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Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #400 on: December 09, 2011, 12:23:51 PM »

Yes, if they were only wearing old school police uniforms, the Zetas would never be able to copy that.

Obviously US police should never serve search warrants.....
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #401 on: December 10, 2011, 07:52:10 AM »

Portfolio: Mexico to Lower Tariffs on Chinese Goods
December 8, 2011 | 1347 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:

Analyst Karen Hooper examines Mexico’s intent to drop tariffs on hundreds of Chinese goods Dec. 11 under the auspices of the World Trade Organization — a move that will likely lead to job loss and international friction.
Mexico will lower tariffs on over 200 Chinese goods Dec. 11 on the 10th anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is a move that may exacerbate underemployment in Mexico, encourage the entry of cheap goods into Mexico’s domestic market and almost certainly create tension between Mexico and China within the framework of the WTO.
When China joined the WTO in 2001, it signed a bilateral deal with Mexico delaying lowering tariff barriers to trade between the two countries. Current tariffs on Chinese goods range between 50 percent and 250 percent, but will be lowered to between 20 percent and 35 percent tariff when the transitional measures expire. Though there have been ten years to prepare for this moment, Mexican businessmen have been quite vocal in recent months about their objections to the change. Textiles, shoes and toys comprise four-fifths of the products that will be affected by falling tariffs. Understandably, companies that produce these goods are concerned about the impact of an influx of cheap Chinese products that could potentially displace Mexican-made products on the Mexican domestic market.
Mexico’s textile industry has grown the fastest over the past decade, reaching nearly 8 percent in 2010. While nearly 70 percent of those textiles are exported to external markets — and in particular the United States — there is a significant market at home in Mexico’s trillion dollar economy. Mexican textile producers are concerned that the industry is vulnerable to Chinese products, which are essentially subsidized by China’s financial structure. In the shoe manufacturing industry, which employs nearly half a million people, the industry expects Chinese competition to trigger the loss of around 35,000 jobs. As this is a trend that we expect to be felt across all affected industries, job losses could be significant in the aggregate.
With presidential elections approaching in July, economic challenges will come in a close second to security concerns in Mexico. The global economic downturn of 2009 significantly destabilized labor markets in both the United States and in Mexico. Official unemployment rates in Mexico have risen from under 4 percent to around 5 percent in the past two years. However, these rates do not fully capture Mexico’s underemployed labor pool. Underemployment in the United States has risen, as well, and there has been a sharp decline over the past several years in illegal immigration to the United States from Mexico. This has been highlighted by the fact that arrests at the border in Mexico are at their lowest in about 40 years. Likely this means that many Mexicans who would otherwise have gone to the United States for work are staying in Mexico.
Mexico’s relationship with China has become increasingly important over the past decade. Imports from China have spiked from about two to 15 percent of the total Mexican imports from the world, and Mexico is not alone in Latin America. In fact, Mexico is joining a small club of Latin American states with significant manufacturing sectors under threat from Chinese competition. Both Brazil and Argentina have, in the past several years, voiced serious concerns about Chinese competition and the possible hollowing out of their own manufacturing sectors. Brazil, in particular has emphasized its concerns about China’s decision to keep the value of the yuan tied to the U.S. dollar, and in November the WTO agreed to arbitrate on the case.
As Mexican tariffs drop, we can expect to see similar tension between Mexico and China. Mutual interest in protecting domestic manufacturing will likely create a common ground for Mexico and Brazil, in particular, to cooperate together to pressure China in what has become a global dispute over the Chinese yuan and Chinese products.
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #402 on: December 11, 2011, 08:13:42 PM »

mentioned in the Gun Rights thread under the post "Grenade Walker"?  Well, here are six of them

The impunity of it all:

Btw, the 23,000 number mentioned is about 20-25,000 too low.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2011, 08:16:40 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #403 on: December 13, 2011, 10:35:12 AM »

Arrests of people trying to sneak into the U.S. from Mexico have plunged to the lowest level in four decades, the latest sign that illegal immigration is on the retreat even as legislatures, Congress and presidential candidates hotly debate the issue.

 Arrests of migrants sneaking into the U.S plunge to lowest level in decades, indicating illegal immigration is on the retreat even as states, Congress and GOP presidential candidates hotly debate the issue. Miriam Jordan explains on The News Hub.
.Behind the historic drop is a steep decline in the birthrate in Mexico and greater opportunities there relative to the weak U.S. economy. Stepped-up U.S. patrols along the border make it both riskier and more expensive for Mexicans to attempt to enter the country.

Government crackdowns on U.S. employers who hire illegal workers also have discouraged immigrants. The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether an Arizona statute targeting illegal immigrants interferes with U.S. law.

The decline in Mexican immigrants is being felt as far away as farms in Washington and Michigan, which weathered labor shortages during the recent apple harvest.

The U.S. arrested 340,252 migrants along the Mexico-U.S. border in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30—down 24% from the year before and the lowest level in 39 years, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security.

In the previous fiscal year, agents apprehended 447,731 illegal crossers in the Southwest, compared with 1.6 million in 2000, the peak year. The last time the border was this quiet was 1972, when agents caught 321,326 people.

"We have reached the end of an era," said Dowell Myers, a demographer at the University of Southern California. "Even if immigration increases some after this recession, it won't rebound back to levels we saw in the early 2000s."

Rafael Garcia, a 40-year-old undocumented immigrant in Washington State, said he would discourage Mexican friends from attempting to enter the U.S. illegally, even though he has worked in vineyards, apple orchards and dairy farms in the country for two decades.

"You have to be really desperate to come here now," said Mr. Garcia, who is married with three U.S.-born daughters. "It's so hard to get across, and then you have all these states passing laws to get rid of you."

The dramatic decrease in border arrests—which the U.S. considers a key gauge of how many people try to enter illegally—is supported by figures that show a shrinking number of illegal immigrants already in the country.

Journal Community
..In 2010, that undocumented population was estimated at 11 million by the independent Pew Hispanic Center, down 8% from its peak of 12 million in 2007.

Mexicans constitute about 60% of undocumented U.S. immigrants. "Current flows are as low as we have ever seen them," said Jeffrey Passel, a senior researcher at the Pew center. "More unauthorized Mexicans have been leaving than coming."

At 150,000 last year, Mexican immigration to the U.S. was one-fifth of what it was in 2000, when 750,000 Mexicans flocked to the U.S., the majority of them illegally. All told, net immigration from Mexico is "essentially zero," said Mr. Passel.

Nearly 21,500 agents, about twice as many as in 2004, guard the Southwestern border. They are backed by hundreds of miles of fencing and high-tech surveillance, including thermal imaging and unmanned aerial systems.

Mexican drug cartels also may play a role in discouraging people. (Ya think?!?) The cartels often ply the same routes to the U.S. that undocumented immigrants use, making those paths violent and dangerous. Some crossers have been forced to serve as drug carriers for cartels.

Some demographers say more undocumented Mexicans may be leaving the U.S. than arriving as a downturn in construction, hospitality and other industries makes low-skill jobs scarce. Thousands of illegal immigrants have lost their jobs after the U.S. has audited company payrolls to find undocumented workers.

"No one knows better than the migrants themselves about the state of the U.S. economy. They hear that their cousin, uncle and friends are without work," said Primitivo Rodriguez, a Mexican migration expert who formerly worked for the Mexican Human Rights Commission.

Back in Mexico, families have shrunk, providing less incentive for young people to leave. In 1970, each Mexican woman bore an average of 6.8 children. By 1990, that number was 3.4. Today, the birthrate is at replacement level, about 2.1.

That "enormous demographic shift," coupled with a better economic climate in Mexico, is helping curb emigration, said Gordon Hanson, an international economist at the University of California, San Diego.

To be sure, annual immigration to the U.S. from its neighbor has climbed and receded before. It dropped by one-third after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The annual influx of Mexicans averaged 550,000 between 2003 and 2006, according to Pew. It has since tumbled.

Still, illegal immigration remains a contentious political issue. More than one million people have been deported since President Barack Obama took office in 2009. Deportations hit a record 397,000 in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30. The president favors putting undocumented workers on the path to legalization. But as the 2012 election approaches, no immigration bill is expected to come before the House and Senate.

The impasse has propelled several states, such as Arizona, Alabama and Georgia, to pass laws to curb illegal immigration. Supporters say undocumented workers are taking jobs from Americans at a time of high unemployment and burdening cash-strapped public governments.

Except for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said those in the U.S. more than 20 years should be able to earn legal status, top Republican presidential candidates oppose letting illegal immigrants remain in the U.S.

Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #404 on: December 16, 2011, 01:36:26 PM »

Mexico Security Memo: The Disinformation Continues in Tamaulipas

Response to a Narcomanta
Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales, the No. 2 leader of Los Zetas, may have responded Dec. 12 to the narcomanta found Dec. 6 in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state. Attributed to Trevino, the Dec. 6 banner referred to Los Zetas as a "regime" and directly challenged the Mexican government for control of plazas in Zetas territory.

Ten narcomantas reportedly signed by Trevino were placed throughout Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. The banners deny commissioning the threat to the government, saying the Zetas have no interest in challenging or governing Mexico. According to the response, Trevino said he is "aware that you cannot and should not fight against any government" and that he has "no motive to put such stupidness [sic] on a message." In the response, Trevino implied that whoever wrote the original message was trying to set him up by provoking a violent response from the Mexican government.

Trevino has never been one to shy away from violence, so it seems unlikely that he would issue such a bold challenge in the first message, then turn around and refute it days later. If his response is sincere, then the Dec. 6 narcomantas were part of a disinformation campaign against the Zetas (though the possibility that his response is also part of the disinformation campaign against him cannot be ruled out). The Sinaloa Federation, which is battling the Zetas for primacy in Mexico, would be the likely culprit behind the false narcomanta because it would have much to gain from military clashes with the Zetas. The Gulf cartel -- which has been in a continuous battle with the Zetas, its former enforcement arm, since the two split violently in February 2010 -- could also have been responsible for the Dec. 6 banner. Given its internal turmoil, the Gulf cartel would benefit the most, especially in the near term, if the government would turn its attention away from that cartel and toward the Zetas.
The Methodology of Identifying Cartels
On Dec. 6, a statement from the Jalisco state Public Security Secretariat indicated the presence of a group not previously seen in Guadalajara. According to the statement, La Barredora, a Sinaloa Federation affiliate from Acapulco, Guerrero state, left messages with three bodies found Dec. 5. Some Mexican news outlets published portions of the statement, which characterize La Barredora as a new organized crime organization operating in the city. The Sinaloa-affiliated Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Los Zetas-affiliated La Resistencia already operate in and vie for control of Guadalajara, and the presence of La Barredora in the Jalisco capital could complicate the situation.

Indeed, Guadalajara exemplifies just how difficult it can be to determine which cartel is active in a given location -- and which cartel is responsible for a given event, such as an assassination or a clash with the military. Indeed, the Mexican cartel landscape is constantly evolving, giving rise to new groups while leading to the demise of others. Given the complexity and fluidity of this landscape, STRATFOR has decided to share the methodology of how we identify where the cartels operate and how we come to the conclusions we do.

We should begin this discussion by saying virtually every report and communique -- from the Mexican government and cartels alike -- is met with scrutiny. Deception, propaganda and disinformation are simply additional theaters in Mexico's war on drugs, and we are careful to factor these into our assessments. However, there are situations in which we can determine who the victims or aggressors were based on what we see in photographs and government-released video statements or read in government reports.

For example, messages at a body dump do not necessarily take the form of narcomantas but, rather, can be displayed as words or symbols written on the bodies themselves. In photographs of the 35 bodies dumped Sept. 20 in the Boca del Rio neighborhood of Veracruz, we can see that "Por Z" was written in black on the torso of each victim. This indicated the likelihood that the victims were killed because they were members or associates of Los Zetas. Two days later, another 14 victims were found in the same location with "Por Z" written on the torsos, suggesting the same group was responsible for both incidents. (That all but one of the 49 victims were strangled to death also suggests a strong connection.)

The "Por Z" signature contrasts with the signature left on the victims of Los Zetas. In such cases, we have often seen a "Z" sliced into the victims' torsos with a knife, often across the width of the torso.

When we examine photographs of ambush or gunbattle scenes, we look at what the bodies (or captured operators) are wearing. The type of clothing, type or style of any tactical gear, consistencies in those elements among all of the bodies present and whether the tactical gear has been personalized by the individuals to fit their needs and fighting styles, such as a tactical pouch on a belt, are all indicators that can help determine to which cartel the operators belong.

We also examine pictures of the weapons involved, particularly the types and conditions of those weapons, to help identify the cartel that used them. Consistency among the weapons for functionality or professional tactical use can reveal much about their operators. For example, if all of the weapons at a crime scene are AR-15 assault rifles and in well-maintained condition, the force that used them likely was professionally trained and experienced military personnel. But if the weapons found at a scene are an assortment of hunting rifles, AK-47s and miscellaneous handguns -- past evidence suggests such assorted caches are typically in poor condition -- the group likely had little or no formalized training. In these cases, we can likely rule out cartels or enforcer arm groups that comprise military personnel.

Such details do not necessarily identify which group was involved, but they help eliminate many possible suspects. When looking at the photos, we are constantly comparing what is seen in the images to what is known of particular groups in the given region, and when anomalies appear, we widen the search to include groups traditionally outside the area that fit those anomalies.

In interview or interrogation videos, we correlate what is said by the suspect with where the individual was captured and his known affiliations and areas of operation. We also investigate the individual's history, and then we examine the video for other indicators, such as body language, expressions, mannerisms and even blinking, which may lend to or undermine credibility.

As the organized crime landscape grows more complex in Mexico, and as the battle for territory grows more intense, it is very important to methodically determine which groups are operating where. These indicators all contribute to tracking the movement and activity of the cartels in Mexico.
(click here to view interactive map)
Dec. 6
•   Two gunmen died when the Mexican military repelled an attack by gunmen in Ojuelos, Jalisco state.
•   A peace activist representing the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity was kidnapped while traveling in Aquila, Michoacan state.
•   Mexican authorities reported the discovery of a clandestine grave in Ahuacuotzingo, Guerrero state. One body has been recovered, but authorities believe up to 20 bodies still remain in the grave.
•   Gunmen attacked Mexican soldiers in Acapulco, Guerrero state, while the soldiers were on patrol. All gunmen managed to escape after soldiers repelled the attack.
•   Gunmen killed the aunt and cousin of former Gulf cartel leader Ulises "El Mojo" Martinez Gonzalez in Cuernavaca, Morelos state. El Mojo was killed in a confrontation with federal police in June 2011.
•   Mexican authorities presented the arrest of six members of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, including Gilberto "El Comandante Gil" Castrejon Morales, a senior member of the group.
Dec. 7
•   Mexican authorities arrested three alleged members of the Zetas-aligned Milenio cartel for their involvement in the deaths of 26 individuals in Guadalajara, Jalisco state.
Dec. 8
•   In Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state, Mexican authorities seized 205 metric tons of chemical precursors from a vessel originating from China. According to the Mexican government, the shipment was destined for Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala.
•   Mexican authorities arrested 20 Los Zetas operators, including two plaza bosses, in a sports bar in Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon state.
Dec. 9
•   Mexican authorities dismantled an explosive device at the Ramon de la Fuente Psychiatric Hospital in Mexico City. The device was discovered during a routine patrol.
Dec. 10
•   Eleven gunmen were killed and two were arrested during a confrontation between gunmen and Mexican soldiers in Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas state.
Dec. 11
•   A group of gunmen attacked an ambulance transporting patients in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. Two patients and the ambulance driver were killed in the attack.
Dec. 12
•   In a graffiti message on a wall addressed to the governor of Chihuahua City, Chihuahua state, a group known as Gente Nueva said it was in the city for a "house cleaning."
•   An explosive detonated at a secret cockfighting event, killing one individual and injuring nine in Cerro Gordo, Veracruz state. Mexican authorities discovered another explosive device that failed to detonate in the same area.
•   At least 10 narcomantas were found Dec. 12 signed by Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales alleging that banners found the previous week challenging Mexican and U.S. authorities and purporting to be signed by Trevino were false.
•   Mexican authorities arrested senior Zetas member Raul Lucio "El Lucky" Hernandez Lechuga at a ranch in Cordoba, Veracruz state.
prentice crawford
« Reply #405 on: December 16, 2011, 09:38:29 PM »

Mexico says captured cartel leader had arsenal
By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO | AP – Tue, Dec 13, 2011Email

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities said Tuesday that an alleged founder of the Zetas drug cartel had an arsenal of 169 weapons when he was captured Monday, and may have been linked to the abduction of nine Mexican marines.

Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara said suspect Raul Lucio Hernandez Lechuga oversaw Zetas operations around the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where nine marines disappeared earlier this year.

Vergara said a suspect was killed and a marine wounded in a firefight that erupted during Hernandez Lechuga's capture Monday in the Veracruz state city of Cordoba. The bust was the result of a yearlong intelligence operation, Vergara said.

Marines found 133 rifles, five grenade launchers, 29 grenades and 36 pistols at the scene of the raid near a highway. Marines also found bulletproof vests with the letter "Z'', the zetas symbol, on the front.

Vergara said Hernandez Lechuga was one of Mexico's 37 most wanted drug traffickers, and that with his arrest, 22 of those 37 have either been killed or detained.

The Zetas have been linked to some of the apparent abductions of Mexican marines, but Vergara didn't say what specific evidence authorities had of Hernandez Lechuga's involvement in the cases.

The apparent abductions of Mexican navy personnel have been shrouded in mystery, with the navy previously acknowledging that three marines and a navy cadet were abducted by suspected drug cartel gunmen in August in Veracruz, the state's largest city.

Later that month, the navy said it had found four bodies in a pit on the outskirts of Veracruz city, and that the remains might be those of the missing marines, but it never publicly confirmed that was the case.

At a Tuesday news conference where Hernandez Lechuga and four alleged associates were paraded before the media, Vergara said a total of nine marines had disappeared, but didn't say whether any of them had been found.

Mexican drug cartels have kidnapped and killed military personnel before, but such incidents remain relatively rare.

Hernandez Lechuga was the leader of the Zetas in about 10 states, including Veracruz. The federal government had offered a reward of 15 million pesos, or about $1.2 million, for information leading to his arrest. Vergara said the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was also offering a $1 million reward for Hernandez Lechuga, known by the nickname "Lucky."

The Zetas organization was formed by a small group of elite soldiers based in Tamaulipas state, across the border from Texas, who deserted to work for the Gulf drug cartel in the 1990s.

The Zetas split from their former allies in the Gulf cartel last year, setting off bloody fights throughout Mexico as they sought to expand south.

In Veracruz, the Zetas are believed to be locked in a bloody turf battle with groups allied with the Sinaloa cartel.

Also Tuesday, gunmen killed a town's deputy mayor and her bodyguard and wounded the town's police chief and his family while they were in the northern city of Chihuahua, authorities said.

Attackers opened fire on the two cars being used by the officials from the town of Gran Morelos, said the Chihuahua state prosecutors' spokesman, Carlos Gonzalez.

He said deputy mayor Idalia Ayala and her bodyguard died in one car. Police chief Miguel Gomez was in the second with his wife and two children, and all were wounded and taken to a hospital, Gonzalez said.

Gomez was named police chief after last month's arrest of Gran Morelos' top cop. Authorities said soldiers caught the police chief while he and police officers from the nearby town of Belisario Dominguez met with a boss for La Linea, a gang of hit men for the Juarez Cartel.

In neighboring Coahuila state, gunmen killed the director of the prison in the capital city of Saltillo, authorities said.

Serafin Pena Santos was ambushed Tuesday afternoon as he drove through a residential area of the northern city, state prosecutors said in a statement.

Prosecutors didn't give a motive in the killing, but said the assailants used automatic rifles, weapons commonly used by Mexico's drug traffickers.


Associated Press writers Ricardo Chavez in Ciudad Juarez and Oscar Villalba in Piedras Negras contributed to this report.

« Last Edit: December 16, 2011, 10:32:23 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #406 on: December 23, 2011, 08:10:07 AM »

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) announced Enrique Pena Nieto as its presidential nominee, positioning him to run against Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and a yet-to-be-named candidate from the ruling National Action Party (PAN) in the July 2012 election. Mexican voters are ready for a shift away from the PAN after years of drug cartel-related violence. Pena and the PRI currently lead in polls, but Lopez Obrador’s resurgence under a united PRD could lead to a close vote.

Mexico’s centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) on Dec. 17 announced that former Mexico state Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto would be its official nominee for the July 1, 2012, presidential election. Pena Nieto’s opponent from the leftist Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD) is former Federal District Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The ruling National Action Party (PAN) has yet to name its candidate, but it is likely to choose Josefina Vazquez Mota.

November polling from Consulta Mitofsky showed the PRI leading with 40 percent, followed by the PAN with 21 percent, the PRD with 17 percent and 22 percent undecided. Polling for individual candidates showed Pena Nieto with a 43 percent approval rating and Lopez Obrador (before he became the PRD’s official candidate) around 20 percent. Vazquez held a 52 percent approval rating in the PAN, ahead of intra-party rivals Ernesto Cordero and Santiago Creel.

In an environment characterized by skyrocketing violence, the ruling PAN is at an extreme disadvantage in this election cycle. The PRI is currently leading in the polls, but a united effort from the left could make the PRD competitive in the election.

The National Action Party

The PAN has lost much credibility as a result of the conservatively estimated 50,000 violent deaths attributed to the ongoing fight against the cartels, and Mexicans have been signaling that they want to see a new party in control of the government. President Felipe Calderon had been hoping to name Cordero as his successor in the tradition of past Mexican presidents, but the popularity of longtime PAN politician Vazquez among both the public and the party’s political elite pushed Calderon to shift his support to her.

No matter who the PAN chooses as its candidate, their campaign will suffer from the legacy of 12 years of PAN rule characterized by an uncertain national economic environment and escalating violence. Furthermore, the PAN can no longer claim to be the party coming in from the outside — a position from which the PAN successfully unseated the PRI after 70 years of rule in 2000.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party

Pena Nieto is kicking off the presidential race at a considerable advantage. He has projected a carefully cultivated charismatic persona, has excellent relationships with Mexico’s major businessmen, media moguls and the core voters of the PRI and is generally well respected as a strong decision maker. Although the official campaign season will begin in late March, it has long been clear that Pena Nieto would be the PRI candidate.

Pena Nieto is currently maintaining his popularity — but not without difficulty. His opponents likely will point to gaffes such as a recent interview in which he was unable to recall his favorite books, as well as darker scandals from his past.

The Revolutionary Democratic Party

Though currently behind in the polls, the PRD cannot yet be discounted, and Lopez Obrador, as the representative of Mexico’s left, likely will pose the strongest challenge to Pena Nieto. A strong proponent of leftist reform in Mexico, Lopez Obrador has a long history in Mexican politics. After his loss in the 2006 elections to Calderon, Lopez Obrador denounced the results, declared himself the legitimate president of Mexico, and embarked on a yearslong tour of the country with his declared government. In the process, Lopez Obrador radicalized his position, moving to the far left of the political spectrum and creating a rift within the PRD.

This rift seriously weakened the party over the past five years, leaving it with control over only a few governorships, which are a key aspect of gaining power in Mexico. Some 20 Mexican states have PRI governors that can wield their funding and political influence to the benefit of their candidate. Similarly, the PAN’s control over federal institutions and their budgets will make it possible for them to influence social expenditures to the benefit of their candidate. With only three states — Chiapas, Guerrero and likely Oaxaca (with a PRD/PAN alliance government) — and the Federal District headed by friendly PRD operatives, Lopez Obrador will be at a disadvantage.

However, in spite of this setback and the political splits caused by his reaction to the 2006 loss, Lopez Obrador was an effective and highly popular mayor of Mexico City from 2000-2005 and retains significant support and credibility as a voice for Mexico’s political left. A crucial event for the left occurred when current Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard decided in mid-November not to enter the presidential race as a PRD candidate. Had Ebrard — whose well-respected record as mayor would have made him a popular presidential candidate — entered the race, the competition between the two would have further divided the PRD and likely knocked the left out of serious competition in the presidential election and reduced the party’s chances of gaining seats in the legislature.

With the PRD appearing to be united behind Lopez Obrador, who has also reduced his inflammatory rhetoric and taken a more conciliatory approach to Mexico’s varied power centers, the left has a credible chance of appealing to Mexico’s approximately 50 million people living in poverty by promising greater attention to social welfare. While the PRI remains firmly in the lead, a united left under Lopez Obrador will prove to be a powerful force in this election.

Read more: Mexico's Political Parties Look Ahead to 2012 Presidential Election | STRATFOR
prentice crawford
« Reply #407 on: December 24, 2011, 04:37:54 AM »

  US mom, 2 daughters killed in Mexico attacks
Buses were targeted in apparent violent robbery spree, officials say

A group of five gunmen attacked three buses in Mexico's Gulf coast state of Veracruz on Thursday, killing a total of seven passengers in what authorities said appeared to be a violent robbery spree.
The Americans killed were a mother and her two daughters who were returning to visit relatives in the region, known as the Huasteca, said an official in the neighboring state of Hidalgo, where the mother was born.
Hidalgo state regional assistant secretary Jorge Rocha identified the dead U.S. mother as Maria Sanchez Hernandez, 39, of Fort Worth, Texas, and the daughters as Karla, 19, and Cristina, 13. Rocha said all three held dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship. A 14-year-old Mexican nephew traveling with the three was also killed.
A U.S. Embassy official confirmed the women's nationalities, but could offer no information on their ages or hometowns. The official, who was not authorized to be quoted by name, said consular authorities were offering assistance to the victims' relatives.
Story: Mexico disbands entire police force in top port of Veracruz
While funeral plans were unclear, Rocha said Sanchez Hernandez's mother wants her daughter to be buried in Mexico.
Three other Mexican citizens were killed in the Thursday attacks on the three buses.

The five gunmen who allegedly carried out the attacks were later killed by soldiers.
Earlier in their spree, the gunmen shot to death three people and killed a fourth with grenade in the nearby town of El Higo, Veracruz.
'Exercise caution'
On Thursday, the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros, a Mexican border city north of where the attacks occurred, said in a statement that "several vehicles," including the buses, were attacked, but did not specify what the other vehicles were.
The consulate urged Americans to "exercise caution" when traveling in Veracruz, and "avoid intercity road travel at night."
While the specific area where the Thursday attacks occurred is not frequented by foreign travelers, other parts of the Huasteca — a hilly, verdant area on the Gulf coast — are popular among Mexican tourists and some foreigners.
Story: Mexico makes huge meth precursor chemicals seizure
The attack occurred near the border with the state of Tamaulipas, an area that has been the scene of bloody battles between the Zetas and Gulf drug cartels.
Meanwhile, the tortured bodies of 10 people were found in northern Veracruz, local media reported Friday, as attacks in the region intensify between the rival cartels.
In September, 35 bodies were dumped along a downtown highway in the Veracruz city of Boca del Rio.
More than 45,000 people have been killed in cartel-related violence since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006.

« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 07:46:30 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 2004

« Reply #408 on: December 24, 2011, 09:18:17 AM »

PC, besides "tighten our border" (I agree, although it's a lot less porous than it was), and maybe not vacation in Mexico, what are we suppose to do?  Get involved somehow? I mean, it's interesting and sad to read posts about Mexicans dying in Mexico, killed by Mexicans, especially since America is the primary cause being the number one market for their drugs, but what is America suppose to do about it?
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #409 on: December 28, 2011, 11:40:12 AM »
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #410 on: January 05, 2012, 07:38:14 AM »

Associated Press
CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico—A vicious fight among inmates armed with makeshift knives, clubs and even stones left 31 people dead in a prison in a drug cartel-plagued state in northern Mexico, authorities said.

Another 13 prisoners were wounded in the brawl in the penitentiary in the Gulf Coast city of Altamira, Tamaulipas state's Public Safety Department said in a statement.

The fight started when a group of inmates burst into a section of the prison they were banned from and attacked the prisoners housed there, the department said.

Local media said the fight was between members of the rival Gulf and Zetas drug cartels but authorities wouldn't confirm the reports. Tamaulipas state has been the scene of bloody turf battles between the two former allies.

Tamaulipas state officials said many of the dead were killed with makeshift knives. A state official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation said several of the inmates were beaten to death with clubs or stones.

Soldiers and marines managed to regain control of the prison, the official said.

The safety department said 22 of the inmates killed were serving sentences for state crimes and nine for federal offenses. It gave no other details.

The port of Altamira in southern Tamaulipas, near the border with the state of Veracruz, is in a region that has seen a spike in drug-violence in the last two months. Authorities say the port is used to bring in cocaine and precursor chemicals used to make methamphetamine into Mexico.

In 2010, four inmates at the Altamira prison were killed when an armed gang stormed the penitentiary as 11 inmates were being transferred. Authorities did not confirm reports that the raid was an attempt to free prisoners. Gang raids on prisons are common in Tamaulipas.

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« Reply #411 on: January 08, 2012, 06:03:47 AM »

BTW, see the entry on the Rest in Peace thread yesterday for an example of deaths in a tourist area being underreported by authorities.
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« Reply #412 on: January 08, 2012, 08:58:21 AM »


MEXICO CITY—When a top Mexican or Colombian drug lord is captured, events normally go something like this: He gets extradited to the U.S. and makes a closed-door deal with prosecutors to give information on the drugs trade while getting a reduced sentence in return. The public finds out little to nothing of the details.

But the upcoming Chicago trial of the son of one of Mexico's top drug lords has broken all the rules. This time, Jesús Zambada Niebla is going mano a mano with U.S. prosecutors, with both sides trading allegations that have raised eyebrows across the U.S.-Mexico border.

In pre-trial motions, Mr. Zambada alleges the U.S. government lets the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's most powerful criminal organization, to import tons of illegal drugs into the U.S. in exchange for information on other cartels.

Mr. Zambada, 36 years old, is no ordinary accuser: He is the son of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, the co-head of the Sinaloa cartel alongside Mexico's most famous trafficker, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán.

The U.S. government has flatly denied the claims. But it has acknowledged in court filings that it received information for years from a close associate of the two Sinaloa cartel chiefs.

The pretrial wrangling provides a rare glimpse of both the inner workings of the Sinaloa cartel and the complex and ambiguous relationships that drug traffickers and law-enforcement agents have with the informants who act as the couriers between the two camps.

Mr. Zambada's allegations come at a time when doubts are growing about the U.S.'s role in Mexico's drug war as well as Mexican President Felipe Calderón strategy in the conflict which has claimed more than 46,000 lives in the last five years.

Jesús Zambada was arrested in Mexico in early 2009, after a controversial meeting with U.S. law enforcement agents at a Sheraton Hotel next to the U.S. embassy in downtown Mexico City. He was extradited to the U.S. in 2010. Mr. Zambada's federal trial in Chicago is set to begin sometime this year. Mr. Zambada's claims were made as part of his legal defense in pretrial legal filings reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Enlarge Image

Close.Mr. Zambada doesn't deny drug trafficking. Rather, he says he did so with the permission of U.S. drug-enforcement agents and was promised immunity as part of an agreement with the U.S. government.

Both Mr. Zambada's defense lawyers and U.S. prosecutors declined to comment. Mr. Guzmán and Ismael Zambada are fugitives.

So far, the Chicago court filings have provided startling revelations. U.S. officials as well as Mr. Zambada, for instance, say that one of the Sinaloa cartel's top officials has been a U.S. informant for years.

The alleged informant, Humberto Loya, a Mexican lawyer, has long been a top confidant of Mr. Guzmán and Ismael Zambada, the Sinaloa cartel chiefs, according to sworn affidavits. Mr. Loya's location is unknown. A U.S. federal indictment of Mr. Loya and other top Sinaloa cartel capos in 1995 described Mr. Loya's alleged role in paying off Mexican government officials and altering judicial documents to protect the cartel.

Once, according to the indictment, Mr. Loya allegedly paid a Mexican police official $1 million to free Mr. Guzmán's brother from custody.

In 2000, Mr. Loya agreed to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement officials by providing information on drug trafficking operations of rival cartels, according to a pretrial court filings submitted by prosecutors.

A different Drug Enforcement Administration agent said that Mr. Loya gave the tip that led to Mexico's largest cocaine bust—the 2007 seizure of 23 tons of cocaine belonging to the rival Juarez cartel, according to an affidavit submitted by Patrick Hearn, a Washington-based U.S. prosecutor.

In 2008, the DEA's Mexico City chief David Gaddis recommended that the U.S. drop Mr. Loya's 1995 indictment. Prosecutors followed his recommendation.

"It was the only time I had ever been involved in asking for a dismissal of an indictment against a cooperating defendant," wrote DEA agent, Manuel Castañón, in an affidavit.

Mr. Loya's alleged role is central to Jesús Zambada's defense. Mr. Zambada's lawyers argue that the U.S. provided their client and top Sinaloa cartel figures with immunity in exchange for information through Mr. Loya from "at least" 2004.

"Under that agreement, the Sinaloa Cartel under the leadership of [Mr. Zambada's] father, Ismael Zambada and "Chapo" Guzmán were given carte blanche to continue to smuggle tons of illicit drugs ... into ... the United States and were protected by the United States government from arrest and prosecution in return for providing information against rival cartels," Mr. Zambada's lawyers wrote. "Indeed the Unites States government agents aided the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel."

U.S. prosecutors reject the claims as "simply untrue."

They also noted that Mr. Guzmán and Ismael Zambada have been indicted in absentia several times, and both have been placed on high priority "kingpin" lists by the U.S. government. Jesús Zambada himself was also indicted in 2003.

Over the years, many top drug traffickers, especially from Colombia, have worked out agreements with U.S. prosecutors to turn themselves in and provide information in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Such deals, however, are complicated. In most successful cases, the trafficker chooses a U.S. lawyer, often a former prosecutor who is trusted by current prosecutors. After numerous meetings, often in third countries, both sides reach a deal. It is rare for there to be a trial.

In an affidavit, Mr. Castañón, the DEA agent, wrote that Mr. Guzmán, the drug lord, asked Mr. Loya in 2009 to set up the meeting in Mexico City between Mr. Zambada and the DEA at the behest of Mr. Zambada's father, Ismael Zambada. The elder Zambada wanted his son out of the business, Mr. Hearn, the prosecutor, wrote. In exchange, he said, Jesús Zambada would cooperate with the U.S. government.

In Chicago, where in 2009 he was again indicted for drug trafficking after his extradition to the U.S., Mr. Zambada is also accused of trying to obtain rocket-propelled grenade launchers and bazookas, which U.S. officials allege were to be used on attacks on U.S. and Mexican government installations. "I want to blow things up," Mr. Zambada said, according to testimony in a court filling from another confidential informant.

The Department of Justice approved an initial meeting between the DEA and Mr. Zambada which was supposed to take place on March 17, 2009, the U.S. government says. Mr. Zambada drove to Mexico City to meet with DEA agents who flew in from out of town.

What happened at the meeting is in dispute. But the court filings reflect that both sides agree things went awry and the DEA station chief canceled the meeting at the last minute.

Mr. Castañón, the DEA agent, wrote in his affidavit that the agents met with Mr. Loya at the Sheraton Hotel next door to the U.S. embassy to tell him the meeting was off. But Mr. Loya, who was "visibly nervous," returned to the hotel shortly after with Jesus Zambada, surprising the agents.

Mr. Castañón wrote in his affidavit that he told Mr. Zambada he couldn't make any promises, but discussed future cooperation. Mr. Zambada's defense attorneys assert that the agents told him they would quash the Washington indictment in exchange for more information against rival cartels.

The next morning, Jesús Zambada and five bodyguards were arrested by Mexican army troops, who, an army spokesman said, responded to anonymous complaints from neighbors in one of Mexico City's toniest neighborhoods about the presence of armed men in vehicles.

Mr. Zambada is now being held in solitary confinement in a four-foot-by-six foot cell in a maximum security prison near Detroit, his lawyers said in a court filing.

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« Reply #413 on: January 17, 2012, 08:54:37 AM »

AP Exclusive: Border Patrol to toughen policy
A Border Patrol agent works in front of a color-coded chart at a detention center Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, in Imperial Beach, Calif. The Border Patrol is moving to end its revolving-door policy of turning migrants around to Mexico without any punishment in what amounted to an invitation to immediately try their luck again. (AP Photo - Gregory Bull)
From Associated Press
January 17, 2012 6:53 AM EST
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. Border Patrol is moving to halt a revolving-door policy of sending migrants back to Mexico without any punishment.

The agency this month is overhauling its approach on migrants caught illegally crossing the 1,954-mile border that the United States shares with Mexico. Years of enormous growth at the federal agency in terms of staff and technology have helped drive down apprehensions of migrants to 40-year lows.

The number of agents since 2004 has more than doubled to 21,000. The Border Patrol has blanketed one-third of the border with fences and other physical barriers, and spent heavily on cameras, sensors and other gizmos. Major advances in fingerprinting technology have vastly improved intelligence on border-crossers. In the 2011 fiscal year, border agents made 327,577 apprehensions on the Mexican border, down 80 percent from more than 1.6 million in 2000. It was the Border Patrol's slowest year since 1971.

It's a far cry from just a few years ago. Older agents remember being so overmatched that they powerlessly watched migrants cross illegally, minutes after catching them and dropping them off at the nearest border crossing. Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher, who joined the Border Patrol in 1987, recalls apprehending the same migrant 10 times in his eight-hour shift as a young agent.

The Border Patrol now feels it has enough of a handle to begin imposing more serious consequences on almost everyone it catches, from areas including Texas' Rio Grande Valley to San Diego. The "Consequence Delivery System" — a key part of the Border Patrol's new national strategy to be announced within weeks — relies largely on tools that have been rolled out over the last decade on parts of the border and expanded. It divides border crossers into seven categories, ranging from first-time offenders to people with criminal records.

Punishments vary by region but there is a common thread: Simply turning people around after taking their fingerprints is the choice of last resort. Some, including children and the medically ill, will still get a free pass by being turned around at the nearest border crossing, but they will be few and far between.

"What we want to be able to do is make that the exception and not necessarily the norm," Fisher told The Associated Press.

Consequences can be severe for detained migrants and expensive to American taxpayers, including felony prosecution or being taken to an unfamiliar border city hundreds of miles away to be sent back to Mexico. One tool used during summers in Arizona involves flying migrants to Mexico City, where they get one-way bus tickets to their hometowns. Another releases them to Mexican authorities for prosecution south of the border. One puts them on buses to return to Mexico in another border city that may be hundreds of miles away.

In the past, migrants caught in Douglas, Ariz., were given a bologna sandwich and orange juice before being taken back to Mexico at the same location on the same afternoon, Fisher said. Now, they may spend the night at an immigration detention facility near Phoenix and eventually return to Mexico through Del Rio, Texas, more than 800 miles away.

Those migrants are effectively cut off from the smugglers who helped them cross the border, whose typical fees have skyrocketed to between $3,200 and $3,500 and are increasingly demanding payment upfront instead of after crossing, Fisher said. At minimum, they will have to wait longer to try again as they raise money to pay another smuggler.

"What used to be hours and days is now being translated into days and weeks," said Fisher.

The new strategy was first introduced a year ago in the office at Tucson, Ariz., the patrol's busiest corridor for illegal crossings. Field supervisors ranked consequences on a scale from 1 to 5 using 15 different yardsticks, including the length of time since the person was last caught and per-hour cost for processing.

The longstanding practice of turning migrants straight around without any punishment, known as "voluntary returns," ranked least expensive — and least effective.

Agents got color-coded, wallet-sized cards — also made into posters at Border Patrol stations — that tells them what to do with each category of offender. For first-time violators, prosecution is a good choice, with one-way flights to Mexico City also scoring high. For known smugglers, prosecution in Mexico is the top pick.

The Border Patrol has introduced many new tools in recent years without much consideration to whether a first-time violator merited different treatment than a repeat crosser.

"There really wasn't much thought other than, 'Hey, the bus is outside, let's put the people we just finished processing on the bus and therefore wherever that bus is going, that's where they go,'" Fisher said.

Now, a first-time offender faces different treatment than one caught two or three times. A fourth-time violator faces other consequences.

The number of those who have been apprehended in the Tucson sector has plunged 80 percent since 2000, allowing the Border Patrol to spend more time and money on each of the roughly 260 migrants caught daily. George Allen, an assistant sector chief, said there are 188 seats on four daily buses to border cities in California and Texas. During summers, a daily flight to Mexico City has 146 seats.

Only about 10 percent of those apprehended now get "voluntary returns" in the Tucson sector, down from about 85 percent three years ago, said Rick Barlow, the sector chief. Most of those who are simply turned around are children, justified by the Border Patrol on humanitarian grounds.

Fisher acknowledged that the new strategy depends heavily on other agencies. Federal prosecutors must agree to take his cases. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement must have enough beds in its detention facilities.

In Southern California, the U.S. attorney's office doesn't participate in a widely used Border Patrol program that prosecutes even first-time offenders with misdemeanors punishable by up to six months in custody, opting instead to pursue only felonies for the most egregious cases, including serial border-crossers and criminals.

Laura Duffy, the U.S. attorney in San Diego, said limited resources, including lack of jail space, force her to make choices.

"It has not been the practice (in California) to target and prosecute economic migrants who have no criminal histories, who are coming in to the United States to work or to be with their families," Duffy said. "We do target the individuals who are smuggling those individuals."

Fisher would like to refer more cases for prosecution south of the border, but the Mexican government can only prosecute smugglers: smuggling migrants is a crime in Mexico but there is nothing wrong about crossing illegally to the United States. It also said its resources were stretched on some parts of the border.

Criticism of the Border Patrol's new tactics is guaranteed to persist as the new strategy goes into effect at other locations. Some say immigration cases are overwhelming federal courts on the border at the expense of investigations into white-collar crime, public corruption and other serious threats. Others consider prison time for first-time offenders to be excessively harsh.

The Border Patrol also may be challenged when the U.S. economy recovers, creating jobs that may encourage more illegal crossings. Still, many believe heightened U.S. enforcement and an aging population in Mexico that is benefiting from a relatively stable economy will keep migrants away.

"We'll never see the numbers that we saw in the late 1990s and early 2000s," said Edward Alden, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Doris Meissner, who oversaw the Border Patrol as head of the former Immigration and Naturalization Service in the 1990s, said the new approach makes sense "on the face of it" but that it will be expensive. She also said it is unclear so far if it will be more effective at discouraging migrants from trying again.

"I do think the Border Patrol is finally at a point where it has sufficient resources that it can actually try some of these things," said Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute.

Tucson, the only sector to have tried the new approach for a full year, has already tweaked its color-coded chart of punishments two or three times. Fisher said initial signs are promising, with the number of repeat crossers falling at a faster rate than before and faster than on other parts of the border.

"I'm not going to claim it was a direct effect, but it was enough to say it has merit," he said.

Networked Intelligence | 17 January 2012

MEXICO: Defense Secretariat recommends policy review

On 9 January 2012, the Mexican army’s institutional magazine La Gran Fuerza de
México said that Mexico faces a looming energy crisis due to oil shortages, a food
crisis fueled by climate change and overpopulation, and vulnerability to cyber
attacks.  The Defense Secretaiat (Sedena) recommended that Mexico renew its defense
policy to seek alternative energy sources and to formulate new production and
nutrition policies to stave off famine.

MEXICO: Informal sector drove employment growth under PAN administrations

On 9 January 2012, the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) reported that the
informal sector became the main generator of employment over the last 11 years. The
number of employed individuals increased by 10.8 million, 23.7 percent of which were
employed in the formal sector, while the remaining 76.3 percent fell within the
informal sector. The unemployment rate increased by 202 percent, with a total of
2,781,703 unemployed persons. However, the report shows a 14 percent growth of the
number of jobs under the present administration.

MEXICO: Local chief of La Familia arrested

On 11 January 2012, members of the Federal police arrested Emmanuel Díaz Ríos, alias
El Profe, area chief for “La Familia” cartel in the municipalities of Chicoloapán,
Chimalhuacán, Nezahualcóyotl, Los Reyes and Texcoco in the state of Mexico. While
arresting him, Iztapalapa police also seized a nine-millimeter firearm with 10
cartridges, 40 cartridges of different calibers, one chip, seven cell phones, a
package containing one kilo of white powder suspected to be cocaine, documents and a
gray van with license plates from the state of Mexico.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2012, 09:00:54 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #414 on: January 24, 2012, 10:08:52 PM »

Editor's Note: In this annual report on Mexico's drug cartels, we assess the most
significant developments of 2011 and provide updated profiles of the country's
powerful criminal cartels as well as a forecast for 2012. The report is a product of
the coverage we maintain through our Mexico Security Memo, quarterly updates and
other analyses we produce throughout the year.

As we noted in last year's annual cartel report, Mexico in 2010 bore witness to some
15,273 deaths in connection with the drug trade. The death toll for 2010 surpassed
that of any previous year, and in doing so became the deadliest year ever in the
country's fight against the cartels. But in the bloody chronology that is Mexico's
cartel war, 2010's time at the top may have been short-lived. Despite the Mexican
government's efforts to curb cartel-related violence, the death toll for 2011 may
have exceeded what had been an unprecedented number.

According to the Mexican government, cartel-related homicides claimed around 12,900
lives from January to September -- about 1,400 deaths per month. While this figure
is lower than that of 2010, it does not account for the final quarter of 2011. The
Mexican government has not yet released official statistics for the entire year, but
if the monthly average held until year's end, the overall death toll for 2011 would
reach 17,000. Though most estimates put the total below that, the actual number of
homicides in Mexico is likely higher than what is officially reported. At the very
least, although we do not have a final, official number -- and despite media reports
to the contrary -- we can conclude that violence in Mexico did not decline
substantially in 2011.

Indeed, rather than receding to levels acceptable to the Mexican government,
violence in Mexico has persisted, though it seems to have shifted geographically,
abating in some cities and worsening in others. For example, while Ciudad Juarez,
Chihuahua state, was once again Mexico's deadliest city in terms of gross numbers,
the city's annual death toll reportedly dropped substantially from 3,111 in 2010 to
1,955 in 2011. However, such reductions appear to have been offset by increases
elsewhere, including Veracruz, Veracruz state; Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state;
Matamoros, Tamaulipas state; and Durango, Durango state.

Over the past year it has also become evident that a polarization is under way among
the country's cartels. Most smaller groups (or remnants of groups) have been
subsumed by the Sinaloa Federation, which controls much of western Mexico, and Los
Zetas, who control much of eastern Mexico. While a great deal has been said about
the fluidity of the Mexican cartel landscape, these two groups have solidified
themselves as the country's predominant forces. Of course, the battle lines in
Mexico have not been drawn absolutely, and not every entity calling itself a cartel
swears allegiance to one side or the other, but a polarization clearly is occurring.

Geography does not encapsulate this polarization. It reflects two very different
modes of operation practiced by the two cartel hegemons, delineated by a common
expression in Mexican vernacular: "Plata o plomo." The expression, which translates
to "silver or lead" in English, means that a cartel will force one's cooperation
with either a bribe or a bullet. The Sinaloa Federation leadership more often
employs the former, preferring to buy off and corrupt to achieve its objectives. It
also frequently provides intelligence to authorities, and in doing so uses the
authorities as a weapon against rival cartels. Sinaloa certainly can and does resort
to ruthless violence, but the violence it employs is merely one of many tools at its
disposal, not its preferred tactic.

On the other hand, Los Zetas prefer brutality. They can and do resort to bribery,
but they lean toward intimidation and violence. Their mode of operation tends to be
far less subtle than that of their Sinaloa counterparts, and with a leadership
composed of former special operations soldiers, they are quite effective in
employing force and fear to achieve their objectives. Because ex-military personnel
formed Los Zetas, members tend to move up in the group's hierarchy through merit
rather than through familial connections. This contrasts starkly with the culture of
other cartels, including Sinaloa.

Status of Mexico's Major Cartels

Sinaloa Federation

The Sinaloa Federation lost at least 10 major plaza bosses or top lieutenants in
2011, including its security chief and its alleged main weapons supplier. It is
unclear how much those losses have affected the group's operations overall.

One Sinaloa operation that appears to have been affected is the group's
methamphetamine production. After the disintegration of La Familia Michoacana (LFM)
in early 2011, the Sinaloa Federation clearly emerged as the country's foremost
producer of methamphetamine. Most of the tons of precursor chemicals seized by
Mexican authorities in Manzanillo, Colima state; Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco state;
Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state; and Los Mochis and Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, likely
belonged to the Sinaloa Federation. Because of these government operations -- and
other operations to disassemble methamphetamine labs -- the group apparently began
to divert at least some of its methamphetamine production to Guatemala in late 2011.

In addition to maintaining its anti-Zetas alliance with the Gulf cartel, Sinaloa in
2011 affiliated itself with the Knights Templar (KT) in Michoacan, and to counter
Los Zetas in Jalisco state, Sinaloa affiliated itself with the Cartel de Jalisco
Nueva Generacion (CJNG). Sinaloa also has tightened its encirclement of the Vicente
Carrillo Fuentes (VCF) organization in the latter's long-held plaza of Ciudad
Juarez. There are even signs that it continues to expand its control over parts of
Juarez itself.

Los Zetas

By the end of 2011, Los Zetas eclipsed the Sinaloa Federation as the largest cartel
operating in Mexico in terms of geographic presence. According to a report from the
Assistant Attorney General's Office of Special Investigations into Organized Crime,
Los Zetas now operate in 17 states. (The same report said the Sinaloa Federation
operates in 16 states, down from 23 in 2005.) While Los Zetas continue to fight off
a CJNG incursion into Veracruz state, they did not sustain any significant
territorial losses in 2011.

Los Zetas moved into Zacatecas and Durango states, achieving a degree of control of
the former and challenging the Sinaloa Federation in the latter. Both states are
mountainous and conducive to the harvesting of poppy and marijuana. They also
contain major north-south transportation corridors. By mid-November, reports
indicated that Los Zetas had begun to assert control over Colima state and its
crucial port of Manzanillo. In some cases, Los Zetas are sharing territories with
cartels they reportedly have relationships with, including the Cartel Pacifico Sur
(CPS), La Resistencia and the remnants of LFM. But Los Zetas have a long history of
working as hired enforcers for other organizations throughout the country.
Therefore, having an alliance or business relationship with Los Zetas is not
necessarily the equivalent of being a Sinaloa vassal. A relationship with Los Zetas
may be perceived as more fleeting than Sinaloa subjugation.

On the whole, Los Zetas remained strong in 2011 despite losing 17 cell leaders and
plaza bosses to death and arrest. Los Zetas also remain the dominant force in the
Yucatan Peninsula. However, the CJNG's mass killings of alleged Zetas members or
supporters in Veracruz have called into question the group's unchallenged control of
that state.

In response to the mass killings in Veracruz, Los Zetas killed dozens of CJNG and
Sinaloa members in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, and Culiacan, Sinaloa state. Aided by
La Resistencia, these operations were well-executed, and the groups clearly invested
a great deal of time and effort into surveillance and planning.

The Gulf Cartel

The Gulf cartel (CDG) was strong at the beginning of 2011, holding off several Zetas
incursions into its territory. However, as the year progressed, internal divisions
led to intra-cartel battles in Matamoros and Reynosa, Tamaulipas state. The
infighting resulted in several deaths and arrests in Mexico and in the United
States. The CDG has since broken apart, and it appears that one faction, known as
Los Metros, has overpowered its rival Los Rojos faction and is now asserting its
control over CDG operations. The infighting has weakened the CDG, but the group
seems to have maintained control of its primary plazas, or smuggling corridors, into
the United States. (CDG infighting is detailed further in another section of this

La Familia Michoacana

LFM disintegrated at the beginning of 2011, giving rise to and becoming eclipsed by
one of its factions, the Knights Templar (KT). Indeed, by July it was clear the KT
had become more powerful than LFM in Mexico. The media and the police continue to
report that LFM maintains extensive networks in the United States, but it is unclear
how many of the U.S.-based networks are actually working with LFM rather than the
KT, which is far more capable of trafficking narcotics. It appears that many reports
regarding LFM in the United States do not reflect the changes that have occurred in
Mexico over the past year; many former LFM leaders are now members of the KT. Adding
to the confusion was the alleged late-summer alliance between LFM and Los Zetas.
Such an alliance would have been a final attempt by the remaining LFM leadership to
keep the group from being utterly destroyed by the KT. LFM is still active, but it
is very weak.

The Knights Templar

In January 2011, a month after the death of charismatic LFM leader Nazario "El Mas
Loco" Moreno, two former LFM lieutenants, Servando "La Tuta" Gomez and Enrique
Plancarte, formed the Knights Templar due to differences with Jose de Jesus "El
Chango" Mendez, who had assumed leadership of LFM. In March they announced the
formation of their new organization via narcomantas in Morelia, Zitacuaro and
Apatzingan, Michoacan state.

After the emergence of the KT, sizable battles flared up during the spring and
summer months between the KT and LFM. The organization has grown from a splinter
group to a dominant force over LFM, and it appears to be taking over the bulk of the
original LFM's operations in Mexico. At present, the Knights Templar appear to have
aligned with the Sinaloa Federation in an effort to root out the remnants of LFM and
to prevent Los Zetas from gaining a more substantial foothold in the region through
their alliance with LFM.

Independent Cartel of Acapulco

The Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA) has not been eliminated entirely, but it
appears to have been severely damaged. Since the capture of CIDA leader Gilberto
Castrejon Morales in early December, the group has faded from the public view.
CIDA's weakness appears to have allowed its in-town rival, Sinaloa-affiliated La
Barredora, to move some of its enforcers to Guadalajara to fend off the Zetas
offensive there. The decreased levels of violence and public displays of dead bodies
in Acapulco of late can be attributed to the group's weakening, and we are unsure if
CIDA will be able to regroup and attempt to reclaim Acapulco.

Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion

After the death of Ignacio "El Nacho" Coronel in July 2010, his followers suspected
the Sinaloa cartel had betrayed him and broke away to form the CJNG. In spring 2011,
the CJNG declared war on all other Mexican cartels and stated its intention to take
control of Guadalajara. However, by midsummer, the group appeared to have been
reunited with its former partners in the Sinaloa Federation. We are unsure what
precipitated the reconciliation, but it seems that the CJNG was somehow convinced
that Sinaloa did not betray Coronel after all. It is also possible CJNG was
convinced that Coronel needed to go. In any case, CJNG "sicarios," or assassins, in
September traveled to the important Los Zetas stronghold of Veracruz, labeled
themselves the "Matazetas," or Zeta killers, and began to murder alleged Zetas
members and their supporters. By mid-December, the CJNG was still in Veracruz
fighting Los Zetas while also helping to protect Guadalajara and other areas on
Mexico's west coast from
Zetas aggression.

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization/Juarez Cartel

The VCF, aka the Juarez cartel, continues to weaken. A Sinaloa operative killed one
of its top lieutenants, Francisco Vicente Castillo Carrillo -- a Carrillo family
member -- in September 2011. The VCF reportedly still controls the three main points
of entry into El Paso, Texas, but the organization appears unable to expand its
operations or move narcotics en masse through its plazas because it is hemmed in by
the Sinaloa Federation, which appears to have chipped away at the VCF's monopoly of
the Juarez plaza. The VCF is only a shadow of the organization it was a decade ago,
and its weakness and inability to effectively fight against Sinaloa's advances in
Juarez contributed to the lower death toll in Juarez in 2011.

Cartel Pacifico Sur

The CPS, headed by Hector Beltran Leyva, saw a reduction in violence in the latter
part of 2011 after having been very active in the first third of the year. We are
unsure why the group quieted down. The CPS may be concentrating on smuggling for
revenue generation to support itself and assist its Los Zetas allies, who provide
military muscle for the CPS and work in their areas of operation. Because of their
reputation, Los Zetas receive a great deal of media attention, so it is also
possible that the media attributed violent incidents involving CPS gunmen to Los

Arellano Felix Organization

The November arrest of Juan Francisco Sillas Rocha, the AFO's chief enforcer, was
yet another sign of the organization's continued weakness. It remains an impotent
and reluctant subsidiary of the Sinaloa Federation, unable to reclaim the Tijuana
plaza for its own.

2011 Forecast in Review

In our forecast for 2011, we believed that the unprecedented levels of violence from
2010 would continue as long as the cartel balance of power remained in a state of
flux. Indeed, cartel-related deaths appear to have at least continued apace.

Much of the cartel conflict in 2011 followed patterns set in 2010. Los Zetas
continued to fight the CDG in northeast Mexico while maintaining their control of
Veracruz state and the Yucatan Peninsula. The Sinaloa Federation continued to fight
the VCF in Ciudad Juarez while maintaining control of much of Sonora state and Baja
California state.

We forecast that government operations and cartel infighting and rivalry would
expose fissures in and among the cartels. This prediction held true. The Beltran
Leyva Organization no longer exists in its original form, its members dispersed
among the Sinaloa Federation, the CPS, CIDA and other smaller groups. As noted
above, fissures within LFM led to the creation of two groups, LFM and the KT. The
CDG also now consists of two factions competing for control of the organization's

We also forecast that the degree of violence in the country was politically
unacceptable for Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his ruling National Action
Party. Calderon knew he would have to reduce the violence to acceptable levels if
his party was going to have a chance to continue to hold power after he left office
in 2012 (Mexican presidents serve only one six-year term). As the 2012 presidential
election approaches, Calderon is continuing his strategy of deploying the armed
forces against the cartels. He has also reached out to the United States for
assistance. The two countries shared signals intelligence throughout the year and
continued to cooperate through joint intelligence centers like the one in Mexico
City. The U.S. military also continues to train Mexican military and law enforcement
personnel, and the United States has deployed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in
Mexican airspace at Mexico's behest. The Mexican military was in operational command
of the UAV

As we have noted the past few years, we also believed that Calderon's continued use
of the military would perpetuate what is referred to as the three-front war in
Mexico. The fronts consist of cartels against rival cartels, the military against
cartels, and cartels against civilians. Indeed, in 2011 the cartels continued to vie
for control of ports, plazas and markets, while deployments of military forces
increased to counter Los Zetas in the states of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and
Veracruz; to combat several groups waging a bloody turf war in Acapulco, Guerrero
state; and to respond to conflicts arising between the Sinaloa Federation and Los
Zetas and their affiliate groups in Nayarit and Michoacan states.

While Los Zetas were hit hard in 2011, the Mexican government's offensive against
the group was unable to damage it to the extent we believed it would. Despite losing
several key leaders and plaza bosses, as noted previously, the group maintains its
pre-eminence in the east. This is largely due to the ease with which such groups can
replenish their ranks.

Resupplying Leadership

One of the ways in which Mexico's cartels, including Los Zetas, replenish their
ranks is with defected military personnel. Around 27,000 men and women desert the
Mexican military every year, and about 50 percent of the military's recruiting class
will have left before the end of their first tour. In March 2011, the Mexican army
admitted that it had "lost track of" 1,680 special forces personnel over the past
decade (Los Zetas were formed by more than 30 former members of Mexico's Special
Forces Airmobile Group). Some cartels even reportedly task some of their own foot
soldiers to enlist in the military to gain knowledge and experience in military
tactics. In any case, retention is clearly a serious problem for the Mexican armed
forces, and deserting soldiers take their skills (and oftentimes their weapons) to
the cartels.

In addition, the drug trade attracts ex-military personnel who did not desert but
left in good standing after serving their duty. There are fewer opportunities for
veterans in Mexico than in many countries, and understandably many are drawn to a
lucrative practice that places value on their skill sets. But deserters or former
soldiers are not the only source of recruits for the cartels. They also replenish
their ranks with current and former police officers, gang members and others (to
include Central American immigrants and even U.S. citizens).

2012 Forecasts by Region

Northeast Mexico

Northeast Mexico saw some of the most noteworthy cartel violence in 2011. The
primary conflict in the region involved the continuing fight between CDG and Los
Zetas, who were CDG enforcers before breaking away from the CDG in early 2010. Los
Zetas have since eclipsed the CDG in terms of size, reach and influence. In 2011,
divisions within the CDG over leadership succession came to the fore, leading to
further violence in the region, and we believe these divisions will sow the group's
undoing in 2012.

The CDG began to suffer another internal fracture in late 2010 when the Mexican army
killed Antonio "Tony Tormenta" Cardenas Guillen, who co-lead the CDG with Eduardo
"El Coss" Costilla Sanchez, in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state. After Cardenas Guillen's
death in November 2010, Costilla Sanchez assumed full control of the organization,
passing over Rafael "El Junior" Cardenas Vela, the Cardenas family's heir apparent,
in the process. This bisected the CDG, creating two competing factions: Los Rojos,
loyal to the Cardenas family, and Los Metros, loyal to Costilla Sanchez.

In late 2011, several events exacerbated tensions between the factions. On Sept. 3,
authorities found the body of Samuel "El Metro 3" Flores Borrego, Costilla Sanchez's
second-in-command, in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state. Then on Sept. 27, gunmen in an SUV
shot and killed a man driving a vehicle on U.S. Route 83, east of McAllen, Texas.
The driver, Jorge Zavala of Mission, Texas, was connected to Los Metros.

The Mexican navy reported the following month that Cesar "El Gama" Davila Garcia,
the CDG's head finance officer, was found dead in Reynosa. Davila previously had
served as Cardenas Guillen's accountant. Then on Oct. 20, U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement agents arrested Cardenas Vela after a traffic stop near Port
Isabel, Texas. We believe Los Metros tipped off U.S. authorities about Cardenas
Vela's location. (Los Metros have every reason to kill Los Rojos leaders, including
Cardenas Vela, but cartels rarely conduct assassinations on U.S. soil for fear of
U.S. retribution.)

On Oct. 28, Jose Luis "Comandante Wicho" Zuniga Hernandez, believed to be Cardenas
Vela's deputy and operational leader in Matamoros, reportedly turned himself in to
U.S. authorities without a fight near Santa Maria, Texas. Finally, Mexican federal
authorities arrested Ezequiel "El Junior" Cardenas Rivera, Cardenas Guillen's son,
in Matamoros on Nov. 25.

By December, media agencies reported that Cardenas Guillen's brother, Mario Cardenas
Guillen, was the overall leader of the CDG. But Mario was never known to be very
active in the family business, and his reluctance to involve himself in cartel
operations appears to have continued after his brother's death. In addition,
Costilla Sanchez is reclusive, choosing to run his organization from several
secluded ranches. That he is not mentioned in media reports does not mean he has
been removed from his position. Given his reclusiveness and Mario Cardenas Guillen's
longstanding reticence to involve himself in cartel activity, it seems unlikely that
Costilla Sanchez would be replaced. Because Los Metros seemingly have gained the
upper hand over Los Rojos, we anticipate that they will further expand their
dominance in early 2012.

However, while Los Metros may have defeated their rival for control of the CDG, the
organizational infighting has left the CDG vulnerable to outside attack. Of course,
any group divided is vulnerable to attack, but the CDG's ongoing feud with Los Zetas
compounds its problem. Fully aware of the CDG's weakness, we believe Los Zetas will
step up their attempts to assume control of CDG territory.

If Los Zetas are able to defeat the Los Metros faction -- or they engage in a truce
with the faction -- they may be able to redeploy fighters to other regions or
cities, particularly Veracruz and Guadalajara. Reinforcements in Veracruz would help
counter the CJNG presence in the port city, and reinforcements in Guadalajara would
shore up Los Zetas' operations and presence in Jalisco state. Likewise, a reduction
in cartel-on-cartel fighting in the region would free up troops the Mexican army has
stationed in Tamaulipas state -- an estimated force of 13,000 soldiers -- for
deployment elsewhere.

Southeast Mexico

Some notable events took place in southeast Mexico in 2011. On Dec. 4 the Mexican
army dismantled a Zetas communications network that encompassed multiple cities in
Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi and Coahuila states.

In addition, Veracruz state Gov. Javier Duarte on Dec. 21 fired the city's municipal
police, including officers and administrative employees, and gave the Mexican navy
law enforcement responsibilities. By Dec. 22, Mexican marines began patrols and law
enforcement activities, effectively replacing the police much like the army replaced
the police in Ciudad Juarez in 2009 and in various cities in Tamaulipas state in
August 2011. We anticipate that fighting between the CJNG and Los Zetas will
continue in Veracruz for at least the first quarter of 2012.

We expect security conditions on the Yucatan Peninsula to remain relatively stable
in 2012 because there are no other major players in the region contesting Los Zetas'

Southwest Mexico

In the southern Pacific coastal states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, we expect violence to
be as infrequent in 2012 as it was in 2011. Chiapas and Oaxaca have been
transshipment zones for Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation for several years; as
such, clashes and cargo hijackings occasionally take place. However, direct and
sustained combat does not occur regularly because the two groups tend to use
different routes to transport their shipments. The Sinaloa Federation prefers to
move its product north on roads and highways along the Pacific coast, whereas Los
Zetas' transportation lines cross Mexico's interior before moving north along the
Gulf coast.

Pacific Coast and Central Mexico

As many as a dozen organizations, ranging from the KT to local criminal
organizations to newer groups like La Barredora and La Resistencia, continue to
fight for control of the plazas in Guerrero, Michoacan and Jalisco states. Acapulco
was particularly violent in 2011, and we believe it will continue to be violent
through 2012 unless La Barredora is able to exert firm control over the city.
Acapulco has been a traditional Beltran Leyva stronghold, and the CPS may attempt to
reassert itself there. If that happens, violence will once again increase.

Security conditions worsened in Jalisco state at the end of 2011, and Stratfor
anticipates violence there will continue to increase in 2012, especially in
Guadalajara, a valued transportation hub. In November, Los Zetas struck the CJNG in
Guadalajara in response to the mass killings of Los Zetas members in Veracruz state.
The attacks are significant because they demonstrated an ability to conduct
protracted cross-country operations. Should Los Zetas establish firm control over
Guadalajara, the Sinaloa Federation's smuggling activities could be adversely
affected, something Sinaloa obviously cannot permit. Given an increased Zetas
presence in Zacatecas, Durango and Jalisco states, and Sinaloa's operational need to
counter that presence, we expect to see violence increase in the region in 2012.

Unless a significant military force is somehow brought to bear, we do not expect to
see any substantive improvement in the security conditions in Guerrero or Michoacan

Northwest Mexico

The cross-country operations performed by Los Zetas indicate that the group's growth
and expansion has been more profound than we expected in the face of the
government's major operations specifically targeting the organization. Such
expansion will pose a direct threat not only to the Sinaloa Federation's supply
lines but to its home turf, which stretches from Guadalajara to southern Sonora

In northwest Mexico, specifically Baja California, Baja California Sur and Chihuahua
states (and most of Sonora state), the Sinaloa Federation either directly controls
or regularly uses the smuggling corridors and points of entry into the United
States. Security conditions in the plazas under firm Sinaloa control have been
relatively stable. Indeed, as Sinaloa tightened its control over Tijuana, violence
there dropped, and we expect to see the same dynamic play out in Juarez as Sinaloa
consolidates its control of that city. Stability could be threatened, however, if
Los Zetas attempt to push into Sinaloa-held cities.

Outside of Mexico

As we noted in the past three annual cartel reports, Mexico's cartels have been
expanding their control of the cocaine supply chain all the way into South America.
This eliminates middlemen and brings in more profit. They are also using their
presence in South America to obtain chemical precursors and weapons.

Increased violence in northern Mexico and ramped-up law enforcement along the U.S.
border has made narcotics smuggling into the United States more difficult than it
has been in the past. The cartels have adapted to these challenges by becoming more
involved in the trafficking of cocaine to alternative markets in Europe and
Australia. The arrests of Mexican cartel members in such places as the Dominican
Republic also seem to indicate that the Mexicans are becoming more involved in the
Caribbean smuggling routes into the United States. In the past, Colombian smuggling
groups and their Caribbean partners in places like Cuba, Puerto Rico and the
Dominican Republic used these routes. We anticipate seeing more signs of Mexican
cartel involvement in the Caribbean, Europe and Australia in 2012.

Government Strategy in 2012

There is no indication of a major shift in the Mexican government's overarching
security strategy for 2012; Calderon will continue to use the military against the
cartels throughout the year (a new president will be elected in July, but Calderon's
term does not conclude until the end of 2012). This strategy of taking out cartel
leaders has resulted in the disruption of the cartel balance of power in the past,
which tends to lead to more violence as groups scramble to fill the resultant power
vacuum. Mexican operations may further disrupt that balance in 2012, but while
government operations have broken apart some cartel organizations, the combination
of military and law enforcement resources has been unable to dislodge cartel
influence from the areas it targets. They can break specific criminal organizations,
but the lucrative smuggling corridors into the United States will continue to exist,
even after the organizations controlling them are taken down. And as long as the
corridors exist, and provide access to so much money, other organizations will
inevitably fight to assume control over them. 

Some 45,000 Mexican troops are actively involved in domestic counter-cartel
operations. These troops work alongside state and federal law enforcement officers
and in some cases have replaced fired municipal police officers. They are spread
across a large country with high levels of violence in most major cities, and their
presence in these cities is essential for maintaining what security has been

While this number of troops represents only about a quarter of the overall Mexican
army's manpower -- troops are often supplemented by deployments of Mexican marines
-- it also represents the bulk of applicable Mexican military ground combat
strength. Meager and poorly maintained reserve forces do not appear to be a
meaningful supplemental resource.

In short, if the current conditions persist, it does not appear that the Mexican
government can redeploy troops to conduct meaningful offensive operations in new
areas of Mexico in 2012 without jeopardizing the gains it has already made. The
government cannot eliminate the cartels any more than it can end the drug trade. The
only way the Mexican government can bring the violence down to what would be
considered an acceptable level is for it to allow one cartel group to become
dominant throughout the country -- something that does not appear to be plausible in
the near term -- or for some sort of truce to be reached between the country's two
cartel hegemons, Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation.

Such scenarios are not unprecedented. At one time the Guadalajara cartel controlled
virtually all of Mexico's drug trade, and it was only the dissolution of that
organization that led to its regional branches subsequently becoming what we now
know as the Sinaloa Federation, AFO, VCF and CDG. There have also been periods of
cartel truces in the past between the various regional cartel groups, although they
tend to be short-lived.

With the current levels of violence, a government-brokered truce between Los Zetas
and Sinaloa will be no easy task, given the level of animosity and mistrust that
exists between the two organizations. This means that it is unlikely that such a
truce will be brokered in 2012, but we expect to see more rhetoric in support of a
truce as a way to reduce violence.

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #415 on: January 28, 2012, 07:45:32 PM »

If this is accurate, Mexico is worse than I imagined.

Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields

Ciudad Juárez lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. A once-thriving border town, it now resembles a failed state. Infamously known as the place where women disappear, its murder rate exceeds that of Baghdad. Last year 1,607 people were killed—a number that is on pace to increase in 2009.
In Murder City, Charles Bowden—one of the few journalists who has spent extended periods of time in Juárez—has written an extraordinary account of what happens when a city disintegrates. Interweaving stories of its inhabitants—a raped beauty queen, a repentant hitman, a journalist fleeing for his life—with a broader meditation on the town’s descent into anarchy, Bowden reveals how Juárez’s culture of violence will not only worsen, but inevitably spread north.

Heartbreaking, disturbing, and unforgettable, Murder City establishes Bowden as one of our leading writers working at the height of his powers.
Hello Kitty
« Reply #416 on: February 02, 2012, 06:00:19 PM »

Mexico is a wonderful place. GM, you should come down for dinner, I'll buy.  cool
Hello Kitty
« Reply #417 on: February 02, 2012, 06:23:05 PM »

Are Zetas operating as police impersonators in the United States?

Whether or not Zetas are conducting paramilitary, police-impersonation operations here in the US, the incident in Houston is a watershed event indeed

There are no secure borders....
Power User
Posts: 2268

« Reply #418 on: February 08, 2012, 01:36:15 PM »

"The hybrid threat of crime, terrorism and insurgency is presently understudied as a matter of policy, strategy, and doctrine. As a small step towards remedying this conceptual deficit, and exploring those ideas in the particular context of Mexico, the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute (HSPI) together with the U.S. Army War College's Center for Strategic Leadership co-convened a symposium in Washington D.C. on October 20, 2011. What follows is a compilation of those proceedings. The forum began with keynote remarks offered by General Barry R. McCaffrey, former Commander of the United States Southern Command, and former Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Following the transcript of General McCaffrey's presentation, we have inserted a policy paper designed to introduce the issues that resonated throughout the course of the forum. The remainder of the monograph gives full voice to those issues by way of transcripts of the event's two panel discussions. The first panel addressed strategy and doctrine, existing and yet required, that will be necessary to tackle our 'hybrid threat.' The second panel focuses on Mexico as a case study for those requirements."
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #419 on: February 12, 2012, 02:07:44 PM »
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #420 on: February 12, 2012, 05:55:43 PM »

"Undocumented Americans" Sen. Harry "Cleanface" Reid-D NV.
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #421 on: February 16, 2012, 10:26:17 AM »

Meth in Mexico: A Turning Point in the Drug War?
By Ben West | February 16, 2012

Mexican authorities announced Feb. 8 the largest seizure of methamphetamine in Mexican history -- and possibly the largest ever anywhere -- on a ranch outside of Guadalajara. The total haul was 15 tons of pure methamphetamine along with a laboratory capable of producing all the methamphetamine seized. While authorities are not linking the methamphetamine to any specific criminal group, Guadalajara is a known stronghold of the Sinaloa Federation, and previous seizures there have been connected to the group.

Methamphetamine, a synthetic drug manufactured in personal labs for decades, is nothing new in Mexico or the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has led numerous crusades against the drug, increasing regulations on its ingredients to try to keep it from gaining a foothold in the United States. While the DEA's efforts have succeeded in limiting production of the drug in the United States, consumption has risen steadily over the past two decades. The increasing DEA pressure on U.S. suppliers and the growing demand for methamphetamine have driven large-scale production of the drug outside the borders of the United States. Given Mexico's proximity and the pervasiveness of organized criminal elements seeking new markets, it makes sense that methamphetamine would be produced on an industrial scale there. Indeed, Mexico has provided an environment for a scale of production far greater than anything ever seen in the United States.

But last week's methamphetamine seizure sheds light on a deeper shift in organized criminal activity in Mexico -- one that could mark a breakthrough in the violent stalemate that has existed between the Sinaloa Federation, Los Zetas and the government for the past five years and has led to an estimated 50,000 deaths. It also reveals a pattern in North American organized crime activity that can be seen throughout the 20th century as well as a business opportunity that could transform criminal groups in Mexico from the drug trafficking intermediaries they are today to controllers of an independent and profitable illicit market.

While the trafficking groups in Mexico are commonly called "cartels" (even Stratfor uses the term), they are not really cartels. A cartel is a combination of groups cooperating to control the supply of a commodity. The primary purpose of a cartel is to set the price of a commodity so that buyers cannot negotiate lower prices. The current conflict in Mexico over cocaine and marijuana smuggling routes shows that there are deep rifts between rival groups like the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas. There is no sign that they are cooperating with each other to set the price of cocaine or marijuana. Also, since most of the Mexican criminal groups are involved in a diverse array of criminal activities, their interests go beyond drug trafficking. They are perhaps most accurately described as "transnational criminal organizations" (TCOs), the label currently favored by the DEA.

Examples from the Past

While the level of violence in Mexico right now is unprecedented, it is important to remember that the Mexican TCOs are businesses. They do use violence in conducting business, but their top priority is to make profits, not kill people. The history of organized crime shows many examples of groups engaging in violence to control an illegal product. During the early 20th century in North America, to take advantage of Prohibition in the United States, organized criminal empires were built around the bootlegging industry. After the repeal of Prohibition, gambling and casinos became the hot market. Control over Las Vegas and other major gambling hubs was a business both dangerous and profitable. Control over the U.S. heroin market was consolidated and then dismantled during the 1960s and 1970s. Then came cocaine and the rise in power, wealth and violence of Colombian groups like the Medellin and Cali cartels.

But as U.S. and Colombian law enforcement cracked down on the Colombian cartels -- interdicting them in Colombia and closing down their Caribbean smuggling corridors -- Colombian producers had to turn to the Mexicans to traffic cocaine through Mexico to the United States. To this day, however, Colombian criminal groups descended from the Medellin and Cali cartels control the cultivation and production of cocaine in South America, while Mexican groups increasingly oversee the trafficking of the drug to the United States, Europe and Africa.

The Mexican Weakness

While violence has been used in the past to eliminate or coerce competitors and physically take control of an illegal market, it has not proved to be a solution in recent years for Mexican TCOs. The Medellin cartel became infamous for attacking Colombian state officials and competitors who tried to weaken its grasp over the cocaine market. Going back further, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel is thought to have been murdered over disagreements about his handling of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Before that, Prohibition saw numerous murders over control of liquor shipments and territory. In Mexico, we are seeing an escalating level of such violence, but few of the business resolutions that would be expected to come about as a result.

Geography helps explain this. In Mexico, the Sierra Madre mountain range splits the east coast and the west from the center. The Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean coastal plains tend to develop their own power bases separate from each other.

Mexican drug traffickers are also split by market forces. With Colombian criminal groups still largely controlling the production of cocaine in jungle laboratories, Mexican traffickers are essentially middlemen. They must run the gauntlet of U.S.-led international interdiction efforts by using a combination of Central American traffickers, corruption and street-gang enforcers. They also have to move the cocaine across the U.S. border, where it gets distributed by hundreds of street gangs.

Profit is the primary motivation at every step, and each hurdle the Mexican traffickers have to clear cuts into their profit margins. The cocaine producers in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia can play the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas (as well as others) off of each other to strengthen their own bargaining position. And even though keeping the traffickers split appears to create massive amounts of violence in Mexico, it benefits the politicians and officials there, who can leverage at least the presence of a competitor for better bribes and payoffs.

For Mexican drug traffickers, competition is bad for the bottom line, since it allows other actors to exploit each side to get a larger share of the market. Essentially, everyone else in the cocaine market benefits by keeping the traffickers split. The more actors involved in cocaine trafficking, the harder it is to control it.

The Solution

Historically, organized criminal groups have relied on control of a market for their source of wealth and power. But the current situation in Mexico, and the cocaine trade in general, prevents the Mexican groups (or anyone) from controlling the market outright. As long as geography and market forces keep the traffickers split, all sides in Mexico will try to use violence to get more control over territory and market access. We assume that Mexico's geography will not change dramatically any time soon, but market forces are much more temporal.

Mexican criminal organizations can overcome their weakness in the cocaine market by investing the money they have earned (billions of dollars, according to the most conservative estimates) into the control of other markets. Ultimately, cocaine is impossible for the Mexicans to control because the coca plant can only grow in sufficient quantity in the foothills of the Andes. It would be prohibitively expensive for the Mexicans to take over control of coca cultivation and cocaine production there. Mexican criminal organizations are increasing their presence in the heroin market, but while they can grow poppies in Mexico and produce black-tar heroin, Afghanistan still controls a dominant share of the white heroin market -- around 90 percent.

What Mexicans can control is the methamphetamine market. What we are seeing in Mexico right now -- unprecedented amounts of the seized drug -- is reminiscent of what we saw over the past century in the infancy of the illegal liquor, gambling, heroin and cocaine markets: an organized criminal group industrializing production in or control of a loosely organized industry and using that control to set prices and increase its power. Again, while illegal methamphetamine has been produced in the United States for decades, regulatory pressure and law enforcement efforts have kept it at a small scale; seizures are typically measured in pounds or kilograms and producers are on the run.

Mexican producers have also been in the market for a long time, but over the past year we have seen seizures go from being measured in kilograms to being measured in metric tons. In other words, we are seeing evidence that methamphetamine production has increased several orders of magnitude and is fast becoming an industrialized process.

In addition to the 15 tons seized last week, we saw a record seizure of 675 tons of methylamine, a key ingredient of methamphetamine, in Mexico in December. From 2010 to 2011, seizures of precursor chemicals like methylamine in Mexico increased 400 percent, from 400 tons to 1,600 tons. These most recent reports are similar to reports in the 1920s of U.S. liquor seizures going from barrels to shiploads, which indicated bootlegging was being conducted on an industrial scale. They are also eerily similar to the record cocaine seizure in 1984 in Tranquilandia, Colombia, when Colombian National Police uncovered a network of jungle cocaine labs along with 13.8 metric tons of cocaine. It was the watershed moment, when authorities moved from measuring cocaine busts in kilograms to measuring them in tons, and it marked the Medellin cartel's rise to power over the cocaine market.

A True Mexican Criminal Industry?

Anyone can make methamphetamine, but it is a huge organizational, financial and legal challenge to make it on the industrial level that appears to be happening in Mexico. The main difference between the U.S. labs and the Mexican labs is the kind of input chemicals they use. The U.S. labs use pseudoephedrine, a pharmaceutical product heavily regulated by the DEA, as a starting material, while Mexican labs use methylamine, a chemical with many industrial applications that is more difficult to regulate. And while pseudoephedrine comes in small individual packages of cold pills, methylamine is bought in 208-liter (55-gallon) barrels. The Mexican process requires experienced chemists who have mastered synthesizing methamphetamine on a large scale, which gives them an advantage over the small-time amateurs working in U.S. methamphetamine labs.

Thus, while methamphetamine consumption has been steadily growing in the United States for the past two decades -- and at roughly $100 per gram, unpure methamphetamine is just as profitable on the street as cocaine -- it is even more profitable for Mexican traffickers. Methamphetamine does not come with the overhead costs of purchasing cocaine from Colombians and trafficking valuable merchandise through some of the most dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere. Precursor materials such as methylamine used in methamphetamine production are cheap, and East Asian producers appear to be perfectly willing to sell the chemicals to Mexico. And because methamphetamine is a synthetic drug, its production does not depend on agriculture like cocaine and marijuana production does. There is no need to control large swaths of cropland and there is less risk of losing product to adverse weather or eradication efforts.

For the Mexican TCOs, industrializing and controlling the methamphetamine market offers a level of real control over a market that is not possible with cocaine. We expect fighting over the methamphetamine market to maintain violence at its current levels, but once a group comes out on top it will have far more resources to expel or absorb rival TCOs. This process may not sound ideal, but methamphetamine could pick the winner in the Mexican drug war.
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #422 on: March 05, 2012, 04:50:14 PM »

Spring Break in Mexico: Travel and Security Risks
March 5, 2012

Every year between January and March, U.S. college administrations remind their students to exercise caution while on spring break. These well-meaning guidelines often go unread by their intended recipients, as do travel warnings issued to citizens by the U.S. State Department. Many regular visitors to Mexican resort areas believe they are safe from transnational criminal organizations (TCO), more commonly called cartels. These travelers tend to think cartels want to avoid interfering with the profitable tourism industry, or that they only target Mexican citizens; this is not an accurate assessment.

Nothing in the behavior of Mexican cartels indicates that they would consciously keep tourists out of the line of fire or away from gruesome displays of their murder victims. Violence related to the cartels is spreading, and while tourists may not be directly targeted, they can be caught in the crossfire or otherwise find themselves in situations where their security is compromised. TCOs, it should be remembered, are more than just drug traffickers -- they participate in extortion, robbery, rape and carjackings. And where cartels are fighting each other violently, local gangs are able to take advantage of law enforcement's resulting distraction to commit crimes of their own.

Mexico's Drug War

Violence between competing criminal organizations in Mexico has continued for more than two decades. In the last decade, this violence has escalated nearly every year: In 2006 there were 2,119 murders related to organized crime. There were 2,275 in 2007, 5,207 in 2008, 6,598 in 2009 and 15,273 in 2010. While official figures are not yet available for 2011, figures reported by media agencies demonstrate that violence did not drop substantially from 2010.

The core of the conflict revolves around the most valuable routes for trafficking drugs through Mexico. Several groups are waging a violent campaign for control of these corridors and the Mexican government is using the military to combat drug traffickers, adding an additional actor in the conflict. However, no part of the country has been immune to the effects of organized crime.

While cartels typically direct their violence toward rival groups, outside parties are often caught up in the violence. For example, Los Zetas tried to burn down the Casino Royale in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, on Aug. 25, 2011, allegedly to send a message to the casino's owner. The attackers were not stopped by the presence of innocent bystanders, and more than 50 individuals were killed in the blaze. In August 2011, a grenade targeting the Mexican military landed near a crowd of tourists near an aquarium in Veracruz state, killing at least one individual. U.S. citizens have been among those caught up in the violence of the drug wars, with the U.S. State Department reporting 120 U.S. citizens killed in 2011. While that number is small in relation to the estimated 4.7 million Americans who visited Mexico between January and October 2011 -- and the more than 150,000 U.S. citizens who travel across the border each day -- it marks a substantial increase from the 35 deaths reported in 2007.

There is no sign that cartel-related violence in Mexico will ease in 2012. While a polarization of organized criminal groups has set in -- with Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation on opposing ends -- 2011 witnessed a continued splintering of many organized criminal groups. Divisions between entities such as the Gulf Cartel, La Familia Michoacana and Knights Templar have exacerbated the violence in many regions of Mexico, and the efforts of federal forces have failed to effectively cap the violence.

Cartel operations within Mexico have affected many aspects of the country's security infrastructure -- some of which tourists may rely on. Corruption is rampant within Mexico's governing bodies and law enforcement is a routine victim of cartel infiltration and violence. With federal, state and municipal forces focused on combating criminal organizations, resources are drawn away from combating unrelated crimes. This has led to an increase in serious crimes such as murder and kidnapping and to an uptick in general crime to which tourists are more likely to fall victim.

Threats from Cartels and Local Gangs

Cartels usually focus on the business of trafficking drugs through Mexico into the United States. However, they do resort to other methods of financial gain, which could affect visitors to Mexico. Groups such as the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas are known to involve themselves in kidnappings, carjackings and extortion. Cartel gunmen also operate with a sense of impunity in many parts of the country and will rob or rape targets of opportunity as they see fit. It is impossible to gauge the willingness of individual cartel members to victimize unwary tourists, but innocent bystanders can be caught in the crossfire as confrontations between groups escalate.

The presence of cartels, especially in areas where multiple cartels exist in competition, causes a deterioration of security conditions that also invites the formation of local gangs. These local gangs may not be affiliated with the cartels but still present many of the same security concerns. They may be involved in murder, extortion, carjacking, sexual assaults, kidnappings and collateral damage caused during open confrontations with rivals.

As law enforcement increases its focus on combating drug traffickers, resources are diverted away from providing the kind of security many visitors to Mexico are accustomed to local police providing. Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation also succeed in corrupting law enforcement agencies in Mexico, which in turn degrades the security infrastructure, providing a suitable environment for local gangs to thrive. Corrupt police officers themselves also frequently prey on other targets.

In 2011, 1,322 kidnappings were reported throughout Mexico. This number represents the kidnappings reported by victims and family who are willing to speak up -- the actual number is believed to be much higher. As the security infrastructure in Mexico has deteriorated, many citizens have lost trust in Mexico's law enforcement and feel it would be safer not to report a kidnapping.

While there are examples of groups such as the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas participating in kidnappings throughout the country, localized kidnapping rings have sprouted due to the lack of security in Mexican cities. The gangs' victims range from wealthy businessmen to lower- and middle-class individuals, so assumptions should not be made regarding their typical target. There are also different types of kidnappings, ranging from classic high-value target abductions to express kidnappings (in which the victim can spend a week in the trunk of a vehicle as the kidnappers go from one ATM to the next withdrawing all the money in the victim's account) and even virtual kidnappings, a method in which someone falsifies a kidnapping to extort a ransom. There is little uniformity with kidnapping rings in Mexico in terms of resources, targets and tactics. The vast majority of kidnapping victims are Mexican nationals, but the risk to tourists remains, especially if they are perceived to be wealthy.

Law Enforcement

Visitors to Mexico should not expect law enforcement officers to behave as their counterparts do in the United States. As previously stated, law enforcement in many areas of Mexico is focused on drug trafficking. In some regions, elements of law enforcement are on the payroll of cartels, and in some locations the police have been fired for corruption and law enforcement functions have been assumed by the Mexican military. In October 2011, authorities in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, announced that seven police officers were allowing Los Zetas to maintain safe-houses where cartel members watched over kidnapping victims. While obviously not every element of law enforcement in Mexico engages in these activities, visitors to the country should expect to assume sole responsibility for their personal security.


As Stratfor has previously stated, many of the popular spring break locations that are perceived to have "acceptable" levels of crime have experienced the violence related to the drug wars raging in Mexico. Firefights between Federal Police or soldiers and gunmen armed with assault rifles have erupted without warning throughout Mexico, affecting small mountain villages, large cities like Monterrey and resort towns like Acapulco and Cancun. While the cartels have not often intentionally targeted tourists, their violence increasingly has been on public display in popular tourist districts. In February this year, Acapulco saw multiple incidents of dismembered bodies being discovered in the trunks of abandoned vehicles -- on Feb. 13, authorities discovered the decapitated body of a taxi driver in the trunk of a taxi. Highlighting these threats, the U.S. State Department updated its travel warning to Mexico in February 2012 and recommended against non-essential travel to resort areas such as Acapulco, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.

It also is important to understand the risks associated with traveling to a country that is engaged in ongoing counternarcotics operations involving thousands of military and federal law enforcement personnel. Some parts of Mexico can credibly be described as a war zone. While there are important differences among the security environments in Mexico's various resort areas and between the resort towns and other parts of Mexico, the country's overall reputation for crime and kidnapping is deserved. Locals and foreigners alike often become victims of assault, express kidnappings, high-value target kidnappings, sexual assaults, carjackings and other crimes.

As stated, the country's security services sometimes pose security risks themselves. When driving, it is important to pay attention to the highway roadblocks manned by military personnel and to checkpoints established to screen vehicles for drugs and cartel operatives. Police officers and soldiers have opened fire on vehicles driven by innocent people who failed to follow instructions at the checkpoints, which are often poorly marked.

It is also important to note the well-documented episodes of cartel gunmen operating mobile or stationary roadblocks while disguised as government troops. We have not confirmed whether these have been encountered in popular resort areas, but if not, there is the strong possibility they will be eventually, given the increase in violence in port cities. And as violence escalates near Mexico's resort towns, Stratfor anticipates that the cartels will not hesitate to use all the tools at their disposal to defeat their opponents, regardless of where these happen to be. An encounter with a checkpoint or roadblock operated by gunmen disguised as Federal Police or military personnel can be deadly. Driving around city streets in resort towns or roads in the surrounding countryside is becoming increasingly dangerous.

Many Mexican coastal resort towns better known for their beautiful beaches also depend on their port facilities, and these have come to play a strategic role in the country's drug trade. Drug trafficking organizations use legitimate commercial ships as well as fishing boats and other small surface vessels to carry shipments of cocaine from South America to Mexico, and many cartels often rely on hotels and resorts to launder drug proceeds. Because of the importance of these facilities, the assumption has been that drug trafficking organizations seek to limit violence in such areas, not only to protect existing infrastructure but also to avoid the attention that violence affecting wealthy foreign tourists would draw.

This is no longer a safe assumption. The profound escalation of cartel-related conflict in Mexico has created an environment in which deadly violence can occur anywhere, with complete disregard for bystanders, whatever their nationality or status. Moreover, the threat to vacationing foreigners is not just the potential of being caught in the crossfire but also of inadvertently drawing the attention and anger of cartel gunmen.


Acapulco, which remains one of the most violent of Mexico's popular resort towns, saw 1,199 murders in 2011 according to Mexican government figures. The criminal landscape in Acapulco is fluid and has seen many changes since 2011. Most violence related to organized crime in the city resulted from the collapse of the Beltran Leyva Organization, which spawned a set of competing organizations. While the reported activity of groups such as the Independent Cartel of Acapulco and Cartel Pacifico Sur has dropped, a more recent group also formed from the remnants of Beltran Leyva Organization, La Barredora, has established dominance over the city.

Organized crime-related violence in Acapulco is not limited to regional outfits. For example, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which is based out of Jalisco state and known for public displays of violence, recently announced its presence in Acapulco.

Cancun and Cozumel

Cancun's port remains an important point of entry for South American drugs transiting Mexico on their way to the United States. Los Zetas remain highly active in the area, with a steady flow of drugs and foreign nationals entering the smuggling pipeline from Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba and other points of origin in the greater Caribbean Basin. Benito Juarez, the municipality in which Cancun is located, saw 423 homicides during 2011. Cozumel, Isla Mujeres and associated tourist zones have seen little violence related to organized crime -- nine murders were reported for 2011.

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta's location on the Pacific coast makes it strategically important to trafficking groups that send and receive maritime shipments of South American drugs and Chinese chemical precursors used in the production of methamphetamine, much of which is produced in the areas surrounding the nearby city of Guadalajara. Several of Mexico's largest and most powerful cartels maintain a trafficking presence in Puerto Vallarta and the nearby municipality of Jarretaderas. Incidents of cartel-related deaths in Puerto Vallarta are relatively low compared to places like Acapulco, but Puerto Vallarta still saw 64 murders and one reported kidnapping in 2011. Threats from kidnapping gangs or other criminal groups also are said to be lower in this resort city than in the rest of the country. Still, a February 2012 incident illustrated why caution and situational awareness should always be exercised: a group of 22 tourists ventured off their cruise ship to tour El Nogalito, an area near Puerto Vallarta, and were held at gunpoint and robbed of their personal belongings.

Cabo San Lucas

Located on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas and the greater Los Cabos region have been relatively insulated from the country's drug-related violence and can be considered one of the safer places in Mexico for foreign tourists. Although historically it has been a stop on the cocaine trafficking routes, Cabo San Lucas' strategic importance decreased dramatically after the peak of cartel activities there in the late 1990s when the Tijuana cartel lost its contacts with Colombian cocaine suppliers (the result of joint U.S.-Colombian counternarcotics activities). Over the last five years, drug trafficking in the area has been limited. Still, Cabo San Lucas' ongoing problems with crime include incidences of kidnapping, theft and assault, as well as some drug trafficking. In October 2011, after being pursued by municipal police, gunmen took refuge in a grocery store in Cabo San Lucas -- some reports stated the civilians inside were taken hostage. Despite the relative lack of cartel violence in the area, official 2011 statistics for the greater Los Cabos region show seven murders and one kidnapping.


Mazatlan, located only about 450 kilometers (280 miles) north of Puerto Vallarta, has been perhaps the most consistently violent of Mexico's resort cities during the past year. It is located in Sinaloa state, home of the country's largest cartel, the Sinaloa Federation, and bodies of victims of drug cartels and kidnapping gangs appear on Mazatlan's streets on a weekly basis. The sheer level of violence means that the potential for collateral damage is high. There were 382 murders and 12 reported kidnappings in Mazatlan and the rest of Sinaloa state in 2011.


Though Matamoros itself is not one of the more commonly visited spring break locations, we are including it in this discussion because of its proximity to South Padre Island, Texas. It has long been the practice of adventurous vacationers on the south end of South Padre Island to take advantage of the inexpensive alcohol and lower drinking age south of the border, mainly in Matamoros and the surrounding towns clustered along the Rio Grande. But it is important to note that drug- and human-smuggling activities in that region of Mexico are constant, vital to Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, and ruthlessly conducted. Since the Zetas offensive against the Gulf Cartel of Matamoros in 2011, Matamoros has seen a significant amount of violence between competing organizations as well as confrontations with the military. Visitors should not venture south into Mexico from South Padre Island.

General Safety Tips

If travel to Mexico is planned or necessary, visitors should keep in mind the following:
•   Do not drive at night.
•   Use only pre-arranged transportation between the airport and the resort or hotel.
•   If at a resort, plan on staying there; refrain from going into town, particularly at night.
•   If you do go into town (or anywhere off the resort property), do not accept a ride from unknown persons, do not go into suspicious-looking or run-down bars, do not wander away from brightly lit public places and do not wander on the beach at night.
•   Stop at all roadblocks.
•   Do not bring anything with you that you are not willing to have taken from you.
•   If confronted by an armed individual who demands the possessions on your person, give them up.
•   Do not bring ATM cards linked to your bank account. (Among other things, an ATM card can facilitate an express kidnapping.)
•   Do not get irresponsibly intoxicated.
•   Do not accept a drink from a stranger, regardless of whether you are male or female.
•   Do not make yourself a tempting target by wearing expensive clothing or jewelry.
•   Do not venture out alone. Additionally, being part of a group does not guarantee safety.
Editor's Note: In July 2011, Stratfor published a series on travel security, available at the end of this piece on our website.
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« Reply #423 on: March 05, 2012, 04:55:16 PM »

Let's make this simple. If you are stupid enough to go to Mexico for spring break, you deserve whatever happens to you.

Iraq and A-stan are safer. This is what we call a clue.
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« Reply #424 on: March 18, 2012, 10:53:13 AM »

MATAMOROS, Mexico — They have spotted their stolen vehicles at stoplights, driven by the same gunmen who used them to take their entire family captive last July. They have reported the brazen abduction to every branch of Mexican law enforcement, only to be ignored, or directed someplace else.

Zynthia Cazares showing photographs of, from left, her brother, husband and father, all still missing after they were kidnapped.

For the women of the Cazares family who were kidnapped with their families for ransom — and who are still searching for five missing relatives — the official response to their horrific ordeal has been even more excruciating than the crime itself. Even now, they say, after months of trying to goad the Mexican authorities into action, they still see criminals they recognize living large here in this border city, as untouchable as kings.

“We’re completely impotent,” said Zynthia Cazares, 30, an American citizen who was among those abducted and whose husband, brother and father are still missing. “No one will help us.”

Six years into a mostly military assault on drug cartels, impunity across much of Mexico has worsened, and justice is harder to find. Criminals in Mexico are less likely to be punished now than even just a few years ago, say current and former government officials and experts who have studied Mexico’s ailing judiciary, because the authorities have been overwhelmed by increases in violent crime while corruption, fear and incompetence have continued to keep the justice system weak.

Many areas now veer toward lawlessness: in 14 of Mexico’s 31 states, the chance of a crime’s leading to trial and sentencing was less than 1 percent in 2010, according to government figures analyzed by a Mexican research institute known as Cidac. And since then, experts say, attempts at reform have stalled as crime and impunity have become cozy partners.

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« Reply #425 on: March 18, 2012, 10:57:56 AM »

Good thing we secured that border!

MATAMOROS, Mexico — They have spotted their stolen vehicles at stoplights, driven by the same gunmen who used them to take their entire family captive last July. They have reported the brazen abduction to every branch of Mexican law enforcement, only to be ignored, or directed someplace else.

Zynthia Cazares showing photographs of, from left, her brother, husband and father, all still missing after they were kidnapped.

For the women of the Cazares family who were kidnapped with their families for ransom — and who are still searching for five missing relatives — the official response to their horrific ordeal has been even more excruciating than the crime itself. Even now, they say, after months of trying to goad the Mexican authorities into action, they still see criminals they recognize living large here in this border city, as untouchable as kings.

“We’re completely impotent,” said Zynthia Cazares, 30, an American citizen who was among those abducted and whose husband, brother and father are still missing. “No one will help us.”

Six years into a mostly military assault on drug cartels, impunity across much of Mexico has worsened, and justice is harder to find. Criminals in Mexico are less likely to be punished now than even just a few years ago, say current and former government officials and experts who have studied Mexico’s ailing judiciary, because the authorities have been overwhelmed by increases in violent crime while corruption, fear and incompetence have continued to keep the justice system weak.

Many areas now veer toward lawlessness: in 14 of Mexico’s 31 states, the chance of a crime’s leading to trial and sentencing was less than 1 percent in 2010, according to government figures analyzed by a Mexican research institute known as Cidac. And since then, experts say, attempts at reform have stalled as crime and impunity have become cozy partners.

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« Reply #426 on: March 20, 2012, 06:42:12 AM »

I've stopped to eat in this town a few times in the 1970s.

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Gunmen ambushed and killed 12 police officers who had been sent to investigate the beheadings of 10 people in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexican authorities said Monday.
Six state and six local officers were killed and 11 officers were wounded Sunday night on a road leading out of the town of Teloloapan, between Acapulco and Mexico City, said Arturo Martínez, a Guerrero State police spokesman.
The officers were traveling in six patrol pickups and searching for the bodies of seven men and three women whose heads had been dumped outside the town’s slaughterhouse earlier Sunday, Mr. Martínez said.
The heads were left with a message threatening the drug cartel La Familia, whose home base is in neighboring Michoacan State.
Teloloapan is near an area shared by Guerrero and Michoacan that is known as Tierra Caliente for its steamy weather. Drug traffickers have used the violent, mountainous zone for years to grow marijuana and opium poppies.
The region has been plagued by drug violence in recent years as drug gangs have fought to control it. The authorities say the fighting has severely battered La Familia.
Soldiers have been sent to the area, but that has not stopped gunmen from killing priests, politicians, police chiefs or anyone else who gets in the way.
In September 2010, nine police officers were kidnapped in Teloloapan as they were investigating the death of a man in the village of El Revelado. The bodies of eight of the officers were found days later. Six had been dismembered. One officer was found alive.
More than 47,000 people have died in drug violence nationwide since President Felipe Calderón began a crackdown on drug cartels in December 2006.

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« Reply #427 on: March 21, 2012, 07:43:39 PM »
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« Reply #428 on: March 21, 2012, 07:56:43 PM »

Perhaps Malia is down in Mexico as part of the dem "get out the vote" operation?
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« Reply #429 on: April 01, 2012, 07:07:02 AM »

MEXICO CITY—Mexico's presidential campaign began Friday with three main candidates vying for the prize in the July vote: a young ex-governor with movie-star looks, the country's first major female candidate and a messianic former mayor who once preached revolution and now talks about love.

Polls show a big early lead for telegenic Enrique Peña Nieto, a telegenic former governor with the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for seven consecutive decades until it lost the presidency in 2000.

An average of six polls published this week, calculated by pollster Mitosfky, showed Mr. Peña leading with 47.6% of the vote compared with 30.2% for Josefina Vázquez Mota of the ruling National Action Party (PAN) and 21.3% for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who narrowly lost the vote six years ago.

The winner and successor to President Felipe Calderón, constitutionally barred from re-election, will take over a country with a raging drug war that has claimed more than 50,000 lives in the past five years, a slow-growing economy that has been left in the dust by fast-growing emerging markets like Brazil and India, and a political landscape that has been stuck in gridlock for 15 years."The challenge here is how to govern a country where the three major parties split up the vote, and can't agree on what to do," said Luis Rubio, head of the Cidac think tank in Mexico City.

 .The two front-runners kicked off their campaigns right after midnight on Friday, the first day of the campaign season under the country's election laws. Mr. Peña told a crowd of flag-waving supporters in Mexico's second city of Guadalajara that it was time for change after 12 years of the conservative PAN.

"Mexicans can and deserve to do better," said Mr. Peña, who has promised to carry out economic reforms that include opening Mexico's closed energy sector to private companies.

Ms. Vázquez, for her part, said she would recruit a "coalition government" that represented the best talent in Mexico—an effort to try to build bridges beyond her party and get legislation passed. Her campaign hasn't yet outlined major policy proposals.

Mexico's drug war looms heavily over the vote, which will include local, state and federal elections. Alleged drug gangs have already threatened at least 13 candidates for various posts among the coalition of leftist parties that support Mr. López Obrador, telling them to step down or be killed, the party said this week.

One mayoral candidate's brother was kidnapped for six hours by a presumed drug gang with a message to tell the candidate not to run, the party said.

But the drug war isn't a divisive issue, because voters generally back Mr. Calderón's offensive against drug gangs, and all three major candidates have vowed to broadly continue the fight, albeit with different tactics.

Enlarge Image

Josefina Vázquez arrives at a Mexico City school Friday.
.Some analysts say the race may get much closer than current polls suggest. One reason is that about 25% of voters are still undecided, and in past elections they have tended to break against the PRI, which is still viewed negatively by many Mexicans for its history of corruption and cronyism in power.

In the past two elections, the PRI candidate lost ground between March and Election Day, while the PAN candidate ended up gaining ground.

Mr. Peña has also been slowly declining in polls over the past year, losing about 10 percentage points to his current level. Late last year, he blundered when he couldn't name three books he had read raising questions about his intellect. Ms. Vázquez, meanwhile, has gained about 10 percentage points, partly as the result of securing her party's primary and becoming better known.

"To make this interesting, the PAN needs to convince the undecided voters to come out and vote for them," said Luis de la Calle, a former deputy trade minister and political consultant. "But the party needs to give them a reason to turn out."

A big factor in Mr. Peña's favor are new campaign rules that limit the campaign season to three months, outlaw attack ads, and set limits on television spending that will let the PRI run 40% of all TV spots versus just 28% for the PAN.

"It's possible that Ms. Vásquez Mota and Mr. López Obrador can catch Mr. Peña, but the rules of the game make it unlikely," Luis Carlos Ugalde, the former head of Mexico's electoral agency, wrote on the political website El Palenque this week.

A victory by the PRI would cap a remarkable comeback for a party that ran Mexico for 71 years until it lost in 2000 to Vicente Fox. The centrist party very nearly fell apart due to infighting and came in a distant third place in the last presidential election in 2006.

But it has been helped by its rivals. The PAN has proved ineffectual in power, unable to control a civil war among Mexico's drug cartels or tackle the country's biggest problems, from a dysfunctional judicial system to corrupt labor unions to monopolies that dominate the economy and suffocate competition.

While economic stability under the PAN has paid off in the form of a growing middle class, Mexico's average annual economic growth during the past decade has been an anemic 2.5%.

The Democratic Revolution Party, meanwhile, has suffered from Mr. López Obrador's reaction to his narrow loss six years ago, when he refused to recognize Mr. Calderón's win, led months of street protests that railed against the country's "oligarchy," and claimed himself to be the "legitimate" president—scaring off many voters along the way. To woo back the middle class, he has now recast himself as a candidate of "love" without class rancor.

For many voters, the election is shaping up as a choice between the lesser of three evils. Do they want to keep the ineffectual PAN or go back to the PRI, seen as capable but corrupt? Or do they want to roll the dice with Mr. López Obrador?

"I don't really like any of them," said Héctor Ortega, 42, who runs an outdoor stand that sells sweets on a street corner in Mexico City.

So far, the most far-reaching proposals during the precampaign months have come from the PRI, including a plan to change Mexico's constitution and allow state oil giant Petróleos Mexicanos to partner with foreign oil companies.

That kind of talk has spurred hope that Mexico may finally break out of its gridlock. But given that the PRI itself helped block many reforms in the past decade, some investors still need convincing.


Write to David Luhnow at

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« Reply #430 on: April 01, 2012, 07:24:10 AM »

second post of day

Ideal Circumstances
Mexican authorities found at least seven dismembered bodies on display March 26 in the Los Zetas stronghold of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. The displays were accompanied by three narcomantas, ostensibly signed by Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, claiming the Nuevo Laredo plaza as his own. The messages openly challenged Los Zetas' two senior leaders, Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales and Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano, and intimated that further assaults can be expected against Los Zetas in the northeast Mexican city.

If they were authentic, the narcomantas would suggest that Sinaloa has resumed operations against Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo, one of the most valuable border towns for illicit drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border. While the messages alone do not indicate the extent to which Sinaloa will encroach upon Los Zetas' northeastern stronghold, Sinaloa certainly has the resources to undertake the challenge. Were Sinaloa to try to reclaim the Nuevo Laredo plaza, Los Zetas would defend their territory with all available resources, and violence in the city would likely intensify.

There are several factors that make this an ideal time for Guzman's criminal organization to strike its eastern rival in Nuevo Laredo, not the least of which is that the Mexican military has recently stepped up operations against Los Zetas in the plaza. On March 1, Los Zetas plaza boss Gerardo "El Guerra" Guerra Valdez was killed in a firefight with the army. Then on March 13, authorities captured Guerra's alleged replacement, Carlos Alejandro "El Fabiruchis" Gutierrez Escobedo. Perceived weakness in Zetas leadership may have motivated Sinaloa to undertake operations before Los Zetas can recuperate.

New alliances among Los Zetas' rivals also make current conditions ripe for incursion. Following the 2003 arrest of Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen, Sinaloa moved a large group of enforcers into Nuevo Laredo and began a violent turf war with the Gulf cartel. After five years of intense fighting, Los Zetas, enforcers for the Gulf cartel at the time, pushed Sinaloa out of Nuevo Laredo. But Los Zetas quickly assumed control of the plaza after splitting with the Gulf cartel in 2010, and residual Gulf elements have fought intermittently with Los Zetas ever since.

In 2011, two rival factions within the Gulf cartel -- Los Metros and Los Rojos -- began fighting for absolute control of the cartel. Though weakened, these factions retained control of various areas of Tamaulipas state, such as Reynosa, Matamoros and Miguel Aleman, posing a significant threat to Los Zetas. Los Metros, led by Jorge Eduardo "El Coss" Costilla Sanchez, appeared to have consolidated control over the Gulf cartel by the end of 2011. But according to a Stratfor source and other unconfirmed reports, Costilla has since been forced out of the cartel by Mario "X-20" Ramirez-Trevino, who has assumed control of the Reynosa plaza. The source said Costilla has now been fully brought into the Sinaloa Federation's fold. If the report were true, Costilla would appear to be facilitating Sinaloa's incursion into Nuevo Laredo.

Another factor may also be creating ideal circumstances for Sinaloa's moves: control over transport routes. In September 2011, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) commenced operations against Los Zetas in the important port city of Veracruz, Veracruz state. Allegedly conducted at the behest of Sinaloa, these assaults helped CJNG establish a presence in previously uncontested Zetas territory. Then in January 2012, reports surfaced that Los Zetas had begun operations against an alleged Sinaloa-Gulf cartel alliance in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, a valuable transport hub linking Veracruz to Nuevo Laredo. Meanwhile, renewed violence between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas erupted in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state, located between Veracruz and Nuevo Laredo. Taken together, these events suggest Los Zetas are being confronted along a crucial supply line to Nuevo Laredo.

It is unclear if or to what degree Sinaloa will escalate its assaults on Nuevo Laredo, but given the plaza's importance, Los Zetas would respond with all available resources to defend it. This may require diverting manpower and resources from areas in which Los Zetas are encroaching on Sinaloa, such as Jalisco, Durango or Zacatecas states. Los Zetas would also have to defend against strikes on transport routes leading to Nuevo Laredo. In any case, security in Nuevo Laredo can be expected to degrade rapidly if Sinaloa and Los Zetas engage in all-out turf war.

March 20
■Authorities discovered the body of an executed man in Cancun, Quintana Roo state.
March 21
■Masked individuals identifying themselves as Los Guerreros de Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion ("The Warriors of CJNG") sent a video to a Mexican media agency. The individuals said CJNG would clean Guerrero and Michoacan states of all ills, threatened the Knights Templar and said former La Familia Michoacana leader Nazario "El Mas Loco" Moreno Gonzalez was alive and acting as a Knights Templar leader.
■Six members of the Mexican military were injured in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state, when a grenade thrown from a nearby bus station exploded, flipping their vehicle.
■Authorities discovered the bodies of three executed men next to a narcomanta addressed to a gang in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon state.
March 22
■Gunmen executed seven people, including three taxi drivers, in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
■State police detained eight Gulf cartel members and three Los Zetas members in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
■Gunmen executed a municipal police chief outside a bar in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.
■Gunmen left a narcomanta accusing the police chief of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, of supporting the Sinaloa Federation.
March 23
■Gunmen shot and killed seven people at a fuel vendor's stand in Angostura, Sinaloa state.
■Authorities found four severed heads in a truck in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
■The Mexican military seized 9.5 metric tons of marijuana from a warehouse in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, while responding to reports of an explosion. The warehouse was being used to install secret compartments for illicit drug transportation.
March 24
■Gunmen shot and killed a man in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The gunmen left a narcomanta with the body, but the message's contents have not been released.
March 25
■An explosive device was detonated near a TV studio in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state. No injuries were reported.
March 26
■Two grenade attacks injured one person in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state. Authorities attribute the city's recent rise in grenade attacks to fighting between rival gangs.
■A firefight with state police left 10 gunmen dead in Temosachi, Chihuahua state.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: In Nuevo Laredo, Killings May Herald a Sinaloa Incursion | Stratfor
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« Reply #431 on: April 01, 2012, 07:31:33 AM »

third post of the morning:

With the Focus on Syria, Mexico Burns, by Robert D. Kaplan
March 28, 2012 | 1237 GMT
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 By Robert D. Kaplan

While the foreign policy elite in Washington focuses on the 8,000 deaths in a conflict in Syria -- half a world away from the United States -- more than 47,000 people have died in drug-related violence since 2006 in Mexico. A deeply troubled state as well as a demographic and economic giant on the United States' southern border, Mexico will affect America's destiny in coming decades more than any state or combination of states in the Middle East. Indeed, Mexico may constitute the world's seventh-largest economy in the near future.

Certainly, while the Mexican violence is largely criminal, Syria is a more clear-cut moral issue, enhanced by its own strategic consequences. A calcified authoritarian regime in Damascus is stamping out dissent with guns and artillery barrages. Moreover, regime change in Syria, which the rebels demand, could deliver a pivotal blow to Iranian influence in the Middle East, an event that would be the best news to U.S. interests in the region in years or even decades.

Nevertheless, the Syrian rebels are divided and hold no territory, and the toppling of pro-Iranian dictator Bashar al Assad might conceivably bring to power an austere Sunni regime equally averse to U.S. interests -- if not lead to sectarian chaos. In other words, all military intervention scenarios in Syria are fraught with extreme risk. Precisely for that reason, that the U.S. foreign policy elite has continued for months to feverishly debate Syria, and in many cases advocate armed intervention, while utterly ignoring the vaster panorama of violence next door in Mexico, speaks volumes about Washington's own obsessions and interests, which are not always aligned with the country's geopolitical interests.

Syria matters and matters momentously to U.S. interests, but Mexico ultimately matters more, so one would think that there would be at least some degree of parity in the amount written on these subjects. I am not demanding a switch in news coverage from one country to the other, just a bit more balance. Of course, it is easy for pundits to have a fervently interventionist view on Syria precisely because it is so far away, whereas miscalculation in Mexico on America's part would carry far greater consequences. For example, what if the Mexican drug cartels took revenge on San Diego? Thus, one might even argue that the very noise in the media about Syria, coupled with the relative silence about Mexico, is proof that it is the latter issue that actually is too sensitive for loose talk.

It may also be that cartel-wracked Mexico -- at some rude subconscious level -- connotes for East Coast elites a south of the border, 7-Eleven store culture, reminiscent of the crime movie "Traffic," that holds no allure to people focused on ancient civilizations across the ocean. The concerns of Europe and the Middle East certainly seem closer to New York and Washington than does the southwestern United States. Indeed, Latin American bureaus and studies departments simply lack the cachet of Middle East and Asian ones in government and universities. Yet, the fate of Mexico is the hinge on which the United States' cultural and demographic future rests.

U.S. foreign policy emanates from the domestic condition of its society, and nothing will affect its society more than the dramatic movement of Latin history northward. By 2050, as much as a third of the American population could be Hispanic. Mexico and Central America constitute a growing demographic and economic powerhouse with which the United States has an inextricable relationship. In recent years Mexico's economic growth has outpaced that of its northern neighbor. Mexico's population of 111 million plus Central America's of more than 40 million equates to half the population of the United States.

Because of the North American Free Trade Agreement, 85 percent of Mexico's exports go to the United States, even as half of Central America's trade is with the United States. While the median age of Americans is nearly 37, demonstrating the aging tendency of the U.S. population, the median age in Mexico is 25, and in Central America it is much lower (20 in Guatemala and Honduras, for example). In part because of young workers moving northward, the destiny of the United States could be north-south, rather than the east-west, sea-to-shining-sea of continental and patriotic myth. (This will be amplified by the scheduled 2014 widening of the Panama Canal, which will open the Greater Caribbean Basin to megaships from East Asia, leading to the further development of Gulf of Mexico port cities in the United States, from Texas to Florida.)

Since 1940, Mexico's population has increased more than five-fold. Between 1970 and 1995 it nearly doubled. Between 1985 and 2000 it rose by more than a third. Mexico's population is now more than a third that of the United States and growing at a faster rate. And it is northern Mexico that is crucial. That most of the drug-related homicides in this current wave of violence that so much dwarfs Syria's have occurred in only six of Mexico's 32 states, mostly in the north, is a key indicator of how northern Mexico is being distinguished from the rest of the country (though the violence in the city of Veracruz and the regions of Michoacan and Guerrero is also notable). If the military-led offensive to crush the drug cartels launched by conservative President Felipe Calderon falters, as it seems to be doing, and Mexico City goes back to cutting deals with the cartels, then the capital may in a functional sense lose even further control of the north, with concrete implications for the southwestern United States.

One might argue that with massive border controls, a functional and vibrantly nationalist United States can coexist with a dysfunctional and somewhat chaotic northern Mexico. But that is mainly true in the short run. Looking deeper into the 21st century, as Arnold Toynbee notes in A Study of History (1946), a border between a highly developed society and a less highly developed one will not attain an equilibrium but will advance in the more backward society's favor. Thus, helping to stabilize Mexico -- as limited as the United States' options may be, given the complexity and sensitivity of the relationship -- is a more urgent national interest than stabilizing societies in the Greater Middle East. If Mexico ever does reach coherent First World status, then it will become less of a threat, and the healthy melding of the two societies will quicken to the benefit of both.

Today, helping to thwart drug cartels in rugged and remote terrain in the vicinity of the Mexican frontier and reaching southward from Ciudad Juarez (across the border from El Paso, Texas) means a limited role for the U.S. military and other agencies -- working, of course, in full cooperation with the Mexican authorities. (Predator and Global Hawk drones fly deep over Mexico searching for drug production facilities.) But the legal framework for cooperation with Mexico remains problematic in some cases because of strict interpretation of 19th century posse comitatus laws on the U.S. side. While the United States has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to affect historical outcomes in Eurasia, its leaders and foreign policy mandarins are somewhat passive about what is happening to a country with which the United States shares a long land border, that verges on partial chaos in some of its northern sections, and whose population is close to double that of Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Mexico, in addition to the obvious challenge of China as a rising great power, will help write the American story in the 21st century. Mexico will partly determine what kind of society America will become, and what exactly will be its demographic and geographic character, especially in the Southwest. The U.S. relationship with China will matter more than any other individual bilateral relationship in terms of determining the United States' place in the world, especially in the economically crucial Pacific. If policymakers in Washington calculate U.S. interests properly regarding those two critical countries, then the United States will have power to spare so that its elites can continue to focus on serious moral questions in places that matter less.


Read more: With the Focus on Syria, Mexico Burns, by Robert D. Kaplan | Stratfor
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« Reply #432 on: April 26, 2012, 12:15:00 PM »

Government border town crackdowns on the rise
In this March 22, 2012 photo, Luis Valverde, right, talks with Nicho Vacca, middle, and Anthony Delgado, all long time residents of Sunland Park, as they gather in front of a senior center in Sunland Park, N.M. Scandal in this small border town is nothing new. But what is new is the harsh response: State and federal authorities are focusing on border town corruption as part of the larger effort to battle the influence of Mexican drug cartels. (AP Photo - Ross D. Franklin)JERI CLAUSING
From Associated Press
April 26, 2012 12:05 PM EDT
SUNLAND PARK, N.M. (AP) — While much of New Mexico is west of the Rio Grande, this dusty enclave of 14,000 residents is the only U.S. city located on the Mexico side of the river, on the same side as — and just across the border fence from — Juarez.

But it's more than the anomalous location that lends to the town's persistent reputation as a self-contained banana republic.

When state police descended on the dysfunctional community before the March elections, the reaction wasn't so much surprise as "what now?"

And that would be the latest allegations of extortion and financial kickbacks among municipal officials, and, more colorfully, that a mayoral candidate tried to force his opponent out of the race with a secretly recorded video of the other man getting a topless lap dance.

But what is relatively new in Sunland Park and in other troubled border cities and towns is the harsh response to such shenanigans. State and federal agencies are cracking down on border town corruption as part of the larger effort to battle Mexican drug cartels.

"Everyone turned their heads for so long," said Richard Schwein, a former FBI agent in nearby El Paso, Texas, where at least 28 people have either been convicted or indicted recently for voting scandals or awarding fraudulent contracts. Then, when the Department of Justice and the FBI made it a priority, "Bingo!"

Another example can be found 70 miles west of El Paso, in tiny Columbus, N.M., where authorities a year ago arrested the mayor, police chief, a town trustee and 11 other people who have since pleaded guilty to charges they helped run guns across the border to Mexican drug cartels.

That corruption that seems endemic to the border towns can be blamed on a mix of small-town politics, an influx of corrupt government practices from across the border, and, of course, the rise of the cartels and their endless supply of cash.

"If you're (a small town police officer) making $35,000 a year, and someone offers you $5,000 cash ... and next month there's another $5,000 in it for you, you've just (substantially increased) your income by not being on patrol on a given road," said James Phelps, an assistant professor with the Department of Security Studies and Criminal Justice at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

The U.S. attorney for New Mexico, Kenneth Gonzalez, says more local officials have gotten caught up in scandals as federal authorities put a more intense and sophisticated focus on border towns as part of their attempts to thwart the cartels.

"A result of that intense scrutiny is that we more than likely are going to ensnare someone abusing their position," Gonzalez said.

In Sunland Park, an inquiry into local elections turned into a major probe by multiple agencies.

State auditor Hector Balderas said that broad cooperation among agencies shows that law enforcement is starting to realize that "many crimes are interrelated."

"I think law enforcement agencies and other agencies are now learning that these fiscal problems are symptoms of potentially greater corruption," Balderas said. "And a village or municipality can be infiltrated by criminal elements very easily."

Dona Ana District Attorney Amy Orlando stated in court that Sunland Park's former mayor pro tem and then mayor-elect, Daniel Salinas, 28, had boasted to his codefendants in the cases there that he had ties to the cartels and could call on them to have people who testify against him killed.

Salinas' attorney vehemently denied those allegations.

The two dozen felonies filed against Salinas to date focus on corruption of the financial and voting processes. Although he won the mayor's chair, he was barred from taking office by the terms of his bail.

So allies on the City Council recently named a political newcomer to the job. The new mayor, 24-year-old Javier Perea, most recently worked as a jewelry store employee at an El Paso mall. He replaces former Mayor Martin Resendiz, who dropped a bid for Congress after admitting in a deposition that he signed nine contracts while drunk.

Said Orlando, "Unfortunately I think what is happening down in Sunland Park is that it was being run by a small group of people that were using funds and using the resources there for their own gain, operating it really as just their own little town — not following rules, not following regulations."

Incorporated in 1983, Sunland Park could geographically be considered a suburb of El Paso or Las Cruces, N.M., or even an upscale neighborhood in north Juarez. The town has a modern racetrack, replete with casino gambling, on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. There are a few store fronts, churches and even horse stables lining its main road.

The residents are friendly, but weary of the attention that they fear has made the town a laughingstock.

Salinas has declined to talk about the case, citing advice from his lawyer. But during an encounter outside his house after the second of his three arrests, he seemed at ease for a man facing multiple felony charges and continued investigation.

"I could write a book," he said with a wry smile.

And the native of the town still has many supporters.

"He is a good man, you can see it in his eyes," a man at the senior center said, before rushing off when asked for his name.

Besides Salinas, several city workers, including the city manager, the city's public information officer, the public works director and former city councilors and the former police chief, have also been indicted in the three separate criminal cases.

In one, Salinas and others are accused of trying to force his mayoral opponent, Gerardo Hernandez, out of the race with the lap dance video. Hernandez, who finished second, told investigators that an unidentified man threatened to blackmail him by producing a still image from the video. Hernandez said he was set up.

In another case, Salinas is accused of giving the former acting police chief the job of chief for convincing his sister not to run against a Salinas ally for city council. And in the third, Salinas and others are accused of billing hookers, drinks and campaign videos to a $12 million fund set up for the city by the owner of Sunland Park casino and racetrack to aid the town's ongoing efforts to get a border crossing built there.

State auditor Balderas said he's been monitoring the town since 2009. A previous auditor recommended the state take over the town in 2004 after finding scores of violations of state and local laws.

"Sunland Park has had a culture that has lacked accountability for many years," Balderas said. "They probably should have been taken over many years ago. They got more brazen when they didn't."

prentice crawford
« Reply #433 on: May 14, 2012, 01:28:58 AM »

updated 5/13/2012 8:22:55 PM ET 2012-05-14T00:22:55
Print Font: +-CADEREYTA JIMENEZ, Mexico — Suspected drug gang killers dumped 49 headless bodies on a highway near Mexico's northern city of Monterrey in one of the country's worst atrocities in recent years.

The mutilated corpses of 43 men and 6 women, whose hands and feet had also been cut off, were found in a pile on a highway in the municipality of Cadereyta Jimenez in the early hours of Sunday, officials from the state of Nuevo Leon said.

"What's complicating the identification of all the people was that they were all headless," said Jorge Domene, the Nuevo Leon government's spokesman for public security, who said the other body parts were missing.

Domene said the brutal Zetas drug gang claimed responsibility for the murders in a message found at the scene.

The massacre was the latest in a string of mass slayings that have convulsed Mexico in recent months, many of them in the north of the country, where the Zetas have waged a war against rival groups for control of smuggling routes.

Video: Video of kid criminals stirs controversy in Mexico (on this page)

The Zetas gang was founded by deserters from the Mexican army who became enforcers for the Gulf cartel, which once dominated the drug trade in northeastern Mexico. Leaders of the Zetas later split from their employers and the two gangs have since fought for control of trafficking routes.
The Zetas have also been at war with the powerful Sinaloa cartel on the other side of the country.

President Felipe Calderon has staked his reputation on bringing Mexico's drug gangs to heel, sending in the army to fight them shortly after taking office in December 2006.

But the violence has spiraled since, and more than 50,000 people have fallen victim to the conflict, eroding support for Calderon's conservative National Action Party (PAN), which looks likely to lose power in presidential elections on July 1.

A poll published on Sunday showed PAN presidential candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota trailing front-runner Enrique Pena Nieto of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) by 19 points with just seven weeks to go.

The commercial hub of Monterrey was long a bastion of the PAN, and the local business community has been "livid" about the violence engulfing the city, said George W. Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

"This puts the final nail in the coffin of the PAN in the presidential contest," he said after the latest atrocity.

Surveys show voters think that the PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years until 2000, is more likely to quell the violence. Its long rule was tainted by corruption and critics have accused the PRI of making deals with cartels to maintain order.

Tattooed victims
The headless victims have not been identified.

The bodies showed signs of decay, indicating they may have been dead for days, Nuevo Leon Attorney General Adrian de la Garza said. He noted there had been no mass disappearances reported in the state, so the victims could have died elsewhere.

De la Garza said many of the bodies were tattooed, which could offer a clue to their identities. The dead may have been migrants passing through Mexico to the United States, he added. Migrants have been targeted by criminal gangs in the past.

Violent street gangs in Central America such as the Maras have distinctive tattoos, though security spokesman Domene said the victims did not show these markings.

Domene said some had tattoos of Santa Muerte, or "Holy Death" a female skeletal grim reaper venerated by both gangs and some broader, non-criminal sections of Mexican society. The corpses were taken to Monterrey and authorities said they would perform DNA tests. Thousands of Mexico's drug war victims have never been identified.

Spiral of violence
The bloody killings in Nuevo Leon were the worst there since 52 people died in an arson attack on a casino in Monterrey in August. That attack was also blamed on the Zetas.

Monterrey is Mexico's most affluent city and was long seen as a model of economic development in Latin America. But it has been ravaged by the drug war over the last three years.

The horrifying conflict has been marked by an escalation of mass slaughter in recent weeks.

Last Wednesday, 18 people were found decapitated and dismembered near Mexico's second-largest city, Guadalajara.

A week earlier, the bodies of nine people were found hanging from a bridge and 14 others found dismembered in the city of Nuevo Laredo, just across the U.S. border from Laredo in Texas.

Security analyst Alberto Islas said much of the recent spike in violence was the result of fighting over cocaine supplies from South America between the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's most wanted man.

Increased pressure on Guzman's operations in Colombia this year had prompted the Sinaloa cartel to buy up a bigger share of cocaine from Peru and Ecuador, squeezing the Zetas' supply and sparking tit-for-tat attacks among the gangs, Islas added.

The fact that state and federal authorities had time and again failed to capture and prosecute those responsible for the brutality meant the attacks were only getting worse, he said.

"They're fighting across the whole country with complete impunity," he said. "The government has to send out a very clear signal they will stop the violence and find those responsible."

Late last year, several mass killings took place in the eastern state of Veracruz, which has been ravaged by the Zetas.

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« Reply #434 on: May 16, 2012, 08:07:38 AM »
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« Reply #435 on: May 16, 2012, 08:35:31 AM »

second post of morning

Mexico Security Memo: Zetas-Sinaloa Conflict Intensifies
May 16, 2012 | 1255 GMT


 Criminals have assembled dramatic displays of corpses throughout Mexico since May 4, when 23 victims were arranged in two separate displays in Nuevo Laredo. Narcomantas accompanied both, the first signed "El Chapo" and the other unsigned but denouncing Gulf cartel leaders and a former sicario, or hit man, for the Sinaloa Federation. On May 9, Mexican authorities discovered 18 bodies near Guadalajara, Jalisco state. According to state authorities, Los Zetas and the Zetas-affiliated Milenio cartel were responsible. And in the highest-profile incident, 49 dismembered bodies were dumped along a highway near Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state, along with a narcomanta in which Los Zetas claimed responsibility.

These public displays of violence all relate to the ongoing conflict between the Sinaloa Federation and its allies and Los Zetas and their allies in northeastern Mexico, in particular over Nuevo Laredo, a critical plaza for Los Zetas. This conflict has security implications throughout Mexico.

Since September 2011, the Sinaloa Federation and its allies, the Gulf cartel and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), have challenged Los Zetas in cities along routes leading to Nuevo Laredo, such as Veracruz, Monterrey and Ciudad Victoria. Sinaloa announced its recent challenge to Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo in a March 27 narcomanta. Los Zetas responded in kind along the route from Veracruz city to Nuevo Laredo and in traditional strongholds of Sinaloa and its allies, including Culiacan, Sinaloa and Guadalajara, Jalisco state, areas as critical to Sinaloa as Nuevo Laredo is to Los Zetas.

Continuing pressure from Sinaloa in Nuevo Laredo may force Los Zetas to divert resources from their other plazas to defend Nuevo Laredo. This limits Los Zetas' ability to defend plazas from additional incursions or to counter existing incursions like one in Cancun, where CJNG is competing for control of the plaza.

.The Mexican military also is mounting strong efforts against Los Zetas in states such as Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Nuevo Leon and Coahuila. The arrests or deaths of Los Zetas members like the March loss of two Nuevo Laredo plaza bosses in military operations open up even more opportunities for the Sinaloa Federation and its allies. This could well translate into additional turf wars in Zetas-controlled territory -- and in the turf of the Sinaloa Federation and its allies when Los Zetas strike back. While Nuevo Laredo is critical for Los Zetas, it is only one battlefield in the war.

May 7
■Authorities seized 32 metric tons of monomethylamine, a chemical precursor used for the production of methamphetamine, from a ship in Veracruz city, Veracruz state. The shipment, which originated in China, was labeled falsely as containing aluminum sulfate.
May 8
■Authorities rescued 12 kidnapping victims from a house in Tala, Jalisco state. Authorities were alerted to the house after one of the victims escaped.
■Gunmen killed a Centro de Readaptacion Social prison guard director in Torreon, Coahuila state, in his vehicle at an intersection.
■Authorities detained six members of La Oficina in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes state. At the time of their arrest, the six were planning to kidnap a person who did not pay an extortion fee.
■Gunmen established several roadblocks in central Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, by forcing motorists from their vehicles and then setting the vehicles ablaze.
■Gunmen ambushed a group of police officers along a road near Xalostoc, Guerrero state, killing two officers.
May 9
■Authorities discovered 18 headless bodies along a road in Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillo, Jalisco state, accompanied by a narcomanta signed "Milenio-Zetas alliance."
■Authorities seized 766.35 kilograms (1,689 pounds) of marijuana from a vehicle in Tijuana, Baja California state.
■Authorities seized approximately 14,700 liters (3,880 gallons) of chemical precursors used in the production of illicit drugs in Frontera Hidalgo, Chiapas state.
May 10
■Gunmen opened fire on a police patrol in Torreon, Coahuila state. Casualty information was not available.
■Authorities detained four people in possession of illegal drugs, a sidearm, seven cellphones, a radio and 135 voter ID cards in San Nicolas de los Garza, Nuevo Leon state.
■A firefight between gunmen and the military in Salvador Alvarado, Sinaloa state, killed five gunmen after gunfire ignited their vehicle. Elements of the 9th Military Zone initiated the exchange after encountering a checkpoint set up by the gunmen on Highway 15.
May 11
■Gunmen fired on newspaper El Manana's office in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, for several minutes and spray-painted an undisclosed message on the building. No injuries were reported.
May 12
■Authorities arrested four people in Tala, Jalisco state, in connection with decapitated bodies found May 9 in Ixtlahuacan de los Membrillos, Jalisco state.
May 13
■Forty-nine dismembered bodies in black bags were dumped near Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state, along a highway leading to Reynosa, Tamaulipas state. "Z-100%" was spray painted on a nearby wall, suggesting Los Zetas carried out the attack.
■Authorities found the body of Orta Salgado, a police reporter with 20 years of experience, handcuffed and bearing signs of torture in the trunk of a vehicle in Cuernavaca, Morelos state.
■Authorities discovered a dismembered body in Ixlan, Michoacan state, along a highway. A narcomanta signed CJNG and threatening the Knights Templar accompanied the body.
May 14
■Authorities in Luvianos, Mexico state, arrested suspected La Familia Michoacana (LFM) operator Juan Castelan Martinez "El Virulo" on the Tejupilco-Luvianos road. He is believed to have reported to "El Pony" and "La Marrana," the two principal LFM operators in Mexico state.
■Soldiers in the municipality of Chapala, Jalisco state, discovered five bodies in an industrial freezer on a farm. The bodies matched severed body parts found May 9 in Jalisco state.
■Seven men are being held in Chiapas state for allegedly trying to smuggle 6.4 kilograms of methamphetamine through a roadblock in Margaritas, Chiapas state. The drug shipment allegedly originated in Comitlan de Dominguez, Chiapas state, and was bound for Mexico state.
■Authorities seized 136 metric tons of chemical precursors aboard a ship in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state. The shipment originated in China and had Honduras listed as its final destination.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Zetas-Sinaloa Conflict Intensifies | Stratfor
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« Reply #436 on: May 16, 2012, 02:49:33 PM »

second post:

I haven't had a chance to look closely at this but it seems likely to be lively
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« Reply #437 on: May 24, 2012, 08:25:11 AM »

MEXICO - Economy grows 4.1 percent in first quarter

On 14 May 2012, financial groups reported an estimated 4.1 percent growth in the first quarter, mainly due to strong performance in the country’s manufacturing sector. Both increased external demand and the depreciation of the country’s currency from August 2011 to March 2012, which lowered export prices, were key factors in the growth.

MEXICO - Generals held for possible links to Beltrán Leyva Organization

On 17 May 2012, a federal judge ordered former deputy defense minister Tomás Ángeles Dauahare and Brigadier General Roberto Dawe González to be held for 40 days while they are investigated for alleged ties to the Beltrán Leyva Organization. The two were arrested on 16 May 2012 as part of an investigation against organized crime; Ángeles Dauhare was second-in-command of the military before his 2008 retirement.
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« Reply #438 on: June 12, 2012, 02:33:59 PM »

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tuesday, June 12, 2012 -- 12:26 PM EDT

Mexican Cartel Hides Millions in Horse Races, U.S. Alleges

A top drug ring enforcer’s brother, taken into custody Tuesday, was behind a horse breeding organization in the United States that officials say laundered millions of dollars.

Read More:
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« Reply #439 on: June 18, 2012, 11:19:15 AM »

The Past Has a Presence Here
Published: June 15, 2012
Enlarge This Image
Adam Wiseman for The New York Times
Organ pipe cactuses at the Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca.
Enlarge This Image
Adam Wiseman for The New York Times
Spiced grasshoppers at a market.
Enlarge This Image
Adam Wiseman for The New York Times
The archaeological site Monte Albán, about seven miles outside of Oaxaca, in Southern Mexico. Evidence points to the area as home to perhaps the earliest state in the Americas.
Enlarge This Image
Adam Wiseman for The New York Times
Textiles dyed by using the cochineal, in Oaxaca.
Enlarge This Image
Adam Wiseman for The New York Times
Cochineals on a nopal cactus. These insects are crushed to make the prized red pigment.
OAXACA, Mexico — The past casts a sharp shadow here, wherever you look. You see it on mountaintop plateaus, where the ruins of ancient pyramidal staircases and capital-I-shaped ball fields hint at mysterious rituals that disappeared over a millennium ago.
You see it during market days in nearby towns, whose traditions may be even older than those Zapotec ruins. Stalls with cheap contemporary kitsch — SpongeBob SquarePants T-shirts and bootleg Snow White baskets — are juxtaposed with culinary offerings from other centuries: crunchy grasshoppers laced with chili peppers, and mounds of black mole paste used for making spiced sauces.
You see it too in this town’s astonishing botanical garden of native plants, whose exotic cactuses and succulents are bounded by the walls of a 1500s Dominican monastery, the Spanish colonial structure shaping plangent counterpoint with indigenous flora.
For a visitor from the United States used to different kinds of exhibitions, it is startling how different the effect of the displays is here, how crisp certain contrasts seem and how brightly illuminated some familiar controversies become. It has something to do with the indigenous past, which has a different weight here, a different character.
In Oaxaca, which lies on the southern end of the Mexican landmass as it curves eastward to the isthmus, the first impression may be that of a quaint Spanish colonial town set in a protected valley. There are more museums here than can readily be explained: museums devoted to stamps, to pre-Columbian statuary, to the region’s cultural histories, to contemporary artists, to archaeological sites.
But for all that immersion in heritage (Oaxaca has even received the Unesco seal of approval as a World Heritage Site), there seems to be no temptation to glaze over the past’s harshness and imagine a pastoral harmony disrupted by colonization and only now struggling back. Leave that well-worn narrative for back home, where it has, unfortunately, become one of the embarrassments of the museum world.
In the United States, in institutions ranging from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington to regional natural history museums, the real arbiters of indigenous history these days are representatives of contemporary tribes. They oversee the display of a museum’s tribal artifacts and reshape accounts of the past, in many cases relying mainly on frayed strands of traumatically disrupted oral traditions. And everything is meant to increase self-esteem with promotional banality.
But here, something else happens. When you stand on a flattened hilltop above the village of Atzompa, some seven miles outside of Oaxaca, and look over at a nearby peak, you can glimpse the immense ruins of Monte Albán, a pre-Columbian plaza of breathtaking expanse used for ceremonies and games. Below those ruins, where perhaps 25,000 people lived in the early part of the first millennium, you can make out faint remnants of terraced farming on the hillside. The past is visible in the landscape.
On Atzompa’s adjacent plateau, similar ruins have been discovered. An impoverished village once reliant on its lead-based glazed pottery (now shunned), Atzompa will soon reap the benefits of recent discoveries when the government opens this site during the next year, showing off these fields and structures to visiting tourists.
We are not dealing here with imagined reconstructions, but with the past’s palpable presence. And most of these ancient cities and monuments were abandoned some six centuries before the Spaniards plundered the region. After 80 years of archaeological research, their meanings are still unclear, though much has been written about Zapotec social hierarchies, gladiatorial-style games and stone carvings.
What is more clear is that remnants of those worlds also exist in the valley, where the slow-changing cultures of this buffeted but protected region still reflect Zapotec and Mixtec heritages. So here everything is plentiful that in the United States is rare: indigenous ruins, ancient languages, signs of direct lineage. And there is an edge to it all. Centers like Monte Albán are monuments to power and accumulated material wealth; they are also clearly evidence of a large-scale political organization, relics of perhaps the earliest state in the Americas.
There have still been attempts to romanticize this past: Some of the carvings in the museum at Monte Albán were once thought to show dancers in acrobatic motion; now they are more convincingly interpreted as images of brutally castrated prisoners of war.
But how different all of this is from images of the indigenous past north of the border! There are few areas where evidence of ancient state-size power exists (mainly in the 2,000-year-old relics of societies that once thrived along the Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi Rivers). There are few places where cultural continuity is even remotely clear, and where ancient languages are still widely spoken. Even before colonization, cultures disappeared, leaving behind neither oral traditions nor written records. And forced migrations and centuries of warfare so disrupted native traditions that the past now seems little more than an identity-affirming fantasy.
There are Oaxacan counterparts, but they have a different character. Nelly Robles García, the head of Mexico’s national archaeological administration, explained in her dissertation that it was not easy to balance the needs of archaeologists with a sensitivity toward the local community, which also has its set of demands. “An experienced archaeologist,” she writes, “on hearing ‘the community will decide,’ immediately abandons hope of success.”
But generally there seems to be so much less gauze layered over what is being seen, because there is so much left to be seen.
Much of this becomes evident at the remarkable Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca, in the former monastery of Santo Domingo. The anthropologist Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg selected the plants and gave the garden its conceptual structure. In a manuscript about the garden, he cites Pablo Neruda’s description of Mexico, “with its cactus and its serpent,” as being a land both “flower-bedecked and thorny, dry and hurricane-drenched, violent of sketch and color, violent of eruption and creation.” That is the mixture evoked in this ensemble of native plants.
This is not a garden in the European sense, presenting an idealized landscape. At first, it can even seem untamed. The Oaxaca region, Mr. de Ávila Blomberg explains as he guides visitors, has been home to more ethnic groups, more indigenous languages and more species of plants than any other region in Mexico, and indeed, more than most regions of the world.
While sections of the garden, with its five acres of planting, are organized by climatic zones, it is also organized to shape a kind of history, beginning with plants grown from “the oldest cultivated seeds known”: 10,000-year-old squash seeds found in a cave about 25 miles from the city.
Most dramatically, extending down the garden’s center are columns of organ pipe cactuses, planted as if to guard the prickly pear cactus gathered nearby. The prickly pear, or nopal, cactus turned out to form a crucial axis on which Spanish colonization turned. A white parasitic insect, the cochineal, can be seen on its broad leaves. Squeeze them, and a bright red stain is left behind, the source of a cherished crimson dye once coveted for oil paints and cardinal robes. The cochineal, Mr. de Ávila Blomberg explains, made “the splendor of Santo Domingo” possible. It is also used in the garden, he explains, to color the water that pours through a sculpture by the Oaxacan artist Francisco Toledo, called “La Sangre de Mitla” — the blood of Mitla — invoking one of the great local Zapotec ruins.
There is a polemical point to this bloodletting, of course, because this is a nationalist garden. And only partly in jest, Mr. de Ávila Blomberg makes sure that visitors notice that the garden’s design places a cactus along the path leading to the monastery’s arched window, as if “giving the finger” to its alien colonists.
But such polemical displays do not undermine the garden’s ultimate embrace of even that past as one more strand in a complex cultural fabric. And such tensions, along with so many others here, make the American identity museum, with its romantic imaginings, seem like bland fare in comparison.
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« Reply #440 on: June 18, 2012, 12:15:14 PM »

second post of morning

More 'Cloned' Vehicles Used to Transport Mexican Cartel-linked Drugs, Aliens
By: Anthony Kimery
05/29/2012 (10:06am)
On May 18, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents arrested a 21-year-old male attempting to smuggle illegal aliens using a cloned United Parcel Service (UPS) van in CBP’s El Centro Sector of southern California. Less than a week later, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, (which has become a hot spot for cross-border transnational criminal activity), Hildago County sheriff’s deputies pulled over a suspicious FedEx truck near La Joya. It didn’t take long to discover that the truck also was a cloned commercial vehicle – it bore a fake magnetic license plate with the number of a lawfully registered FedEx delivery van.
In the May 18 cloned vehicle incident, diligent CBP agents busted the driver of the bogus UPS truck at approximately 11:30 a.m. after Border Patrol agents observed the fake UPS van attempting to circumvent the Highway 111 checkpoint. Agents performed a vehicle stop and discovered 13 passengers hiding inside the back of the fake delivery van. Upon further investigation, agents determined that the van was not a legitimate UPS vehicle.
The driver was identified as a United States citizen and the 13 passengers were identified as Mexican citizens without legal immigration documents. The driver and illegal aliens were arrested and the cloned UPS van was seized.
In the La Joya, Texas, case, Hidalgo County sheriff's deputies pulled over a suspicious FedEx truck that led to the discovery of “bundles of cash,” weapons (including an inert grenade) and drugs. Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Trevino told reporters that the truck was large enough to hold more than a ton of drugs. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is now assisting in the case. Three people, including the driver, have been arrested in connection to the cloned truck and contraband, authorities said.
In January off Highway 490, west of the Hidalgo County community of McCook, a Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) state trooper
stopped what appeared to be an AT&T truck for speeding. At least 2,100 pounds of marijuana was discovered in the truck, which was found to also be a cloned work truck.
DPS troopers also stopped a second car driven by Wilfredo Garza-Salgado for failing to stop at a nearby stop sign.
According to court records, Garza-Salgado was acting as an escort for the cloned AT&T truck.
Southwest border counter-cartel intelligence officials told Homeland Security Today on condition of anonymity that there’s “been an uptick” in the use of cloned vehicles to move both illegal aliens and drugs across the border or within the US side of the border region.
Homeland Security Today first reported that on March 12, 2011, within days of more than a dozen illegal aliens having been arrested near San Diego, Calif., wearing US Marine uniforms in an allegedly stolen van with allegedly stolen and altered Department of Homeland Security (DHS) license plates, a “cloned US Border Patrol service truck” also bearing apparent DHS license plates driven by a man in a Border Patrol uniform was stopped by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Del Rio, Texas, and found packed with nearly 1,500 pounds of marijuana.
The ICE agents became suspicious of the truck “while conducting surveillance at the Del Rio, Texas, Port of Entry,” according to the criminal complaint in the case.
In the earlier incident in southern California, the 13 undocumented aliens who’d managed to enter the US from Mexico caught in the bogus DHS truck all were wearing US Marine Corps Marine Pattern desert digital Battle Dress Uniforms when they were stopped by alert Border Patrol agents near Campo, Calif. The aliens and the three US citizens (who also were wearing Marine woodland digital uniforms) traveling with them were driving an allegedly stolen vehicle with altered US Government license plates.
In the April 2008 report, Beware the Clones, Homeland Security Today provided the first in-depth report on the employment of cloned vehicles to transport drugs, illegal aliens and other illicit materials.
Power User
Posts: 765

« Reply #441 on: June 22, 2012, 09:44:45 PM »

I've lived and worked in Mexico for a while now and spent a good amount of time in most of the country.

Although there is violence in Zacatecas due to its proximity to Durango, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, etc., and also due to the logistical support the main corridor provides when transporting arms and narcotics, beheadings in Zacatecas are unusual:

It is also unusual that the cartel (presumably Zetas), shot down a helicopter close to Jerez not long ago. They say that it was a mechanical failure, but there are rumors that the bird was shot down. Either way, more activity than usual going on:

They seem to be ramping up activity within the region. I expect much to be changing in Mexico this year. The Zetas and Mara Salva Trucha which had been at war with each other for years have had training relations together near the suothern border close to Guatemala. Change is in the wind.

Do not fear going anywhere, nor doing anything. You will die where you are supposed to.
Power User
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« Reply #442 on: June 25, 2012, 07:34:09 PM »

This comes to me from "Outland Securities".  I have yet to inform an opinion as to their reliability.

Drug trafficking enforcement action in Mexico city's international airport leaves three dead
Monday, June 25, 2012

The shootout that took place in Terminal 2 of the Mexico City international airport (AICM) was triggered when Federal Police agents tried to detain suspected drug traffickers, according to the an official report on the incident issued by the Federal Department of Public Safety (SSP).

In the report, they indicated that Federal agents were performing investigative duties and "proceeded to take into custody suspects linked with drug trafficking."

The suspects (number unknown) were in Terminal 2 of the Mexico City International Airport and, "when the saw themselves surrounded by Federal Police, began shooting their firearms at the federal agents."

Authorities within the agency indicated to El Universal that apparently the suspects were also Federal Police officers, which is why they were carrying weapons inside the terminal area, and they managed to fire their weapons to prevent being apprehended, although the investigation will continue to try to determine the aggressors' identities.

The SSP confirmed that two Federal Police officers lost their lives in the incident and another was transferred to a hospital, where he later died.
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« Reply #443 on: July 03, 2012, 06:28:11 PM »

Forty-five-year-old Enrique Peña Nieto, a former governor of the central state of Mexico, took Sunday's presidential elections as predicted by every poll for the last three months. The bigger story is how it happened.

President Felipe Calderón's National Action Party (PAN) candidate lost, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) challenger won, and the transfer of power came through the ballot box. That's not something to take for granted in this or any young democracy just now.

Do not forget that Mexico was a one-party state under PRI rule from 1929-2000. That's seven decades of political repression shaping the way citizens thought about their rights and the way civil institutions operate. When in the 1990s the PRI's lock on power began to unravel, violence erupted. Back then it was not so obvious that Mexico's transition to a stable democracy was inevitable.

Yet in just 12 years, since PRI President Ernesto Zedillo (1994-2000) led a political reform, Mexico has adopted true universal suffrage and real political competition has emerged. This allowed the PAN to win two back-to-back presidential elections—first Vicente Fox and then Mr. Calderón—but also forced the party in power to be accountable.

Enlarge Image

Mexico's President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto
.On Sunday the electorate opted to try something else. Mr. Peña Nieto came away with some 38% of the vote against his closest rival, the hard-left Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who won just under 32%. PAN candidate Josefina Vásquez Mota took 25.5%. Mr. López Obrador, true to threats made during the campaign, said Monday evening he'd contest the results, alleging misconduct. But word is that significant leadership in his own party may not be inclined to back him.

Some in Mexico are worried about the PRI's return to the presidential residence of Los Pinos because of its authoritarian past. But Mexico's political and civic environment has changed, and so has the PRI, which has reformers who want to deepen economic liberalization, but also "dinosaurs" who yearn for the past. Mr. Peña Nieto has his work cut out for him. Even if the PRI won an outright majority in the lower house on Sunday—those tallies are not in yet—negotiation will be crucial for him to govern, and he may have to reach across the aisle. If he doesn't deliver, Mexicans will let his party know at the next election.

More than 143,000 polling stations around the country were manned by ordinary citizens who went through training with the federal electoral institute, got up early on election day and stayed late ensure a free and fair election. The big winner Sunday was Mexican civil society.

Power User
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« Reply #444 on: July 05, 2012, 06:46:50 PM »

Michael Barone also reports on the positive news of a successful national election held Sunday in Mexico.

"...Pena will not bring back the old PRI system. He won based on his record as governor of the state of Mexico and his fame as the husband of a telenovela actress.

He has promised to get rid of the law prohibiting Pemex from making contracts with private oil service firms, one of the hallmarks of the old PRI system.

It's not clear whether he'll keep that promise, or whether he'll continue Calderon's aggressive fight against drug traffickers. As for immigration, it appears that the flow of Mexicans to the U.S. has been reversed since 2007.

What is clear is that Mexico has become a neighbor much easier to live with.

Also Brett Stephens/WSJ: Miracle in Mexico

..."From the year Nafta came into force till the present, Mexico's GDP per capita (in purchasing power parity) more than doubled, to $15,000 from $7,000." ...
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #445 on: July 05, 2012, 07:14:29 PM »

A friend in Mexico City is bitching that AMLO got cheated, but I suspect that's just sour grapes.  Witness how AMLO comported himself the last time around!   Too bad PAN put forth such a weak candidate.
Power User
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« Reply #446 on: July 07, 2012, 12:23:26 AM »

Pasting BD's post here as well
Power User
Posts: 2268

« Reply #447 on: July 07, 2012, 09:11:43 AM »

Pasting BD's post here as well

To insure that the story stays, here is the proper link:

The lawfareblog site is an interesting discussion of the role of law (and lawyers) in warfare. I posted it originally in the legal issues and islamic war thread because that was the basis of the creation of the blog. The material posted on the site, as the story above illustrates, often goes beyond the exact subject.
Power User
Posts: 765

« Reply #448 on: July 07, 2012, 11:58:13 AM »

A friend in Mexico City is bitching that AMLO got cheated, but I suspect that's just sour grapes.  Witness how AMLO comported himself the last time around!   Too bad PAN put forth such a weak candidate.

There is evidence that substantiates that PRI bought the vote... $500 to 1000 (peso) giftcards at Soriana (think Target) in the event that PRI won. Before the elections, PRI had distributed the giftcards to people only when the person had presented the IFE (Mexican Identification, also necessary to cast a vote), and had promised to vote for PRI. When the votes were tallied, if PRI won, the cards at that point, would be validated, and the voters could then cash in on the amounts.

It is necessary to say, that like all multi party systems (and the inherent problems with them, such as in Europe), PRI still enjoys a substantial amount of support from hardline supporters, but also from disenchanted members of PAN, the hardline conservatives (the weakest party of the three). PRD members would never vote for PRI, and there is no doubt that the offer of monies to the general public put the PRI out in front.

I myself support PRI, my fiance (a liberal), doesn´t support them at all. The facts are what they are.

A link to a letter that Soriana has released in regard to the cards. The mere fact that the cards exist speaks volumes.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 12:19:27 PM by DDF » Logged

Do not fear going anywhere, nor doing anything. You will die where you are supposed to.
Power User
Posts: 42520

« Reply #449 on: July 07, 2012, 05:15:03 PM »

That's what the PRI does.

I've heard a number of people say that PAN bit off more than it could chew with the narcos, or that it stirred up a hornet's nest without expecting that the hornets would come out really PO'd and that maybe things weren't so bad under the PRI after all.

The PRD is a breakaway from the PRI started by ex-Presidente Echeverria ('70-76) and his running dog Munoz Ledo.   AMLO has plenty of people who support him, especially in the DF going back to when he was mayor and had the heavy patronage to dish out.  My read on him is that, apart from the fact that he is hard core left, he is an egomaniac who confuses his own political fortunes with those of the nation and therefore is perfectly willing to hurt the nation so as to further his own cause.   Mexico is very, very, young in its true democracy and to have a contested by force situation (as last time almost was) could be ruinous to the political culture of the nation.   
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