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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #450 on: July 18, 2012, 09:52:06 PM »


Violence in Torreon
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed three police officers traveling in a car July 12 in Torreon, Coahuila state. A fourth officer was injured in the attack. The incident is the latest in a trend of increasing violence in Coahuila state, particularly in Torreon.

Mexican law enforcement officials attribute the recent wave of violence in Torreon to the capture of a Los Zetas plaza boss, Alberto Jose "El Paisa" Gonzalez Xalate, who was detained April 29. In addition, homicide numbers released by the Executive Secretariat of the National System of Public Security reflect an uptick in murders in Coahuila state since the arrest. Homicides increased from 82 in April to 121 in May, the highest number of homicides in state history, according to previous figures from the same source. Media reports indicate Torreon specifically has seen a sharp increase, with 112 reported homicides in June, the highest count reported in 2012. Regardless of whether Gonzalez's arrest triggered the increased violence in Torreon, it is certain the struggle between organized criminal groups in southern Coahuila state has intensified since the end of April.

.Given the notable increase in violence since the time of Gonzalez's arrest, his fall likely contributed to the increase in organized criminal violence in the area. The death or capture of a plaza boss can create violence for a number of reasons, such as retribution against law enforcement, internal power struggles or rival cartels attempting to exploit the lack of leadership to gain new territory or further disrupt opponents' networks. Unidentified rivals of Los Zetas' top two leaders, Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano and Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales, have used Gonzalez's arrest as an opportunity to subvert the Zetas leaders by posting narcomantas labeling Lazcano and Trevino as traitors in various areas of Nuevo Leon, Zacatecas and Tamaulipas states. The narcomantas mention Gonzalez's arrest as an example of an alleged betrayal by Lazcano or Trevino and imply that there is an internal struggle within Los Zetas by possibly hinting that a Zetas leader could have something to do with the arrest of one of their own. However, there are no external indications that such a struggle exists, and the narcomantas could be misdirection from a rival cartel.

CJNG in Colima
Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion recently lost two leaders in Colima state. Unidentified gunmen killed four individuals and wounded six others July 14 when the assailants opened fire on patrons at a restaurant in Cerro de Ortega, Colima state. Among the dead was Leopoldo "Polo" Gonzalez Aviles, the alleged CJNG plaza boss of Cerro de Ortega. The next day in Colima state's port city of Manzanillo, authorities arrested Jaime Ignacio "El Pelotas" Ramirez Jauregui, the reported CJNG plaza boss of Manzanillo, along with a colleague. The presence of CJNG leaders in Colima state shows their activity in a region where the criminal organization has only recently expanded operations.

CJNG, which originated from Ignacio "El Nacho" Coronel Villarreal's group within the Sinaloa Federation, rapidly expanded its operations geographically during 2011 from its home state of Jalisco to several states, including neighboring Colima state. Manzanillo has long been used by Mexico's drug trafficking organizations to acquire chemical precursors for the production of methamphetamine, an illicit product Coronel's group specialized in producing. While the loss of the two leaders could affect CJNG's ability to operate in the near term, the arrests will not likely have a significant impact on long-term operations because leadership can easily be replaced in order to hold the strategic location.

Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.


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Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Record-High Violence in Torreon | Stratfor
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bigdog
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« Reply #451 on: July 24, 2012, 06:04:30 AM »

http://www.businessinsider.com/this-graphic-shows-what-mexican-cartels-and-drugs-come-to-your-town-2012-7
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #452 on: July 26, 2012, 06:54:39 AM »


Editor's Note: In this interim report on Mexico's drug cartels, we assess important developments in the drug war during the second quarter of 2012 and explain what they could mean for the rest of the year.

Many of the trends discussed in the first quarter cartel update continued in the second quarter. Most significantly, smaller gangs aligned themselves with either Los Zetas or the Sinaloa Federation as the two sides continued their countrywide conflict. In the first quarter of 2012, Los Zetas came under increased attack from the Gulf cartel in the northeastern states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. Most violence in Tamaulipas during the second quarter involved those two groups, though the Sinaloa Federation appears to be supporting Gulf cartel activities.


.Los Zetas also continued their struggles against another Sinaloa Federation ally, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, in Veracruz state. The Sinaloa Federation in turn faced attacks from Zetas allies in Sinaloa's strongholds of Jalisco and Sinaloa states. As during the first quarter, the Sinaloa Federation and its ally the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion continued their conflict in Guadalajara against Los Zetas and the Zetas-allied Milenio cartel. In Sinaloa state, the Sinaloa Federation has faced a resurgence of assaults from remnants of the Beltran Leyva Organization, primarily Los Mazatlecos, to whom Los Zetas have provided gunmen. With the exception of Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion's arrival in Cancun, no territorial shifts in Mexico's criminal landscape have occurred.

Information Operations
Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation, as well as Sinaloa's ally the Gulf cartel, emphasized information operations campaigns beginning in the first quarter and continuing into the second quarter, particularly in northeastern Mexico. These campaigns have seen the display of dismembered bodies in public, a tactic that offers little operationally beyond broadcasting messages on behalf of the cartel involved. Through these operations, the cartels are striving to control the flow of information in a bid to subvert their rivals' support base.

As the focus on information operations increases, civilians have been increasingly affected. Links between victims in body dumps and organized crime have rarely been confirmed. Mexican authorities, for example, say many of the victims in the May 9 body dump in Guadalajara were simply bystanders. To maintain the shock value of body dumps, criminal groups must continue increasing their scale. This means there will likely be more body dumps like those in Nuevo Laredo, Ciudad Mante, Culiacan and Guadalajara during the second quarter.

Los Zetas
Los Zetas do not appear to have suffered significant operational losses in areas where they are engaged in turf wars with the Gulf cartel. As noted in the last quarterly, Los Zetas will defend Nuevo Laredo at any cost, since it is perhaps their most valuable plaza. The lack of activity in Nuevo Laredo may indicate that Los Zetas do not yet perceive any significant threat there.

Law enforcement operations across Los Zetas' turf in the second quarter resulted in notable arrests. Guatemalan authorities arrested Horst Walther Overdick-Mejia, a Guatemalan drug distributor working with Los Zetas, in Guatemala on April 3. Meanwhile, U.S. authorities arrested Jose Trevino, the brother of Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales, on June 11 in Oklahoma on charges of using a horse breeding company to launder money for Miguel Trevino. And Mexican authorities arrested Francisco Trevino Chavez, a Nuevo Laredo plaza boss and cousin of Miguel Trevino, on June 12. The arrests are not likely to impact overall Zetas operations significantly, since the group is apparently adept at finding replacement leaders.

Los Zetas carried out notable violent acts within Sinaloa Federation's stronghold in the states of Sinaloa and Jalisco during the second quarter with the help of local organized criminal groups such as the Milenio cartel in Jalisco and Los Mazatlecos and other remnants of the Beltran Leyva Organization in Sinaloa. So far, this Zetas activity has not caused any significant operational setback for the Sinaloa Federation.

Sinaloa Federation
The second quarter saw a focus on increasing anti-Zetas assaults in areas where Sinaloa operations expanded in the first quarter. The Gulf cartel is leading the assault against Los Zetas in Nuevo Laredo and the rest of Tamaulipas state, while the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion continues its assault in Veracruz state and the Knights Templar continues to confront the weakened Zetas ally La Familia Michoacana in the central region of the country.

The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Knights Templar significantly increased their violent acts against one another in the central states of Guanajuato, Guerrero and Michoacan in the form of firefights and executions. Should the violence hinder the Sinaloa Federation's trafficking operations, the group might attempt to broker peace or pick a side to support. Currently, nothing suggests this conflict will end during the next quarter.

With the exception of the Baja California Peninsula, which is fully under Sinaloa Federation control, the Sinaloa Federation and its allies continue to deal with rivals in all of the states in which they operate. Just as Los Zetas are being confronted but not damaged in their stronghold, Sinaloa's rivals do not appear to be able to damage Sinaloa's operations in its strongholds.

Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion
The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion continued to expand its operations by confronting Los Zetas in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. Executions involving members of Los Zetas known as Los Pelones, a local gang involved in local criminal enterprises such as drug sales and extortion, and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion began in March in Cancun. Though still less violent than other popular tourist destinations in Mexico, drug-related deaths in Cancun more than doubled during the first half of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion appears to be continuing its turf war against Los Zetas in Veracruz city, where executions attributed to the cartel continue. But the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion appears more focused on its turf war with the Knights Templar in Guerrero and Michoacan states.

Knights Templar
Since its split from La Familia Michoacana in January 2011, the Knights Templar has asserted control over La Familia Michoacana's former territories, a trend that continued in the second quarter. La Familia Michoacana has become a shadow of its former self; the Knights Templar appears more active in Guanajuato, Guerrero, Mexico, Michoacan and Morelos states.

The Knights Templar's main focus shifted during the second quarter toward its interstate turf war with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion as it defends against the latter's expansion into Knights Templar territory. This turf war accounted for the most intense intercartel violence in Guerrero and Michoacan states.

Beltran Leyva Organization
A resurgence in activity has been reported from remnants of the Beltran Leyva Organization, primarily in Sinaloa state. Some remnants of the former Beltran Leyva Organization, in particular Cartel Pacifico Sur and Los Mazatlecos, appeared to maintain a working relationship. The second quarter of 2012 saw a resurgence of reported activity by Los Mazatlecos in Sinaloa state.

Firefights between gunmen affiliated with organized crime and the Mexican military occurred April 28 in the northern Sinaloa municipality of Choix. Some of the gunmen likely belonged to Los Mazatlecos, allied with the Cartel Pacifico Sur, and others may have belonged to another ally of Los Zetas. After the fighting subsided, military patrols discovered dead bodies from an unrelated conflict, revealing an ongoing intercartel battle in the vicinity. Media reports indicate that the same organized criminal groups engaged in conflicts in Choix are operating in rural towns in southwestern Chihuahua state. If true, this would indicate that remnants of the Beltran Leyva Organization under the organization of Los Mazatlecos are fighting for control of a lucrative region in several states where marijuana and opium poppies are grown.

Gulf Cartel
The Gulf cartel saw a continued resurgence through the second quarter of 2012. According to several reports, Eduardo "El Coss" Costilla Sanchez, a Gulf cartel leader, led the group's violent acts against Los Zetas in Tamaulipas with the apparent backing of Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera.

The most public of the Gulf cartel's recent activity occurred March 26 in Nuevo Laredo, when authorities discovered 14 dismembered bodies along with a narcomanta ostensibly signed by El Chapo. While the message implied that the Sinaloa Federation was responsible, corroborated reporting shows that Gulf cartel members at least assisted. Whether the Gulf cartel has taken over any smuggling routes or undermined Los Zetas' support structure remains unclear. However, Gulf cartel activity is not likely to subside during the next quarter, with narcomantas and body dumps likely to continue in its conflict with Los Zetas. A few Gulf cartel members have been arrested recently, which could undermine its renewed assault against Los Zetas.

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization
Little suggests that the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization will regain its former position as one of the dominant cartels in Mexico. The organization has splintered into various criminal groups such as the New Juarez Cartel. The New Juarez Cartel has shown less tactical sophistication compared to other offshoots of the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization, such as La Linea. Reports of activity attributed to the New Juarez Cartel have dropped significantly. Indeed, it seems intercartel violence has decreased altogether in Ciudad Juarez. The drop can be attributed to the Sinaloa Federation gaining further control over Juarez.

La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization, has continued to show little activity in the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization's former territory since it suffered significant losses in leadership in 2011. Authorities captured a top leader and his replacement during the second quarter.

Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.


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Read more: Mexican Drug War Update: Third Quarter | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #453 on: August 01, 2012, 04:56:04 PM »


Mexico Security Memo: Rumors of a Split Within Los Zetas
August 1, 2012 | 1000 GMT
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Stratfor
Several media outlets recently have reported an organizational split between Los Zetas' two top leaders, Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano and Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales. These reports cite a series of narcomantas posted June 1 in several states in Mexico alleging that Lazcano and Trevino betrayed several Zetas leaders close to them. Reports also cite social media messages that portrayed the two leaders as traitors.

Given the frequent fracturing of Mexico's organized criminal groups since the breakup of Miguel Angel "El Padrino" Felix Gallardo's Guadalajara cartel in the 1980s, a rift within Los Zetas would not come as a surprise and likely would lead to increased violence while factions fight for territorial control. However, currently there are no explicit indications of fracturing within Los Zetas. The group continues to defend its areas of operations from the Sinaloa Federation and its allies and to make incursions into rivals' strongholds.

.Organizational splits within major criminal groups in Mexico typically have led to increased violence in regions where the criminal group operated. Felix Gallardo's decision to split the Guadalajara cartel into regional plazas eventually led to violent inter-cartel rivalries, such as the Sinaloa Federation's conflict with the Tijuana, Juarez and Gulf cartels. In northeastern Mexico, primarily in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon states, Los Zetas continue to engage in turf wars with the Gulf cartel, their former parent organization.

Los Zetas have also received the most attention from government counternarcotics operations targeting the organization's high-ranking criminal leaders. In 2011, Los Zetas lost more cell leaders and plaza bosses than any other Mexican organized crime group as a result of the operations, and the group continues to suffer losses in local and regional leadership -- most recently on July 27, when soldiers in Huejotzingo, Puebla state, arrested Mauricio Izar Cardenas, the regional plaza boss allegedly responsible for Los Zetas' operations in southeastern Mexico. Despite these losses, Los Zetas have expanded into at least 17 states, giving the group among the widest geographic reach of all Mexico's cartels.

Since Los Zetas operate in more than half of Mexico's states, a conflict between the group's top leaders likely would trigger additional violence in multiple regions of the country. However, a rift between the top leaders is not the only scenario that could lead to internal conflicts. Los Zetas operate using compartmentalized cells and local leaders throughout Mexico and other countries, such as Guatemala. These cells typically follow the instructions of higher-level regional leaders and pay monetary dues but also may act independently from the larger organization. The June 1 narcomantas brought attention to these cells by implying that the arrest or death of several regional Los Zetas leaders resulted from betrayals by either Lazcano or Trevino.

Indications of an internal conflict will largely depend on where the rift within the organization forms, whether between Lazcano and Trevino or a breakaway Los Zetas cell. Currently, no such indications have manifested. Should Los Zetas suffer a significant internal conflict, their principal rivals, the Sinaloa Federation and its allies the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Gulf cartel, would take advantage of the rift by redoubling their efforts to take control of Los Zetas' plazas. This in turn would result in increased violence, as recently seen in Coahuila state. Los Zetas' rivals may also attempt to bring any potential splinter groups into their own fold, much like the split between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas that led to the alignment of the Gulf cartel with the Sinaloa Federation.

Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.


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Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Rumors of a Split Within Los Zetas | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #454 on: August 24, 2012, 07:27:08 AM »

Not that I agree with everything in this , , ,

George Friedman | Wednesday, 22 August 2012
tags : Mexico, Stratfor

Mexico’s growing pains

"Poor Mexico, so far from God and so close to the United States!" said one of its presidents one hundred years ago. Not much has changed.





A few years ago, I wrote about Mexico possibly becoming a failed state because of the effect of the cartels on the country. Mexico may have come close to that, but it stabilized itself and took a different course instead -- one of impressive economic growth in the face of instability.
 
Mexican Economics
 
Discussion of national strategy normally begins with the question of national security. But a discussion of Mexico's strategy must begin with economics. This is because Mexico's neighbor is the United States, whose military power in North America denies Mexico military options that other nations might have. But proximity to the United States does not deny Mexico economic options. Indeed, while the United States overwhelms Mexico from a national security standpoint, it offers possibilities for economic growth.
 
Mexico is now the world's 14th-largest economy, just above South Korea and just below Australia. Its gross domestic product was $1.16 trillion in 2011. It grew by 3.8 percent in 2011 and 5.5 percent in 2010. Before a major contraction of 6.9 percent in 2009 following the 2008 crisis, Mexico's GDP grew by an average of 3.3 percent in the five years between 2004 and 2008. When looked at in terms of purchasing power parity, a measure of GDP in terms of actual purchasing power, Mexico is the 11th-largest economy in the world, just behind France and Italy. It is also forecast to grow at just below 4 percent again this year, despite slowing global economic trends, thanks in part to rising U.S. consumption.
 
Total economic size and growth is extremely important to total national power. But Mexico has a single profound economic problem: According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Mexico has the second-highest level of inequality among member nations. More than 50 percent of Mexico's population lives in poverty, and some 14.9 percent of its people live in intense poverty, meaning they have difficulty securing the necessities of life. At the same time, Mexico is home to the richest man in the world, telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim.
 
Mexico ranked only 62nd in per capita GDP in 2011; China, on the other hand, ranked 91st. No one would dispute that China is a significant national power. Few would dispute that China suffers from social instability. This means that in terms of evaluating Mexico's role in the international system, we must look at the aggregate numbers. Given those numbers, Mexico has entered the ranks of the leading economic powers and is growing more quickly than nations ahead of it. When we look at the distribution of wealth, the internal reality is that, like China, Mexico has deep weaknesses.
 
The primary strategic problem for Mexico is the potential for internal instability driven by inequality. Northern and central Mexico have the highest human development index, nearly on the European level, while the mountainous, southernmost states are well below that level. Mexican inequality is geographically defined, though even the wealthiest regions have significant pockets of inequality. We must remember that this is not Western-style gradient inequality, but cliff inequality where the poor live utterly different lives from even the middle class.
 
Mexico is using classic tools for managing this problem. Since poverty imposes limits to domestic consumption, Mexico is an exporter. It exported $349.6 billion in 2011, which means it derives just under 30 percent of its GDP from exports. This is just above the Chinese level and creates a serious vulnerability in Mexico's economy, since it becomes dependent on other countries' appetite for Mexican goods.
 
This is compounded by the fact that 78.5 percent of Mexico's exports go to the United States. That means that 23.8 percent of Mexico's GDP depends on the appetite of the American markets. On the flip side, 48.8 percent of its imports come from the United States, making it an asymmetric relationship. Although both sides need the exports, Mexico must have them. The United States benefits from them but not on the same order.
 
Relations With the United States
 
This leads to Mexico's second strategic problem: its relationship with the United States. When we look back to the early 19th century, it was not clear that the United States would be the dominant power in North America. The United States was a small, poorly integrated country hugging the East Coast. Mexico was much more developed, with a more substantial military and economy. At first glance, Mexico ought to have been the dominant power in North America.
 
But Mexico had two problems. The first was internal instability caused by the social factors that remain in place, namely Mexico's massive, regionally focused inequality. The second was that the lands north of the Rio Grande line (referred to as Rio Bravo del Norte by the Mexicans) were sparsely settled and difficult to defend. The terrain between the Mexican heartland and the northern territories from Texas to California were difficult to reach from the south. The cost of maintaining a military force able to protect this area was prohibitive.
 
From the American point of view, Mexico -- and particularly the Mexican presence in Texas -- represented a strategic threat to American interests. The development of the Louisiana Purchase into the breadbasket of the United States depended on the Ohio-Mississippi-Missouri river system, which was navigable and the primary mode of export. Mexico, with its border on the Sabine River separating it from Louisiana, was positioned to cut the Mississippi. The strategic need to secure sea approaches through the Caribbean to the vulnerable Mexican east coast put Mexico in direct conflict with U.S. interests.
 
The decision by U.S. President Andrew Jackson to send Sam Houston on a covert mission into Texas to foment a rising of American settlers there was based in part on his obsession with New Orleans and the Mississippi River, which Jackson had fought for in 1815. The Texas rising was countered by a Mexican army moving north into Texas. Its problem was that the Mexican army, drawn to a great extent from the poorest elements of Mexican society in that country's south, had to pass through the desert and mountains of the region and suffered from extremely cold and snowy weather. The Mexican soldiers arrived at San Antonio exhausted, and while they defeated the garrison there, they were not able to defeat the force at San Jacinto (near present-day Houston) and were themselves defeated.
 
The region that separated the heart of Texas from the heart of Mexico was a barrier for military movement that undermined Mexico's ability to hold its northern territory. The geographic weakness of Mexico -- this hostile region coupled with long and difficult-to-defend coastlines and no navy -- extended west to the Pacific. It created a borderland that had two characteristics. It was of little economic value, and it was inherently difficult to police due to the terrain. It separated the two countries, but it became a low-level friction point throughout history, with smuggling and banditry on both sides at various times. It was a perfect border in the sense that it created a buffer, but it was an ongoing problem because it could not be easily controlled.
 
The defeat in Texas and during the Mexican-American War cost Mexico its northern territories. It created a permanent political issue between the two countries, one that Mexico could not effectively remedy. The defeat in the wars continued to destabilize Mexico. Although the northern territories were not central to Mexico's national interest, their loss created a crisis of confidence in successive regimes that further irritated the core social problem of massive inequality. For the past century and a half, Mexico has lived with an ongoing inferiority complex toward and resentment of the United States.
 
The war created another reality between the two countries: a borderland that was a unique entity, part of both countries and part of neither country. The borderland's geography had defeated the Mexican army. It now became a frontier that neither side could control. During the ongoing unrest surrounding the Mexican Revolution, it became a refuge for figures such as Pancho Villa, pursued by U.S. Gen. John J. Pershing after Villa raided American towns. It would not be fair to call it a no-man's-land. It was an every-man's-land, with its own rules, frequently violent, never suppressed.
 
The drug trade has replaced the cattle rustling of the 19th century, but the essential principle remains the same. Cocaine, marijuana and a number of other drugs are being shipped to the United States. All are imported or produced in Mexico at a low cost and then re-exported or exported into the United States. The price in the United States, where the products are illegal and in great demand, is substantially higher than in Mexico. That means that the price differential between drugs in Mexico and drugs in the United States creates an attractive market. This typically happens when one country prohibits a widely desired product readily available in a neighboring country.
 
This creates a substantial inflow of wealth into Mexico, though the precise size of this inflow is difficult to gauge. The precise amount of cross-border trade is uncertain, but one number frequently used is $40 billion a year. This would mean narcotic sales represent an 11.4 percent addition to total exports. But this underestimates the importance of narcotics, because profit margins would tend to be much higher on drugs than on industrial products. Assuming that the profit margin on legal exports is 10 percent (a very high estimate), legal exports would generate about $35 billion a year in profits. Assuming the margin on drugs is 80 percent, then the profit on them is $32 billion a year, almost matching profits on legal exports.
 
These numbers are all guesses, of course. The amount of money returned to Mexico as opposed to kept in U.S. or other banks is unknown. The precise amount of the trade is uncertain and profit margins are difficult to calculate. What can be known is that the trade is likely an off-the-books stimulant to the Mexican economy, generated by the price differential created by drug prohibition.
 
The advantage to Mexico also creates a strategic problem for Mexico. Given the money at stake and that the legal system is unable to suppress or regulate the trade, the borderland has again become -- perhaps now more than ever -- a region of ongoing warfare between groups competing to control the movement of narcotics into the United States. To a great extent, the Mexicans have lost control of this borderland.
 
From the Mexican point of view, this is a manageable situation. The borderland is distinct from the Mexican heartland. So long as the violence does not overwhelm the heartland, it is tolerable. The inflow of money does not offend the Mexican government. More precisely, the Mexican government has limited resources to suppress the trade and violence, and there are financial benefits to its existence. The Mexican strategy is to try to block the spread of lawlessness into Mexico proper but to accept the lawlessness in a region that historically has been lawless.
 
The American position is to demand that the Mexicans deploy forces to suppress the trade. But neither side has sufficient force to control the border, and the demand is more one of gestures than significant actions or threats. The Mexicans have already weakened their military by trying to come to grips with the problem, but they are not going to break their military by trying to control a region that broke them in the past. The United States is not going to provide a force sufficient to control the border, since the cost would be staggering. Each will thus live with the violence. The Mexicans argue the problem is that the United States can't suppress demand and is unwilling to destroy incentives by lowering prices through legalization. The Americans say the Mexicans must root out the corruption among Mexican officials and law enforcement. Both have interesting arguments, but neither argument has anything to do with reality. Controlling that terrain is impossible with reasonable effort, and no one is prepared to make an unreasonable effort.
 
Another aspect is the movement of migrants. For Mexicans, the movement of migrants has been part of their social policy: It shifts the poor out of Mexico and generates remittances. For the United States, this has provided a consistent source of low-cost labor. The borderland has been the uncontrollable venue through which the migrants pass. The Mexicans don't want to stop it, and neither, in the end, do the Americans.
 
Dueling rhetoric between the United States and Mexico hides the underlying facts. Mexico is now one of the largest economies in the world and a major economic partner with the United States. The inequality in the relationship comes from military inequality. The U.S. military dominates North America, and the Mexicans are in no position to challenge this. The borderland poses problems and some benefits for each, but neither is in a position to control the region regardless of rhetoric.
 
Mexico still has to deal with its core issue, which is maintaining its internal social stability. It is, however, beginning to develop foreign policy issues beyond the United States. In particular, it is developing an interest in managing Central America, possibly in collaboration with Colombia. Its purpose, ironically, is the control of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling. These are not trivial moves. Were it not for the United States, Mexico would be a great regional power. Given the United States, it must manage that relationship before any other.
 
Given Mexico's dramatic economic growth and given time, this equation will change. Over time, we expect there will be two significant powers in North America. But in the short run, the traditional strategic problems of Mexico remain: how to deal with the United States, how to contain the northern borderland and how to maintain national unity in the face of potential social unrest.
 
George Friedman is chief executive officer of Stratfor, the world’s leading online publisher of geopolitical intelligence. Mexico's Strategy is republished with permission of Stratfor.
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« Reply #455 on: September 12, 2012, 07:47:46 AM »





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Arrest's Impact Likely Limited

The Mexican navy arrested Mario "El Gordo" Cardenas Guillen, a presumed senior member of the Gulf cartel, on Sept. 3 in Altamira, Tamaulipas state. Mario Cardenas Guillen, the brother of former Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen, became the latest of a series of prominent Gulf cartel operatives to be arrested or killed in recent years. However, while U.S. and Mexican media outlets have described Mario as the overall leader of the Gulf cartel, he actually serves a lesser role within the fractured organization. His arrest will likely affect a specific faction of the Gulf cartel, Los Rojos, more than the cartel as a whole.
 
A series of Gulf cartel leadership changes began after Osiel Cardenas Guillen was extradited to the United States in 2010. Since then, Mario Cardenas Guillen has demonstrated neither the desire nor the ability to lead Gulf cartel operations. As a result, several cartel members who do not belong to the Cardenas family, most notably Eduardo "El Coss" Costilla Sanchez, have surpassed Mario Cardenas Guillen in the organization's hierarchy.
 





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Even within the Los Rojos faction, which is instead led by Juan "R-1" Mejia Gonzalez, it is unclear whether Mario had much influence over day-to-day operations prior to his arrest. Moreover, the Gulf cartel's ongoing fight against Los Zetas in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon states has been commanded primarily by the rival Los Metros faction, so the cartel's ability to confront Los Zetas will likely endure. Thus, Mario's arrest is unlikely to significantly undermine the Gulf cartel's operational capabilities. At most, the arrest could deliver another blow, even if only a limited one, to the already weakened Los Rojos faction and further solidify Los Metros' control.
 
Los Zetas' Internal Power Struggle Continues
 
Gunmen opened fire on a group of young men Sept. 8 at a football field in Soledad de Graciano Sanchez, San Luis Potosi state, killing seven people. The assailants left a note pinned to the back of one victim with a screwdriver, warning that a similar fate would befall those who follow "50." The note, signed simply "Los Zetas," was likely referring to Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero, also known as "Z-50," the former Zetas plaza boss of San Luis Potosi state.
 
The killings took place in a week marked by multiple acts of violence related to the erupting turf war between Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales and Velazquez. Violence in states affected by the rivalry, including Zacatecas, Coahuila, San Luis Potosi and possibly Nuevo Leon is unlikely to subside significantly until one of the two leaders gains control. Still, unless Velazquez attracts outside support from other criminal leaders such as Los Zetas plaza bosses or those from organizations such as the Gulf cartel or the Sinaloa Federation, violence associated with the turf war is unlikely to spread to additional states.
 
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Senior Gulf Cartel Member Arrested | Stratfor
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« Reply #456 on: September 18, 2012, 09:22:18 AM »

U.S. Shifts Mexico Drug Fight
Military Aid Plummets as Washington Turns Focus to Bolstering Legal System.
By NICHOLAS CASEY

MEXICO CITY—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets her Mexican counterparts at a security summit in Washington Tuesday to discuss the next phase in the drug war: how to train the judges and prosecutors that will be trying suspected drug lords.

The Merida Initiative, the U.S.'s $1.9 billion assistance program to Mexico, began mostly as a means to buy military hardware like Black Hawk helicopters for Mexico. But over the past two years, it has entered a new phase, in which purchases for the Mexican military are taking a back seat to measures to mend the branches of Mexico's civilian government.

The former director of Colorado's penitentiary system has trained more than 5,000 Mexican prison officials in recent years. Mexican jurists are running mock trials with visiting American judges to prepare for a transition to oral hearings that will replace Mexico's enigmatic closed-door meetings where sentences are handed down.

"Different things have come to the fore at different times, but strengthening the rule of law in Mexico is the area that's crucial right now," says Roberta Jacobson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

Officials in both countries increasingly believe the root of Mexico's problem lies in creating an honest police force, professional judges and a prison system comparable with that in the U.S.

The challenges are harder to measure but will take center stage at the so-called High-Level Consultative Group on Tuesday, where Mrs. Clinton will be joined by Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Attorney General Eric Holder and top officials from Mexican President Felipe Calderón's cabinet. The two sides will also discuss topics ranging from border security to seizing assets of drug cartel members in the U.S.

"Our efforts to confront transnational crime on both sides of the border benefited from a clear understanding that we had to multitask," says Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhán.

While Mexico has had success at catching criminals, it's had less luck in putting them behind bars—the country has a meager 2% conviction rate for most crimes. A new test came just last week with the capture of Jorge "El Coss" Costilla, the alleged boss of Mexico's powerful Gulf Cartel. He is the 23rd in Mexico's "37 Most Wanted" list to have either been killed or captured under Mr. Calderón; after six years of fighting, the original heads of Mexico's drug gangs are mostly gone.

That reality is being reflected in how U.S. aid is being spent in Mexico. Assistance to the Mexican military has nearly collapsed, with counternarcotics and security aid falling from a height of around $529 million in 2010 to $67.5 million planned for next year.

Meanwhile money meant for strengthening institutions from law schools to prisons doubled in the last year, to $201.8 this year from $105 million in 2011.

Training Mexico to handle its own struggle could be more cost-effective for the U.S.—total aid this year to Mexico is at $330 million, less than half its number 2010—in large part because training police and prosecutors is less expensive than financing a military with big purchases like helicopters.

One example both sides are touting has to do with Mexico's courts, which are undergoing a radical overhaul. Unlike the U.S., most trials in Mexico take place in closed proceedings where judges aren't present nor even meet the defendant. Attorneys and witnesses gather in a cubicle where a clerk takes notes and prepares a file, later sent to the judge for a decision. There are no juries.

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In 2008, Mexico's congress approved a change to have trials be conducted orally—with attorneys arguing in an open courtroom before a judge—with a complete rollout by 2016. The overhaul is hoped to boost conviction rates and guarantee fair trials.

Since the new system will be similar to the way trials are conducted in the U.S., the government has sent legal experts to train their Mexican counterparts in everything from witness protection to plea bargaining. So far more than 7,500 Mexican judicial personnel have received U.S. training at the federal level, and more than 19,000 at the state level.

A delegation from the U.S. Supreme Court met with Mexican judges in taking oral testimony, a first in Mexico. Members of the U.S. Bar Association are training lawyers.

"There was a skepticism that Mexican judges had coming into this, for this new role, but now they have enthusiasm," says John Feeley, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere. "Judges are going to be the linchpin in this."

Another key area is the Mexican police. Experts believe most drug-related crime in Mexico is never reported because the populace mistrusts the police. Such problems were on full view last month when members of the Federal Police wounded two U.S. government employees after opening fire on their car in the hills outside of Mexico City. The police say they mistook the car for that of fugitive kidnappers they were looking for.

The U.S. is trying to avoid incidents like that in the future by taking a hand in training the police themselves.

A Mexican police academy in the central state of San Luis Potosí is now partially staffed by American law enforcement agents who have trained more than 4,500 federal police. Mr. Feeley says the program is being expanded to develop similar academies that will work with state and local police in other Mexican states. Spanish-speaking U.S. agents from border states now work with the Mexicans and the U.S. even hired the former director of Colorado's state penitentiary system to give classes to Mexican corrections officers.

Still, both the U.S. and Mexico agree that no amount of training will solve crime problems if corruption remains in institutions such as the police and judiciary.

Despite the collaboration, one reality can't be avoided when the leaders meet Tuesday: Mexico still has a long way to go in this second phase of the drug war.

Eric L. Olson, a Mexico expert at Washington think-tank the Wilson Center went to an oral trial in Morelos, one of the first adopters of the new system, and says the hearings reached an awkward moment where a judge was scolding the attorneys for wanting to read from sheets rather than argue properly.

Mr. Olson says the proceedings were a step in the right direction, even if there are missteps. Still, he says: "Both sides have always had difficulty defining what the criteria for success are," he says. "That has not happened yet."

Write to Nicholas Casey at nicholas.casey@wsj.com
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« Reply #457 on: September 18, 2012, 02:56:28 PM »

second post

http://www.officer.com/news/10781032/over-130-inmates-escape-from-mexican-border-prison?utm_source=Officer.com+Newsday+E-Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS120912005
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« Reply #458 on: September 28, 2012, 05:32:29 AM »

Perhaps motivated by the votes, money, and influence of Florida tomato industry, Baraq apparently is risking kicking off a trade war:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/28/business/global/tomatoes-are-ammunition-for-a-trade-war-between-us-and-mexico.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20120928

(Question:  When I post just a link like this, can people here see the content?)
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« Reply #459 on: October 02, 2012, 05:41:00 PM »

MEXICO - Ombudsman warns of prison self-government
On 24 September 2012, Raúl Plasencia Villanueva, national ombudsman and President of the National Commission on Human Rights, announced that 60 percent of imprisoned criminals in Mexico are self-governed, as organized crime groups have taken control of municipal and state prisons. The 2012 National Survey of Penitentiary Supervision revealed that corruption has led to the sale of drugs and alcohol within the prisons, and that the recent jail break at Piedras Negras is representative of the troubling nature of prison self-government, in which the incarcerated may end up with keys to various areas of the penitentiary system.
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« Reply #460 on: October 03, 2012, 03:36:41 PM »

http://www.officer.com/news/10797747/us-embassy-car-was-targeted-in-mexico-ambush?utm_source=Officer.com+Newsday+E-Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CPS120927004


MEXICO CITY (AP) — A senior U.S. official says there is strong circumstantial evidence that Mexican federal police who fired on a U.S. Embassy vehicle, wounding two CIA officers, were working for organized crime in a targeted assassination attempt.  Meanwhile, a Mexican official with knowledge of the case confirmed on Tuesday that prosecutors are investigating whether the Beltran Leyva Cartel was behind the Aug. 24 ambush.
 
The Mexican official said that is among several lines of investigation into the shooting of an armored SUV that was clearly marked with diplomatic license plates on a rural road near Cuernavaca south of Mexico City. Federal police, at times battered by allegations of infiltration and corruption by drug cartels, have said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity as officers were looking into the kidnapping of a government employee in that area.
 
"That's not a 'We're trying to shake down a couple people for a traffic violation sort of operation. That's a 'We are specifically trying to kill the people in this vehicle'," a U.S. official familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press. "This is not a 'Whoops, we got the wrong people.' "
 
Photos of the gray Toyota SUV, a model known to be used by Drug Enforcement Administration agents and other U.S. Embassy employees working in Mexico, showed it riddled with heavy gunfire. The U.S. Embassy called the attack an "ambush."  When asked by the AP if the Mexican federal police officers involved in the shooting were tied to organized crime, the U.S. official said, "The circumstantial evidence is pretty damn strong."
 
Both the U.S. and Mexican officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the diplomatic issue.
 
A federal police on Tuesday maintained the position that their agents fired on the vehicle by mistake, thinking it belonged to a band of kidnappers they were pursuing, according to a spokesman who was not authorized to speak on the record.  The U.S. State Department declined to discuss details.
 
"We will not comment on an ongoing investigation," said William Ostick, a spokesman. "This is a matter of great significance to both our countries and we will continue to cooperate with Mexican authorities in their investigation."
 
The Mexican official said one line of investigation is that members of the Beltran Leyva Cartel were interested in attacking the people in the car because some of their lookouts had seen them passing through the area and presumed they were investigating the cartel. It's possible they didn't know they were Americans.
 
The rural road near Cuernavaca where the attack took place is known territory of the remnants of the Beltran Leyvas, a once-powerful cartel now run by Hector Beltran Leyva since the Navy killed his brother, drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva, in Cuernavaca in late 2009. Beltran Leyva was once aligned with Mexico's powerful cartel, Sinaloa, headed by fugitive drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. But the groups split in 2008 and continued government hits on Beltran Leyva leadership since then have splintered that cartel into small gangs warring for the area.
 
The CIA officers were heading down a dirt road to the military installation with a Mexican navy captain in the vehicle when a carload of gunmen opened fire and gave chase. The embassy SUV tried to escape, but three other cars joined the original vehicle in pursuing it down the road, according to the original navy statement. Occupants of all four vehicles fired.
 
"This is somebody with a powerful automatic weapon just unloading an entire clip, reloading, and continuing to fire at that same impact point, clearly with the intention of penetrating the armor and presumably killing those who are inside," the U.S. official told the AP.
 
Surveillance cameras in the area recorded two civilian vehicles chasing the U.S. Embassy SUV, the Mexican official said. So far Mexican officials have said only federal police fired on the SUV.

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The two CIA officers received non-life-threatening wounds and have returned to the United States. The navy captain was uninjured and radioed the navy for help.
 
Twelve officers have been detained in the case and are being held under a form of house arrest pending possible charges, and 51 officers have testified in the case. The FBI, which is leading the investigation for the U.S., has been in on interviews of the detainees. At FBI headquarters in Washington, spokesman Paul Bresson declined to comment.
 
A Mexican federal police spokesman said last month that the officers may not have noticed the diplomatic plates. The official said police focused on the unusual sight of a bulletproof SUV traveling at high speed on a rural road, not on the car's distinctive diplomatic plates.
 
But Raul Benitez, a security expert at Mexico's National Autonomous University, said Mexican military sources have told him that "the attack was not an error," and "the objective was to annihilate the three passengers in the car."
 
"The same car with the same people had been going up and back (to the marine training camp) for a week, so perhaps some lookout who worked for drug traffickers informed the police, or the Beltrans" about the vehicle, Benitez said.
 
He said the federal police must have known that they were attacking a diplomatic vehicle.
 
"I don't think we're yet in a position to say definitively who did it, who paid them and why they did it," the U.S. official said. "We have been assured repeatedly in private and in public that the government of Mexico will investigate this to the end and provide a final answer as to what occurred, and I think our posture at this stage is we take them at their word."
 
Mexico's federal police agency, which President Felipe Calderon calls the most professional and highly trained of the country's law enforcement, has been hit with allegations of wrongdoing in recent months. In August, all 348 officers assigned to security details at the Mexico City International Airport were replaced in the wake of a June shooting of three federal policemen, who were killed by a fellow officer believed to be involved in trafficking drugs through the terminal.
 
Ten federal police officers were arrested in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez in 2011, accused of running an extortion ring.
 
Attacks on diplomatic personnel in Mexico were once considered rare, but the CIA attack was the third shooting incident in two years.  In 2011, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent was killed and another wounded in a drug gang shooting in northern Mexico.  A drug-gang shooting in 2010 in the border city of Ciudad Juarez killed a U.S. consulate employee, her husband and another man.
 
That could be the result of the break-up of larger cartels, said Andrew Selee of the Washington-based Mexico Institute, noting that historically drug traffickers didn't want the attention that a hit on U.S. personnel normally brings.
 
"The lower level leaders in the cartels are making decisions the more seasoned leaders wouldn't," he said. "It's the lower level leaders who feel empowered to order hits."
 
_____

Associated Press writers Mark Stevenson in Mexico City and Elliot Spagat in San Diego contributed to this report.

 
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« Reply #461 on: October 12, 2012, 10:18:32 AM »

Mexico's Election Spurs Policy Shifts
October 12, 2012 | 1000 GMT
Summary
 
Through fierce intraparty fighting over the details of major reforms affecting labor, energy and politics will continue, the potential is emerging for negotiated agreements among Mexico's three major parties. Mexico's legislature has seen a flurry of activity on questions affecting the Mexican economy since the Institutional Revolutionary Party's candidate, former Mexico State Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto, won Mexico's July presidential election. The Chamber of Deputies has since passed major labor reforms -- reforms the Senate is likely to approve by Nov. 1. This represents a level of cooperation on policy issues absent for several years as Mexican politicians remained deadlocked over policy changes to deprive rival parties of any political advantage ahead of the 2012 elections. The new dynamic should continue for several years into Pena Nieto's administration, during which time the government will tackle major questions that will shape Mexico's economic and political future.
 


Analysis
 
The Mexican Senate is currently debating a bill already approved by the Chamber of Deputies that would make important changes to Mexico's labor laws. The changes would update labor regulations for the first time since the 1970s, introducing more modern protections for workers while easing the burden that outdated labor laws place on employers in Mexico. The legislation stops short of changing Mexico's complex constitutional labor strictures, instead focusing on changing laws, which can be altered more easily. The difficulty of changing the constitution means major union reforms have been postponed.
 
Although there are disagreements on the details of how reform should be implemented, a consensus has emerged that a host of major reforms are needed. Although Mexico is already in an advantageous position given its proximity to the U.S. consumer market, labor reforms should make it even easier for Mexico to attract foreign investment. With wages rising in China's coastal manufacturing zones, low-to-medium end manufacturing firms are looking for more cost-effective locations. Some of this investment is moving into the Chinese interior, but much is moving into emerging economies all over the world, including Mexico. The Mexican government has made strong efforts to attract such investment, efforts that the new administration will redouble -- making this a moment of strategic significance for Mexico.
 
Among other reforms, some of which are highly controversial, the changes would allow companies to hire and fire employees more easily. Regulations on severance pay would be loosened, with employers no longer required to guarantee payouts to employees fired for violating workplace standards. On the flipside, the law will also increase penalties on companies that violate labor regulations and will establish protection from sexual harassment for workers. Another important reform would allow companies to offer performance-based promotions instead of purely seniority-based promotions and to grant performance-based bonuses. 

 






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One important area still under heated negotiation relates to regulations that would alter the way unions elect their leadership. In initial discussions, the National Action Party of outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon had proposed that unions be required to elect their leadership via free, direct and secret ballot processes. The laws currently under discussion, however, would permit unions to set their own leadership election processes. The Institutional Revolutionary Party, which historically has had close ties to Mexico's unions, backed the withdrawal of union transparency regulations. 


 
As the party that ruled Mexico for 70 years, the Institutional Revolutionary Party was instrumental in shaping Mexico's political landscape. With little in the way of competition among political parties, it operated as the political power broker, building corporatist structures over time that bound Mexico's many social and economic sectors together. This policy of inclusive politics played an important role in keeping Mexico relatively stable for decades. The rise of secondary parties and political competition, including the National Action Party on the right and the Revolutionary Democratic Party on the left, during the 1990s led to National Action Party candidate Vicente Fox's 2000 presidential win. This altered the political landscape in Mexico, introducing greater political competition and in many cases, political deadlock, as the parties competed for influence across Mexican society. 


 
Though Mexican politics is more pluralistic than before the National Action Party first won the presidency, key aspects of Institutional Revolutionary Party influence remain, such as its links to the country's powerful unions. These include the Mexican National Education Workers' Union, whose leader, Elba Esther, backed Pena Nieto ahead of the July election. They also include the powerful Petroleos Mexicanos oil workers' union, whose leader was recently elected to the Mexican Senate as a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party.
 
Energy and Democratic Reforms

 
Beyond labor, the increase in dynamism in Mexican politics means that Mexican parties may be able to make significant changes on other major issues. Energy reform is the most important issue the country faces. Petroleum output, which funds between 30 percent and 40 percent of Mexico's federal budget and accounts for 16 percent of Mexico's export revenue, has been steadily declining. Oil production slipped from 3.8 million barrels per day in 2004 to 3 million barrels per day in 2011. Although exploration has increased, Petroleos Mexicanos will need significant foreign expertise and capital to find and develop fields, which most likely will be concentrated offshore. This could take years to yield results, leaving Mexico's government facing an uncertain fiscal future.
 
The main steps needed to reform Mexico's energy sector would entail revising the constitution, for which the Institutional Revolutionary Party would need to garner support from at least two-thirds of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies plus the approval of a majority of Mexico's state legislatures. But the Institutional Revolutionary Party did not win even a simple majority of federal legislature seats in the July elections. If it can obtain votes from the National Action Party along with those of two smaller parties (Mexico's Green Party and the New Alliance Party), constitutional approval at the federal level still could be possible. With 19 out of 31 governorships, the Institutional Revolutionary Party might also be able to push through the constitutional revision at the state level. Accomplishing both of these steps will not be easy, meaning the party probably will focus most of its efforts on non-constitutional legal reforms that require only a simple majority at the federal level.
 
Other more obscure, but equally important, reforms could be on the table, including measures loosening term limits. This would represent a major change to Mexico's political structure. By giving them a chance to win re-election, Mexican legislators might become more accountable to voters. It also would introduce more continuity to the political system, facilitating Mexico's transition to a democratic system for decades to come.
 
Whether any of these changes comes to pass depends on negotiations among a group of notoriously fractious parties. Still, with the electoral calendar cleared for the next three years and the Institutional Revolutionary Party holding the presidency, the next several years should see important shifts in how Mexico operates.
.

Read more: Mexico's Election Spurs Policy Shifts | Stratfor
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« Reply #462 on: October 12, 2012, 11:15:28 AM »

second post of day:

Mexico Security Memo: The Death of Los Zetas' Top Leader
 

October 10, 2012 | 1015 GMT








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On Oct. 8, the Mexican navy reported that Los Zetas leader Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano was one of two men killed in a shootout Oct. 7 in Progreso, Coahuila state. After Progreso residents warned of organized crime activity, navy elements began patrolling the area and were attacked by armed men.
 






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 Less than 24 hours later, during the early morning hours of Oct. 8, the presumed body of Lazcano was stolen from a funeral home in Sabinas, Coahuila state. Local authorities reportedly had conducted preliminary forensics, including taking photographs and fingerprints. The fact that the navy allowed local authorities to conduct verification and did not protect the body is certainly anomalous. Also, Lazcano's biometrics according to the U.S. Department of Justice do not match those of the dead body. The Department of Justice reports that Lazcano is 5 feet 8 inches tall, but the Mexican navy said the body was 5 feet 2 inches tall. With discrepancies in reporting and the disappearance of the body, speculation over whether Lazcano is truly dead will likely ensue. However, given Los Zetas' resiliency after past leadership losses and the transition in top leadership from Lazcano to Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales, there will not likely be any significant setbacks in Los Zetas' operations, regardless of whether Lazcano was killed.

Because ex-military personnel formed Los Zetas, members tend to move up in the group's hierarchy through merit rather than through familial connections, and members are groomed to step into leadership when the need arises. This contrasts starkly with the culture of other cartels, including the Sinaloa Federation. Because of its relative meritocracy, Los Zetas are somewhat more prepared for loss of significant leaders. The transition in leadership from Lazcano to Trevino demonstrates the group's efficiency in replacing top leadership. While it is still not certain whether Lazcano resisted Trevino's ascending to the top role within the organization, the transition did not hinder the organization significantly.
 
Whether Lazcano died during the shootout with the Mexican military, Los Zetas operations will continue as observed in recent months. The flow of illicit drugs into the United States from Mexico's northeastern region will continue, particularly in Los Zetas' most valued plaza of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Los Zetas are still engaged in violent turf wars with the Gulf cartel and remnants of Velazquez's network in the northeast and with the Sinaloa Federation, the Knights Templar and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in the central states, most notably in Guadalajara, Jalisco state. Lazcano's death could escalate violence in Zetas-controlled territories, such as Coahuila state, should they retaliate for the loss of such an influential figure or perceive a betrayal from within the organization.
 
If the Mexican navy's claims are accurate, the death of Lazcano would solidify Trevino's top leadership role within Los Zetas. However, Lazcano's death will likely increase law enforcement and military pressure on Trevino. Having removed Lazcano, both Mexican and U.S. authorities will have the opportunity to increase focus on Los Zetas' top leaders, and Trevino is now the highest-profile target within the organization.
 
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.
 
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« Reply #463 on: October 29, 2012, 07:31:34 AM »



Editor's Note: In this interim report on Mexico's drug cartels, we assess important developments in the drug war during the third quarter of 2012 and explain what they could mean for the rest of the year.
 
Many of the broader trends discussed in our annual and quarterly cartel updates continued through the third quarter. In particular, the polarized nationwide conflict between Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation apparently went on. This conflict could be complicated if the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, once under the control of the Sinaloa Federation, was to act independently. Los Zetas, now led by Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales, continued to fight against other criminal organizations aligned with the Sinaloa Federation, namely the Knights Templar, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Gulf cartel. The Sinaloa Federation continued to defend its strongholds, including northern Sinaloa state and Jalisco state, from Los Zetas and Zetas allies. The third quarter saw no new turf wars, but incursions that began in previous quarters continued, and indicators of a potential challenge to the Sinaloa Federation in northern Sonora state emerged from an unidentified organization.
 
Northeastern Mexico saw significant upheaval during the past quarter due to several key events within Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel. These events included some of the most notable operations by Mexico's law enforcement and military since the December 2009 killing of top Beltran Leyva Organization leader Arturo Beltran Leyva. With just one quarter of 2012 remaining, overall levels of violence in Mexico look set to be lower than in 2011. January through August 2012 saw 14,070 homicides compared to 15,331 homicides during the same period in 2011, though 2010 saw just 11,942 reported homicides during the same period. Recent shifts involving Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel, Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Knights Templar, however, could cause the rate of violence to increase during the fourth quarter.
 

The quarter will also see the inauguration of Mexico's next president, Enrique Pena Nieto, on Dec. 1. Pena Nieto has discussed plans to reduce overall violence by 50 percent in the first year of his presidency by creating a national gendarmerie, transferring military troops to the federal police and honing the military's focus on violent crimes. Whether those plans will be pursued remains to be seen, and any significant shifts in military and law enforcement policies probably will not occur until 2013.
 
The Rise of Trevino and Demise of Lazcano
 
During the third quarter, the ascendancy of Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales, formerly the second in command of Los Zetas, to the top spot over Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano became public. Trevino likely assumed control over the course of the first half of 2012. In the first quarter of 2012, Trevino became the focus of anti-Zetas messages posted by rival cartels, particularly in Nuevo Laredo in March. Mexican media outlets -- some citing unnamed government sources -- began referring to Trevino as the new leader of Los Zetas during August. As Stratfor sources confirmed during the third quarter, Trevino had surpassed Lazcano to attain control of one of Mexico's pre-eminent cartels.
 
Government officials and media outlets began reporting on a rivalry between the two top leaders in July, a rift that inevitably would have significant repercussions for the security situation throughout Mexico. The third quarter did not see the kind of violence one would expect when two top cartel leaders were engaged in open warfare, causing Stratfor to discount claims of their rivalry.
 






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 Adding to our doubts about the reports, narcomantas were posted in Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas states during June and July, after former Zetas plaza boss Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero split from Los Zetas to ally with Los Zetas' principle enemy in the northeast, the Gulf cartel. These banners called Lazcano and Trevino traitors to Zetas plaza bosses. This suggested that rivals, possibly including Velazquez, saw Trevino and Lazcano as enemies, contradicting media reports that the organization was split into just two factions.
 
Whether a split between Lazcano and Trevino existed, the death of Lazcano on Oct. 7 in Progreso, Coahuila state, solidified Trevino's position within Los Zetas. His killing marks the most notable demise of a criminal leader in Mexico in almost three years, and perhaps the most notable during the entire Calderon presidency.
 
For the remaining quarter of 2012, the flow of illicit drugs into the United States from Los Zetas' stronghold in northeastern Mexico will continue. The fourth quarter could also see increased violence. Lazcano's closest supporters will seek revenge for their leader's killing, whether against the navy elements who took part in his death or against any perceived as traitors who led Mexican forces to Lazcano.
 
Rival groups could attempt to capitalize on Lazcano's death through an information operations campaign designed to subvert Los Zetas' organizational structure by portraying the group as weakened or by sowing distrust by emphasizing claims that Lazcano was betrayed. Either way, Los Zetas remain engaged in violent turf wars with the Gulf cartel and remnants of Velazquez's network in the northeast as well as with the Sinaloa Federation, the Knights Templar and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in the central states, most notably in Guadalajara, Jalisco state.
 
Other Developments Regarding Los Zetas
 
Los Zetas experienced the most tumultuous quarter of all of Mexico's cartels. Former Zetas plaza boss Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero declared war against Trevino and Los Zetas and announced his alliance with the Knights Templar and the Gulf cartel. The resulting split drastically increased violence in Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi states. Although the Mexican navy arrested Velazquez on Sept. 26 in San Luis Potosi state, we expect the violence in the states affected by his split to continue while Los Zetas battle remnants of Velazquez's network.
 
Though other notable arrests occurred during the quarter, such as that of Salvador Alfonso "El Ardilla" Martinez Escobedo on Oct. 6 in Nuevo Laredo, none will significantly impact the organization. Authorities attribute a series of high-profile crimes to Martinez, including the August 2010 killing of 72 migrants in San Fernando, Tamaulipas state, the September 2010 killing of U.S. citizen David Hartley on Falcon Lake in Texas and the September 2012 prison escape in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state.
 
Countering these setbacks, military operations and other criminal groups' actions against Los Zetas' rivals have provided significant advantages to Los Zetas. The series of military arrests of mid- to high-level Gulf cartel leaders and the arrest of senior Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion leaders in Guadalajara stand out in this regard.
 
Gulf Cartel
 
During 2011, the Gulf cartel suffered from an internal rivalry between two factions known as Los Rojos and Los Metros, which suggested the group would decline in influence in 2012. Instead, a resurgence in activity directed against Los Zetas in the northeast during the second and third quarter suggested a revival in the group's fortunes. This rally led to significantly increased violence in the northeast, particularly in Tamaulipas state and Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
 
But during September, a series of significant Gulf cartel arrests apparently stymied the group's recovery. Mexican authorities detained the Gulf cartel plaza boss for Monterrey. Federal police arrested Juan Gabriel "El Sierra" Montes Sermeno, a plaza boss overseeing Gulf cartel operations in southern Tamaulipas state. In addition, the Mexican navy detained Mario Cardenas Guillen, brother of former top Gulf leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen, and Jorge Eduardo "El Coss" Costilla Sanchez, leader of the Gulf cartel in Tampico, Tamaulipas state. Until the death of Lazcano, this was the most significant military success for 2012.
 
Whether the cartel will continue to operate as a cohesive organization following these rapid losses is uncertain. The arrests will likely prompt further violence in the fourth quarter, since Los Zetas may capitalize on the Gulf cartel's perceived weakness and refocus their efforts on contested turf like Monterrey, Ciudad Victoria and Matamoros. The arrests also may spark additional internal rivalries for control of the organization.
 
Sinaloa Federation
 
The Sinaloa Federation saw perhaps the least change among Mexico's cartels during the third quarter. Sinaloa continues to use other criminal organizations like the Gulf cartel in Nuevo Laredo and the Knights Templar and perhaps the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in the central states to assault and defend against their principle rival, Los Zetas. The series of Gulf cartel arrests during the third quarter will likely benefit Los Zetas at the Sinaloa Federation's expense in the northeast.
 
The Sinaloa Federation continues largely to control the lucrative drug corridor in Chihuahua state. It gained the dominant position there after a violent conflict that began in 2008 with the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization, also known as the Juarez cartel, for control over the plaza in Ciudad Juarez. Violence in Ciudad Juarez and the city of Chihuahua continues to decline as Sinaloa consolidates its control of the plaza. According to the Executive Secretariat of the National System of Public Security, Chihuahua state saw just 1,538 reported homicides from January to August 2012 versus 2,169 in the same period of 2011.
 
Even as the Sinaloa Federation largely appears to have gained control over Chihuahua state, it is still defending other important territories against Zetas incursions, namely Guadalajara. Sinaloa also faces an emerging challenge in northern Sonora state -- where much of the organizations' marijuana and other illicit drugs flow into the United States.
 
The Sinaloa Federation largely has controlled the northern half of Sonora state since seizing it from the splintering Beltran Leyva Organization in 2010. The first indications that the Sinaloa Federation faced a challenge in Sonora appeared in the northern half of the state in July, when the brother of Raul "El Negro" Sabori Cisneros, a former Sinaloa Federation lieutenant, was killed in a shootout between two rival groups of gunmen in Puerto Penasco. Indications of violence and tension associated with organized crime have since continued to emerge.
 
It still is not certain what has caused the recent violence in northern Sonora state. It could be the result of activity by local gangs or by Sinaloa Federation rivals like Los Zetas or splinter groups from the former Beltran Leyva Organization, which operate in adjacent territories such as southern Sonora and western Chihuahua states. Should a rival challenge the Sinaloa Federation for control of the trafficking corridor in Sonora state, the violence will likely continue.
 
Either way, it does not appear the Sinaloa Federation is at risk of losing any control at present. Northern Sonora state has a relatively sparse population, making widespread violence less opportune than in more densely populated regions. Because those communities are small, the violence would be more visible and more likely to impact the overall security environment of those areas.
 
The Sinaloa Federation did suffer some notable losses due to military and law enforcement operations in the third quarter. An Oct. 11 shootout between gunmen and the Mexican army in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, resulted in the death of Manuel "M-1" Torres Felix, a high-level hit man for both Sinaloa Federation leaders Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada and Guzman. While the impact of Torres' death remains uncertain, he likely would have been responsible for defending against challenges to the Sinaloa Federation in northern Sinaloa state from rival groups. We therefore will be looking for indicators of increasing violence and weakness on the part of the Sinaloa cartel.
 
Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion
 
The rapid territorial expansion of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion seen during the first half of 2012 appeared to stall during the third quarter. Although the group continued its ongoing turf wars with Los Zetas and the Knights Templar during the third quarter, no indications it enjoyed significant successes emerged. As noted during the second quarterly update, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion may be ending its alignment with the Sinaloa Federation. Additional indications of this shift appeared during the third quarter.
 
With Mexico's drug war defined at a national level by the Los Zetas-Sinaloa Federation conflict, many smaller criminal organizations in Mexico sought a working relationship with either Los Zetas or the Sinaloa Federation.
 
Of these smaller groups, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion has rapidly grown into a major criminal organization since 2011. It now operates along both the western and eastern coasts of Mexico in crucial locations for the transport of illicit drugs and shipments of precursor chemicals. Given its extensive territory, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion could carve out a niche as a separate major cartel on turf it originally secured with Sinaloa backing to aid Sinaloa operations.
 
The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion experienced increased law enforcement pressure in Jalisco state during the third quarter. Its response to the government's targeting organized criminals in Guadalajara and Ciudad Guzman demonstrated the organization's capability to mount coordinated violence over a wide geographic area. On Aug. 25-26, gunmen established at least 26 roadblocks by setting hijacked vehicles on fire in roadways throughout Jalisco state, including in Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta and Ciudad Guzman, as well as locations in Colima state.
 
Jalisco state authorities said Nemesio "El Mencho" Oseguera Cervantes, a top leader of Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, managed to evade arrest due to the roadblock campaign. Even so, authorities attained some successes during their operations, including the arrest of four Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion members operating under Jose Javier Ramirez Chavez, a high-level leader in Ciudad Guzman. A week later, authorities in Ciudad Guzman detained Ramirez. The most notable arrests by Mexican authorities occurred Sept. 6 in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, when Ramon "El R-1" and Rafael "El R-2" Alvarez Ayala, two Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion leaders working directly with top leader Oseguera Cervantes, were detained.
 
Knights Templar
 
The Knights Templar continued their turf war with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in addition to their conflict with La Familia Michoacana and Los Zetas. These conflicts in Mexico's central states have led to increased violence, particularly in Guanajuato state.
 
The Knights Templar have become increasingly public about their conflict with Los Zetas, particularly in relation to Trevino. For example, a video message released on the Internet in August from top Knights Templar leader Servando "La Tuta" Gomez Martinez discussed the organization's ongoing feud with Los Zetas.
 
While there have been no explicit indications of expanding violence between the two organizations, it is certainly possible that the Knights Templar will begin assaulting Los Zetas in the latter's strongholds during the fourth quarter. Authorities discovered several narcomantas Oct. 1 in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, ostensibly signed by the Knights Templar. If they are in fact planning an assault on Los Zetas in Monterrey, this would obviously affect the security situation there during the fourth quarter.
 
Authorities have targeted lower-level Knights Templar members in response to brazen acts of coordinated violence by the group. These include the arson attacks on installations and delivery trucks of Sabritas, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, during May in various parts of Michoacan and Guanajuato and the coordinated attacks against fuel stations Aug. 10 in Guanajuato state. In response, authorities detained at least 20 Knights Templar members Sept. 13 in San Miguel Allende, Guanajuato state, in connection to both series of attacks. Such arrests, however, will likely have a minimal impact on the group due to the low-level status of those arrested.
 
Other Groups
 
Many other lesser criminal groups have remained unchanged in their operational status, such as La Familia Michoacana, the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, La Barredora and the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization. While still operational in Mexico, these groups have a minimal impact on security compared to Mexico's main cartels.
 
La Familia Michoacana continued its turf war with the Knights Templar. Despite its efforts, La Familia Michoacana has never regained the status it lost when the Knights Templar split from them in January 2011.
 
Though the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization has mostly lost control of Ciudad Juarez and the city of Chihuahua to the Sinaloa Federation, the group remains operational outside both cities. In addition to facing new violence in northern Sinaloa and western Chihuahua along with its current allies, Los Zetas, the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization continues to suffer at the hands of law enforcement and military operations. Most recently, on Oct. 4 federal police captured La Linea leader Juan Carlos "El Sabritas" Sandoval Seanez and six other members of La Linea -- an enforcer group for the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization.
 
Outside of arrests, little activity was reported during the third quarter regarding La Barredora and the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, splinter groups from the old Beltran Leyva Organization. Their operations appear to remain focused around Acapulco. On Oct. 1, authorities discovered dismembered human remains in Acapulco along with a narcomanta directed against the Independent Cartel of Acapulco's presumed leader, Victor Aguirre, ostensibly signed by the Gulf cartel. The incident might indicate a new conflict between the Gulf cartel and the Independent Cartel of Acapulco to watch for during the fourth quarter.
 
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.


Read more: Mexican Drug War Update: Fourth Quarter | Stratfor
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« Reply #464 on: November 04, 2012, 01:28:26 PM »



http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-mexico-zetas-control-20121104,0,4077102,full.story
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« Reply #465 on: November 27, 2012, 06:09:01 PM »

Hat tip to GM

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2238577/Maria-Santos-Gorrostieta-executed-surviving-assassination-attempts.html?ICO=most_read_module
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« Reply #466 on: December 05, 2012, 10:09:00 AM »

  Violence Continues in Coahuila and Zacatecas States
 
Violence between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas continues in Zacatecas and Coahuila states. On Dec. 2, seven dismembered male bodies packed in six plastic bags were found on an abandoned property in the Obispado neighborhood of Torreon, Coahuila state, and another male body was found on Revolucion Boulevard. Additionally, attacks in Torreon against law enforcement have been increasing since October. The most recent incident occurred Nov. 30, when armed men killed two municipal police officers in Jardin neighborhood.
 





.
 
On Dec. 1 in Zacatecas, Zacatecas state, authorities discovered five male bodies in two separate locations along with messages at each location allegedly authored by the Gulf cartel, claiming responsibility for the homicides and threatening members of Los Zetas. While the Gulf cartel has suffered significant losses in 2012 through military operations and Los Zetas assaults in states such as Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, the Gulf cartel has had a resurgence farther west in Coahuila and Zacatecas states. This resurgence was due in part to its alliance with former Los Zetas' regional plaza boss of Zacatecas, Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero, and also likely the support of the Sinaloa Federation.
 
It is not likely either state will see a reduction in the current level of violence in the short term, since rival groups maintain their numbers of gunmen capable of carrying out violent acts. At the moment, it is not certain if either group has achieved the upper hand. Neither Coahuila nor Zacatecas state has been entirely controlled by one criminal organization before, so recent violence does not reflect an incursion by a criminal organization as much as an increased focus for control by one side.
 
New Police for Monterrey
 
Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, a city valued by drug traffickers as a transportation hub and source of local revenue, experienced a sharp increase in violence when Los Zetas split from the Gulf cartel in 2010. As the two organizations became rivals, Monterrey became a frequent battleground resulting in inter-cartel violence and increasing pressure on law enforcement. In addition to this pressure, like many cities in Mexico, law enforcement is also subject to corruption efforts by the two competing cartels.
 
On Nov. 29, Monterrey Mayor Margarita Arellanes announced the "new" municipal police in Monterrey, with freshly acquired recruits beginning operations. the existing municipal police force is simply undergoing new recruitment and competency exams and changing its name from "Police Regia" to "Police Municipal de Monterrey." Mexico's navy trained approximately 500 recent police recruits, none of whom were from Monterrey, for introduction into Monterrey's law enforcement.
 
Reforming Monterrey's police body will likely have some drawbacks for security in the city. Since the incoming recruits are intended to replace existing police in the city, many current police officers will become unemployed, presenting opportunities for both the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas to recruit new gunmen as part of their ongoing turf war. Additionally, the same environment, which can corrupt active duty police, will exist for any incoming recruits. Given the organization's jurisdiction, any benefits of the reformation would affect only the Monterrey municipality and not the remaining municipalities of the greater metropolitan area.
 
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region and designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Coahuila and Zacatecas States See Sustained Violence | Stratfor
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« Reply #467 on: December 12, 2012, 06:38:45 AM »

Territorial Exchanges in Chihuahua State
 
On Dec. 7, a group of gunmen entered Guadalupe y Calvo, a small town in southwest Chihuahua state, and began a spree of violence that lasted through the weekend. Residents said the assailants, who reportedly killed at least 11 people, took control of the town by blocking its main roads and searched for people to execute inside homes. The gunmen reportedly belonged to a group that had broken away from the Sinaloa Federation. While the involvement of such a splinter group is uncertain, Stratfor believes the attacks were likely linked to an ongoing fight for control over Mexico's "Golden Triangle" -- a region of the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains responsible for high levels of drug production, particularly marijuana and opium -- in which Sinaloa has played a central role.
 
The incident in Guadalupe y Calvo reflected a dynamic that has become common in the Golden Triangle, where rival organizations have been struggling for control over towns and where several similar episodes of violence have occurred in recent months. On Aug. 16, for example, gunmen shot and killed the police chief of Guadalupe y Calvo. Two days later, the town's entire police force fled the area in response to additional threats by the gunmen, forcing the Mexican military and state law enforcement to intervene.
 






.
 
Much of the violence can be linked to the Sinaloa Federation's struggle for control in the Golden Triangle, in part because the organization is fighting several smaller groups in the region, most notably La Linea and Los Mazatlecos -- two groups allied with Los Zetas. While the culprits of the Dec. 7 attacks in Guadalupe y Calvo have not been identified, Stratfor believes that responsibility lies with one of these groups -- if not the Sinaloa splinter group.
 
For the Sinaloa Federation, the struggle highlights the difficulty the organization has had in maintaining control over regional transportation routes and drug production. And the prolonged nature of the regional conflicts indicates that Sinaloa's ongoing effort to uproot its rivals has been unsuccessful. Sinaloa's struggles could be perceived as insubstantial to the organization, since the organization still has one of the largest shares of the Mexican drug trade and has limited itself in the region to fighting Los Mazatlecos and La Linea. But given their relatively small size, the Sinaloa rivals rely heavily on revenues from drug production, and neither group can likely afford to stand down. Unless the Sinaloa Federation either escalates its efforts to remove its rivals or negotiates agreements with them, back-and-forth episodes of large-scale violence in southwest Chihuahua state will likely continue.
 
Murder of a Coahuila Mining Executive
 
On Dec. 7 in Sabinas, Coahuila state, authorities discovered the body of a mining business owner named Basilio Nino Ramos with a gunshot wound in his neck, signs of torture and his dismembered finger placed in his mouth -- a symbol used by cartels on victims believed to be informants, suggesting links to organized crime. Authorities have not named any possible culprits or motives for the killing, although the manners in which the victim was maimed and then left in a public area are common among killings by organized criminal groups.
 
While no evidence has been released clearly implicating Los Zetas in the murder, the cartel has allegedly been involved in Coahuila state's mining industry. Nino Ramos owned Minera La Mision, a coalmine operator in Muzquiz, Coahuila state, that has reportedly been one of several mining businesses under investigation by the Mexican attorney general's office on allegations of laundering money for the cartels. If the accusations are true, then Nino Ramos was probably in frequent contact with organized criminal groups to coordinate the illicit financial transactions and a plausible target for cartel-related violence.
 
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region and designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: A Fight for the Sierra Madre Occidental | Stratfor
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« Reply #468 on: December 19, 2012, 04:35:07 PM »






Text Size
 



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Stratfor
 
On Dec. 17, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and members of his Cabinet presented the new administration's plan for reducing nationwide violence and crime caused by Mexico's drug wars. Pena Nieto outlined six points, and within those points, he mentioned the creation of a national gendarmerie and the consolidation of state police forces under the federal command, neither of which was a surprising move.
 
By bringing the federal police under the control of the Interior Ministry, acquiring oversight of state police and substantially bolstering the ranks of federal law enforcement, Pena Nieto is addressing the challenges that arise for municipal and state law enforcement as they try to combat national level criminal groups without closer federal coordination. Increasing the number of federal police or establishing an additional law enforcement body also allows law enforcement in Mexico to better confront violent groups that act in several geographic areas. This could lead to greater intelligence sharing, funding and coordinated actions, though the outline lacked details, such as timelines and precise courses of action.
 





.
 
In 2010, there were approximately 32,000 federal police, 186,000 state police and 159,000 municipal police -- and correspondingly little federal coordination, creating significant challenges in law enforcement operations against nationally operating criminal organizations. Each state and municipal law enforcement body can confront nationally operating crime groups only within their respective geographic boundaries.
 
Increasing the federal government's coordination of law enforcement responsibilities at a state level will likely benefit the government's ability to deal with violence attributed to nationally operating organized criminal groups. But many of the problems afflicting Mexico's law enforcement remain -- primarily corruption and the lack of adequate funding or training.
 
Furthering the ability to coordinate law enforcement operations in Mexico would help the government confront violent groups on an inter-regional scale, but it would not solve these other outstanding issues. Additionally, the national gendarmerie or unified command has yet to be established and would probably not be operational in the next year. It is unlikely any tangible restructuring will take place in the short term since the process for establishing a command over state police has yet to be expressed in detail. Therefore, while plans to expand federal law enforcement oversight in Mexico could stem the violent actions of the cartels, the plans likely will not have an impact on security until after 2013.
 
Editor's Note: As an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, we now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, which provides more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. If you are interested in learning about this new fee-based custom service, please contact aboutmsm@stratfor.com.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Plans to Strengthen Law Enforcement Coordination | Stratfor
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« Reply #469 on: January 09, 2013, 04:56:06 PM »



http://vimeo.com/57022172
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« Reply #470 on: January 10, 2013, 05:58:57 AM »

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8813601/stop-the-drugs-war/
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« Reply #471 on: January 10, 2013, 10:40:10 AM »

"...there aren’t really many other alternatives. Why not legalise drugs? It wouldn’t be giving up, it would be winning without fighting — the best, cleverest way. The cartels would be forced above ground; the big money would be in legitimate business. "

Yes, we would have legal cartels of big hemp with lawyers and lobbyists in Washington and state capitals instead of the gun war.  Truckloads of drugs would be coming in on a trade scale the size of oil.  We will see shortly what the effects of legalization in certain states.  Probably no big change since it was essentially legal there before.

On a scale smaller than international trade, couldn't we legalize the right to grow your own and the right to transport or sell one ounce or one pound and knock down the price that way, and squeeze out the profits?

My conservative and libertarian sides are conflicted, but the war in Mexico is unacceptable for both countries.
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« Reply #472 on: January 10, 2013, 10:46:32 AM »

"couldn't we legalize the right to grow your own and the right to transport or sell one ounce or one pound and knock down the price that way, and squeeze out the profits?"

Makes sense to me , , ,
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« Reply #473 on: January 10, 2013, 11:10:49 AM »

"Yes, we would have legal cartels of big hemp with lawyers and lobbyists in Washington and state capitals instead of the gun war.  Truckloads of drugs would be coming in on a trade scale the size of oil.  We will see shortly what the effects of legalization in certain states.  Probably no big change since it was essentially legal there before."

Colorado is becoming the new ground zero for cartel operations in the US. An unsecured border coupled with very little in the way of law enforcement resources outside of the Denver metro area/front range and the new legalization combined with Colorado's geographic location....libertarian paradise, right?
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« Reply #474 on: January 10, 2013, 12:09:31 PM »

Ah, knocking down those straw men as usual GM rolleyes smiley

As you well know, EVERYONE here is in favor of defending our border vigorously!

As you well know, federal drug law remains in place.

Anyway, how is the current approach working for us?
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« Reply #475 on: January 18, 2013, 04:33:25 PM »

Ah, knocking down those straw men as usual GM rolleyes smiley

As you well know, EVERYONE here is in favor of defending our border vigorously!

As you well know, federal drug law remains in place.

Anyway, how is the current approach working for us?

I see no moves to secure the border, nor do I see the feds surging into Colorado to deal with what is coming.
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« Reply #476 on: January 18, 2013, 04:58:37 PM »

No one here is suggesting that there are sufficient moves to defend the border.  The question presented is whether what your side on this has been trying is working or not.
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« Reply #477 on: January 18, 2013, 05:27:10 PM »

No one here is suggesting that there are sufficient moves to defend the border.  The question presented is whether what your side on this has been trying is working or not.

I don't recall seeing organized crime entities pushing into Colorado en mass before. Do you think this is a promising development
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« Reply #478 on: January 18, 2013, 07:26:24 PM »

Of course not. Duh.  The whole trajectory of the War on Drugs is not "promising".
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« Reply #479 on: January 19, 2013, 08:50:10 AM »

Of course not. Duh.  The whole trajectory of the War on Drugs is not "promising".

So surrender to the cartels ? Maybe they'll show mercy?
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« Reply #480 on: January 19, 2013, 10:07:11 AM »

No, as you well know, the idea would be to remove/dramatically diminish the profitability of it all.   The diminished evil behaviors remaining could and should be then attended to forcefully.
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« Reply #481 on: January 19, 2013, 10:31:39 AM »

No, as you well know, the idea would be to remove/dramatically diminish the profitability of it all.   The diminished evil behaviors remaining could and should be then attended to forcefully.

It may reduce the profitability of Mexican produced weed, but create a new production center for high grade weed and without the cost and risk of crossing an international border.
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« Reply #482 on: January 19, 2013, 11:22:21 AM »

Well, if weed is let out of the legal shadows, then Americans can grow it here in a free market with free market instead of black market profits.
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« Reply #483 on: January 19, 2013, 11:50:00 AM »

Well, if weed is let out of the legal shadows, then Americans can grow it here in a free market with free market instead of black market profits.

It's not legal under federal law, or the vast majority of States. What legalization has done is create a forward operating base and profit center for the cartels in the American heartland.
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« Reply #484 on: January 19, 2013, 02:51:39 PM »

Ummm , , , hot news flash:  The cartels have been establishing themselves more and more for many years now, beginning preceding the quasi-legalizations of a handful of states.
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« Reply #485 on: January 19, 2013, 03:51:21 PM »

Yes, but now they've been handed a gift on a silver platter. Colorado law enforcement will learn what "Plata o plomo" means.
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« Reply #486 on: January 19, 2013, 03:59:23 PM »

So, let me see if I understand your analysis correctly:

Despite the clustermess that the War on Drugs has been in both the US and Mexico, somehow it is going to make a noticeable difference that the authorities of the State of Colorado are no longer busting people for weed?

Is this about right?
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« Reply #487 on: January 19, 2013, 04:07:17 PM »

It was cost effective for the cartels to send illegals to grow in forestland, under the scrutiny of local level law enforcement, now they have a free hand to grow and then ship to other states from a centrally located state, amassing huge profits which will be used in part to corrupt and undermine the rule of law.
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« Reply #488 on: February 03, 2013, 01:36:42 PM »

Mexico's Masked Vigilantes Defy Drug Gangs—And the Law .
By NICHOLAS CASEY
 
For years, villages in rural Mexico have been terrorized by drug gangs and organized crime groups. Now, armed militias are taking control--running patrols, raiding the homes of suspected mafia and detaining prisoners. WSJ's Nick Casey reports.

AYUTLA, Mexico—Masked men, rifles slung over their shoulders, stand guard on a lonely rural road, checking IDs and questioning travelers. They wear no uniforms, flash no badges, but they are the law here now.

A dozen villages in the area have risen up in armed revolt against local drug traffickers that have terrorized the region and a government that residents say is incapable of protecting them from organized crime.


 
Ranchers in Tecoanapa, near Ayutla, voted Sunday in favor of having local militiamen provide security.
..
The villages in the hilly southern Mexican state of Guerrero now forbid the Mexican army and state and federal police from entering. Ragtag militias carrying a motley arsenal of machetes, old hunting rifles and the occasional AR-15 semiautomatic rifle control the towns. Strangers aren't allowed entry. There is a 10 p.m. curfew. More than 50 prisoners, accused of being in drug gangs, sit in makeshift jails. Their fates hinge on public trials that began Thursday when the accused were arraigned before villagers, who will act as judge and jury.

Crime is way down—for the moment, at least. Residents say kidnapping ceased when the militias took charge, as did the extortions that had become the scourge of businessmen and farmers alike. The leader of one militia group, who uses the code name G-1 but was identified by his compatriots as Gonzalo Torres, puts it this way: "We brought order back to a place where there had been chaos. We were able to do in 15 days what the government was not able to do in years."

Yet a few shaken townspeople in Ayutla, the area's primary town, have stories of being arrested and held for more than a week before being deemed innocent and released. And one man was shot dead trying to escape the masked men at a checkpoint.

Village justice has long been part of life in rural Mexico. Now it's playing a growing role in the country's drug war. Across Mexico, from towns outside the capital to along the troubled border with the U.S., mobs have lynched suspected drug traffickers and shot those accused of aiding them. Last year a logging town in a neighboring state took up arms when traffickers of La Familia Michoacana, a drug cartel, attempted to lay claim to their forests.

The uprising around Ayutla, a two-hour drive from the resort city of Acapulco, differs from the others because it has started to spread locally. In the two weeks, bands in six other towns in Guerrero state have declared vigilante rule, including in Iguala, a city of 140,000. In the nearby Jalisco state, groups say they are considering similar action.

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Some government officials are even siding with the militias, for now. Guerrero Governor Ángel Aguirre has met with the vigilantes and says state law gives villagers the right to self-rule. Ayutla's mayor, Severo Castro, says he welcomes the new groups. On a recent evening, he pointed toward a checkpoint blocks away and said the town is nearly crime-free for the first time in years.

"There are two police departments now," he said. "The ones in uniform and another masked one, which is much more brave."

That sentiment seems to be shared even among local police, who are still technically on duty but who now seem limited to the role of directing traffic around the central square, leaving the rest of the patrolling and police work to the militias.

Police Commander Juan Venancio, a broad-faced middle-aged man with a mustache, said local police are too afraid of organized crime to make arrests.

"We could arrest a gangster for extortion, but if we couldn't prove it, we'd have to let him go," he said. "But then what about our families? Do you think we're not scared they will take revenge on us if they are out? Of course we are scared."

In some ways, life is getting back to normal here after years of insecurity. Village rodeos attract young cowboys and girls in traditional dresses, and weddings stretch late into the evening. The same townspeople who were once extorted by drug gangs now bring melons and tamales to the militiamen standing guard at checkpoints.

Suspicion of the government and outsiders runs high here. During a visit by The Wall Street Journal last week to the nearby hamlet of Azozuca, rumor spread that the reporter's car was bringing state human-rights officials. An angry, stick-wielding mob of about 150 blocked the only road into town and didn't allow the reporter to enter.

"Get out of here! Don't take another step!" yelled a woman waving a wooden bat.

Remote villages in Guerrero, one of Mexico's most independent regions, had long complained that too few police looked after their towns. In 1995, the state passed a law allowing towns to form "community police" groups that worked much like neighborhood-watch organizations, permitting the groups to detain suspects and hand them over to authorities. But the laws didn't allow the groups to pass judgment on those accused.

By 2006, Mexico's drug war had begun to weaken its already-troubled institutions. Areas like Mexico City remained under tight control, but the power of the state in rural areas diminished. Some 65,000 Mexicans have been killed since 2006, but only a fraction of the killings have been solved—or even investigated, according to the government and legal experts.

"Mexico has a 2% conviction rate, and Mexicans have taken note of that," says Sergio Pastrana, a sociology professor at the College of Guerrero who has studied rural regions. "It's caused unrest and a determination among some to take the reins themselves."

Villagers in Ayutla say the town was never crime-free—bandits sometimes robbed horsemen riding the road, for example—but the specter of organized crime was something new.

Several years ago, a group known by villagers as Los Pelones—literally, the Bald Ones—entered Ayutla and began a racket which included both drugs and other crime, people here say.

Mr. Castro, the mayor, says his 19-year-old daughter was kidnapped two years ago and he paid a "large sum" for her release. Last July, the body of the town's police chief Óscar Suástegui was found in a garbage dump outside town. He had been shot 13 times. Authorities said it looked like the work of a criminal group. No arrests were made in either case.

Townspeople say Los Pelones moved into extortions last year, demanding protection money from those who ran stalls in the market adjoining Ayutla's central plaza. The payments were usually 500 pesos, or $40, a month per stall, according to several vendors, a large sum in the impoverished town.

As harvest season approached last fall, the group fanned out into the countryside, demanding monthly payments of 200 pesos, about $16, for each animal that farmers owned. Several farmers say the gang made a list of those who had agreed to pay and those who had not.

In November, a spate of kidnappings began. Gunmen in the village of Plan de Gatica captured the village commissioner, a kind of locally elected mayor, along with a priest in a nearby village who had refused to pay extortion fees for his church. A second commissioner was kidnapped in the village of Ahuacachahue in December. The three men eventually were released after ransoms were paid, villagers say.

When a village commissioner named Eusebio García was captured on Jan. 5, several dozen villagers from Rancho Nuevo grabbed weapons and formed a search party. The next morning, they found Mr. García in a nearby house with his kidnappers, who were arrested and jailed, say the militiamen.

"This was the turning point, the moment everything exploded here," says Bruno Placido, one of the leaders of the armed groups. "We had shown the power armed people have over organized-crime groups."

As word spread of Mr. García's release, farmers in villages around Ayutla also took up arms. Their plan: to descend into Ayutla, where they believed the rest of the Los Pelones gang was based. That night they raided numerous homes throughout Ayutla, arresting people they believed to be lookouts, drug dealers, kidnappers and hit men, and brought them to makeshift jails. Other villagers set up checkpoints across the town.

The vigilantes were now in charge. They instituted the curfew and declared that state and federal authorities would be turned away at checkpoints. Villagers were allowed to make accusations against others, anonymously, at the homes of militiamen.

The group ordered most schools shut down, saying Los Pelones might try to take children hostage in exchange for prisoners detained by the vigilantes.

"I hadn't seen anything quite like this before," says state Education Secretary Silvia Romero, who traveled to Ayutla after the initial uprising to negotiate for classes to resume. Some teachers agreed that suspending school was necessary until all top gang leaders were under lock and key. "The students were an easy target for the criminals," says teacher Ignacio Vargas.

Many schools have since reopened. The army, after negotiations, set up a checkpoint at the entrance to the region. Beyond that, the militiamen remain in control and no state or federal officials are permitted to enter the villages around Ayutla.

Townspeople interviewed recently said the masked men are ordinary farmers and businessmen, not rival criminals looking to oust Los Pelones. The mayor agrees. Still, Mr. Torres, the lead militiaman in Ayutla, acknowledged the risk of "spies from organized crime coming into our ranks." He said he encourages his men to turn in anyone seeking to join the vigilantes who might be linked to crime groups.

The militias are moving beyond the drug gangs to other alleged crimes and, in the process, are revealing some of the pitfalls of village justice.

On a recent day, two pickup trucks filled with masked men pulled up carrying bar owner Juan de Dios Acevedo. They alleged that Mr. Acevedo, 42, had been involved in the rape of a local woman. One of them pulled a shirt over his head while another bound his hands with rope. His mother and sister comforted him and cried.

As he was being bundled into one pickup, his mother fetched signed papers from the local prosecutor's office that said he had already been arrested for the same crime, and cleared by prosecutors. "This is a false accusation, and now I've been arrested for the second time," Mr. Acevedo protested.

The vigilantes were unmoved and took him away for questioning. Later that day, he was released unharmed.

A makeshift detention center run by villagers in El Mezón is home to two dozen men and women accused of being with Los Pelones. There is no budget to run the prison, villagers say. The prisoners eat donated tortillas and rice and sleep on cardboard on the floor. On a recent afternoon, seven men were clustered behind bars in a tiny, dark room that smelled of urine. It was hot and dirty. There were no visible signs of physical abuse.

The masked commander of the facility, who wouldn't give his name and declined to allow interviews with the prisoners, said the men are being treated well and will be given a chance to defend themselves in a public trial in the village. They won't be allowed lawyers, he said, and villagers will decide their sentences by a consensus vote.

Possible punishments include hard labor constructing roads and bridges in chain gangs, he said, although it will be up to the villagers, not the militia, to decide. He added that executions, which are not permitted under Mexican law even in murder cases, were not on the table.

"The village will be their judge," he said. "If the village saves you, you will be free. If not, then you are condemned."

Nightly raids of suspected drug traffickers have provided the militiamen with a clutch of high-powered weapons, including AR-15 rifles. It isn't clear how the men will be trained to use the weapons.

On Jan. 6, the night the checkpoints were erected, a man named Cutberto Luna was shot dead by the vigilantes, state authorities say. Mr. Torres, the Ayutla militia commander, says the man refused to stop at the checkpoint and opened fire on the men standing guard, who responded by firing back. He also alleges Mr. Luna was a "known leader of organized crime."

Members of Mr. Luna's family couldn't be located for comment. The state prosecutor's file on the case says Mr. Luna was a local taxi driver. The file makes no mention of organized-crime ties. No arrests have been made in the killing.

On a recent day, a group of militiamen in the village of Potreros discussed what lay ahead. A rancher in a nearby town was thought to have collected extortion money on behalf of the criminal gangs. Several militia members wanted to organize a raid to take back the money, then use it to buy ammunition. The men also discussed the merits of shooting on the spot criminals they believed to be guilty rather than taking them to village courts.

A vendor in the Ayutla town plaza is glad to have faced neither fate. He spent 14 days in the El Mezón jail but was released on Jan. 21, he said. The vendor said he was accused of helping an organized-crime member. In fact, he said, he was simply paying his 500 peso weekly extortion fee. He wasn't harmed in detention, he said, but got sick after he was given dirty water from a nearby pond to drink.

"Clearly I wasn't on the side of the bad guys," he said. "Still, I went to jail. The kind of psychological damage this does is great. Now I'm afraid they'll come back for me and cut off my finger or gouge out my eye."
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« Reply #489 on: February 05, 2013, 10:07:37 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/world/americas/us-stepped-in-to-halt-mexican-generals-rise.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130205&_r=0


As Mexico’s military staged its annual Independence Day parade in September, spectators filled the main square of Mexico City to cheer on the armed forces. Nearly 2,000 miles away in Washington, American officials were also paying attention.

But it was not the helicopters hovering overhead or the antiaircraft weapons or the soldiers in camouflage that caught their attention. It was the man chosen to march at the head of the parade, Gen. Moisés García Ochoa, who by tradition typically becomes the country’s next minister of defense.

The Obama administration had many concerns about the general, including the Drug Enforcement Administration’s suspicion that he had links to drug traffickers and the Pentagon’s anxiety that he had misused military supplies and skimmed money from multimillion-dollar defense contracts.

In the days leading up to Mexico’s presidential inauguration on Dec. 1, the United States ambassador to Mexico, Anthony Wayne, met with senior aides to President Enrique Peña Nieto to express alarm at the general’s possible promotion.

That back-channel communication provides a rare glimpse into the United States government’s deep involvement in Mexican security affairs — especially as Washington sizes up Mr. Peña Nieto, who is just two months into a six-year term. The American role in a Mexican cabinet pick also highlights the tensions and mistrust between the governments despite proclamations of cooperation and friendship.

“When it comes to Mexico, you have to accept that you’re going to dance with the devil,” said a former senior D.E.A. official, who requested anonymity because he works in the private sector in Mexico. “You can’t just fold your cards and go home because you can’t find people you completely trust. You play with the cards you’re dealt.”

A former senior Mexican intelligence official expressed similar misgivings about American officials. “The running complaint on the Mexican side is that the relationship with the United States is unequal and unbalanced,” said the former official, who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke anonymously to discuss diplomatic and security exchanges. “Mexico is open with its secrets. The United States is not. So there’s a lot of resentment. And there’s always an incentive to try to stick it to the Americans.”

Wave of Violence

 Washington’s concerns about General García Ochoa — which several officials cautioned were not confirmed — come as both governments grasp for new ways to stem the illegal flows of drugs, guns and money across their borders.

Under Mr. Peña Nieto’s predecessor, Felipe Calderón, cooperation between the two governments had expanded in ways once considered unthinkable, with American and Mexican agents conducting coordinated operations that resulted in the capture or killing of several dozen important cartel leaders. But while Washington highlighted the record numbers of arrests, the stepped-up campaign created a wave of violence in Mexico that left some 60,000 people dead.

The devastating death toll has Mr. Peña Nieto, 46, a former governor, promising to move his country’s fight against organized crime in a different direction, focusing more on reducing violence than on detaining drug kingpins. But he has so far offered only vague details of his security plans, focusing instead on social and economic programs.

While Mr. Peña Nieto portrays himself as the leader of a new generation of reformers, he is also a scion of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for more than 70 years through a combination of corruption and coercion until it lost power in 2000. During its time in power, the party was known more for keeping the United States at arm’s length while attempting to strike deals with drug traffickers, rather than combating them head on.

Mr. Peña Nieto’s election has brought the PRI back to power, and since so many of those serving in his cabinet have one foot in the past, foreign policy experts who specialize in Mexico say it is not clear where the new government is headed.

“It could go either way,” said Eric L. Olson of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, speaking of future cooperation between Mexico and the United States. “Part of me says, ‘Let’s not assume it’s all going to go south.’ And there are things that are happening that give me hope. But the longer it goes without some clarity, the more doubts creep in.”


Page 2 of 3)
Those doubts have also crept to Capitol Hill. Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he was withholding nearly $230 million in security assistance to Mexico through the so-called Merida Initiative amid concerns about whether the fight against organized crime is doing more harm than good.
 “Congress has been asked for a significant new investment, but it’s not clear what the Mexican government’s plans are,” Mr. Leahy said. “It’s premature to sign off on more of the same.”
General García Ochoa, 61, whose background is at once exemplary and enigmatic, personifies that quandary. On paper, he is a model officer. He earned two advanced degrees from Mexico’s most prestigious military academies, and founded the elite National Center for Counter-Narcotics Intelligence. He has been a student and an instructor in American military training programs. He has written three books, including one on the military’s role in the drug fight.
People who know the general said they were struck by his candid assessments of the fight against organized crime. He spoke openly about governmental corruption, a topic that has been considered taboo. And on at least two occasions over the past year and a half, the general’s friends said, he traveled secretly to San Antonio to meet with American intelligence officials — he didn’t feel safe meeting with agents in Mexico, they said — and gave names of military and civilian officials he suspected of providing protection to drug traffickers.
“He was genuinely worried that corruption was giving the military a bad name, and that if nothing was done about it, it could hurt relations with the United States,” said a person knowledgeable about the meetings. “The way he saw it, this next government has the chance to really change the way Mexico works with the United States. He didn’t want that chance to be missed.”
By then, General García Ochoa was already on the short list to become defense minister. And people who know him said he hoped American support would give him an advantage over other candidates.
What he did not know was that the United States was quietly advocating against him. Current and former American officials said they had put together a troubling portfolio of allegations against the general. In his role as director of military administration and acquisitions, he had been accused of skimming money and supplies from large defense contracts.
Reports in the Mexican news media last summer accused the general of approving payments totaling more than $355 million for sophisticated surveillance equipment, without reporting those payments to civilian authorities or providing an explanation of how that equipment would be used.
‘Mr. Ten Percent’
Behind the scenes, American officials had nicknamed the general “Mr. Ten Percent,” shorthand for their suspicions about the way he handled contracts. And two American officials recalled the general making a formal request for American assistance for the military’s helicopter unit, and then backing out of the arrangement when the United States asked to look at the books — including the unit’s financial, flight and fuel records.
“The United States is sending a lot of money down there,” said one senior American official, describing the concerns about the general. “We need to be sure that money is being used in the right way or we could lose a huge opportunity.”
The D.E.A. suspected the general had long ties to drug traffickers. Agents declined to discuss the specific nature of those links. Nor would they say whether their investigation against the general was continuing. General García Ochoa declined requests to be interviewed.
“There was a lot of information on him, and it was coming from multiple sources,” said a recently retired senior federal law-enforcement officer, referring to what he called the “serious concerns” about the general. “We never found any smoking guns, not enough to make a case.”

Page 3 of 3)
The New York Times obtained classified D.E.A. intelligence reports from the early years of the general’s career, when he founded the counternarcotics intelligence center. The reports, dated Dec. 15, 1997, allege that then-Colonel García Ochoa was one of several senior Mexican military officials involved with attempts to negotiate a deal with the country’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations.
 “It is highly likely,” said one report, “that military officials wanted to continue to profit from an ongoing relationship with the drug traffickers.”
The reports also allege that the colonel led a raid against the Juárez Cartel in which he deliberately allowed the kingpin Amado Carrillo Fuentes to escape, saying that the colonel “did not give orders to launch the operation until the car in which ACF was reportedly traveling had departed the area.”
Mexican officials declined requests to be interviewed for this article. American officials declined to comment publicly on their suspicions about the general. But they emphasized that whatever concerns they might have had about an individual general were hardly representative of the larger relationship between the two governments.
There have been significant strides in cooperation in recent years, including the first drones flying over Mexican airspace, the creation of the first joint intelligence center on a Mexican military base, operations staged by Mexican counternarcotics officers on the United States side of the border, and operations conducted by American federal law enforcement agents against money laundering in Mexico.
The United States has successfully shared delicate intelligence with the Mexican Navy, which led to the arrests of significant cartel leaders. And the number of exchanges between the Pentagon and the Mexican military has increased drastically, from 3 events in 2009 to nearly 100 last year, according to a report in Small Wars Journal, an independent online military publication.
“One of the most important bilateral relationships the United States has is with Mexico, and neither side is going to abandon it,” said another former senior D.E.A. official. “Yes, there are significant concerns, but when they come up you try to isolate them, limit their impact and move on.”
The American effort to prevent General García Ochoa’s promotion was just such an exercise in containment, with the Americans quietly moving to weed out Mexican officials suspected of corruption because they feared Mexican institutions would not be willing or able to do so on their own.
Misgivings Aired
After September’s Independence Day parade, senior American officials gathered in Mexico City for two days of meetings to assess their suspicions about the general, and to discuss whether or not to share those misgivings with their Mexican counterparts.
According to a Mexican official, the Americans eventually did share their concerns about the general, less than a week before Mr. Peña Nieto announced his cabinet appointments. The official said the American ambassador met in Mexico City with two senior aides to the incoming leader, including Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, who later became interior minister, and Jorge Ramírez Marin, a former national security adviser.
The official said Mr. Wayne, the ambassador, had discussed Washington’s concerns about the general, emphasizing that the allegations had not been corroborated.
“The timing was important,” the Mexican official said, “because Mexican presidents almost never replace the person they appoint as defense minister, so whoever was chosen would be involved with setting the terms of cooperation for the next six years.”
In the end, General García Ochoa did not get the job. Instead, it went to Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, who Mexican officials said had become close with Mr. Peña Nieto when he served as governor of the state of Mexico and General Cienfuegos commanded the area’s military base.
As for General García Ochoa, he was dispatched to a military base in the northern border state of Coahuila, a hotbed of cartel-related prison breaks, police corruption and political assassinations.
Whether Washington played a central role in how things turned out for the general remains unclear. Meanwhile, a column in the Mexican newspaper El Universal debated whether his dangerous new assignment was a demonstration of the government’s confidence in him, or a demotion aimed at forcing him to consider an early retirement.
Whichever the case, the general made a hasty departure from the military’s headquarters in Mexico City. One person who knows him said he had emptied his office with the help of a handful of aides and dispensed with the usual farewell festivities.
On a day in December when defense ministers from across the hemisphere gathered for a summit meeting in Mexico City, the general was seen wearing civilian clothes, climbing into his personal car and driving away.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2013, 10:33:14 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #490 on: February 08, 2013, 02:06:00 PM »

Mexico Security Memo: A New Conflict in Jalisco State
 

February 6, 2013 | 1100 GMT

Stratfor
 
In the newest battlefront in violent Jalisco state, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion has begun fighting its former ally Los Coroneles, an ally of the Sinaloa Federation, along with Sinaloa's allies the Knights Templar and the Gulf cartel. The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion has become one of the larger organized crime networks in Mexico, with its operations spreading into several Mexican states. During the latter half of 2011 and through 2012, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion dominated criminal enterprises in Jalisco, defending Sinaloa Federation interests against incursions by rivals. The split is a significant blow to the Sinaloa Federation.
 
Like Los Coroneles, the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion emerged from a Sinaloa faction led by Ignacio "El Nacho" Coronel Villarreal. The conflict between the two successor organizations strongly suggests the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion is a fully independent criminal organization. The new fighting has affected multiple regions of Jalisco state, including the eastern portion around Lake Chapala, the western half including Guadalajara and along the state's border with -- and into -- Michoacan state. Further complicating Jalisco state's cartel landscape, Gulf cartel gunmen have become active there, probably upon request of their ally the Knights Templar. The Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion also has been engaged in multiple turf wars with the Knights Templar since at least February 2012.
 






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Jalisco state, specifically the metropolitan area of Guadalajara, has long been a strategic base of operations for Mexican organized crime, serving as a transportation hub for drug traffickers. Mexican cartels also use the mountainous and rural areas of the state for the production of illegal drugs. Guadalajara remains critical to Sinaloa Federation operations, meaning Sinaloa's new conflict with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion will likely continue either directly or through Sinaloa proxies.
 
The new conflict between Los Coroneles and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion raises the question of what role Los Zetas -- who inevitably will be drawn in -- will play. Jalisco state began experiencing escalated levels of violence as early as 2011, when Los Zetas began making inroads at the expense of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion at the latter's inception. Activity attributed to Los Zetas in Jalisco has been limited during the first month of 2013. What strategy the organization will take in light of the influx of rivals thus remains unclear.
 
Los Zetas could align with Los Coroneles, the Knights Templar and the Gulf cartel, although so far Los Zetas have remained aligned to a lesser criminal organization known as La Resistencia, which derived from the former Milenio cartel. More beneficial for Los Zetas would be aligning with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in efforts to keep out the numerous other cartels seeking a foothold in Jalisco. An alignment with the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in Jalisco state would be a substantial blow to the Sinaloa Federation, Gulf cartel and Knights Templar, the principal rivals to Los Zetas in their strongholds in northeastern Mexico. Nothing, however, suggests an alignment between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and Los Zetas is imminent, though it is a possibility.
 
Whether Los Zetas continue to assault other criminal organizations in Jalisco state independently or whether they align with one of the other groups in the state, violence will likely continue in Jalisco and in neighboring Michoacan. Although an alignment would eliminate a separate conflict from the region, it would probably not reduce violence in Jalisco state since conflict between the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Knights Templar, Gulf cartel, Los Coroneles and Sinaloa Federation would likely replace it. Should Los Zetas remain separate and resume fighting in Jalisco, violence will likely escalate.
 
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.
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Read more: Mexico Security Memo: A New Conflict in Jalisco State | Stratfor
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« Reply #491 on: February 08, 2013, 02:15:40 PM »

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In Mexico, Rumors Surround the Pemex Explosion
 

February 3, 2013 | 1729 GMT





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Summary
 


ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images
 
The Pemex building in Mexico City on Feb. 1
 


Rumors indicate that an explosive device may have triggered the Jan. 31 explosion in the basement of the headquarters of Petroleos Mexicanos, better known as Pemex, in Mexico City. According to other unconfirmed reports, two other explosive devices were in the building that did not detonate. If these claims are true, they would finally offer clarity on the blast, which left at least 32 people dead and more than 100 injured. The official position of the Mexican government, as stated by Pemex Director General Emilio Lozoya, remains that the explosion appears to have been an accident but that the government is pursuing all lines of investigation.
 
Though the exact cause of the explosion is unknown at this point, the event could indicate a range of possible political challenges for the new administration, including criminal intimidation and political infighting. The reform of state-owned Pemex has formed the cornerstone of the administration of newly inaugurated President Enrique Pena Nieto. Mexico's declining oil production and exports have a direct impact on the national budget, which in any given year derives 30 to 40 percent of its revenue from Pemex. Reforms will aim to increase crude oil and natural gas production for both domestic consumption and export. As a result, for anyone looking to send a clear message to the new administration, Pemex is a natural target.
 


Analysis
 
Although Mexico's drug cartels are the most obviously powerful set of violent actors in Mexico, to date they have refrained from using terrorist-type tactics against the government. Their operations have remained largely within the bounds of criminal violence designed to facilitate the business of illicit drugs. Unlike the decision of Colombia's Medellin cartel to engage in politicized violence during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Mexican drug gangs have largely kept their operations from directly challenging Mexico City. Should the cartels escalate their actions to political violence, it could push the Mexican government to invite U.S. forces into the country to combat the threat, something these criminal organizations wish to avoid. It is possible that the Pena Nieto administration is engaging in back-channel negotiations with one or another of Mexico's criminal groups in an effort to stem the violence, an action that could shift the calculus of cartels. There is no evidence to suggest that such a change has occurred, but if further evidence comes to light suggesting the cartels were involved in the Jan. 31 explosion, it would indicate a significant change in Mexico's political and security situation.   
 
If the explosion was indeed an attack, the more likely explanation may be political infighting. The changes that the Pena Nieto administration wishes to implement will make Pemex more transparent and efficient and will most likely undermine entrenched interests in the company. Notoriously corrupt, Pemex has long been accused of gross inefficiencies and its employees of pervasive graft. As a result, any efficiency reforms to Pemex will likely cause many to lose their privileged access to Pemex funds. This is not to say that the organization is unaware that changes must be made. In fact, the company has attempted in recent years to make a number of changes to increase output. But recent discussions that the new Pemex leadership, appointed by the Pena Nieto administration, will lay off thousands of employees have put new strain on the company and on the leading Institutional Revolutionary Party, which has a close relationship with Pemex union leaders.
 
Nevertheless, the explosion was very large for a political message stemming from an internal power struggle, and it is possible that it was a complete accident; a natural gas leak or a blown transformer could have caused an explosion of this size. Indeed, many media reports have pointed to Pemex's poor maintenance record as a possible explanation. If that is the case, then the incident may have no significant political implications. However, as the rumors suggest, an attack would indicate a significant setback in the first months of the Pena Nieto administration.
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Read more: In Mexico, Rumors Surround the Pemex Explosion | Stratfor
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« Reply #492 on: February 23, 2013, 11:58:58 PM »


Mexico Security Memo: Guatemalan Gunmen Join Mexican Turf War
February 13, 2013 | 1100 GMT



Stratfor
On Feb. 5, federal police detained at least five Guatemalans at a hotel in the Lomas del Lago neighborhood of Zacatecas, Zacatecas state. According to the Zacatecas state attorney general, the Guatemalans had recently arrived to the state in order to reinforce Los Zetas, one of the two principal cartels fighting for control over the state. Along with the arrests, authorities seized an unspecified number of assault rifles and grenades, indicating the Guatemalans intended to engage in violent acts on behalf of Los Zetas. On Feb. 4, authorities discovered the bodies of two Guatemalans accompanied by rifles in Monteczuma in neighboring San Luis Potosi state after responding to reports of a shootout. And on Jan. 20 in Valparaiso, Zacatecas state, authorities detained four Guatemalans and seized assault rifles after a confrontation between gunmen and federal police.


Mexican organized crime has long worked with Guatemalan organized crime, and Los Zetas have had links to Guatemala since operating as an enforcer arm for the Gulf cartel. These ties remained after Los Zetas separated from the Gulf cartel and pushed to expand operations further down the supply chain of illicit drugs.

Recent reporting suggests Los Zetas are partly relying on Guatemalans in their attempts to regain control over states where a Zetas faction led by Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero broke away to align with Los Zetas' principal rival in the region, the Gulf cartel. Velazquez's dissidence led to rising levels of violence in several Mexican states, most notably in San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas. Using Guatemalans to augment Los Zetas' forces is understandable since the organization suffered a substantial loss in operational capacity due to the breakaway faction.

As Los Zetas' need for gunmen increased, opportunities to recruit diminished because the organization likely had lost territory when Velazquez's faction splintered and probably did not trust the local population after such a betrayal. By recruiting Guatemalans, Los Zetas can bring in gunmen less likely to be compromised by rival cartels.

As long as Los Zetas retain operational ties in Guatemala, they will likely continue to use Guatemalans to make up for declining domestic recruitment. Guatemala has a large pool of unemployed military-age men to recruit from, and if Los Zetas face additional pressures, such as new incursions by rival cartels or another internal split, their recruitment of Guatemalans could increase. However, Guatemalans likely stand out from the local populations in which they operate in Mexico, which could lead to increased targeting by rival criminal groups and Mexican authorities.

Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.
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« Reply #493 on: March 03, 2013, 04:05:23 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/world/americas/border-security-hard-to-achieve-and-harder-to-measure.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&smid=fb-nytimes
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« Reply #494 on: March 20, 2013, 05:03:33 PM »

Mexico Security Memo: Taxis Targeted in Cancun
 

March 20, 2013 | 1000 GMT
stratfor
 
Fight for the Taxi Industry in Cancun
 
A group of gunmen killed seven people and wounded five others in a bar in Cancun on the evening of March 14. The incident began when gunmen armed with AK-47 assault rifles arrived at La Sirenita bar, located on 20 de Noviembre Avenue in Region 233 in the northern half of the city, and opened fire on a group of patrons. Three of the dead were leaders in a Quintana Roo state taxi union. On March 16, authorities detained two suspects involved in the March 14 shooting from a nightclub in the hotel zone of Cancun. According to one of the detained men, Hector "El Diablo" Cacique Fernandez, the suspects belong to Los Zetas and are responsible for collecting extortion fees in the city's hotel zone. The attack demonstrates that Mexican cartels have been using the city's taxi industry as a revenue source. Moreover, the current turf wars involving rival Mexican organized crime groups in Cancun -- including Los Pelones, Los Zetas, the Gulf cartel and Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion -- may lead to additional violence on taxi drivers as well as their union leaders.
 





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According to Mexican media reports citing unnamed police officials, Los Zetas in Cancun are internally divided, and some members of the group are now working for the Gulf cartel. These alleged desertions reportedly revolve around both factions' attempting to control revenue earned by extorting taxi drivers working in the tourist destination. One source reported that although the detained suspects confessed to working for a Los Zetas plaza boss, they were in fact among the Zetas who had begun working for the Gulf cartel. However, no desertion by Los Zetas members in Cancun has been confirmed.
 
It would make sense for violence between the rival criminal groups to focus on taxi operators in the city, since Cancun's value for Mexican cartels comes from the city's popularity as a tourist destination and the income cartels can make from the tourists. Taxi drivers in Cancun have fallen victim to organized crime on several occasions, such as April 13, 2012, when gunmen in two trucks opened fire on a taxi in the Region 92 area of Cancun, killing two people in the cab and injuring a third. Two of the individuals inside the taxi were later identified as Los Zetas members. The April 13 attacked marked the beginning of a Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion incursion into the city.
 
If some members of Los Zetas operating in Cancun have split from the organization, and particularly if they joined sides with one of Los Zetas' primary rivals in the area, more attacks targeting taxi drivers involved in organized crime or simply paying extortion fees could follow. Desertion by Los Zetas members would likely weaken the group's hold in Cancun. Still, even if Los Zetas are not fracturing, their rivals could still attempt to take control of Los Zetas' operations, which could lead to increased overall violence in Cancun.
 
Gulf Cartel Infighting Hurting Operations
 
Tamaulipas state authorities announced March 17 that three gunmen were killed in clashes between cartel elements and security forces -- one in the Jacinto Lopez neighborhood of Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, and two along the highway between Reynosa and San Fernando, Tamaulipas state. These events follow a series of cartel-related violent incidents in the Reynosa area over the past week.
 
Recent violence in Reynosa is likely the result of warring factions within the Gulf cartel. It is not clear if this weekend's events were the result of an offensive by the Mexican military to engage and counter elements of the Gulf cartel or if military patrols happened to come across the cartel gunmen who then engaged in a shootout. Regardless, infighting within the Gulf cartel has escalated and may be affecting the group's trafficking operations in the city, as evidenced by several substantial drug seizures that have coincided with the escalating conflict.
 
On March 15, federal police discovered two underground warehouses in Reynosa, collectively containing more than five tons of marijuana and 167 kilograms (368 pounds) of methamphetamines. This seizure followed the March 13 discovery of four tons of marijuana, also in a warehouse in Reynosa. While such seizures are not uncommon in northern Tamaulipas, the frequency is atypical. However, such frequent seizures could be expected in a city where traffickers who were at one point working within the same network are now rivals. A prolonged conflict between Gulf cartel leaders in Reynosa could lead to traffickers alerting authorities to their rivals' operations -- in addition to increasing military operations as violence rises.
 
Should cartel-related violence, particularly violence attributed to internal Gulf cartel disputes, continue at the current heightened levels, Gulf operations in Reynosa may be further hindered by both their rival Gulf cartel operators as well as the military.
 
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region and designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.
.

Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Taxis Targeted in Cancun | Stratfor
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« Reply #495 on: April 01, 2013, 04:32:50 PM »


Summary
 


Demian CHAVEZ/AFP/Getty Images
 
Part of an aircraft assembled at the Bombardier plant in Queretaro, Mexico, in October 2010
 


Mexico's manufacturing sector has grown more sophisticated under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Manufacturers now produce higher value-added products, such as automotive, aeronautical and electronic products, and they are doing so in factories outside their traditional production region: the U.S.-Mexico border. As the country's economy has grown, a secondary manufacturing core has emerged in the central lowlands, also known as the Bajio. Located near the bulk of Mexico's educated workforce, the Bajio is safer than many border towns and is now connected more efficiently to suppliers in the United States and Asia and consumers in the United States and Canada. The manufacturing sector in this region will grow in importance in the years to come, though it will not replace the border region entirely.
 


Analysis
 
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mexico underwent a profound economic and political reorganization. The economy liberalized, culminating in NAFTA, and major state-owned companies privatized, transforming Mexico from a closed economic and political system into an export-oriented industrial economy.
 
As a result, trade increased between Mexico and the United States and a manufacturing belt sprung up at the countries' shared border. From 1990 to 2000, Mexican trade became even more closely tied to the United States. In 1990, the United States accounted for 69 percent of all Mexican trade; by 2000, it accounted for nearly 80 percent. Low-end factories, known as maquilas, sprang up in the border states of Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas. These provided manufacturers with an abundant supply of low-wage labor, most of which came from elsewhere in Mexico.
 





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But at the turn of the century, China's special economic zones became cost-competitive alternatives to Mexican factories. Mexico responded by making more valuable products. So even though clothing exports dropped 43 percent (from $7.6 billion to $4.3 billion) between 2002 and 2012, automotive exports increased by 152 percent ($27.9 billion to $70.3 billion) and electronic exports increased by 73 percent ($43.3 billion to $74.9 billion) over the same period. Asian alternatives notwithstanding, these Mexican products remained cost-competitive because of NAFTA.
 
A Systemic Shift
 
Mexico's central lowlands, which include Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Queretaro and San Luis Potosi states, provide relative isolation from the endemic violence of the border, a large pool of qualified workers and incentives schemes to lure foreign direct investment.
 
To attract foreign investment, Bajio state governments in 2006 began building infrastructure and training facilities, selling real estate and providing a wide range of other benefits. Foreign multinational companies responded enthusiastically. Nissan has invested roughly $2 billion to build a new automotive plant in Aguascalientes state. Volkswagen, GM, Honda and Mazda have invested $550 million, $200 million, $800 million and $500 million, respectively, in their plants in Guanajuato state. Bombardier has invested $500 million and Eurocopter has pledged $550 million in operations in Queretaro state.
 
These numbers represent a systemic shift. In Baja California, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states, there were 4 percent fewer factories in 2011 than there were in 2007. Farther south, in Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi and Jalisco states, there were roughly 12 percent more factories.
 
Investment has followed a similar trend. Total foreign direct investment in the Bajio increased from $7.2 billion in 1993-2002 to $16.3 billion in 2003-2012. By comparison, foreign direct investment in the border states over the same period increased from $32.9 billion to $55.2 billion. That is not to say factories are relocating from the border to the Bajio -- it is not a zero-sum game. Rather, new firms looking to enter the North American market, especially European and Asian automakers, increasingly are setting up in the Bajio.
 
Notably, the overall amount of manufactured exports from the Bajio is far lower than that of the border. However, the number of manufacturing firms and the amount of foreign direct investment are increasing at a faster rate in the Bajio than in the border states.
 
Developing the Bajio
 
The Bajio only became attractive to manufacturers after Mexico overhauled its transportation infrastructure. More and more raw materials are coming from Asia, and the majority of automobile exports are moved by rail. Thus, Mexico had to expand its Pacific ports and connect them by rail to the industrial base and to consumer markets.
 






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The Pacific ports of Manzanillo and Lazaro Cardenas are booming accordingly. Lazaro Cardenas, the only port in Mexico that can accommodate post-Panamax ships, is the fastest growing port in North America.
 
In addition, the railways connecting these ports to the United States have become much more efficient since being privatized in 1995. The entire length of the country's railway network has remained at approximately 26,700 kilometers (16,600 miles), but the amount of freight transported has doubled from 52.5 million tons to 108.8 million tons per year. Moreover, companies have moved more freight with far fewer employees.
 
Unlike the border states, the central lowland region is a part of Mexico's economic and political heartland. It hosts a large, educated population and its climate is the most temperate in the country. It is centrally located, with relatively easy access to ports on both coasts, the United States to the north and Mexico City in the south.
 
Geography has benefited the Bajio, as have improved transportation infrastructure, comparatively better security and efforts to attract investment. More manufacturing investment and output will bring Mexico's industrial core closer to Mexico City and populations in need of jobs. Bajio manufacturing will not replace manufacturing activity along the border, but it gives Mexico an opportunity to develop more evenly and sustainably.


Read more: In Mexico, a New Manufacturing Heartland? | Stratfor
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« Reply #496 on: April 01, 2013, 04:46:22 PM »

second post

Mexico: The 'New Narco-Reality' Is Already Here
March 27, 2013 | 1620 GMT
By Scott Stewart, Vice President of Analysis, and Tristan Reed
 
Last week we read an article discussing the idea that Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto was somehow going to be able to create a "new narco-reality" in Mexico. The article theorized that if the Mexican government were to soften its investigation of drug crimes, the administration could defuse the situation and thus violence would decrease. The author of the article is not alone in exploring this line of reasoning. In fact, the article expresses a theoretical shift in approach we have often heard while discussing the problem of violence in Mexico with both Mexicans and interested foreigners.
 
Unfortunately, reducing the levels of violence is not quite that simple. The nature and origins of violence in Mexico severely constrain the Mexican government. Because of these constraints, merely lessening the government's prosecution of drug crimes will have little impact on the level of violence. Therefore, the theoretical argument will remain just that.
 
Nature and History
 
When analyzing the violence in Mexico it is helpful to put the violent incidents into one of three distinct categories: incidents that result from government action against the criminals, incidents that result from one criminal group attacking another and incidents that are the result of criminals attacking innocent citizens.
 
By reducing the tempo at which it prosecutes the drug war, the Mexican government could influence the number of incidents in the first category -- government action against cartel figures. Clearly these incidents can and do provoke a considerable amount of violence.
 
Tristan recently visited the street corner in Matamoros where Antonio Cardenas Guillen, also known as "Tony Tormenta," was killed by government troops in November 2010. Even though the incident occurred more than two years ago, the neighborhood still shows significant damage from the ferocious firefight that erupted between the military and Cardenas Guillen's bodyguards. The scene was reminiscent of the damage Tristan saw while in Iraq and Afghanistan and not something normally associated with a law enforcement operation, especially one within small arms range of the United States (the firefight forced an evacuation of the University of Texas at Brownsville campus). 
 
But, while quite dramatic, such operations are relatively rare. The government simply does not initiate the majority of violent incidents in Mexico and is not even involved in most of the violence. Many of the deadliest incidents in Mexico have no government involvement at all, such as the May 2011 ambush in Nayarit state in which 29 cartel gunmen were killed; the July 2010 ambush in Saric, Sonora, in which more than 20 cartel gunmen were killed; the August 2011 casino arson in Monterrey in which 52 people were killed; the killing of 72 migrants on a bus in Tamaulipas state in August 2010; and the hundreds of victims displayed in the dueling body dumps by Los Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel in each other's territory in 2011 and 2012. Even in the prolonged firefights in Reynosa in March 2013, there are reports that the government allowed the two warring criminal groups to fight for hours before getting involved in the fray.
 
Indeed, while the popular narrative is to ascribe the beginning of Mexico's cartel war to a campaign launched by former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, this is simply not the case. The escalation began well before Calderon was elected, and it was not government actions but a change in narcotics smuggling routes to the United States and competition over those routes between Mexican criminal groups that really sparked the escalation of violence.
 
This dynamic first became visible in the early 1990s when Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera and his Sinaloa Federation partners sent forces from Sinaloa state into Tijuana, Baja California state -- controlled at the time by the Arellano Felix brothers -- to buy stash houses and construct tunnels for moving drugs across the border. In response, the brothers tortured and killed Sinaloa operatives in Tijuana and even tried to assassinate El Chapo. The war between Sinaloa and the Arellano Felix brothers sparked a prolonged season of violence in Tijuana that eventually led Mexico's president at the time, Ernesto Zedillo, to dispatch Mexican soldiers to the city in 2000 in an attempt to quell the violence. 
 
A similar escalation occurred in Tamaulipas state in 2003, following the arrest of Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen, when El Chapo and Sinaloa made an attempt to seize control of the lucrative Nuevo Laredo plaza. This incursion caused a powerful counterattack by Los Zetas, and a bloody, protracted struggle erupted in the city. By mid-2005 law and order had completely broken down in Nuevo Laredo, and then-President Vicente Fox deployed the army to the city to reassert government control.
 
Currently in Tamaulipas, the federal police and the military control security, and the local police have been disarmed in some cities, such as Reynosa. In such an environment it will be impossible for the federal government to disengage without first rebuilding local and state police forces to provide security.
 
The bottom line is that since the federal government has not initiated most of the violence in Mexico, a decision by the government not to pursue drug investigations would do little to quell the violence.
 
Fracturing
 
Beyond this general history of cartel-initiated and cartel-driven violence, there is the changing nature of the Mexican cartels themselves. Perhaps the most significant of these changes has been the fragmentation that has occurred among the cartels. After many years of relative stasis, where there were a handful of large cartel organizations that controlled relatively large areas, the cartel groups and the territory they control have entered a dynamic period. In 2006 and 2007 it was possible for us to do an annual report that explained the main dynamics of the Mexican cartels, but due to the rapid changes in 2010 we felt compelled to do a mid-year update in May. By 2011, the quickly changing cartel landscape demanded that we provide quarterly updates as older organizations splintered and newer organizations rose from them. This process has shown no sign of stopping.
 
The trend toward fragmentation is partly a result of the Mexican and U.S. governments' policy of seeking to decapitate the cartel groups, but it is too simplistic to suggest that Mexican policy is the sole cause of this fragmentation. In many cases, the reasons are much more complicated. For example, the largest of these new fragment groups, Los Zetas, split from the Gulf cartel nearly seven years after the capture of Gulf cartel leader Cardenas and almost a year before the death of his replacement -- and brother -- Antonio Cardenas Guillen.
 
Los Zetas split from the Gulf cartel after they staged what was essentially a failed hostile takeover of the organization and the other leaders resisted their attempt -- and resented their greed and arrogance. This resulted in friction between the traditional leadership of the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas that then led to all-out war between the two organizations when a Gulf cartel gunmen killed a Zetas member.
 
It is true that the killing of Antonio Cardenas Guillen led to additional splintering of the Gulf cartel and to a bitter struggle for control of the organization in 2011 and 2012, but the organization was arguably weakened far more by Los Zetas' insurrection than it was by his death. Currently, the Gulf cartel is very weak and appears to be not a unified organization but a scattered collection of smaller groups fighting to retain control of Matamoros and Reynosa.
 
The proliferation of these smaller organized crime groups has also resulted in increased friction, and the increase in violence we have seen in places like Acapulco and Guadalajara in recent years is a direct consequence of this. The violence is not just occurring in one or two border towns; it is stretching over a large portion of the country and encompasses several states.
 
There are also some who cling to the idea that Pena Nieto can forge some sort of agreement with the cartels and return to the way that his predecessors in the Institutional Revolutionary Party used to deal with and accommodate the cartels in the past. However, given the current cartel dynamics, the situation in Mexico is very different than it was under former presidents, such as Zedillo and Carlos Salinas de Gortari. There simply are too many moving parts and too many cartel groups with which to deal.
 
Beyond Trafficking
 
Another constraint that prevents the Mexican government from taking a hands-off approach to the criminal cartels is that they are no longer simply drug trafficking organizations. They have evolved into something else. 
 
In the 1990s the cartels were mostly focused on trafficking Colombian cocaine to the United States and producing their own marijuana, black tar heroin and synthetic drugs that they then transported to the United States. However, over the past decade the costs of the protracted wars among the cartels and the impact that these wars have had on some groups' ability to produce or traffic drugs have led many groups to branch out into other crimes.
 
These other criminal endeavors include kidnapping, extortion, human smuggling and cargo theft. Los Zetas also make a considerable amount of money stealing oil from Mexico's state-run oil company and pirating CDs and DVDs. This other criminal behavior is what sparks many territorial fights in areas that are outside the traditional drug production areas and border crossings.
 
It is not necessary to entirely control a highway or transportation hub to push drugs through -- both U.S. and Mexican law enforcement struggle to even slightly interdict the overall drug flow, and a Mexican gang will not be any more successful. But when two opposing groups are using the same turf, and are selling drugs on the streets, extorting businesses or running kidnapping rings, then it's crucial that they keep competitors away so they do not harm profits. This increasing focus on local drug sales also means that drugs are becoming more of an acute Mexican problem rather than just a problem for the Americans.
 
This drift toward localized crime and drug distribution is one of the major causes of the current violence in states such as Morelos, Mexico, Jalisco, Guanajuato and Quintana Roo. This change has been reflected in law enforcement acronyms. The Mexican cartels are no longer referred to as DTOs, or drug trafficking organizations, but rather TCOs, or transnational criminal organizations, in recognition of the other crimes they are involved in.
 
A "new narco-reality" has already dawned in Mexico. The environment is vastly different from what it was in the 1990s, and there is no going back. The changes that have occurred to and among the Mexican cartels, and the amount of violence the organizations precipitate without government involvement, mean that it will be extremely difficult for the Pena Nieto administration to ignore the cartels' activities and adopt this theoretical hands-off approach.
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Read more: Mexico: The 'New Narco-Reality' Is Already Here | Stratfor
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« Reply #497 on: April 01, 2013, 08:15:27 PM »

Yes, but now they've been handed a gift on a silver platter. Colorado law enforcement will learn what "Plata o plomo" means.

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2013/04/01/mexican-cartels-getting-strong-foothold-in-the-united-states-n1554480


Assassinating Public Officials: Mexican Cartels Getting Strong and Violent Foothold in the United States


 Katie Pavlich
 News Editor, Townhall





Apr 01, 2013 10:26 AM EST
 
 
The Associated Press is out with an extensive piece today showing just how far Mexican drug cartels have infiltrated American society. The cartel problem is no longer a border problem, it's a problem for the entire country. Violent cartel members are carrying out crimes in our backyards with the potential to develop into something much worse.
 

Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world's most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.

 If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels' move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.

 But a wide-ranging Associated Press review of federal court cases and government drug-enforcement data, plus interviews with many top law enforcement officials, indicate the groups have begun deploying agents from their inner circles to the U.S. Cartel operatives are suspected of running drug-distribution networks in at least nine non-border states, often in middle-class suburbs in the Midwest, South and Northeast.

 "It's probably the most serious threat the United States has faced from organized crime," said Jack Riley, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration's Chicago office.
 
The fact is, Phoenix is now the number two city in the world behind Mexico City for kidnapping and sex trafficking from Mexico is already a common occurance.


 An aspect of the cartel business that is often overlooked is sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation of both women and children is occurring at an alarming level.

 Thomas said sexual predators in the U.S. will order children from Mexico through cartels; cartels then send those children along with a drug run through the desert after payment and deliver that child to their new owner for sexual use.
 
In addition, Breitbart News is reporting a possible connection between the Aryan Brotherhood and Mexican Cartels working together to kill public officials in the United States. They report on the link between Mexican cartels and the murders of Texas Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia over the weekend. McLelland's murder came after the targeting killing of two other prosecutors in Texas and Colorado.
 

A national security expert who has spent several years in intelligence gathering operations around the Mexican drug cartels' criminal insurgency into the continental United States told Breitbart News, "This assassination of DA McClellend and his wife is meant to send a message: no one is safe, no one is beyond our reach. We will kill you and your loved ones. We are in control here."

 "This is a significant point of escalation in the crisis," he continued. "This type of high-profile targeting of public officials is a classic insurgent tactic. Its escalating use inside the US shows a complete lack of fear of consequences and demonstrates the fundamental shift in the strategic landscape that has already occurred.

 "The criminal insurgencies and their gang foot soldiers have exported the type of warfare that brought Mexico to its knees deep into our sovereign territory. They are waging a war: targeting, assassinating, using terror tactics—and our law enforcement is outgunned and overwhelmed.”

Breitbart News interviewed McLelland several weeks ago as part of an investigation into Mexican drug cartel criminal insurgency operations in the United States, including Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and the city of Chicago. Breitbart News's Brandon Darby conducted the interview with D.A. McLelland in his office in Kaufman, TX.

 McLelland spoke about the recent assassination of his Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse, who was himself gunned down in broad daylight on the Kaufman County Courthouse steps by a masked gunman who has yet to be apprehended.

Also, on March 19, Colorado’s prisons director, Tom Clements, was shot and killed while answering his front doorbell at his home outside Colorado Springs. The suspect in that case was Evan Spencer Ebel, a member of a white supremacist prison gang, later shot while trying to escape authorities on March 21st.

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« Reply #498 on: April 03, 2013, 10:11:38 AM »

Mexico Security Memo: Implications of a Gulf Cartel Consolidation
April 3, 2013 | 1030 GMT

Stratfor
 
The Ramirez Trevino Faction's Reputed Reynosa Victory
 
Protracted fighting among Gulf cartel factions for control of Reynosa may finally have concluded in a victory for faction leader Mario "El Pelon" Ramirez Trevino. Social media outlets corroborated by a Stratfor source maintain that Ramirez Trevino's faction has killed its principal rivals in Reynosa, Miguel "El Gringo" Villarreal and his associates.
 






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According to Mexican media reports at the end of March, gunmen belonging to Ramirez Trevino's faction executed up to 60 of Villarreal's and his allies' relatives in the Tamaulipas cities of Miguel Aleman and Camargo. While we cannot verify these reports, such actions would be unsurprising given the intensity of fighting between Gulf cartel factions over the last month.
 
Rival Gulf leaders have fought for control of the overall group's lucrative criminal enterprises -- not surprisingly, to the detriment of its operations -- since at least 2010. A decisive victory by Ramirez Trevino in Reynosa would consolidate his control over Villarreal's former turf, allow him to remove any potential rivals within Villarreal's network and expand his overall control of Gulf cartel operations in northeastern Tamaulipas state -- possibly even reunifying the Gulf cartel under a single uncontested leader.
 
What sparked the escalated fighting in March remains unclear. Some accounts say that Villarreal was perceived as betraying other Gulf cartel leaders by maintaining a relationship with the now-deceased top leader of Los Zetas, Heriberto "El Lazca" Lazcano Lazcano. Other accounts, such as an anonymous message circulating on social media outlets at the end of March, maintain Villarreal and his associates were working closely with the Sinaloa Federation -- prompting the Sinaloa Federation to sever ties with the Gulf cartel now that Ramirez Trevino has won out. Such rumors frequently are encountered when following Mexican organized crime, and the validity and the source of the information are rarely established. Nevertheless, the reports pinpoint a critical element in the future security climate of Tamaulipas state -- namely, the responding actions of cartels that have frequently interacted with Gulf cartel factions (whether as rivals or allies) in the wake of Ramirez Trevino's victory. Such groups could seek to subvert the newly formulated Gulf cartel, renew attacks in light of a further weakened state (from continued infighting) or even collaborate with any potential new factions within the Gulf cartel.
 
The Gulf cartel factions have become increasingly reliant on support in defending their territories in Tamaulipas -- to include Matamoros and Reynosa -- from Los Zetas incursions. Thus far, this support primarily has come from the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar. Given the rifts within the Gulf cartel, such alliances might have been with specific Gulf factions.
 
Although Ramirez Trevino apparently has secured control over Reynosa, this is likely to be temporary. Los Zetas, the Sinaloa Federation and the Knights Templar all have an interest in trafficking drugs into the United States through the Gulf-controlled cities of Reynosa and Matamoros. And any of these organizations could challenge the Gulf cartel for control. Moreover, it is unclear whether Ramirez Trevino's faction is able to smuggle significant quantities of illegal drugs independent of a larger Mexican criminal organization such as the Sinaloa Federation or Knights Templar.
 
Should Ramirez Trevino indeed have expelled his rivals from Reynosa, violence will likely decrease from the heightened level seen in March. However, isolated individuals loyal to the defeated faction could remain, given the defeated faction's deep cultural and familial ties in Reynosa. Such a reduction in violence would probably be temporary, because Los Zetas will continue to vie for control of the city. Likewise, should Ramirez Trevino's recent actions in Reynosa anger the Sinaloa Federation or Knights Templar, either cartel might seek to oust him by sending its own forces or supporting a rival Gulf cartel faction. While Ramirez Trevino may have made progress in becoming overall Gulf cartel leader, perhaps even eliminating the infighting, the Gulf cartel is far weaker than before. As such, it will continue to be influenced by other Mexican cartels as they struggle for control of the lucrative plazas in northern Tamaulipas state.
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Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Implications of a Gulf Cartel Consolidation | Stratfor
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« Reply #499 on: April 11, 2013, 08:12:23 AM »



El Chapo's Name in Nuevo Laredo Again
 
Authorities discovered two narcomantas hanging from a pedestrian bridge early April 4 in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, ostensibly signed by Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, Los Zetas' principal rival. The message threatened Los Zetas leader Miguel "Z-40" Trevino Morales and promised to expel Los Zetas from Nuevo Laredo, the latter's most significant stronghold. The message also said "El H" supports Trevino, likely in reference to Hector "El H" Beltran Leyva. He leads a nationwide criminal network that splintered from the old Beltran Leyva Organization after the death of Arturo Beltran Leyva in December 2009.
 

Placing such threatening narcomantas in Los Zetas' stronghold may signal increased violence ahead in Nuevo Laredo and other cities in Tamaulipas state. More significant, the message probably reflects shifts in the state's criminal landscape following the end of Gulf cartel infighting. This shift is affecting other criminal groups vying for control of Gulf cartel territories, including Reynosa, Tamaulipas state.
 
Competition over the Reynosa plaza among Gulf cartel factions in March culminated in a victory for the faction led by Mario "El Pelon" Ramirez Trevino, which has consolidated control over the city. Unidentified Gulf factions are reportedly aligned with the Sinaloa Federation and its ally the Knights Templar. Due to this alignment, the two larger cartels will likely adjust their strategy in fighting Los Zetas depending on whether Ramirez Trevino's faction allied with the Sinaloa Federation and the extent to which his faction is able to fight Los Zetas. The April 4 narcomantas said Guzman offers his full support for the Gulf cartel. If the message is authenticated, it implies the Sinaloa Federation did in fact align with Ramirez Trevino.
 
If Ramirez Trevino has lost some capabilities by fighting Los Zetas in Tamaulipas state or if he has challenged a faction loyal to either the Sinaloa Federation or the Knights Templar, the Sinaloa Federation would likely have to use its own gunmen for incursions into Nuevo Laredo. The April 4 messages could reflect the Sinaloa efforts to take control of Nuevo Laredo using its own resources rather than those of the Gulf cartel.
 
Previous narcomantas in Nuevo Laredo signed "El Chapo" appeared March 26, 2012. At least seven dismembered bodies accompanied three narcomantas claiming the Nuevo Laredo plaza. Since Mexican cartels frequently use narcomantas to spread disinformation as part of information operations campaigns, a Los Zetas rival other than the Sinaloa Federation might have actually been behind those three narcomantas.
 
Regardless of who authored the April 4 narcomantas or whether the content was authentic, a response from Los Zetas -- including bodies accompanying narcomantas -- is likely. This could mean high causalities in Nuevo Laredo or any area where the Sinaloa Federation or the Gulf cartel operates, including Sinaloa state and the Gulf-controlled cities of Reynosa and Matamoros. Should the April 4 messages indeed mark a new Sinaloa campaign to take control of Nuevo Laredo, violence will likely escalate substantially as Los Zetas use all available resources to defend their stronghold.
 
Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region, designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: More Signs of the Sinaloa Federation in Tamaulipas | Stratfor
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