of those individuals. But terrorists have illegally crossed
into the U.S. from Mexico and Canada since the mid 1990s.


THE WEAK LINK

The India case highlights concern felt among homeland security officials
since 9-11 about a continuing stream of immigrants from countries of
interest who illegally cross U.S. borders every year using Latin American
travel documents, often provided by paid human smugglers.

The chief concern, according to current and former FBI and ICE agents
familiar with the issue, is how well Latin American countries police the
supplies of travel documents emanating from their embassies and consulates
in Islamic countries.

According to federal court records from prosecutions of Middle Eastern
smugglers, thousands of Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese and citizens of many other
Islamic countries have been able to travel illegally to Latin American
countries, then over U.S. borders. They were often able to do so by using
real travel documents originating from embassy offices of Mexico, Guatemala,
Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia and Peru.

Conway said the ability to obtain real passports from any of those countries
represents a high danger.
================
"If you've got diplomatic establishments, like in Beirut, handing out
passports, there's little you can do," he said. "They come to Mexico, dress
like Mexican businessmen and you think they're going to pop up on our radar
screen? Absolutely not. They're going to walk on through."

In recent years, U.S. authorities have sought to make Central- and South
American countries more aware of the security threat presented by their
consulate offices and embassies. But some of those countries, such as
Venezuela and Guatemala, have proven less than responsive when asked to
tighten controls on foreign service personnel stationed abroad.

Among countries south of the U.S., Mexico has proven to be among the most
cooperative, Conway and other federal agents who have worked
counterterrorism programs there have said. Mexico has collaborated
extensively with American agencies to interdict travelers from countries of
interest, going so far as to allow American agents to interrogate captured
detainees inside Mexican facilities.

As part of those efforts, the Mexican government has taken some steps to
fortify confidence in its embassy personnel. For instance, after an
investigation in 2003 Mexico purged its Beirut embassy of personnel thought
to have been supplying travel documents to a Lebanese human smuggling
operation run by Salim Boughader, a Lebanese-Mexican.

Then, after U.S. courts were through convicting Boughader of smuggling
hundreds of Lebanese into Mexico for journeys over the U.S. border, Mexico
prosecuted and convicted him.

Mexico also has intensified a program of vetting its consuls and actively
monitoring the activities of staff elsewhere. Last year, the Express-News
reported that Iraqis and other citizens of the region had offered hundreds
of thousands of dollars in bribes to Mexico's honorary consul to Jordan, for
travel visas that would get them to Mexico and then the U.S. (SEE BREACHING
AMERICA SERIES)


Raouf N. El-Far, a Jordanian businessman who was appointed Mexico's honorary
consul to Jordan in 2004, said he refused all offers. He also said he
underwent an intensive intelligence background check before his appointment,
part of a new program at the time.

Still, word that three Afghans caught using passports to pose as traveling
Mexican nationals struck counter-terrorism expert Steven Emerson as lucky -
and alarming.

"If these three Afghanis figured out how to infiltrate under false Mexican
identifies, you can be sure that Islamic terrorists have done the same,"
said Emerson, who runs the Washington D.C.-based Investigative Project on
Terrorism.

"This needs to be investigated by Congress and the FBI."

Express-News reporter Sean Mattson in Mexico contributed to this report
=================
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« Reply #113 on: December 12, 2008, 10:43:01 PM »

In Mexico, Assassins of Increasing Skill
Well-Coordinated Cartel Hits Show Greater Sophistication
 
A forensics team examines the scene of Huerta's murder. Assassins fired 85 rounds at Huerta's SUV, hitting him 40 times. No nearby vehicles were hit by stray bullets.

By William Booth
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 12, 2008; Page A16
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/11/AR2008121103540.html

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- The hit was fast, bold, lethal. Jesús Huerta Yedra, a top federal prosecutor here, was gunned down last week in a busy intersection 100 yards from the U.S. border in a murder of precise choreography.

In Mexico's chaotic drug war, attacks are no longer the work of desperate amateurs with bad aim. Increasingly, the killings are being carried out by professionals, often hooded and gloved, who trap their targets in coordinated ambushes, strike with overwhelming firepower, and then vanish into the afternoon rush hour -- just as they did in the Huerta killing.

The paid assassins, known as sicarios, are rarely apprehended. Mexican officials say the commando squads probably travel from state to state, across a country where the government and its security forces are drawing alarming conclusions about the scope and skill of an enemy supported by billions of dollars in drug profits.

"They are getting very good at their jobs," said Hector Hawley Morelos, coordinator of the state forensics and crime laboratory here, where criminologists and coroners have been overwhelmed by more than 1,600 homicides in Juarez this year. "The assassins show a high level of sophistication. They have had training -- somewhere. They appear to have knowledge of police investigative procedures. For instance, they don't leave fingerprints. That is very disturbing."

Alejandro Pariente, the spokesman for the attorney general in Chihuahua state, said, "They are called organized crime for a very good reason. Because they are very organized."

In Ciudad Juarez, a tough industrial city across the river from El Paso, where 42 people have been killed in the last week, the morgue serves as a grim classroom for the study of drug violence along the border.

In an interview last week, a busy coroner in the forensics lab spoke while performing an autopsy. A dozen dead men awaited final exams, sprawled on metal tables, their bodies pebbled with fat bullet holes, open eyes staring at fluorescent bulbs. The men were all eventually classified as "organized crime" homicides, which account for the majority of deaths in Ciudad Juarez, the most violent city in Mexico.


On Monday, federal Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said there have been 5,376 drug-related killings this year in Mexico, double last year's number. Later that evening, Victor Hugo Moneda, who led Mexico City's investigative police agency, was killed in an ambush as he was exiting his car at his home in the capital. The assailants, using a car and motorcycle, fired 22 shots, according to police.

In the Juarez morgue, the three walk-in freezers are filled to capacity with more than 90 corpses, stacked floor to ceiling, in leaking white bags with zippers. After a few months, those who are not identified are buried in a field at the city cemetery at the edge of the desert.

"The patterns that we often see with organized crime homicides are high-caliber weapons, multiple wounds, extreme trauma," said Alma Rosa Padilla, a chief medical examiner, who completes as many as five full autopsies each day. "They don't go to the hospital."

One U.S. anti-drug law enforcement officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he works in Mexico, said, "The Mexican army has had a problem with deserters. So have the police, including special anti-crime units. They are now working for the other side."

More than a dozen top Mexican law enforcement officials have been detained recently for allegedly working for the drug cartels, including Noé Ramírez Mandujano, the nation's former top anti-drug prosecutor. He was arrested last month on suspicion of accepting $450,000 in exchange for sharing intelligence with traffickers.
===============

In Mexico, Assassins of Increasing Skill
 


According to information released Thursday by the Mexican congress, more than 18,000 soldiers have deserted the Mexican army this year. In the last three years, 177 members of special-forces units have abandoned their posts, and many went to work for organized crime.

Recently, Chihuahua Gov. José Reyes Baeza said that hired gunmen who have been arrested confessed that they carried out executions for 1,000 pesos per killing, about $75.

Weapons pour over the border here from Texas, bought illegally from street gangs or legally at sporting goods stores in the United States. Last month, the Mexican army made the largest seizure of illegal firearms and military-type weapons in more than two decades, uncovering a cache of 540 rifles, 165 grenades and 500,000 rounds of ammunition in a house in Reynosa, just across the border from McAllen, Tex.

According to Mexican officials, rifles stolen from Fort Bliss, a U.S. Army post in El Paso, end up on the streets of Juarez. At the forensic laboratory, the ballistics team pulled out a dozen weapons, including AK-47s, AR-15s, M-16s and other military-grade arms.

"I think that the government is simply overwhelmed. The cases are coming in fives and tens now, and it is probably very hard to keep up," said Tony Payan, an expert on the drug trade and professor at the University of Texas in El Paso. "The government is on the defensive. The thugs have the upper hand here. They probably perfect their techniques faster than the government can find the experts or the resources to combat them."

Huerta's murder was a bold strike. He was the second-ranking federal prosecutor in the state. Recently, the 40-year-old lawyer was handed the case of slain journalist Armando Rodríguez, a veteran police reporter at El Diario newspaper who was killed by a gunman in front of his house last month in Ciudad Juarez. The reasons behind Huerta's killing remain unknown.

When forensic investigator David García and his partner arrived in their white van 15 minutes after the shooting on the afternoon of Dec. 3, the municipal police were marking the perimeter of the crime scene with yellow tape and the first soldiers were arriving to stand guard.


The sunny, broad intersection of Arizona Street and Boulevard Pope John Paul II abuts the Rio Grande and is a five-minute drive from a main bridge into El Paso. Easily visible across the river was a picket line of U.S. Border Patrol vehicles.

Huerta was riding in the passenger seat of a new silver-colored Dodge Journey SUV with Texas plates, which had stopped at a red light. The car was driven by a secretary at the prosecutor's office, Marisela Esparza Granados. When García arrived, the splintered windshield wipers on the vehicle were still struggling to operate.

The intersection around the Dodge was littered with spent shells. García and his partner, who carry clipboards but no weapons, methodically photographed the scene and collected 85 casings, all in the caliber consistent with the account some witnesses told police -- that two hooded men from two vans pulled in front of the Dodge and opened fire with AK-47s.

The criminologists at the forensic lab were struck by several details. First, they suspected that Huerta was followed by at least one, and perhaps several, chase vehicles, which would have helped the gunmen get into position to ambush Huerta. They knew the car Huerta would use and his route, the investigators said.

Second, the criminologists were impressed with the precision, speed and audacity of the attack.

When it rolled to a stop at the traffic light, Huerta's vehicle was surrounded by other cars at a crowded intersection. But no other vehicles were hit by stray bullets. Later, Hawley, the lab coordinator, pointed out the tight pattern of gunfire pocking the SUV's windshield.

"You see they hit where they aim. He was the target. Not her," Hawley said. The assassins concentrated their fire directly at Huerta, who was not wearing a bulletproof vest. "If they know they're wearing a bulletproof vest, they ignore the chest and shoot the head," he added.

The autopsy revealed that Huerta had been struck at least 40 times, most in the chest. The passenger seat of the SUV was soaked with blood. The secretary, Esparza, was struck only three times, though a neck wound was fatal.

In the crime laboratory, the shell casings were examined by the ballistics team and recorded. The bullets are almost always from the United States. The assassins do not trust bullets made in Mexico, Hawley said, adding, "The American bullets are better."



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« Reply #114 on: December 21, 2008, 05:16:05 PM »

9 Headless Bodies Located in Southern Mexico
Sunday, December 21, 2008
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,470710,00.html

ACAPULCO, Mexico —  Authorities found the decapitated bodies of nine men in the southern state of Guerrero on Sunday, and some of the victims have been identified as soldiers.  State Public Safety Secretary Juan Salinas Altes said the bodies were found on a major boulevard in the state capital, Chilpancingo, just a few hundred yards from where the state governor was scheduled to participate in a traditional religious procession later in the day.  Salinas Altes said experts are still trying to identify the bodies, but he said a still-undetermined number of them are soldiers. An army base is located nearby.

Mexico has been hit by a rising wave of drug-fueled violence, and officials estimate that more than 5,300 people have died in organized-crime-related slayings so far in 2008.  Mexican drug cartels have increasingly taken to chopping the heads off their victims, who include rival traffickers or lawmen. On Aug. 28, a dozen decapitated bodies were found outside Merida, the capital of Yucatan state.

Two other severed heads were found on the same boulevard in Chilpancingo on Dec. 7 alongside a sign reading: "Soldiers who are supposedly fighting crime, and they turn out to be kidnappers. This is going to happen to you."

Scores of police and soldiers have been killed since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in late 2006. While Mexican criminal gangs once appeared to steer clear of confrontations with the army, they now often openly attacking soldiers.

In May 2007, gunmen linked to a drug gang killed five soldiers in an ambush in the neighboring state of Michoacan.

Also Sunday, federal police reported they had captured three suspected cartel hit men in the border city of Tijuana. The suspects allegedly had six assault rifles and about 3,500 rounds of ammunition at the home where they were caught.

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« Reply #115 on: December 26, 2008, 07:14:11 AM »

Friday, Dec. 26, 2008
By Ioan Grillo / Mexico City

For a confessed drug cartel hood whose alias is "The Nut Job," Marco Vinicio Cobo is remarkably calm and plain-looking. Sitting in the blue-walled interrogation room of a Mexican army base, the chubby, goatee-bearded 30-year-old coolly describes his work for the Zetas, a feared paramilitary force responsible for thousands of brutal murders. And even when he details how his bosses kidnapped and chopped the head off a soldier, he appears relaxed and unemotional, as if he were discussing the weather. But despite the unsettling indifference of its tone, Cobo's confession — of which a video has been obtained by TIME — offers some extraordinary insights into how the cartels have grown into a formidable threat to the Mexican government, outwitting and outgunning the armed forces in great swathes of the country.

In the statement made on video following his arrest in southern Mexico last April, Cobo explains how the cartels use a disciplined cell structure with a vertical, military-style chain of command to control thousands of men at arms. "I began as an H — the code they use for Hawk," he says. "After a time, I became a Central. I gave information to all the local H's in the community." He also reveals how his "family" stays one step ahead of the authorities by paying a vast network of informants, from local journalists to high-ranking federal agents. (See images of fighting crime in Mexico City)

In the worst year for Mexican law enforcement in recent history, cartel gunmen have killed more than 500 police and military personnel, including eight soldiers who were beheaded near Acapulco on Sunday. Cobo's own life story also sheds light on the machinations of the crime empires behind this killing spree. From a lower-middle class family, Cobo had worked for a while as a journalist in the poor state of Oaxaca before joining the cartel in his late 20s because it was the best job opportunity available. "They first paid me $300 a fortnight, and then it went up to $400," he explains. "The money was deposited at the local Elektra [a chain store that provides low-cost banking]". His modest wage shows how many cartel foot soldiers such as Cobo live a world apart from the extravagant kingpins with their million-dollar mansions and fleets of luxury cars, but it was still five times the country's minimum wage. And it's the swelling of the narco armies with tens of thousands of low-paid recruits that helps explain the scale of the bloodshed here, with more than 5,300 drug-related killings over the past year alone.

Cobo claims he first came into contact with the Zetas while covering crime for the small-town newspaper Sol del Istmo. "Journalists were threatened," he said. "One time, they told me not to publish a story about some men who were arrested with guns. They said the story couldn't come out." When he joined up with these gangsters, he said his first job was to monitor the local roads. Later he helped set up the abductions of any cartel targets on those routes. "They kidnapped people who had committed what they said was a crime," he said. "Many were people who worked as drug traffickers." He lost count of how many victims they abducted, but said three had had been killed and buried in the yard of a suburban house.

The Zetas act as the enforcement wing of the Gulf Cartel and extort payments from anyone who moves narcotics through their territories. The Oaxaca coast, where Cobo joined, is strategically important in trafficking routes of cocaine from Colombia to the United States. It is also the thinnest point between the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. "The Gulf Cartel controls the drug trade along the Gulf of Mexico and dominates the movement of drugs into this country primarily through Texas," said Michele M. Leonhart, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in a recent statement. "They are known, even among their rivals, for their extreme violence."

As a "Central", Cobo had 13 "Hawks" under his command. Above him were Second Commanders. The Zeta ranking system is based on the Mexican military, which is unsurprising considering that the organization was founded by soldiers from the army's special forces who defected to the gangsters in the late 1990s. Cobo knew his superiors only by aliases, in order to protect their identities. "There was Franco, Tarzan, Texas, and Zorro," he said. He saw a book with names of dozens of police under the unit's payroll, he said, including officers from many nearby towns and federal agents stationed there. The corrupt police were also given aliases, including Papa and Brother.

In late March, Cobo's unit kidnapped a military officer, decapitated him and stuck his body out on a road, along with several bags of cocaine and about $2,000 in cash. "Franco told me that the officer was from military intelligence and he was getting too close," Cobo said. "The drugs and the money were planted so it would seem like he was involved in narco trafficking." Following the slaying, soldiers arrested Cobo and 13 others, along with semi-automatic rifles and radio equipment. His confession led the military to the suburban house where they dug up the bodies he had mentioned. Cobo was eventually sent to a civilian prison, where he awaits his court date on organized crime charges. Federal prosecutors declined to comment on whether his cooperation will lead to a more lenient sentence.
Find this article at:
http://www.time.com/time/world/artic...868666,00.html
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« Reply #116 on: January 01, 2009, 06:03:03 AM »

Mexico: Cartel Sources in High Places
Stratfor Today » December 29, 2008 | 1834 GMT


A Mexican army major has been arrested for allegedly passing information to the Beltran Leyva drug-trafficking organization. The arrest represents a double blow to the Mexican government and demonstrates the reach of the country’s cartels.


Mexican army Maj. Arturo Gonzalez Rodriguez was arrested the week of Dec. 21 for allegedly assisting Mexican drug trafficking organizations for $100,000 per month, the Mexican attorney general’s office announced Dec. 26. Gonzalez was assigned to the Presidential Guard Corps, the unit responsible for protecting Mexico’s president. Based on statements from a former cartel member turned witness code-named “Jennifer,” the attorney general’s office has accused Gonzalez of passing information related to the activities and travel plans of Mexican President Felipe Calderon to the Beltran Leyva organization (BLO). Gonzalez also stands accused of leaking military intelligence, training BLO hit men through a private security company and supplying military weapons to various drug-trafficking organizations, including Los Zetas.


In light of other high-level Mexican government corruption charges over the past months, this case is unsettling but certainly does not come as a surprise.


The revelation that Gonzalez was providing intelligence and materials to drug cartels represents a double blow to the Mexican government. First, the fact that a member of an army unit responsible for protecting the president was passing information about presidential movements to the cartels exposes a potentially fatal gap in Calderon’s protective detail. While it is not known what specific information Gonzalez had access to, or what exact details he was passing to the cartels, this is a security breach at the highest level. According to the attorney general’s office, the informant Jennifer has said the cartels were tracking the president’s movements with the intent of avoiding the high level of government security that surrounds him, but had no specific plan to target Calderon. But capability is more important than intent, as intent can change quickly. Tracking Calderon’s movements to avoid him could easily have been altered to targeting Calderon if the need arose.


It is unclear exactly how involved Gonzalez was in the daily movements of Calderon. Because he was on the staff, it is safe to assume that he was at least involved in briefings and the general movements of the president, but this information would not necessarily be enough for the cartel to have been able to assassinate Calderon. Most valuable to such a plot would have been information related to presidential transport strategy, namely, how the guard worked to protect Calderon, how it arranged transportation, and how it gathered intelligence on specific threats. Insights into how the guard operated would have given the cartels a glimpse into Calderon’s security vulnerabilities — something far more dangerous to Calderon than simply the knowledge of where the president would be at any given time.


The second aspect of the blow is that Gonzalez apparently had been on the cartel payroll since 2005, during which time he held different positions in the government. As he changed assignments, he was kept on as a cartel asset, and the nature of his involvement with the cartels changed. It is entirely feasible that he fed information on other departments of the army (not just the Presidential Guard Corps) over his three-year relationship with the cartels.


A primary reason for the Mexican government to rely on the military to fight the cartels is because state and local law enforcement are considered far too corrupt to be trusted. One of the military’s strengths was its perceived lower level of corruption due to its low-level involvement with the cartels, but this case (along with other military corruption arrests this year) confirms that members of the Mexican military also are prone to corruption.


More details must emerge about Gonzalez’s exact role in the Presidential Guard Corps and the nature of the intelligence he passed to the BLO in order to more accurately assess the threat he posed to the president. Even so, the fact remains that the cartels’ intelligence capabilities have extended to those charged with protecting Mexico’s president — and hence to Mexico’s political stability.
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« Reply #117 on: January 06, 2009, 12:49:42 PM »

Border webcams

http://www.blueservo.net/
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« Reply #118 on: January 07, 2009, 02:31:38 AM »

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/01/05/bracing-for-more-border-disorder/

Bracing for more border disorder
By Michelle Malkin  •  January 5, 2009 11:45 AM

I wrote at the end of my year-end state of the borders column last week that blood-stained reality clarifies the mind.
Two new MSM articles on the increasing chaos on the southern border underscore the point.

The NYTimes weighs in with “Kidnappings in Mexico Send Shivers Across Border.”

Four hooded men smashed in the door to the adobe home of an 80-year-old farmer here in November, handcuffing his frail wrists and driving him to a makeshift jail. They released him after relatives and friends paid a $9,000 ransom, which included his life savings.
The kidnapping was a dismal story of cruelty and heartbreak, familiar all across Mexico, but with a new twist: the daughter of this victim lived in the United States and was able to wire money to help assemble his ransom, the farmer, who insisted that he not be identified by name, said in an interview.
A string of similar kidnappings, singling out people with children or spouses in the United States, so panicked this village in the state of Zacatecas that many people boarded up their homes and headed north, some legally and some not, seeking havens with relatives in California and other American states.
“The relatives of Mexicans in the United States have become a new profit center for Mexico’s crime industry,” said Rodolfo García Zamora, a professor at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas who studies migration trends. “Hundreds of families are emigrating out of fear of kidnap or extortion, and Mexicans in the U.S. are doing everything they can to avoid returning. Instead, they’re getting their relatives out.”
The reported rush into the United States by people from the state of Zacatecas is another sign that Mexico’s growing lawlessness is a volatile new factor affecting the flow of migrant workers across America’s border. The violence is adding a new layer of uncertainty to the always fraught issue of Mexican emigration, already in flux because of the economic downturn in the United States.
Academics and policy makers on both sides of the border, who are watching closely for shifts in migration patterns, say it is too early to know the long-term impact of either the drug-related violence or the loss of jobs by thousands of migrant workers in the United States. But so far, earlier predictions of an exodus of out-of-work Mexicans back to their hometowns seem to have been premature.
Instead, it appears that the pattern in the state of Zacatecas — where many people have family in the United States — may be a good indicator of what is happening throughout Mexico. The country’s spiraling criminality appears not only to be keeping some Mexicans in the United States, but it may also be leading more Mexicans to flee their country. “It’s a toxic combination right now,” said Denise Dresser, a political scientist based in Mexico City. “Mexicans north of the border are facing joblessness and persecution, but in their own country the government can’t provide basic security for many of its citizens.”


And the Dallas Morning News reports: “Mexico’s drug violence expected to intensify in ‘09.”

Drug-related violence in Mexico, already at unprecedented levels, is expected to escalate further this year, with targets likely to include top Mexican politicians and law enforcement agents and possibly even U.S. officials, according to diplomats and intelligence experts on both sides of the border.
The warning underscores the difficult choices confronting President Felipe Calderón as he takes on drug cartels while weighing the implications of growing casualties in a year of midterm elections and a slowing economy.
It also reflects rising concern among U.S. officials and analysts about the deteriorating security situation, corruption among Mexico’s top crime fighters, and the vulnerability of the military to possible corruption in battling cartel gangs.
As the war against cartels escalates in 2009, so will the threats, particularly against U.S. officials and other Americans, officials, analysts and diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza, said in recent interviews.
“Calderón must, and will, keep the pressure on the cartels, but look, let’s not be naïve – there will be more violence, more blood, and, yes, things will get worse before they get better. That’s the nature of the battle,” Garza said. “The more pressure the cartels feel, the more they’ll lash out like cornered animals.
“Our folks know exactly how high the stakes are,” Garza said. He advised Americans traveling to Mexico to check State Department travel alerts at www.state.gov.
A U.S. intelligence official based along the Texas border warned that U.S. officials, American businessmen and journalists will “become targets, if they’re not already.”
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« Reply #119 on: January 07, 2009, 11:03:15 AM »

Wednesday, 07 January 2009

MEXICO'S BAZAAR OF VIOLENCE

The most likely existential security threat to the United States isn't likely to originate from southwest Asian terrorists or a conventional war with China. Instead, it will originate from Mexico's open source insurgency as:
The Mexican state becomes hollow and unable to maintain any semblance of control over its territory. Fiscal bankruptcy, driven by declining oil revenues and a global economic depression, will eliminate any remaining legitimacy it has with the countryside (already tenuous due to extreme income stratification).

The narco-insurgency in the northern provinces morphs into a national open source insurgency with thousands of small groups all willing to fight/corrupt/intimidate the government. Many, if not most, of these groups will be able to power themselves forward financially due to massive flows of money from black globalization. The result will be a diaspora north to the US to avoid the violence.
Economic failure, a loss of legitimacy and economic deprivation in the US creates an environment for the rapid proliferation of domestic groups willing to fight the government in order to advance their economic interests. Catalyzed by connections to Mexico's functional and lucrative bazaar of violence (read "Iraq's Bazaar of Violence" for more on how this works), these groups carve out their own territory in the US. Experience shows that once these groups gain a foothold, they become nearly impossible to defeat (although they can be co-opted).

Sam Dillon, writing for the NYTs, provides us with a good waypoint check on this scenario. Here is a good example of how quickly the infection can spread:

Jerez, a town of 60,000 a few miles northwest of Felipe Angeles in Zacatecas, was until recently a calm place, largely untouched by organized crime, said Abel Márquez Haro, a grocery wholesaler. But recently, scores of men driving Chevrolet Suburbans and carrying automatic rifles established a menacing presence, threatening residents on the street and extorting businesspeople. The identities of the men remain a mystery, but many people in the town say they assume they are traffickers who have abandoned another Mexican state, perhaps to avoid an army crackdown.

The article goes on to explain how these groups are targeting family members of immigrant workers in the US via kidnapping/extortion. The result has been that workers that would have normally returned during an economic downturn, aren't returning due to safety concerns (and many are trying to bring the rest of their families north to safety). NOTE: IF your are wondering how a global depression might impact national security, this is it (I suspect that the biggest hew and cry will be over how the fiscal crisis has led to the rapid defunding of hideously expensive conventional weapons systems, of no use to this threat). If you want spice, think about the implications of an economic collapse of Pakistan (needs to borrow), Russia (needs $70+ oil), and China (needs growth in US consumer spending).

Posted by John Robb on Wednesday, 07 January 2009 at 07:45 AM
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« Reply #120 on: January 14, 2009, 10:32:18 AM »

U.S. military report warns 'sudden collapse' of Mexico is possible
By Diana Washington Valdez / El Paso Times
Posted: 01/13/2009 03:49:34 PM MST


President-elect Barack Obama listens as Mexico's President Felipe Calderon makes a statement to reporters in Washington, Monday, Jan. 12, 2009. Mexico is one of two countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse," according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats. (AP photo)EL PASO - Mexico is one of two countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse," according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.
The command's "Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)" report, which contains projections of global threats and potential next wars, puts Pakistan on the same level as Mexico. "In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.

"The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and press by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How

This image provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shows a poster of 10 people identified as rival drug traffickers locked in a violent battle for control of Tijuana, Mexico. They include Fernando Sanchez Arellano, described by the DEA as leader of the Arellano Felix cartel, and his archrival, Eduardo Teodoro Garcia Simental. Mexico is one of two countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse," according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats. The report is one in a serious focusing on Mexico's internal security problems, mostly stemming from drug violence and drug corruption. (AP Photo/DEA)that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone."
The U.S. Joint Forces Command, based in Norfolk, Va., is one of the Defense Departments combat commands that includes members of the different military service branches, active and reserves, as well as civilian and contract employees. One of its key roles is to help transform the U.S. military's capabilities.

In the foreword, Marine Gen. J.N. Mattis, the USJFC commander, said "Predictions about the future are always risky ... Regardless, if we do not try to forecast the future, there is no doubt that we will be caught off guard as we strive to protect this experiment in democracy that we call America."

The report is one in a serious focusing on Mexico's internal security problems, mostly stemming from drug violence and drug corruption. In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security and former U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey issued similar alerts about Mexico.

Despite such reports, El Pasoan Veronica Callaghan, a border business leader, said she keeps running into people in the region who "are in denial about what is happening in Mexico."

Last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon instructed his embassy and consular officials to promote a positive image of Mexico.

The U.S. military report, which also analyzed economic situations in other countries, also noted that China has increased its influence in places where oil fields are present.

Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at dvaldez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6140.


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« Reply #121 on: January 14, 2009, 09:07:04 PM »

http://www.elpasotimes.com/newupdated/ci_11444354

U.S. military report warns 'sudden collapse' of Mexico is possible

By Diana Washington Valdez / El Paso Times
Posted: 01/13/2009 03:49:34 PM MST


Related story: 2,000 fresh troops sent to Juarez as violence continues

EL PASO - Mexico is one of two countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse," according to a report by the U.S. Joint Forces Command on worldwide security threats.
The command's "Joint Operating Environment (JOE 2008)" report, which contains projections of global threats and potential next wars, puts Pakistan on the same level as Mexico. "In terms of worse-case scenarios for the Joint Force and indeed the world, two large and important states bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse: Pakistan and Mexico.

"The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and press by criminal gangs and drug cartels. How that internal conflict turns out over the next several years will have a major impact on the stability of the Mexican state. Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response based on the serious implications for homeland security alone."
The U.S. Joint Forces Command, based in Norfolk, Va., is one of the Defense Departments combat commands that includes members of the different military service branches, active and reserves, as well as civilian and contract employees. One of its key roles is to help transform the U.S. military's capabilities.
In the foreword, Marine Gen. J.N. Mattis, the USJFC commander, said "Predictions about the future are always risky ... Regardless, if we do not try to forecast the future, there is no doubt that we will be caught off guard as we strive to protect this experiment in democracy that we call America."
The report is one in a series focusing on Mexico's internal security problems, mostly stemming from drug violence and drug corruption. In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security and former U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey issued similar alerts about Mexico.
Despite such reports, El Pasoan Veronica Callaghan, a border business leader, said she keeps running into people in the region who "are in denial about what is happening in Mexico."
Last week, Mexican President Felipe Calderon instructed his embassy and consular officials to promote a positive image of Mexico.
The U.S. military report, which also analyzed economic situations in other countries, also noted that China has increased its influence in places where oil fields are present.

More stories on the violence in Mexico
Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at dvaldez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6140.
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« Reply #122 on: January 15, 2009, 11:20:56 AM »



Geopolitical Diary: Obama's Mexico Challenge

Mexican Interior Secretary Fernando Gomez Mont on Wednesday criticized a recent U.S. Joint Forces Command report that warns of the potential for the Mexican state to collapse and says a devolution of control in Mexico would require U.S. intervention. Gomez Mont's statement, along with growing concern throughout the United States over the stability of Mexico, is yet another reminder of the challenges facing the Mexican government -— and the incoming presidential administration of Barack Obama.

As violence in Mexico soars to record levels —- more than 5,700 people died in organized crime-related violence in 2008 — the U.S. government has gradually begun to note the severity of the situation. Though Washington certainly has been waiting for the transition to a new administration, there has been a shift in the way Mexico is being discussed in policy circles -– as seen with the Joint Operating Environment 2008 report. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice and National Security Council have all, in one way or another, expressed similar concerns that Mexico might collapse under the strain of the drug cartel violence, or that there could be significant spillover of violence into the United States.

To some extent, the Obama team has signaled that it is heeding these warnings of the situation brewing south of the border. Mexican President Felipe Calderon is the only foreign head of state to meet so far with Obama, whose inauguration is next week, and the two expressed hopes for mutual cooperation in coming years. And Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton said during her confirmation hearing that the new administration will seek greater involvement with Mexico and the rest of Latin America.

Crafting a Latin America policy from whole cloth will be a challenge for the Obama administration, as the region's relationship with the United States fell into a state of neglect under the Bush administration. Clinton promised that the Obama administration would use energy partnerships to secure a close relationship with Latin America —- a particularly important policy goal, given that Venezuela and Mexico are among the top five suppliers of oil to the United States. Obama's administration also plans to do away with travel and remittance restrictions Bush has levied against Cuba.

But Mexico's volatile security situation remains among the most significant potential challenges the new administration will face, and it is not clear whether there is a great deal more that can be done on the issue. With connections strengthening between U.S. street gangs and Mexican cartels, the problem of Mexican violence is by no means limited to the Mexican side of the border.

This is not to say that the U.S. government has done nothing; the Merida Initiative allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to improve training and equipment for Mexican law enforcement. But Merida is just the highest-profile of a series of initiatives the Bush administration has been quietly implementing with Mexico over the last few years. There also have been record increases in extraditions, expansions of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency's (DEA) administrative presence in Mexico and increased intelligence sharing. Greater funding for local U.S. law enforcement and Border Patrol officers has facilitated operations along the U.S. side of the border and helped to reduce some of the flow of weapons into Mexico, and has significantly impacted border traffic patterns. This means that the low-hanging policy options available to a U.S. president already have been implemented. What remain are the more difficult decisions.

For example, one of the Mexican government's top complaints concerns the flow of illegal weapons: The United States is the No. 1 source of illegal weapons in Mexico (although there is a significant flow through Central America). Many of those weapons are purchased legally and untraceably at gun shows inside the United States. Sources within the Mexican government consider greater funding for programs like Operation Gunrunner, which funds arms interdiction on the U.S. side of the border, to be one of the main areas in which the Obama administration could have a significant impact. However, the chance that substantial changes to the U.S. approach on gun and weapons regulations will be made in the name of a partnership with Mexico appear low.

But inflexibility is not limited to the United States. Mexico's reluctance to permit U.S. law enforcement freedom in operations or to allow the presence of U.S. military advisers hamstrings agencies, like the DEA, which have proven highly effective in combating organized crime in countries like Colombia. Mexicans recall the U.S. invasions of their country in 1914 and 1916, during the Mexican Revolution. Many blame the United States for breaking the back of the Mexican government by forcing the military to split its deployment into fighting Zapatista rebels in the south and Pancho Villa to the north. Mexico, as a whole, is therefore loath to allow U.S. troops to tread its soil in the new century.

The possibility of genuine U.S.-Mexican cooperation in combating the violence plaguing Mexico raises more questions than it answers. But without a notable change in the patterns of violence that would make a policy shift more urgent — for instance, a shift to targeting civilians on either side of the border, or the assassination of key leaders in Mexico — there seems to be little that can be done without expending a great deal of political capital. And with the other challenges, including a resurgent Russia and chaotic Pakistan, facing the Obama presidency, significant shifts in Mexico policy do not seem likely in the near future.

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« Reply #123 on: January 15, 2009, 11:16:02 PM »

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/08599187151600
 
Mexico Media on High Alert After Drug-Gang Attack on Televisa
 
AP – Officials examine a car related to an attack on the offices of the television company Televisa in Monterrey, …
Editors at Televisa, the world's most popular Spanish-language network, were having a lively news meeting in the northern Mexico city of Monterrey when they heard a series of pops followed by a thunderous explosion. Running outside, the editors realized the top breaking news item had come straight to them. The pops were bullets sprayed from Kalashnikov automatic rifles directly into the faÇade of their offices. The blast was from a fragmentation grenade. Next to the debris was a message scrawled on cardboard: "Stop just broadcasting us. Also broadcast the narco politicians," it said.


The Jan. 6 assault on Televisa's offices was the latest in a series of attacks on Mexico's media as the nation writhes in an orgy of drug-related bloodshed. Out of a record 5,300 deaths from beheadings, assassinations and massacres last year, eight of them were murdered Mexican journalists, making Mexico the most dangerous country for their trade in the hemisphere. Furthermore, many reporters in cities on the front lines of the drug war say they are systematically threatened, beaten and offered bribes because of their coverage of organized crime. (See pictures of the war on crime in Mexico City.)


But even by such appalling standards, the Televisa attack stood out in the way the assailants so blatantly tried to dictate the coverage of Mexico's television giant, which is probably the most powerful media organization south of the Rio Grande. Earning about 75% of Mexico's broadcast advertising, Televisa has long had an overwhelming influence on the nation's political life. Presidents, lobbyists and rising politicians all fight hard for space on its nightly noticiero, which regularly breaks leading stories. "Televisa has the equivalent political clout of ABC, NBC and CBS combined," says Mexican media investigator Raul Trejo. "When the narcos threaten this organization, they are showing they see no limits in their power."


Counting revenues of some $3.5 billion a year, Televisa is headed by Emilio Azcarraga Jean, 40, who inherited the empire from his father Emilio Azcarraga Milmo, who was known as "El Tigre" because of his white-streaked hair and fierce character. The network catapulted onto the world stage by exporting its steamy telenovelas, which have been translated into more than 50 languages from Korean to Romanian. Critics lambasted the network for giving uncritical support to the government during decades of one-party rule. However, since the advent of multiparty democracy in 2000, Televisa has given fairly equal airtime to competing candidates.


In the past year, Televisa has broadcast daily coverage of the drug war, filming scenes of corpses, firefights and arrests amid the battles between trafficking warlords and government forces. However, it has not led any groundbreaking exposÉs on the cartel empires or their networks of political corruption. "We do not hold back from reporting anything. But at the same time, we do not do detective work because we are not policemen," says Francisco Cobos, news editor at Televisa Monterrey, who witnessed the Jan. 6 blasts.


Televisa has also resisted showing the messages that the cartels write or print on blankets, which are strewn over bridges and hung on public walls as part of their campaign of terrorism. Known as narco mantas (capes), many messages in recent months have accused the administration of President Felipe CalderÓn of working with the Sinaloa cartel based on Mexico's Pacific Coast. Monterrey is home to the rival Gulf cartel, which is believed to be behind many of these messages.


Soldiers and federal police guarded the Televisa offices in the days following the attack, while Mexican and international media organizations poured out condemnations and demanded the apprehension of the assailants. "Solving this attack will be a new test for the government, which wants to make it a federal crime to use violence against the press," said Paris-based Reporters Without Borders in a news release.


Cobos said there are no plans for Televisa to change its coverage. However, in a statement on television, he said staff will take more safety measures. "I think we will continue doing our job in the most efficient way possible but with the precautions that these types of messages [require us to take]," he said. "Men of organized crime, I want to tell you that we don't have anything against you. We are communicators. We are journalists. We are dedicated to informing, and as such, my colleagues don't want to be in the middle of these bullets."

 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/08599187151600

 
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« Reply #124 on: January 16, 2009, 03:17:46 PM »

El Paso Times
Jan 15, 2009
Daniel Borunda
http://www.elpasotimes.com/newupdated/ci_11463340

A group calling itself the Comando Ciudadano por Juárez, or the Juárez Citizens Command, is claiming it will kill a criminal every 24 hours to bring order to the violent crime-plagued city.

The announcement of the supposed group was the first known case of possible organized vigilantism in Juárez as police and the military have been apparently unable to stop a plague of killings and other crimes.

"Better the death of a bad person than that they continue to contaminating our region," the news release stated in Spanish.

The supposed group issued a news release via e-mail stating it is nonpartisan and funded by businessmen fed up with crime. The group, also calling itself the CCJ, said it would issue a manifesto in the coming days and would set up a system where residents can electronically send information about criminals.

"Our mission is to terminate the life of a criminal every 24 hours ... The hour has come to stop this disorder in Juárez," the CCJ stated.

The announcement comes as Juárez struggles with a wave of homicides, extortions, carjackings, robberies and other crimes that began last year. Business people, teachers, medical professionals and others were targeted by extortionists in the last year as crime surged due in a part to a war between drug cartels. There were more than 1,600 homicides in Juárez last year.  There have been more than 40 homicides already this year, including 10 on Wednesday.
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« Reply #125 on: January 20, 2009, 10:26:25 AM »

Potential Vigilante Violence in Chihuahua State

An e-mail began circulating around Chihuahua state this past week purportedly authored by a group calling itself the Juarez Citizens Command (CCJ). The group, which claims to be supported by local businesses affected by the sharp rise in violence in Ciudad Juarez, vowed to kill one criminal every 24 hours to end the lawlessness in the city. The e-mail also stated that within several days the CCJ would distribute a manifesto calling on all citizens fed up with the violence to join the cause. A Stratfor source in the Mexican government reported that Mexican authorities have reason to believe the e-mail is not a hoax, and that they are exploring two theories regarding who sent it. One maintains that a small group of citizens and business owners sent the message, while the more credible theory maintains that a criminal group aiming to use the e-mail as cover for action sent the message.

One way to measure whether the CCJ represents a true vigilante group will be to examine the criminal associations of their victims, assuming, of course, they actually attack criminals. If the CCJ’s victims are all associated with one criminal syndicate, it will be hard to believe that it is not simply an existing criminal group using the CCJ as cover. But whether the CCJ is in fact taking action will be extraordinarily difficult to determine in a city like Ciudad Juarez, where more than 1,700 people died in 2008. Given the regular violence of criminals killing criminals in the city, the significance of the CCJ has yet to be determined.

If the e-mail actually marks the founding of a new vigilante group in Juarez, this would not be Mexico’s first brush with vigilantism in response to drug violence. La Familia organization in Michoacan state began as a local vigilante response to drug trafficking in the state. Several years after its founding, however, the group has evolved into one of the state’s most notorious kidnapping and drug-trafficking groups, and one of its factions was even implicated in the Sept. 15 grenade attack against civilians in Morelia. The example of La Familia highlights the security implications of vigilante violence, where as organized criminal violence continues to spin out of control, a group of armed citizens joining the fray will only complicate matters.

Increased Robbery, Theft From Acapulco Businesses

The leader of a business organization in Acapulco, Guerrero state, released a statement this past week describing an increase in robberies and thefts over the past year. According to the organization’s records, close to 100 percent of local businesses had suffered losses from criminal groups. He added that three local distributors of dairy products alone had experienced 2,000 such incidents in the city during 2008, amounting to a collective loss of close to $1 million. The majority of robberies appear to be occurring in suburban areas of the city, where armed gangs assault distribution trucks as they make deliveries, though unarmed thefts at warehouses and offices also appear to have been occurring.

This report is the latest example of how Mexico’s deteriorating security situation is affecting business operations. As Stratfor has observed over the past year, the collapse in law and order in much of the country has meant that other criminal groups not involved in the drug trade are able to operate with impunity. Indeed, the Acapulco business organization observed that most crimes against businesses go unpunished, and that when its findings were reported to the police officials, they were taken aback by the staggeringly high number of crimes against businesses. The rising costs of higher security and losses due to criminal activity exacerbate an already deteriorating economic situation in Mexico, and will make it more difficult for businesses to recover once the overall economic situation begins to improve.

While Acapulco’s port facilities historically have made the city an important intake point for South American-produced drug shipments, the city has experienced relatively low levels of cartel-related activity over the past six months. And businesses in a relatively calm city such as Acapulco experiencing such high crime rates does not bode well for businesses in cartel hotspots such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez.

Security Breach in a Target-Rich Environment

Police in Morelia, Michoacan state, arrested a man armed with a handgun this past week inside the state’s legislative building during an event where state Gov. Leonel Godoy was speaking. The man was arrested after someone in the crowd accidentally bumped into him, felt the gun concealed under his clothes, and alerted security personnel, who detained the man without incident. Along with Godoy, the state’s chief justice, the head of the state legislature and 40 legislators also were present. The armed man was identified as having a criminal record, and is accused of murdering an attorney in Monterrey in 1986.

Authorities eventually released the man after finding no evidence he intended to attack anyone at the event. Even if this incident was not an assassination attempt, a security breach such as this highlights the vulnerability of many officials in Mexico. That an armed man was allowed to enter an event with Godoy — who reportedly has been threatened before — in a controlled environment underscores the problems with executive security in Mexico. While Mexican President Felipe Calderon and some high-ranking federal officials certainly have more robust protective security programs, the relatively low levels of security around, for example, the country’s congressmen and governors, is not much of a deterrent to an attack on them or their families. So should criminal organizations in Mexico choose to escalate their fight against the government, they will find themselves in a target-rich environment.



Jan. 12

The Hidalgo state public security office announced plans to begin equipping its police officers with large-caliber weapons and possibly even grenades to help them confront criminal groups.
Authorities in Torreon, Coahuila state, found the body of an unidentified blindfolded man with one gunshot wound to the head and another to the neck.
Officials in La Huerta, Jalisco state, reported the death of the town’s police chief. Three men had shot him as he left home the night before.
The body of an unidentified man was found in a vacant lot in Los Mochis, Sinaloa state, bearing signs of torture on his body. Police believe he had been strangled.
Mexican army forces raided a house in Tijuana, Baja California state, seizing more than $1 million, as well as some 100 pounds of methamphetamines, cocaine and heroin.

Jan. 13
Federal police in Acapulco, Guerrero state, established a series of highway checkpoints in various parts of the city. Officials said the checkpoints were designed to look for stolen vehicles, but that inspections looking for drugs and weapons would also be conducted.
Police in Tijuana, Baja California state, found the smoldering body of a woman burned beyond recognition. Elsewhere in the city, police found the body of an unidentified man wrapped in a blanket.

Jan. 15
Federal police in Veracruz, Veracruz state, reported discovering the body of an unidentified man with at least one gunshot wound to the head.
Armed men traveling in a vehicle shot and killed an unidentified man after first chasing him through the streets of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. The gunmen shot him multiple times after he lost control of his car and crashed.
Mexican navy forces captured a small boat in the Sea of Cortez several miles off the coast of Sinaloa state with traces of marijuana on board.

Jan. 16
Authorities in Oaxaca, Oaxaca state, announced the capture of three members of a gang associated with Los Zetas accused of having participated in at least five kidnappings in the state.
A former Chihuahua state police officer died after being shot multiple times while driving through Ciudad Juarez.
Some 100 federal police officers arrived in Matamoros, Coahuila state, to support ongoing efforts against organized criminal groups in the state.
Authorities in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo state, found six fragmentation grenades inside an abandoned pickup truck along a highway.
A police commander in Pihuamo, Jalisco state, died when he was shot multiple times while driving. His son was wounded in the attack.

Jan. 18
A police officer in Sonoyta, Sonora state, died after an armed man approached him and shot him twice in the head at close range before fleeing in a waiting vehicle.
Five people died during a firefight that erupted during a wedding celebration near Acapulco, Guerrero state. Authorities said the motive remains unclear.

Tell Stratfor What You Think
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« Reply #126 on: January 21, 2009, 06:42:47 PM »

New police chief's head left at station
Published: Jan. 20, 2009 at 8:53 PMOrder reprints  |  Feedback

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- The head of a new local police commander was left in an ice bucket at his police station in the Ciudad Juarez area, Mexican authorities said Tuesday.

The city, which lies just across the border from El Paso, Texas, in the state of Chihuahua, has one of the highest homicide rates in Mexico. El Universal reported that Martin Castro Martinez was one of 15 people killed execution-style in 24 hours.

Castro Martinez was abducted Saturday, four days after he became police chief in the suburb of Praxedis G. Guerrero. Five other officers and a civilian man were also snatched.

The police chief's head was left at the police station Sunday afternoon. A message threatened the Sinaloa Cartel with violence from La Linea, the drug cartel dominant in Chihuahua.

The bodies of six young men who appeared to be between the ages of 17 and 20 were found in Santa Isabel. They appeared to have been tortured.

Eight other bodies have been found in the area, El Universal said.

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« Reply #127 on: January 22, 2009, 07:03:13 PM »

Summary
Output at Mexico’s state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos fell 9 percent in 2008, its fastest drop since World War II. The company is unlikely to reverse that decline anytime soon, either.

Analysis
Oil output at Mexico’s state oil company, Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), dropped 9 percent in 2008 to about 2.8 million barrels per day (bpd). This is down from 3.08 million bpd in 2007, and from Pemex’s all-time high of about 3.8 million bpd in 2004.

The drop is largely due to declining production at Mexico’s massive Cantarell field, which at about 900,000 bpd is responsible for about a third of total Pemex output. And with limited capability to conduct deep offshore drilling, an unstable investment climate and an energy industry subject to heavy legal restrictions, Pemex is unlikely to reverse its production decline in the short term.

The 2008 decline in production at Pemex translates into a revenue loss estimated by Bloomberg of $20 billion for the state-owned firm. And Pemex effectively has staked its profitability on the Cantarell field — as has the Mexican government: Mexico City finances around 40 percent of its budget from Pemex revenues.

Production at Cantarell, the world’s third-largest field, began in 1979. Its location in waters 100-130 feet deep off Mexico’s southeastern coast meant that Pemex did not need to develop any significant deep-water drilling capability. When it began to face the issue of declining production in the 1980s, Pemex undertook short-term measures by injecting nitrogen into the field’s reservoirs to maintain pressure. But Pemex never developed a deep-water drilling capability that would have allowed it to exploit new fields further offshore (where half of Mexico’s crude reserves are found).

Making up for declining production at Cantarell will be nearly impossible in the short to medium term, though. Pemex simply lacks the money or indigenous technical capability to tap deep-water offshore fields that would enable it to significantly reverse a production decline. And it faces a constitutional bar on forming partnerships with foreign oil companies that would allow foreign enterprises to own part of their oil output. This rules out joint-venture or production-sharing agreements, which are common methods of attracting foreign investment. Although attempts to enact constitutional changes to allow these agreements have failed, the Mexican government passed an energy reform package in October 2008 that will restructure Pemex to increase efficiency and allow it to hire international oil companies to increase the country’s access to technological expertise.

However, there are challenges that face this reform process. In the first place, the implementation of these reforms is going slowly, and some reforms will depend on a consensus among Mexico’s three political parties, which is nearly always a difficult process. Furthermore, the international investment climate is extremely shaky in the wake of the U.S. financial crisis and the ongoing global economic downturn. This means it could be difficult for Pemex to secure the financing it needs to hire outside expertise, and political infighting coupled with high levels of persistent corruption will not make investors more comfortable. Given these challenges, new production under the energy reform plan will be slow in coming.

Production at Cantarell is expected to decline by a further 500,000 bpd over the next several years. To compensate for Cantarell’s decline, Pemex wants to try to squeeze additional output from existing fields (it has production rigs in fields nearby and in water depths similar to Cantarell, as well as rigs at smaller, onshore fields).

But to significantly boost output, on the level of 500,000 bpd or more, Pemex aims to open up new onshore and offshore fields. Onshore development is occurring in Mexico’s Veracruz and Puebla states. Production there, while projected at 500,000 bpd, is not expected to come online before 2021, however. Offshore exploration is more promising in terms of tapping crude reserves (estimated at 24 billion barrels), but Pemex lacks a large-scale capability to lift crude from deep-water levels. Though Pemex has drilled to depths of 3,000 feet, its two existing deep-water platforms — plus three on order expected to arrive in 2010 — are not expected to bring production from deep-water fields online before 2015. Even then, production is expected to yield less than 100,000 bpd.

These declines in crude production will lead to reduced revenues not only for the company, but more critically, for the Mexican government, and the challenge could not come at a more dangerous time. Mexico is embroiled in a war against drug cartels. The country’s security situation deteriorated enormously over the course of 2008, and shows no signs of letting up. At the same time, the global economic downturn has created rising unemployment in Mexico, a pessimistic growth outlook and calls from Mexicans for the government to find solutions, and find them quickly. Should the decline in production not be counterbalanced by increased production at existing fields, or should the decline accelerate, Mexico will find itself in an increasingly unstable fiscal position as challenges mount and resources dwindle.

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« Reply #128 on: January 26, 2009, 07:55:52 AM »

A murder in the Mexican state of Chihuahua last week horrified even hardened crime stoppers. Police Commander Martin Castro's head was severed and left in an ice cooler in front of the police station in the town of Praxedis with a calling card from the Sinoloa drug cartel.

According to Mexico's attorney general, 6,616 people died in drug-trafficking violence in Mexico last year. A high percentage of those killed were themselves criminals, but many law enforcement agents battling organized crime were also murdered. The carnage continues. For the first 22 days of this year the body count is 354.

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President Felipe Calderón began an assault on organized crime shortly after he took office in December 2006. It soon became apparent that the cartels would stop at nothing to preserve their operations, and that a state commitment to confrontation meant that violence would escalate.

As bad as the violence is, it could get worse, and it is becoming clear that the U.S. faces contagion. In recent months, several important American voices have raised concerns about the risks north of the border. This means there is hope that the U.S. may begin to recognize the connection between American demand for prohibited substances and the rising instability in Mexico.

The brutality of the traffickers is imponderable for most Americans. Commander Castro was not the first Mexican to be beheaded. It is an increasingly popular terror tactic. Last month, eight soldiers and a state police chief were found decapitated in the state of Guerrero.


There is also plenty of old-fashioned mob violence. As Agence France Presse reported on Jan. 19 from Chihuahua, 16 others -- besides Commander Castro -- died in suspected drug-related violence across the state the same night. Six bodies were found, with bullet wounds and evidence of torture, in the state capital. Five of the dead were police officers. On the same day, Reuters reported that Mexican vigilante groups appear to be striking back at the cartels.

Tally all this up and what you get is Mexico on the edge of chaos, and a mess that could easily bleed across the border. The U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., warned recently that an unstable Mexico "could represent a homeland security problem of immense proportions to the United States." In a report titled "Joint Operating Environment 2008," the Command singles out Mexico and Pakistan as potentially failing states. Both "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse . . . . The Mexican possibility may seem less likely, but the government, its politicians, police, and judicial infrastructure are all under sustained assault and pressure by criminal gangs and drug cartels."

The National Drug Threat Assessment for 2009 says that Mexican drug-trafficking organizations now "control most of the U.S. drug market," with distribution capabilities in 230 U.S. cities. The cartels also "maintain cross border communication centers" that use "voice over Internet Protocol, satellite technology (broadband satellite instant messaging), encrypted messaging, cell phone technology, two-way radios, scanner devices, and text messaging, to communicate with members" and even "high-frequency radios with encryption and rolling codes to communicate during cross-border operations."


A report by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the former drug czar, makes similar observations. "The malignancy of drug criminality," he writes, "stretches throughout the U.S. in more than 295 cities." Gen. McCaffrey visited Mexico in December.

Here is how he sees the fight: "The outgunned Mexican law enforcement authorities face armed criminal attacks from platoon-sized units employing night vision goggles, electronic intercept collection, encrypted communications, fairly sophisticated information operations, sea-going submersibles, helicopters and modern transport aviation, automatic weapons, RPG's, Anti-Tank 66 mm rockets, mines and booby traps, heavy machine guns, 50 cal sniper rifles, massive use of military hand grenades, and the most modern models of 40mm grenade machine guns."

How is it that these gangsters are so powerful? Easy. As Gen. McCaffrey notes, Mexico produces an estimated eight metric tons of heroin a year and 10,000 metric tons of marijuana. He also points out that "90% of all U.S. cocaine transits Mexico" and Mexico is "the dominant source of methamphetamine production for the U.S." The drug cartels earn more than $25 billion a year and "repatriate more than $10 billion a year in bulk cash into Mexico from the U.S."

To put it another way, if Mexico is at risk of becoming a failed state, look no further than the large price premium the cartels get for peddling prohibited substances to Americans.

Write to O'Grady@wsj.com
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« Reply #129 on: January 27, 2009, 10:19:09 PM »

By Peter Millard and Matthew Cowley
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Petroleos Mexicanos's $2 billion bond sale on Tuesday was oversubscribed threefold, underscoring strong investor interest in Mexico's state oil company despite disappointing operating results last year.

Pemex originally planned to place $1 billion or more in 10-year paper on Tuesday. A syndicate banker familiar with the bond sale said around $6 billion in orders came in, allowing Latin America's largest oil producer to increase the size of the deal.

Pemex, which saw oil production drop 9% last year, said it will use the money for investments and to pay off debt coming due this year.

Pemex needs the money - oil production has plummeted 26% since peaking in 2004. The company plans to boost investments by 8% this year, to $19.4 billion, in an effort to develop new oil fields that will compensate for the giant Cantarell field, where output is falling at an alarming rate of 30% a year.

On Tuesday the company said in a filing that net losses in 2008 will surpass 2007 losses due to the sharp drop in oil prices and the depreciation of the local peso currency against the U.S. dollar.

Pemex has a heavy tax load and often has to sell imported fuel at a discount, eroding profits from oil exports.

Despite the ugly operating results, an energy reform approved last fall helped drive demand for the Tuesday bond sale, said the syndicate banker. The reform makes it easier for Pemex to issue debt and streamlines bureaucracy at the state-run oil monopoly.

The simple structure of the bond - it was issued by Pemex instead of its Project Funding Master Trust affiliate - also made it attractive to investors.

The bond carried a coupon of 8% and was sold at 98.313% of face value to yield 8.25%, equivalent to a spread of 570.70 basis points over U.S. Treasury notes of a similar maturity, according to a term sheet provided by a fund manager.

The strong demand for the issue is good news for both Pemex and the federal government, said UBS economist Gabriel Casillas, noting that Pemex and Mexican sovereign debt prices often move in synch.

"Perhaps after these good results, the federal government will try to issue some debt," said Mexico City-based Casillas.

On Dec. 18, Mexico's government sold $2 billion in 10-year global bonds with a 5.98% yield, raising enough money for about 32% of Mexico's 2009 foreign debt servicing needs.

Gianna Bern of Brookshire Advisory and Research, an energy, economics and consulting firm near Chicago, said Pemex probably hoped to sell at a lower yield, but noted that the company needs to raise cash when it can to help pay for its aggressive investment budget.

With much of the developed world selling debt to finance fiscal stimulus packages, emerging market issuers like Pemex risk getting crowded out of the market.

"A $2 billion issuance is a fiscal imperative given the size of their 2009 capital plan," said Bern. "Under the current market conditions, they need to take advantage of any opening."

The syndicated banker said the pricing came in at the tighter end of guidance, which was 8 1/4 to 8 3/8.

Moving forward Pemex will be competing with companies like Brazilian oil giant Petroleo Brasileiro (PBR), or Petrobras, for scarce liquidity in global markets.

On Tuesday Petrobras Chief Financial Officer Almir Barbassa said the company could sell more than $1.5 billion in bonds in the first quarter of this year to help pay off a $5 billion bridge loan. Petrobras will need to raise $8 billion to $9 billion in the capital markets over the next two years.

Pemex is expected to refinance around $5 billion of debt that comes due this year, and the company has said it will increase its total debt to the tune of $3 billion in 2009, reversing a two-year stretch of reducing its debt load.

As of the end of September, Pemex's total bonds and bank loans fell 3.1% on the year to $48.2 billion.

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« Reply #130 on: January 31, 2009, 05:12:58 AM »

Mexican gunmen forcibly take back seized planes

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Around the World

Washington Post, Thursday, October 2, 2008; A20

Gunmen Steal Impounded Planes
Police in Mexico said 20 heavily armed men stole five small planes the army had seized in anti-drug operations. The gunmen tied up a police officer who was guarding the Cessna planes in the state of Sinaloa, then flew them out of a local airfield.
From News Services
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« Reply #131 on: February 02, 2009, 04:59:29 AM »

TUCSON — Drug smugglers parked a car transport trailer against the Mexican side of the border one day in December, dropped a ramp over the security fence, and drove two pickup trucks filled with marijuana onto Arizona soil.

Drug smugglers from Mexico burned their truck and the marijuana it carried before fleeing from border agents in Arizona.
As Border Patrol agents gave chase, a third truck appeared on the Mexican side and gunmen sprayed machine-gun fire over the fence at the agents. Smugglers in the first vehicles torched one truck and abandoned the other, with $1 million worth of marijuana still in the truck bed. Then they vaulted back over the barrier into Mexico’s Sonora state.
Despite huge enforcement actions on both sides of the Southwest border, the Mexican marijuana trade is more robust — and brazen — than ever, law enforcement officials say. Mexican drug cartels routinely transported industrial-size loads of marijuana in 2008, excavating new tunnels and adopting tactics like ramp-assisted smuggling to get their cargoes across undetected.

But these are not the only new tactics: the cartels are also increasingly planting marijuana crops inside the United States in a major strategy shift to avoid the border altogether, officials said. Last year, drug enforcement authorities confiscated record amounts of high potency plants from Miami to San Diego, and even from vineyards leased by cartels in Washington State. Mexican drug traffickers have also moved into hydroponic marijuana production — cannabis grown indoors without soil and nourished with sunlamps — challenging Asian networks and smaller, individual growers here.

A Justice Department report issued last year concluded that Mexican drug trafficking organizations now operated in 195 cities, up from about 50 cities in 2006.

The four largest cartels with affiliates in United States cities were the Federation, the Tijuana Cartel, the Juarez Cartel and the Gulf Cartel.

“There is evidence that Mexican cartels are also increasing their relationships with prison and street gangs in the United States in order to facilitate drug trafficking,” a Congressional report from February 2008 stated. Intelligence analysts were detecting increased Mexican drug cartel-related activity in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle and Yakima, Wash. — areas that used to be controlled by other ethnic networks.

Smuggling is still most conspicuous in the Southwest, which has been home to Mexican traffickers for more than two decades. From Nogales, Ariz., recently, a reporter watched as smugglers across the border, in hilltop stations, peered through binoculars at the movements of American Border Patrol agents. The agents gunned their trucks along the barrier looking for illegal crossings.

About noon, border agents saw a 60-pound bale of marijuana drop over the fence.

“That kind of thing happens every day here,” said Agent Michael A. Scioli, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection.

For the cartels, “marijuana is the king crop,” said Special Agent Rafael Reyes, the chief of the Mexico and Central America Section of the Drug Enforcement Administration. “It consistently sustains its marketability and profitability.”

Marijuana trafficking continues virtually unabated in the United States, even as intelligence reports suggest the declining availability of heroin, cocaine and other hard drugs that require extensive smuggling operations.

By combining smuggling with domestic production, the cartels have sustained the marijuana trade despite the onslaught of enforcement actions on both sides of the border. From 2000 through 2007, Mexican authorities arrested about 90,000 drug traffickers, more than 400 hit men and a dozen cartel leaders, according to a 2008 Congressional report. The United States extradited 95 Mexican nationals last year. Seizures in the first half of 2008 outpaced the average seizure rate from 2002 to 2006.

But the price has been high. Tensions have increased among the cartels, which are warring over lucrative drug routes through Mexican border towns like Juarez, Tijuana and Nogales, Sonora. More than 6,000 people, including hundreds of police officers, were killed by drug-related violence in Mexico in 2008. United States Border Patrol agents are also reporting more violent confrontations with traffickers.

As the Mexican government and American authorities have hardened the border, drug cartels are increasing production just north of it to avoid resorting to smuggling.

Many of the largest marijuana plantations are hidden on federal and state parklands, federal authorities say. Bill Sherman, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent based in San Diego, said the authorities were also finding an increasing number of farms in Imperial and San Diego Counties, an area traffickers traditionally avoided because of the presence of border guards, various police agencies and Camp Pendleton, a Marine base.

“We’re seeing a lot more grows down here now,” Mr. Sherman said. “That is a shift.”

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Drug enforcement agents uprooted about 6.6 million cannabis plants grown mostly by cartels in 2007, one-third more than the plants destroyed in 2006. In California, the nation’s largest domestic marijuana producer, the authorities eradicated a record 2.9 million plants by the end of the marijuana harvest in December.


Yet enforcement officials say they see no discernible reduction in the domestic supply. Prices have remained relatively steady even as the potency of marijuana increased to record levels in 2007, according to the National Drug Intelligence Center, a Justice Department analysis agency.

Mr. Reyes also noted that Mexican traffickers in the United States were choosing hydroponic marijuana, which is more potent, profitable and easier to hide because it can be grown year round with sunlamps. (A pound of midgrade marijuana sells for about $750 in Los Angeles, compared with $2,500 to $6,000 for a pound of hydroponic marijuana.) He noted a case last year in Florida in which Cuban growers used several houses in a single Miami tract development to supply hydroponic marijuana to Mexican traffickers.

Kathyrn McCarthy, an assistant United States attorney in Detroit, said Mexican traffickers in Michigan were trading Colombian cocaine for hydroponic marijuana from British Columbia to sell in the United States. In Washington State, now the second biggest domestic producer of marijuana, Mexican cartels are growing improved varieties of outdoor marijuana to compete with BC Bud and other potent indoor plants.

Last year, narcotics officers discovered 200,000 high-quality marijuana plants growing amid leased vineyards in the Yakima Valley. The Northwest has traditionally been the province of Asian hydroponic networks.

Despite increased planting, the cartels still rely on smuggling. Near Nogales, Ariz., Mr. Scioli pointed out several cross-border tunnels, one of which extended from the backyard of a house, under the fence and into Mexico 40 yards away. Another series of cross-border tunnels made use of existing sewer lines or drainage pipes. They were among the nine smuggling tunnels drug enforcement agents have discovered there since 2003.

Despite the fact that the authorities are discovering more marijuana production inside the United States, most of the cartels’ leadership remains in Mexico and, for now, so does most of the violence. Still, recent photographs from Mexico of the decapitated heads of Mexican policemen play in the minds of law enforcement officials on this side of the border, who are vigilant for signs of spillover.

The Mexican police in Sonora “are stuck between two warring cartels,” said Anthony J. Coulson, a federal drug enforcement agent. “The cops are being killed as pawns. They’re being used to show how much power and control the cartels have.”

Mr. Reyes, the special agent, said, “The violence is happening because of the pressure we’ve exacted, but it does not fuel any increase or decrease in marijuana.”

No one sees a quick end of the violence in Nogales, Sonora.

Sheriff Tony Estrada of Santa Cruz County said there was so much violence on the other side of the border that many Mexican police officers and politicians had become virtual refugees in Nogales, Ariz.

“The violence has left a large contingent of police on this side of the border,” Sheriff Estrada said. “The killing will stop when somebody dominates. When somebody takes control.”
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« Reply #132 on: February 02, 2009, 11:21:23 AM »

second post of the day:


Mexico: Diplomacy Among Sinaloa's Cartels?
Stratfor Today » January 30, 2009 | 2218 GMT

Summary

The Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 29 that drug-related murders in Sinaloa state, Mexico, dropped from 120 in December 2008 to 40 from Jan. 1-29. Reportedly, the decrease in violence occurred as a result of a truce between rival cartels in Sinaloa. Stratfor sources have confirmed that several Mexican cartels held two sit-down talks, but it is not clear that a truce was reached. However, the decrease in violence suggests that some level of diplomacy is occurring.

Analysis

The Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 29 that drug-related killings in Mexico’s Sinaloa state dropped from 120 in December 2008 to 40 within the first 29 days of January. The reported cause for this drop in drug-related deaths was a truce between rival cartels the Sinaloa Cartel and the Beltran Leyva organization. Stratfor sources have confirmed that several Mexican cartels did indeed hold two sit-down meetings, but that (contradicting press reports) they did not reach any widespread truce. The decrease in violence, however, suggests that a low level of diplomacy may be taking place.

The report of decreased violence in Sinaloa state came three days after El Siglo de Durango, a regional newspaper in Mexico’s Durango state, reported that representatives of the El Mayo and Sinaloa groups sat down in December with representatives from the Beltran Leyva, Arellano Felix and Carillo Fuentes groups to discuss a cease-fire, as the unprecedented level of inter-cartel violence in 2008 was bad for business. The Beltran Leyva brothers were once allied with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and his Sinaloa Cartel, but they operated separately in 2008. The two groups’ fighting over drug trafficking routes in western Mexico resulted in running battles that accounted for many of the 5,376 drug-related murders in Mexico in 2008. By May 2008, the Mexican military was called into Sinaloa state to help quell the violence.

Nationwide, violence dropped from historical highs in November to more normal levels in December 2008 and rose again in January, but certain states saw the number of reported deaths decrease in the same time period. Just as the number of drug-related killings dropped from December 2008 to the end of January in Sinaloa state, in Juarez they dropped from 150 in December 2008 to 80 during the first 25 days of January. These two areas, hotspots in the Sinaloa Cartel’s battle with Beltran Leyva (in Sinaloa state) and Carillo-Fuentes (in Juarez), can be viewed as two primary fronts in Mexico’s cartel conflicts. The fact that the rate of killings there dropped in January (even though the national rates were up) offers support for the claims that the cartels have reached a limited cease-fire.

Rumors about cartel cooperation have surfaced before and have quickly dissipated. Occasionally Mexico’s various criminal groups have even reached broad truces and alliances, though more often than not these agreements quickly break down. The fierce competition over territory and drug-trafficking gateways along the U.S.-Mexican border offers strong motivation to continue fighting rather than cooperate. Even if the groups reached some sort of agreement, an enduring settlement is unlikely.

However, such a truce would have great significance in the Mexican government’s war against the cartels. In 2008, several cartel factions were fighting each other and the Mexican military — a situation that created bloody multi-front wars in which cartels had to divide their resources. If the cartels work out a deal to reduce the fighting among themselves (even if the motivation is only to improve business), it would mean that they could reroute resources that otherwise would be used to fight each other. This means they would have more money to use to bribe officials, more resources to focus on intelligence-gathering operations and lower prices for the narcotics that they traffic. A truce among the cartels would make an already challenging situation for the Mexican military even more complicated, as the military would no longer be able to use the “divide and conquer” tactic in its war against the cartels. While a drop in overall violence would be welcomed by the Mexican government, a long-lasting cartel peace would carry its own risks for the government.

Ultimately, cooperation could also become a strategy for the cartels to combat the government. If the cartels could move from not fighting each other to actively collaborating on undermining the government, they could pose a serious threat to the Mexican state. As mentioned above, many factors make this type of broad cooperation rather unlikely — honor among thieves is a fickle thing — but there are incentives for cooperation as well.
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« Reply #133 on: February 02, 2009, 08:37:47 PM »

Taken from another forum:
================

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...guns-to-agent/

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/...10312008_7.xml

http://www.voanews.com/english/archi...01-26-voa1.cfm

http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/20...s-neighborhood

and most damning of all:
http://www.judicialwatch.org/news/20...ursion-reports
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« Reply #134 on: February 03, 2009, 08:03:03 AM »

All but the voanew link did not work?  My conspiricy alarm is going off grin shocked wink
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« Reply #135 on: February 03, 2009, 10:48:42 AM »

An updated version of the previous Stratfor report:

Hints of a Possible Cartel Cease-fire

Violence related to organized crime continued across Mexico this past week. Among the more noteworthy incidents was the discovery of three severed heads inside a cooler just outside Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. Meanwhile, some 20 armed men shot and killed two police officers in San Miguel Totolapan, Guerrero state, then set fire to two buildings before fleeing. And in Durango, Durango state, a group of gunmen traveling in at least one vehicle shot and killed two people.

While violence in most of the country continues at a level we have come to expect, Sinaloa state registered a noticeable decrease in homicides. This decline also coincided with reports that Mexico’s major drug-trafficking organizations had reached at least a limited cease-fire as a result of several meetings held in December. Rumors of such meetings and truces are quite common in Mexico, and more often than not, such agreements quickly break down. Nevertheless, the situation warrants monitoring, especially considering that this has been a year of flux in cartel relationships, and any new truces or alliances could have a significant impact on the country’s security environment.

Talk of a Shift in Strategy

Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora told a group of legislators this past week that the United States and Mexico are finalizing a new strategy for the fight against the cartels that will be launched in the next few days, according to several press reports. The new strategy will focus on slowing the flow of weapons and money crossing into Mexico from the United States, one Mexican legislator said, adding that it would involve a change in actions in two current hot spots of violence: Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, and Tijuana, Baja California state. Another Mexican congressional source told reporters that Mexico City and Washington have been in contact regarding how to combat organized crime. During the meeting, several congressmen from northern Mexican states reportedly complained to Medina Mora about the continuing violence in their districts and the general lack of progress in the cartel war. Also this past week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ordered a top-down review of border policy, which includes customs, immigration and other law enforcement functions.

While at first glance these reports suggest that Mexico and the United States might soon adopt a new approach to fighting the cartels, it is important to recall that this is not the first time the Mexican government has considered a so-called shift in strategy. In many cases, such reports often turn out to be intended to show the Mexican public and congress that the federal government is considering all options and pursuing a coherent strategy. It would appear that is the case with these latest reports as well, especially given that breaking up weapons trafficking networks in the United States — something law enforcement north of the border has been engaged in for a long time — is hardly a new strategy. Nevertheless, Medina Mora’s statement could be an indication of a U.S. reassessment of the situation, something Stratfor has been looking for from the new Obama administration.

Sinaloa Cartel Operations in Nicaragua

The Sinaloa cartel continues to operate drug-trafficking routes in Nicaragua and is looking to recover its operations along the country’s Pacific coast, Nicaraguan national police chief Aminta Granera reported this past week. Granera said that the majority of Sinaloa operatives are Nicaraguan nationals from the eastern part of the country who operate in the west, citing recent arrests and small cocaine seizures in the western cities of Rivas, Chinandega and Villanueva (though the Chinandega arrest also involved Salvadoran nationals). She added that the trafficking routes involve land and maritime components, and that most small boats tend to sail in international waters to avoid running into Nicaraguan authorities.

Despite Granera’s description of the arrests, it appears that they have had little impact on the Sinaloa cartel’s operations there. The routes and trafficking patterns described by Granera closely match previous arrests and seizures associated with Sinaloa operations in Nicaragua. In addition, Granera’s description of arrest locations suggests that Sinaloa continues to operate the same routes as before, presumably still relying on private vehicles to carry small shipments from Costa Rica to El Salvador. While the arrests will be a nuisance to the organization, there is no reason to think the routes cannot quickly be restored.

Jan. 26

Assailants armed with assault rifles shot and killed two men in Zapopan, Jalisco state.

Mexican army officials reported discovering and destroying a marijuana field and clandestine airstrip near Jilotlan de los Dolores, Jalisco state, believed to have been used by the Sinaloa cartel.   
Authorities at Panama City’s international airport reported the arrest of a Mexican man in possession of $430,464 that he failed to declare upon arriving on a flight from Mexico City.
At least five gunmen shot and killed five motorcyclists at a seafood restaurant in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. At least 10 others were killed in separate incidents in the state.
Mexican officials confirmed that alleged Sinaloa operative Lamberto Verdugo Calderon died in a firefight with Mexican army forces in Sinaloa state on Jan. 22.

Jan. 27

Federal police arrested one Russian and one Cuban citizen, both reportedly U.S. residents, on charges of human smuggling in Frontera Comalapa, Chiapas state.

Jan. 28

Authorities in Cosoleacaque, Veracruz state, discovered the body of an unidentified man bearing signs of torture.
Several gunmen in a vehicle shot and killed three unidentified people in La Mesa, Baja California state.
Police near Durango, Durango state, found the body of a man who had been kidnapped several days before. Authorities believe he had been beaten to death.
Several gunmen shot and killed two police officers in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.
Authorities recovered more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as assorted firearms and grenades, from a safe house in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.

Jan. 29

Mexican army forces raided a safe house in a suburb of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, seizing some seven vehicles and undisclosed documents.

Feb. 1

At least one assailant shot and killed a police officer in Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua state.
Tell Stratfor What You Think
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« Reply #136 on: February 06, 2009, 07:21:12 AM »

Another deadly Mexican syndicate

ISN Link
http://www.isn.ethz.ch/isn/Current-Affairs/Security-Watch/Detail/?lng=en&id=95963

La Familia is extremely volatile because of its diverse components and bloodthirsty fanaticism, George W Grayson writes for FPRI.

By George W Grayson for FPRI

The death toll related to narco-trafficking in Mexico more than doubled last year, from 2,275 in 2007 to 5,207 in 2008. An increasingly important contributor to this ghastly mayhem is the shadowy Michoacana family, or La Familia. Its center of operations is the Pacific Coast state of Michoacan, home to trafficking routes and sophisticated factories for producing methamphetamine, as well as the port Lázaro Cárdenas, an open sesame for drug imports.

Although organized several years earlier, La Familia burst into the limelight on September 6, 2006, when 20 masked desperados stormed into scruffy Sol y Sombra night spot in Uruapan, Michoacan, fired shots into the air, ran up to the second floor from where they tossed five human heads onto the black and white dance floor.

They left behind a message, written on cardboard: “The family doesn’t kill for money. It doesn’t kill women. It doesn’t kill innocent people, only those who deserve to die. Know that this is divine justice.”

Club owner Carlos Alvarez nervously defended the assailants. “These men didn’t come here to hurt anyone, they work against bad people, those men whose heads they cut were like bugs,” reported National Public Radio.

Victor Alejandro, the owner of a small shop across the road from the dance hall, says he’s afraid to be seen talking to a stranger. “There are informants everywhere,” he says.

The day before, the killers had seized their victims from a mechanic’s shop and hacked off their heads with bowie knives while the men writhed in pain. “You don’t do something like that unless you want to send a big message,” said a US law enforcement official.

A similar self-righteous message appeared at the foot of a black cross in Apatzingan, in the heart of the Tierra Caliente, which embraces 32 municipalities at the intersection of Michoacan, Guerrero, and Mexico State. In this highly productive zone, La Familia, Los Zetas paramilitaries linked to the powerful Tamaulipas-based Gulf Cartel, and the local Milenio Cartel of the Valencia family engage in bloody warfare for control of growing areas and transit routes.

In addition, Michoacan finds the several criminal organizations fighting for the cocaine and precursor chemicals for methamphetamine that arrive through Lázaro Cárdenas, the state’s largest port, or through nearby entry points. This was the gateway for multimillionaire Chinese-Mexican Zhenli Ye Gon, who is now under arrest in the US, to import chemicals for the meth production in the super-laboratories throughout the state. The port of Lázaro Cárdenas’ importance lies in its strategic location: Half of Mexico’s population lives within some 300 kilometers of this coastal city.

Origins

Various currents have fed into the heterogeneous organization, which emerged in 2004 with the stated “mission” of eradicating trafficking in meth, or “ice,” and other narcotics, kidnappings, extortion, murder-for-hire, highway assaults, and robberies, according to one of its founders, Nazario “The Craziest One” Moreno González. La Familia may have begun as vigilantes determined to thwart the manufacture and transport of meth by the Michoacan-based Milenio Cartel, a stalwart ally of Joaquín “Shorty” or “The Uncle” Guzmán Loera and his Sinaloa Cartel, the major competitor to his Gulf counterparts.

There is also the possibility that they sprang to life to prevent Los Zetas from entering their bailiwick. Narco-criminal Carlos Rosales Mendoza, formerly a member of the local Milenio cartel, switched his loyalty to the Gulf Cartel. In response to his new ally’s request, Gulf boss Osiel Cárdenas Guillen dispatched Los Zetas led by Efraín Teodoro Torres or “Zeta 14” and Gustavo “The Erotic One” Gonzalez Castro, to help Rosales Mendoza protect his plaza at La Union, a municipality in Guerrero near Petacalco and Lázaro Cárdenas on the Pacific Coast.

Another Gulf Cartel accomplice was Carlos Pinto Rodríguez, a native of Huerta de Gámbara in the Tierra Caliente. Pinto Rodríguez became even more violent after his son died in a shoot-out. After Rosales Mendoza participated in an unsuccessful attempt to free Cardenas Guillen from La Palma high-security prison, the Army captured him at his attractive residence in the Colonia Lomas de Santa Maria, Morelia, on 24 October 2004. EsMas and Reforma reported that Rosales Mendoza offered a huge bribe if his captors would release him.

In reaction to Los Zetas’ incursion, Juan Jose “The Grandfather” Farías, leader of the local Rural Guards, a uniformed Mexican army auxiliary linked to the 43rd Military Zone in Apatzingan, took the offensive. He sought to expel the intruders from his region as if he were an agent of the French Resistance fighting the Nazis. Meanwhile, he was suspected of being a major narco-trafficker in the region. He is believed to have worked with Rubén Oseguera Cervantes, also called Nemesio, who is the cousin of Abigaíl and Jose Mendoza Valencia, relatives of Armando Valencia Cornelio, the chief of the Milenio Cartel until his imprisonment in La Palma.

In retaliation for Farias’ opposition, Los Zetas decapitated cheese-maker Raúl Farías Alejandres, a relative of The Grandfather, on 4 September 2006. A note next to the corpse warned: “One by one you go falling. Greetings. La Familia sends its regards.” Four more beheadings followed.

The Grandfather, the intrepid Zeta fighter who owns restaurants, hotels, and orchards, has disappeared, perhaps because the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) is investigating his possible connections Ye Gon. He and his followers are allied with the Valencias and the Sinaloa Cartel.

In 2007, Uriel Farías Álvarez, The Grandfather’s brother and a PRI stalwart, won a landslide victory for the mayorship of Tepalcatepec, which, along with Aguililla, Apatzingan, and Buenavista Tomatlán, lies in a drug-smuggling corridor that connects the Tierra Caliente with Jalisco. He pooh-poohs the idea that he or his relatives have ties to the underworld: “My brother only kept a lookout on orders of the Army. And as a result they said he was a narco.”

How La Familia describes its goals

Handwritten, poorly-spelled, enigmatic missives showed up next to the decapitated heads in Uruapan as part of its intense propaganda campaign designed to intimidate both foes, terrorize the local population, and inhibit action by the government. Like Los Zetas, La Familia disseminates news of its deeds nationally by conventional media as well as by internet videos and carefully placed banners.

On the heels of the Uruapan atrocity, La Familia took out a half-page advertisement in newspapers claiming to be crime-fighters. El Sol of Morelia and La Voz de Michoacan both ran the group’s manifesto. Such expressions of civic virtue aside, 18 of 32 police officers in the Tepalcatepec area resigned after receiving death threats from La Familia, while local newspapers exercise self-censorship concerning the sinister band.

On 18 August 2006, the organization decapitated Jesús Rodríguez Valencia, a member of the Milenio Cartel, placing the following message next to his cadaver: “All that rises falls of its own weight, it would be like this, the family greets you.” Three months later, the police discovered two bodies on the Zamora-La Barca highway, next to which was a note that said: “For those who sell ice. This is divine justice. Sincerely, La Familia.” “Divine justice. No to the meth makers, La Familia,” was the text discovered alongside a body found on the Jacona-Los Reyes highway. The message appeared on a green card, reflecting the color that La Familia uses on its emblems, placards, and communications.

In all, authorities attributed 17 decapitations to La Familia in 2006 alone. Between the murder of Rodriguez Valencia that August and 31 December 2008, La Familia killed scores, if not hundreds, of people. There were 233 executions in Michoacan, most of whose victims belonged to one criminal band or another.

What may have begun as a small group of armed men on the prowl to protect their children from meth has turned into a major criminal outfit that is just as well-armed and organized as any top-tier drug smuggling organization in Mexico.

The Attorney General’s Office claims that elements of organization not only sell narcotics in many of the municipalities of their home state, but also seek to dominate the distribution route to the US border that snakes through territory traditionally in the hands of the Sinaloa cartel. To this end, they have established safe houses as refuges for their traffickers at strategic points along the route northward. While originating in Michoacan, La Familia has extended its activities to Mexico State, where it controls or has conducted operations in numerous municipalities.

Spreading conflict

La Familia has corrupted and or intimidated law-enforcement personnel. In August 2008, a drug distributor in the Valle de Toluca accused Jose Manzur Ocana, the well-connected former PGR delegate in the state, of providing protection to Los Zetas and La Familia. Although placed in a witness-protection program, the informant was among those executed in the La Marquesa bloodbath discussed below.

In early November 2008, 100 local police in Chalco, just outside Mexico City, demanded the dismissal of their chief, Carlos Adulfo Palafox, whom they accused of having ties with La Familia. Mexico State’s Attorney General Alberto Bazbaz also cited Jesús Garcia Carrasco, commander of the state’s Judicial Police, as a possible collaborator after he reportedly received 70,000 pesos per month to provide information to La Familia.

La Familia’s rivals have struck back. In August 2008, three bodies, bearing grotesque torture marks and their hands and feet tied, turned up in San Pablito in the Tultepec municipality. The “narco-message at the scene stated: “All of the Michoacan Family will die, but I leave [these bodies] so that you believe me.” In September 2008, enemies pumped 18 bullets into the body of José Luis “El Jaguar” Carranza Galván, whom the PGR identified as a principal operator of La Familia.

La Familia has not made all police kowtow. After law-enforcement agents took into custody Miguel “The King” Carvajal in the Valle de Bravo in January 2008, they received a telephone death threat if they “touched” their prisoner. In a similar vein, El Rey told the police: “don’t hit me [for] I come in the spirit of peace; my chiefs are now in conversations with your commanders to strike a deal.” Despite this bravado, the extortionist and hit man for La Familia remained behind bars.

In September 2008, in the Nicolás Romero municipality authorities captured Lázaro “The Indian” Bustos Abarca Nicolas Romero, who commanded a band of 20 kidnappers linked to La Familia. Ten days later, the PGR reported the murder of 24 people in La Marquesa park in Mexico State. Officials hypothesized that the murders arose from a clash between La Familia and the Beltran Leyva brothers over control of Huixquilucan, a strategic plaza for drug shipments. In mid-November, the federal police took into custody Pedro Jaime Chávez Rosales, former director of public safety for the municipality, who was believed to be involved in the multiple executions.

In Mexico City, on 31 July 2008, a body was found in the trunk of a Chevrolet Corsa parked in the capital’s southern borough of Coyoacan. A note attached to the corpse said: “For not paying. Sincerely, La Familia."

The western boroughs of Miguel Hidalgo and Cuajimalpa also have become a zone for money-laundering and drug transit, exciting a raging conflict among Colombian traffickers, Los Zetas, and La Familia. The competitors dispatch their foes with high-powered weapons, decapitations, and asphyxiation with plastic bags. Next to three bodies discovered in September 2008 lay the message: “I was victim of a kidnapping by those who call themselves La Familia Michoacana; thus, I am carrying out justice by my own hand.”

Grenade attack in Morelia

The PGR initially accused La Familia of carrying out the 15 September 2008, grenade attack in Morelia’s Melchor Ocampo plaza. Authorities advanced the theory that the fanatical band sought to attract a greater contingent of federal police and military to the state in order to thwart Los Zetas from consolidating their trafficking routes.

In response to such allegations, the organization immediately revved up its public relations apparatus. It dispatched a text message to local reporters and residents denying participation in the tragedy and placing the blame on Los Zetas, which responded with its own communiques in the form of banners unfurled in prominent spots in Puebla, Reynosa, Cancun, Oaxaca, and Nuevo Laredo.

It offered a US$5 million reward in dollars, Euros, or another currency to anyone who could help capture members of La Familia, which it alleged produced the mayhem: “The Gulf cartel energetically condemns the September 15 attack against the Mexican people. We offer our aid for the arrest of the leaders who call themselves ‘La Familia’.” The narco-banners specifically mentioned such chiefs as Moreno Gonzalez, Jesús “El Chango” Méndez Vargas, and Enrique “El Kiki” Tlacaltepetl.

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« Reply #137 on: February 06, 2009, 07:22:35 AM »



The Gulf organization followed up this challenge by placing a red ice chest in the center of Lázaro Cárdenas. The head of a member of its sworn enemies lay inside the container, next to which a green poster proclaimed: “Greetings Chayo, Rogaciano and Changa [reference to leaders of La Familia]. This is for the collection of queers who support the terrorists of La Familia; we do not kill innocent people; we kill terrorists like this one … We don’t kidnap and we want neither to work with you nor to have contact with you and those you rely on … Thanks for those who are supporting us. Sincerely: Gulf Cartel 100 percent.”

Journalists for Proceso magazine reported that the police received an anonymous tip indicating the whereabouts of the alleged perpetrators of the violence. After meeting with members of La Familia near the Cuitzeo security barracks, authorities seized, blindfolded, handcuffed, and arrested three Zetas for the tragedy. Family members of the prisoners claimed that they were subjected to physical and psychological torture. In the words of a sister and wife:

“They asked him why he had thrown the grenades, which he denied. Later they tied his hands with packing tape and beat him with boards. He told us that later they dragged him to a river and left him there all night. He also says that they had him with his arms up all day, always blindfolded.”

The newspaper Milenio has reported the appearance of La Familia in Guanajuato, where it emulates the Italian mafia by controlling the small outlets that sell cocaine and marijuana to individuals. When a local distributor refused to cooperate, he was killed. In the past, Juan José “The Blue One” (so called because of his bluish skin color) Esparragoza Moreno, an ally of El Chapo, controlled Guanajuato. In a negotiation between capos, El Azul relinquished the plaza to La Familia, thus avoiding violent confrontation. Dominance in Guanajuato helps La Familia impede its rivals’ access to Michoacan.

Organization and resources

Journalist Richard Ravelo asserts that the 4,000 members of La Familia were born and raised in Michoacan, that they earn between US$1,500 and US$2,000 per month, and that they are well connected with state and local officials. They reportedly attend church regularly, carry Bibles, and distribute the Good Book in local government offices.

They claim to enjoy grassroots’ support because they provide assistance to campesinos, construct schools, donate books, prevent the sale of adulterated wine, and employ “extremely strong strategies” to bring order to the Tierra Caliente. Thus, they offered a contrast to the Milenio Cartel, which has recruited outsiders called Antizetas.

They acquire resources by selling protection to merchants, street vendors of contraband, hotels, local gangs, and small-scale drug sellers. Rather than speak in terms of extortion, La Familia claims to “protect” its clients. Members the organization wear uniforms, carry arms, and drive vehicles similar to those of the Federal Agency of Investigation. This allows them greater freedom to move around their areas of interest.[13] Still, leaders of the group have become so brazen that they have designed their own outfits to mark their identity and distinguish their members from adversaries.

Reports indicate the fragmentation of La Familia, whose leadership - known as “Los Sierras” - holds sway in the Tierra Caliente. These factions include: Los Historicos, who have links with Los Zetas; “Los Extorsionistas, composed of businessmen and growers who concentrate on extorting money from anyone from surgeons to municipal mayors; Los Cobradores de Deudas (“Debt Collectors”), who are allied with the Milenio and Sinaloa cartels and who traffic in meth; and An unnamed group that concentrates on selling pirated films and DVDs.

La Familia’s current leaders, Bible-toting fanatics Moreno Gonzalez and Mendez Vargas, may have direct or indirect ties with devotees of the New Jerusalem movement. Dionisio “The Uncle” Loya Plancarte, once a Zeta, now presents himself as the spokesman for the organization.

The 53-year-old Michoacan native, who manages press and public relations for La Familia, claims that through kidnappings and executions the cartel is ensuring “a peaceful climate for law-abiding citizens.” In addition, he cited as his organization’s principal targets “El Chapo Guzman and the Beltran Leyva brothers because they were responsible for methamphetamine addiction in Michoacan communities.”

In October 2008, authorities captured Wenceslao Álvarez Álvarez, an ally of La Familia who ran an international operation out of Nueva Italia, a Michoacan municipality where, ironically, in November 1938, President Lázaro Cárdenas established the first communal farm, promising to make it a model of progress for the nation. Like many other growers in the Tierra Caliente, Álvarez Álvarez produced avocados. He claims to have turned to narco-trafficking to avenge the 1999 kidnapping and murder of his father by a vicious local gang, Los Arcila. Led by Jorge Álvarez Arcila, a local farmer, and Daniel Farias, the former warden of the Patzcuaro prison, these brigands enjoyed impunity as they carried out a dozen kidnappings in the Tierra Caliente between 1996 and 2000.

Alvarez Alvarez’s cocaine network allegedly extended from Colombia through Guatemala and Mexico to Atlanta and other US cities. The US Drug Enforcement Administration has identified him as a lieutenant of Miguel “El L-40” Treviño Morales, a top figure in Los Zetas. Álvarez Álvarez called the charges against him “false,” insisting that he was only a grower of tomatoes, peppers, mangos, and other crops on land rented by his entire family. In addition to his underworld exploits, he also has an interest in “Los Mapaches” of Nueva Italia, a second-division soccer team that he purchased for 1 million pesos.

Conclusion

The group known as La Familia bears similarities to Colombia’s United Self-Defense Forces (AUC), an amalgam of rightwing vigilantes, rural self-defense militia, former military and police personnel, who oppose anyone believed to be supportive of the guerrillas belonging to the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

The religious zeal of La Familia manifests itself in preference for executions over negotiations. So strong is the organization that it has gained a major beachhead in Michoacan, eclipsed Los Zetas in Mexico state, crossed swords with the ruthless Beltran Leyva brothers in Mexico state, and ousted a faction of the Sinaloa cartel from Guanajuato. La Familia is extremely volatile because of its diverse components and bloodthirsty fanaticism.

Mexico’s heavily armed, vicious groups are increasingly conducting operations north of the Rio Grande. Too long ignored by Washington, this threat from the Mexican cartels - and their Andean suppliers - must become a priority of the Obama administration.
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« Reply #138 on: February 10, 2009, 12:07:06 AM »

16 illegals sue Arizona rancher

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...izona-rancher/

An Arizona man who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Roger Barnett, 64, began rounding up illegal immigrants in 1998 and turning them over to the U.S. Border Patrol, he said, after they destroyed his property, killed his calves and broke into his home.   His Cross Rail Ranch near Douglas, Ariz., is known by federal and county law enforcement authorities as "the avenue of choice" for immigrants seeking to enter the United States illegally.

Trial continues Monday in the federal lawsuit, which seeks $32 million in actual and punitive damages for civil rights violations, the infliction of emotional distress and other crimes. Also named are Mr. Barnett's wife, Barbara, his brother, Donald, and Larry Dever, sheriff in Cochise County, Ariz., where the Barnetts live. The civil trial is expected to continue until Friday.   The lawsuit is based on a March 7, 2004, incident in a dry wash on the 22,000-acre ranch, when he approached a group of illegal immigrants while carrying a gun and accompanied by a large dog.

Attorneys for the immigrants - five women and 11 men who were trying to cross illegally into the United States - have accused Mr. Barnett of holding the group captive at gunpoint, threatening to turn his dog loose on them and saying he would shoot anyone who tried to escape.   

The immigrants are represented at trial by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), which also charged that Sheriff Dever did nothing to prevent Mr. Barnett from holding their clients at "gunpoint, yelling obscenities at them and kicking one of the women."

In the lawsuit, MALDEF said Mr. Barnett approached the group as the immigrants moved through his property, and that he was carrying a pistol and threatening them in English and Spanish. At one point, it said, Mr. Barnett's dog barked at several of the women and he yelled at them in Spanish, "My dog is hungry and he's hungry for buttocks."

The lawsuit said he then called his wife and two Border Patrol agents arrived at the site. It also said Mr. Barnett acknowledged that he had turned over 12,000 illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol since 1998.

In March, U.S. District Judge John Roll rejected a motion by Mr. Barnett to have the charges dropped, ruling there was sufficient evidence to allow the matter to be presented to a jury. Mr. Barnett's attorney, David Hardy, had argued that illegal immigrants did not have the same rights as U.S. citizens.

Mr. Barnett told The Washington Times in a 2002 interview that he began rounding up illegal immigrants after they started to vandalize his property, northeast of Douglas along Arizona Highway 80. He said the immigrants tore up water pumps, killed calves, destroyed fences and gates, stole trucks and broke into his home.  Some of his cattle died from ingesting the plastic bottles left behind by the immigrants, he said, adding that he installed a faucet on an 8,000-gallon water tank so the immigrants would stop damaging the tank to get water.

Mr. Barnett said some of the ranch´s established immigrant trails were littered with trash 10 inches deep, including human waste, used toilet paper, soiled diapers, cigarette packs, clothes, backpacks, empty 1-gallon water bottles, chewing-gum wrappers and aluminum foil - which supposedly is used to pack the drugs the immigrant smugglers give their "clients" to keep them running.
He said he carried a pistol during his searches for the immigrants and had a rifle in his truck "for protection" against immigrant and drug smugglers, who often are armed.

A former Cochise County sheriff´s deputy who later was successful in the towing and propane business, Mr. Barnett spent $30,000 on electronic sensors, which he has hidden along established trails on his ranch. He searches the ranch for illegal immigrants in a pickup truck, dressed in a green shirt and camouflage hat, with his handgun and rifle, high-powered binoculars and a walkie-talkie.
His sprawling ranch became an illegal-immigration highway when the Border Patrol diverted its attention to several border towns in an effort to take control of the established ports of entry. That effort moved the illegal immigrants to the remote areas of the border, including the Cross Rail Ranch.

"This is my land. I´m the victim here," Mr. Barnett said. "When someone´s home and loved ones are in jeopardy and the government seemingly can´t do anything about it, I feel justified in taking matters into my own hands. And I always watch my back."
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« Reply #139 on: February 12, 2009, 08:45:09 AM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/02/12/mexican-drug-cartels-make-phoenix-2-in-world-for-kidnappings/

Just commiting the horrific crimes Americans aren't willing to do....
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« Reply #140 on: February 13, 2009, 01:41:13 AM »

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,491964,00.html

Thursday , February 12, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller



As drug cartels continue to terrorize Mexico, Texas officials are planning for the worst-case scenario: how to respond if the violence spills over the border, and what to do if thousands of Mexicans seek refuge in the United States.  Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said a multi-agency contingency plan is being developed, and it will focus primarily on law enforcement issues, including how to handle an influx of Mexicans fleeing violence.

"At this point, what we're focusing on is spillover violence," Cesinger told FOXNews.com Thursday. "The immediate concern, if any, would be that."

More than 5,300 people were killed in Mexico last year in connection to criminal activity, and some experts predict things will get worse. Along with Pakistan, Mexico was identified in a Department of Defense report last year as a country that could destabilize rapidly.  If that were to happen, officials are concerned that the drug violence could cross the Rio Grande into southern Texas.
Cesinger said the plan currently does not address a potential flood of refugees, though "It may be something that comes into consideration.  "Worst-case scenario, Mexico becomes the Western hemisphere's equivalent of Somalia, with mass violence, mass chaos," said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank. "That would clearly require a military response from the United States."

Carpenter, who recently authored a study entitled "Troubled Neighbor: Mexico's Drug Violence Poses a Threat to the United States," said Mexican government could collapse, although it's unlikely.

"That's still a relative longshot, but it's not out of the question," Carpenter said. "It's obviously prudent for all of the states along the U.S.-Mexican border and the military to consider that possibility and not get blindsided should it happen."

Some lawmakers in Texas have begun questioning how to deal with a potentially massive influx of Mexican citizens.

"Do you strengthen the borders so people cannot get in by the thousands every day, or do you create detention centers where people are held until their status is determined?" asked state Sen. Dan Patrick. "This is a potential refugee problem..."

"Let's pray that this does not develop in Mexico," Patrick told FOXNews.com. "However, when you hear the president of the United States cast dire warnings on our country, that even our financial system could collapse, it makes you think. If the United States can face catastrophe, obviously Mexico could as well.

"We have to seriously consider that as a remote possibility, so therefore, we need to have a plan."

Patrick called upon Texas Homeland Security Director Steve McGraw to present a comprehensive plan to the state's Legislature.
McGraw, who reportedly told lawmakers at a recent border security meeting that fears of Mexico's collapse were "well-grounded," was unavailable to comment Thursday, Cesinger said.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff indicated last month that the continuing violence has prompted plans for civilian and military law enforcement should it spread into the United States.

Chertoff said the plan calls for armored vehicles, aircraft and teams of personnel along border hotspots. Military forces, however, would be summoned only if civilian agencies like the Border Patrol were unable to control the violence, the New York Times reported.
DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said the department began developing the plan last summer to address a "broad spectrum of contingencies that could occur" if the violence escalates.

"This violence is happening because the [Felipe] Calderon administration is doing the right thing by cracking down on powerful drug cartels," Kudwa said in a statement. "The cartels are, predictably, fighting back to protect their lucrative criminal livelihood. This plan doesn’t change or otherwise supersede existing authorities; it plans for how a number of government organizations would respond and coordinate if local resources were to be overwhelmed."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is "continuing to develop that plan," Kudwa said Thursday.

Meanwhile, Tim Irwin, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said he was unaware of any plans in Texas to prepare for an influx of Mexicans seeking refuge. Theoretically, Irwin said, a Mexican citizen could go to a border crossing and seek asylum based on fears of returning home amid the ongoing drug wars.

"It's a valid claim to make, but you'd need to back that up," Irwin said. "That would start the process."

Irwin said the individual would be initially detained and given a "credible fear interview" to determine if his or her concerns are valid. If
so, they could be eventually be released into the United States.   But Carpenter said the worst-case scenario — a "sudden surge" of up to 1 million refugees in addition to the hundreds of thousands who enter illegally each year — would be daunting.

"That would be very difficult to handle," Carpenter told FOXNews.com. "I suspect what'd you see fairly soon is an attempt to seal the border as much as possible. That would probably be the initial response, along with the building of additional facilities [to detain the Mexican refugees]. But nobody wants to see that happen."
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« Reply #141 on: February 13, 2009, 08:13:09 AM »

Our insane drug policies line the pockets of our enemies while seriously impinging on American liberties. CATO outlines below the impact of these policies. Full article can be found at the link below.

Troubled Neighbor: Mexico's Drug Violence Poses a Threat to the United States

by Ted Galen Carpenter

U.S. officials, alarmed at the growing power of the Mexican drug cartels, have pressured the government of Felipe Calderón to wage amore vigorous anti-drug campaign. Calderón has responded by giving the army the lead role in efforts to eliminate the drug traffickers instead of relying on federal and local police forces, which have been thoroughly corrupted by drug money. Washington has rewarded Calderón’s government by implementing the initial stage of the so-called Mérida Initiative. In June 2008, Congress approved a $400 million installment modeled on Plan Colombia, the anti-drug assistance measure for Colombia and other drug-source countries in the Andean region. That program, now in its ninth year, has already cost more than $5 billion, without significantly reducing the flow of drugs coming out of South America. The Mérida Initiative will likely cost billions and be equally ineffectual.

Abandoning the prohibitionist model of dealing with the drug problem is the only effective way to stem the violence in Mexico and its spillover into the United States. Other proposed solutions, including preventing the flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico, establishing tighter control over the border, and (somehow) winning the war on drugs are futile. As long as the prohibitionist strategy is in place, the huge black market premium in illegal drugs will continue, and the lure of that profit, together with the illegality, guarantees that the most ruthless, violence-prone elements will dominate the trade. Ending drug prohibition would de-fund the criminal trafficking organizations and reduce their power.

While U.S. leaders have focused on actual or illusory security threats in distant regions, there is a troubling security problem brewing much closer to home. Violence in Mexico, mostly related to the trade in illegal drugs, has risen sharply in recent years and shows signs of becoming even worse. That violence involves turf fights among the various drug-trafficking organizations as they seek to control access to the lucrative U.S. market. To an increasing extent, the violence also entails fighting between drug traffickers and Mexican military and police forces.

The carnage has already reached the point that the U.S. State Department has issued travel alerts for Americans traveling in Mexico. U.S. tourism to cities on Mexico’s border with the United States, where the bloodshed has been the worst, has dropped sharply. Even more troubling, the violence is spilling across the border into communities in the southwestern United States.

Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, is the author of eight books, including Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War on Drugs in Latin America.


Full piece here: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa631.pdf
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« Reply #142 on: February 17, 2009, 11:59:21 PM »

By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press Writer Julie Watson, Associated Press Writer – Tue Feb 17, 4:56 pm ET




VILLA AHUMADA, Mexico – For people caught inside Mexico's drug corridors, life is about keeping your head down and watching your back, especially when the sun dips behind the cactus-studded horizon.
No town knows this better than Villa Ahumada, where the entire police force quit after 70 cartel hit men roared through last spring, killing the police chief, two officers and three townspeople.
Residents were left defenseless again last week when gunmen returned and kidnapped nine people, despite the soldiers manning checkpoints far outside town.
"This was a mellow town where we would walk along main street at night. But now we're too scared to even go out," said Zaida de Santiago.
For this lanky 14-year-old, everything changed last May 17. She was dancing at a neighbor's ranch when gunfire shattered the night. The party's hosts turned off the lights and silenced the music. The guests stood frozen, ears trained to the sound of automatic weapons as the gunmen raced down gravel streets in their SUVs.
When the sun rose hours later, the party guests learned that armed cartel commandos had killed the police chief and five others. Soon after, the rest of the 20-member force quit in fear.
"That day will always remain burned in my mind," Santiago said.
Federal investigators say Villa Ahumada is a key stop along one of Mexico's busiest drug smuggling routes, where the Sinaloa cartel has been challenging the Juarez gang for control. The military staffs checkpoints miles outside town, and soldiers and federal police roll through each day, but residents are largely left on their own.
Sliced by a railroad and the Pan-American Highway heading straight to the U.S. border, the town is one of many outposts across Mexico — many of them too small to appear on maps — that cartels need to dominate in order to ensure passage of their U.S.-bound loads of marijuana and cocaine. The town of 15,000 is about 80 miles south of El Paso, Texas.
"In the small towns, the narcos want to have an open sesame," said George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. "They want to be able to pass through as they see fit, and they've got the muscle to enforce that, but it's unfortunate for the residents. This is where you've got enclaves of failure."
Cartels treat these towns as fiefdoms — in some communities, everyone from the furniture owner to the barman to local officials pay a kind of tax to the gunslingers, border expert Victor Clark said. The extortion not only gives gangs an extra income, it also makes clear who's boss.
"In land occupied by organized crime, society's rules are completely altered," said Clark, a lecturer at San Diego State University who has studied one such town in the Mexican state of Baja California. "This is their territory, and you pay them for protection, or they will kill you."
Villa Ahumada has been without a city police force since May, unable to find anyone brave enough to take the job. Even Mayor Fidel Chavez fled for a time to the state capital, Chihuahua City, last year. After the army and state police pledged to have more of a presence in town, he returned and put 10 residents in charge of reporting suspicious activities to the authorities.
But there was little these unarmed citizen patrols could do when heavily armed assailants in black ski masks drove SUVs into town last week, kicking in doors and carting off nine residents in blindfolds.
They called state authorities, closed their office and fled.
The gunmen had already executed six of the hostages near a desolate ranch called El Vergel, about 30 minutes north of town, by the time soldiers swooped in. The other three kidnapped men were rescued as soldiers rappelled into the desert from helicopters to chase those fleeing on foot.
By the time the shooting stopped, 14 suspected pistoleros and one soldier were dead, and townspeople felt more desperate than ever.
"We want some authority here. They kill here and no one does anything," complained a frail 67-year-old woman, gripping a cane as she walked past crumbling adobe homes.
Her daughter stopped her from giving her name, warning: "They might kill our entire family if you do."
Villa Ahumada is a town where scruffy dogs amble down gravel streets alongside slow-moving pickups. The economy depends on highway travelers stopping to eat at countless wooden burrito stands, but business has dropped by 50 percent since last week's violence, and the mayor has criticized the media for harming tourism. He declined repeated requests by The Associated Press for an interview.
Many townspeople have turned to God for answers, said the Rev. Fernando Nava, who presides over the Roman Catholic church.
"Fathers have lost sons, sons have lost fathers," he said. "This is affecting families, which is what the church is concerned about."
Some residents are stepping forward despite the risks to demand more safety. Nine men applied to be police officers this week as part of a renewed effort by the state of Chihuahua to establish a presence in town.
"These are all people from the town who want peace and security for their families," said Manuel Rodriguez of the Chihuahua State Public Safety Department. He was administering an exam Monday designed to evaluate their skills, character and psychological stamina, with questions like: "Do you consider men and women equal?" and "What would you do if there was an attempt on your life?"
Ismael Rivera, a lifelong resident, decided to apply after spending seven months as an unarmed guard.
"A lot of us don't know how to read or write," said Rivera, donning a black baseball cap with the word "guard" emblazoned in yellow across the front. "But they are going to give us the chance to study and work at the same time."
Rivera keeps an eye on things from the former police station, a small office where a yellow note on the wall lists the cell phone of a state police officer. Taped above it is a list of telephone numbers of federal officers. A toy Spider-Man and a picture of Jesus Christ adorn another wall. A bike with "police" painted on its rusty frame leans against the fence outside.
Joining the force is an opportunity to do something for his three children, but Rivera admits he's nervous.
"Of course, you are scared," he said. "You go home and you think about quitting."
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« Reply #143 on: February 18, 2009, 12:11:35 AM »

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7896094.stm

Here is  BBC vid on the blocking of the border  by Mexican protesters   huh

BBC Story from link above

Protests block US-Mexico border

Hundreds of people in Mexico have blocked key crossings into the US in protests against the deployment of the army fighting drug traffickers.

Traffic was brought to a halt on a number of bridges in several border towns in northern Mexico.

The protesters accused the army of abuse against civilians. Government officials said the blockades had been organised by drug gangs.

The army was sent into border towns in 2006 to control rising drug violence.

Violence continued on Tuesday in the border town of Ciudad Juarez where three police officers were shot dead by unidentified gunmen.

More than 5,000 people were killed in drug-related violence last year, Mexican officials say.

Powerful drug cartels have been fighting both each other and federal forces as they battle to control the immensely lucrative routes trafficking cocaine and other drugs from Colombia to the US via Mexico.

Up to 40,000 troops are currently deployed against trafficking cartels.

In some parts of the country, the army has taken over the role of the police, which have often proved easily corrupted when bribed or threatened by the gangs, says the BBC's Stephen Gibbs in Mexico City.

Calderon's vow

The protesters blocked bridges in Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo and Reynosa.

 
Huge quantities of Colombian cocaine are sent to the US via Mexico

They chanted "Soldiers out!" and "Stop abuse by the PFP [Federal Preventative Police]!"

The demonstrators also shut roads in the industrial city of Monterrey.

Many of the protesters said border towns had become more dangerous since President Felipe Calderon sent the army in.

But the governor of one state - Nuevo Leon - said he believed the Gulf drugs cartel and its armed wing, the Zetas, were behind the border protests.

"There are reasons to believe it has to do with the Gulf cartel and the group known as the Zetas," Governor Natividad Gonzalez said.

Human rights activists say there are legitimate complaints about reported abuses by the troops, including alleged cases in which army patrols have fired on civilians at checkpoints.

President Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of troops along the border, vowing to destroy drug cartels.



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« Reply #144 on: February 22, 2009, 07:41:26 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Jag1RMi2E4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz2YzLL-0vc&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sNLieyWwrA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIf80MWzNW4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnYbA4cDqLM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSkK6JbFx6k

When Mexico collapses, will this be happening on the streets of cities in the Southwest?  Phoenix already is second in the world to Mex City in kidnappings. 

And the Demogogue Party (and Bush-McCain) seeks to solidify its virtually filibuster proof majorities by making citizens of literally tens of millions of Mexicans. 


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« Reply #145 on: February 22, 2009, 07:49:39 PM »



When Mexico collapses, will this be happening on the streets of cities in the Southwest? 

**Yes**




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« Reply #146 on: February 24, 2009, 12:06:05 PM »


elpasotimes.com
EL PASO - The El Paso Police Department is investigating alleged threats against Juárez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz, who reportedly moved his family to El Paso for safety reasons, Det. Carlos Carrillo said Monday.

"We received information that the Juárez mayor lives in El Paso, and that possibly they were going to come to El Paso to get him," Carrillo said. "He has not asked us for our help, but it's our duty to protect any resident of our city who may be under threat."

Juárez police said written threats against Reyes Ferriz and his family were left in different parts of Juárez after ex-police chief Roberto Orduña Cruz resigned Friday.

The threats were written on banners the Juárez drug cartel has used to send messages to the police and others.

In light of the threats, Juárez city spokesman Sergio Belmonte said the mayor has increased security for himself and other city officials.

Chihuahua state officials said they are going to call a news conference later Monday to provide more details about Sunday's shooting attack that killed one of Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza Terrazas' bodyguards.

The bodyguard who was killed while defending another state official was identified as Alejandro Chaparro Coronel.

Officials said one of the armed men who allegedly killed Chaparro was injured and taken to a hospital. The Chihuahua governor, who drove his own vehicle, with the bodyguards behind him, said earlier he did not know whether the attack was against him or stemmed from a traffic-related dispute between his guards and the armed suspects.

"We cannot speculate and will comment only about what we know," the governor said.

Fernando Alvarez Monge, Chihuahua state coordinator of Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) called for "a speedy, transparent and efficient investigation into the attack against the Chihuahua governor's security convoy."

Reyes Baeza and Reyes Ferriz belong to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

In 2001, Patricio Martinez Garcia, the Chihuahua state governor at the time, survived an assassination attempt by the Juárez drug cartel.

The FBI had warned him in advance about the cartel's plans, and then President Vicente Fox blamed the cartel for the attack on Martinez. A Chihuahua state policewoman was imprisoned in connection with the attack.
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« Reply #147 on: February 25, 2009, 07:47:05 AM »

Who here guessed the answer to this one raise your hand. rolleyes

Mayor pays tribute to slain officers
Juarez bridge protesters were paid, officials say
By Diana Washington Valdez / El Paso Times
Posted: 02/19/2009 12:00:00 AM MST                  

Mexican officials characterized Tuesday's protests at the international bridges as suspicious, while Juárez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz condemned the deaths of four police officers killed in an ambush, also on Tuesday.
In a news conference Wednes day, Ferriz said one of those killed, police director Sacramento Perez Serrano, 49, had been recruited last July from the interior of Mexico to help reorganize the Juárez police force.
Perez was in charge of police operations.
Before the mayor's conference, officials removed banners with threatening messages aimed at police that had been placed in various parts of the city.
"These three officers, along with the police director, lived and died in the line of duty, and gave their lives to the country," Ferriz said. "Until his last day, (Perez's) only goal was to serve the public.
"Juárez Police Chief Roberto Orduño Cruz profoundly laments the loss of a man who lived and served our country with conviction, the same as the officers who died at his side."
Perez, who was a former Mexican army captain with a law degree, will be buried with honors, along with police Officers Antonio Arias Feria, Vicente Mata Beltran and Francisco Javier Reyes Moreno.
Officials said the officers were traveling by truck to the Babicora police station when they were attacked by a group of armed men around 5 p.m. Tuesday at Ejercito Nacional and Paseo de la Victoria, near the U.S. Consulate.
On another matter, Joint Operation Chihuahua issued a statement alleging that the protests that temporarily shut down three border bridges Tuesday -- about four hours before the policemen were killed -- were carried out by people "who received money for their participation" in the protests.
Officials said several people were observed Tuesday filling up buses with paid protesters to march against the military's crackdown on the Mexican drug cartels.
Joint Operation Chihuahua also confirmed that on Feb. 10 authorities detained taxi driver Oswaldo Muñoz Gonzalez, who reportedly inspired the protests, and that he is being investigated in connection with marijuana and weapons found in his possession.
About 20 Juárez taxi drivers took part in Tuesday's bridge blockades, officials said.
Joint Operation Chihuahua also cautioned the public against being used by others to take part in protests intended to discredit soldiers who were sent to Juárez to fight drug cartels.
Similar protests against the Mexican army, which has been accused of abuses, have occurred in other cities besides Juárez.
Last week, Nuevo Leon Gov. Natividad Gonzalez Paras said in a news conference that protests against the military operations in Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas and Veracruz "were organized and financed by the Gulf cartel Zetas," the drug organization's enforcement arm.
More than 5,000 people died last year as a result of drug violence in Mexico, including 1,600 in Juárez.
Diana Washington Valdez
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« Reply #148 on: February 25, 2009, 11:34:42 AM »

Mexico Security Memo: Feb. 23, 2009
Stratfor Today » February 23, 2009 | 2248 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Chihuahua governor’s convoy attacked

As organized crime-related violence continued throughout Mexico this past week, the country’s death toll for the first 51 days of 2009 rose above 1,000, according to tallies maintained by Mexican news outlets. While this is the earliest in a calendar year that the 1,000 mark has been reached, it represents a slightly slower pace than the final months of 2008, when the number of homicides rose from 3,000 to 4,000 in 48 days and from 4,000 to 5,000 in 42 days.

Violence continued in Mexican cities along the U.S. border and elsewhere; one particularly noteworthy incident occurred in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, when several armed men exchanged gunfire with bodyguards protecting the Chihuahua state governor. The incident occurred the evening of Feb. 22 as the governor was driving to his home after making a personal visit, which he was described as doing every Sunday evening. The governor reportedly was driving his own armored vehicle and was escorted by a security detail traveling in two other vehicles.

According to information released by the governor, as his convoy approached a stoplight, one of the governor’s security guards stopped approximately five armed men traveling in two vehicles nearby. Officials said that after the bodyguards stopped the two suspect vehicles and identified themselves as police officers — not as protective agents assigned to the governor — the men in the suspect vehicles opened fire on them. During the firefight the governor managed to drive off unhurt, but the exchange of gunfire left at least one protective agent dead and two wounded. Several reports indicate that all of the gunmen managed to escape, though at least one was believed to have been wounded during the firefight.

Based on the available information, it is difficult to conclude that this was in fact an attack on the governor. Indeed, the governor’s emphasizing that his protective agents identified themselves as police officers seemed intended to imply that the gunmen thought they were simply attacking police officers — hardly unusual in Chihuahua — and were unaware that the governor was nearby. That the governor’s vehicle was apparently not attacked lends credence to this theory, though it bears mentioning that in many previous assassination attempts in Mexico the target’s security details were neutralized before the targets were attacked.

Despite these details, several aspects of this case suggest it was much more than coincidence. That the governor appeared to have been following a routine travel pattern would have made him vulnerable to attack at that time. In addition, the governor had received several threats in the past, including banners that appeared outside his residence last year naming him and the attorney general as supporting rivals of the Sinaloa cartel. Incidents such as this bear careful monitoring, especially in the context of cartel attacks against high-ranking government officials in Mexico, which have left many federal, state and local officials dead but have yet to claim the life of a governor.

Maritime drug trafficking

The Mexican navy released new information this past week regarding the Feb. 12 seizure of a Mexican-flagged fishing boat loaded with some 7 tons of cocaine. According to officials, the boat was initially detected and stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard more than 700 miles off the Mexican coast. U.S. Coast Guard authorities boarded the suspect vessel, inspected it, discovered the cocaine and transferred custody of the boat and four Mexican crew members to the Mexican navy in Mexican territorial waters. Officials further stated that all four crew members were from Sinaloa state, and that the boat was registered in the port city of Mazatlan, Sinaloa state. Officials said the boat sailed from Mazatlan during the first few days of February.

This incident bears several similarities to the last large-scale maritime seizure of cocaine off the coast of Mexico. During the previous incident, in September 2008, the Mexican navy interdicted a Mazatlan-registered fishing boat manned by Mexican nationals and loaded with some 4 tons of cocaine off the coast of Oaxaca state. As in the most recent incident, the boat was captured within weeks of sailing from Mazatlan.

In both cases it is unclear where the boats had traveled, though the quantity of cocaine aboard suggests that they received their loads in a source country — such as Peru or Colombia — and not a transit corridor like Central America. Another likely possibility is that the boats had received their shipments not on land but at sea, having transferred the cocaine from another boat — perhaps a Colombian semi-submersible vessel. Several such boats have been known to deliver shipments directly to Mexican ports, while others frequently make deliveries in international waters. It is difficult to draw any conclusions without more information on the vessels’ range and speed capabilities, but the short time between the boats’ departure from Mexico and their capture suggests that they would not have had enough time to travel all the way to South America.

Assuming that the same Mexican drug cartel was involved in both cases, it appears that despite the loss of the September shipment, the traffickers managed to possess the resources, connections and willingness to continue using the similar smuggling methods and routes. Furthermore, these incidents underscore the diversified approach that Mexican traffickers take to smuggling cocaine from South America to Mexico; even as overland shipping through Central America has increased during the last 18 months, these incidents make it clear that maritime drug trafficking remains alive and well.





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Feb. 16
A government official from Guadalupe, Chihuahua state, died when she was shot multiple times in a store.

Feb. 17
A gunbattle in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, left at least seven people dead. Several reports suggest that Gulf cartel member Hector Manuel Sauceda Gamboa died during the incident. The firefight occurred the same day that anti-military protests — allegedly organized by drug-trafficking organizations — took place in Tamaulipas and two other states.
A deputy police chief in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, died when he was shot multiple times. Two of his bodyguards also died during the attack.
A police commander in Cardenas, Tabasco state, died when he was shot several times by armed men in two vehicles as he arrived at his home.
A series of firefights in Torreon, Coahuila state, left some six people dead. Police said the various incidents appear to involve the same group of criminals traveling in a vehicle.

Feb. 18
Several men armed with assault rifles shot and killed an unidentified man in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, as he exited his vehicle.
Authorities in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state, found the bodies of two unidentified men wrapped in blankets inside a car.
Police near Culiacan, Sinaloa state, found the body of one unidentified man with several gunshot wounds lying next to two abandoned luxury vehicles.

Feb. 19
At least seven people were reported killed in Chihuahua state, including four in Ciudad Juarez. The killings bring the state’s total for February to 160, surpassing January’s total of 159.

Feb. 20
Two men were arrested near Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas state, in possession of 66 fragmentation grenades, which they said they planned to transport to Morelia, Michoacan state. The grenades appeared to have been manufactured by Israel and sold to the Guatemalan government.
Two men opened fire on a vehicle belonging to the federal electrical committee in Comitan, Chiapas state.
At least four men were reported killed in separate incidents in Tijuana, Baja California state. In one case, the body of a man with several gunshot wounds was found inside a vehicle.
The police chief in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, resigned from his position amid threats that more police officers would be killed if he remained in his position.

Feb. 21
A group of heavily armed men threw two grenades at a police building in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state, wounding at least five people.
A firefight between two criminal groups in Pueblo Nuevo, Durango state, left some 10 people dead.
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Tom Stillman
Power User
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Posts: 270


« Reply #149 on: February 25, 2009, 01:54:50 PM »

It always amazes me how the simplest solutions are often overlooked or for that matter ignored. Here is one more for the books. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aeDOQwKqpI
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Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy it a second time.  dalai lama
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