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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities => Politics & Religion => Topic started by: Crafty_Dog on November 24, 2006, 12:39:46 PM

Title: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 24, 2006, 12:39:46 PM
Today's NY Slimes:

Today's NY Slimes:

For years, Roger Barnett has holstered a pistol to his hip, tucked an assault rifle in his truck and set out over the scrub brush on his thousands of acres of ranchland near the Mexican border in southeastern Arizona to hunt.

Skip to next paragraph
The New York Times

Hunt illegal immigrants, that is, often chronicled in the news.

?They?re flooding across, invading the place,? Mr. Barnett told the ABC program ?Nightline? this spring. ?They?re going to bring their families, their wives, and they?re going to bring their kids. We don?t need them.?

But now, after boasting of having captured 12,000 illegal crossers on land he owns or leases from the state and emerging as one of the earliest and most prominent of the self-appointed border watchers, Mr. Barnett finds himself the prey.

Immigrant rights groups have filed lawsuits, accusing him of harassing and unlawfully imprisoning people he has confronted on his ranch near Douglas. One suit pending in federal court accuses him, his wife and his brother of pointing guns at 16 illegal immigrants they intercepted, threatening them with dogs and kicking one woman in the group.

Another suit, accusing Mr. Barnett of threatening two Mexican-American hunters and three young children with an assault rifle and insulting them with racial epithets, ended Wednesday night in Bisbee with a jury awarding the hunters $98,750 in damages.

The court actions are the latest example of attempts by immigrant rights groups to curb armed border-monitoring groups by going after their money, if not their guns. They have won civil judgments in Texas, and this year two illegal Salvadoran immigrants who had been held against their will took possession of a 70-acre ranch in southern Arizona after winning a case last year.

The Salvadorans had accused the property owner, Casey Nethercott, a former leader of the Ranch Rescue group, of menacing them with a gun in 2003. Mr. Nethercott was convicted of illegal gun possession; the Salvadorans plan to sell the property, their lawyer has said.

But Mr. Barnett, known for dressing in military garb and caps with insignia resembling the United States Border Patrol?s, represents a special prize to the immigrant rights groups. He is ubiquitous on Web sites, mailings and brochures put out by groups monitoring the Mexican border and, with family members, was an inspiration for efforts like the Minutemen civilian border patrols.

?The Barnetts, probably more than any people in this country, are responsible for the vigilante movement as it now exists,? said Mark Potok, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks the groups. ?They were the recipients of so much press coverage and they kept boasting, and it was out of those boasts that the modern vigilante movement sprang up.?

Jesus Romo Vejar, the lawyer for the hunting party, said their court victory Wednesday would serve notice that mistreating immigrants would not pass unpunished. Although the hunters were not in the United States illegally, they contended that Mr. Barnett?s treatment of them reflected his attitude and practices toward Latinos crossing his land, no matter what their legal status.

?We have really, truly breached their defense,? Mr. Vejar said, ?and this opens up the Barnetts to other attorneys to come in and sue him whenever he does some wrong with people.?

Mr. Vejar said he would ask the state attorney general and the county attorney, who had cited a lack of evidence in declining to prosecute Mr. Barnett, to take another look at the case. He also said he would ask the state to revoke Mr. Barnett?s leases on its land.

Mr. Barnett had denied threatening anyone. He left the courtroom after the verdict without commenting, and his lawyer, John Kelliher, would not comment either.

In a brief interview during a court break last week, Mr. Barnett denied harming anyone and said that the legal action would not deter his efforts. He said that the number of illegal immigrants crossing his land had declined recently but that he thought it was only a temporary trend.

?For your children, for our future, that?s why we need to stop them,? Mr. Barnett said. ?If we don?t step in for your children, I don?t know who is expected to step in.?

Mr. Barnett prevailed in a suit in the summer when a jury ruled against a fellow rancher who had sued, accusing him of trespassing on his property as he pursued immigrants. Another suit last year was dropped when the plaintiff, who had returned to Mexico, decided not to return to press the case.


Page 2 of 2)

Still, the threat of liability has discouraged ranchers from allowing the more militant civilian patrol groups on their land, and accusations of abuse seem to be on the wane, said Jennifer Allen of the Border Action Network, an immigrant rights group.

Skip to next paragraph
Michael Mally for The New York Times
Ronald Morales, right, his daughter Angelique Venese and others won a civil suit against Roger Barnett. They said he detained them illegally then pointed a rifle at them after running them off.

Jeffry Scott/Arizona Daily Star
Roger Barnett owns or leases 22,000 acres near the border.

But David H. Urias, a lawyer with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund who is representing the 16 immigrants suing Mr. Barnett, said fewer complaints did not necessarily mean less activity. Immigrants from Mexico are returned to their country often within hours and often under the impression that their deportation ? and chance to try to return again ? will go quicker without their complaints.

?It took us months to find these 16 people,? Mr. Urias said.

People who tend ranches on the border said that even if they did not agree with Mr. Barnett?s tactics they sympathized with his rationale, and that putting him out of business would not resolve the problems they believe the crossers cause.

?The illegals think they have carte blanche on his ranch,? said Al Garza, the executive director of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in Arizona, a civilian patrol group that, Mr. Garza says, does not detain illegal immigrants but calls in their movements to the Border Patrol. ?The man has had it.?

Mr. Barnett, a retired Cochise County sheriff?s deputy and the owner of a towing business, acquired his ranch in the mid-1990s, buying or leasing from the state more than 22,000 acres.

Almost from the start he took up a campaign against the people crossing the border from Mexico, sometimes detaining large groups and radioing for the Border Patrol to pick them up.

Chuy Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency?s Tucson office, said the Border Patrol maintained no formal relationship with Mr. Barnett or other civilian groups. Agency commanders, concerned about potential altercations, have warned the groups not to take the law into their hands.

?If they see something, we ask them to call us, like we would ask of any citizen,? Mr. Rodriguez said.

Mr. Barnett?s lawyers have suggested he has acted out of a right to protect his property.

?A lease holder doesn?t have the right to protect his cattle?? Mr. Kelliher asked one of the men in the hunting party, Arturo Morales, at the trial.

?I guess so, maybe,? Mr. Morales replied.

Mr. Barnett has had several encounters with local law enforcement officials over detaining illegal immigrants, some of whom complained that he pointed guns at them. The local authorities have declined to prosecute him, citing a lack of evidence or ambiguity about whether he had violated any laws.

A few years ago, however, the Border Action Network and its allied groups began collecting testimony from illegal immigrants and others who had had confrontations with Mr. Barnett.

They included the hunters, who sued Mr. Barnett for unlawful detention, emotional distress and other claims, and sought at least $200,000. Ronald Morales; his father, Arturo; Ronald Morales?s two daughters, ages 9 and 11; and an 11-year-old friend said Mr. Barnett, his brother Donald and his wife, Barbara, confronted them Oct. 30, 2004.

Ronald Morales testified that Mr. Barnett used expletives and ethnically derogatory remarks as he sought to kick them off state-owned property he leases. Then, Mr. Morales said, Mr. Barnett pulled an AR-15 assault rifle from his truck and pointed it at them as they drove off, traumatizing the girls.

Mr. Kelliher conceded that there was a heated confrontation. But he denied that Mr. Barnett used slurs and said Ronald Morales was as much an instigator. He said Morales family members had previously trespassed on Mr. Barnett?s land and knew that Mr. Barnett required written permission to hunt there.

Even as the trial proceeded, the Border Patrol reported a 45 percent drop in arrests in the Douglas area in the last year. The agency credits scores of new agents, the National Guard deployment there this summer and improved technology in detecting crossers.

But Ms. Allen of the Border Action Network and other immigrant rights supporters suspect that people are simply crossing elsewhere.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 29, 2007, 12:05:03 PM
National Guard Commander in Arizona to Testify About Border Confrontation
Monday, January 29, 2007

PHOENIX —  "Stop Stonewalling."

That's the warning from Arizona lawmakers hoping to find out what really happened earlier this month when four Tennessee National Guardsmen reportedly retreated when confronted by armed illegal immigrants along the border south of Tucson.

So far, Guard and U.S. Border Patrol officials have refused to disclose exactly what happened Jan. 3 when gunmen assaulted a Guard lookout post near Sasabe, Ariz. They declined requests from FOX News for copies of incident reports and transcripts of interviews with the men involved.

"Unfortunately, we do not have a report to provide," said Michael Friel, the Border Patrol's chief spokesman in Washington.

Watch FOX News Channel today for live reports on this story by William LaJeunesse

On Monday, Maj. Gen. David Rataczak will appear before the Arizona House Homeland Security Committee to testify about the encounter.

(Story continues below)

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Run-in at the Border "What are they here for if they are going to retreat from people with automatic weapons?" asked Committee Chairman Warde Nichols, who said the incident may send the message that the National Guard will retreat if faced with armed individuals. "It is not in the best interest of Arizona or U.S. border security," he added.

Rep. Steve Gallardo, a Democrat on the committee, said he believed immigration hard-liners would use Rataczak's appearance to push their agenda.

"They are going to try and embarrass him. They are going to fail," Gallardo said.

The incident happened at night, about a quarter mile north of the U.S. border with Mexico. A spokesman for the Arizona National Guard said an undetermined number of armed men approached an E.I.T., or Entry Identification Team, from Tennessee. Dozens of these mobile lookout posts are set up along the border, several are near Sasabe, a popular drug corridor. An E.I.T. is typically manned by four Guard soldiers equipped with radios, night vision and other surveillance gear.

Under existing rules of force signed by the Department of Defense and border state governors, soldiers are not supposed to stop, arrest, or shoot armed illegal immigrants. They are instructed only to look, listen and report their location to the Border Patrol.

"We don't apprehend," said Maj. Paul Aguirre, a spokesman for the Arizona National Guard. "We don't detain. We don't transport."

For that reason, critics say, it is inaccurate to say the National Guard is protecting the border.

While Guard spokesman Paul Aguirre called the encounter a "non-incident," U.S. Border Patrol sources in Tucson familiar with the investigation say something entirely different. They describe a tense, armed confrontation, with both sides lifting their assault rifles to shoulder height.

The sources say 12 men assaulted the Guard position, dressed in black tactical vests and khaki military style fatigues. The unit split into two groups as it approached, with eight men in front and two men flanking the Guardsmen on each side. One of the gunmen came within 35 feet of the observation site, according to investigators' summaries. Surrounded, outmanned and outgunned, the four Guardsmen made a "tactical retreat" to their Humvee and called the Border Patrol, the sources said.

The Border Patrol tracked the armed men back to the border but could not locate them. No shots were fired.

Guard spokesman Aguirre objected to characterizations of the withdrawal as a retreat, saying the soldiers did not run from their post and were not overrun.

The troops monitored the situation, never lost contact with the gunmen and moved to another site to avoid an engagement, Aguirre said.

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, National Guard officials and some state lawmakers defended the decision to call in the Border Patrol. The governor's office has said the rules allow Guard members to use force when they believe they face an imminent threat and all other means are exhausted.

"I don't think that it's up to the committee to negotiate the rules of engagement," Napolitano said. "Those rules of engagement were negotiated with the National Guard at the federal level."

Border agents interviewed over the weekend believe the group was military trained, and were likely ex-Mexican special forces working for the drug cartels or a rival cartel 'rip-off' squad that steals drug shipments once they've crossed the border.

Initial reports suggested the Guardsmen were unarmed. However, Border Patrol spokesman Gustavo Soto said the teams "had rifles and ammunition from Day One."

That is true for the E.I.T. teams, but local agents say most Guardsmen involved with Operation Jump Start — those resurfacing roads and building fences — are not armed because officials "don't want an incident."

"The stories we've gotten from the National Guard, quite frankly, have changed," said lawmaker Nichols. "What happened that day? Is this isolated incident? Does it happen often armed men come across border in Kevlar vests moving in tactical formation and come within 30 feet of a National Guard post? We need to know."

The four Tennessee Guardsmen involved in the "tactical retreat," or redeployment, will be honored in Tucson Monday in a closed ceremony. An Arizona Guard spokeswoman refused to identify the medal or ribbon or commendation being given out, and said the press was not invited.

The troops were among the 6,400 National Guard members sent to the four southern border states to support immigration agents, and leave the agents with more time to catch illegal immigrants.

The support duties include monitoring border points, assisting with cargo inspection and operating surveillance cameras.

FOX News' William LaJeunesse and The Associated Press contributed to this report.,2933,248124,00.html
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 31, 2007, 02:05:25 PM
U.S. Border Patrol: Illegal Immigrant Border Arrests Drop
Updated: January 3rd, 2007 09:46 AM EDT

There has been a big drop in arrests along the border in the last few months, NBC 7/39 reported Wednesday.  The U.S. Border Patrol said arrests of illegal immigrants dropped by more than a third since National Guard troops have been helping.  From July through November, 150,000 fewer people were arrested, a 4 percent decline from the same period last year. A migration expert said the biggest reason for the decrease immigrants' fear of being confronted by U.S. soldiers while trying to cross.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 05, 2007, 01:18:53 PM
Mexico: Violence Crossing the Line in Acapulco
Two Canadian tourists suffered minor injuries Feb. 4 when they were struck by stray bullets in an apparent drive-by shooting in Acapulco, Mexico. It was the second violent incident involving Canadian tourists in Acapulco in less than a month, though this time the incident occurred at a hotel. Violence, much of it related to drug wars, has been escalating in the Pacific coastal resort for some time -- and is now beginning to spread to the tourist sector.

The shooting occurred on the ground-level veranda of the Casa Inn Hotel on the main street in the city's tourist district, about half a block from the beach. The Casa Inn is a modest hotel that is popular with older tourists on a budget and college students on spring break. According to reports, the gunman appeared not to be shooting at the tourists, but rather was targeting another man who was walking in front of the hotel. Nonetheless, the incident further demonstrates that the city's growing lawlessness now directly affects foreign tourists. On Jan. 8, a Canadian teenager died after being involved in an incident outside an Acapulco nightclub. Local officials said the boy died in an auto accident, though another official alleged that he was struck by a car while fleeing the club's bouncers and local taxi drivers, who were beating him.

Aside from its popularity among Canadians and other foreign tourists, Acapulco is an entry point for drugs coming from Colombia for shipment to the United States. Because of its geographical importance, Mexico's rival drug cartels are vying for control of Acapulco, which caused violence to spike in 2006. The increase in violence, which has included several gruesome beheadings, forced Mexican President Felipe Calderon to deploy nearly 8,000 federal troops to Guerrero state in January. Although his efforts could have some initial success, they have little chance of stabilizing the situation over the long term, and could even incite more violence as the cartels test his resolve or try to defend their operations against federal troops. This happened in 2005 when then-President Vicente Fox sent a much smaller contingent of 200 troops to the city as part of a nationwide crackdown.

Although it is unclear whether this latest shooting was connected to Acapulco's drug-related violence, it does indicate that criminals no longer consider the once-peaceful tourist zone off limits -- and that the danger level is rising. Moreover, local police, who normally would react forcefully to incidents that can affect tourist revenue, appear quite unable to prevent the violence. As a result, some Canadians are pressuring Ottawa to update its standing travel advisory regarding Mexico, and slumping sales have caused a number of Canadian travel agencies to reduce or cancel package tours to Acapulco.

Acapulco's warring drug cartels -- whose concern is securing the flow of drugs into Mexico for transshipment to U.S. markets -- have little reason to avoid inflicting collateral damage on the city's tourist industry. With the winter tourist season in high gear and spring break crowds soon descending on the beach hotels, Acapulco's already weak law enforcement will have its hands full -- and cannot be counted on to keep the turf wars out of the tourist district.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 06, 2007, 05:25:10 PM
By NATALIA PARRA, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 30 minutes ago

ACAPULCO, Mexico - More than a dozen armed assailants staged and videotaped simultaneous attacks on two offices of the state attorney general Tuesday in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, killing at least seven people.

The attacks took place before 11 a.m. in two neighborhoods about nine miles north of the tourist zone, said Enrique Gil Mercado, special prosecutor for the attorney general's office in the state of Guerrero, which includes Acapulco.

Four of the victims, including three agents and a secretary, were killed at an office in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood, while three, including two agents and a secretary, were killed in the Ciudad del Renacimiento neighborhood, Gil said.

About eight men armed with assault weapons participated in each attack. Gil said he did not immediately know how many people were wounded. He said all the attackers escaped, including one who fled on foot. Authorities initially said city police stations had been attacked, but later revised the information.

Acapulco government official Felipe Kuri Sanchez said the attackers, dressed in military uniforms, entered the offices and that one of them asked, "Are you the only ones here?"

When the officials responded in the affirmative, some of the assailants opened fire while at least one videotaped the shootings in each office, Kuri said.

Following the attacks, other offices were evacuated as a precaution, Formato 21 radio reported.

Police did not comment on the possible motive for the attacks.

Acapulco has suffered a wave of killings as rival drug cartels fight over coastal smuggling routes and control over a burgeoning local drug market.

Last year, the heads of at least six police officers and alleged drug smugglers were found in the resort and nearby towns.

President Felipe Calderon, who took power in December, has sent more than 24,000 federal police and soldiers to regions ravaged by drug violence. More than 7,000 troops arrived in the Acapulco region last month.

Tourists have not been immune from the violence.

On Saturday, two Canadians suffered minor injuries after being grazed by bullets fired at the city's Casa Inn Hotel. The two were treated at a hospital and released. Police have not made any arrests in that case.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 09, 2007, 06:38:14 AM
Published: February 9, 2007
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 8 — Three illegal immigrants were shot to death, three were wounded and others were missing Thursday near Tucson after gunmen accosted them as they traveled north from the Mexican border, the authorities said.

The shootings came a day after gunmen in ski masks and carrying assault-style rifles robbed 18 people who had illegally crossed the border 70 miles to the south, near Sasabe. On Jan. 28 a man driving illegal immigrants from the border several miles from the scene of Thursday’s killings was ambushed and shot to death as the immigrants fled.

The federal and local authorities were investigating whether the spate of shootings was related.

Illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican border often encounter bandits, armed civilian patrols and rival smugglers bent on robbing or stopping them.

The violence has been particularly acute in Arizona, which in recent years has become the busiest crossing area for illegal immigrants.

The latest shooting appeared to be the work of bandits, law enforcement officials said, though they said they had not ruled anything out.

Investigators were still piecing together what had happened, but they said they believed that the gunmen had opened fire on the travelers, apparently all from Guatemala, about 7 a.m. along a known smuggling route in a remote area near a mine 20 miles northwest of Tucson.

Their pickup truck crashed, and two of the immigrants, a young man and a teen-age girl, were found inside, dead from gunshot wounds, said Alonzo Peña, the agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Arizona.

The gunmen forced the other immigrants into another vehicle and left, dropping off the wounded, including one person found dead later, along their way, Mr. Peña said. The others who were left were a woman with a gunshot wound in the neck, a 15-year-old girl and a man shot in the fingers.

The man with the hand wound hiked to a nearby mine, and workers there helped him call the police.

Mr. Peña said the authorities were trying to determine how many had been in the group of immigrants and how many were still missing. He said it appeared the smuggler driving the illegal immigrants and a guide had either escaped or were among the group taken captive.

The Associated Press, quoting officials of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, said six or seven immigrants had left with the gunmen.

“There have been similar cases where undocumented migrants have been taken to a location and relatives in Mexico contacted and extortion took place,” Rick Kastigar, the criminal investigations chief for the sheriff’s department, told The A.P.

Mr. Peña said the increase in border security in the past year, including scores of additional Border Patrol agents assisted by National Guard troops, had prompted more immigrants to employ smugglers commanding ever higher prices.

The going rate is about $3,000, or higher for trips from Central America, for a guide to lead immigrants by foot across the Mexican border or in a vehicle, usually through treacherous terrain.

Some smuggling rings, rather than risk capture at the border, have chosen to rob rivals, leading to violence.

“Smugglers look at them as a commodity, a product, and in some cases they would rather rip off a load and try to extort money instead of taking the risk to smuggle,” Mr. Peña said.

The Border Patrol’s Tucson sector has reported that arrests of illegal aliens dropped 11 percent last year and is down 9 percent since October compared with the previous year. Officials at the agency have attributed the decline to additional manpower and newly installed fencing, cameras and sensors deterring crossers, though advocates for immigrants suggest that traffic may have shifted elsewhere.

NY Times
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 16, 2007, 11:37:33 AM
Mexico: The Looming Fight for Control of Matamoros?
Hundreds of Mexican soldiers briefly patrolled the streets of Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas state, Feb. 15 as part of the federal government's response to the seizure on the U.S.-Mexican border of a large weapons shipment that passed through the capital. The contents of the cache suggest an effort is under way to equip or reinforce a heavily armed unit of enforcers for one of Mexico's two main drug cartels. The cartels, in other words, appear to be gearing up to fight for ultimate control of Matamoros.

The Mexican attorney general's office announced Feb. 11 that a tractor-trailer containing weapons and an armored pickup was seized by the Mexican army in Matamoros, just south of the U.S. border at Brownsville, Texas. Among the weapons seized were 18 M-16 assault rifles, including at least one equipped with an M-203 40mm grenade launcher, and several M-4 carbines. Also recovered were 17 handguns of various calibers, more than 200 magazines for different weapons, more than 8,000 rounds of ammunition, assault vests and other military accessories. A Nissan Titan pickup truck outfitted with armor and bullet-proof glass also was inside the trailer.

The semi, which was registered in the United States, entered Matamoros from the south after having passed through both Ciudad Victoria and Valle Hermoso. It is unclear where the shipment originated, though it could have come from Central America, or even the United States along a circuitous route designed to avoid police roadblocks and other anti-smuggling measures. Putting soldiers on the streets of Ciudad Victoria, even for a few hours, might have been President Felipe Calderon's way of telling the cartels that authorities know what is going on there.

Matamoros, however, is where the real battle appears to be gearing up. Matamoros is in territory controlled by the Gulf cartel, the main rival of the powerful Sinaloa federation of cartels -- and it is possible the Gulf cartel's enforcers were attempting to prepare for an expected fight with the Sinaloa federation over control of the city's drug-smuggling operations.

One indication of this is the type of weapons and equipment seized. The identical assault vests, load-bearing equipment and other accessories, along with the standardized nature of the rifles -- exclusively variants of the M-16 -- indicate the shipment probably was meant to equip or reinforce a single heavily armed unit rather than an unorganized gang. Therefore, the Zetas -- former Mexican elite soldiers who work for the Gulf cartel as enforcers -- stand out as the mostly likely intended recipient of these weapons. Given their military background, the Zetas would want to have a high degree of standardization in the weapons and equipment they use, and they also would be more comfortable with M-16s, which are standard issue in the Mexican army.

Matamoros is a vital transshipment point, or "plaza," for the movement of drugs and other contraband into the United States from Mexico. From border towns like Matamoros that sit astride highways, high-ranking cartel members known as gatekeepers control the traffic of contraband across the border, collect payments from smugglers and oversee money-laundering operations for the cartels.

Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas, who had run his operation from a Mexican prison since his 2003 arrest, was extradited to the United States in January, which could hinder his efforts to maintain control of the Matamoros region. The Sinaloa federation, then, might have decided to take advantage of the disruption in the Gulf cartel's command structure to make a play for the plaza at Matamoros.

Although Matamoros has not seen much cartel-related violence recently, that could change as the Zetas move to repel attempts by the Sinaloa federation to assert its influence in the city.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 20, 2007, 03:14:20 PM
Sorry, no URL for this one, but it seems credible.

New Threats Arise For Border Agents

Sat Feb 17, 1:52 PM ET

It's not just the number of people coming into the U.S. that is a concern for the Department of Homeland Security, but it's from which countries they are coming.

They cross in the cover of darkness and in broad daylight.

Border Patrol agents in San Diego stop nearly 400 illegal border crossers each day.

"We have five or six a day; that's just on a day shift," said Border Patrol agent Tim Feige.

There is no telling how many they don?t stop.

"We never know what they're here for or what their intentions are," added Feige.

10News joined agents on patrol and saw firsthand what they face. In one incident, two men and one woman tried to sneak by right in front of agents. They first hid and then surrendered. The group turned out to be Mexican citizens with no criminal records, and they were processed and sent back to Mexico.

Because 85 percent of those apprehended by agents are from Mexico, the Department of Homeland Security classifies the others detained as "OTMs," or Other Than Mexican.

"They try to pass themselves off as being from Mexico," said Border Patrol agent Allen Gustafson.

Last year, OTMs came from 148 of the 193 countries in the world. Several came from what Homeland Security terms ?special interest? countries -- countries that are considered a great threat.

10News learned that in the last six months, agents along the Southwest border caught 15 people from Iran, 35 from Pakistan, 12 from Jordan, two from Syria and five from Lebanon. These are numbers Homeland Security would not officially release.

"We're more aware, not only of terrorists, but terrorist weapons," said Gustafson.

Agents who patrol the coastline have radiation detection equipment and try to at least eyeball every incoming boat.

"The busiest time is the fishing months, when there's a lot of boat traffic. Everyone has got a boat out here; they try to blend in with the regular traffic," said Gustafson.

Potential terrorists are not the only concern.

Agents said many violent criminals cross the border.

"In fact, we caught a person who was number 17 on Mexico's most wanted list," said Feige.

A top priority for the Federal Bureau of Investigation is to stop the influx of a notoriously brutal gang called the MS-13 -- the Mara Salvatrucha -- a group linked to violence across California and 32 other U.S. states.

According to reports, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras export members of the MS-13 gang.

10News learned that agents have stopped 26,035 undocumented people from El Salvador, 11,781 from Guatemala and 16,370 from Honduras in the last six months. The two fences that line the U.S.-Mexico border stop car traffic, but agents said they look to slow down the people on foot.

"If we have a group jumping the fence, we can get there twice as fast as maybe one of the bigger trucks can," said Border Patrol supervisor George Gibson.

The goal of agents is to catch those crossing and those who help the crossers.

"They usually use these ladders they weld out of rebar, so one of our objectives is to try and grab that ladder before they get it back south," said Gibson.

It is rewarding but frustrating work. The stakes are high, and every day it is more of the same.

In the last six months, nearly 1,200 people from China were caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally.

Agents said Chinese nationals pay smugglers up to $30,000 for passage to the U.S.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 09, 2007, 12:40:57 PM

OFFICERS OUTGUNNED ON U.S. BORDER: Violence along the U.S.-Mexico border is undergoing what U.S. law-enforcement authorities call "an unprecedented surge," some of it fueled by weapons and ammunition purchased or stolen in the United States. Federal, state and local law-enforcement officials from Texas to California, concerned about the impact of illegally imported weapons into Mexico, say they already are outmanned and outgunned by ruthless gangs that collect millions of dollars in profits by smuggling aliens and drugs into this country.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 27, 2007, 06:58:14 PM
There's several worthy reads from Stratfor on Mexico on the Spanish (and English  :oops: ) Language Forum, but I've decided to start posting them here from hereonin.


Mexico: Grenade Attacks In Durango
April 27, 2007 21 37  GMT

Three Mexican army-issue grenades were detonated in the city of Gomez Palacio in the state of Durango on April 27, killing one police officer and injuring four others. One explosion occurred outside the municipal Public Security Office and two happened outside the Attorney General's office. Unidentified men on motorcycles and in light trucks threw the grenades at the offices and also fired machine guns at the Attorney General's office. Police have questioned two unidentified individuals in relation to the bombings as part of an ongoing investigation.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 04, 2007, 12:39:33 PM

The Burgeoning Extortion Racket along the U.S.-Mexico Border
U.S. authorities are investigating what appears to be a new extortion scheme that involves the threat of bodily harm to attorneys, bankers and their families in Laredo, Texas. This is yet another sign that the extortion racket is expanding and escalating along the U.S.-Mexico border. Left unchecked, this criminal activity could escalate into violence on the U.S. side, similar to what is occurring now south of the border.

Since mid-April, at least a dozen attorneys and an unknown number of bankers have received phone calls from a man threatening to harm them or their families unless money is paid immediately. The caller, who speaks with a Spanish accent, provides a significant amount of personal information about the targets, such as names, addresses, habits and the birthdates and schools of family members.

The caller then orders the targets to wire a certain amount of money to various Western Union offices in Mexico, threatening that "bad things" will happen if they fail to pay. The amount of the extortion demand is unclear, but the victims are given just 30 minutes to send the money. They are told that if the money is even one minute late, they and their families will suffer the consequences -- a tactic designed to prevent targets from thinking rationally, and thus to increase the chances that they will pay. The tactic apparently has worked, as some victims reportedly have complied with the demands and transferred money.

These calls are very similar to the virtual kidnapping
schemes that are common in Mexico. Both exploit the fear generated by the frequent kidnappings in Mexico and the violence that occurs on both sides of the border. While a typical kidnapping requires the victim to be housed and fed -- and thus usually requires a group of accomplices to successfully execute -- crimes of the virtual nature are cheap and easy to commit, requiring very little physical risk and infrastructure. In essence, this crime takes far less effort than one involving an actual kidnap victim.

It is unclear whether the calls in this latest scheme are originating from the United States or Mexico, and whether the scheme is being perpetrated by a lone criminal or an extortion ring. The tactics, however, are similar to other extortion schemes targeting business owners along the border. The targets of those schemes have had connections to both sides of the border, such as a Mexico resident who owns property in Texas. In one case, a Mexican business owner was shown evidence that the criminals threatening him had surveilled his home in Brownsville, Texas. Considering that bankers and lawyers are the targets of this latest scheme, it appears the extortionists are focusing on those who have the ability to pay higher sums than earlier victims.

In most extortion schemes, the problem often is more widespread than it appears on the surface because victims can be reluctant to involve law enforcement authorities on either side of the border for reasons that include distrust of authorities, fear of the consequences and a desire to avoid publicity. This reluctance already has been seen in cases involving trucking companies operating between the United States and Mexico. Evidence suggests that, when threatened with the hijacking of their shipments, many truckers have found it easier and less damaging to their bottom line to simply pay the criminals rather than involve the authorities.

Unlike in extortion cases involving truckers, or even small-business owners and shopkeepers, however, lawyers have better access to law enforcement assistance -- and are more likely to use it. By targeting this group, then, the extortionists appear fearless of law enforcement involvement. This is cause for concern, especially considering that the extortion payments are being directed to Mexico, where drug cartels and other criminals often have killed lawyers and judges. Having already demonstrated a disregard for the law -- and the attorneys who practice it -- these extortionists could progress to more violent means to influence them.
Title: Mex oil running out?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 26, 2007, 11:58:43 AM

MEXICO: Proven reserves of crude oil in Mexico are declining and will be exhausted within seven years if the current rate of extraction continues, Mexican state-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos said in a 2006 annual report released today. U.S.-based consulting firm PFC Energy said that though there are numerous investments for oil exploration, new deposits will take six to eight years to mature, and it is possible Mexico might have to import crude oil.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 26, 2007, 12:18:07 PM
Second post

The Washington Times : July 20 , 2007 -- by Stephen Dinan and Jerry Seper 
"'Unless we correct the fundamental challenge of the violation of human rights of Latin American or Central American migrants crossing the border into Mexico, it's very hard for me to come up and wag a finger and say you guys should protect the rights of my citizens in this country,' he said, adding that changes to the Mexican law are now pending."      Mexico's ambassador to the United States yesterday said previous Mexican officials made a "dumb mistake" by issuing comic books to aid illegal aliens crossing the border, and said his government cannot criticize U.S. treatment of illegal aliens as long as Mexico has harsh laws on its books. 
"It's very hard for Mexico to preach to the north what it does not do to the south," Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan said in a meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Times, referring to Mexico's felony penalties for, and sometimes cruel treatment of, those caught crossing its southern border. 
"Unless we correct the fundamental challenge of the violation of human rights of Latin American or Central American migrants crossing the border into Mexico, it's very hard for me to come up and wag a finger and say you guys should protect the rights of my citizens in this country," he said, adding that changes to the Mexican law are now pending. 
Mr. Sarukhan, who presented his credentials as ambassador to President Bush in February, said his government is taking a new tack since the December inauguration of President Felipe Calderon, who has toned down the public relations push for an immigration bill in the United States and is instead trying to build infrastructure, combat corruption and create jobs to keep workers at home. 
"The debate over immigration is an internal debate of the United States, and as such, I hope, this house noted a dramatic shift in the positioning of the Mexican government as of Dec. 1," Mr. Sarukhan said. "I think the previous Mexican government did itself and those that believe in comprehensive immigration reform a lot of damage by the way it tried to position itself publicly in an internal debate in the United States." 
In particular, the ambassador criticized past moves to distribute materials aimed at helping illegal aliens safely cross the U.S.-Mexico border. 
In 2005, the Mexican government's foreign ministry distributed 1.5 million comic books giving tips to would-be migrants, and last year Mexico's National Human Rights Commission planned to distribute maps to migrants showing water sites they could use during their crossing. The commission scrapped the plans after a U.S. protest. 
"That was not my government, and I would say that in hindsight, or even without hindsight -- I was consul general of Mexico in New York at the time these guidelines were delivered -- and I saw this and I said, 'What a dumb mistake,' " the ambassador said, adding that the human rights commission was a nongovernmental body. 
"I don't think that's the way that you work synergistically with the United States to co-manage a very complex border." 
The new approach was apparent when Mr. Bush and Mr. Calderon met in Mexico in March, and the Mexican leader stressed trying to build new economic opportunities in Mexico as well as working with the U.S. to secure the border. 
That's not to say Mr. Calderon didn't want Congress to pass Mr. Bush's immigration bill, which would have created a new guest-worker program and given citizenship rights to the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens already here, a majority of whom are Mexicans. Mr. Calderon called the bill's failure a "grave mistake." 
But Mr. Sarukhan said Mexican officials understand Americans' trepidation and desire for a secure border, and he said they are well aware of the consequences if a breach of the U.S.-Mexican border were to be involved in a future attack on U.S. security. 
"The day that happens, this relationship as we have known it, is over," he said. "I would say Mexico and the United States are working extremely well in trying to ensure that border is not used to underpin or challenge the national security of the United States." 
He said leaders in both nations must work to convince their citizens of the importance and value of a good U.S.-Mexico relationship, and said the countries should search for a uniting factor similar to the way that ethanol is serving as the basis for closer ties to Brazil. 
"There is a deep-seated fear in America today that their well-being, the well-being of Americans and their identity as a nation, and the impact of some of the effects of globalization, are making people scared," he said. 
Mr. Calderon serves one six-year term as Mexican president, and Mr. Sarukhan said he hopes to be able to show the U.S. Congress at the end of that time that immigration patterns have changed and workers are returning on their own to Mexico to start businesses and rejoin communities. 
The ambassador said Mexico's eventual goal is the same as that of the U.S.: "The end game for us, the Mexican government, is to ensure every single Mexican who crosses this border does so legally." 
Mr. Sarukhan, a former director of counternarcotics and law-enforcement issues, also said Mexico and the United States need to work together if they hope to better control the flow of drugs into the U.S. and cash and weapons into Mexico. 
He described the fight against drug smugglers and organized crime gangs who have brought rampant violence to the U.S.-Mexico border as important to both countries, and said the United States must do its part to "roll back" drug consumption. 
He defended remittances, the $23 billion sent back home by Mexicans working legally or illegally in the United States, saying they play "a key role in this stage of Mexican economic development." He pointed to the role of remittances in other nations such as Ireland and Spain when those countries were trying to extend their links to the European Community. 
But he said remittances are not the long-term solution for sustained growth in Mexico, particularly because it's an indicator that many of Mexico's best workers have fled the country to find jobs. 
"No country can grow if it is not able to hold onto its women and men. Some of them, I don't know if they're talented or not, but they're certainly bold," he said. 
Title: Pipelines bombed
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 26, 2007, 08:45:46 PM
Bombing of Mexican Pipelines Puzzles Security Experts
By Greg Flakus
Mexico CIty
26 July 2007
Flakus report - Download 990k
Listen to Flakus report 

The July 5 and July 10 bomb attacks on natural gas pipelines in central Mexico led to the temporary shutdown of factories in several industrial cities and raised fears about the country becoming a target for terrorists. A small leftist insurgent group took responsibility for the attacks, but security experts are still puzzled over the incident and worry about possible future acts of sabotage. VOA's Greg Flakus has more from Mexico City.

Smoke and flames from an explosion at a gas pipeline are seen in the background as a Mexican army truck drives by near Queretaro, Mexico, 10 July 2007
At first, some thought the explosions may have been caused by accidents, but investigators at the bombing sites in north-central Mexico found evidence of sophisticated explosives, and a leftist insurgent group from southern Mexico, the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) claimed responsibility. President Felipe Calderon pledged to protect the infrastructure of the state-owned energy company, Petroleos Mexicanos, called Pemex for short, and he dispatched military units to patrol various pipeline routes.

But the attacks remain a mystery, and speculation continues as to who was really responsible. The EPR had never ventured that far north before and never appeared to have access to the explosives and bomb-making skills that were employed in these attacks.

Political analyst Ana Maria Salazar says she remains baffled by the bombings.

"I do not know what to make of it," she said.  "That is part of the problem when you have these acts that are claimed to have been done by armed groups in Mexico, you always have a question in the back of your mind - who did it?"

She says it is possible the EPR might have carried out the attacks in conjunction with other leftist groups currently protesting in the southern state of Oaxaca over various issues. But she says she cannot rule out the possibility that a foreign terrorist group might have had a hand in it.

"There was a threat posted on a Web site a couple of months ago, supposedly by al-Qaida, that was threatening all the countries providing petroleum to the United States, which included Mexico and Venezuela, which made Hugo Chavez very upset, by the way," she added.  "So there is that possibility."

Mexico City-based independent energy analyst David Shields is among those who see another possible culprit behind the bomb attacks, the powerful and violent drug trafficking cartels, against which President Calderon launched an offensive shortly after taking office last December.

"Once it was confirmed that these were terrorist attacks, first of all we thought of the drug cartels as the likely authors of these attacks," he explained.  "I think we cannot rule out altogether that they were involved."

Shields says government efforts to protect the state-owned energy company's pipes and facilities are necessary, but he says posting soldiers along the pipeline routes will not provide complete protection.

"We know that Pemex has infrastructure of all kinds of pipelines, something like 60,000 kilometers of pipelines all over the country, as well as other kinds of facilities," he added.  "I think it would even be out of the question to post a soldier every kilometer. It would be a massive waste of human resources to have people all over the country wherever there are pipelines, wherever there is infrastructure."

Shields says the Mexican government has provided adequate protection to its oil production and export infrastructure, even employing missile-equipped naval vessels to patrol waters near offshore oil platforms. But he says pipelines serving Mexico's own population are much more vulnerable.

"Certainly, none of us are ruling out the likelihood of more attacks, but also what we have to realize is that these attacks on domestic pipelines are affecting the domestic market, they are not affecting exports," he noted.  "It would have to be a very different kind of attack and a more sophisticated attack on oil export facilities for oil exports to be interrupted. That seems to be an unlikely scenario."

While Mexico's oil export system may be safe, a continued threat to its domestic energy supply network could cripple important industries and discourage foreign investors who are considering placing plants here. Security experts who have examined evidence from the bombings say the perpetrators knew the attacks would disrupt important industries and that they probably had information from someone inside Pemex as to which pipes to bomb for the most effect.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 30, 2007, 06:34:06 PM
Mexico Security Memo: July 30, 2007
July 30, 2007 21 26  GMT

Renewed Violence in Cartel Territory

Violent flare-ups occurred across much of northern Mexico this week, as Stratfor suggested it would in the previous Mexico Security Memo. The most noteworthy examples include a firefight in the border town of Ciudad Camargo, Tamaulipas state; a cartel shooting death in Ciudad Camargo, Chihuahua state; and three similar shooting deaths in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, where one body showed signs of torture and was wrapped in a sheet with a message pinned to it. In addition, a police official assigned to counternarcotics was found dead July 24 in Navolato, Sinaloa state, with a message from the Zetas pinned to his body, which showed signs of torture. He had been kidnapped a day before with another police officer. Sonora state police reported July 25 that a member of a drug gang was killed July 25 in the city of El Sasabe after being shot twice in the head. It is important to note that these states and most of northern Mexico, in addition to housing several large industrial cities with international companies, are considered cartel territory, and attacks in the region are becoming increasingly frequent.

One southeastern state that recently has become a hot spot for cartel violence is Veracruz. The state has long been important territory for the Gulf cartel, which brings drugs in from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Northeast and ships them on into the United States. However, only in the last few weeks has cartel-related violence increased in the area, including a rise in kidnappings and attacks against government officials. Some of the most recent incidents include the July 26 killing of a municipal official in the town of Zongolica and two firefights in the city of Veracruz on July 25. One possible explanation for the increase in reported violence in Veracruz is that previous incidents went unreported. This is plausible, especially considering claims made by police in Veracruz in June that they had been ordered not to report drug-related violence. However, the brazen nature of these more recent attacks -- firefights in large cities and attacks against government officials -- indicates this is a shift worth monitoring.

Corruption on the U.S. Side

Our reports have consistently documented instances of corruption among Mexico's police and government officials at all levels. However, it is important to note that the cartels' control of the border, and their ability to effectively smuggle drugs and people into the United States, suggests an ability to control officials on the U.S. side of the border as well. Cases in recent years have revealed corruption among U.S. Border Patrol agents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, city police officers, a Texas sheriff and Texas National Guard members assigned to patrol the border. These cases demonstrate that bribing immigration officials can be done for a relatively small amount of money, and that the officials are often unaware of the contents of the shipments they are allowing to pass through the border. Local law enforcement officers might participate in two ways: either by actively taking part in smuggling activities or by more passively agreeing to look the other way at a certain time and place while smugglers transport illegal shipments. The corruption problem is difficult to combat due to the enormous amount of money associated with the drug trade.

July 23

Authorities in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes state, discovered the body of a man wrapped in a blanket. The man reportedly had been kidnapped several hours before, and his body showed signs of torture.

July 24

Police in Guerrero state reported finding the body of an unidentified individual near the town of Atoyac de Alvarez. The victim had been shot twice in the head.

State police in Mexico state reportedly detained an agent of the Federal Investigative Agency for extortion.

July 25

Workers in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco state, found the body of a woman stuffed in a plastic bag in a rural area.

Two separate firefights between suspected cartel gunmen and security forces were reported in the city of Veracruz, Veracruz state. The engagements resulted in a high-speed chase through the city and the detention of one suspect.

A Catholic priest in Hidalgo state was abducted from church property and later killed by his kidnapper, state officials said. Violence against clergy is rare in Mexico, and the preliminary results of the investigation do not suggest organized crime links.

Mexican army soldiers stopped a tractor-trailer with nearly 12 tons of marijuana on board in Ensenada, Baja California state, and arrested the driver.

July 26

A city official in Zongolica, Veracruz state, was found dead inside her home, bound at the hands and feet. Her brother is a candidate for city office in a nearby town.

Authorities in Michoacan state reported the shooting death of a man in Apatzingan, the wounding of a man in a shooting in Morelia and a kidnapping in Morelos.

A well-known businessman in Veracruz, Veracruz state, was abducted by a group of armed men while he was driving his vehicle. This was the eighth reported kidnapping in the state in July.

A group of about 20 heavily armed men attacked a prison in Juchitan, Oaxaca state, wounding one security guard. An official confirmed that the men were attempting to extract a prisoner, though government officials said no cartel-linked prisoners were being held there.

July 27

Mexican army soldiers exchanged gunfire with armed men in Ciudad Camargo, Tamaulipas state, detaining several suspects. Ciudad Camargo is on the U.S. border.

July 28

A small number of armed men claiming to belong to the Popular Revolutionary Army fired shots at a jail being built in Chiapas state, locked up three guards and painted messages on the building. No one was injured during the attack.

Authorities in Navolato, Sinaloa state, discovered the charred bodies of two men in a vehicle. One of the men appeared to be a federal police commander.

July 29

A Catholic priest in the San Rafael neighborhood of Mexico City was found dead on church property, bound at the hands and feet.
Title: Job Creation in Mexico
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 03, 2007, 08:26:45 AM

Mexico's Job-Creation Problem
August 3, 2007; Page A9

Why do so many Mexicans leave their families, friends and homes to make the arduous journey to the United States?

It's a central question to the immigration debate and is essential for setting workable policies. But it's also a question that has rarely been asked.

After looking at the numbers, what I discovered is that Mexico has a job-creation problem. During President Vicente Fox's six years in office his goal was to create six million jobs across all sectors of the economy. Mr. Fox fell far short of that goal. Between 2000 and 2006, the period when he was in office, Mexico created only 1.4 million jobs. Though accurate figures are difficult to arrive at, the Government Accountability Office estimates that during each year of Mr. Fox's presidency between 400,000 and 700,000 illegal immigrants arrived in the U.S. from Mexico. The number of illegal immigrants from Mexico was roughly equal to the number of jobs Mr. Fox did not create.

If one were to do a CAT scan of Mexico's economy, one would find a country with the potential to become a job creator's paradise. Mexico has far more oil than fast-growing Dubai (a net labor importer) and almost as much as Qatar, another labor importer. If Mexicans working in the U.S. are any indication, Mexico has a work force that is trained and disciplined. With thousands of miles of coastline, Mexico is a tourist haven. It shares a border with its largest trading partner. But even with these positive attributes, Mexico's job-creation engine has stalled.

Research shows that big companies -- especially big Mexican companies -- do not create many jobs. Jobs are created by entrepreneurs who start companies from scratch. To perform their job-creating function, entrepreneurs need access to capital, which is where Mexico falls short. According to the Milken Institute's 2006 Capital Access Index, Mexico ranks a dismal 43rd with regard to capital access out of 122 countries studied. To compare, the U.S., the world's top job-creating developed country, ranks No. 4, and Hong Kong, Asia's most vibrant, entrepreneurial hub, ranks No. 1.

Mexicans with drive, ambition and a willingness to take risks sneak across the border to the U.S. But they don't just come for jobs. They also come for the capital. When these immigrants arrive they don't just sell their labor, many start small businesses in the food, construction, maintenance and landscaping trades. When those businesses are launched, illegal Mexican immigrants hire other illegal Mexican immigrants. A great deal of Mexico's job creation takes place inside the U.S.

Mexico's financial and economic structures fail at providing entrepreneurs with the capital they need to create jobs. The economy is too concentrated, with nearly half of it controlled by a single family -- that of the billionaire Carlos Slim. A handful of other families own the bulk of Mexico's remaining wealth. Mexico's legal and business structures effectively fence off from competition whole sectors of the economy. In telecommunications, petroleum and much of the real-estate and tourism sectors, real competition is restricted. Mexico could jumpstart its job-creation engine by opening these sectors of its economy to real competition.

Mexico's oil wealth is another job-creator's nightmare. It is controlled by a single government-owned company, Pemex. Even with today's high oil prices, Pemex is the world's most heavily indebted oil company and one of the least efficient producers. Pemex -- whose monopoly status is protected by the Mexican constitution -- is so bogged down by bureaucracy, conflicting interests, political meddling and sweetheart union deals, that it has failed to find any new oil reserves in years. It is not that new oil reserves don't exist. Last year, Chevron found huge deposits in the U.S.-portion of the Gulf of Mexico. The problem with Pemex is that it isn't really looking for oil. If Mexico's oil industry were opened up to competition, even within the confines of its constitution, not only would more oil be found, more jobs would be created.

Mexico's financial system is to entrepreneurship what sharks are to a swimmer's beach. Banking, which is conservative and risk-averse, dominates Mexico's financial system, accounting for about 55% of all financial assets, compared with just 24% of all financial assets in the U.S. In the U.S., the capital markets and a diverse array of funds provide most of the capital. If that weren't enough, Mexico's top three banks control 60% of all banking assets. If entrepreneurs are turned down by the first bank, they really have only two more places to apply. For a country its size, Mexico's stock and bond markets are hugely underdeveloped when measured as a percentage of GDP.

Household credit is also scarce in Mexico and amounts to only about 5% of GDP, versus 65% in the U.S. Without access to credit, Mexico's consumer and retail sectors have not grown sufficiently. These sectors could be vibrant job-creation engines if Mexicans had wider access to credit.

But perhaps most strikingly, Mexico has not yet succeeded in building a robust residential mortgage market. Whereas the U.S. has $8.2 trillion outstanding in residential mortgages, Mexico, with a population a third the size of U.S., has just $47 billion outstanding. Not only that, more than half of Mexico's homes are self-built and substandard. As a result, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimates Mexico has a housing deficit of five million units. If mortgages were cheap and plentiful -- through the increased use of mortgage securitization tools, for example -- the epicenter of demand for Mexico's trade- and craftsmen would not be California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. It would be in Mexico.

Solving the immigration problem will not happen unless Mexico solves its job-creation problem. To do that, Mexico needs to modernize and open up to competition its antiquated and concentrated economic and financial systems. For decades, Mexico has argued that if it were to do so, America would take over. It's time to dispel that urban myth with a little reality. If Mexico can succeed in providing capital to risk-taking Mexicans, they will create jobs in Mexico, not just in the U.S.

Mr. Kurtzman, a senior fellow at the Milken Institute, is co-author of the forthcoming book, "Global Edge: Using the Opacity Index to Manage the Risk of Cross-border Business" (Harvard Business School Press).
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 06, 2007, 06:16:52 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Aug. 6, 2007
August 06, 2007 18 27  GMT

Accelerating Violence

The violent trend that began several weeks ago in northern Mexico has continued this week and appears to be increasing. Drug-related killings occurred this week in Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango states -- all cartel battlegrounds. It is important to note, however, that other regions of the country also experience drug-related violence on a regular basis, such as the southern states of Guerrero and Michoacan.

Territorial control in these two states has long been of strategic importance to the Sinaloa cartel because of the port city of Acapulco, an important port of entry for drugs coming from South America. This control is frequently challenged by rival Gulf cartel operatives, who violently attempt to disrupt the Sinaloa cartel's operations. Examples this week of such violence include the killings of a city official's brother and a city police chief.

Two Dead Agents and Zhenli Ye Gon

Authorities confirmed Aug. 1 that two men found dead the day before in Guerrero state were agents of the Federal Investigative Agency. Federal police officers turn up dead nearly every week in Mexico. These two agents, however, were involved in the investigation of Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-Mexican businessman accused by the United States and Mexico of supplying pseudoephedrine to Mexican cartels for manufacturing methamphetamine, a phenomenon discussed in a previous Mexico Security Memo.

Since authorities seized more than $200 million in cash -- comprising more than two tons of $100 bills -- from Ye Gon's Mexico City home earlier this year, the case has gained national attention in Mexico. Speaking at a forum on organized crime in Latin America, a Colombian national police official accused Ye Gon of having links to Chinese organized crime and added that the Chinese mafia has set up illegal casinos and money laundering operations in many parts of Latin America. The claims shed light on the complex nature of organized criminal enterprises, which have direct and indirect links to drug trafficking.

An EPR Uptick

The Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), which claimed responsibility in July for attacks against oil pipelines in Guanajuato and Queretaro states and against a federal prison in Chiapas state, has increased its operational tempo. Most recently, it placed two small explosive devices in Oaxaca. The increased frequency of attacks is unusual for the EPR, and requires close attention. The Oaxaca bombs were the EPR's fourth attack in as many weeks and as many states. This increased frequency must have demanded a major effort by the EPR, whose actual membership likely numbers in the low hundreds (much lower than it claims).

Even if the EPR is shifting its focus from symbolic targets to strategic economic targets, and even if the group can sustain this increased tempo, it is unlikely to carry out attacks designed to kill. The group so far has been content to conduct attacks that send messages. Even when given the opportunity to cause casualties -- as in the jail attack -- it has not done so. Whether the group will continue the same high frequency of attacks remains unknown. If it does, government facilities, foreign companies, nongovernmental organizations and economic targets throughout the country are at risk of similar attacks.

July 30

A decomposing body was found stuffed in a plastic container in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon state.

The leader of a peasant union in Zacapu, Michoacan state, was found dead with at least three gunshot wounds. He reportedly was abducted July 27 by a group of armed men and was being held for ransom.

Police in Sonora state responding to an anonymous tip found the body of a suspected drug trafficker in the northern city of Caborca. The victim was found shot to death with bound hands.

A man in Atoyac, Guerrero state, died of multiple shotgun wounds.

July 31

Authorities in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, discovered the body of a U.S. citizen of Cuban origin who had been shot multiple times. He reportedly was involved in illegally smuggling Cuban immigrants into Mexico.

The brother of a city official in Arcelia, Guerrero state, was wounded after being shot several times by a group of gunmen.

The body of a man was found wrapped in a blanket with a note pinned on it in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. He had been tortured and shot several times.

Two men were found shot to death in separate incidents in Michoacan state, one in the town of La Huacana and the other in Ziracuaretiro.

Aug. 1

A small explosive device detonated at a department store in Oaxaca, Oaxaca state, while another device was found unexploded at a bank. No one was injured by the bombs, which were claimed by EPR.

Authorities confirmed that two men found dead July 31 in Guerrero state were Federal Investigative Agency agents.

Aug. 2

Officials discovered the body of an unidentified individual in Penjamo, Guanajuato state, who had been shot several times.

Three people died in apparent drug-related killings in Durango state. Two occurred in Tamazula and one in Santiago Papasquiaro.

The body of a man was found in Tlalnepantla, Mexico state, with multiple gunshot wounds and bound hands.

Officials in Sonora state discovered the body of a man shot three times and left on the side of a highway.

Aug. 4

A group of armed men shot and killed the police chief of Paracho, Michoacan state, who was traveling unarmed to the state capital, Morelia.

Police in Paracho, Michoacan state, went on strike following the city police chief's killing, demanding better equipment.

Aug. 5

A senior journalist for El Semanario in Oaxaca state was shot three times.

Authorities in Hacienda Nueva, Aguascalientes state, discovered the body of a man nearly severed at the waist.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 09, 2007, 08:25:14 PM
Prosperous Haven in Mexico Is Invaded by Drug Violence

By Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, August 4, 2007; A01

MONTERREY, Mexico -- Biti Rodriguez could have gone anywhere for her 10-year-old's birthday party. But Incredible Pizza, a mammoth restaurant and fun house tucked into the corner of a strip mall here, offered her something that suddenly has become a consuming obsession: safety.

She herded her daughter, Alejandra, and a dozen other giggling girls through two metal detectors one recent afternoon at this pizza parlor that promises "incredible security for your children," then dumped bags of presents on a table to be probed by a guard. It took a while to actually get inside, but Rodriguez didn't care. She thinks all the extra security is "super bien" -- super good.

Not so long ago, metal detectors at a pizza place would have been unimaginable in Monterrey, Mexico's third-largest metropolitan area, with more than 3.6 million residents. The city once seemed as if it could do no wrong -- two years ago it was named the safest city in Latin America by an international consulting group, it boasted the region's wealthiest residential neighborhood, and it was a strong competitor for the Major League Baseball franchise that became the Washington Nationals.

But in the past year, the drug violence raging across Mexico has landed hard in Monterrey, jarring residents who once felt immune to the shootouts so common in other big Mexican cities.

In the first six months of 2007, Monterrey registered 162 killings, nearly as many as were recorded in all of last year and about 50 more than in all of 2004. But it wasn't just the killings that shook up the Biti Rodriguezes of this city -- it was the brazenness of the killers.

A hit man walked calmly into the landmark Gran San Carlos restaurant, past rows of Monterrey's signature hanging roasted cabrito, or goat, and shot dead a man seated at a table beneath the stained-glass cupola. Gunmen launched volleys of bullets into a popular seafood restaurant at the height of the lunch rush, and police officers were mowed down in broad daylight.

The killings triggered tremors of fear. Newspapers now run daily tallies of slayings. A roadside hotel has advertised bulletproof rooms. Heavily armored cars have become a new status symbol, with corporate chieftains dishing out as much as $400,000 for Mercedes-Benz sedans that ward off not only bullets but also grenades. In the San Pedro Garza Garcia suburb, where hillside palaces rival the mansions of Beverly Hills, a new saying was born: "There are no Tuesdays without killings."

"I can't say Monterrey is the safest city in Mexico anymore -- that would be a lie," Jesús Marcos Giacomán, president of the 122-year-old Monterrey Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, said in an interview. "I can say we're going to make it the safest again."

An Economic Powerhouse

Monterrey wraps around the stunning, rocky peaks of the Sierra Madre, 130 miles southwest of McAllen, Tex. Gleaming towers form its skyline, and U.S.-style malls and upscale restaurants line its wide boulevards.

Known as the "Sultanate of the North" because of its popularity with Middle Eastern businessmen, Monterrey revved into an economic powerhouse after the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 1994. The world's largest cement maker is here, as well as Mexico's biggest beer producer and one of the world's largest glass manufacturers. Major American corporations operate huge plants.

For the past five years, Monterrey stayed mostly peaceful while the rival Sinaloa and Gulf drug cartels fought over territory in other cities near the border, such as Nuevo Laredo. But something more complicated has happened here in the past year, Aldo Fasci Zuazua, deputy attorney general of Nuevo Leon state, said in an interview at his Monterrey office.

For unknown reasons, the local drug lords who warehouse cocaine, methamphetamines and marijuana for the big cartels began fighting each other, Fasci said. Their bloody battles unnerved the national and transnational cartels that counted on Monterrey's small-time operators to funnel tons of drugs into the United States.

A business that had run smoothly for years was suddenly a mess, and the national cartels felt compelled to sweep into Monterrey to "restore order," Fasci said. In the vernacular of organized crime, that meant killing people.

Fear Takes Hold

By April, assassinations were so rampant that the U.S. Embassy issued a travel warning for Monterrey noting that "Mexican and foreign bystanders" had been killed in Mexico. The next month, the business magazine America Economia dropped Monterrey from the top of its list of best places to do business in Latin America, a blow for a city that reaped a bonanza of publicity in 1999 when Fortune magazine dubbed it Latin America's top business locale.

Within days of America Economia's piece, Mexican President Felipe Calderón dispatched federal troops to patrol Monterrey's streets, one in a series of military assaults against cartel strongholds across the country.

Monterrey's wealthy -- the city is said to be home to more than a dozen of Mexico's most powerful families -- were well prepared to withstand the violence in their streets. Top corporations began hiring armed security forces. Executives and their families now travel in protective bubbles ringed by bodyguards and live behind high walls fitted with motion sensors and cameras.

But Monterrey's middle class, the pride of a state that boasts that its annual per-capita income of $14,000 is twice the national average, became frantic. Biti Rodriguez cringed each night when she watched the news. In her neighborhood, parents stopped letting their kids walk to school. School administrators tightened rules about who could pick up children.

Authorities know that private schools accept drug dealers' money to educate their kids, but "there's nothing that the government can do about it," Fasci said.

Rodriguez felt compelled to do something she'd never done before: She started locking the doors of her suburban Monterrey home.

Underworld Infiltration

With hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into the pockets of drug traffickers, authorities here suspect that organized crime has diversified, investing in criminal enterprises such as kidnapping and the smuggling of illegal immigrants, as well as legitimate businesses such as real estate.

The underworld has infiltrated state and municipal governments and police forces, damaging confidence in public institutions even though about 400 law enforcement officers suspected of corruption have been taken off the streets. One councilman here estimated that as many 200,000 people in the state of Nuevo Leon -- 5 percent of the population -- may be involved directly or indirectly in the drug trade.

Local politicians, especially in the many municipalities that abut Monterrey, say they feel like targets. One recent afternoon, a municipal councilman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that he "feels threatened all the time" and that even the most minor decisions become complicating labyrinths that can paralyze local governments afraid of unknowingly angering drug lords.

To protect himself, he conducts extensive investigations, gaming out every possible scenario about the possible ripple effects of his votes. But those inquiries carry risks, too. "If you're asking all these questions," he said, "sometimes these narcos find out and get nervous."

Although he can afford to buy a car, he doesn't. He said driving the same car would make him easy to spot, so some days he grabs a taxi, other days he hops a bus. His route to the office varies from day to day -- it takes much longer, but he feels safer.

His municipality and others around Monterrey suffer from police shortages as officers quit rather than risk their lives at a time when several dozen officers have been killed. Authorities say police victims range from good cops who challenge the cartels to corrupt cops killed for favoring one cartel over another.

José Antonio Samaniego Hernández might have been one of those good cops, his family said in an interview. He survived one assassination attempt but was gunned down three months later while leaving the ramshackle home where he lived in a cramped bedroom with his wife, daughter and mother. Samaniego became a number that day -- execution victim No. 33 of 2007, according to the newspaper Milenio.

But to Anna Calderón Garcia, 15, he was the police officer down the street, the guy in the uniform who stopped to talk to all the kids. He was also one of half a dozen police officers she has known -- either as neighbors or because they spoke at her school -- who have been shot dead.  After never hearing a gunshot in her life, Calderón said, she has twice been startled by gunfire. One night while leaving a Wal-Mart, she and friends saw the bodies of two slain policemen lying in the parking lot.

"It changed my life forever," she said. "Now I'm always looking around me, wondering if I might get shot."

While most of the shooting victims in Monterrey have been alleged drug traffickers, innocent victims have also fallen, including a 42-year-old mother of five caught in the crossfire during a gun battle in December.

Kids in Calderón's class, like children in so many other places, once dreamed of being police officers, putting on uniforms, playing a glamorous real-life game of cops-and-robbers. Not anymore.  She lives three blocks from a funeral home and cups her ears when she hears sirens. Each time, she said, she whispers to herself: "Another dead one."

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 22, 2007, 04:45:40 AM
Border Violence Pushes North (LAT)
The Los Angeles Times
30356.story> , August 19, 2007
Drug cartels extend their reach into Texas and Arizona. Citizens and
immigrants alike are victimized.
Violent crime along the U.S.-Mexico border, which has long plagued the
scrubby, often desolate stretch, is increasingly spilling northward into
the cities of the American Southwest.
In Phoenix, deputies are working the unsolved case of 13 border crossers
who were kidnapped and executed in the desert. In Dallas, nearly two
dozen high school students have died in the last two years from
overdoses of a $2-a-hit Mexican fad drug called "cheese heroin."
The crime surge, most acute in Texas and Arizona, is fueled by a gritty
drug war in Mexico that includes hostages being held in stash houses,
daylight gun battles claiming innocent lives, and teenage hit men for
the Mexican cartels. Shipments of narcotics and vans carrying illegal
workers on U.S. highways are being hijacked by rival cartels fighting
over the lucrative smuggling routes. Fires are being set in national
forests to divert police.
In Laredo, Texas, a teenager who had been driving around the United
States in a $70,000 luxury sedan confessed to becoming a Mexican cartel
hitman when he was just 13. In Nogales, Ariz., an 82-year-old man was
caught with 79 kilograms of cocaine in his Chevrolet Impala. The youth
was sentenced to 40 years in prison in one slaying case and is awaiting
trial in another; the old man received 10 years.
In Southern California, Border Patrol agents routinely encounter
smugglers driving immigrant-laden cars who try to escape by driving the
wrong way on busy freeways. And stash houses packed with dozens of
illegal immigrants have been discovered in Los Angeles.
But a huge U.S. law enforcement buildup along the border that started a
decade ago has helped stabilize border-related crime rates on the
California side; a recent wave of kidnappings in Tijuana has been
largely contained south of the border.
The sprawling border has been crisscrossed for years by the poor seeking
work and by drug dealers in the hunt for U.S. dollars. For decades
neither the United States nor Mexico has managed to halt the immigrants
and narcotics pushing north. But with the Mexican government's newly
pledged war on the cartels, and an explosion of violence among rival
networks, a new crime dynamic is emerging: The violence that has hit
Mexican border towns is spreading deeper into the United States.
U.S. officials are promising more Border Patrol and federal firearms
officers, more fences and more surveillance towers along the desert
stretches where the two nations meet.
But law enforcement officials are wary of how this new burst in violence
will play out, especially because the enemy is better armed and more
sophisticated than ever. Among their concerns are budget cutbacks in
some agencies -- including a hiring freeze in the Drug Enforcement
Administration -- and community opposition to the surveillance towers.
Johnny Sutton, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, said he
would need at least 20,000 new Border Patrol agents in El Paso alone to
hold back the tide. But that is the total number of agents that
Washington hopes to have along the whole border by the end of 2009.
In six years, Sutton's office has tried 33,000 defendants, about 90% of
them on drug and immigration violations. "We're body-slamming them the
best we can," he said.
In Phoenix, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said there were 10,000
inmates in his jail and overflow tents; 2,000 of them are "criminal
aliens" from the border, he said. His deputies are investigating the
deaths of 13 people executed in the desert.
Jennifer Allen, director of Border Action Network, a Tucson nonprofit
that supports immigrants' rights, said Washington and Mexico City need
fresh approaches. "The smugglers are no longer mom-and-pop
organizations. Now it's an industry," she said. "So the violence
increases. That's incredibly predictable."
Raul Benitez, an international relations professor in Mexico City who
also taught at American University in Washington, blames both countries
for the crime wave. As long as Americans crave drugs and the cartels
want money, Benitez said, "security in both directions is jeopardized."
Nestor Rodriguez, a University of Houston sociologist, said people on
both sides of the Rio Grande viewed themselves as one community.
"People say, 'The river doesn't divide us,; it unites us,' " he said.
"When you're at ground zero at the border, you see yourselves as one
community -- for good or bad."
Rodriguez knows. His first cousin, Juan Garza, born in the United States
but trained by criminals in Mexico, ran his own murder-and-drug
enterprise out of Brownsville, Texas. He was executed in 2001 by the
United States.
"Of course there is a spillover of violence into this country,"
Rodriguez said.
"It's pouring across our border, and anybody can get caught up in it."
The small town of Sierra Vista, Ariz., learned firsthand of the rising
violence in 2004, when police chased a pickup carrying 24 illegal
immigrants on the border town's main drag, Buffalo Soldier Trail. Speeds
reached up to 100 mph. The truck went airborne, hit half a dozen cars
and killed a recently married elderly couple waiting at a stoplight.
"It was just the worst kind of tragedy," said Cochise County Atty. Ed
Rheinheimer. "The coyotes [smugglers] are just more willing to either
shoot at the police, fight with the police, or to try to flee."
Even more brazen have been several kidnappings of 50 to 100 immigrants
by rival cartels, which hide them in stash houses in and around Phoenix
until families pay a ransom. One captive's face was burned with a
cigarette, another person nearly suffocated in a plastic bag. A woman
was raped. Fingers have been sliced off and sent back to families with
demands for money.
The border-crime issue became so urgent in Arizona that top officials
met in Tucson in June with their counterparts from Sonora, Mexico.
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano agreed to help train Sonoran police to
track wire payments to smugglers. Sonoran Gov. Eduardo Bours agreed to
improve police communications with U.S. authorities.
In the first nine months of the fiscal year, Tucson officials have
surpassed last year's record of 4,559 arrests over migrant smuggling.
And so far this year, in tiny Douglas, Ariz., the Mexican consulate has
identified the bodies of five Mexican nationals who died under
suspicious circumstances while crossing into the United States, and he
is awaiting the identification of another five he presumes were Mexicans
as well. There were only seven such deaths last year.
Statewide the picture is equally bleak. Homicides of illegal crossers is
up 21% over last year.
Another visible effect of the cross-border crime wave is the flood of
drugs into the country.
Anthony J. Coulson, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA in
Arizona, said records indicated that cocaine and heroin seizures may end
up twice as high as last year. Marijuana seizures are increasing 25%.
Nine months into the current fiscal year, he said, his team had already
seized more pot than all of last year. "And 2006 was a record year," he
In the Tucson sector alone there has been a 71% increase in marijuana
seizures over the last fiscal year, with the Border Patrol reporting
648,000 pounds confiscated since October.
In the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, Arpaio said, a cartel operative was
openly selling heroin to high school students. "He was getting 150 calls
a day on his cellphone," the sheriff said.
The DEA believes 80% of the methamphetamine in the United States is
coming from labs in Mexico, which were set up after police raids shut
down many of the labs in the U.S.
In Dallas, police are dealing with the deaths of 21 high school students
from "cheese heroin," a mixture of Mexican heroin and over-the-counter
cold medicine. A hit sells for $2 to $5. Several arrests of dealers have
been made; now officials are bracing for the coming school season.
"It's a small packet," said Lt. Tom Moorman of the Dallas Police
Department. "They can carry it in a pack of gum. Very, very small."
Antonio Oscar "Tony" Garza Jr., the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has
issued repeated notes to the Mexican government. Last year he sent an
advisory to American tourists that "drug cartels, aided by corrupt
officials [in Mexico], reign unchecked in many towns along our common
A House subcommittee on domestic security has investigated the "triple
threat" of drug smuggling, illegal border crossings and rising violence,
and it found that "very little" passes the border without the cartels'
The panel found that cartels send smugglers into the United States fully
armored with equipment -- much of it imported to Mexico from the United
States -- including high-powered binoculars and encrypted radios,
bazookas, military-style grenades, assault rifles and silencers, sniper
scopes and bulletproof vests. Some wear fake police uniforms to confuse
authorities as well as Mexican bandits who might ambush them.
The panel's report cited numerous recent crimes. In McAllen, Texas, "two
smuggled women from Central America were found on the side of a road
badly beaten and without clothing. Their captors intimidated the victims
by shooting weapons into the walls and ceiling as they were raped." In
Laredo, Texas, Webb County sheriff's deputies came upon 56 illegal
immigrants locked in a refrigerator trailer; 11 were women, two
children. After six hours, "many were near death by the time they were
It was in Laredo last summer where police encountered Rosalio Reta, then
17, a Houston native who fell under the spell of the Gulf Cartel across
the river. Known as Bart, the youth was 13 when he started visiting
"They walk across the bridge," said Laredo Det. Robert Garcia, who
investigated a murder that involved Reta. "They see all the nightclubs
with no age limit. They see the guys their age spending money, throwing
money around, paying for everything. They like the lure, the women, the
fancy cars. They start moving weapons and guns and pretty soon they
start asking for money for hits."
Garcia said Reta told him how he helped break a cartel leader out of a
Mexican prison. From there he moved up to become a hit man and returned
to Texas behind the wheel of a $70,000 Mercedes Benz, Garcia said.
Then last year a Laredo man, Noe Flores, was killed in front of his
home, shot by mistake because the cartel thought Flores was his
In a written statement to police, Reta admitted to driving the car with
two accomplices. One of them, identified by Reta as Gabriel Cardona,
jumped out and "shot two rounds at first," he wrote.
"That was when he fell to the floor and then shot em 13 more rounds and
that was when Jesus Gonzales [the other alleged accomplice] started
shooting from the rear windows.
"Then we left the sene of the crime and we left the car like 3 blocks
away. The work was done for the Gulf Cartel of Mexico."
At trial last month, a witness said Reta and the accomplices were paid a
total of $15,000 for the hit. But the case ended abruptly when Reta
pleaded guilty in return for a 40-year sentence; he had faced 99 years.
Webb County Judge Joe Lopez told the youth: "It's a young life. Come to
terms with your God and your faith, or whatever it may be."
Cardona also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 80 years. Gonzales was
arrested but made bail, and he disappeared back into Mexico.
Reta awaits trial in a second case, involving the ambush slaying in
December 2005 of Moises Garcia, shot in his car in a Laredo restaurant
parking lot as his pregnant wife and family watched helplessly.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 22, 2007, 06:32:46 AM
Following up on the previous post, this from Stratfor:

Mexico Security Memo: Aug. 20, 2007
August 20, 2007 19 46  GMT

Violence Revisits Nuevo Leon, Baja California States

Violence returned to Nuevo Leon state this week with the Aug. 17 discovery near Monterrey of the bodies of two federal law enforcement agents who had been kidnapped the night before. Far to the west, Baja California state also stood out this week as an area to monitor as the commanders of joint local, state and federal security forces confirmed they would continue security operations in the state. Their announcement came in response to claims by a business group that organized crime in the state was reaching record levels, especially kidnapping. It is likely that additional federal resources will be sent to the state as security operations are expanded. As an indication of the level of violence throughout the country, 677 known cartel-related killings took place in Mexico in the first quarter of 2007, according to U.S. counterterrorism sources.

Operation Puma

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced this week the culmination of Operation Puma, an investigation targeting the Gulf cartel's money laundering and distribution networks in Mexico and the United States. The arrest near Dallas of a Gulf "gatekeeper" (a senior cartel member who controls the flow of drugs and revenue in a given locale), along with gatekeepers in the border cities of McAllen and Laredo, illustrates the extent of the cartel's distribution network within the United States.

It is still unclear what impact the arrests will have on the Gulf cartel's operations; new gatekeepers will undoubtedly be brought in and drugs will continue to enter the United States. However, the investigation, which took approximately two and half years and involved multiple agencies and jurisdictions, also demonstrates that U.S. law enforcement is capable of patiently penetrating and investigating drug-trafficking organizations, going after high-ranking leaders and producing results. These kinds of results could lead cartel leaders to implement additional operational security measures to prevent future vulnerability.

Aug. 13

A group of gunmen fired on the municipal police station in Las Vigas, Veracruz state, in the early morning hours. No one was reported injured in the attack.

Media reports were released confirming six drug-related killings in Sinaloa state over the previous two days.

The commander of a joint counternarcotics unit in San Luis Potosi was killed by gunmen armed with AR-15 assault rifles.

Aug. 14

A federal law enforcement agent in Ocosingo, Chiapas state, died after she was shot by gunmen traveling in a vehicle. The agent investigated organized crime.

Three bodies were discovered in a vehicle in Naucalpan, Mexico state, bound at the hands and feet and with visible signs of torture. Two were identified as taxi drivers, who often work with drug dealers to transport narcotics.

Aug. 15

The body of a man was found in Michoacan state bound at the hands and with a note pinned to his chest that read, "For being a thief."

Two armed men kidnapped and held a journalist in Morelos state for several hours and beat him during the ordeal.

Colombian law enforcement detained John Alex Marroquin, a suspected principal figure linking the Tijuana cartel with Colombia's Norte del Valle cartel.

Authorities in Tijuana, Baja California state, began an investigation to determine if the body of a woman found shot to death was related to the recent kidnapping of seven prostitutes in the city.

Aug. 16

A restaurant owner in Tijuana, Baja California state, died after being shot four times by a gunmen who entered his restaurant.

The bodies of two men were found in a vehicle in Mexico City. Both men had been shot several times, and one had been placed in the trunk.

Two men were shot dead in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, in apparently separate incidents during the day.

Aug. 17

Two federal law enforcement agents were found shot to death in Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leon state. Investigators said the agents had been abducted by armed men Aug. 16.

A federal law enforcement agent died after being shot eight times in Morelia, Michoacan state, apparently while leaving his home.

Authorities in Mexico state discovered the body of a man in a vehicle who had been tortured, strangled and blindfolded.

Aug. 19

Authorities in Michoacan state reported the killing of five people in separate incidents, two in the port city of Lazaro Cardenas, two around Uruapan and one in Ziracuaretiro.

A group of gunmen in a moving vehicle shot and wounded three individuals in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas state.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 23, 2007, 07:50:56 AM
This woman has been getting a lot of press over her most recent deportation.  Here she is back in Mexico.  The "logic" is quite special.  :x  Oy vey!  :roll:
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on August 23, 2007, 09:12:17 AM
I think Mexico should stop sending drugs and illegals over the border in protest!
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 03, 2007, 02:58:18 PM

The State of the Mexican Nation is … Expanding
Filed under: Immigration — DRJ @ 5:58 pm
[Guest post by DRJ]

From Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s first State of the Nation speech delivered today:

President Felipe Calderon blasted U.S. immigration policies on Sunday and promised to fight harder to protect the rights of Mexicans in the U.S., saying “Mexico does not end at its borders.” The criticism earned Calderon a standing ovation during his first state-of-the nation address.

There’s more:

“We strongly protest the unilateral measures taken by the U.S. Congress and government that have only persecuted and exacerbated the mistreatment of Mexican undocumented workers,” he said. “The insensitivity toward those who support the U.S. economy and society has only served as an impetus to reinforce the battle … for their rights.”

He also reached out to the millions of Mexicans living in the United States, many illegally, saying: “Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico.”

Even though it’s tempting, I will not respond to this with sarcasm or anger. I will respond with logic (for all the good it will do):

President Calderon,

I have some news that will undoubtedly shock you:
Mexico does end at its borders.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 05, 2007, 11:35:25 AM
BP defends itself-- and us.  Well done!
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 06, 2007, 11:02:00 PM
Mexico: the Next Colombia?
By Andrew Walden | 9/6/2007

Will Mexico go the way of Colombia? Drug gangs are terrorizing Mexican cities. Severed heads show up on the doorstep of police stations and newspapers—often with warnings from drug gangs targeting officials by name. Over 370 young women have been murdered in Ciudad Juarez. Eleven journalists have been murdered in the last year making Mexico the second most dangerous country for journalists—after Iraq.

Hoping to stem the tide, Mexico’s new President Felipe Calderon has ordered federal takeover of corrupt local police departments in cities including Tijuana and Monterrey and several States. In Tijuana, Tabasco, and Oaxaca local and state police were disarmed and their weapons are being checked against evidence from recent murders by ballistics experts. Authorities have announced the arrest of over 1,000 drug suspects and the confiscation of tons of drugs destined mostly for the US market. In late June Calderon’s administration sacked over 300 federal police commanders in an effort to root out corruption.

Calderon and the Bush administration in early August were reported close to signing a new $7 billion cooperation pact with the US which officials went out of their way to claim is not modeled on “Plan Colombia”—the ongoing somewhat successful decade-long effort to beat back Colombia’s notorious narco-guerrillas and the drug trade they protect. According to the Washington Post, US aid would include: “telephone tapping equipment, radar to track traffickers' shipments by air, aircraft to transport Mexican anti-drug teams and assorted training….”

The refusal of US authorities to close off illegal crossings of the US-Mexican border and more thoroughly inspect legal crossings has allowed the creation of a millions-strong class of illegal persons in the US. At the same time the open border has provided an incentive for Mexican drug gangs to open up shop south of the border in order to flood the US with narcotics. Drug use is now on the increase in Mexico as well.

With Mexican drug gangs corrupting police and terrorizing Mexicans, they also provide a possible conduit for terrorist infiltration of the US. Mexico has long been a way station for “OTMs”—Other Than Mexicans—intending to sneak into the US. The human smuggling business is intrinsically linked to the drug smuggling business. With narco-terrorists borrowing a page from al-Qaeda’s playbook—videotaping executions and beheading their victims, there is little reason to think they would hesitate at assisting Islamist terrorists—if the price was right.

Drugs can be a very powerful weapon against a nation. British opium pushers in the 19th century are partly responsible for the collapse of the powerful Chinese empire. The result was decades of chaos and war eventually followed by the genocidal communist dictatorship of Mao Zedong.

In a 20th century parallel to the Opium Wars, Cuba is partly responsible for the formation of the Colombian narco-guerilla gangs and their choice to finance themselves though drug trafficking. In addition to shipping through Cuba to Florida, the Colombians in turn hired Mexican gangs to transship cocaine into Texas and California. Eventually the Mexican gangs began producing, shipping, and selling their own drugs.

Drug violence in Mexico creates one more reason for Mexicans to head north--and about 10% of all Mexicans are now estimated to be illegally in the US with millions more here legally. Drug use already severely marks the entry-level US labor pool which in turn creates greater demand for illegal alien workers. The porous border and the human smuggling expertise created by the crossing of million of illegal aliens create ripe conditions for the drug trade. The drug gangs in turn corrupt Mexican society and create more reasons for Mexicans to leave—and they cycle continues.

A Gallup poll released July 2 measures a hypothetical Clinton vs Giuliani 2008 Presidential race. The poll shows 78% support for Hillary in 2008 among Hispanics without a college education. Among college educated Hispanics, 50% would vote for Rudy. Legal immigration quotas are heavily weighted towards educated persons. This sharp dichotomy between educated and uneducated Hispanic voters would explain why so-called immigration reform efforts are so heavily weighted towards making illegals more comfortable and then granting them amnesty rather than increasing the number of legal immigrants.

Manipulating policy to bring in Democrat voters is not the only political angle in the human smuggling/drug smuggling nexus. Heavy drug use on American campuses makes students more amenable to the paranoid ministrations and anti-American conspiracy theories of leftist professors. The drug trade finances guerilla movements, aids Fidel Castro’s communist regime and destabilizes Latin American countries.

With the effects of the open border now being felt strongly on both sides, Bush and Calderon were expected to announce their plan at a two-day North American summit with conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Quebec August 20 and 21. It didn’t happen, but at least one Democrat jumped the gun and began griping. According to the LA Times, “An aide to Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the subcommittee controlling foreign aid expenditures, complained that his office had heard nothing from the White House about a deal.

"’Sen. Leahy believes that in Iraq and beyond, this administration is accustomed to writing checks for hundreds of millions of dollars and expecting Congress to cash them without consultation or question,’ aide David Carle said.”

Other Democrats, notably Rep Henry Cuellar—whose Texas district is hard-hit by the illicit cross-border traffic--back the plan. Cuellar tells the Times, "We finally have a Mexican president who's willing to take brave steps. But if we lose that opportunity, the window will close."
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 10, 2007, 12:20:18 PM
Mexico: The Evolution of a Guerrilla Group
Bombs exploded early Sept. 10 at five or more points along natural gas pipelines operated by Mexico's state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) in Veracruz state, forcing the company to suspend shipments to parts of Mexico. The attack, which began with the first blast at about 2:15 a.m. local time and ended about 4 a.m., started fires and led to the temporary evacuation of some 12,000 people from nearby towns.

The attack, which Mexican authorities say was an act of sabotage, comes two months after the guerrilla group Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) claimed responsibility for a similar attack against Pemex pipelines in Queretaro state near Mexico City and in Guanajuato state. In that statement, the group demanded the release of two of its members from prison. One of the lines attacked in July, the one running from Mexico City to Guadalajara, also was struck in the most recent attack. In August, the group planted two bombs in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca. One device, planted at a Sears store, detonated in the early morning hours, while the other, placed at a Banamex bank branch, did not explode.

EPR, whose core membership is made up mostly of peasants, historically has expressed its anger at the Mexican government by shooting or vandalizing government facilities in the more rural areas of southern Mexico. Occasionally EPR has joined loosely with other leftist groups to plant small improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Mexico City for the purpose of making political statements. Until the summer, however, staging multiple strikes against pipelines seemed beyond the capability of rural farmers.

It appears likely, then, that these attacks are being led by a fairly experienced bombmaker, perhaps an educated Marxist who has associated himself with the group. One indication of this is the lack of reports that unexploded IEDs have been found on the pipelines. Moreover, the attackers have avoided detection and have left authorities no clues. These latest bombings strongly suggest that the EPR -- or at least one of its cells -- has evolved, is expanding its target set and is increasing its operational tempo. This bombmaker likely has the ability to construct IEDs that are more powerful than the devices commonly used by the group. At this time, however, the cell appears to be committed to limiting human casualties.

Pemex increased security at its facilities after the July attacks, but pipelines are generally difficult to secure completely. In addition, the attackers can benefit from the violence occurring in Mexico as a result of the government crackdown on the drug cartels. Mexican security services already have their hands full with the daily cartel violence.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 17, 2007, 10:03:04 AM
September 17, 2007; Page A16

As young Mexicans have poured across the southern U.S. border in recent years, looking for work, a common American refrain has been to blame Mexican economic policy. Even many of us who welcome the new labor for the U.S. economy have also noted that the Mexican government's failure to deepen the economic restructuring begun some 20 years ago has spurred migration, imposing a heavy burden on Mexican society.

This reality has not been lost on President Felipe Calderón. He campaigned in the lead-up to last year's election on a platform that emphasized jobs, promising to deliver the policy changes that would bring them about. Unfortunately, Mr. Calderón's National Action Party (PAN) is only a minority in Congress, and judging by the "reforms" passed there last week, his vision of a modernized Mexico is still a long way off.

It's bad enough that the government's fiscal reform falls so far short of the pro-growth agenda Mr. Calderón promised. But to make matters worse, opposition parties made passing it contingent on a heavily politicized "electoral reform" and a no-strings-attached tax cut for the monopoly, state-owned oil company Pemex. If there is one lesson from this latest legislative struggle between modernizers and Mexico's old guard in the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), it's that timidity when confronting dinosaurs doesn't pay.

Mr. Calderón has been carefully choosing his fights in his first year in office. His biggest achievement to date is the reform of the public-sector pension system, a measure that in the medium term will remove the obligations of the large entitlement program from the budget.

Having one win under his belt, Mr. Calderón moved this summer to introduce a fiscal reform designed to close revenue shortfalls. A better course of action, with oil topping $80 a barrel, would have been opening the oil market to private investment. But this would have challenged the theology that says that the inefficient state-owned oil monopoly Pemex is sacred. Mr. Calderón apparently has decided, for now, against questioning that taboo.

Instead, he chose to go after the productive private sector of the economy, where at least some large companies are known to take advantage of a complex, exemption-ridden regime to dodge tax payments. The choice has not been fruitful.

As I reported in my July 2 column, Hacienda Minister (Treasury Secretary) Agustin Carstens, formerly of the International Monetary Fund, chose not to seek growth through lower corporate tax rates and simplification. Instead, he crafted a plan to create a corporate alternative minimum tax. The proposal raised the cost of labor on some part of the work force and complicated the code.

An email I received from the Mexican office of a large multinational investment firm insisted that the plan was not biased against skilled labor. That conclusion implied that the Hacienda proposal was so complicated that even some Mexican experts couldn't figure it out. John A. McLees, tax partner at the law firm Baker McKenzie, collaborated with his Mexican counterpart in Tijuana on a study that argued convincingly that the proposal did indeed raise the cost of labor for salaries between approximately $15,000-$35,000, middle-range pay in Mexico. When workers cost more, companies hire fewer. For a president who ran on an employment platform, it was a disappointment.

If the AMT is intended, as some have speculated, to be an end run toward the goal of a single, low flat-tax, not many are buying it. Most businesses view it as a tax hike and few seem confident that a new tax, once adopted, would ever be abolished.

Thus the administration, normally considered market friendly, found itself without even its natural allies in negotiations with Congress. Meanwhile some of the worst elements of Mexico's corporatist past were preparing to extract a pound of flesh for their support.

The bill that finally passed last week sets the AMT at 16.5%, increasing it to 17.5% in three years. Those rates are lower than originally proposed and the burden on labor has been significantly reduced. The government forecasts a revenue increase of 100 billion pesos ($9 billion) to be used for infrastructure investment and social programs for the poor. But no one expects it to spur much growth. Hacienda forecasts that without the reform Mexico would have grown at 3.5% in 2008 and with the reform it will grow at 3.7%, still an anemic rate for a developing country.

What is yet unknown is how the tax changes might affect investment decisions. Some tax experts are already warning that for U.S. investors, paying the AMT could mean double taxation because it is not an income tax and the tax treaty with the U.S. only covers income taxes.

As part of the bargain in Congress, the PRI opposition forced the government to hand Pemex what amounts to an annual tax cut of 30 billion pesos, to grow to 60 billion pesos by 2010. A reform-minded negotiator might have asked for something in return. Pemex is highly inefficient and not likely to improve without competition. Since there is nothing in the Mexican constitution that gives Pemex the right to the monopoly it has in trading energy products like petrochemicals and gasoline, some competition could be introduced without a constitutional amendment. This was also an opportunity to force reform in Pemex's bankrupt pension plan.

The government also had to give up important ground in an electoral reform. It agreed to fire Luis Ugalde, the head of the supposedly independent Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), and the entire board. The hard-left Revolutionary Democratic Party wanted this in order to delegitimize Mr. Calderón's victory last summer. The PRI dinosaurs wanted it to extract revenge against political rivals who worked with former President Vicente Fox to name Mr. Ugalde. Now they have a say in putting their own nominees on the board. The bargain also tightens restrictions on the use of campaign TV and radio spots, outlawing "negative" advertising -- which the IFE will judge subjectively -- and prohibiting private-sector issue ads. In other words, free speech takes a hit in this reform and the IFE board is politicized. Now the only hope that this constitutional change might be defeated is if more than half of Mexican states refuse to approve it.

If not, Mr. Calderón will have won his watered-down fiscal reform but at a high cost. Mexicans have to hope that he starts to think bigger and bolder. This nibbling around the edges of reform is only going to get him eaten alive by the dinosaurs.

Write to O'
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 17, 2007, 07:09:58 PM
Second post of the day:

Mexico Security Memo: Sept. 17, 2007
September 17, 2007 20 47  GMT

Simple, Sustainable Operations

This past week began with an increasingly common incident: a bomb attack carried out by the leftist guerrilla group Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR). Like a series of bombings in July, this incident targeted oil and natural gas pipelines controlled by state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos. In a statement released a day after the bombings, the group claimed responsibility for what it said were 12 explosive devices placed on pipelines in Veracruz and Tlaxcala states Sept. 10 and said further attacks would come. Following the July pipeline attacks and incidents in Oaxaca and Chiapas states, Stratfor observed that EPR had increased its operational tempo and that similar attacks were likely. If the group follows the previous pattern, more attacks will follow in the next several weeks.

This latest bombing further demonstrates how effective EPR has become in its operations. The absence of malfunctioning devices suggests that the group has at least one skilled bombmaker, and the lack of significant investigative leads or arrests by authorities suggests that the group is small and practices good tradecraft in both planning and carrying out the operations it selects, which are simple bombings against soft targets that require few resources. EPR has demonstrated that it is capable of reaching targets anywhere in Mexico, since it had not previously conducted attacks in Veracruz or Tlaxcala. This latest bombing also reinforces the conclusion that EPR will continue to conduct attacks designed to minimize human casualties.

Public Attacks & Beheadings

The northern city of Monterrey, in Nuevo Leon state, was the scene of more drug violence this past week when two federal agents were killed and two were wounded in a gunbattle that also wounded two civilians. The attack in broad daylight was the first significant firefight in the metropolitan area since an attack against a police station in May. The agents in this case had recently arrived as the first part of a group of 1,300 federal agents to carry out "important arrests" of narcotics traffickers in the city. The cartel members to be arrested were likely tipped off by corrupt law enforcement sources and staged a very public attack against the four agents in order to warn federal authorities not to get too close during their deployment in the city. The strategy might have worked; no significant arrests have been reported so far during the operation.

Other high-profile attacks were made against police officials in San Luis Potosi and Taxco, in Guerrero state. The Taxco incident is noteworthy, since this small touristy town has not been the scene of significant drug violence recently, though it is located on a federal highway important for moving drug shipments. The attack also offers an example of the brutality involved in Mexican drug violence, since the police officer abducted in the attack was later beheaded. Another beheading occurred in the neighboring state of Michoacan just a few days later. Nearly everyone kidnapped by drug gangs in Mexico can expect to be tortured before being killed, but as a form of torture, beheadings are still rare. Although most beheadings in Mexico occur after the victim is killed, the practice is still a powerful technique for intimidating authorities.

Sept. 10

A series of bombings claimed by the Popular Revolutionary Army damaged oil and natural gas pipelines in Veracruz and Tlaxcala states. No one was injured in the blasts.

Security around the Ninth Military Zone headquarters in Sinaloa state has been increased over the last several months following death threats against commanding officer Gen. Rolando Eugenio Hidalgo Eddy, local media reported.

Authorities discovered the body of a municipal police commander in Veracruz, Veracruz state, who had been kidnapped the night before.

Sept. 11

A firefight in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, left two federal agents dead and two wounded. The agents reportedly were attempting to flee from two vehicles that were following them, but were cornered in a gas station where a 20-minute gunbattle ensued.

Officials in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, reported two killings related to organized crime. The two unidentified victims had been shot several times.

The body of an unidentified man was found floating in the Gulf of California. He had been stabbed several times and appeared to have been dropped out of an airplane.

Gunmen in several vehicles armed with assault rifles opened fire on a municipal police station in Taxco, Guerrero state, kidnapping one police officer who was later found beheaded.

Sept. 12

Three high-ranking police commanders from Baja California and Baja California Sur states were arrested by agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Phoenix for illegally purchasing weapons at a gun show several days before, U.S. officials announced.

A federal agent was ambushed by a group of gunmen and wounded while he was driving his vehicle in Mexico City.

Sept. 13

The public security director for the state of San Luis Potosi was shot dead by gunmen as he was driving his vehicle. His wife and son, who also were in the vehicle, were unharmed in the attack, in which gunmen fired more than 40 rounds.

The son of a labor union boss in San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon state, died after being shot several times while driving his vehicle in the Monterrey suburb. He survived a previous attempt on his life in 1998.

Authorities in Hidalgo state discovered the body of a ministerial police commander assigned to a counternarcotics unit in the city of Pachuca. He had been strangled and stabbed in the neck.

Michoacan state officials discovered the decapitated body of a man wrapped in a plastic bag in the city of Los Reyes.

Sept. 14

A police officer in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, was shot dead by gunmen as he left his home to go to work. A police spokesman said the officer had recently received death threats.

The Mexican navy seized 2.5 tons of cocaine and detained four suspects from a small boat off the coast of Michoacan state. The operation reportedly began after a U.S. aircraft reported a suspicious vessel outside of Mexican territorial waters.

Sept. 15

A Mexican soldier and his brother were shot dead while traveling on a highway near Acapulco, in Guerrero state. The gunmen opened fire on the soldier's vehicle after following them. Another brother was killed by drug traffickers several days before.

Sept. 16

An unidentified man was killed in Tijuana, Baja California state, and his body dumped along a street.

Federal agents near Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, arrested Fernando Cabrera Juarez, described as the liaison between the Juarez cartel and South American drug gangs. The agents making the arrest reportedly cooperated with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration as Cabrera fled to Mexico after escaping from U.S. custody.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on September 17, 2007, 09:21:07 PM
We're well past the point of where we should have militarized the borders.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 18, 2007, 06:36:02 AM
Agreed-- but IMHO the thought process needs to go much further than this initial step.

Question:  Assume we succeed in finding/pressuring out a goodly percentage of the 12 million illegals and send them back to from whence they came-- which in the overwhelming majority of cases is Mexico. 

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on September 18, 2007, 07:13:13 AM
Hopefully a soft revolution. I'd like to think that the returning Mexicans would have learned some good things about the US system and make much needed reforms in Mexico. There is no good reason for Mexico to be so poor.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 18, 2007, 07:26:50 AM
G'morning GM:

That's a very nice hope.

My understanding is that Mexico's population is about 120 million-- i.e. about 10% of them are here.  Now imagine those folks back home and restless.  Imagine the money that they send home (quite a huge sum and a major factor for the Mexican economy) dried up.  Did you follow their most recent election and its aftermath? 

This thread here, started relatively recently, has posted mostly on the growing challenge to Mexican society and its government posed by the drug gangs increasing military power, but there is much more than that going on.  On our Spanish language forum, there is a thread dedicated to Mexico.  Many of the posts are in English.  For a serious student of our country's welfare such as yourself, it is recommended reading.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 24, 2007, 06:58:12 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Sept. 24, 2007
September 24, 2007 20 20  GMT

Failing to Meet the Objective

The more than 1,000 federal agents who were sent the week of Sept. 9 to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, began winding down their operation this past week and pulling out of the city. When the operation began, a top federal official said the aim was to make important arrests in the city -- which meant federal authorities had their sights set on high-ranking members of the Gulf cartel. It is not surprising that the operation ended with few arrests and some of the agents reportedly retreating out of fear for their lives.

A Sept. 11 attack against agents in Monterrey demonstrated that federal forces would face a violent response if they confronted the cartel. Consequently, the only arrests reported during the operation were of members of small criminal kidnapping gangs -- not the big fish police were after. In addition, a group of approximately 200 agents left Monterrey late Sept. 18 and headed for Reynosa, Tamaulipas state; various media reported that the agents' safety was the primary reason for their departure. Despite the police's failure to meet the objective of the Monterrey mission, the heightened security presence did result in a decrease in drug-related killings, which had been on the rise.

The Monterrey operation illustrates the challenges facing federal police forces engaged in counternarcotics operations. The cartels are better armed than police and have sources in every important agency, causing law enforcement to take a defensive rather than offensive stance in their operations. However, police have shown themselves to be fairly effective at quelling other kinds of violence when deployed in large numbers to a specific location. But the cartels understand that such large-scale deployments are temporary and, when possible, will wait to carry out an assassination instead of risking being detected by a passing police patrol.

EPR Graffiti?

Security at Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) facilities was increased in Chihuahua state this past week after officials discovered graffiti from the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) on pipelines near the city of Casas Grandes. Security also was increased in Ciudad Juarez and other cities along the U.S. border. The spray-painted messages were similar to those found near blast sites on the pipelines attacked in July and August in other states. The graffiti suggests EPR is not confined geographically, though it is doubtful the group is planning a Pemex attack in Chihuahua since authorities have been alerted to its presence. EPR has not taken credit for the spray painting, which could have been perpetrated as a hoax by pranksters.

Violence on the U.S. Side

Cartel violence this past week was not limited to Mexico. On Sept. 19, a city councilman from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, was found shot to death at his home just across the U.S. border in Del Rio, Texas. The victim, an outspoken critic of organized crime and the Zetas, had been shot five times in the head in his garage. Public criticism of the cartels would be enough to draw the attention of cartel hit men, though the councilman was also a retired officer of the now-defunct Federal Judicial Police, an agency that was disbanded because of rampant corruption. There have been no suggestions that the victim himself was corrupt, but simply serving in such an agency would have put him in contact will all kinds of unsavory individuals. Nevertheless, the incident highlights how Mexican-style targeted killings are spreading north across the border.

Sept. 17
Sinaloa state police discovered the dismembered body of an unidentified victim two blocks from the government palace in Culiacan. Several body parts were found in a cooler near the body.

The body of a woman with a single gunshot wound in the back of the head was discovered along a highway in Guanajuato state.

Authorities in Costa Rica, Sinaloa state, found the body of a man who had been shot once in the head at close range.

A woman in Saltillo, Coahuila state, returned home to find three family members dead, including one who had been suffocated by a plastic bag taped over his head.

Mexico City officials arrested members of a kidnapping ring led by a former agent of the Federal Investigative Agency.

Sept. 18
Hidalgo state officials reported finding the body of a woman dumped in a ditch near Tulancingo. She had been shot at least seven times.

Sept. 19
Gunmen on motorcycles killed the Hidalgo state public security secretary as he rode in a vehicle with a driver near Huasca de Ocampo. The driver was wounded in the attack.

Two people died in Caborca, Sonora state, when the vehicle they were riding in was attacked by gunmen, who fired more than 40 shots.

The decomposing remains of an unidentified individual were discovered in La Ermita, Guanajuato state. The victim had been shot once in the back of the head.

Michoacan state officials reported the drug-related shooting deaths of four people in Tocumbo, Tacambaro and Apatzingan.

A city councilman from Ciudad Acuna, Coahuila state, was found shot to death in his garage just across the U.S. border in Del Rio, Texas. The councilman, a former federal police officer and an outspoken critic of the Zetas, had been shot five times in the head.

Sept. 20
Authorities at an airport in Cali, Colombia, detained two Mexican citizens with more than $4 million hidden in suitcases. The Mexicans had traveled from Mexico City to Panama before arriving in Colombia.

Police in Tijuana, Baja California state, discovered the body of a man who had been shot three times.

Sept. 22
The former mayor of Canelas, Durango state, was wounded by gunfire during an attack on his vehicle.

The body of a man was found in the trunk of a car in an industrial part of Hidalgo state.

Sept. 23
A man's body was discovered near a university in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes state. He had been shot once in the back of the head.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Maxx on September 28, 2007, 01:19:58 PM
Home Invasion at the National Level
By Phil Elmore


"Some Mexicans and Mexican-Americans," writes John Tiffany, "want to see California, New Mexico and other parts of the United States given to Mexico. They call it the 'reconquista,' Spanish for 'reconquest,' and they view the millions of Mexican illegal aliens entering this country as their army of invaders to achieve that takeover." Emphasis added is mine. Tiffany points out that, as we've heard in recent news reports, armed Mexican soldiers (in league with or impersonated by drug traffickers, we are told by Mexico's smirking, lying government, which publishes cartoon tracts explaining to Mexican serfs how to sneak across the border into the U.S.A.) have fired on American Bortder Patrol officers. Illegal immigrants have terrorized American ranchers in border states and the porous Mexican border is an ideal point of entry for Islamist terrorists impersonating Hispanic illegals.
The organization US Border Control reports that, according to something called the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, DC, fully 30 percent of the nation's two million prison inmates are illegal immigrants. Heather MacDonald, in her 2004 report in the City Journal, wastes no time framing the problem. "Some of the most violent criminals at large today are illegal aliens," she writes. She goes on to report that 95 percent of all outstanding warrants for homicide (1,200 to 1,500 murders) "target" illegal aliens. Up to two thirds of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens. What's worse, according to MacDonold, is that the Calfiornia Department of Justice has known since 1995 that at least 60 percent of the vicious 18th Street Gang in southern California comprises illegal aliens.
As I write this, it is almost April Fool's day of 2006. We Americans certainly are fools, as our politicians debate a law that is essentially amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. What's worse, the ingrateful national home invaders who are our illegal "immigrant" population consider even this law too harsh, claiming it is a cruel and xenophobic attempt to kick these "immigrants" out of the country, deny them the American dream, prevent them from obtaining health care and education, and generally oppress these hard-working, well-meaning, other-than-white fellow travelers. One presumes these evil lawmakers had to take time out of a busy schedule consisting largely of kicking puppies, to hear the illegal "immigrants" wail and moan over the idea that we might actually start enforcing our borders just a little.
In the last week or so, demonstrators ranging from indoctrinated, ignorant leftist high school students and their former hippie teachers to hundreds of thousands of "reconquista" supporters and their frequently communist sympathizers (waving Mexican flags, no less) marched, chanted, and bitched across the country. The AP reported that tends of thousands of students walked out of schools in California and elsewhere Monday, waving flags (the AP didn't bother to report that these flags were Mexican flags) and chanting slogans to protest "legislation to crack down on illegal immigrants." Protestors at the Capitol in D.C. were arrested and hauled off in handcuffs. California actually celebrates Cesar Chavez day, for pitys' sake, and on that Monday 36,000 brainwashed or Mexican children walked out of school in the Los Angeles area. Perhaps a thousand of these students surrounded Los Angeles' City Hall in order to intimidate L.A. mayor Antonoia Villaraigosa into a meeting at his office.
In Santa Ana, the kids threw rocks and bottles, resulting in 24 arrests. In Detroit, protesters waving Mexican flags marched from city's Hispanic area to the federal building downtown. The message in all these protests -- heralded as a new "civil rights" movement by our nation's more self-destructive pundits -- was clear. If you oppose the invasion of the United States by hordes of illegal immigrants who feel entitled to the social services we provide and for which they do not pay a dime, you oppose "immigrant rights" and you will be intimidated with threats of violence (or silenced through naked, initiated force) until you no longer stand in the way of the foot soldiers of the reconquista.
Communist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez characterized the United States as a "dictatorship" and said that all "Latin American revolutions" (as reported by the Miami Herald Wire Services) "must clash with Washington." He is part of what the AP's Traci Carl calls a "new wave of Latin American leaders -- variously labeled leftist, populist, nationalist, or socialist -- [that] is redefinining politics" south of the US-Mexican border. As these barbarian hordes gather at our southern gates, they share a common belief system -- that the richer, more powerful, more prosperous United States is an "imperialist" and "fascist" nation that should be opposed for daring to deny illegal aliens (and their countries of origin) an equal share of the fruits of U.S. labors. These fruits are, of course, taxes confiscated from U.S. citizens, who are shouldering the terrible social burden of the education, healthcare, and even incarceration of the millions of illegal immigrants burrowing like tapeworms into the American digestive tract.
The American government has failed to solve this problem on many levels. It has failed to preempt the reconquista by failing to protect our borders. It continues to fail by refusing to support programs that target, identify, and imprison or deport illegal aliens who commit violent crimes on U.S. soil. It has further failed by vilifying those who try to defend this nation's borders and culture through direct action, such as the Minutemen (citizens who watch the border in their states in an attempt to prevent further incursions by Mexican and terrorist invaders).
Illegal aliens in the United States are repeatedly, incessantly, characterized as innocent, hard-working people who just want to find a better life for themselves and their families. The imagery of these invaders as hapless would-be citizens fleeing poverty, willing to "do work that Americans simply will not do," is so pervasive that it constitutes a de facto propaganda campaign. Just as "bums" and "winos" have become "the homeless" (who are repeatedly mischaracterized as misunderstood and disadvantaged people who are simply "down on their luck," rather than as the unpredictable, frequently diseased, often drug-addicted or mentally unstable societal predators that they too often are), illegal aliens have become "undocumented immigrants" in an attempt to equate them with the huddled masses yearning to breathe free who walked wide-eyed through the gates at Ellis Island. The fact that they crawled past barbed wire fences, raped a few ranchers' wives along the way, and now accept under-the-table wages while dodging the beleaguered police forces seeking them on murder charges, is dismissed as irrelevant; it does not, after all, fit in with the imagery our popular media strive so hard to create.
The fact is that, legally and morally, illegal aliens have no right to be in the United States. There is no entitlement to a "better life" at the expense of U.S. taxpayers. If you wish to immigrate to this country, you must do so legally or not at all. You are not entitled to anything simply because you have successfully crossed the border without permission; I don't care how long you've been here or whether you've had children since you arrived. We need, quite frankly, to change our citizenship laws. Birth in this country should not be enough to establish legal citizenship if your parents are here illegally in the first place.
I have no right to live and work in Canada, no matter how nice I might find Toronto. I cannot expect to benefit from Canadian social services if I cross the border and then stay in the country instead of returning home. I should not expect not to be ejected if I am found without documentation working as a dishwasher in Ottawa. No matter how entitled I might feel to be there and to stay there, even if I've had illegitimate Canadian children and I've been living in the country for years, I have no right to these things. When I am arrested or deported, my rights are not being violated. Those who protest on my behalf are not fighting for "civil rights" -- they're marching in support of criminal behavior!
If we're going to make utilitarian arguments about amnesty for illegal aliens, the outcome is the same. We may, in fact, be economically dependent on an illegal underclass to perform certain low-end jobs for less than minimum wage. If these workers are removed from our economy, however, the economy will not end. Prices for certain goods will simply rise. I don't know about you, but I'll pay more for an apple if it means there's less chance my wife will be raped by migrant workers. I'll pay more for just about any consumer good if it means the employees I encounter in the store are less likely to be violent felons. I'll pay higher prices at the gates of the New York State fair if it means the toothless carnies running the rides at least speak English.
The crimes committed by illegal aliens completely undercut any argument made for the utility of allowing these invaders to remain within the country, but the economic argument is even more convincing. We simply cannot afford to keep paying for welfare, social services in general, education, and healthcare for "undocumented immigrants" (who, for example, are treated in hospital emergency rooms despite the fact that they have no insurance and cannot pay for treatment). The waves of illegal aliens swamping us are already overrunning our ability to foot the bill for all these things. If we do not protect our borders the financial burden of illegal "immigration" will only become worse.
A home invasion is a particularly brutal crime in which innocent people, believing themselves safe in their dwellings, are attacked by lawbreakers who violate the sanctity of their victims' homes in order to prey on others. The need for self-defense in the face of home invasions is obvious. When violent criminals enter your home uninvited in order to take from you what you do not wish to give and what these criminals have not earned, no reasonable person would fault you for using force -- even lethal force -- to repel the invaders and preserve your family's lives. How are the invading forces of the reconquista any different? Illegal aliens are national home invaders, entering the country without invitation and taking from U.S. citizens what those citizens do not wish to give. The disporportionate population of illegal aliens imprisoned or sought for violent crimes is chilling proof of the very real danger these invaders represent; the financial burden they create, even when on their best behavior, is no less real.
Demand that the United States enforce its borders and its citizenship laws and you will be accused of "hatred." Identify this problem explicitly and you will be called a "xenophobe." Recognize that the illegal immigration problem in the United States is overwhelmingly a Mexican immigration problem, occurring with the explicit support and encouragement of the Mexican government, and you will be called "prejudiced." Objectively acknowledge the violent crimes committed by illegal aliens in the United States and you will be called "racist." This is the propaganda of those who would see us swamped with aliens. This is the mischaracterization of those whose self-destructive policies facilitate the "reconquista," regardless of their recognition of this fact.
We must engage in self-defense on the national level. We must protect ourselves from these invaders. We must fight to keep our families safe from these criminals -- and we must work to ensure that our children and their children have the chance to do the same. The problem is not "immigrants." Illegal aliens are not immigrants at all.
They are home invaders and should be dealt with accordingly.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 28, 2007, 03:31:18 PM

Phil's rant probably would have been better posted on the immigration thread.  Although I certainly agree with the general gist of many of the points made, I found the general tone and some of the phrasing in particular to be over the top with undertones that I didn't really care for.

It is quite possible to be for our defending our borders, our laws, etc. without hating Mexicans.  My own in experience in Mexico is rather extensive and overwhelmingly quite favorable.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Maxx on September 28, 2007, 03:37:02 PM
I just posted it up for general view of what this person found with Mexico's relationship towards the US..I will post the next one in the right forum.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 02, 2007, 12:05:53 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Oct. 1, 2007
October 01, 2007 20 23  GMT

Targeting the Feds in Baja

After several assassinations targeting police in central and northern Mexico, the Baja peninsula stood out this past week as a hot spot of violence against federal authorities. Minutes after a police officer in Tijuana, Baja California state, was killed Sept. 24, a group of armed men opened fire on a federal police headquarters in the city, wounding several agents inside. The gunmen, who were armed with assault rifles and traveling in sport utility vehicles, escaped after a 10-minute exchange of gunfire with police. Farther south, in La Paz, Baja California Sur state, a police commander was gunned down outside his house as he was leaving for work. This was the first targeted killing of a police officer in the state this year.

These incidents demonstrate how Mexico's drug violence is reaching into every corner of the state, even typically tranquil places like Baja California Sur. They also suggest that the level of violence is getting worse. Information released by Mexico's attorney general shows that, by mid-September of this year, 2,308 drug killings had already occurred in the country -- more than the total for 2006. Cartel retaliation against increasingly aggressive government forces explains the increase. Higher casualty counts are not how President Felipe Calderon hoped to begin his first term, but they are likely to continue as long as his administration keeps up its campaign against the country's drug traffickers.

More Action in the Yucatan

A Gulfstream II jet loaded with more than 3 tons of cocaine crashed this past week in a remote part of Yucatan state. The flight reportedly originated in Colombia and was monitored by Mexican military aircraft after it entered Mexican airspace. It is still unclear what caused the plane to crash. The pilot, a Mexican, survived and had fled the crash site by the time authorities arrived, though he was later apprehended. Two other individuals were arrested after they attempted to bribe Mexican soldiers, who were securing the site, to allow them to remove the cargo from the plane.

The incident highlights one important way that drugs are being transported from South America to Mexico on their way to the United States. It also illustrates the Yucatan Peninsula's strategic value as a trans-shipment point for drug flights from Colombia and maritime shipments arriving in ports such as Cancun. Though drug violence has been less common in the Yucatan compared to other regions in Mexico, the peninsula is not immune. In addition to the plane crash this past week, a Cuban man suspected of working with drug cartels was found dead in an abandoned car in the heart of Cancun's hotel district. On the same day, several hundred soldiers and federal police arrived in the area. The small size of the force, and the fact that the federal police are part of the Federal Preventive Police and not the Federal Investigative Agency, suggests its mission is to set up highway checkpoints and generally enhance security, rather than serve arrest warrants to high-ranking cartel members.

Title: Fox interview
Post by: ccp on October 09, 2007, 05:30:33 AM
I watched some of the interview between King and Fox.
Fox of course is happy to jump on the bandwagon as decrying those against massive uncontrolled immigration as racist.  This guy has a lot of nerve IMO.
Why is no one discussing why Mexico can't do more to make the way of life better in Mexico.  How about creating new jobs there?   Again, why is it conditions are so bad in Mexico that so many want to come here?  How about that?

It is obviously hopeless.  We simply have open borders.  Now I hear we are giving out driving licenses to illegals.  Next will be voter cards.
Title: Re: Fox interview
Post by: Maxx on October 09, 2007, 11:23:50 AM
I watched some of the interview between King and Fox.
Fox of course is happy to jump on the bandwagon as decrying those against massive uncontrolled immigration as racist.  This guy has a lot of nerve IMO.
Why is no one discussing why Mexico can't do more to make the way of life better in Mexico.  How about creating new jobs there?   Again, why is it conditions are so bad in Mexico that so many want to come here?  How about that?

It is obviously hopeless.  We simply have open borders.  Now I hear we are giving out driving licenses to illegals.  Next will be voter cards.

What??? So now we just them dive in and give them stuff?  Whats the point of being born here anymore lol!
Title: Re: Fox interview
Post by: rogt on October 09, 2007, 11:37:25 AM
Why is no one discussing why Mexico can't do more to make the way of life better in Mexico.  How about creating new jobs there?   Again, why is it conditions are so bad in Mexico that so many want to come here?  How about that?

Maybe because it's a poor country?  Wouldn't you want to come here if you were in their shoes?

I wouldn't call opposition to illegal immigration "racist" by definitely, but that doesn't mean there aren't a LOT of racists on that bandwagon.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 09, 2007, 02:35:35 PM
Woof Roger:

My I suggest a reread?  The question presented was not "Why are they coming here?".  The question presented was "Why do the conditions that push them here exist?". 

This seems to me an excellent question.

Most Americans know nearly zilch about Mexico (quick example:  Ask 10 Americans to name its president and see how many you get on even the most superficial question like this) explains why no one is discussing CCP's question-- to answer the question requires knowing about Mexico to the point of having a sense of its gestalt.

Until we get to CCP's question, we will continue to furiously go in the circle that presently consumes our attention and our energies.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Maxx on October 09, 2007, 02:45:20 PM
Woof Roger:

My I suggest a reread?  The question presented was not "Why are they coming here?".  The question presented was "Why do the conditions that push them here exist?". 

This seems to me an excellent question.

Most Americans know nearly zilch about Mexico (quick example:  Ask 10 Americans to name its president and see how many you get on even the most superficial question like this) explains why no one is discussing CCP's question-- to answer the question requires knowing about Mexico to the point of having a sense of its gestalt.

Until we get to CCP's question, we will continue to furiously go in the circle that presently consumes our attention and our energies.


I don't even know everything in every state of my Own country..Why would I want to know about Mexico.  :?

But I think the current Pres. over there is Felipe de Jesus Calderon Hinojosa or something to that effect?
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: rogt on October 09, 2007, 02:49:26 PM
Woof Roger:

My I suggest a reread?  The question presented was not "Why are they coming here?".  The question presented was "Why do the conditions that push them here exist?". 

This seems to me an excellent question.

OK, so why is Mexico poor?  For that matter, why is any country poor?
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 09, 2007, 08:55:24 PM
Its been 30 years since I studied Mexico in the University (including a semester in a Mexican law school and a summer in a Mexican law firm) and I have been going there with some regularity for 33 years.  That said, off the top of my head no names of particular books come to mind.  I want to say Alan Riding, but he may have been a NY Times reporter specializing in Mexico- my memory is not clear on this.  Anyway, go to Amazon or wherever and start looking.  If you come up with a specific list of books you are considering I will be glad to scan their pages in Amazon and offer my suggestion as to which are most likely to be useful.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 18, 2007, 05:57:22 AM
Police face Mexican military, smugglers
Armed standoff along U.S. border
By Sara A. Carter and Kenneth Todd Ruiz, Staff Writers

Mexican soldiers and civilian smugglers had an armed standoff with nearly 30 U.S. law enforcement officials on the Rio Grande in Texas Monday afternoon, according to Texas police and the FBI.

Mexican military Humvees were towing what appeared to be thousands of pounds of marijuana across the border into the United States, said Chief Deputy Mike Doyal, of the Hudspeth County Sheriff's Department.

Mexican Army troops had several mounted machine guns on the ground more than 200 yards inside the U.S. border -- near Neely's Crossing, about 50 miles east of El Paso -- when Border Patrol agents called for backup. Hudspeth County deputies and Texas Highway patrol officers arrived shortly afterward, Doyal said.

"It's been so bred into everyone not to start an international incident with Mexico that it's been going on for years," Doyal said. "When you're up against mounted machine guns, what can you do? Who wants to pull the trigger first? Certainly not us."

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the incident happened at 2:15 p.m. Pacific Time.

"Bad guys in three vehicles ended up on the border," said Andrea Simmons, a spokeswoman with the FBI's El Paso office. "People with Humvees, who appeared to be with the Mexican Army, were involved with the three vehicles in getting them back across."

Simmons said the FBI was not involved and referred inquiries to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  ICE did not return calls seeking comment.

Doyal said deputies captured one vehicle in the incident, a Cadillac Escalade reportedly stolen from El Paso, and found 1,477 pounds of marijuana inside. The Mexican soldiers set fire to one of the Humvees stuck in the river, he said.

Doyal's deputies faced a similar incident on Nov. 17, when agents from the Fort Hancock border patrol station in Texas called the sheriff's department for backup after confronting more than six fully armed men dressed in Mexican military uniforms. The men -- who were carrying machine guns and driving military vehicles -- were trying to bring more than three tons of marijuana across the Rio Grande, Doyal said.

Doyal said such incidents are common at Neely's Crossing, which is near Fort Hancock, Texas, and across from the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

"It happens quite often here," he said.

Deputies and border patrol agents are not equipped for combat, he added.

"Our government has to do something," he said. "It's not the immigrants coming over for jobs we're worried about. It's the smugglers, Mexican military and the national threat to our borders that we're worried about."

Citing a Jan. 15 story in the Daily Bulletin, Reps. David Dreier, R-Glendora, and Duncan Hunter, R-San Diego, last week asked the House Judiciary Committee, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the House Homeland Security Committee and the House International Relations Committee to investigate the incursions. The story focused on a Department of Homeland Security document reporting 216 incursions by Mexican soldiers during the past 10 years and a map with the seal of the president's Office of National Drug Control Policy, both of which were given to the newspaper.

Requests by Dreier, chairman of the House Rules Committee, and Hunter were made in jointly signed letters. 

On Wednesday, Chertoff played down the reports of border incursions by the Mexican military. He suggested many of the incursions could have been mistakes, blaming bad navigation by military personnel or attributing the incursions to criminals dressed in military garb.

Mexican officials last week denied any incursions made by their military.

But border agents interviewed over the past year have discussed confrontations those they believe to be Mexican military personnel.

"We're sitting ducks," said a border agent speaking on condition of anonymity. "The government has our hands tied."

- Sara A. Carter can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 483-8552.

- Kenneth Todd Ruiz can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (909) 483-8555.
Title: Mex soldiers aiding drug smugglers on the border?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 23, 2007, 09:37:25 AM
Are Mexican Soldiers Aiding Drug Smugglers on the Border?
Allan Wall - PVNN

Among the many problems on the US-Mexico border is that of reported Mexican military incursions onto the US side of the border. These incidents raise disturbing questions about US-Mexican relations and the two nations' wars on the drug cartels.

The evidence indicates that elements of the Mexican military are aiding drug smugglers on the border.

Such incursions have been reported for years by US law enforcement offices and by Mexican illegal aliens.

Both governments would prefer not to acknowledge the problem. When pressured, the US downplays it, while Mexican officials deny the incidents, or attribute them to accidental crossings or drug smugglers dressed as Mexican soldiers.

Much of the US-Mexican border is unguarded, trackless desert. So it's not surprising that from time to time a Mexican army vehicle or patrol might take a wrong turn and wind up north of the border.

Doubtless there have been some accidental crossings. But they wouldn't account for the bulk of the incidents, especially considering the reported behavior of these soldiers, which is sometimes aggressive.

As for the "smugglers disguised as soldiers" argument, there may be some cases of that too. But if that were the principal explanation, it could imply that (a) the Mexican Army can't secure its materiel stores, or (b) it can't control the border area, which is hardly reassuring.

A US Department of Homeland Security document in 2006 reported 216 such incursions from 1996-2006. There may be many more.

To begin with, why are there so many Mexican soldiers on the border, anyway? Is the border being militarized?

If the US put a Boy Scout with a water gun on the border, Mexican politicians would decry the "militarization of the border." Nevertheless, the Mexican side of the border is already militarized.

There are 11 Mexican military garrisons on the Mexican side of the US-Mexican border. Moving from west to east, these garrisons are located at Tecate, San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonoyta, Agua Prieta, Ciudad Juarez, Ojinaga, Palomas, Ciudad Acuna, Piedras Negras, Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros.

By the canons of international law, there's nothing wrong with it either. According to the treaties of Guadalupe-Hidalgo (1848) and the Gadsden Purchase Treaty (1853), which established the current US-Mexico border, each country reserves the right to fortify any part of its side of the border.

Nature abhors a vacuum. Both governments have allowed their common border to become a rather lawless place. I was almost attacked on the border (in an urban area) and literally made a run for the border to escape. Robbery, rape and murder are standard fare on the border, along with the drug smuggling, illegal immigration, and the hundreds of illegal aliens who perish each year on the border.

Add to the mix corrupt Mexican soldiers aiding drug smugglers and you have a real prescription for disaster.

Traditionally, the Mexican military has been regarded as less corrupt as local Mexican police. That's why President Calderon is using the military as the spearhead in his war on the cartels, and many young soldiers have died fighting drug cartels.

Nevertheless, the military has its corruption too. Plenty of military officers, including generals, have been busted for drug corruption over the years. And that's only the ones who've been caught.

The most high-profile case was that of Mexico's anti-cartel czar General Gutierrez Rebollo, who seemed to be doing such an effective job of nabbing drug traffickers. It turned out though, that he was going after one drug cartel while in the service of another. The general was arrested, convicted and sentenced to 71 years in the hoosegow. (That was back in 1997.)

It's also a known fact that deserters from the underpaid ranks of the Mexican military (which has a high desertion rate) have joined the cartels, including some crack troops trained by the USA.

So it's not at all farfetched to assert that Mexican military elements on the border are working for the cartels in smuggling operations. In fact, it would be surprising if such things weren't going on.

Unsurprisingly, ugly and dangerous incidents involving intruding Mexican soldiers and US border patrol (and other law enforcement) agents have already occurred. Border Patrol agents have already been fired upon in such incidents (and they are usually out gunned by Mexican soldiers crossing the border.)

It's not a good situation. Yet neither government seems to want to do anything about it.

PS:  Here's an older story in this vein:,2933,182650,00.html

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 23, 2007, 09:41:45 AM
Second post of the AM-- in a closely related vein:

Bush proposes massive policing plan for México, isthmus

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services
and staff reports

President George Bush Monday asked Congress to approve $550 million in aid to Mexico and Central American states to help them deal with cross-border crime, drug-trafficking and terrorism. The request is part of the administration's nearly $200 billion supplemental funding request for U.S. operations in Iraq and the broader war on terrorism.

The money being sought for Mexico and Central America is only a small fraction of the administration budget request.

But it would be a major increase in U.S. security aid to the region and it is the subject of some controversy in Mexico, which has been traditionally sensitive about security relations with its northern neighbor.

The vast majority of the funding, $500 million, would go to Mexico and is aimed at bolstering what U.S. officials say have been promising efforts by Mexican President Felipe Calderon's government to disrupt drug trafficking gangs and organized crime.

The remaining $50 million would be devoted to similar regional efforts by Central American states. And most of that probably would be directed to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras where the international gang problem is the most serious. The initiative includes all the Central American states and Panamá.

In a telephone conference call with reporters, Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, said he hopes Monday's request will only be a down payment on a three-year U.S. aid effort of nearly $1.5 billion.

Shannon said the United States would provide México with helicopters and surveillance aircraft to support drug interdiction and rapid-response operations by Mexican law enforcement agencies, as well as advanced drug detection and communications equipment.

But questioned about Mexican political concerns, Shannon said the aid package would not involve any U.S. military presence in that country and would not require any change in agreements limiting the number of U.S. law enforcement officials currently involved in liaison work in México.

The aid package, under discussion by the two governments since President Bush met President Calderón in Mexico last March, has been described as Plan México in Mexican press accounts — a reference to the multi-billion-dollar U.S. anti-insurgency aid program for the Bogota government known as Plan Colombia begun in 1999.

However, Shannon dismissed the comparison, stressing that the Mexican government does not face the multiple insurgencies that confronted Colombia at the time, and that the title of the new program has always been the Merida Initiative, named for the site of this year's Bush-Calderón meeting.

Shannon said the proposed U.S. aid effort is small in comparison to the $3 billion committed in recent months by the Calderón government itself.

Mexico has deployed some 20,000 troops and federal police to combat drug cartels, which have been battling among themselves for dominance in gangland violence that has killed hundreds of people this year.

The State Department said that the program is to provide:

• Non-intrusive inspection equipment, ion scanners, canine units for Mexican customs, for the new federal police and for the military to interdict trafficked drugs, arms, cash and persons.

• Technologies to improve and secure communications systems to support collecting information as well as ensuring that vital information is accessible for criminal law enforcement.

• Technical advice and training to strengthen the institutions of justice vetting for the new police force, case management software to track investigations through the system to trial, new offices of citizen complaints and professional responsibility, and establishing witness protection programs.

• Helicopters and surveillance aircraft to support interdiction activities and rapid operational response of law enforcement agencies in Mexico.

• Initial funding for security cooperation with Central America that responds directly to Central American leaders’ concerns over gangs, drugs, and arms articulated during a July security strategies meeting.

• Includes equipment and assets to support counterpart security agencies inspecting and interdicting drugs, trafficked goods, people and other contraband as well as equipment, training and community action programs in Central American countries to implement anti-gang measures and expand the reach of these measures.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 24, 2007, 01:06:40 PM
Mexico: Dynamics of the Gun Trade
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

The number of drug-related killings in Mexico in 2007 already has surpassed 2,000, an increase of 300 over the same period last year, according to statistics reported by Mexican media outlets. Moreover, sources familiar with the issue say police officials in some jurisdictions have been purposely underreporting drug-related homicides, suggesting that the real body count is even higher.

In addition to the Mexican drug cartels that engage in torture and killings (at times involving beheadings), armed criminal gangs are notorious kidnappers -- prompting some to call Mexico the "kidnapping capital of the world." This has resulted in a boom for armored car manufacturers and security companies, given that most wealthy people living in the country own armored vehicles, and many employ executive protection teams to provide security for themselves, their families and their homes. Additionally, heavily armed criminal gangs regularly commit armed robberies, muggings and express kidnappings.

The one constant in these violent crimes is guns. Mexico's robust gun culture stretches back to revolutions, counterrevolutions and revolutionary bandits such as Pancho Villa. Because of this culture, guns are common in Mexico -- despite strict gun-control laws and licensing procedures. This demand for guns has created an illicit market that not only is intimately related to the U.S. market for illegal narcotics but also, in many ways, mirrors the dynamics of that market. Drugs flow north and guns flow south -- resulting in handsome profits for those willing to run the risks.

Mexican Laws

Similar to the U.S. Constitution, the 1917 Mexican Constitution guarantees Mexico's inhabitants the right to have "arms of any kind in their possession for their protection and legitimate defense." However, the constitution includes many caveats on private citizens' ownership of guns, prohibiting those "expressly forbidden by law" and those "the nation may reserve for the exclusive use of the army, navy or national guard." Furthermore, Mexican law calls for long prison terms for violators.

Mexico, then, has some of the world's strictest gun-control laws -- making guns difficult to obtain legally. Average citizens who want to purchase guns for self-defense or recreational purposes must first get approval from the government. Then, because there are no private-sector gun stores in the country, they must buy weapons through the Defense Department's Arms and Ammunition Marketing Division (UCAM). In accordance with Mexican law, the UCAM carefully limits the calibers of guns it sells. For example, it does not sell handguns larger than a .380 or .38 Special. Also, under Mexican law, popular handguns such as .357 magnum revolvers and 9 mm pistols are exclusively reserved for the armed forces.

Regardless of these efforts, the illicit arms market has been thriving for decades -- not only because firearm laws are not evenly enforced but also because criminals have found a way to circumvent efforts to stem the flow of guns. Moreover, not all illegal guns are in the hands of cartel members and street criminals. A healthy percentage of them are purchased by affluent Mexicans who are not satisfied with the selection of calibers available through the UCAM. Sources say it is not at all unusual to find Mexicans who own prohibited .357 magnum revolvers or .45 caliber pistols for self-defense against kidnappers and armed robbers. In addition to ballistic considerations, Latin machismo is also a factor -- some Mexican men want to own and carry powerful, large-caliber pistols.

The Mechanics of the Gun Trade

This mixture of the historical Mexican gun culture, machismo, strong desire for guns, lax enforcement of gun laws, official corruption and a raging cartel war has created a high demand for illegal guns. Guns sold on the black market in Mexico can fetch as much as 300 percent of their normal market value -- a profit margin similar to that of the cocaine trafficked by the cartels. The laws of economics dictate that where there is a strong demand -- and a considerable profit margin -- entrepreneurs will devise ways to meet that demand. Of course, the illicit markets are no different from the legitimate economy in this respect, and a number of players have emerged to help supply Mexico's appetite for illicit weaponry.

Millions of Mexicans reside (legally and otherwise) in the United States, and the two countries conduct a staggering amount of commerce (legal and otherwise) across the border. In this context, then, when one considers that there are more gun stores in a typical small town in Texas than there are in all of Mexico City, it should come as no surprise that a large number of the weapons found on the illicit arms market in Mexico originated in the United States. In fact, Mexican officials say that as much as 90 percent of the illegal weapons they seize are of U.S. origin.

The most obvious players in the gun trade are the cartels themselves, which not only have the financial resources to buy guns in the United States but also are in a position to receive guns in trade for narcotics from their distribution contacts north of the border. The traditional pattern for cartel operations over the past few decades has been to smuggle drugs north over the border and return with money and guns -- many times over the same routes and by the same conveyances. In addition to the problem of the notoriously corrupt Mexican customs officials, efforts to stem the flow of guns into Mexico also have been hampered by technological limitations. For example, until recently, Mexican authorities lacked X-ray equipment to inspect vehicles entering the country, and this inspection capacity still remains limited.

The cartels also obtain weapons from contacts along their supply networks in South and Central America, where substantial quantities of military ordnance have been shipped over decades to supply insurgencies and counterinsurgencies. Explosives from domestic Mexican sources also are widely available and are generally less expensive than guns.

Aside from the cartels, other criminal syndicates are dedicated to the arms trade. These groups can range from small mom-and-pop operations involving a few individuals who obtain weapons from family members residing in the United States or Central America to large organizations with complex networks that buy dozens or hundreds of weapons at a time.

As in other criminal enterprises in Mexico, such as drug smuggling or kidnapping, it is not unusual to find police officers and military personnel involved in the illegal arms trade. On Sept. 12, three high-ranking police commanders from Baja California and Baja California Sur states were arrested by U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents in Phoenix for illegally purchasing weapons at a gun show. (U.S. law prohibits foreigners from buying weapons.) Over the past few years, several Mexican government officials have been arrested on both sides of the border for participating in the arms trade.

Although it is illegal for Mexican nationals to buy guns in the United States and for Americans to haul guns to Mexico, entrepreneurs have found a variety of ways to skirt such laws. Perhaps one of the least recognized ploys is plain old document fraud. Fake documents -- which are easily obtained along the border -- range in quality (and price) from poorly rendered counterfeits to genuine documents obtained with the assistance of corrupt government officials. Using such documents, a Mexican citizen can pose as a U.S. citizen and pass the required background checks to buy guns -- unless, that is, the prospective gun buyer was foolish enough to assume the identity of an American with a criminal record.

Perhaps the most common way to purchase guns is by using a "straw-man" buyer (sometimes in combination with document fraud). That is, paying a person with a clean record who has legal standing to buy the gun. This also is a tried-and-true tactic used by criminals in the United States who are ineligible to purchase guns due to prior convictions. The "straw man" in these cases often is a girlfriend or other associate who is paid to buy a gun for them. Also, with so many family relations spanning the border, it is easy for a Mexican citizen to ask an American relative to purchase a gun or guns on their behalf.

While document fraud and straw-man purchases can be used to bypass the law and fool respectable gun dealers, not all gun dealers are respectable. Some will falsify their sales records in order to sell guns to people they know are not legally permitted to have them -- especially if the guns are being sold at a premium price. ATF does conduct audits of gun dealers, but even after a steep decline in the number of federal firearms dealers over the past decade, there still are not enough inspectors to regularly audit the records of the more than 50,000 federal firearms license holders. This lack of oversight and the temptation of easy money cause some dealers to break the law knowingly.

Guns also can be obtained for the Mexican black market through theft. The cartels traditionally have tasked groups of young street thugs in the United States with stealing items (such as pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles) for the cartels to use or resell in Mexico. Now, intelligence reports suggest that these thugs have begun to rob gun stores in towns along the border. One such group is the Gulf cartel-related "Zetitas" (little Zetas), which is active in the Texas cities of Houston, Laredo and San Antonio, as well as other places.

A cartel connection is suspected when the weapons and ammunition stolen are popular with the cartels, such as assault rifles and FN Five-Seven pistols. The FN Five-Seven and the FN P-90 personal defense weapon shoot a 5.7 x 28 mm round that has been shown to penetrate body armor, as well as vehicle doors and windows. Because of this, they recently have become very popular with cartel enforcers, who have begun to call the weapons matapolicias -- police killers. Several police officials have been killed with these guns this year -- though officers also have been killed with .357 magnum revolvers, .45-caliber pistols and AK-47- or M-16-style assault rifles. Still, due to the rising popularity of the 5.7 x 28 mm weapons among cartel gunmen, many of these somewhat esoteric (and excellently manufactured) weapons are acquired in the United States and end up south of the border. Any time one of these weapons is connected to a crime on either side of the border, a cartel link should be considered.

The gun problem in Mexico is similar to the drug problem in the United States in that it is extremely difficult to reduce the supply of the illicit items without first reducing the demand. Any small reduction in the supply leads to an increase in price, which further stimulates efforts to provide a supply. Therefore, as long as the demand for such weapons persists, people will continue to find creative ways to meet that demand and make a profit. With that demand being fed, at least in part, by drug cartels that are warring for control of drug trafficking routes into the United States, the two problems of drugs and guns will continue to be deeply intertwined.

Title: Remittance growth slowing
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 26, 2007, 06:23:33 AM
Caveat lector-- its the NY Times:

EL RODEO, Mexico — For years, millions of Mexican migrants working in the United States have sent money back home to villages like this one, money that allows families to pay medical bills and school fees, build houses and buy clothes or, if they save enough, maybe start a tiny business.

But after years of strong increases, the amount of migrant money flowing to Mexico has stagnated. From 2000 to 2006, remittances grew to nearly $24 billion a year from $6.6 billion, (  :-o ) rising more than 20 percent some years. In 2007, the increase so far has been less than 2 percent.

Migrants and migration experts say a flagging American economy and an enforcement campaign against illegal workers in the United States have persuaded some migrants not to try to cross the border illegally to look for work. Others have decided to return to Mexico. And many of those who are staying in the United States are sending less money home.

In the rest of the world, remittances are rising, up as much as 10 percent a year, according to Donald F. Terry of the Inter-American Development Bank. Last year, migrant workers worldwide sent more than $300 billion to developing countries — almost twice the amount of foreign direct investment.

But in Mexico, families are feeling squeezed.

Estrella Rivera, a slight 27-year-old in this stone-paved village in Guanajuato state in central Mexico, was hoping to use the money her husband, Alonso, sent back from working illegally in Texas to build a small clothing shop at the edge of her garden.

But a month ago, Mr. Rivera returned home. His hours at a Dallas window-screen factory were cut and rumors spread that he would inevitably have to produce a valid Social Security number. Now, he works odd jobs or tends cornfields. Mrs. Rivera’s shop is indefinitely delayed, a pile of bricks stacked on the grass.

Like Mr. Rivera, some of the men who went to work in the United States illegally have returned discouraged. And less work means less money to send home — particularly from the southern United States and other areas where Mexican migrants are a more recent presence.

“One out of three people in these new states who was sending a year ago is not sending it home today,” Mr. Terry of the Inter-American Development Bank said. “There are some 500,000 families who aren’t receiving this year.”

Until last year, the American housing trades absorbed hundreds of thousands of migrants, and the hardships of the trip north seemed to pale beside the near certainty of finding work.

Now, the construction slump — along with a year-old crackdown on illegal immigration at the border and in the workplace, and mounting anti-immigrant sentiment in places — has made it even harder for Mexican migrants to reach the United States and land well-paying jobs.

Many experts say it is too early to know if the negligible increase in remittances will continue. Some argue it was to be expected: much of the initial spike in money transfers had resulted from better accounting. In addition, earlier waves of migrants are returning to the houses they built, or they have managed to legalize their status in the United States and bring their families, sending less money back.

But the events of the last year in the United States, political and economic, have also clouded the prospects of many illegal Mexican workers. New walls, new guards and new equipment at the border have dissuaded many from trying to cross and raised the cost for those who try to as much as $2,800. Workplace raids and stories of summary deportations stoke fears among Mexicans on both sides of the border.

Referring to tougher measures in the United States, Primitivo Rodríguez, a Mexican immigration expert, said: “Psychologically, they lead you to save money in case of an emergency. You send less, you save more.”

The shakier economy in many states means that migrants have moved from well-paying steady jobs to work as day laborers.

“In our interviews with families, they say that migrants are now working two or three days when before they worked four or five days,” said David Skerritt, a historian at Veracruzana University.

Rodolfo García Zamora , an immigration expert at the University of Zacatecas, said money transfers to Zacatecas state fell by about 25 percent this year.
Here in Guanajuato state, remittances have created a peculiar economy in villages tucked among rolling corn and sorghum fields. There are few jobs, yet many houses have stereo systems, washing machines and three-piece living room sets.

A Good Provider Is One Who Leaves
 Things are changing, though. Some of the men are back and need cash for seeds and fertilizer to plow long-neglected fields. At the microcredit association operated by a local nonprofit group, the Bajío Women’s Network, loans for agriculture, which barely existed last year, now account for 11 percent of all borrowing.

Women are finding it harder to save, said Evelyne Sinquin, the network coordinator. “The people who have come back can’t work, and the people in the United States are working fewer hours.”

Other than agriculture, the jobs here are in construction, building houses of absentee owners houses along the cobbled streets. Some are modest with a few brick rooms; others are ornate tributes to their absentee owners’ success: gold-painted balconies, the Virgin of Guadalupe etched in a window, Greek columns. Los Emigrantes carpentry shop in nearby La Cuevita sits on a traffic circle adorned with a monument showing several figures, one of them a migrant waving a fistful of dollars.

Not much else flourishes. Three months ago, Mónica Núñez closed her tortilla shop in the village of San Lucas. “Most people went to the United States and sales went down,” she said.

Her husband has been home from Houston for a year, but she has seven brothers and a sister in the United States who still send money. She is planning a new business, perhaps an Internet cafe so people can connect with relatives in the United States.

Less than an hour’s drive away, the city of Querétaro is prospering, turning out home appliances for the world market. But for most people in the villages, education ended after elementary school. An unskilled factory or construction job pays little more than $50 or $60 a week.

With those prospects, the next generation — some of them as young as 15 — seemed to have few doubts about heading to the United States.

Estrella Rivera’s brother Francisco left for the first time when he was 16. Now 21, he recently came home after a year and a half in Orlando, Fla., working in construction. He earned enough to add a floor to his parents’ house, but then he struggled.

“Either there was no work or they did not want to hire somebody without papers,” he said, perched on an old Ford pickup truck with Michigan tags beside his family’s sheep and cow pens.

But he expects to go back again. “To tell the truth, it really is worth the trouble,” he said, recounting a terrifying crossing getting lost in the Arizona desert.

Mrs. Rivera’s husband is not so sure. “It’s really tough to go back,” he said. “Now they lock you up. Before, they grabbed you and sent you back. The laws were never this tough.”

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 12, 2007, 05:26:37 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Nov. 12, 2007
November 12, 2007 20 30  GMT

Influence on the Border

The U.S.-Mexico border area stood out this past week as a venue for violence by drug cartels and other criminal groups. Several incidents occurred in the Baja California state border town of Mexicali, where the targeted killing of a state police officer was followed two days later by a firefight that left one person dead and two wounded. Farther east, at least one candidate for political office in Tamaulipas state was abducted in Reynosa, a town just across the border from McAllen, Texas.

The notion that drug traffickers are starting to influence local politics in the border area is of particular concern to the United States, where, despite the implementation of various security initiatives, Mexico's drug cartels and criminal groups have continued to expand their networks. The success of the new Merida Initiative -- the joint U.S.-Mexico counternarcotics and border security program -- relies on political cooperation on both sides of the border. Any success is questionable, however, when politicians face criminal opponents as well as political opponents.

Cocaine Haul

Twenty-six tons of cocaine seized this past week in Manzanillo, Colima state, belonged to the Sinaloa cartel, Mexico's attorney general said. Together with the more than three tons seized from a drug plane that crashed in the Yucatan in September, the haul makes it clear that Sinaloa has well-established connections with South American cocaine traffickers. This conclusion conflicts with statements made by Mexican government officials that the Gulf cartel is the only Mexican drug trafficking organization capable of maintaining relationships with South American cartels. Following the most recent seizure, Sinaloa is unlikely to break its relationship with its Colombian counterparts, though it will certainly review its security plan for receiving drug shipments in certain ports.

Cartel-Related IEDs?

Also this past week, a small improvised explosive device (IED) detonated in the trunk of a car parked in a hospital parking lot in Toluca, Mexico state. No one was injured in the explosion, though several nearby cars were damaged. The car belonged to a doctor who worked at the hospital. Planting explosives in cars is rare in Mexico, and it is unclear who was responsible for the bombing. Speculation that drug traffickers were behind the incident was prompted by unconfirmed reports that some inmates from a federal prison had recently been moved to the hospital for treatment.

As we have noted previously, though, Mexico's drug cartels are not known for using IEDs. Despite how easy it is to acquire explosives in the country, drug cartels have demonstrated a preference for killing with guns and grenades. One group known for using small IEDs in locations that will not cause casualties is the guerrilla group Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR). However, an unclaimed attack on a doctor's car does not match the operational history of EPR, which most recently has focused on bombing oil pipelines. The incident this past week in Toluca was most likely linked to some other crime, such as extortion, and not to drug trafficking or guerrilla activity.

Violent Kidnappings

Several incidents involving businessmen this past week highlight the kidnapping risk in Mexico and how violent those kidnappings can be. A Spanish businessman was released Nov. 4 after being held for nearly two weeks by a kidnapping gang in Mexico City. The kidnappers reportedly cut off two of his fingers and sent them to his family to convince them to pay the ransom. During the actual abduction, gunmen stopped the victim's car and killed his bodyguard.

In what appears to have been a similar incident on Nov. 9, an apparent kidnapping attempt against a businessman in Monterrey ended with his bodyguard being killed and him being wounded. According to reports, gunmen in several vehicles followed the two men as they left a hotel. As the driver attempted to lose them, he drove the wrong way down a one-way street, eventually running into a bus. The gunmen then cornered them and opened fire on their vehicle. These incidents highlight the false sense of security that traditional protective services provide in Mexico and underscore the need for comprehensive security programs that include protective intelligence.

Nov. 5
An official from the National Action Party confirmed that a municipal presidential candidate's campaign manager was abducted by a group of armed men in Tamaulipas state.

A Baja California state police officer was shot to death outside his home in Mexicali by two men who approached him as he was entering his house.

The bodies of two unidentified men who had been shot to death were found in shallow graves in Durango state. Police believe they are two men who were abducted Sept. 27.

Nov. 6
Authorities in Sinaloa state reported two unrelated drug-related killings that occurred in the state capital Culiacan. In one case, an unidentified victim was shot at least 20 times; in the other, gunmen armed with assault rifles shot and killed a man outside his home.

Nov. 7
One person died and two were wounded in a firefight in Mexicali, Baja California state, just across the border from Calexico, California.

A man in Mexico City died when he was shot at point blank range in his vehicle after a group of gunmen blocked his car in the street.

Nov. 8
Federal police in Mexico City arrested Pedro Alfonso Alatorre Damy (aka, Pedro Barraza Urtusuástegui and El Piri), a suspected accountant for the Sinaloa cartel. The arrest reportedly came after an account containing $2.7 million in a Chicago bank was frozen, based on information exchanged between authorities in Mexico and the United States.

A high-ranking official of the Workers Confederation of Mexico, a labor union, was unhurt when gunmen opened fire on his vehicle in Mexico state.

Nov. 9
Two sailors in the Mexican navy were wounded in an ambush outside a supermarket in Tampico, the capital of Tamalipas state. According to reports, gunmen fired shots near a night club in Tampico, then intercepted the military convoy carrying troops to respond to the violence.

Nov. 10
A federal police commander in Coahuila state was wounded when he was shot at least five times by gunmen in two vehicles in the state capital Saltillo.

Nov. 11
An official of the civil aviation authority in Quintana Roo state was found shot to death in Cancun. He had reportedly been kidnapped the night before at a soccer game.

A Mexico state police commander was shot to death outside his home. He was unarmed at the time of the attack.

The body of an unidentified man with three gunshot wounds was found in Acapulco, Guerrero state.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 19, 2007, 09:45:45 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Nov. 19, 2007
November 19, 2007 19 22  GMT

Turf Battles

So far this month, one of the deadliest days in Mexico has been Nov. 17, when at least 11 drug-related deaths were reported in six states. From charred bodies discovered in Chiapas state to armed men storming a house to kill two presumed drug dealers in Durango state, the killings provide a snapshot of violence in a country where approximately 2,400 people have died violently so far this year.

The cartel turf battles that produced much of this violence have led to important shifts in cartels' areas of territorial control. The federal attorney general's office reported this past week that the town of Zamora, in Michoacan state, is now in the hands of elements of the Gulf cartel, following a long battle with members of the Sinaloa-linked Valencia cartel. As long as rival gangs continue to fight for control of lucrative smuggling routes, shifts such as this one should be expected to continue -- along with the violence that accompanies them.

Political Violence

One of the biggest challenges to counternarcotics operations in Mexico has been corruption not only of law enforcement personnel but also of government officials. In addition to threatening, killing and kidnapping officials already in office, organized crime groups have demonstrated an interest in influencing the election process. An incident this past week in Michoacan state underscored this trend. On Nov. 16 in Zamora, as the election commission was tallying up the final vote from local elections held Nov. 11, a group of armed men entered the commission's office, threatened members and set fire to documents related to the election. Political candidates and their campaign staffs also have been subject to violence. At least one candidate for office in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, was reportedly abducted before a vote there last week while another candidate's financial adviser was said to have been kidnapped.

The waters of political violence are murky in Mexico, where it is common to hear of politicians dispatching henchmen to intimidate or eliminate their rivals. There is an element of truth to some of these rumors, especially in a country where the presidency and top levels of government were dominated by one political party for more than 70 years. However, drug trafficking organizations also have a strong interest in promoting candidates that are on their payroll. In some cases, politicians might even have knowledge of cartel actions against opponents, and frequently the henchmen hired by political candidates will have ties to the cartels.

Body Snatching

More than 50 armed men entered the city morgue in Ensenada, Baja California state, early Nov. 15 to remove the body of man who had died three days before in a helicopter accident while following the Baja 1000 car race. The heavily armed group reportedly arrived in more than a dozen vehicles, stormed the building and loaded the body into a vehicle, firing assault rifles at police officers before fleeing. Prior to the theft, two unidentified individuals had reportedly attempted to claim the body but authorities did not release it.

Although it appears certain that the body belonged to an important member of the Tijuana cartel, there is official confusion as to who the man was, likely because the body was registered at the morgue under a pseudonym. Initial reports from authorities in Baja California state indicated that the man was Francisco Medardo León Hinojosa, aka El Abulón, a high-ranking lieutenant in the Tijuana organization. Later reports from the federal attorney general's office suggested that the missing body belonged to the son of Alicia Arellano Felix, one of the siblings of the Arellano Felix crime family that runs the Tijuana cartel. Reportedly there had been a strong security presence at the morgue prior to the theft to prevent any such action; the incident highlights how police forces are no match for well-equipped -- and well-informed -- cartels.

Nov. 12

Authorities in Sinaloa state reported finding the body of a man along a highway. He had been bound at the hands and wrapped in a blanket.

Nov. 13

A high-ranking police commander from Acambaro, Guanajuato state, was shot to death while driving along a rural road.

Nov. 14

The director of public security in Toluca, Mexico state, was unhurt following an apparent attempt on his life when two men on a motorcycle fired several shots into his vehicle.

Nov. 15

Two people died and one was wounded in a firefight involving automatic weapons and rival drug-trafficking gangs in Tamazula, Durango state.

Fire crews from Laredo, Texas, crossed the border to assist the Nuevo Laredo fire department in battling more than 20 fires across the city. Under a mutual aid request, a fire department source confirmed that arson was the cause of many of the blazes, which included grassfires and structural fires.

Nov. 16

Two sailors in the Mexican navy were abducted by armed men from a bar in the Pacific port city of Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state. A third who resisted the gunmen was wounded.

A plane believed to have been carrying more than 1 ton of cocaine made an emergency landing on a federal highway in Oaxaca state. The crew succeeded in unloading the cargo, setting fire to the plane and escaping before authorities arrived.

Nov. 17

The bodies of a man and woman were found in Jalisco state. Each had been shot in the head.

A city employee discovered the dismembered body of an unidentified person in a dumpster in Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua state. Body parts were found in two suitcases.

Two men were killed in their home in Durango state when armed men entered the residence and shot them several times. Police believe the men owed money to drug traffickers.

Authorities discovered the burned bodies of two unidentified men along a highway in Chiapas state. The men were bound at the hands and appeared to have been tortured.

Nov. 18

A sailor in the Mexican navy was shot to death by several gunmen as he was walking along a street in Acapulco, Guerrero state. He reportedly was able to fire several rounds from a pistol before being killed.

Six armed men entered a hotel in the Monterrey suburb of San Nicolas de los Garza in Nuevo Leon state, stealing an ATM and the hotel safe. The gunmen subdued three employees and four guests during the incident and exchanged gunfire with police as they fled.

Title: Mexican Truck Stop
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 26, 2007, 12:39:10 PM

Mexican Truck Stop
November 26, 2007; Page A20

It's hard to say who came out on top in the Nov. 15 debate among Democratic presidential candidates held in Nevada. But we do know that free trade took a beating. A majority of the candidates disapproved of some or all of the U.S. bilateral and regional trade agreements -- including the North American Free Trade Agreement -- and pledged to reverse the trend toward market opening if given the chance. Hillary Clinton stopped short of promising to undo Nafta but she called for a "trade timeout."

It is troubling to hear the protectionist drumbeat growing louder in the Democratic Party, particularly as it concerns Latin America. The last time Washington adopted an anti-trade bias by signing into law the Smoot-Hawley tariffs in 1930, it set off a world-wide depression -- and a period of isolationism in Latin America that took some 60 years to begin to reverse. Now Democrats seem to be saying that if they can only capture the White House, they are committed to reliving this painful history.

The Democrats' anti-trade agenda is already playing out in Congress, with both houses continuing to block the full opening of the southern border to Mexican long-haul trucks under Nafta. Congress's actions could damage the U.S. economy because Mexico has the legal right to retaliate. What's worse is what this flouting of U.S. commitments to Mexico suggests to the Mexican people about Yankee integrity.

The problem dates back to 1995, when Bill Clinton issued an executive order -- in violation of Nafta, which he had signed into law -- to stop Mexican long-haul trucks from crossing the border. Mr. Clinton was responding to pressure from Teamsters, who didn't want any new competition. He cited safety concerns -- things like substandard drivers and vehicles -- which to this day have never been supported by evidence.

In fact, Mexican trucking companies have a long history of operating in the U.S. and with no notably inferior safety record. Yet their numbers have been limited since 1982, when the Reagan administration announced that until Mexico opened its markets to U.S. competitors, no new licenses would be granted to Mexican carriers. Existing Mexican long-haul trucking businesses had their permits grandfathered, and from 1992-2002 some 1,300 Mexican-domiciled companies -- all of which were majority U.S.-owned -- received "certificates of registration" to deliver "exempt commodities" from Mexico to the U.S.

In other words, there have been plenty of Mexican trucks on U.S. roads all these years -- although not as many as there might be under Nafta. Nevertheless, in a 2002 appropriations bill Congress demanded that they be subject to a new set of safety regulations, some of which are more stringent than U.S. standards. Since that year, the Department of Transportation's Inspector General has audited the safety process at the border annually and has been able to certify that it is working. Mexican carriers are also more heavily insured than their U.S. competitors. Every Mexican truck is required to carry U.S. insurance on top of the insurance it carries in Mexico.

Earlier this year, the DOT analyzed the safety record of Mexican carriers in the U.S. from 2003-2006. It looked at the rate in which trucks received an "out-of-service" designation by DOT inspectors targeting companies with the worst records. The out-of-service rate for U.S. trucks was 23.5%, compared to a rate for trucks from Mexico of 21.29%. Mexican short-haul trucks operating in the border zone also had a better record than the U.S. trucks, with an out-of-service rate of 22.5%.

These statistics ought to be enough to end the debate. But with Teamster pull still strong in Congress, the Bush administration this year offered to introduce a pilot program to allow a limited number of new trucking companies to begin doing business in the U.S. under close DOT scrutiny. The program kicked off on Sept. 6, and there are now seven Mexican companies operating 44 vehicles in the U.S. and four U.S. companies operating 41 vehicles in Mexico. You'd think that those with safety worries would be glad to see such a vigilant approach to the problem. But just after the program started, both the House and the Senate voted to strip its funding in the 2008 budget.

It's not clear whether this budget cut will be sustained. But the effort makes it obvious that Congress is no honest broker. As John Hill, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, told me last week: "Every time we move closer to implementing the provisions of Nafta, Congress adds a new provision. It's hard to hit a moving target."

Mr. Hill also challenges the charge that Mexican trucks are not safe. "We've applied strong enforcement guidelines and Mexico has met them. The opponents of Nafta are looking for any way they can find to drum up fear among Americans, even though Mexican trucks have been operating safely in this country for years."

Mexico doesn't have to sit still for this. In February 2001, a Nafta arbitration panel issued a unanimous decision against the U.S. block on Mexican long-haul trucks. Mexico could retaliate with import tariffs on U.S. goods to the tune of $2 billion. In the Nov. 20 issue of the Latin American business magazine Poder y Negocios, Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transportation Luis Tellez said that his country has not ruled out that possibility.

He also expressed frustration with Congress: "The problem is that the Congress is no longer in the frame of mind in which it sees Nafta as something important or something that the U.S. government has to comply with." There are those in Congress, he said, who don't have a clear idea of what Nafta is and others who don't want to "lose points and Teamster support."

During the free trade bashing in Nevada, Mrs. Clinton said that instead of signing new agreements, we "need to get back to enforcing the ones we have, which the Bush administration has not done." When it comes to Nafta and the Mexican trucks we can all agree on the first part of that statement, but the fault lies with Congress, not the president.
Title: Sinaloa Federation next?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 30, 2007, 12:23:47 PM
Targeting Mexico's Drug Cartels: Is the Sinaloa Federation Next?
Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon stepped up pressure on organized crime and drug trafficking organizations nearly a year ago, the hardest-hit organization has been the Gulf cartel. The extradition of cartel leader Osiel Cardenas-Guillen to the United States, the capture of several Gulf lieutenants and the concentrated presence of security forces in the cartel's territory have combined to put much more pressure on Gulf members than on those belonging to its rival, the Sinaloa federation of cartels. But Mexico City could soon begin targeting high-ranking members of the Sinaloa federation.

U.S. counternarcotics sources say Sinaloa leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, is now believed to be hiding out in Pachuca, a city in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo. Guzman has been on the run since he escaped in 2001 from the Puente Grande maximum security prison in Jalisco state. Identifying the location of one of the most elusive drug traffickers in Mexico is a vital step in expanding the scope of the current war against the cartels.

The city where Guzman is believed to be hiding is not the most likely of locations -- perhaps the reason he has successfully eluded law enforcement for so long. Hidalgo state is not near the Sinaloa cartel's home territory of northwestern Sinaloa state, where Guzman is likely to have more friends and associates willing to aid him. Large cities in Sinaloa territory, however, are places where Mexican authorities would focus their search for him. Far from being an isolated village in the middle of nowhere, Pachuca is a state capital, located about 100 miles from Mexico City. Most important, in a country where cartel territory is violently conquered and defended, Pachuca is an essentially neutral region, in which rival drug traffickers do not have a particular interest in extending their influence.

Despite the risks of arrest and attack by rivals, Guzman has not exactly been hiding under a rock. Although his personal security needs are high -- requiring a large contingent of heavily armed bodyguards -- that fact has not stopped him from taking occasional trips over the last few years. One particularly high-profile event was his wedding in Coahuila state in July, for which the local military commander reportedly ordered some of his soldiers to man roadblocks out of the area -- assumingly following a payoff. While romancing his 18-year-old bride, Guzman reportedly flew to her town in one of his six private aircraft after several hundred security guards had locked down the town.

Such high-profile and public movements simply mean that Guzman has been receiving assistance from a variety of official sources. In the world of Mexican organized crime, it is common for high-ranking cartel figures to have law enforcement officers and military personnel on their payrolls. They also typically have strong connections to government officials at all levels, who provide protection in exchange for financial contributions. Guzman has a long history of buying off officials who are in the position to help him. In the Puente Grande prison break, for instance, at least 30 guards were implicated in assisting in the escape.

Since Calderon's crackdown, Mexican authorities have been cooperating more and more with their more capable U.S. counterparts. They most likely focused on the Gulf cartel first because, unlike Sinaloa territory, the area in northeastern Mexico controlled by the Gulf cartel has more important industrial and commercial interests. This kind of coordination could be what is needed to take Guzman into custody.

It is unclear exactly what will happen to the Sinaloa federation once Guzman is out of the picture, though it unlikely will maintain its current form. The Sinaloa cartel leads a federation of smaller drug trafficking organizations, most significantly the Zambada Garcia organization and the Esparragoza organization, both of which are led by former high-ranking Juarez cartel members. With Guzman either dead or in custody, the leaders of these groups could reassess their relationships with the Sinaloa group, resulting in a loss of a significant portion of Sinaloa's territory and limiting its ability to import South American cocaine.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 07, 2007, 07:39:41 PM
Iran-Mexico meeting deepens ties to Islam
President Calderon welcomes Khatami in effort to bypass confrontational West

Posted: December 7, 2007
4:50 p.m. Eastern
By Jerome R. Corsi
© 2007

Mexican President Felipe Calderon welcomed former Iranian President Mohamed Khatami to Mexico City
In a little notice meeting reflecting growing ties between South America and the Islamic world, Mexican President Felipe Calderon welcomed former Iranian President Mohamed Khatami to Mexico City. The two leaders met Wednesday at Los Pinos, Mexico's official presidential residence, to discuss deepening cultural bonds with the Islamic world in the face of Western notions of a "clash of civilizations.

The visit drew virtually no mention in the press outside of Mexico, even in Iran.

Khatami came at the invitation of the International Center for Dialogue between Civilizations, established in 2006 at the Colegio de San Luis in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. A notice on the Colegio de San Luis website said Khatami spoke at the center to oppose the main thesis of Harvard University professor Samuel Huntington's seminal 1996 book "The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order."

In his speech, Khatami proclaimed a "Dialogue among Civilizations," a theme echoing a 2001 U.N. declaration. Similarly, a statement by Calderon emphasized, in diplomatic language, that Khatami was promoting an exchange of opinions "concerning the roads available to promote peaceful co-existence among natures and cultures."

The Mexican newspaper La Jornada echoed the presidential statement: "The government of Mexico shares the conviction that dialogue and negotiation should be promoted as the preferred means to advance agreements."

The radical leftist La Voz de Aztlan in Los Angeles characterized the Khatami-Calderon meeting as "part of a growing alliance between Mexico, South America and Islam."  La Voz de Aztlan also noted, "President Calderon has been worried about the growing racist hostility against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in the USA."

The online publication said the visit "may signal the beginning of a new international alignment that may bring into reality what Patrick Buchanan wrote in his new book, 'Day of Reckoning.'"

In July, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez met in Tehran with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reflecting Tehran's recent campaign to develop closer ties with Latin America. In September, Ahmadinejad met with Fidel Castro in Cuba, where the communist dictator endorsed the Iranian leader's efforts to further the goals of the Islamic revolution begun by Ayatollah Khomeini.

The International Center for Dialogue between Civilizations was opened in 2006 by Islamic Dawa of Chauen, a militant Shiite Islamic group originally formed in Iraq, and the radical Junta Islamica of Spain.

Chauen is a city in the Mexican province of Marruecos with historic ties to the Berbers in Morocco. The Junta Islamica derives from the descendents of the Moriscos, the Spanish Muslims expelled from Spain in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group noted for aggressively promoting the rights of Hispanic immigrants, characterizes the Nation of Aztlan, publisher of La Voz de Aztlan, as a "tiny Chicano group that pushes racism and homophobia." Aztlan is the name for the mythical place of origin of the Aztec people. In the politics of Hispanic immigration, Aztlan has come to represent the part of the southwestern United States, including a large part of California, sought by the Reconquista movement for Mexico.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 14, 2007, 09:48:10 AM
U.S.: Targeted Officer Killings Crossing the Border?
Police in Arizona were still searching Dec. 14 for two suspects involved in a recent home invasion targeting a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Tucson. The agent told police that he woke early Dec. 9 as four armed men forcibly entered his home. At least one suspect fired at the agent, at which point he retrieved his service weapon and returned fire as the suspects retreated in a sport utility vehicle (SUV). His shots apparently struck at least one of the suspects, who was found shot to death several hours later in a rural area. Another suspect was later detained after police discovered the SUV in flames, apparently set ablaze by the attackers in order to destroy evidence.

Home invasions can have a variety of motives. In this case, the incident very likely involved a failed assassination attempt -- an idea that raises concerns about new forms of violence associated with Mexican organized crime crossing the border.

There are several reasons to believe this home invasion was not a random occurrence but rather an intentional attempt to kill the agent. First, the agent reportedly drove a Border Patrol vehicle that he parked at home every night -- and criminals looking for an easy burglary target are unlikely to pick the home of an armed law enforcement officer. Second, though police have officially said that no motive has been determined, one blog reporting on this incident has described police sources as saying it involved an assassination attempt gone wrong.

This attack, then, was almost certainly associated with some element of Mexican organized crime. Drug trafficking organizations and smuggling groups certainly would have had an interest in targeting the agent, and Mexico's drug cartels are notorious for violent killings targeting police officers and army personnel across Mexico, carried out by highly trained and heavily armed former military members employed by the cartels. For instance, at least seven Mexican police officers were killed and five wounded last week alone in incidents involving grenades, assault rifles, assassinations, and one kidnapping and fatal beating.

Though cartels' hit men have ample resources and there is evidence they have operated cells inside the United States, the suspects in the Tucson case more likely belonged to a U.S.-based gang working on behalf of a Mexican criminal organization.
The fact that the two suspects who have been identified are 19 and 20 years old suggests that they are not the experienced military-trained operatives employed by Mexico's drug cartels. Also, experienced and trained operatives would not have retreated after being fired at by one person -- and, frankly, an attack by more seasoned operatives most likely would not have failed. Even if the attackers had experience targeting poorly-trained police officers in Mexico, it is much more difficult to successfully attack a well-trained U.S. federal law enforcement officer.

Though there is currently no evidence that the agent in this case was involved in illegal activity, it is important to note that many police and government officials targeted for assassination in Mexico have been paid off by a rival criminal organization. Corruption has not been limited to the Mexican side of the border; many low-paid agents in the United States have found themselves facing the dilemma of "plata o plomo" -- "silver or lead" -- which means take a bribe or take a bullet.

Police also are often targeted simply for doing their job. For example, after Mexican police in the border city of Tecate shut down a smuggling tunnel running under the border last week, a group of gunmen entered the home of a Tecate police commander -- who had been on the job less than a week -- and shot him more than 50 times while he lay in bed. His family was unharmed, though this was not the case when a former police officer in Mexico's Sinaloa state was shot to death, along with his wife and three young daughters, at his home several weeks ago.

While targeted killings of police are common in Mexico, they have yet to reach similar levels in the United States. Over the last few years, though, there has been an increasing trend of criminal activity commonplace in Mexico spreading north across the border, including kidnapping, threats against journalists and extortion. This latest incident raises concerns that targeted killings of police officers could be the next form of violence exported across the border.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 01, 2008, 08:27:54 PM
Mexico Security Memo: Dec. 27, 2007
Stratfor Today » December 27, 2007 | 2021 GMT
Organized Crime in Baja California
An unknown number of assailants attacked the newly appointed police chief of Playas de Rosarito, Jorge Eduardo Montero Alvarez, on Dec. 18, killing one policeman and injuring at least one other. The attack happened at about 1 p.m. when approximately 10 vehicles pulled up to the building where Montero Alvarez and his bodyguards were getting out of their vehicles and the assailants opened fire with high-caliber weapons. The police repelled the attack, returning fire with AK-47 and R-15 rifles; Montero Alvarez was not hurt. Three vans spotted in the attack were later found abandoned nearby.

The attack followed a Dec. 17 announcement by Mexican President Felipe Calderon that the federal government would aid in a crackdown on organized crime with a deployment by the Mexican military to Playas de Rosarito. The attack was a definite signal of cartel displeasure; similar attacks have occurred elsewhere in connection with major anti-cartel operations. Following the announcement and the attack, an undisclosed number of soldiers arrived Dec. 19 to patrol the city, both tourist areas and high-crime residential areas.

Playas de Rosarito, which adjoins Tijuana in Baja California state, has experienced rising problems with organized crime. Extensive corruption among public officials, including law enforcement officers, has exacerbated this problem. The federal government launched Operation Tijuana in January, sending more than 3,000 troops to battle local drug gangs. The deployment to Playas de Rosarito marks the expansion of the federal mandate to combat organized crime in the Tijuana-San Diego border area.

Border Crossings in Arizona
Arrests of illegal border crossers near Yuma, Arizona, fell more than two-thirds during 2007, in part a result of a variety of new barriers covering a 48-mile stretch of the border. Ranging from simple road barriers to more extensive fencing installations, the Yuma Sector barriers do not form a solid wall along the border, but instead use barricades targeted to meet the needs of the landscape and adjusted as appropriate to the relative accessibility of each area. While the barriers alone have contributed greatly to the drop, other measures like an increased law enforcement presence on the border and threat of jail time for first-time illegal crossings by adults deserve credit, too.

The drop in arrests following the fence-building program in the Yuma Sector represents a significant success, as the sector had experienced a significant growth in arrests in previous years. Although overall arrests by the U.S. Border Patrol along the U.S.-Mexican border fell from 1.4 million to 1.1 million from 1997 to 2006, crossings in the Yuma Sector skyrocketed from 30,000 to 119,000 during the same period. Despite this success, the crossings probably have shifted to other sectors as immigrants seek easier routes, a well-established phenomenon. For instance, although total arrests in the San Diego Sector have fallen by about 142,000 in the last nine years, the reduction has been counterbalanced by crossings elsewhere. Thus, aggregate numbers in the Tucson Sector rose by around 120,000 during the same period.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 that initiated and supports fencing projects like the one in the Yuma Sector underwent substantial changes Dec. 21, as the omnibus spending bill signed in to law by U.S. President George W. Bush contains language that makes fence building nonmandatory and leaves all barrier construction at the discretion of the Homeland Security secretary. The act originally mandated 700 miles of double fencing split among five different sectors. The mandate was modeled after the San Diego method of a two-fence barrier, which was shown to be 95 percent effective in reducing illegal border crossings along a 14-mile stretch of border dividing San Diego and Tijuana from 1992-2004.

Beheadings Spreading to Capital?
The headless bodies of five people have been found in Mexico City since Dec. 17, at least four of whom were customs agents from Mexico City International Airport. Two of the headless agents were discovered wrapped in plastic and stuffed in the trunk of a car in Tlaneplanta, a northern district of Mexico City, El Nuevo Diario reported Dec. 17. The victims’ heads and two severed fingers were left on the street. A finger was placed in one victims’ mouth, while the other was put in the ear of the second victim. Two other bodies were found in similar configurations. Another body had severed hands.

The precision of the beheadings indicate the men were assassinated by professionals, while the placement of the fingers indicates the men were suspected of informing to the police. Although the motive behind the killings remains unclear, they occurred the day after the seizure of half a ton of cocaine at Mexico City International Airport, leading the authorities to suspect the murders came in retaliation.

Beheadings by organized criminal elements are common in Guerrero, Tamaulipas and Michoacán states, where drug cartel operations are widespread. The gruesome tactic has not been used commonly in Mexico City, however. These incidents could be an ominous sign the tactic may be spreading to the heart of Mexico.

Dec. 17
Two decapitated bodies of Mexico City International Airport customs agents were found in Mexico City.
The body of a 18 year-old man with a gunshot wound to the head was found floating in the Lerma River in Guanajuato state.
Two handcuffed bodies were found with evidence of torture in Cancún, Quintana Roo state.
The bullet-riddled bodies of two young men were found in Tijuana, Baja California state. One of the bodies was located inside a vehicle, while the other was found 900 feet away.
A man was killed after being stabbed 25 times in Mexico City. His wife was left alive, but was in critical condition after being stabbed twice by an unknown assailant.
The body of an unidentified man was found in Guerrero state. He had been shot at least 30 times with a variety of weapons that appear to include an AR-15, an AK-47 and at least one handgun.
Dec. 18
Assailants traveling in 10 cars attacked Jorge Eduardo Montero Alvarez, the newly appointed police chief of Playas de Rosarito, Baja California state. Although Montero Alvarez was unharmed, one of his bodyguards was killed and at least one civilian was injured.
Suspected assassins shot and killed three off-duty soldiers and wounded another at a shopping mall in Torreón, Coahuila state, late Dec. 18. An air force member also was injured in the shooting.
Dec. 19
A group used high-powered rifles to attack two men in Nuevo Leon state, injuring the pair.
Two people sitting in a car with foreign plates in Mocorito, Sinaloa, were executed with a .38-caliber gun.
The corpse of a 24-year-old man was discovered with evidence of blunt trauma and a bullet wound from a 9 mm weapon in Culiacán, Sinaloa.
The dead body of a man was found bound with adhesive tape; AK-47 rounds were found around the body.
The body of a farmer was found floating near a dam in the vicinity of the Tandhe community in Hidalgo state. Three suspects have been arrested in connection with the murder.
Dec. 20
The body of a young man who had been stabbed to death was found in Venta de Cruz, Mexico state. The man had been reported missing after he was taken into custody Dec. 9 by individuals who identified themselves as members of the Mexican Federal Agency of Investigations.
The body of a taxi driver who had been shot five times was found in Huasca, Hidalgo state, the fourth killing of a taxi driver in the past two months.
Dec. 21
A taxi driver was found dead in Cuautepec de Hinojosa, Hidalgo state, buried under a pile of rocks. He had been reported missing Dec. 17.
The bodies of two men were found shot in the head in an automobile in Mexico state.
The bodies of a man and his son killed by several unknown assailants in Culiacán, Sinaloa state, were found. The attackers reportedly fired at least 20 rounds at the pair.
Dec. 22
The body of an unidentified middle-aged man was found by authorities in Tijuana, Baja California state. The victim had been shot in the head and face and was tied with a plastic rope.
The bullet-riddled body of an unidentified young man was found in a parking lot in a commercial district in Tijuana, Baja California state. Although police reported to the scene rapidly, they failed to find the perpetrators.
The body of a teacher who had been shot to death was found on the side of a road near El Zapote bridge in Guerrero state. He had been carrying about $800 in pesos; a note was appended to his corpse.
The body of an unidentified man who had been strangled to death was found in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state. The state attorney general’s office initially erroneously identified the man as ex-policeman Alberto González Escobar of Ciudad Juárez, who has been reported missing.
Dec. 24
The body of an unknown man was found shot in the head, naked and bound at the hands and feet in Guerrero state. Evidence indicates the corpse of the man, who had been dead for quite some time, was transported to the site where it was found.
Gunfire killed three people in two separate incidents in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Dec. 25
A gunfight between members of the Mexican army and presumed members of organized criminal groups in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, resulted in two injuries.
Dec. 26
Four people died of gunshot wounds in separate incidents in Tijuana state in a 72-hour period. No suspects have been detained.
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Title: Yet more on Rosarito BC
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 06, 2008, 02:49:51 PM
As an Angeleno, news of Rosarito is of particular interest to me:

Tourists shun crime-hit Mexico beaches By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jan 5, 1:24 PM ET
PLAYAS DE ROSARITO, Mexico - Assaults on American tourists have brought hard times to hotels and restaurants that dot Mexican beaches just south of the border from San Diego.

Surfers and kayakers are frightened to hit the waters of the northern stretch of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, long popular as a weekend destination for U.S. tourists. Weddings have been canceled. Lobster joints a few steps from the Pacific were almost empty on the usually busy New Year's weekend.

Americans have long tolerated shakedowns by police who boost salaries by pulling over motorists for alleged traffic violations, and tourists know parts of Baja are a hotbed of drug-related violence. But a handful of attacks since summer by masked, armed bandits — some of whom used flashing lights to appear like police — marks a new extreme that has spooked even longtime visitors.

Lori Hoffman, a San Diego-area emergency room nurse, said she was sexually assaulted Oct. 23 by two masked men in front of her boyfriend, San Diego Surfing Academy owner Pat Weber, who was forced to kneel at gunpoint for 45 minutes. They were at a campground with about 30 tents, some 200 miles south of the border.

The men shot out windows of the couple's trailer and forced their way inside, ransacked the cupboards and left with about $7,000 worth of gear, including computers, video equipment and a guitar.

Weber, who has taught dozens of students in Mexico over the last 10 years, plans to surf in Costa Rica or New Zealand. "No more Mexico," said Hoffman, who reported the attack to Mexican police. No arrests have been made.

The Baja California peninsula is known worldwide for clean and sparsely populated beaches, lobster and margaritas and blue waters visited by whales and dolphins. Surfers love the waves; fishermen catch tuna, yellowtail and marlin. Food and hotels are cheap.

News of harrowing assaults on American tourists has begun to overshadow that appeal in the northern part of the peninsula, home to drug gangs and the seedy border city of Tijuana. The comparatively isolated southern tip, with its tony Los Cabos resort, remains safer and is still popular with Hollywood celebrities, anglers and other foreign tourists.

Local media and surfing Web sites that trumpeted Baja in the past have reported several frightening crimes that U.S. and Mexican officials consider credible. Longtime visitors are particularly wary of a toll road near the border that runs through Playas de Rosarito — Rosarito Beach.

In late November, as they returned from the Baja 1000 off-road race, a San Diego-area family was pulled over on the toll road by a car with flashing lights. Heavily armed men held the family hostage for two hours. They eventually released them but stole the family's truck.

Before dawn on Aug. 31, three surfers were carjacked on the same stretch of highway. Gunmen pulled them over in a car with flashing lights, forced them out of their vehicles and ordered one to kneel. They took the trucks and left the surfers.

Aqua Adventures of San Diego scrapped its annual three-day kayak trip to scout for whales in January, ending a run of about 10 years. Customers had already been complaining about longer waits to return to the U.S.; crime gave them another reason to stay away.

"People are just saying, 'No way.' They don't want to deal with the risk," said owner Jen Kleck, who has sponsored trips to Baja about five times a year but hasn't been since July.

Charles Smith, spokesman for the U.S. consulate in Tijuana, said the U.S. government has not found a widespread increase in attacks against Americans, but he acknowledged many crimes go unreported. The State Department has long warned motorists on Mexico's border to watch for people following them, though no new warnings have been issued.

Mexican officials acknowledge crime has threatened a lifeblood of Baja's economy. In Playas de Rosarito, a city of 130,000, police were forced to surrender their weapons last month for testing to determine links to any crimes. Heavily armed men have patrolled City Hall since a failed assassination attempt on the new police chief left one officer dead. On Thursday the bullet-riddled bodies of a Tijuana police official and another man were found dumped near the beach.

"We cannot minimize what's happening to public safety," said Oscar Escobedo Carignan, Baja's new secretary of tourism. "We're going to impose order ... We're indignant about what's happening."

Tourist visits to Baja totaled about 18 million in 2007, down from 21 million the previous year, Escobedo said. Hotel occupancy dropped about 5 percentage points to 53 percent.

Hugo Torres, owner of the storied Rosarito Beach Hotel and the city's new mayor, estimates the number of visitors to Rosarito Beach since summer is down 30 percent.

In the city's Puerto Nuevo tourist enclave, which offers $20 lobster dinners and $1 margaritas, restaurant managers said sales were down as much as 80 percent from last year. One Saturday afternoon in October, masked bandits wielding pistols walked the streets and kidnapped two men — an American and a Spanish citizen — who were later released unharmed. Two people who were with them were shot and wounded.

Omar Armendariz, who manages a Puerto Nuevo lobster restaurant, is counting on the new state and city governments to make tourists feel safer. He has never seen fewer visitors in his nine years on the job.

"It's dead," he said.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 22, 2008, 06:16:20 AM
New York Times

January 22, 2008

Mexico Hits Drug Gangs With Full Fury of War

RÍO BRAVO, Mexico —

These days, it is easy to form the impression that a war is going on in Mexico. Thousands of elite troops in battle gear stream toward border towns and snake through the streets in jeeps with .50-caliber machine guns mounted on top while fighter jets from the Mexican Navy fly reconnaissance missions overhead.

Gun battles between federal forces and drug-cartel members carrying rocket-propelled-grenade launchers have taken place over the past two weeks in border towns like Río Bravo and Tijuana, with deadly results.

Yet what is happening is less a war than a sustained federal intervention in states where for decades corrupt municipal police officers and drug gangs have worked together in relative peace, officials say. The federal forces are not only hunting cartel leaders, but also going after their crews of gunslingers, like Gulf Cartel guards known as the Zetas, who terrorize the towns they control.

The onslaught has broken up a longstanding system in which the local police looked the other way for a bribe and cartel leaders went about their business.

In Río Bravo, for instance, the state police station sits across the street from a walled compound that until recently was used as a safe house by Zeta gunmen. A deadly gunfight broke out when federal agents tried to arrest men carrying machine guns in a car.

As grenades exploded and gunfire ripped the air, Jesús Vasquez, 65, dived behind the dusty counter of his store. He hugged the concrete and prayed.

“It was ugly,” he recalled. “It’s the first time something like this has happened.”

President Felipe Calderón, who won office in 2006 on a promise to create jobs, has spent most of his first year in office trying to break up organized crime rings. To the consternation of some liberals here, he has mobilized the military to do it, sending 6,000 troops into Tamaulipas state alone.

As those troops, along with thousands of federal agents, have begun putting pressure on drug gangs, the midlevel mobsters and hit men have put up a surprising amount of resistance. Again and again, they have chosen to fight it out rather than surrender.

They have ambushed and killed more than 20 police officers this year. In the past two weeks, four federal agents and three Baja California police commanders have been assassinated, along with the wife and child of one of them, apparently in retaliation for arrests, law enforcement officials said.

That violence has spread to the United States. On Saturday morning, drug-smuggling suspects from Mexico killed an American border patrol agent, Luis Aguilar, 32, when he tried to stop their cars in sand dunes about 20 miles west of Yuma, Ariz., then fled back across the border. Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, said the killing demonstrated how Mexican criminal organizations had responded to the crackdown on their operations with increasing brutality.

“The Zetas are defying the state,” said Jorge Chabat, an expert on narcotics trafficking and security at CIDE, a Mexican research group. “This operation in the north of Mexico in recent days has no precedent.”

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Calderón’s strategy will work in the long run. Many of the nation’s most-wanted drug kingpins continue to elude federal forces, often with the help of local police officers.

Some federal officers admit privately that they face an uphill battle as long as local police officers continue to tip off drug gangs about their movements. The threat became clear on Saturday when federal officials arrested four local policemen in Nuevo Laredo, along with seven civilians, and charged them with feeding the Zetas information over police radio frequencies.

“You cannot count on the local police,” said a veteran federal inspector in Reynosa, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job. “The problem lies in the state police. They are completely at the service of these guys.”

In Tamaulipas state, just south of eastern Texas, the government’s focus has been on strangling the Zetas. Founded by former Mexican commandos trained in the United States, the Zetas have long been the professional assassins of the Gulf Cartel, which controls the flow of drugs along the Gulf Coast and across the Texas border. The group is believed to have scores of members, though the exact number is unknown.

The gunmen remain a formidable force, the authorities say. Federal police commanders in the state must stay on the move and keep their location secret to avoid assassination attempts. The state federal attorney general’s office has been vacant for months; officials in Mexico City say they are having trouble filling the post.

Edgar Millán, a federal police commander who is in charge of tracking down the Zetas, said a contingent of 1,200 officers in Tamaulipas searched every day for members of the group, hitting specific targets believed to be safe houses and watching for cars carrying gunmen.

The federal police also run a system of 10 checkpoints on major highways in the eastern half of the state. Most of the time, they stop cars with tinted windows that carry two or more young men, hoping to make it harder for the gunmen to move.

But the Zetas have a sophisticated spy network as well, Commander Millán said in an interview. They employ taxi drivers, store clerks, street vendors and members of the local police to keep them apprised of the movements of federal officers.

Several times in the past four months, the police have been close to capturing the leader of the cartel, Heriberto Lazcano, only to have him slip away at the last moment, Commander Millán said. Two other important reputed cartel leaders, Jorge Eduardo Costilla and Miguel Ángel Treviño, have also eluded capture.

While the Gulf Cartel leaders remain at large, the government scored a success in Sinaloa on Monday when it captured Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, one of five brothers who are high-ranking lieutenants in the Culiacan-based cartel.

Though the big bosses have slipped through the dragnet — the offensive that was started against the Zetas in late November after a prominent local politician was murdered in Río Bravo — it has paid off in many respects, officials said. The police have arrested about 40 reputed members of the gang and seized dozens of machine guns, rifles, side arms, grenades and boxes of ammunition.

The federal police have also begun to submit local police officers to a battery of tests to determine who might be linked to organized crime. Among the tests are polygraphs, drug tests and the vetting of personal finances. The goal is to weed out collaborators.

Many people here say they welcome the federal intervention, even if it means having columns of troops patrol their streets. But others voice doubt that government forces can ever stamp out the cartel, given its infiltration of the local police. All the federal forces have accomplished, they say, is unleashing more violence.

“Living in Mexico has become very difficult,” said one man who had been searched at a roadblock near Matamoros. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of drug dealers. “Even Colombia is looking better.”

Others complain that the presence of soldiers and federal agents, along with the gun battles, has scared away American tourists, an important source of income. Last year, about six million fewer people visited border towns than in 2006; hotel bookings are down and sales of package tours have fallen steeply, according to the Association of Mexican Hotels and Motels.

“A lot of people used to come over the border to eat and buy things,” said Alfredo Tantu, 40, the owner of El Cazador Restaurant near Río Bravo, as the smell of roasting baby goat wafted from his kitchen. “Now, almost no one comes because of all this police action.”
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 24, 2008, 08:14:10 AM
A federal police officer escorts a man from one of two mansions in Mexico City where 11 suspected hit men allegedly linked to a seized suspected drug cartel leader were arrested.

January 23, 2008

MEXICO CITY -- Local police were relieved of duty Tuesday in the border cities of Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and Reynosa as army troops disarmed the officers and searched for evidence that might link them to drug traffickers.

In Nuevo Laredo, soldiers surrounded police headquarters at 8 a.m. and ordered officers to remain inside. Federal troops conducted a similar operation in Tijuana last January, at the beginning of an offensive against Mexico's drug cartels and their allies in the police.

During the first 14 months of his rule, President Felipe Calderon has sent federal troops to at least half a dozen states, including Michoacan in the south and Veracruz on the Gulf. Calderon has vowed to break the power of the traffickers, who wield wide influence over local authorities and intimidate local news media.

At least two drug-trafficking organizations are fighting for control of Nuevo Laredo and its border crossings, a lucrative source of income for smugglers. President Vicente Fox, Calderon's predecessor, sent army troops there in 2005.

But the violence has continued unabated. Several observers in Nuevo Laredo say it is an open secret that many police officers cooperate with traffickers.

In an interview this month with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Atty. Gen. Eduardo Medina Mora acknowledged that the Calderon government's purges of federal, state and local police were only the beginning.

"There are municipal police forces that have collapsed and that function more as support staff to organized crime rather than as guardians of public safety," Medina Mora said.

Last week, federal police arrested 11 men in Nuevo Laredo, including four police officers, who were said to be operatives for the so-called Gulf cartel.

On Tuesday, all on-duty police officers were confined to their stations and none patrolled the city, according to news reports. About 300 troops of the army's elite Airborne Special Forces Group established checkpoints throughout the city.

"This is an action that is taking place with the full cooperation of the mayor," said Alberto Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Nuevo Laredo city government.

Mexican military officials said the army would patrol the city with the assistance of state and federal police but declined to comment further.

In Matamoros, 600 police officers were confined to stations and were being questioned by federal authorities, according to media reports.

The similar operation last year in Tijuana lasted three weeks, with more than 3,500 soldiers and federal agents sent into the city. Many police patrolled unarmed, and a few were seen with slingshots until their weapons were returned.

In the months since, violence there related to drug trafficking and organized crime has continued unabated.

At least 17 people were killed in the border city last week, including three senior police officials, one of whom was shot in his home alongside his wife and two daughters.

Federal officials have said privately that many of their most recent shootouts have been with operatives of the Gulf cartel, based in the state of Tamaulipas, which includes Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa and Matamoros. The cartel has been the most aggressive in efforts to conquer territory from rivals, officials say.

Army special forces troops Tuesday confiscated two dozen assault rifles in a Reynosa "safe house" said to belong to the Gulf cartel and its band of hit men, the Zetas.

A day earlier, federal agents arrested Alfredo Beltran Leyva, allegedly a leader in the so-called Sinaloa cartel, also known as the cartel of the Pacific. And 11 suspected hit men allegedly linked to Beltran Leyva were arrested Tuesday in two mansions on the southern edge of Mexico City.

The suspected cartel operatives were lined up in the living rooms of the two homes. Federal drug officials presented the men to local reporters alongside a small arsenal of seized weapons, including machine guns and grenades.
Title: Mexico Under Siege
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 25, 2008, 09:04:01 AM
Mexico Under Siege
February 25, 2008; Page A14

Mexico City

Perhaps it is a sign of a maturing electorate that Barack Obama's past drug use has not become a disqualifying factor in his bid for the presidency. It may signify that Americans are beginning to view the intake of mind-altering substances as a private decision.

For those who embrace the notion of personal responsibility, such a change in public attitudes might be considered progress. But in Mexico, what suggests an increase in tolerance of illegal drug use in the U.S. has a tragic flipside: the gut-wrenching violence that arises when demand meets prohibition. This country is paying dearly for that contradiction.

Under prohibition, only criminals can serve the market for illegal narcotics. And they have a lot of incentive to do so since prohibition pushes prices up. These market dynamics have given rise to transnational crime networks -- modern, savvy businesses run by ruthless killers bent on preserving their income. Anyone who tries to get in the way risks becoming a statistic. Last year in Mexico there were 2,713 homicides attributable to organized crime, up from 2,120 in 2006 -- according to the intelligence arm of the country's attorney general.

It's a pretty grim picture. Yet there is at least one man in Mexico who believes that it doesn't have to be this way. His name is Eduardo Medina Mora, and 14 months ago he chose to accept what some would regard as mission impossible: taking on the job of attorney general with the express goal of restoring order to a nation turned upside down by organized crime.

I interviewed him last year, just 100 days into his new job, and I met with him again two weeks ago to take a reading on progress. He reports that the Mexican state is reasserting itself, though he also warns that the battle is far from won.

Mr. Medina Mora suffers no illusions about his office's capacity to shut off the supply of drugs to the U.S., or for that matter in Mexico, where drug use is on the increase. That's a welcome relief: After decades of a war on drugs claiming thousands of innocent lives, poisoning institutions in developing countries, and raising the incentive for pushing narcotics on children -- all the while delivering not a modicum of success -- the argument for attacking supply to end demand is by now tedious.

Instead, Mr. Medina Mora is a realist. "The objective," he says, "cannot be destroying narcotrafficking or drug-related crime, because demand is inelastic." "It is very important not to lose perspective on the goal," he tells me. "Trying to get rid of consumption and trafficking is impossible, as a bold objective."

This in no way implies surrender on his part. What's important, he says, is that the goal be clearly understood. Instead of focusing on supply, he is concentrating on the suppliers, and specifically their ability to run business empires. It's about removing "the enormous economic and fire power" of the cartels which threaten the Mexican democracy, and "recovering the territory [controlled by organized crime] for the people and the state." This view is not unlike that of Colombia's President Álvaro Uribe, who has led the fight to end the tyranny of organized crime in some parts of his country.

In Mexico, Mr. Medina Mora continues, "there are areas where organized crime disputes the state's exclusive use of force and its power to collect taxes. They are not only shipping drugs but they are involved in extortion, prostitution rings, smuggling goods and people, stealing Pemex [the state-owned oil company] products, and forcing legal businesses to pay protection taxes."

The attorney general's strategy has been to hit these businesses where it hurts most: in their pocketbooks. By studying the way the narcotics market works, his office has used "operational mapping and mapping of their supply and distribution routes" to "put obstacles in the way and block traditional flows." This approach involves tighter controls on air traffic, better technology and smarter inspection systems for shipments from South America.

Mr. Medina Mora says the plan is working, and rattles off a string of captures and seizures, including some 10 drug-trafficking planes -- even one DC-9 -- large enough to carry up to five metric tons of cocaine. Last year he reeled in a 23.5 metric-ton shipment of cocaine coming by sea from the Colombian port of Buenaventura, and broke up a Mexico City operation that allegedly supplied "meth" producers annually with over 100 metric tons of the precursor pseudoephedrine.

The attorney general is rightly proud of this record, and says that lower availability has meant sharp increases in the street price of both cocaine and "meth" in 38 cities in the U.S. -- according to U.S. officials. Still, the seizure scorecard does nothing to prove progress in the battle against drug use, any more than body counts reveal who is winning a war. And as prices rise so do cartel incentives, particularly when demand is notoriously resistant to change.

But going by Mr. Medina Mora's measure of success -- which is damage to organized crime such that it ceases to dominate Mexican territory and society -- there may be progress. Unfortunately, he says, proof of that could come in the form of more violence in the short run. "When this kind of criminal network begins to collapse, the criminals go back to more primitive methods of crime -- kidnapping, car theft and extortion. They fragment and lose control; cells start operating on their own and fighting with each other. Turf becomes very important."

As if to prove his point, two days after we talked a bomb exploded in the trendy neighborhood of Zona Rosa here. A government investigation is ongoing, but there is reason to believe that the device was meant as payback to law enforcement for the arrest two days earlier of seven members of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

Mr. Medina Mora believes more could be done with greater international cooperation against money laundering, and with a U.S. effort to stem the flow of high-powered weapons into Mexico. Another way, which he is too polite to mention, would be for U.S. authorities to acknowledge that under present policies they are losing their drug war.

Write to O'
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 11, 2008, 09:37:00 AM
Tijuana Lives up to Its Reputation
The violent city of Tijuana, Baja California state, more than lived up to its reputation for mayhem this past week thanks to a series of incidents that left more than a dozen people dead. In a March 3 incident that sparked a six-hour gunbattle, military forces responding to an anonymous tip arrived at a suspected safe-house only to be met with gunfire as they sought entry. The soldiers established a security cordon around the area and waited for army special forces. The military forces led the raid on the building, and detained several gunmen who had sheltered inside. Later in the week, a police patrol came under fire when it sought to stop a convoy of suspicious vehicles. In another incident, police reported the discovery of five kidnapping victims, including one teenager.

While these kinds of violent incidents have become routine for the city, organized criminal activity in Tijuana has become increasingly fractured over the years. Historically, the city’s criminal networks have been involved with the Arellano Felix crime family. Also known as the Tijuana cartel, the Arellano Felix organization at one time was among the most powerful criminal organizations in Mexico. Following the arrest of several top members in the 1990s, however, the cartel lost much of its power. As a result, many of the smaller gangs that once worked for the cartel lost their source of income, and began expanding their operations to other activities to make money.

An Arellano Felix Brother Returns
The return of one of the cartel’s former leaders could change the equation. Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix was released from a U.S. prison this past week and deported to Mexico, where he became a free man for the first time since 1993. The oldest brother in the family, Francisco Rafael at one time was responsible for organizing cocaine purchases from Colombian suppliers. He was arrested in 1993 by police in Tijuana on weapons charges, and was behind bars in Mexico until 2006, when he was extradited to the United States and sentenced to six years for selling cocaine to an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent in 1980. Given credit for time served in Mexico, however, he was released after just two years.

Although Francisco Rafael has been out of the picture for 15 years, it seems likely that he will eventually go back to the family business. It is difficult to determine what impact this change will have on the cartel’s operations, however, especially since his return might not be welcomed by other criminal organizations in the city. One important area to watch is whether the cartel becomes involved in the cocaine business. It has been several years since the Tijuana cartel has been involved in large-scale independent cocaine trafficking, but it is possible that Francisco Rafael’s previous experience in coordinating cocaine purchases could be put to use again. While significant changes to Tijuana’s dynamic will not happen overnight, potential ramifications of the former leader’s return must be watched closely.

Targeting Small Gangs in Monterrey
Police in Nuevo Leon state launched an effort this past week to crack down on several small gangs in the Monterrey area that officials believe are connected to the Gulf cartel. In a series of raids, authorities detained more than 500 people as they swept through areas where these gangs are believed to be operating and selling drugs. But the raids did not produce the results that authorities were looking for. For example, 381 people — including many drug addicts — were detained in one raid, but only one pistol, small quantities of drugs and drug paraphernalia were seized. While it would not be surprising to learn gangs in the Monterrey area are connected with the Gulf cartel, there is no evidence these particular organizations did more than sell drugs on the street.

These raids represent one of the challenges authorities in Mexico face as they battle the country’s drug problem. While drug-dealing gangs like those targeted in Monterrey represent a public safety issue that must be addressed, focusing on them requires diverting people and resources from the mission of hunting down the members of the large cartels that are the heart of the problem.

March 3
One person died and several were wounded during a six-hour firefight between security forces and suspected drug gang members in Tijuana, Baja California.

Five bodies were discovered in a makeshift grave used by a drug-trafficking group in Chihuahua state.
The bodies of two men were found in two separate incidents in Mexico state. One victim had been shot in the head at close range while the other had been shot several times.
Ten assailants killed a candidate for local office in a small town in Guerrero state.
March 4
A raid on an alleged Gulf cartel safe-house in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, resulted in the seizure of seven firearms, 23 fragmentation grenades, nine armored vehicles and body armor.
Authorities in Tijuana, Baja California state, discovered the bodies of five people who had been abducted the day before. At least one of the victims was a minor.
The body of an unidentified man shot in the head at close range was found along a highway in Hidalgo state.
March 5
The bodies of three kidnapping victims were found in Mazatlan, Sinaloa state. The victims, one of whom was a minor, were abducted from their homes March 3.

A man in Tijuana, Baja California state, died after being shot twice in the head while walking.
A Durango state police officer died outside his home when he was shot at least 70 times by gunmen traveling in two vehicles.
A police commander in Nuevo Leon escaped unharmed from an assassination attempt by three men who pursued him as he left work.
A firefight in Torreon, Coahuila state, between military forces and suspected gang members left one gang member dead and another wounded.
Gunmen fired on a group of police officers assigned to a congressman’s protective detail in Oaxaca state. Three officers were wounded; the congressman was not in the city at the time of the attack.
Police in Tijuana, Baja California state, exchanged gunfire with armed assailants traveling in three vehicles.
March 6
The bodies of three unidentified victims were found outside the office of the attorney general in Oaxaca state.
March 7
Authorities in Tijuana, Baja California state, announced the arrest of three men in possession of nearly 100 firearms, 50,000 rounds of ammunition, 23 grenades, and half a ton of marijuana.
Authorities in the port city of Manzanillo, Colima state, seized more than $11 million in $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills in a shipping container aboard a freight ship. The seizure took place after a routine inspection of the ship — which was headed to Panama — revealed irregularities in the container’s paperwork.
A police commander in Oaxaca state was shot dead while sitting in a park cleaning his shoes.
March 8
One soldier and six gunmen were reported dead after a firefight in Chihuahua state.
Two police officers in Jalisco state died when assailants fired on them with automatic weapons.
March 9
A taxi driver in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, was shot dead by a group of gunmen traveling in a vehicle.
Title: Drug Trade Tyranny on the border
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 17, 2008, 03:13:13 AM

Drug Trade Tyranny on The Border
Mexican Cartels Maintain Grasp With Weapons, Cash and Savagery


In Mexico, a Fight Against Drugs and Fear
Drawing on firepower, savage intimidation, and cash, drug cartels have come
to control key parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, as Mexican troops wage a
multi-front war with the private armies of rival drug lords.

By Manuel Roig-Franzia
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, March 16, 2008; Page A01


The killers prowled through Loma Bonita in the pre-dawn chill.

In silence, they navigated a labyrinth of wood shacks at the crest of a dirt
lane in the blighted Tijuana neighborhood, police say. They were looking for
Margarito Saldaña, an easygoing 43-year-old district police commander. They
found a house full of sleeping people.
Neighbors quivered at the crack of AK-47 assault rifles blasting inside
Saldaña's tiny home. Rafael García, an unemployed laborer who lives nearby,
recalled thinking it was "a fireworks show," then sliding under his bed in

In murdering not only Saldaña, but also his wife, Sandra, and their
12-year-old daughter, Valeria, the Loma Bonita killers violated a rarely
broken rule of Mexico's drug cartel underworld: Family should remain free
from harm. The slayings capped five harrowing hours during which the
assassins methodically hunted down and murdered two other police officers
and mistakenly killed a 3-year-old boy and his mother.

The brutality of what unfolded here in the overnight hours of Jan. 14 and
early Jan. 15 is a grim hallmark of a crisis that has cast a pall over the
United States' southern neighbor. Events in three border cities over the
past three months illustrate the military and financial power of Mexico's
cartels and the extent of their reach into a society shaken by fear.

More than 20,000 Mexican troops and federal police are engaged in a
multi-front war with the private armies of rival drug lords, a conflict that
is being waged most fiercely along the 2,000-mile length of the U.S.-Mexico
border. The proximity of the violence has drawn in the Bush administration,
which has proposed a $500 million annual aid package to help President
Felipe Calder¿n combat what a Government Accountability Office report
estimates is Mexico's $23 billion a year drug trade.

A total of more than 4,800 Mexicans were slain in 2006 and 2007, making the
murder rate in each of those years twice that of 2005. Law enforcement
officials and journalists, politicians and peasants have been gunned down in
the wave of violence, which includes mass executions, such as the killings
of five people whose bodies were found on a ranch outside Tijuana this

Like the increasing number of Mexicans heading over the border in fear, the
violence itself is spilling into the United States, where a Border Patrol
agent was recently killed while trying to stop suspected traffickers.

Drawing on firepower, savage intimidation and cash, the cartels have come to
control key parts of the border, securing smuggling routes for 90 percent of
the cocaine flowing into the United States, according to the State
Department. At the same time, Mexican soldiers roam streets in armored
personnel carriers, attack helicopters patrol the skies, and boats ply the
coastal waters.

"The situation is deteriorating," Victor Clark, a Tijuana human rights
activist and drug expert, said in an interview. "Drug traffickers are waging
a terror campaign. The security of the nation is at stake."

Dominated by a Private Army

More than 1,900 miles southeast of Tijuana, the city of Reynosa stretches
along the Rio Grande across from south Texas. This is Gulf cartel country, a
region dominated by the cartel's private army, Los Zetas. Their arsenal
befits a military brigade, exceeding those of some Mexican army units.


Led by Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, Los Zetas are a highly disciplined
mercenary squad composed of former elite Mexican troops, including officers
trained by the U.S. military before they deserted. The group has become an
obsession of Calderon's administration, which has sent more than a thousand
troops to Reynosa and neighboring cities.

Soldiers crowd the slender canal bridges that crisscross Reynosa, stopping
drivers at random and staring across the cityscape with their fingers on the
triggers of heavy weapons. The tense atmosphere has led to mistakes.
On Feb. 16, soldiers fatally shot Sergio Meza Varela, a 28-year-old with no
apparent ties to the drug trade, when the car he was riding in didn't stop
at a checkpoint. "You're scared to leave your house," Alejandra Salinas,
Meza's cousin, said in an interview outside the family tire shop. "We're
just in the way."

In Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo, the growing Sinaloa cartel is
fighting rivals over smuggling routes. But in Reynosa, police say, only
Mexican soldiers threaten the Gulf cartel's control.

To prepare for battle, Los Zetas have stocked safe houses with antitank
weapons, assault rifles, grenades and other heavy weapons, including some
that Mexican law enforcement authorities believe once belonged to the U.S.

"How can I fight them?" said Juan Jose Muniz Salinas, Reynosa's police
chief. "It's impossible."

On Feb. 7, soldiers stormed the dusty "El Mezquito" ranch outside Miguel
Aleman, west of Reynosa, and found one of the largest illegal arsenals in
recent memory: 89 assault rifles, 83,355 rounds of ammunition, and plastic
explosives capable of demolishing buildings. Two days later in nearby Nuevo
Laredo, soldiers found a weapons cache that included eight military uniforms
to be used as disguises.

The mounting evidence that cartels have infiltrated many border police
forces has prompted drastic action.

In Reynosa, soldiers disarmed the entire police force in January, leaving
them without weapons for 19 days while ballistics tests were conducted.
Police officers, who make $625 a month, were also forced to provide voice
samples for comparison with recordings of threats made over police radios,
Mayor Oscar Luebbert Guti¿rrez said in an interview.

"It wasn't worth it," said Mu¿iz Salinas, the police chief. "They come after
us, but it's other authorities that are really involved. Look at the state
police, the federal police and the military."

The Enemy Is in the House

It was New Year's Day in Tijuana, the hilly city at America's busiest border
crossing. City workers prepped for celebrations, but Jesus Alberto Rodriguez
Meraz and Saul Ovalle Guerrero, both veteran police officers, had other

They were going to get rich.


The officers stole one ton of marijuana from the Arellano Felix drug cartel.
But before they could sell the load they were kidnapped. Four days later
their bodies were found, Tijuana's new police chief, Jesus Alberto Capella,
said in an interview.

The killings barely registered in Mexico, numbed by an avalanche of at least
30 police officer murders in the past three months and dozens more in the
past year. Their case illuminates the pervasive police corruption created by
drug money.

One of every two police officers murdered in Mexico today is directly
involved with drug gangs, according to estimates by police officials,
prosecutors and drug experts.

Capella, nicknamed "Tijuana Rambo" because he fought his way out of an
assassination attempt shortly before taking office, estimates that 15
percent of the city's 2,300 police officers work for drug cartels, earning a
monthly stipend as body guards, kidnappers or assassins. In Baja California
alone, Mexican justice officials estimate that 30 percent of the local and
federal police force is on a cartel payroll.

"We have the enemy in our house," Capella said.

The killings in Loma Bonita here were related to a police corruption case,
Capella and other police officials said. A few days earlier, Tijuana police
had killed an officer working as a bodyguard for a drug gang that tried to
rob an armored car.

Cartel assassins, using police radios, vowed revenge. Within a week,
Saldana, his family, and two other officers had been murdered.

Some of the killings have come with specific messages taunting Mexican
author ities.

During one week in mid-February, six bodies were found with signs lashed to
them that included information such as the phone number and address of the
Mexican army office set up to receive tips about organized crime. According
to analysts, such "narco-messages," some of which are carved into the
bodies, are intended to keep residents from reporting tips.

The decline of the Arellano Felix cartel's dominance of Tijuana has had the
unexpected effect of deepening police corruption.

After one brother was assassinated and two others were arrested, a war
erupted because the cartel's new leadership -- including a sister,
Enedina -- refused to share territory with the Sinaloa cartel, a police
official said on condition of anonymity. Once loyal to the Arellano Felix
cartel, some police officers switched sides.

"The police became armed wings of the warring cartels," the police official


At the same time, tighter border enforcement following the Sept. 11, 2001,
terrorist attacks has made it harder for cartels to smuggle drugs into the
United States. So the cartels developed a local market by giving out free
samples of drugs, according to Clark, the Tijuana-based drug expert and
human rights activist.

The estimated number of addicts in Tijuana doubled from 100,000 in 2004 to
200,000 in 2007, Clark said. The number of small stores or houses where
drugs are sold increased fivefold -- to 20,000 outlets -- over that time.
Each outlet pays protection money to police, so their proliferation meant
more payoffs.

In response, authorities in Baja California and several other border states
have begun giving police lie-detector tests. The questions range from the
innocuous to queries such as "Have you ever worked with a drug trafficker?"

Rommel Moreno Manjarrez, Baja California's attorney general, said in an
interview that out of every 1,000 officers tested, 700 fail.

"It's impossible for the narco to succeed without the help of the police,"
he said. "The success that the narco has been having is because of the

Transformed by Drug Money

About 20 minutes south of Tijuana, high-rise condominiums line the coast
near Rosarito Beach. Once a sleepy hideaway for Hollywood stars, the town
had over time exploded into a gaudy party magnet, drawing tourists to the
beach and the studio where the movies "Titanic" and "Master and Commander"
were filmed.

Rosarito's further transformation has been propelled by drug money and
culture, turning the surfer's haven into a key transshipment point for
cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines. City hall is now an armed
encampment. Soldiers in armored personnel carriers guard the front entrance.

The new police chief, Jorge Eduardo Montero Alvarez, now occupies an office
inside the cordon. His headquarters was rendered uninhabitable by a December

Investigators believe Rosarito Beach police -- working on behalf of the drug
gangs -- were behind the attack, which killed one of Montero Alvarez's
bodyguards. Days later, Mexican soldiers disarmed the entire 149-officer
Rosarito police force.

"I'm more afraid of the police than the narcos," said Jorge Luis Quinones, a
Rosarito Beach physician and businessman, reflecting a feeling that has
built for years among many of the surrounding area's 150,000 residents.

In June 2006, three Rosarito Beach police officers were beheaded. For Hugo
Torres Chabert, scion of the wealthy family that founded the famed Rosarito
Beach Hotel, it was a grim wakeup call.

Convinced that almost every level of the city's government had become
tainted with drug money, Torres Chabert ran for mayor and won. Soon after
taking office last December, he fired 80 of the city's 500 employees. But he
says he hasn't been able to press for arrests for lack of evidence.


"They were corrupt, but not stupid," he said.

To the children of Rosarito Beach, narco gunmen had already became local
heroes because they drove the fanciest cars, wore the latest styles and
acted like they owned the town. "Black commandos," the drug cartel hit men,
began openly flashing their weapons, snorting cocaine and strutting through
the beach town.
"It became impossible to avoid drug dealers -- your kids go to school with
their kids," Aurelio Casta¿eda, a Rosarito Beach bar owner and merchants
association official, said in an interview. "You'd go to a bathroom in a
bar, and they'd be selling cocaine. They don't even try to hide it, and
there was nothing you could do about it, nobody you could turn to."

Castaneda's once-busy bar, El Torito, is often empty. He says his business
is down 80 percent since 2001, when Rosarito Beach's drug violence spiked,
scaring off most surfers and other tourists.

Beyond the flash of the bars and hotels, Rosarito Beach is a warren of
impoverished neighborhoods where developers, after paying off city
officials, did not bother to install water lines or electrical connections.
The dismal living conditions created fertile recruiting grounds for drug
traffickers, who have found many willing to "mule" their product across the
border for $500 a trip.

But great quantities of drugs stay in Rosarito and are sold at hundreds of
convenience stores or private homes that thrive under police protection. Not
long ago, a Baja California journalist began digging into the problem. The
cartels found out and, in a series of phone calls, threatened to kill him.

It wasn't the first time. He'd had enough. Terrified, the journalist left
the business.

"I was saying to myself, 'This is an important subject,' " the journalist
said on condition of anonymity, fearing for his safety. "But I wasn't
willing to lose my life over it."
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 14, 2008, 01:32:33 PM
Mexico Security Memo: April 14, 2008
Stratfor Today » April 14, 2008 | 1952 GMT
Related Links
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Operation Chihuahua continues
The security operation that began March 31 in Chihuahua state made little significant progress this past week, echoing a theme that has developed in previous security operations elsewhere in the country. Although the number of drug-related killings has declined since federal forces arrived in the state, the problem has not disappeared, with approximately 10 homicides reported in the area since April 1. Public security in general faces a challenge, as many police units in the state reportedly have stopped conducting routine patrols. As a result, residents in Ciudad Juarez have reported an increase in the number of car thefts and the kidnapping of small-business owners in the downtown area, including those having auto parts stores, restaurants and hardware stores. An official from the state attorney general’s office said the kidnappings could be intended to scare the wealthier business community into paying its “protection” fees to organized crime groups in the city.

Although arrests of high-value Juarez cartel targets have not occurred, the government has claimed several victories that will impact the organization’s capabilities. For example, in what appears to have been a well-planned operation, eight cartel suspects were arrested at the funeral of one of their fellow members this past week. Following aerial surveillance of the cemetery, army special forces descended on the site via helicopter while being fired on by the funeral party. Meanwhile, troops on the ground secured the cemetery’s perimeter and eventually captured all suspects present. The high priority placed on these kinds of operations helps to explain the poor public security in a city being patrolled by the military. Operations such as this require a significant commitment of manpower and resources — and they are a much higher priority for Mexico City than is preventing car thefts.

Mexico’s national defense secretary, citing intelligence acquired by the military, announced this week that the Juarez cartel has plans to undermine the military’s credibility by committing violent crimes against the population while dressed in military uniforms and driving trucks painted to look like government vehicles. He warned that the cartel plans to commit sexual assaults while conducting fake searches of homes, businesses and nightclubs, and then videotape the acts to later leak to the media or post online.

There is no doubt that the Juarez cartel — or other large criminal groups in Mexico — has access to military and law enforcement uniforms and credentials. Cartel members also routinely conduct kidnappings, targeted assassinations and other attacks while purporting to be legitimate authorities. However, a move to begin targeting the civilian population with the specific intention of undermining the government’s credibility would indicate a further shift by the cartels toward insurgent-style tactics.

There is reason, however, to doubt the credibility of the secretary’s statement, which comes as the military is under increasing political scrutiny for alleged human rights abuses. A series of high-profile incidents over the past year involving the unwarranted use of force against civilians has the potential to upset the military’s position as one of the most respected institutions in Mexico. One possibility, then, is that the secretary’s announcement is intended to allow plausible deniability of any future embarrassing incidents involving military personnel. The move could backfire, however, as it will result in a more wary public in areas where the military is currently operating — exacerbating already tense relations in areas where it most needs the cooperation of the population to succeed.

Juarez cartel shifting tactics?
The leftist militant group Democratic Revolutionary Tendency-People’s Army (TDR-EP) released a video message last week opposing the privatization of Mexico’s state-run oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), an idea currently being debated in Mexico City. TDR-EP previously claimed joint responsibility for a series of small bombings in Mexico City in November 2006, though the group’s operational role in the incident is considered to be small to nonexistent. However, the statement echoes a recent message by the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), which carried out several successful attacks against Pemex oil pipelines in 2007.

While President Felipe Calderon’s proposed energy reform plan has stirred up heated political debate, it also has the potential to spark a new round of pipeline attacks. Pemex increased its security at many of its facilities in 2007, but the EPR attacks against remote pipelines demonstrated that it is impossible to protect all of the company’s infrastructure. Aside from an unclaimed bank bombing in Mexico City on March 30, EPR has been noticeably — and inexplicably — inactive since the last round of Pemex attacks Sept. 10, suggesting that the group has lost members or resources, affecting its capabilities. However, the intensified debate over energy reform might be all that is needed to begin planning the next attack.

April 7
A group of armed men threw several fragmentation grenades at police during a pursuit in Salvatierra, Guanajuato state.
Authorities in the state have noted an increase in the frequency of grenade attacks over the last several weeks.
Authorities in Acapulco, Guerrero state, discovered the bodies of two unidentified individuals bound at the hands and with gunshot wounds to the head. The bodies were found buried approximately nine feet under a building, and were estimated to have died about a year ago.
The body of a federal agent who had been kidnapped the day before was found in Tijuana, Baja California state, with a gunshot wound to the head and signs of torture.
A man carrying false documents identifying him as a federal law enforcement agent was shot to death by a group of gunmen that fired more than 50 rounds at his vehicle in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Two female reporters from a radio station were shot to death while traveling in a vehicle in Putla de Guerrero, Oaxaca state.
Gunmen traveling in a vehicle fired several shots at a government building in Rosarito, Baja California state.
April 8
Two presumed drug dealers were shot to death by a group of armed men in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
Officials from Laredo, Texas, met with their counterparts in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, to discuss a plan to improve security in the two cities. In addition to narcotics trafficking, the officials discussed frequent bomb threats on the international bridges and the recent influx of heavily tattooed members of the Mexican Mara criminal gang.
A bodyguard of the Sinaloa state treasurer died after being shot in the back by several armed men while he was arriving at his home with his 3-year-old son in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.
Several armed men entered a hospital in Navolato, Sinaloa state, and shot a patient who had been admitted several days before after he was wounded in a gun attack.
April 9
Residents in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, reported gunshots fired on their home by several unidentified assailants traveling in a vehicle.
A man was shot to death outside a health club in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, a day after he escaped a kidnapping attempt.
Four suspects were detained following a firefight outside a police station in Tijuana, Baja California state. Authorities said the attack on the building came after police arrested a man and impounded his vehicle.
April 10
Three people, including one minor, traveling together in a vehicle were shot to death by armed assailants in a suburb of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The driver of the vehicle reportedly returned fire briefly before he died.
The bodies of two men with gunshot wounds were found in a vehicle in Guadalupe Distrito Bravo, Chihuahua state.
Authorities in the port city of Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state, found the body of a man who appeared to have been killed in another location.
A Baja California state police officer died after he was shot by several armed men while he was driving to work in the border city of Mexicali.
April 11
The bodies of two men who had been abducted several days earlier were found in plastic bags and bound at the hands along a highway in Navolato, Sinaloa state.
April 12
The bodies of three men who had been shot to death in separate incidents were found in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
A deputy police chief in Tijuana, Baja California state, was wounded along with a bodyguard after they engaged a group of armed assailants that entered his home, presumably to assassinate him. At least two of the gunmen were killed. The attackers reportedly arrived at his home during a child’s party.
April 13
A police commander died after he was shot by several armed men just north of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
A large banner hung over a street in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, said in part, “Los Zetas operational group wants you, soldier or ex-soldier. We offer you good pay, food, and attention to your family. No longer suffer mistreatment or hunger. “The banner included a telephone number to call for more details. A similar banner appeared the day before in Reynosa.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Juan on April 20, 2008, 12:20:51 PM

From Mexico, Drug Violence Spills Into U.S.
Brutality Gives Rise to Formidable New Problems for Both Countries

PUERTO PALOMAS, Mexico -- Javier Emilio Pérez Ortega, a workaholic Mexican police chief, showed up at the sleepy, two-lane border crossing here last month and asked U.S. authorities for political asylum.

Behind him, law and order was vanishing fast. In the four months he had served as Puerto Palomas police chief, drug traffickers had threatened to kill him and his officers if they tried to block the flow of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States, his former colleagues said on condition of anonymity.

After a particularly menacing telephone call, his 10-man force resigned en masse. His bodyguards quit, too. Abandoned by his men and unable to trust the notoriously corrupt Mexican authorities, Pérez Ortega turned to the only place he believed he could find refuge -- the United States, the former colleagues said.

As President Bush meets this week with Mexican President Felipe Calderón in New Orleans, the repercussions of Mexico's battle with drug cartels are increasingly gushing into the United States, giving rise to thorny new problems for Mexican and U.S. officials, as well as the millions of people who live along the border.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent was killed in January while chasing suspected traffickers fleeing back to Mexico, AK-47 bullets have been found a half-mile inside U.S. territory after shootouts in Mexican border towns, and wounded Mexican police have been taken to the United States for treatment at heavily guarded hospitals.

Here in Puerto Palomas, a wind-swept desert town south of Columbus, N.M., spillover from Mexico's drug war is measured in bullet-pocked bodies. In the past year, at least 10 gunshot victims have been dumped at the border checkpoint -- taken there by friends or colleagues who believed their only hope of survival lay across the border.

In the calculus of U.S.-Mexican border relations, the living were rushed to medical treatment -- sometimes with law enforcement escorts -- but the dead were not allowed across. Either way, the fallout from Mexico's drug war was being dropped at the doorstep of the United States.

"Mexico's problem is Sheriff Cobos's problem," Sheriff Raymond Cobos, whose jurisdiction in Luna County, N.M., stretches to the border with Puerto Palomas, said in an interview. "No doubt about it."

Cobos ordered a major state highway closed after shootouts in Puerto Palomas and recently sent deputies to monitor the funeral in Columbus of a Mexican man killed in Puerto Palomas. His force goes on alert when drug gangs start shooting in Puerto Palomas, deploying with semiautomatic weapons to the lonely roads and cactus-dotted expanses on the U.S. side of the border. Gunfire is often heard by residents of Columbus, as well as by Border Patrol agents, who have significantly increased their vigilance.

More than 130 miles of rough driving from Ciudad Juarez, Puerto Palomas was once known as a placid outpost marred only occasionally by violence. But since the beginning of the year, more than 30 people have been killed in the town, Puerto Palomas Mayor Estanislao García said in an interview.

Puerto Palomas became strategically important because Ciudad Juarez, the traditional drug-trafficking hub, has been inundated with Mexican army troops sent to contain a war between the rival Juarez and Sinaloa cartels blamed for more than 200 deaths this year.

The cartels probably knew that the Mexican military was coming months before its arrival in late March and saw Puerto Palomas as an acceptable alternative, a high-ranking Mexican federal government official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the campaign against cartels.

"They have their own intelligence operations," the official said of the cartels. "For them, it's like a chess game."

The cartels quickly brought daylight gunfights to the streets and dumped victims around town. In March, Eddie Espinoza, the Columbus mayor, was in a dentist's chair in Puerto Palomas when armed gunmen stormed the office, making off with $2,000.

"They're getting brazen down there," Espinoza, who was unhurt, told reporters.

In the past two years, as cartels spread terror, the population dropped from 12,000 to 7,500, García said. Row after row of abandoned houses line eerily quiet neighborhoods. Tourists, the town's lifeblood, have stopped coming.

"When people stay here, they don't go down to Mexico anymore," Martha Skinner, a former Columbus mayor who owns a bed-and-breakfast three miles from the Mexican border, said in an interview. "They're afraid."

On March 17, several Puerto Palomas police officers quit after being threatened by drug traffickers. García said the officers believed that they were targeted because of an inaccurate Mexican newspaper article that implied they would confront drug gangs.

Within several hours, the entire police force had resigned, rendering the town lawless. Even Pérez Ortega, the stern police chief, left to seek asylum. He awaits a decision in a federal detention center and could not be reached for comment.

Palomas recently recruited a new police chief and nine officers, but they have only two revolvers and two assault rifles for the entire force. The drug traffickers tote automatic weapons and grenades. "Trying to fight the drug traffickers would be like a race in which I was on foot and they were in a car," Salomón Baca, Puerto Palomas's new police chief, said in an interview.

Baca, like his officers, has refused to move his family to Puerto Palomas. The officers all sleep on cots crammed into a backroom of the police station.

Baca, who hopes to move to the United States, is hopeful that his old friend Pérez Ortega will get asylum. For many here, especially as border towns have become shooting galleries, flight to the United States is an ever more pressing dream. But moving north sometimes creates as many problems as it solves.

In 2000, Mauricio Rubio, then a Puerto Palomas police officer, sought asylum. He had been arrested by Mexican state police after helping a New Mexico sheriff's official arrest two men outside Puerto Palomas. The men were suspected of killing a woman in Deming, N.M., and presumably were being protected by corrupt Mexican police.

Rubio and the New Mexico sheriff's official, who also was detained, were released after U.S. diplomats intervened. Afraid that corrupt police would kill him, Rubio and his family asked for, and were granted, permission to live in the United States. But within days, his family was falling apart.

"My daughters were crying all the time, yelling at me and saying, 'Why did you have to get involved in things you shouldn't have been getting involved in?' " Rubio, who now lives in New Mexico, said in an interview.

His wife left him six months later. Since then, he has pined for the cozy feel of his Mexican neighborhood, where everyone knew him. But he is afraid to return -- in the months before he fled, 11 friends in the Ciudad Juarez police force were murdered.

Cobos, the Luna County sheriff, said it is likely that more Mexican police will seek asylum in coming months and years, as the war between drug cartels that has cost more than 5,000 lives in the past two years shows no sign of abating. Asylum requests are long shots at best -- of the 2,611 requests from Mexicans in 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available, 48 were granted.

Cobos considers Mexican police officers, especially those who assist U.S. law enforcement in drug cases, perfectly suitable candidates for asylum. But he also worries that increasingly brazen drug cartels will simply slip across the border in pursuit of Mexican police given refuge there and that he is not equipped to combat them.

For that reason, Cobos has a blunt message to any Mexican policeman who wants to live in his county: "I don't want you around."

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 21, 2008, 01:42:54 PM

Mexican soldiers recruited to be drug cartel's hit men

Chris Hawley
Mexico City Bureau
Apr. 21, 2008 12:00 AM
MEXICO CITY - One of Mexico's biggest drug cartels has launched a bizarre recruiting campaign, putting up fliers and banners promising good pay, free cars and better chow to army soldiers who join the cartel's elite band of hit men.

"We don't feed you Maruchan soups," said the banner in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, referring to a brand of ramen noodles.

The recruiting effort by the Gulf Cartel reflects how Mexico's fight against traffickers increasingly resembles a real war, 17 months after President Felipe Calderón ordered the army into drug hotspots. Smugglers are now training for battle in shooting ranges, using psychological warfare and fighting the army with machine guns and grenades. advertisementOAS_AD('ArticleFlex_1')

"Army and police-force conflicts with heavily armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat," the U.S. Embassy said last week in a travel warning to Americans.

Earlier this month, fliers began appearing in the border city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas state urging soldiers to defect. They were pasted on telephone poles over government posters that offered rewards to drug informants.

Benefits for recruits

"Former soldiers sought to form armed group; good pay, 500 dollars," the fliers said.

On April 13, a 10-foot-long banner appeared on a pedestrian bridge over Nuevo Laredo's Reforma Avenue, urging soldiers to join the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel's hit squad.

"The Zetas operations group wants you, soldier or ex-soldier," the banner said. "We offer you a good salary, food and attention for your family. Don't suffer hunger and abuse any more."

It listed a cellular-telephone number, which had been disconnected a few days later. The banner was taken down a few hours after it was spotted.

Last Thursday, another banner appeared in the city of Tampico urging soldiers and federal agents to defect.

"Join the ranks of the Gulf Cartel," it said. "We offer benefits, life insurance, a house for your family and children. Stop living in the slums and riding the bus. A new car or truck, your choice.

"What more could you ask for? Tamaulipas, Mexico, the USA and the entire world is Gulf Cartel territory."

Authorities said the signs were probably an attempt to demoralize the soldiers and police, rather than a serious recruiting effort.

"They do these things in public places to create confusion among the authorities themselves," said Ruben Salinas, commander of the Reynosa police department's second division.

Still, recent arrests have shown that defections are a real danger. On Thursday, federal agents detained the Reynosa police commissioner himself, Juan José Muñiz, for questioning because of evidence he was protecting the Zetas, the Mexican Justice Department said. He has not been formally charged.

Military experts said the recruiting campaign, whether genuine or simply aimed at sowing discontent, shows the increasing sophistication of the cartels.

"This is combat between two forces, one regular and one irregular," said Jorge Luis Sierra, a military expert and author of a book about the Mexican special forces.

In recent months:

• Five former cartel recruits identified at least six military-style training sites in Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states, the Dallas Morning News reported on March 30. It cited written testimony from the witnesses that was leaked from the Mexican Justice Department.

• On Jan. 19, police discovered a 50-foot-long target range, complete with soundproofing foam, a ventilation system for gun smoke and buckets for spent cartridges, hidden under a house in Tijuana. The house also had a machine shop for assembling and repairing weapons.

• Soldiers on March 17 seized a Jeep Grand Cherokee outfitted with a smoke-screen generator, bulletproofing and a device for spraying spikes onto the road. The vehicle was abandoned by gunmen following a shootout with the army in the northern state of Tamaulipas.

• On Wednesday, Mexican prosecutors formally charged five municipal police officers with being Zetas in the northern state of Coahuila.

• Former Mexican soldier Daniel "Cheeks" Pérez Rojas was captured in Guatemala on April 8 in connection with a shootout there that killed 11 people in Guatemala in March. The Mexican Justice Department says Pérez Rojas is a Zetas leader and that the shootout, some 900 miles from the Gulf Cartel's home turf, showed the international reach of the hit squad. Much of the cocaine smuggled by the Mexican cartels moves first through Central America.

Troop retention

Many of the Zetas are former members of the Mexican army's special forces, the U.S. Justice Department has said.

Some, like Pérez Rojas, came from the Special Forces Airborne Groups, or GAFES, which received U.S. training and surplus American "Huey" helicopters in the 1990s.

Most of the Vietnam War-era helicopters were eventually returned to the United States because of chronic mechanical problems, leaving the commandos frustrated and with few opportunities for advancement. A few decided to switch sides, Sierra said.

The Mexican military has long had a problem with desertion. Between January and September 2007 alone, some 4,956 army soldiers deserted,about 2.5 percent of the force,according to the National Defense Secretariat.

Soldiers are facing more incentive to switch sides because of Calderón's decision to use troops against the drug traffickers, said Arturo Alvarado, a sociologist who studies criminal-justice issues at the College of Mexico.

Calderón began dispatching troops to patrol Tijuana, Juarez, Michoacan state and other trafficking corridors shortly after taking office in December 2006.

Thousands of soldiers have spent months away from their families, patrolling border cities. An army private earns an average of $533 a month, the National Defense Secretariat said in response to a freedom-of-information request in February.

"I don't see why these supposed recruiting (signs) should be a particular worry to the government because the recruiting occurs in other ways," Alvarado said.

"But what's true is that there is enormous desertion in the Mexican army and police force. They should be worried about that and take action to offer better working conditions."
What use is it to speak of freedom, if people are afraid to make sacrifices for it?
Title: Kidnappings
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 24, 2008, 05:37:21 AM

By Franco Ordonez, McClatchy NewspapersTue Apr 22, 3:56 PM ET

JUAREZ, Mexico — Daniel Escobedo was driving to school when he stopped for what he thought was a security check at a roadblock in the Mexican city of Juarez , across the border from El Paso, Texas .
Worried about being late for class, he hurriedly handed his driver's license to the two uniformed men, who he thought were police officers.
Moments later, two dark SUVs screeched to a halt. Armed masked men jumped out and grabbed Escobedo, 21. He spent the next six weeks blindfolded, shuttled between safe houses while a drug-gang leader negotiated a ransom with his father, who's a lawyer. He was beaten, shocked and burned until his rescue April 1 by Mexican soldiers who'd been tipped that drug dealers were using the house.
"For a month and a half, I thought I was going to die," Escobedo said.
He's one of a growing number of kidnapping victims here as Mexico's drug gangs seek new business to replace lucrative drug smuggling, which has become more dangerous as Mexican authorities pursue the largest anti-drug-trafficking effort ever in the country.
Corporate security experts estimate that drug gangs are now responsible for 30 to 50 kidnappings a day in Mexico and that ransoms often run to $300,000 if the victim is returned alive. They often hold several victims at a time. Two other victims were being held with Escobedo.
"The narco-kidnappers are not looking for chump change," said Felix Batista , a Miami -based corporate-security and crisis-management consultant who's negotiated the releases of dozens of kidnapping victims throughout Mexico .
"It's a pretty darn good side business."
The phenomenon is spilling over into the United States . Phoenix police investigated more than 350 kidnappings last year, a 40 percent increase from the year before. Most are tied to crackdowns in Mexico , said Detective Reuben Gonzales of the Phoenix police department.
The rise in kidnapping helped prompt a recent warning from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City about the dangers Americans might face as they travel in Mexico . "Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007," across from San Diego , according to the advisory, which was issued April 15 . "Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas."
Mexican officials say the wave of kidnappings is a sign that drug traffickers have been squeezed by President Felipe Calderon's yearlong offensive against smugglers. The president has dispatched 20,000 soldiers around the country to confront what had been growing drug violence that had pushed the number of kidnappings, murders and arms-smuggling cases to record levels.
"Drug trafficking is not producing for them as it did in the past," Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said last month in Washington . "So they are moving into other crimes, such as extortion, kidnapping, car theft."
However, the rise in kidnappings also shows that Mexico's law enforcement problems go beyond narcotics. Distrust of the police, who may be involved in some of the abductions, and fear that victims will be harmed make kidnapping one of Mexico's most underreported crimes.
Mexican officials say that only a third of kidnappings are reported to police, but corporate experts say it's more like one in 10. A public opinion survey by the Center for Social and Public Opinion Studies , an arm of Mexico's Chamber of Deputies, found that only 52 percent of Mexican citizens "very probably" would report being crime victims.
"People perceive the justice system is not trustworthy," said Eduardo Rojas , the director of the center's public opinion department. "The failure to report is related to the perception of inefficiency, corruption and injustice that exists in the penal justice system."
That means that drug gangs can kidnap almost with impunity.
Escobedo's father, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern that the kidnappers would target him next, never reported his son's abduction to police after the kidnappers used the young man's cell phone to contact his father. Via a text message, they demanded $100,000 for the student's release. One message, which Escobedo's father showed to McClatchy , read, "if you love your son a lot, find it in cash."
His father was collecting money from friends and relatives to pay the ransom when he received a call from the military at 5 a.m. on April 1 . The soldiers said they'd found his son, who showed his father scabs on his nose, legs, and arms that documented the torture.
"It was 40 days of suffering," his father recalled. "It was 40 days, believe me, that I couldn't sleep, waiting for the kidnappers to contact me again. . . . It was so many days of terror until my son was returned."
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 08, 2008, 08:11:40 PM
May 8, 2008

Acting Head of Mexico’s Police Killed

Filed at 3:31 p.m. ET

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico's acting federal police chief was shot dead Thursday outside his home -- a brazen attack that comes as drug traffickers increasingly lash back at a nationwide crackdown on organized crime.

Edgar Millan Gomez was shot 10 times after he opened the door to his Mexico City apartment complex, where at least one gunman was waiting for him before dawn, the Public Safety Department said. Two bodyguards were also wounded. Millan died hours later in a hospital.

President Felipe Calderon's government said Millan played a vital role in the country's battle against organized crime and denounced ''this cowardly killing of an exemplary official.''  Millan, 41, was named acting chief of the federal police March 1 after his superior was promoted to a deputy Cabinet position, said a police official who was not authorized to give his name.  The official said police were investigating and had not yet determined a motive for the pre-dawn attack. One suspect with a record of car theft was arrested.

Mexico has suffered a wave of organized crime and drug-related violence in which more than 2,500 people died last year alone.  Since taking office in 2006, Calderon has sent more than 24,000 soldiers to drug hotspots, and Millan was in charge of coordinating operations between the federal police and those troops.

Cartels have responded fiercely to the nationwide offensive, killing soldiers and federal police in unprecedented attacks. But until recently, most of those killings took place in northern Mexico where drug gangs rule large areas of territory. Now criminals appear to be getting more brash with daring slayings in the capital.

George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, said Millan's death ''shows the increasing audacity of the cartels.''

''This happened in Mexico City where people like Millan tend to be quite cautious, often sleeping in different houses on different nights, and who have their own security patrols,'' he said. ''When you can get someone like this, no one is safe.''

Millan was the second top federal police official killed in less than a week in Mexico City. A Mexican federal police intelligence analyst was killed on May 2 in an apparent armed robbery attempt outside his home.

In January, police in Mexico City arrested three men with assault rifles and grenade launchers who were allegedly planning to assassinate Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a top prosecutor who oversees the extradition of drug traffickers.

Millan was involved in solving a number of high-profiling kidnappings.  In 2000, he helped capture one of Mexico's most feared kidnappers, Andres Caletri, and disband two notorious abduction rings. In 2001, he was named head of anti-kidnapping operations for the Federal Agency of Investigation, Mexico's version of the FBI.  Under his direction, agents captured five suspects involved in the abduction of Ruben Omar Romano, the coach of Mexico's Cruz Azul soccer team in 2005.
Top policeman shot dead in Mexico
A senior Mexican police official has been gunned down in the capital, Mexico City, officials have said.
Edgar Millan Gomez was in charge of co-ordinating national police operations against drugs traffickers.
He was shot nine times outside his home early on Thursday and died later in hospital, officials said. Two of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack.
Police are investigating if the attack was drug-related. Several top policemen have been killed in the past week.
Police said a group of gunmen had attacked Mr Millan.
"They were hunting him," a spokesman for the security ministry told Reuters news agency.
Police have arrested a 34-year-old man in connection with the attack.
Lucrative trafficking routes
Mexico has seen a surge in drug-related killings recently. Last year, 2,500 people were killed; so far this year, 1,100 people have been killed.
Two other senior police officers were killed in Mexico City in separate incidents last week.
And earlier this week, a senior officer in Ciudad Juarez - across the border from the United States - was ambushed as he left police headquarters.
President Felipe Calderon has sent nearly 30,000 soldiers and federal police to fight Mexico's powerful drug cartels since he took office in 2006.
The drugs cartels have fought back by attacking security forces. They are also fighting with each other to control lucrative trafficking routes.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Title: Diarea heading towards fan
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 13, 2008, 09:23:51 AM
Mexico Security Memo: May 12, 2008
Stratfor Today » May 12, 2008 | 2046 GMT

Related Links
  a.. Tracking Mexico's Drug Cartels

More High-Level Assassinations
While drug-related violence was widespread around Mexico this past week,
much attention was focused on the capital after two high-profile
assassinations occurred there within two days. In the first, alleged members
of a murder-for-hire gang shot and killed Edgar Millan Gomez on May 8 in his
own home. Millan Gomez was Mexico's highest-ranking federal law enforcement
official, responsible for coordinating much of the federal police
counternarcotics campaign. He reportedly was shot up to eight times at close
range by a gunman armed with two handguns - one of which had a silencer --
who was waiting inside his apartment building. One of Millan Gomez's
bodyguards, who was departing for the evening, was wounded as he apprehended
the gunman. Millan Gomez was the highest-ranking federal official to be
killed since the May 2007 assassination of Jose Nemesio Lugo Felix, also in
Mexico City.

The second assassination involved Esteban Robles Espinosa, head of Mexico
City's judicial police anti-kidnapping unit. Robles reportedly was shot nine
times by four gunmen traveling in a vehicle outside his home.

Although no substantial links have been reported, the Mexican government
suspects the Sinaloa cartel was behind these killings. Indeed, Millan
reportedly had orchestrated the arrest of several Sinaloa enforcers in the
capital earlier this year. These killings - as well as the assassination
last week of two federal police officials in Mexico City - also match the
trend reported last week of increasing cartel activity in Mexico City. The
targeting of federal authorities - especially by the Sinaloa cartel - in
Mexico City has been a key aspect of this activity since the beginning of
the year.

This past week's assassinations prompted Mexican President Felipe Calderon
and other officials to vow the government would not be deterred in the fight
against organized crime. While this increase in killings in Mexico City puts
the government in the position of needing to respond, it probably will not
fundamentally shift the government's strategy. In fact, it is unclear
exactly how the government will be able to respond in a meaningful way.
Without deploying additional military forces - which Calderon so far has
been reluctant to do - Mexico City is resigned to shifting around the
currently available forces - and this means withdrawing them from ongoing
security operations elsewhere.

This sort of response appears to be precisely the outcome that the Sinaloa
cartel or other criminal groups were hoping for, however. If that is the
case, other officials in Mexico City probably will be targeted. As the
cartel prepares for increased pressure from the Mexican government, which is
about to deploy reinforcements to Sinaloa state, greater violence against
federal authorities in other parts of the country can be expected -
especially if the deployment is large enough actually to negatively affect
the Sinaloa cartel's ability to traffic drugs.

Targeting the Son of 'El Chapo'
The Sinaloa cartel was at the center of another high-profile killing in
Mexico this week, also. The son of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo"
Guzman Loera was shot and killed outside a shopping center in Culiacan,
Sinaloa state, in an attack reportedly carried out by more than 40 gunmen
traveling in five vehicles. The son of the Sinaloa cartel's top money
launderer, Blanca Margarita Cazares Salazar, also was killed in the attack.

The Gulf cartel's enforcement arm, Los Zetas, carried out the killing,
according to a Stratfor source in Mexico with ties to the law enforcement
community. Recent reports of a split between Sinaloa and a resurgent Juarez
cartel mean Sinaloa has more than one enemy, however. Watching for where
retaliatory attacks are aimed will be perhaps the best way to figure out who
carried out the attack in Sinaloa - the killing of Guzman's son undoubtedly
will prompt strong reprisals by the Sinaloa cartel, which most likely knows
very well who was behind this incident.

May 5
  a.. The Mexican military launched an operation in Chiapas state involving
aircraft and navy ships looking for boats transporting illegal goods.
  b.. Authorities in a remote part of Michoacan state discovered two shallow
graves containing the bodies of three individuals who apparently had been
  c.. A tactical intelligence unit of the federal police will be deployed to
Sinaloa state, a state official announced.
  d.. The body of a police commander was found with five severed fingers in
Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state.
  e.. Authorities in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, reported the shooting death of
a man who may have been shot more than 100 times.
  f.. The second in command of a Chihuahua state police agency was shot dead
by several assailants in her garage in Ciudad Juarez.
May 6
  a.. One police officer and one gunman died during a firefight between
police and several armed men who had just committed a targeted killing in
Nogales, Sonora state.
  b.. Several gunmen shot and killed a police commander in Culiacan, Sinaloa
state. Several stray bullets also struck and killed a civilian bystander at
a nearby gas station.
  c.. A police captain in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, died when he was
shot several times while driving his vehicle.
May 7
  a.. At least seven people died during a firefight between army forces and
armed men in Villa de Cos, Zacatecas state.
  b.. Five people were reported wounded after a group of gunmen opened fire
on a police patrol in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.
May 8
  a.. Four people were wounded in the Pronaf district of Ciudad Juarez,
Chihuahua state, after gunmen traveling in a vehicle shot them.
  b.. Mexico's federal security Cabinet met to discuss drug violence in
Sinaloa state; one of the officials present said the government intends to
increase the presence of security forces in the state.
  c.. Approximately three armed men shot and killed the bodyguard of the
police chief in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico state.
  d.. A Chinese tourist was stabbed to death by an alleged drug dealer
outside a nightclub in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. The victim was seen
arguing with his attacker moments before he was killed.
May 9
  a.. Three police officers in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, were wounded
in their patrol car when several armed men shot them.
  b.. The chief and deputy chief of police in Sinaloa state resigned their
positions after apparently receiving death threats, media reported.
  c.. The local governments of Tijuana and Mexicali, Baja California state,
asked the federal police to send a special anti-kidnapping task force to the
cities in order to combat the increasing incidence of extortion-related
abductions there.
  d.. A former political leader in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, was
abducted by a group of armed men. Some reports indicate that a current
government official who was with him at the time was wounded during the
  e.. Police in Navolato, Sinaloa state, reported the discovery of seven
bodies with signs of torture. At least one of the victims was a police
  f.. A man and his son were shot dead in an apparently drug-related
shooting incident in Palomas, Chihuahua state; more than 60 shell casings
were recovered from the scene.
May 10
  a.. The second highest-ranking police official in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua
state, died after being shot several times while driving near his home. His
name had been on a hit list left in January at a memorial to fallen police
officers in the city.
  b.. A soldier was found alive in Jacona, Michoacan state, bound at the
hands and feet and bearing signs of torture.
May 11
  a.. Authorities in Huetamo, Michoacan state, reported finding the body of
an unidentified man who appeared to have been shot more than 100 times.
  b.. Five people were shot dead in separate incidents in Sinaloa state in
the cities of Culiacan, Salvador Alvarado and Angostura.
  c.. The police chief in Amecameca, Mexico state, received a death threat
from a group of several armed men who demanded he discontinue efforts to
halt illegal logging operations in the area.
  d.. Five people died in an apparent drug-related shooting incident in
Palomas, Chihuahua state. Authorities reported recovering more than 160
shell casings from the crime scene.
I don't agree with this one.  I think for US intervention to be considered
things would have to get A LOT worse than they are now.
Geopolitical Diary: High Stakes South of the Border
May 13, 2008 | 0440 GMT

The Mexican government has arrested five individuals involved in the killing
of Edgar Millan Gomez, Mexico's highest-ranking federal law enforcement
official. The five men allegedly operated on the orders of the Sinaloa
Cartel. The death of Millan Gomez at his home in Mexico City is the latest
example of the escalation of violence in the ongoing war between the Mexican
federal government and the cartels that control large swaths of Mexican
territory. The assassination of such a high-level target clearly puts
increased pressure on the government.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon's boldest initiative upon taking office 18
months ago was the deployment of thousands of troops to combat Mexican drug
cartels. In doing so, he brought the fight to the doorstep of organized

Calderon's efforts in combating the cartels have been notable, as he is the
first Mexican president to challenge cartel control of Mexican territory in
a serious way. But his resources are limited. To tackle the threats and
challenges facing the government, Calderon has shifted troops from one place
to another. But any fundamental ramping up of dedicated troops would strain
Mexico's resources.

The shift of cartel violence into the interior of Mexico, and particularly
into Mexico City itself, has been a gradual trend that Stratfor has observed
over the past year. Cartel involvement - particularly by the Sinaloa
cartel - in the capital appears to have increased noticeably since a failed
attack with an improvised explosive device in February. Millan Gomez's
assassination is the latest example of this trend.

Mexico's continued descent into chaos could have enormous implications for
the United States, with the potential to shift considerable U.S. attention
to the Western Hemisphere.

The economic importance of Mexico to the United States is difficult to
overstate. The potential disruption of trade between the two countries -
particularly relevant at a point when the United States is staring down the
maw of a recession - would be a massive liability for the United States.
U.S.-Mexican trade totaled about $350 billion worth of goods in 2007, making
Mexico one of the United States' largest trading partners.

Now, there is a real danger that Mexico's crime situation could spin out of
control. The cartels need stable supply routes to the United States to
secure their drug shipments, while the government is seeking to stem the
tide of violence that has wracked Mexico for decades. The law of unintended
consequences is in play here, and there is a distinct danger that violence
could further spill over into the United States - disrupting trade flows and
border security.

Although the United States may be moving forward with policies like the
Merida initiative, which will lend aid to Mexico's war on the cartels, the
current efforts are limited. U.S. forces are largely preoccupied in Iraq and
Afghanistan. While it would take a great deal to tip the scale toward a U.S.
military intervention in Mexico, we may now be at a point where that has to
be considered given what is at stake.

The last time the United States meaningfully asserted control over a
deteriorating situation in Mexico was in the early 20th century during the
Mexican Revolution, when the United States occupied Veracruz for six months
to protect U.S. business interests. If violence on the border started
hurting the bottom line, the cost of not doing anything would start to
approach the cost of military action. The potential for an escalation of
violence between the cartels and the government spiraling out of control
could tip that balance.

It is unclear what the threshold for U.S. action in Mexico would be. But the
stakes are high. If the United States sees trade flows threatened, and the
security situation deteriorating, Washington might see fit to intervene. And
just because it hasn't done so in a century doesn't mean it will not choose
to do so in the future.
Title: Mex police seek asylum
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 14, 2008, 06:19:47 AM

May 14, 2008
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Three Mexican police chiefs have requested political asylum in the U.S. as violence escalates in the Mexican drug wars and spills across the U.S. border, a top Homeland Security official told The Associated Press.

In the past few months, the police officials have shown up at the U.S. border, fearing for their lives, according to Jayson Ahern, the deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

"They're basically abandoned by their police officers or police departments in many cases," Ahern told AP.

Ahern said the Mexican officials - whom he didn't name - are being interviewed and their cases are under review for possible asylum.

In the most recent high-level assassination, a top-ranking official on a local Mexican police force was shot more than 50 times and killed. Drug-related violence killed more than 2,500 people last year alone in Mexico.
"It's almost like a military fight," Ahern said Tuesday. "I don't think that generally the American public has any sense of the level of violence that occurs on the border."

As the cartels fight for territory, this carnage spills over to the U.S., Ahern said - from bullet-ridden people stumbling into U.S. territory, to rounds of ammunition coming across U.S. entry ports.

U.S. humvees retrofitted with steel mesh over the glass windows patrol parts of the border to protect agents against guns shots and large rocks regularly thrown at them. At times agents are pinned down by sniper fire as people try to illegally cross into the U.S.

Mexico's drug cartels have long divided the border, with each controlling key cities. But over the past decade Mexico has arrested or killed many of the gangs' top leaders, creating a power vacuum and throwing lucrative drug routes up for the taking.

President Felipe Calderon, who took office in December 2006, responded by deploying more than 24,000 soldiers and federal police to areas where the government had lost control. Cartels have reacted with unprecedented violence, beheading police and killing soldiers.

In general, violence along the U.S. border has gone up over the years. Seven frontline border agents were killed in 2007, and two so far in 2008. Assaults against officers have also shot up from 335 in fiscal 2001 to 987 in fiscal 2007.

There have been 362 assaults against officers during the first four months of 2008, according to Border Patrol statistics. The pattern has been that when more security resources are deployed along the U.S. border, violence against officers spike in response.

Most assaults are along the San Diego and Calexico, Calif., border, as well as the Arizona border near Yuma and south of Tucson.

Now, about 14,000 U.S. border agents work on the southern border, up from more than 9,000 in 2001.

The Bush administration has requested $500 million to fight drug crime in Mexico. Congress is currently considering the proposal.
Title: Risk of Failed State?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 14, 2008, 10:44:06 AM
May 13, 2008


Mexico: On the Road to a Failed State?

By George Friedman


Edgar Millan Gomez was shot dead in his own home in Mexico City on May 8. Millan Gomez was the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in Mexico, responsible for overseeing most of Mexico's counternarcotics efforts. He orchestrated the January arrest of one of the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel, Alfredo Beltran Leyva. (Several Sinaloa members have been arrested in Mexico City since the beginning of the year.) The week before, Roberto Velasco Bravo died when he was shot in the head at close range by two armed men near his home in Mexico City. He was the director of organized criminal investigations in a tactical analysis unit of the federal police. The Mexican government believes the Sinaloa drug cartel ordered the assassinations of Velasco Bravo and Millan Gomez. Combined with the assassination of other federal police officials in Mexico City, we now see a pattern of intensifying warfare in Mexico City.


The fighting also extended to the killing of the son of the Sinaloa cartel leader, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, who was killed outside a shopping center in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state. Also killed was the son of reputed top Sinaloa money launderer Blanca Margarita Cazares Salazar in an attack carried out by 40 gunmen. According to sources, Los Zetas, the enforcement arm of the rival Gulf cartel, carried out the attack. Reports also indicate a split between Sinaloa and a resurgent Juarez cartel, which also could have been behind the Millan Gomez killing.


Spiraling Violence


Violence along the U.S.-Mexican border has been intensifying for several years, and there have been attacks in Mexico City. But last week was noteworthy not so much for the body count, but for the type of people being killed. Very senior government police officials in Mexico City were killed along with senior Sinaloa cartel operatives in Sinaloa state. In other words, the killings are extending from low-level operatives to higher-ranking ones, and the attacks are reaching into enemy territory, so to speak. Mexican government officials are being killed in Mexico City, Sinaloan operatives in Sinaloa. The conflict is becoming more intense and placing senior officials at risk.


The killings pose a strategic problem for the Mexican government. The bulk of its effective troops are deployed along the U.S. border, attempting to suppress violence and smuggling among the grunts along the border, as well as the well-known smuggling routes elsewhere in the country. The attacks in Mexico raise the question of whether forces should be shifted from these assignments to Mexico City to protect officials and break up the infrastructure of the Sinaloa and other cartels there. The government also faces the secondary task of suppressing violence between cartels. The Sinaloa cartel struck in Mexico City not only to kill troublesome officials and intimidate others, but also to pose a problem for the Mexican government by increasing areas requiring forces, thereby requiring the government to consider splitting its forces — thus reducing the government presence along the border. It was a strategically smart move by Sinaloa, but no one has accused the cartels of being stupid.


Mexico now faces a classic problem. Multiple, well-armed organized groups have emerged. They are fighting among themselves while simultaneously fighting the government. The groups are fueled by vast amounts of money earned via drug smuggling to the United States. The amount of money involved — estimated at some $40 billion a year — is sufficient to increase tension between these criminal groups and give them the resources to conduct wars against each other. It also provides them with resources to bribe and intimidate government officials. The resources they deploy in some ways are superior to the resources the government employs.


Given the amount of money they have, the organized criminal groups can be very effective in bribing government officials at all levels, from squad leaders patrolling the border to high-ranking state and federal officials. Given the resources they have, they can reach out and kill government officials at all levels as well. Government officials are human; and faced with the carrot of bribes and the stick of death, even the most incorruptible is going to be cautious in executing operations against the cartels.


Toward a Failed State?


There comes a moment when the imbalance in resources reverses the relationship between government and cartels. Government officials, seeing the futility of resistance, effectively become tools of the cartels. Since there are multiple cartels, the area of competition ceases to be solely the border towns, shifting to the corridors of power in Mexico City. Government officials begin giving their primary loyalty not to the government but to one of the cartels. The government thus becomes both an arena for competition among the cartels and an instrument used by one cartel against another. That is the prescription for what is called a "failed state" — a state that no longer can function as a state. Lebanon in the 1980s is one such example.


There are examples in American history as well. Chicago in the 1920s was overwhelmed by a similar process. Smuggling alcohol created huge pools of money on the U.S. side of the border, controlled by criminals both by definition (bootlegging was illegal) and by inclination (people who engage in one sort of illegality are prepared to be criminals, more broadly understood). The smuggling laws gave these criminals huge amounts of power, which they used to intimidate and effectively absorb the city government. Facing a choice between being killed or being enriched, city officials chose the latter. City government shifted from controlling the criminals to being an arm of criminal power. In the meantime, various criminal gangs competed with each other for power.


Chicago had a failed city government. The resources available to the Chicago gangs were limited, however, and it was not possible for them to carry out the same function in Washington. Ultimately, Washington deployed resources in Chicago and destroyed one of the main gangs. But if Al Capone had been able to carry out the same operation in Washington as he did in Chicago, the United States could have become a failed state.


It is important to point out that we are not speaking here of corruption, which exists in all governments everywhere. Instead, we are talking about a systematic breakdown of the state, in which government is not simply influenced by criminals, but becomes an instrument of criminals — either simply an arena for battling among groups or under the control of a particular group. The state no longer can carry out its primary function of imposing peace, and it becomes helpless, or itself a direct perpetrator of crime. Corruption has been seen in Washington — some triggered by organized crime, but never state failure.


The Mexican state has not yet failed. If the activities of the last week have become a pattern, however, we must begin thinking about the potential for state failure. The killing of Millan Gomez transmitted a critical message: No one is safe, no matter how high his rank or how well protected, if he works against cartel interests. The killing of El Chapo's son transmitted the message that no one in the leading cartel is safe from competing gangs, no matter how high his rank or how well protected.


The killing of senior state police officials causes other officials to recalculate their attitudes. The state is no longer seen as a competent protector, and being a state official is seen as a liability — potentially a fatal liability — unless protection is sought from a cartel, a protection that can be very lucrative indeed for the protector. The killing of senior cartel members intensifies conflict among cartels, making it even more difficult for the government to control the situation and intensifying the movement toward failure.


It is important to remember that Mexico has a tradition of failed governments, particularly in the 19th and early 20th century. In those periods, Mexico City became an arena for struggle among army officers and regional groups straddling the line between criminal and political. The Mexican army became an instrument in this struggle and its control a prize. The one thing missing was the vast amounts of money at stake. So there is a tradition of state failure in Mexico, and there are higher stakes today than before.


The Drug Trade's High Stakes


To benchmark the amount at stake, assume that the total amount of drug trafficking is $40 billion, a frequently used figure, but hardly an exact one by any means. In 2007, Mexico exported about $210 billion worth of goods to the United States and imported about $136 billion from the United States. If the drug trade is $40 billion dollars, it represents about 25 percent of all exports to the United States. That in itself is huge, but what makes it more important is that while the $210 billion is divided among many businesses and individuals, the $40 billion is concentrated in the hands of a few, fairly tightly controlled cartels. Sinaloa and Gulf, currently the strongest, have vast resources at their disposal; a substantial part of the economy can be controlled through this money. This creates tremendous instability as other cartels vie for the top spot, with the state lacking the resources to control the situation and having its officials seduced and intimidated by the cartels.


We have seen failed states elsewhere. Colombia in the 1980s failed over the same issue — drug money. Lebanon failed in the 1970s and 1980s. The Democratic Republic of the Congo was a failed state.


Mexico's potential failure is important for three reasons. First, Mexico is a huge country, with a population of more than 100 million. Second, it has a large economy — the 14th-largest in the world. And third, it shares an extended border with the world's only global power, one that has assumed for most of the 20th century that its domination of North America and control of its borders is a foregone conclusion. If Mexico fails, there are serious geopolitical repercussions. This is not simply a criminal matter.


The amount of money accumulated in Mexico derives from smuggling operations in the United States. Drugs go one way, money another. But all the money doesn't have to return to Mexico or to third-party countries. If Mexico fails, the leading cartels will compete in the United States, and that competition will extend to the source of the money as well. We have already seen cartel violence in the border areas of the United States, but this risk is not limited to that. The same process that we see under way in Mexico could extend to the United States; logic dictates that it would.


The current issue is control of the source of drugs and of the supply chain that delivers drugs to retail customers in the United States. The struggle for control of the source and the supply chain also will involve a struggle for control of markets. The process of intimidation of government and police officials, as well as bribing them, can take place in market towns such as Los Angeles or Chicago, as well as production centers or transshipment points.


Cartel Incentives for U.S. Expansion


That means there are economic incentives for the cartels to extend their operations into the United States. With those incentives comes intercartel competition, and with that competition comes pressure on U.S. local, state and, ultimately, federal government and police functions. Were that to happen, the global implications obviously would be stunning. Imagine an extreme case in which the Mexican scenario is acted out in the United States. The effect on the global system economically and politically would be astounding, since U.S. failure would see the world reshaping itself in startling ways.


Failure for the United States is much harder than for Mexico, however. The United States has a gross domestic product of about $14 trillion, while Mexico's economy is about $900 billion. The impact of the cartels' money is vastly greater in Mexico than in the United States, where it would be dwarfed by other pools of money with a powerful interest in maintaining U.S. stability. The idea of a failed American state is therefore far-fetched.


Less far-fetched is the extension of a Mexican failure into the borderlands of the United States. Street-level violence already has crossed the border. But a deeper, more-systemic corruption — particularly on the local level — could easily extend into the United States, along with paramilitary operations between cartels and between the Mexican government and cartels.


U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently visited Mexico, and there are potential plans for U.S. aid in support of Mexican government operations. But if the Mexican government became paralyzed and couldn't carry out these operations, the U.S. government would face a stark and unpleasant choice. It could attempt to protect the United States from the violence defensively by sealing off Mexico or controlling the area north of the border more effectively. Or, as it did in the early 20th century, the United States could adopt a forward defense by sending U.S. troops south of the border to fight the battle in Mexico.


There have been suggestions that the border be sealed. But Mexico is the United States' third-largest customer, and the United States is Mexico's largest customer. This was the case well before NAFTA, and has nothing to do with treaties and everything to do with economics and geography. Cutting that trade would have catastrophic effects on both sides of the border, and would guarantee the failure of the Mexican state. It isn't going to happen.


The Impossibility of Sealing the Border


So long as vast quantities of goods flow across the border, the border cannot be sealed. Immigration might be limited by a wall, but the goods that cross the border do so at roads and bridges, and the sheer amount of goods crossing the border makes careful inspection impossible. The drugs will come across the border embedded in this trade as well as by other routes. So will gunmen from the cartel and anything else needed to take control of Los Angeles' drug market.


A purely passive defense won't work unless the economic cost of blockade is absorbed. The choices are a defensive posture to deal with the battle on American soil if it spills over, or an offensive posture to suppress the battle on the other side of the border. Bearing in mind that Mexico is not a small country and that counterinsurgency is not the United States' strong suit, the latter is a dangerous game. But the first option isn't likely to work either.


One way to deal with the problem would be ending the artificial price of drugs by legalizing them. This would rapidly lower the price of drugs and vastly reduce the money to be made in smuggling them. Nothing hurt the American cartels more than the repeal of Prohibition, and nothing helped them more than Prohibition itself. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, drug legalization isn't going to happen. There is no visible political coalition of substantial size advocating this solution. Therefore, U.S. drug policy will continue to raise the price of drugs artificially, effective interdiction will be impossible, and the Mexican cartels will prosper and make war on each other and on the Mexican state.


We are not yet at the worst-case scenario, and we may never get there. Mexican President Felipe Calderon, perhaps with assistance from the United States, may devise a strategy to immunize his government from intimidation and corruption and take the war home to the cartels. This is a serious possibility that should not be ruled out. Nevertheless, the events of last week raise the serious possibility of a failed state in Mexico. That should not be taken lightly, as it could change far more than Mexico.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 28, 2008, 09:47:57 AM
E-mail Warning in Juarez
While there was a slight increase in the number of murders in Ciudad Juarez over the weekend, it was hardly the bloodbath predicted in an e-mail that began circulating among residents May 22. The anonymous e-mail promised it would be “the bloodiest weekend in the history of Juarez” and warned residents to stay in their homes because gunmen would be shooting at malls, restaurants and other public places.

The e-mail referred to the upcoming violence as “La Limpia” or “The Cleansing,” which prompted Juarez Public Safety Secretary Orduna Cruz to issue a statement urging the citizens of Juarez to stay calm. As it turned out, the most significant murders of the weekend were those of police officers Fabian Reyes Urbina and Carlos Valdez Rodriguez –- both were wearing full uniforms when they were gunned down May 23 while getting into a 1993 Ford Escort. That same day, five bodies were discovered at an intersection wrapped in blankets; two of the five were decapitated and their heads were found in plastic bags next to the bodies — the typical signature of a cartel killing. Press releases from government officials in Chihuahua state put the total number of murders in Juarez over the weekend at 22. Murders for this past week totaled 33, a slight increase from 25 the previous week.

The e-mail warning had its effect in Juarez. Several night clubs and restaurants were closed over the weekend and traffic was scarce on many city streets as most of the residents stayed in their homes. Regardless of the unknown author’s intentions, the e-mail demonstrated that such a warning could have significant economic impact. Some store owners reportedly lost as much as 60 percent of their business over the weekend. Cross-border tourism from Juarez’s sister city, El Paso, Texas, essentially came to halt over the three-day Memorial Day weekend, which is normally a high-traffic holiday.

Target Lists
Banners with the names of 21 state police officials appeared on overpasses and bridges May 25 in Chihuahua City. The names were written in black ink and signed by Gente Nueva, a break-away group from the Gulf cartel that is funded by factions of the Sinaloa cartel, which has been fighting for influence in the area since early 2007. The emblazoned names are reminiscent of the list found at the fallen officer memorial in Juarez in January. Since then, of the 17 officers named, almost half have been assassinated.

May 19
A banner reading “Join us or die,” referring to local police, was posted in Juarez.
Four people thought to be Americans were shot in the head and dumped in a notorious drug-smuggling area of Rosarito.
José Martínez Quiñónez, a top commander of the security arm of the state attorney general’s office in Chihuahua state, was assassinated outside his home in the Juarez suburb of Parral.
May 20
The bodies of two high-level state police officials in Morelos state were found in the trunk of a car on a highway between Cuernavaca and Mexico City. The bodies had single gunshot wounds to the head and showed signs of torture. A note attached to the car read, “This is what happens to those who walk with El Chapo.”
Former army major Roberto Orduna Cruz took over the 1,600-man Juarez police force.
Sixteen people were killed in a firefight in Durango.
May 21
The Mexican military took control of Villa Ahumada, a small town 80 kilometers south of Juarez, after the entire police force quit. Officers were afraid of being assassinated.
May 22
An anonymous e-mail began circulating around Juarez and El Paso advising residents to stay indoors over the upcoming weekend. The e-mail also claimed that recent executions in Juarez were in response to threats made by the Juarez cartel.
The U.S. Senate passed the Merida Initiative, a $400 million aid package designed to help the Mexican government halt drug traffic into the United States. The U.S. House of Representatives passed its own aid package the previous week.
May 23
Fabian Reyes Urbina and Carlos Valdez Rodriguez, two municipal policemen in Juarez, were shot and killed as they were getting into a 1993 Ford Escort.
Juarez police discovered the charred remains of three individuals in a burned out car.
Five blanket-wrapped bodies, two of which had been decapitated, were found in the middle of an intersection in Juarez.
Four decapitated heads were found in four separate ice chests six kilometers outside of Durango.
May 24
Two men were found dead in the Rio Bravo neighborhood in Juarez.
One man was found dead in his SUV in Juarez with over 100 bullet holes in his vehicle.
May 25
A charred body was found in the back of pickup truck in a parking lot in Juarez. Authorities were unable to identify the sex of the body because of the extensive burns.
The unidentified body of a male between the age of 35 and 40 and with five bullet wounds was found at an intersection in Juarez.

Title: Time to bust Telmex
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 29, 2008, 05:02:25 AM
It's Time to Bust the Telmex Monopoly
May 19, 2008; Page A13

It is a decade overdue, but Mexico finally has a clear path to ending the near-monopoly status of Telmex – Carlos Slim's Telefonos de Mexico. Whether President Felipe Calderón seizes the day will signal just how serious he is about modernizing his country's economy.

The cost to the economy of Telmex's dominance cannot be overstated. Lack of competition is the reason Mexicans pay some of the highest telecom charges in the developed world, according to a report last year by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. It's also the reason Mexicans' access to telephone services – landlines and mobile – is "one of the lowest in the OECD." As a result, while the world forges ahead in the information age, Mexico is being left in the Stone Age.

Mexico finally has a clear path to ending Telmex's near-monopoly. But will President Felipe Calderón seize the opportunity? Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O'Grady reports. (May 18)
Good news came last week when the government ordered Telmex to provide interconnection to a key competitor. It is the first time since 1997, when Telmex's monopoly privileges ran out, that the government has been willing to enforce the terms of the 1990 concession title. That is the agreement signed at the time of privatization.

Even so, the ruling does nothing to solve the main cause of Mexico's inefficient and costly telecom market. Until Telmex is forced to provide competitive pricing to non-Telmex carriers that have to use the network, and simple number portability to customers who want to switch to other carriers, competition will not evolve. Telmex should also have to cease its practice of cross-subsidizing its telephony businesses.

Until now, Mr. Slim has been an immoveable object. When his monopoly privileges expired in 1997, regulators tried to make him provide network access, at competitive rates, to the other carriers. But by then he had gotten used to the spoils of the monopoly. Whenever regulators have tried to force competitive practices, he has used the courts to block them.

Mexico's largest special interest is also known for using his influence in the halls of Congress and with the executive. During the presidency of Vicente Fox (2000-2006), a former Telmex employee was miraculously named the minister of communication and transport. Judging from how little was accomplished under Mr. Fox, that minister wasn't shy about looking after his former boss's interests.


Get the latest information in Spanish from The Wall Street Journal's Americas page.Until now, Mexicans have been wary of crossing the powerful Mr. Slim, who is said to control 40% of advertising in the country. But the problems caused by Telmex's uncompetitive practices can no longer be ignored. To that end the telecom regulator, known by the Spanish acronym Cofetel, has drafted a proposal aimed at creating an environment where competition can flourish. The initiative calls for interconnection for all competitors at cost-based rates. It would also introduce an institutional framework similar to that of most OECD countries, and bring Mexico into compliance with the World Trade Organization.

The trouble is that Mr. Slim has already shown that he can litigate to eternity anything coming from the regulator. So even if the new regulation is adopted, Telmex is likely to use the injunction process to block its effectiveness. That is, unless Mr. Calderón trades Mr. Slim something for his cooperation.

Economic giants have gigantic appetites, and Mr. Slim's needs to be fed again. Having consumed Mexican telephony, he now wants to begin eating into the television market by delivering video. But the terms of his 1990 purchase of Telmex strictly forbid such an expansion.

So all the Calderón government has to do to tame the Telmex beast is to enforce the terms of the existing title concession. This would mean that the company would have to adopt accounting practices that avoid cross-subsidization. It also would mean making it clear to Mr. Slim that the Telmex concession title prohibits the provision of television services.

If Telmex wants to change the terms of that original contract so it can compete in video, Mr. Calderón should exact a price. If the company otherwise complies with its original obligations, the Cofetel plan can be put on the table, along with a fee, as the cost of a television license.

Standing firm on this point is important to the future of both television and telephony in Mexico. Right now cable companies are trying to deliver telephone services, but Telmex's interconnection rates are making it difficult to compete. Mr. Slim will crush these midsized competitors if he is allowed to offer video without opening telephony.

The Slim dynasty cannot prosper if it cannot expand into television. If Mexican regulators get smart and begin to aggressively privatize the wireless spectrum, its odds are even slimmer. That's why this is the moment to drive a stake through the heart of the Telmex monopoly. If Mr. Calderón passes up the chance, he will seal his own fate as a reformer and practically guarantee that Mexico will fail to live up to its potential in the next decade.
Title: Drug Massacre leaves town terrorized
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 31, 2008, 09:05:31 AM
Drug Massacre Leaves a Mexican Town Terrorized

Published: May 31, 2008
VILLA AHUMADA, Mexico — A massacre here two weeks ago has turned this once sleepy town into a ghostly emblem of the drug violence that has swept Mexico over the last year and a half, gutting local police forces, terrifying citizens and making it almost impossible for the authorities to assert themselves.

In Villa Ahumada, Mexico, on May 18. The night before, dozens of gunmen killed six people in the town, including two civilians who were together in a pickup truck, and abducted others.

On the night of May 17, dozens of men with assault rifles rolled into town in several trucks and shot up the place. They killed the police chief, two officers and three civilians. Then they carried off about 10 people, witnesses said. Only one has been found, dead and wrapped in a carpet in Ciudad Juárez.

The entire municipal police force quit after the attack, and officials fled the town for several days, leaving so hastily that they did not release the petty criminals held in the town lockup. The state and federal governments sent in 300 troops and 16 state police officers, restoring an uneasy semblance of order. But townspeople remain terrified.

“Yeah, we’re afraid, everyone’s afraid,” said José Antonio Contreras, a 17-year-old who was threatened by the gunmen. “Nobody goes out at night.”

Tourists driving south from Texas to the Pacific Coast beaches pass through Villa Ahumada on Highway 45. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when this dusty town on the railroad tracks was best known for its roadside burrito stands, its good cheese and its having recorded one of the coldest temperatures in Mexico — 23 below zero in January 1962.

In recent years, however, it also became a way station along one of Mexico’s major drug smuggling routes. Villa Ahumada lies about 85 miles south of El Paso on the main highway from the city of Chihuahua to the border city of Ciudad Juárez.

Mexico’s drug violence has by now become so pervasive that it is infecting even small communities like this one, which has fewer than 9,000 residents.

Around the country in the last 18 months, more than 4,000 people have been killed in similar attacks and gun battles, even as President Felipe Calderón has tried to take back towns where the local police and officials were on the payroll of drug kingpins.

This week, seven federal officers died in a gun battle with cartel henchmen when they tried to enter a house in Culiacán, Sinaloa, a city notorious for its traffickers. The officers had been sent to the city, along with 2,700 other soldiers and agents, to track down a reputed drug kingpin believed to have ordered the assassination of the acting federal chief of police, who was killed in Mexico City on May 8.

When the police arrived, banners were hung in the city taunting the officers and saying the reputed kingpin, Arturo Beltrán Leyva, reigned supreme in Culiacán.

In Villa Ahumada less than two weeks after the massacre, people remained so cowed that even the mayor and his police commissioner declined requests to be interviewed. When asked who the gunmen were and why they had come, most of the residents who were interviewed shook their heads and whispered that spies were everywhere. In private, however, some acknowledged that the town had long been home to narcotics traffickers in league with a reputed drug dealer, Pedro Sánchez Arras.

Frightened residents, who did not want to be identified, said Mr. Sánchez’s agent in the town was Gerardo Gallegos Rodelo, a 19-year-old tough guy who went around with an armed posse. It was rumored that he and Mr. Sánchez had links to a drug cartel in Ciudad Juárez that is controlled by the Carrillo Fuentes family. Law enforcement officials did not confirm the claim.

Several residents said Mr. Gallegos and Mr. Sánchez had also seemed to enjoy good relations with the local police. People shrugged and tolerated the arrangement. The town was peaceful, after all, some said. It seemed best to leave well enough alone.

“Wherever you are in Mexico these days there are drug dealers, not just here,” explained Raúl Moreno, 64, a day laborer. “They didn’t bother anyone. No one bothered them.”

The trouble started, people here say, when Mr. Gallegos was killed in a shootout with a group of reputed gangsters in Hidalgo del Parral, in the southern part of Chihuahua State, on April 6.

Page 2 of 2)

Two days later, the army swooped in on his funeral in Villa Ahumada and arrested dozens of people in attendance, taking into custody a police commander, Adrián Barrón, among others. It remains unclear what those detained will be charged with, the attorney general’s office said.

The arrest seemed to set in motion the trouble in Villa Ahumada. Late on the Saturday night four days after Mr. Sánchez’s arrest, said Mr. Contreras, the 17-year-old, he and several other boys were dancing at a party for a friend in a hall just off the main square when they heard the rat-tat-tat of machine-gun fire.

He hurriedly left the party with his girlfriend and mother, but they ran into three cars full of heavily armed men, he said. Spewing death threats, the men forced the three to lie on the ground. He waited for the shots, but the cars roared off. One of the men called out, “We’ll be back.”

For three hours, the gunmen roamed the town in six pickups and sport utility cars. They strafed a used car lot with bullets. They pumped more than 75 rounds into two men riding in a truck. One was Julio Armando Gómez, the manager of a roast chicken place. The other was Mario Alberto González Castro, 41, who sold tickets at the bus station.

Mr. González’s wife, who asked to be identified only by her nickname, Cuquis, said she had gone looking for her husband when she heard the shooting and found his lifeless body oozing blood in the car. Her hands trembled with fear when she was asked who might be behind the killing; then she broke down, saying she had told the police what she knew and could not say anything else. “He was innocent, innocent above all else,” she said through her sobs.

The gunmen caught up to the police chief, José Armando Estrada Rodríguez, and two officers, Óscar Zuñiga Dávila and José Luis Quiñones Juárez, who were sitting in their patrol car at a gas station. The attackers killed the three men with 26 shots from an assault rifle, officials said.

Also killed was Luis Eduardo Escobedo Ruiz, 21, who happened to be pulling into a parking lot near the gas station. More than 100 shells were found outside his car.

Privately, some residents speculated that the attackers came from a rival drug cartel intent on dislodging the Carrillo Fuentes family from Ciudad Juárez and the cities along the route down through Chihuahua State to Sinaloa State. Some whisper it was Joaquín Guzmán, an accused drug kingpin known as “El Chapo,” who sent the commandos. Others mention the Zetas, feared hired killers in the employ of the Gulf Cartel.

“They are getting rid of all the people connected to Pedro Sánchez,” said one young man, requesting anonymity for fear of the cartels. “All the police worked for Pedro.”

The state authorities say they still have little information about what happened, much less whom the gunmen worked for. The fearful silence of residents makes it hard for investigators to make progress, Eduardo Esparza, a spokesman for the state attorney general, said.

“At this moment, we have no lines of investigation,” he said. “It’s hard to get information. The families of the victims refuse to talk, mainly out of terror. One can’t advance at a good pace. There are lots of barriers.”

One measure of those barriers is that the state police have been informed of only two kidnappings on the night the raiders came to town, but several residents insisted that at least 10 people were missing.

The townspeople say they feel a pall hanging over them. The roadside restaurants and vendors of cheese say fewer people stop in the town, apparently out of fear. Soldiers in Humvees with mounted machine guns patrol the streets.

Some residents said they were stunned that the entire police force of more than 20 officers had stepped down. Many say the town will never be able to afford the cost of a more professional force that could stop future attacks.

“One feels very disillusioned with the government,” said the owner of a popular restaurant, who has spent her life in the town. “There is no one who seems to be able to do anything.”

Title: Mex weapons laws for gringos
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 31, 2008, 05:32:34 PM
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on June 06, 2008, 04:56:35 PM
Mexico’s war on drugs: Journey into a lawless land

With 1,400 dead this year alone, and gangs pinning up 'wanted' posters naming police they wish to see killed, Mexico's war on drugs is spiralling out of control. Richard Grant risked his life to travel through the mountains of the Sierra Madre – the most dangerous region of all – and witnessed the terrifying slide into anarchy

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

If someone had come up to me in my early twenties, when men are supposed to be at their most reckless, and offered me a fortune to go into a place like the Sierra Madre, I would have thought about it for about three seconds before saying no. But after years spent reporting gangs in South Central LA, where I had a gun pointed at me for the first time, the Zapatista uprising in southernmost Mexico, and riots in Haiti, my acceptable level of risk kept rising. I had begun to think the Sierra Madre would not be that dangerous, and besides, I was curious about the nature of anarchy. The forbidden mystique of the Sierra got the better of me.

The Sierra Madre Occidental, the Mother Mountain range of the Mexican West, begins just south of the Arizona border and extends for nearly 900 miles. It contains no cities or large towns, only two paved roads and almost nothing in the way of law and order. This rugged cordillera has always defied the efforts of governments – Aztec, Spanish and Mexican – to enforce control, and it is now one of the biggest production areas in the world for marijuana, opium and heroin, and a staging point for Colombian cocaine.

It is not the sort of place where you can just turn up without an introduction, and I spent years trying to make contacts who could take me in under their protection. Time and again, I was told that it was too dangerous to take a gringo into the mountains, because the drug lords were feuding, or battling the army. Finally, I found a way to get into the Sierra Madre, spent four months travelling down the range and was extremely lucky to escape from the mountains without getting killed.

Along the way, I glimpsed Mexico's future. In the past 18 months, and particularly in the last two weeks, the murderous narco-anarchy I saw in the Sierra Madre has gone nationwide. President Felipe Calderon has gone to war against Mexico's drug cartels, all of which were started by Sierra Madre clanfolk who came downhill – and he is now discovering that the Mexican state isn't strong enough to defeat them.

In Mexico City, cartel gunmen assassinated the nation's police commander in the grounds of his home. In the state of Chihuahua, drug gangs have, in the past fortnight, put up hit lists and wanted posters with names and photographs of police commanders, and offers of reward money for their deaths. In the border city of Juarez, the list was posted on a police memorial statue. No one dared take it down, and so far 17 names have been crossed off it – dead.

The narcos are also feuding with other, with 1,400 drug-related murders so far this year, and many towns and cities are under a virtual curfew. Several police departments have resigned en masse in terror, and three police commanders have fled to the United States requesting asylum. President Calderon is claiming signs of progress, but it looks like the whole nation is unravelling, turning feral, descending into lawlessness.


The morning I left for the Sierra Madre, the sun was shining brightly. With my guide, I crossed the border at Douglas, passed through two Mexican army checkpoints looking for guns and drugs, then entered the foothills. My grand adventure was under way at last.

Crossing the line into the state of Sonora, I made my first stop in the town of Yecora. A three-piece band was playing on a flatbed truck and a crowd of 30 or 40 people had gathered. I love norteño music.

I parked and rolled the window down. It was good, raw, soulful, caterwauling norteño. A hundred years ago, they sang corridos in the Sierra about famous bandits, outlaws, revolutionaries, or particularly bloody feuds and heroic-tragic deaths. Now they sing about the drug lords, who sometimes commission the songs out of vanity, and events both real and imagined from the lives of drug growers, local bosses, regional traffickers, smugglers, dealers, pilots, assassins. There's a great deal of macho bragging and posturing, and despite the accordions and polkas, the music form it most resembles is gangsta rap.

I walked over to the back of the crowd as the band was singing a narcocorrido about some drug lord who was the king of the Sierra, with many houses, fine women and impressive machine-guns.

The next song had hardly begun when three drunk men with twitching lips came up to me. They offered to sell me marijuana at $100 a kilo, premium quality, good price, "special for you". When I said I had just pulled over to hear the music they got very suspicious and accused me of working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, which is something you never want to hear in the Sierra Madre. I laughed it off with as much casual disdain as I could muster, said that I was a British tourist, bid them a sudden farewell and concentrated on maintaining a relaxed and deceptively speedy gait as I walked back to my truck.

I drove all the way out of the mountains without stopping again. Late that night, with enormous relief, I collapsed at a motel. I was safe.

Soon afterwards, I arrived in the town of Alamos. It would take a while to find someone willing and able to take me deeper into the mountains from there. Crossing the Sierra on a paved and well-travelled highway was one thing, but going into the mountains above Alamos by myself was different.

I studied the calm, impassive expressions on the faces of the grandmothers sitting in their doorways, the young couples arm in arm, the off-duty drug dealers standing outside the cantina, wearing silk shirts decorated with pictures of roosters, scorpions, pick-up trucks, AK-47s and the Virgin of Guadalupe.

I went into a cantina called Casino Señorial, a big concrete barn with the walls painted Tecate red and gold, white plastic tables and chairs and a giant, pulsating, multicoloured jukebox in the corner. The place was three-quarters full with men, and I could tell from the hard faces, lean shanks and tyre-tread sandals that most of them had come down from the Sierra.

On the wall behind the bar was a stuffed mountain lion, caught in the act of tearing the throat out of a stuffed deer. Fake blood was smeared around the wound and splattered down the wall. I sat down at the bar and ordered a caguama, a giant sea-turtle, or in this case a quarter-gallon bottle of Tecate beer.

Three women appeared and paraded on the concrete floor on stiletto heels. The whores collected money from the bartender and fed it into the jukebox. The music was all narcocorridos – "I'm one of the players in the Sierra where the opium poppy grows... I like risky action, I like to do cocaine, I walk right behind death with a beautiful woman on each arm... I've got an AK-47 for anyone who wants to try me..."

A group of men beckoned me over to their table. One of them was clearly in charge, a big, paunchy man with a glassy-eyed smile and a magnificent Roman nose. The others called him El Pelicano, The Pelican, and warned me that he and the younger man next to him were cops from the region.

I pulled up a chair and sat down and The Pelican thumped his empty caguama on the plastic table. The bartender scurried over with a fresh one and The Pelican looked at me to pay. They all looked ripped on cocaine, including the two cops.

Their lips were writhing and they were chewing at their tongues and guzzling down beer at a crazy pace. Five minutes after it arrived, the caguama was empty and The Pelican thumped it down on the table. Again I paid and five minutes later I paid again, and so on for the next 20 minutes.

They started making motions, as if lifting a key or a spoon to their nostrils. "Do you like perico?" asked the younger cop. Cocaine was perico, parakeet, because it made you chatter without knowing what you were saying.

"Not now, thank you," I said. Call me paranoid, but the idea of doing cocaine with Mexican cops made me nervous.

I got up to go to the bathroom and the two cops followed me in there. Then The Pelican raised his forefinger to stop me leaving, took out a plastic bag of cocaine, scooped a little mound on the end of his pocket knife and offered it to me.

They wanted me to buy some, which looked like a classic Mexican set-up: I would buy the cocaine, the cops would bust me and extort a large bribe, which they would then spend on cocaine. My instincts were telling me to leave but I didn't know how. To leave a Mexican drinking session before it reaches its natural conclusion, which is absolute drunkenness, is considered rude and disrespectful, and in the rougher parts of the Sierra it is a frequent cause of homicide.

The Pelican thumped down another empty caguama and I pulled out my wallet again and found that it was empty. A godsend!

I showed it to everyone at the table, thanked them for their fine company and outstanding hospitality and assured them that my house was at their orders if they were ever in Tucson.

I got up to leave and The Pelican said: "No, we need more perico. We need more beer. You can get more money from the wall of the bank. We are friends. Or are you too proud to drink with Mexicans?"

"We are friends without doubt," I said. "And there are no better people in all the world to drink with than Mexicans. I will go to the bank and get money from the wall."

I made my reeling exit, and headed towards and into the welcoming darkness of my guest-house.


The old adobe town of Urique was founded by a gold prospector in 1690. The sun was behind the canyon wall and the long dusk had begun. Behind Rafael's restaurant was a garden with some fruit trees and white plastic tables and chairs. There, I met two young men called Pancho and José. They had gel-spiked hair and were wearing cargo pants and Nike trainers.

"You want to buy some?" said Pancho without further ado, referring to the local marijuana, "$100 a kilo."

"Ah, no thank you."

"How about grenades? I have some good grenades and a rocket for them."

"The rocket shoots the grenades?"

"Yes. It works very well, very strong." He held up his arm and slapped it.

"It's not my business, but why would anyone need rocket-propelled grenades in Urique Canyon?"

Pancho gave me the patient, pitying look. "Helicopters," he said. "Sometimes the army comes in helicopters. We used to string cables across the canyons to bring them down, but these work much better."

"But I don't need to shoot down any helicopters."

"Hombre, you can use them for anything you want. If there are bandits on the road ahead, you stop and – BOOM!"

"How about some parakeet?" chimed in José. "We can get some right now from Pancho's aunt."

"No thank you. But tell me, how are the police here? Do they make trouble?"

"There is no problem," said José. They both grinned. "My brother is a police officer and we are training to be police officers ourselves."

Not so long ago, the largest town in each municipio would have a single resident comisario, or police officer, and he was responsible for law and order over hundreds of square miles of rugged, roadless mountains. His only real work was to confiscate moonshine, then sell it back to the townsfolk out of his office. That was the extent of the law unless there was a killing and the killer was considered too dangerous or troublesome for the victim's family members to kill. In that case, the local people would send for the judiciales, the state police, and they would ride up into the Sierra on mules.

Now, there are stations of municipal police officers in places like Urique and Chinipas. Pancho and José would soon be joining their ranks. Once they had their badges, guns and the power of arrest, their potential earnings would increase. Units of the state police and AFI (Mexico's equivalent of the FBI) were stationed in the Sierra Madre now, too, but this didn't mean that law and order had arrived. It usually meant more armed, ruthless men in town looking for a piece of the drug action – and a rise in teenage pregnancies and drink-driving accidents.

Trying to distinguish between police officers and drug traffickers can be a futile exercise in Mexico. The traffickers don't just buy protection against arrest; they hire state and federal policemen to transport loads for them and carry out executions.

Where once there was a relatively simple form of lawlessness in the Sierra, now things are more complicated, based on shifting arrangements of corruption financed by organised crime, linked to global black markets and affected by national and international politics. There are enormous amounts of money at stake now, and this was what drew the law into the Sierra Madre and also made it imperative to co-opt the law and keep it at bay.


Baborigame was an ominous, grim-looking town in a wide valley with heavily logged mountains around it. When Randy, another of my guides, first came here in the early 1990s, there was no law and no electricity, and a killing almost every night. The arrival of the law had resulted in a decline in the murder rate in town, and an increase in the murder rate out in the ranches.

The torrent of drug money that had flowed through Baborigame in the 1980s and 1990s had left almost no trace. The streets were unpaved and potholed. The drains didn't work. Aside from a few "narco" houses with bright paint and fancy wrought-iron fences, people lived in squalid shacks and adobes.

By this point in my journey I was tired and run down and I had lost tolerance for machismo. It is the root of the worst evil in Mexico, the real reason why men kill each other and rape women in such horrifying numbers. Not that those numbers are available; according to The Washington Post, fewer than 1 per cent of rapes are reported in Mexico.

In the Sierra Madre the practice known as rapto – a man kidnapping a girl and forcing her to marry him – is commonplace. This is what happened to Chana, a woman I met. From Coloradas de la Virgen, she was now living in Baborigame. Raped at 15 and made pregnant, she had to marry the rapist so he could help her to raise the child. She had another child with her rapist husband and then he was murdered, leaving her with two children to raise. It happens to thousands of women like Chana every year. It is indefensible, but it is the code of the mountains.

Back near Alamos, I picked up another guide, Gustavo. One of his jobs was doing clerical and translating work for the municipio, or county police department, and this gave him access to the murder reports and crime statistics from the area. I started looking into the numbers.

The population of the municipio was approximately 23,000, with 9,000 in Alamos, 3,000 in San Bernardo and the rest scattered in small mountain villages and ranches. Gustavo said they were averaging 90 reported murders a year, and that it was safe to add at least another 20 unreported murders to that figure. Let's call it 100 murders a year, committed by a population of 23,000.

I knew that Mexico's overall murder rate was twice that of the United States, but here was a rural county with a murder rate eight times higher than the most homicidal US cities.

We drove into a village of about two dozen shacks, most of them built out of crudely woven sticks and dried mud with palm-thatch or corrugated tin roofs. More often than not, they also had a solar panel, a TV satellite dish and a big American pick-up parked out front.

"With the money from your first crop you buy clothes, jewellery and guns," said Gustavo. "I can assure you that every one of these huts has at least one pistol and one rifle inside. Then you buy your truck, your solar, your satellite and TV. The last thing you spend money on is the house."

We drove on to the next village, Aguacaliente. It looked deserted. We walked along the stream looking for the hot springs that gave the village its name. A middle-aged man appeared in a blue shirt and white hat and walked down the banks holding a bucket. "That's a woman's job," said Gustavo. "He was sent down here to see what we're doing."

The man introduced himself as Señor Espinoza and we all shook hands. Gustavo ran through his clan credentials. With no prompting, Señor Espinoza started talking about the soldiers. "We had a nice crop growing in the hills and we were ready to pick it when the army came with planes and helicopters and a captain that could not be fixed."

"It is these new college-educated army officers," said Gustavo.

"There are a couple of them near Alamos who can't be fixed. They are not reasonable men," said Espinoza. "We used to grow a lot of opium here and the army have stopped that too. It makes no sense. The army and the federales were getting their share, the politicians were getting their share from the mafia, the gringos were getting their drugs and the people here were able to make a living. It was a good system for everybody and now it is broken. Even if we get a reasonable captain during the next harvest, we have no money now and will not be able to fix things with him."

He bid us a courteous farewell, apparently satisfied that we were harmless. We walked back to the truck and sat in the cab making peanut butter sandwiches.

"Gustavo," I said, looking in the rear-view mirror. It didn't look good. There were two young men leading horses directly towards us and they had very hard stares on their faces. Gustavo looked over his shoulder. Two more men appeared and then all four of them pulled down their hats, and when Gustavo saw that, with a piece of bread half-smeared with peanut butter on his knee, he said, "Go, go, go! Go now! Go!"

I started the engine and slewed out of there, fish-tailing in the sand.


The largest component of Mexico's economy is still drug trafficking, estimated at about $50bn. According to a leaked study conducted in 2001 by Mexico's internal security agency CISEN, if the drug business was somehow wiped out, Mexico's economy would shrink by 63 per cent.

As Gustavo pointed out, the drug business was not a healthy occupation or a good influence on society. It makes boys neglect their schooling and any other ambitions they might harbour. It causes men to die young and violently and worsens corruption.

Coming back across the Cuchujaqui river in the gathering dark, tired and beaten up from a long day on bad roads, Gustavo spoke. "The thing about Mexico is that everyone is out to get everyone else, except within your family and very closest friends. We live with our senses and suspicions on full alert. Maybe someone thinks your wife is prettier than his so he whispers something to the police, or the mafia, and the next thing the police are planting drugs in your truck and you're going to jail for 10 years, or there's a bullet in your head and you may never know why."

He paused a moment and let out a long sigh: "I don't know if you can understand what it is like to live this way."

© Richard Grant 2008. Extracted from Bandit Roads, to be published tomorrow (Little, Brown, £16.99). To order the book for the special price of £15.99 (inc P&P), call Independent Books Direct on 0870 079 8897
Title: So sad
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 06, 2008, 06:16:45 PM
As Porfirio Diaz said some 100 years ago, "Poor Mexico; so far from God and so close to the United States."

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on June 06, 2008, 06:49:00 PM
Poor Americans, so close to Mexico, and with a still unsecured border.......
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on June 06, 2008, 11:02:31 PM

**Content Warning-graphic photos from Mexico's drug violence**
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 07, 2008, 04:28:17 AM
"Poor Americans, so close to Mexico, and with a still unsecured border......."

A witty rejoinder GM, and entirely valid-- we are in complete agreement about the border and that Mexico's inability to have opportunity for its people within its own borders presents profound problems for us.

I would also add that if Americans weren't buying the cocaine that we do, the drug trade would not be what it is.  (For the record, in my opinion our "War on Drugs" is a tremendous mistake.)
Title: Border issues over oil
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 09, 2008, 09:31:02 PM
Border battle brews over Mexico's undersea oil


Unable to develop its deepwater wells and crowded by foreign energy giants, the nation weighs opening up a key industry.

By Marla Dickerson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 5, 2008

U.S. GULF OF MEXICO -- Eight miles north of the maritime border with Mexico, in waters a mile and a half deep, Shell Oil Co. is constructing the most ambitious offshore oil platform ever attempted in the Gulf of Mexico.

As tall as the Eiffel Tower, the floating production facility will be anchored to the ocean floor by moorings spanning an area the size of downtown Houston. Slated to begin operating late next year, this leviathan known as Perdido (or Lost) will cost billions and be capable of pumping 100,000 barrels of crude a day.

But Perdido's most-notable achievement may be to compel Mexico to loosen its 70-year government monopoly on the petroleum sector, thanks to a phenomenon Mexicans have dubbed the "drinking straw effect."

Mexicans fear that companies drilling in U.S. waters close to the border will suck Mexican crude into their wells. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis' fictional oilman in "There Will Be Blood" likened the concept to siphoning a rival's milkshake.

"When they take petroleum from the American side, our petroleum is going to migrate," Sen. Francisco Labastida Ochoa, head of the Mexican Senate's Energy Committee, told the newspaper Milenio recently.

Oil isn't a simple commodity in Mexico. It's a powerful symbol of national sovereignty. Rancor over foreigners profiting from its hydrocarbons -- namely America's Standard Oil -- led Mexico to nationalize its industry in 1938. The state-owned oil company Pemex is forbidden by law from partnering with outsiders to exploit a drop of Mexican crude.

But for a growing chorus of Mexicans, sharing a milkshake is preferable to watching your neighbor drink it up. Mexico has no viable deepwater drilling program to match U.S. efforts near the maritime border. And it lacks an iron-clad legal means to defend its patrimony. Some are urging their government to partner with the U.S. to co-develop border fields or risk losing those deposits.

Mexican Energy Secretary Georgina Kessel has spoken repeatedly of her desire to negotiate such a pact. Cross-border fields are a hot topic in Mexico's Congress. Lawmakers are embroiled in a heated debate on how to strengthen Pemex, which provides 40% of Mexico's tax revenue but whose slumping output is alarming the nation.

Proposed legislation would still ban partnerships. But the consensus to permit some exception in the gulf region is growing as oil companies move closer to Mexican territory. The U.S. has issued drilling rights on dozens of parcels less than 10 miles from Mexican waters. Shell, BP, Chevron and Exxon Mobil, plus independents including Houston's Bois d'Arc Energy, have secured acreage adjacent to the boundary.

"The pressure is forcing [legislators] to do something," said Mexico City attorney David Enriquez, a maritime law expert who will testify at a Senate hearing today on transborder reservoirs. "It's the one area where they are unified."

It's unclear whether big shared deposits even exist in the Gulf of Mexico. Historically, the region's deepwater finds have been isolated pockets of petroleum, not mega-fields.

Officials at the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that regulates U.S. offshore production, said they had no knowledge that any gulf reservoirs now under development crossed the international divide.

Shell, which is developing its Perdido platform with Chevron and BP, said the deposits they were targeting were confined to U.S. territory.

Mexicans are skeptical. A recent editorial cartoon showed a greedy Uncle Sam sucking from a straw plunged deep into the gulf. But Pemex hasn't done the seismic and drilling work needed to determine if there is crude on its side.

All the more reason, Enriquez said, for Mexico to collaborate with the U.S. to find out what lies near the 470-nautical-mile gulf border and end all the speculation.

A spokesman for Minerals Management said his agency had worked with Mexico before on boundary issues and was open to discussing cross-border fields. "It's the neighborly thing to do," said Dave Cooke, deputy regional supervisor for resource evaluation for the agency in New Orleans.

Oil and gas fields straddle international borders all over the globe. Countries typically strike a "unitization agreement" to share the costs to extract the deposits and split the proceeds based on how much lies in each nation.

Britain has partnered with the Netherlands and Norway in the crowded North Sea. Australia and East Timor have a unitization agreement. So do Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea.

But the U.S. and Mexico have long skirted the topic, given their prickly history with oil.

Until recently, such an agreement wasn't necessary. Both nations had plenty of shallow-water reserves to keep them occupied. Low oil prices didn't justify the exorbitant costs of deepwater drilling, where a single well can cost $100 million or more.

But exploding crude prices and advances in seismic technology now have oil companies pushing into the farthest reaches of the U.S. gulf. Private operators snapped up a record $3.7 billion worth of leases at Mineral Management Services' March auction, virtually all of them in deep water.

Since 1992, firms have drilled more than 2,100 wells at depths greater than 1,000 feet in the U.S. gulf. Pemex has drilled seven deepwater wells since 2004, none of which is producing, and none is likely to for years.

Therein lies the nation's predicament. Mexico is the world's sixth-largest crude producer, but production is in its fourth straight year of decline. Mexico could become a net oil importer within a decade if it doesn't find new reserves fast.

Cantarell, a shallow-water gulf field in southern Mexico, is drying up after more than a quarter-century of production. April output averaged just over 1 million barrels a day, less than half of its peak in 2003.

Pemex says there are billions of untapped barrels in Mexico's deep waters. But it lacks the capital and know-how to go after them.

A bill being pushed by President Felipe Calderon's administration would make it easier for Pemex to hire the expertise it needs. But deep-water projects cost billions and can take a decade to come on line. Oil majors typically want a share of any crude that they find -- a standard industry practice forbidden by Mexico's constitution.

It's unclear whether a constitutional change would be necessary to let Mexico forge a unitization agreement with the United States. But industry experts said a deal would make sense for both sides.

Companies working in U.S. waters wouldn't have to worry about Mexico taking legal action if it were determined that Mexican crude was ending up in their wells. International law and commercial custom dictate that communal reservoirs be shared. But the U.S. has not ratified a key United Nations treaty on maritime law, which could complicate Mexico's effort to pursue any complaint over pilfered crude.

Nevertheless, oil companies don't like surprises, said Michelle Foss, chief energy economist at the University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology. "You're not going to put a billion dollars at risk if . . . you might have to suspend operations because of an international dispute," she said.

A unitization deal would give Pemex a chance to learn from deepwater veterans who have been working the gulf for decades. There is pipeline infrastructure on the U.S. side, eliminating the need for Mexico to duplicate such a costly effort.

Yet critics such as Mexican opposition leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador say border fields are the first step in opening Mexico's energy sector to foreigners and privatizing Pemex. Calderon denies it.

As Mexico mulls its next move, the U.S. is hitting the gas. Its gulf crude production averages 1.3 million barrels daily and is projected to rise to as much as 2.1 million barrels a day by 2016, thanks to Perdido and other deepwater projects.

Shaped like a giant tin can, Perdido will be anchored in 8,000 feet of water, making it the deepest so-called spar in the world. The movable structure, with up to 150 workers, will tap oil at three fields, Silvertip, Tobago and Great White.

"The easy oil is gone," said Russ Ford, Shell's technical vice president for the Americas.
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 17, 2008, 09:33:40 AM
Mexico Security Memo: June 16, 2008
Stratfor Today » June 16, 2008 | 2330 GMT
Related Links
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Targeting Children
Twelve-year-old Alexa Belen Moreno was found shot dead in the back of an abandoned sport utility vehicle June 9 in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. Police later reported that Moreno and two other young girls had been kidnapped in a park near where Moreno’s body was discovered. The three girls reportedly were kidnapped to be used as bargaining tools with rival groups, but the scenario changed when the kidnappers were intercepted by a rival group. The kidnappers proceeded to use the three as human shields as they engaged in a gun battle with the rival faction, resulting in Moreno’s death and the injury of another of the girls.

While violence has been aimed at young people before, even the cartels largely eschew the tactic. (La Linea, an alliance of corrupt police officials that acts as the enforcement arm of the Juarez cartel, later left a note next to the corpse of an individual stating, “This is what happens to those who involve the innocent.”)

The child kidnappings and the killing of Moreno reveal a trend seen before with the Arellano Felix Organization, aka the Tijuana Cartel. As the Tijuana cartel began to dissolve under pressure from multiple sources, elements of it diversified their criminal interests into different areas such as kidnapping.

The split between the Sinaloa cartel and the Juarez cartel over the Juarez plaza has been well documented, and is the source for the majority of the violence taking place in the border town. While the Sinaloa cartel continues to fracture, we will likely see the remaining Sinaloa elements in Juarez either move elsewhere or adopt this practice of diversifying their criminal enterprises. However, the narcotics trade will still be the central focus for these factions because that is where the most money is to be made.

Cuban Illegal Immigrants Abducted
A bus carrying 33 Cuban nationals guarded by National Institute of Migration (INM) guards was hijacked June 11 by an unknown number of armed men on the Palenque-Ocosingo road 140 kilometers (about 87 miles) outside Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas state. The 33 Cubans were arrested in Cancun earlier in the week when the boat they were traveling in was intercepted by the INM. They were on the bus along with other Central American detainees traveling to an immigration detention center in Tapachula.

Cuban Ambassador to Mexico Manuel Aguilera de la Paz revealed that elements of the “Miami Mafia” were behind the hijacking in Chiapas. Human trafficking has been a large money-maker for the Cuban mafia, especially the Miami syndicate, for some time now. Recently, human smugglers have begun to take different routes through Mexico and across its porous border with the United States due to increased patrols by the U.S. Coast Guard along the Florida coast. Cuban nationals must only be present at the border and be able to identify themselves as a Cuban national to be granted asylum in the United States; they do not have to cross the border first. Families pay members of the Miami Mafia between $10,000-$15,000 per person to transport loved ones from Cuba to the United States, making this group of Cuban nationals quite valuable at just under $500,000. The Mexican Attorney General’s Office later announced that the Miami Mafia possibly could be cooperating with Los Zetas, using plazas controlled by the Zetas to transport Cubans to the U.S. border.

(click to view map)

June 9

The Police Chief of Jaltipan, a city southeast of Veracruz, was murdered by a group of armed men inside his home as he returned from work in the afternoon.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza announced an “Arms Crusaders” program to prevent cross-border arms transactions; he also announced the exchange of real-time intelligence between Mexican and U.S. authorities.
June 10
The corpse of Jorge Velazquez, the chief of security for Reclusorio Sur — a Mexico City prison — was found wrapped in a blanket on the side of the street in the Iztapalapa area of Mexico City. Authorities believe his murder resulted from a prison drug deal gone wrong. Prison officials later confiscated all cell phones belonging to prison inmates.
June 11
The head prosecutor for Mexico City announced that two kidnapping gangs still operating openly in the city are responsible for four recent abductions that remain under investigation.
Mexico’s attorney general said violence in the struggle against drug trafficking has not reached its peak yet, but will decline over the next few years.
June 12
Citizens of Morelia, frustrated with the inactivity of local law enforcement, posted three signs around town warning criminals not to commit petty crimes.
An informant provided the Mexican Attorney General’s office with information connecting high-ranking Public Security Secretariat official Juan Guadalupe Aguilar to Sergio Villareal — aka El Grand — a high-ranking member of the Beltran Leyva group with connections to the Los Zetas.
June 13
The bodies of a young married couple executed in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan, were discovered in a house on a ranch, bound with gunshot wounds to the backs of their heads. This was the second such incident in a week in Michoacan.
June 14
“Commando Negro” leader Rosario Flores Rojas was captured outside Ensenada, Baja California state, in a joint operation between the Mexican Army and state law enforcement officials. Commando Negro has protected drug traffickers, operated a kidnapping ring and been involved in various incidents of score-settling.
June 15
Five people died in a shootout between two rival drug gangs and federal, state and local officials in Ciudad Obregon and Navajoa, Sonora States.
Back to top
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on June 26, 2008, 07:05:13 AM
**Their troops in action?**

Man killed in home invasion; drugs suspected
by Ali Pfauser - Jun. 23, 2008 04:34 PM
Six men with guns and body armor ambushed and killed a man in his Phoenix home Sunday, firing over one hundred rounds into the house.

No one else was injured. Investigators believe the house was being used to sell marijuana and the shooting was not random. Nevertheless, the large amount of ammunition alarmed authorities.

"We have seen an increasing amount of these type of violent crimes in the past five months," Phoenix Police Sgt. Joel Tranter said. "We want the public to realize that these types of crimes will not be tolerated in Phoenix."

Phoenix police officials gave the following details about the case: Special Assignments Unit detectives were near the area of 83rd Avenue and Encanto Boulevard when they heard gunshots coming from a neighborhood. The detectives began to drive toward the gunshots where they were directed by neighbors to a nearby house.

Once inside the home, detectives discovered the body of Andrew Williams, 30, shot numerous times, Phoenix Police Detective Cindy Scott said.

As police searched the gunshot-riddled house they determined over 100 rounds of various calibers of ammunition were used.

Police also recovered marijuana and body armor from the house.

As more investigators came to help, they noticed a red Chevrolet Tahoe driving suspiciously in the neighborhood. Detectives followed the vehicle to 7th Street and Coronado Road where Daniel Garcia-Saenz, 24; Manual Garcia-Trejom, 25; and Rodolfo Madrigal Lopez, 19, jumped out and ran from the vehicle before being apprehended by authorities.

All three suspects were wearing law-enforcement-like body armor. Helmets and various weapons were recovered from the suspect's vehicle.

Police believe there are three more suspects still outstanding in the case, Scott said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Phoenix Police Department at 602-262-6141 or 480-WITNESS.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on June 26, 2008, 11:37:52 AM

More from our "amigos".
Title: Stratfor: The Fallout from Phoenix
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 02, 2008, 04:00:47 PM
Mexican Cartels and the Fallout From Phoenix
July 2, 2008

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Late on the night of June 22, a residence in Phoenix was approached by a heavily armed tactical team preparing to serve a warrant. The members of the team were wearing the typical gear for members of their profession: black boots, black BDU pants, Kevlar helmets and Phoenix Police Department (PPD) raid shirts pulled over their body armor. The team members carried AR-15 rifles equipped with Aimpoint sights to help them during the low-light operation and, like most cops on a tactical team, in addition to their long guns, the members of this team carried secondary weapons — pistols strapped to their thighs.

But the raid took a strange turn when one element of the team began directing suppressive fire on the residence windows while the second element entered — a tactic not normally employed by the PPD. This breach of departmental protocol did not stem from a mistake on the part of the team’s commander. It occurred because the eight men on the assault team were not from the PPD at all. These men were not cops serving a legal search or arrest warrant signed by a judge; they were cartel hit men serving a death warrant signed by a Mexican drug lord.

The tactical team struck hard and fast. They quickly killed a man in the house and then fled the scene in two vehicles, a red Chevy Tahoe and a gray Honda sedan. Their aggressive tactics did have consequences, however. The fury the attackers unleashed on the home — firing over 100 rounds during the operation — drew the attention of a nearby Special Assignments Unit (SAU) team, the PPD’s real tactical team, which responded to the scene with other officers. An SAU officer noticed the Tahoe fleeing the scene and followed it until it entered an alley. Sensing a potential ambush, the SAU officer chose to establish a perimeter and wait for reinforcements rather than charge down the alley after the suspects. This was fortunate, because after three of the suspects from the Tahoe were arrested, they confessed that they had indeed planned to ambush the police officers chasing them.

The assailants who fled in the Honda have not yet been found, but police did recover the vehicle in a church parking lot. They reportedly found four sets of body armor in the vehicle and also recovered an assault rifle abandoned in a field adjacent to the church.

This Phoenix home invasion and murder is a vivid reminder of the threat to U.S. law enforcement officers that stems from the cartel wars in Mexico.

Violence Crosses the Border
The fact that the Mexican men involved in the Phoenix case were heavily armed and dressed as police comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed security events in Mexico. Teams of cartel enforcers frequently impersonate police or military personnel, often wearing matching tactical gear and carrying standardized weapons. In fact, it is rare to see a shootout or cartel-related arms seizure in Mexico where tactical gear and clothing bearing police or military insignia is not found.

One reason for the prevalent use of this type of equipment is that many cartel enforcers come from military or police backgrounds. By training and habit, they prefer to operate as a team composed of members equipped with standardized gear so that items such as ammunition and magazines can be interchanged during a firefight. This also gives a team member the ability to pick up the familiar weapon of a fallen comrade and immediately bring it into action. This is of course the same reason military units and police forces use standardized equipment in most places.

Police clothing, such as hats, patches and raid jackets, is surprisingly easy to come by. Authentic articles can be stolen or purchased through uniform vendors or cop shops. Knockoff uniform items can easily be manufactured in silk screen or embroidery shops by duplicating authentic designs. Even badges are easy to obtain if one knows where to look.

While it now appears that the three men arrested in Phoenix were not former or active members of the Mexican military or police, it is not surprising that they employed military- and police-style tactics. Enforcers of various cartel groups such as Los Zetas, La Gente Nueva or the Kaibiles who have received advanced tactical training often pass on that training to younger enforcers (many of whom are former street thugs) at makeshift training camps located on ranches in northern Mexico. There are also reports of Israeli mercenaries visiting these camps to provide tactical training. In this way, the cartel enforcers are transforming ordinary street thugs into highly-trained cartel tactical teams.

Though cartel enforcers have almost always had ready access to guns, including military weapons such as assault rifles and grenade launchers, groups such as Los Zetas, the Kaibiles and their young disciples bring an added level of threat to the equation. They are highly trained men with soldiers’ mindsets who operate as a unit capable of using their weapons with deadly effectiveness. Assault rifles in the hands of untrained thugs are dangerous, but when those same weapons are placed in the hands of men who can shoot accurately and operate tactically as a fire team, they can be overwhelmingly powerful — not only when used against enemies and other intended targets, but also when used against law enforcement officers who attempt to interfere with the team’s operations.

Although the victim in the Phoenix killing, Andrew Williams, was reportedly a Jamaican drug dealer who crossed a Mexican cartel, there are many other targets in the United States that the cartels would like to eliminate. These targets include Mexican cartel members who have fled to the United States due to several different factors. The first factor is the violent cartel war that has raged in Mexico for the past few years over control of important smuggling routes and strategic locations along those routes. The second factor is the Calderon administration’s crackdown, first on the Gulf cartel and now on the Sinaloa cartel. Pressure from rival cartels and the government has forced many cartel leaders into hiding, and some of them have left Mexico for Central America or the United States.

Traditionally, when violence has spiked in Mexico, cartel figures have used U.S. cities such as Laredo, El Paso and San Diego as rest and recreation spots, reasoning that the general umbrella of safety provided by U.S. law enforcement to those residing in the United States would protect them from assassination by their enemies. As bolder Mexican cartel hit men have begun to carry out assassinations on the U.S. side of the border in places such as Laredo, Rio Bravo, and even Dallas, the cartel figures have begun to seek sanctuary deeper in the United States, thereby bringing the threat with them.

While many cartel leaders are wanted in the United States, many have family members not being sought by U.S. law enforcement. (Many of them even have relatives who are U.S. citizens.) Some family members have also settled comfortably inside the United States, using the country as a haven from violence in Mexico. These families might become targets, however, as the cartels look for creative ways to hurt their rivals.

Other cartel targets in the United States include Drug Enforcement Administration and other law enforcement officers responsible for operations against the cartels, and informants who have cooperated with U.S. or Mexican authorities and been relocated stateside for safety. There are also many police officers who have quit their jobs in Mexico and fled to the United States to escape threats from the cartels, as well as Mexican businessmen who are targeted by cartels and have moved to the United States for safety.

To date, the cartels for the most part have refrained from targeting innocent civilians. In the type of environment they operate under inside Mexico, cartels cannot afford to have the local population, a group they use as camouflage, turn against them. It is not uncommon for cartel leaders to undertake public relations events (they have even held carnivals for children) in order to build goodwill with the general population. As seen with al Qaeda in Iraq, losing the support of the local population is deadly for a militant group attempting to hide within that population.

Cartels have also attempted to minimize civilian casualties in their operations inside the United States, though for a different operational consideration. The cartels believe that if a U.S. drug dealer or a member of a rival Mexican cartel is killed in a place like Dallas or Phoenix, nobody really cares. Many people see such a killing as a public service, and there will not be much public outcry about it, nor much real effort on the part of law enforcement agencies to identify and catch the killers. The death of a civilian, on the other hand, brings far more public condemnation and law enforcement attention.

However, the aggressiveness of cartel enforcers and their brutal lack of regard for human life means that while they do not intentionally target civilians, they are bound to create collateral casualties along the way. This is especially true as they continue to conduct operations like the Phoenix killing, where they fired over 100 rounds of 5.56 mm ball ammunition at a home in a residential neighborhood.

Tactical Implications
Judging from the operations of the cartel enforcers in Mexico, they have absolutely no hesitation about firing at police officers who interfere with their operations or who dare to chase them. Indeed, the Phoenix case nearly ended in an ambush of the police. It must be noted, however, that this ambush was not really intentional, but rather the natural reaction of these Mexican cartel enforcers to police pursuit. They were accustomed to shooting at police and military south of the border and have very little regard for them. In many instances, this aggression convinces the poorly armed and trained police to leave the cartel gunmen alone.

The problem such teams pose for the average U.S. cop on patrol is that the average cop is neither trained nor armed to confront a heavily armed fire team. In fact, a PPD source advised Stratfor that, had the SAU officer not been the first to arrive on the scene, it could have been a disaster for the department. This is not a criticism of the Phoenix cops. The vast majority of police officers and federal agents in the United States simply are not prepared or equipped to deal with a highly trained fire team using insurgent tactics. That is a task suited more for the U.S. military forces currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These cartel gunmen also have the advantage of being camouflaged as cops. This might not only cause considerable confusion during a firefight (who do backup officers shoot at if both parties in the fight are dressed like cops?) but also means that responding officers might hesitate to fire on the criminals dressed as cops. Such hesitation could provide the criminals with an important tactical advantage — an advantage that could prove fatal for the officers.

Mexican cartel enforcers have also demonstrated a history of using sophisticated scanners to listen to police radio traffic, and in some cases they have even employed police radios to confuse and misdirect the police responding to an armed confrontation with cartel enforcers.

We anticipate that as the Mexican cartels begin to go after more targets inside the United States, the spread of cartel violence and these dangerous tactics beyond the border region will catch some law enforcement officers by surprise. A patrol officer conducting a traffic stop on a group of cartel members who are preparing to conduct an assassination in, say, Los Angeles, Chicago or northern Virginia could quickly find himself heavily outgunned and under fire. With that said, cops in the United States are far more capable than their Mexican counterparts of dealing with this threat.

In addition to being far better trained, U.S. law enforcement officers also have access to far better command, control and communication networks than their Mexican counterparts. Like we saw in the Phoenix example, this communication network provides cops with the ability to quickly summon reinforcements, air support and tactical teams to deal with heavily armed criminals — but this communication system only helps if it can be used. That means cops need to recognize the danger before they are attacked and prevented from calling for help. As with many other threats, the key to protecting oneself against this threat is situational awareness, and cops far from the border need to become aware of this trend.

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Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on July 16, 2008, 07:39:38 AM
Mexico: The Early Signs of a Failed State?   
By Congressman Tom Tancredo | Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mexican law enforcement officials are walking into U.S. ports of entry in increasing numbers to seek political asylum, and the flow may soon become a flood as Mexico's battle with the drug cartels intensifies. Our first instinct is to welcome them, but there is more at stake than humanitarian sentiments.
The problem is that if our immigration laws are stretched to grant asylum to law enforcement personnel on the grounds that their own government cannot protect them, any Mexican threatened by these violent criminal gangs can claim the same right of asylum.
U.S. immigration law does not easily accommodate these law enforcement cases because they are fleeing threats from organized crime – the Mexican drug cartels – not political persecution by their government. If our laws are stretched to accept thousands of refugees from drug cartel violence, it will only exacerbate Mexico's problems.
We can sympathize with the Mexican police chief or prosecutor who lands on a cartel hit list because he will not play ball with them. The Mexican federal government seemingly cannot protect him and his family, so he flees to El Paso or Nogales and seeks asylum. The number of such asylum applications more than doubled in the first six months of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007, but very few have been approved. What will happen if we do not accept these asylum applications as a humanitarian gesture? What will happen if we do?
The rising number of asylum seekers from Mexican law enforcement and the professional classes is a new phenomenon, not merely another facet of our open borders fiasco. These people are not swimming the Rio Grande or sneaking across the Sonora desert. They are walking into our border ports of entry from Texas to California and asking for protection. We must respect them for following our laws and doing it the right way. But we must also ask some hard questions before throwing open our gates. Humanitarian concerns must be balanced against other considerations – because the fate of Mexico hangs in that balance.
What happens to Mexico if all the good cops flee to the U.S. or Europe and the only ones left are working hand-in-glove with the criminals? What are the consequences if all the honest judges and prosecutors flee and only dishonest ones are left in charge of the courts? What happens if honest businessmen find it easy to flee to San Diego, Houston or Phoenix and only those who will do the cartels' money laundering are running the nation's trucking companies, farms, and banks?
The unpleasant truth is that this new refugee problem is the sign of a deep crisis not in the Mexican economy but in the Mexican political system itself. Mexico exhibits mounting signs of a "failed state," a political system that cannot satisfy the most basic conditions of civic order such as safety in one’s streets, home, school, and workplace. Failing states begin to hemorrhage people and their assets. The middle class begins to flee – doctors, lawyers, accountants, business owners, teachers, and of course, law enforcement officials, who are the first targets of criminal organizations.
These new "civic disorder refugees" are not like the millions of unemployed or underemployed who leave Mexico to a find a job and a better life. These middle class citizens have jobs – often good jobs by Mexican standards – but they do not have security for themselves or their families. They would much prefer to stay in Mexico but they cannot do so safely, so they flee.
If police chiefs and judges cannot be protected from the cartels, then how can ordinary citizens feel safe? If we open the gates to everyone who has a "credible fear" of the cartels, the Border Patrol will no longer have to worry only about people jumping the fence. Thousands will be waiting in line at one of over 300 ports of entry.
This new "emigration from fear" poses an urgent challenge for Mexico. If Mexico wants to win its battle against the drug cartels, it must begin by reforming its police and criminal justice systems so that honest cops, judges and mayors – and journalists – can do their jobs without undue fear of retaliation. To his credit, President Calderon has begun to tackle this problem.
Military operations against the cartel strongholds are probably necessary, but they can never be a substitute for a functioning criminal justice system. Mexican citizens must be able to trust the local police, and local police must be able to trust their government to protect them from gangster-terrorists.
The United States must not become an automatic escape valve for honest officials threatened by cartel violence. If that happens, Mexico will lose its most valued civil servants and become increasingly a militarized (and polarized) society.
Mexico is not yet a failed state, but if humanitarian sentiment and special interest pleadings in the U.S. block sound immigration policy – as happens all too often in American law and politics – we will hasten that tragic development.
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 28, 2008, 02:54:06 PM
Significant Seizures

The Mexican government has made several large seizures of narcotics, materials and cash in recent weeks throughout Mexico. One of the biggest was the July 25 discovery of 8,000 drums of chemicals used to make synthetic drugs in a warehouse in Guadalajara, in Jalisco state. Some of the barrels contained ephedrine and others acetone, two key ingredients in the manufacturing of crystal methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine production is one of the more profitable enterprises in which Mexican drug cartels are involved, and the so-called Mexican “super labs” are responsible for an estimated 80 percent of the methamphetamine on the streets in the United States. It is important to note the growing importance of Mexican-made methamphetamine, the production of which has increased dramatically since 2005, when the United States began restricting the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. It is also important to recognize that one Mexican super lab is able to produce the same amount of the narcotic as hundreds of the small mom-and-pop meth labs common in the United States. The price of methamphetamine is comparable to that of powder cocaine in the United States, and with the cartels able to produce the synthetic narcotic themselves, they can keep a larger portion of the profits than when they act merely as middlemen transporting narcotics from South America.

In any case, someone in the methamphetamine business will not be pleased about the July 25 seizure, and some form of violent payback will likely occur in the coming weeks and months. This could be the attempted assassination of a high-profile law enforcement official with connections to the seizure, or even an attempt to reclaim the seized goods. In the past, the cartels have contracted with assassination gangs like El Nica, which is believed to have been involved in the May 1 murder of Roberto Velasco Bravo, director of investigations for the federal police’s sensitive investigations unit, and the May 8 murder of Edgar Millan Gomez, the acting head of the federal police. However, many of these gangs have been dismantled by the government. Therefore, the cartels will either contract with a new gang or send in cartel enforcers, in which case large amounts of firepower will likely be employed.

It is hard to say when an act of retaliation will occur. Millan was involved in a car chase that nearly captured Arturo Beltran Leyva outside of Cuernavaca, in Morelos state, and it was only a matter of hours before Milan was assassinated outside his home in the Guerrero colony of Mexico City. In an attempt to reclaim their “property” Los Zetas, who have diversified their interests to include human smuggling, are credited with the hijacking of a Mexican National Institute of Migration (INM) bus carrying 33 undocumented Cubans in Chiapas state only a couple of days after they were detained by the INM in Cancun, Quintana Roo. The Cubans were later detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on the U.S. side of the border. In other cases, the time between seizures or arrests and retaliation has been weeks or even months. Although it is hard to predict the timing of a retaliatory strike, it is important to note that the cartels can act swiftly
when they see a need to.

Foreign Kidnappings
Reports began surfacing this past week of foreign nationals being kidnapped for ransom in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, which shares a border with Texas and is home to the Gulf Cartel. On July 12, five South Korean nationals were kidnapped and held for a $30,000 ransom in the city of Reynosa. South Korean officials negotiated their release on July 22. South Korean officials refused to comment on whether the ransom was paid. It was later reveled that the five were planning to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally to seek employment in the United States.

On July 21, a 19-year-old American citizen named Roel Rolando Ramirez was rescued from room 226 of the Hotel California in the Mexican town of Miguel Aleman, in Tamaulipas state. The son of a New Mexico rancher, Rolando Ramirez lived in the Texas border town of Rio Grande City, where he was forced into a car and blindfolded after reportedly being tricked by a friend into stopping his truck. Rolando Ramirez was then taken to the Hotel California where he was told to call his father and ask for $200,000 to be wired to bank accounts in Mexico for his safe return. Rolando Ramirez’s father then alerted the state police, and they were able to rescue Ramirez and arrest his captors.

Cartels typically target only their enemies in kidnapping attempts, but with the security situation along the U.S.-Mexican border in a state of flux, the cartels may be looking for other ways to make money. It would not be surprising to see cartels engage in kidnapping for ransom to help finance their narcotics operations, which have been constrained on both sides of the border. The Arellano Felix Organization (aka the Tijuana cartel) and the paramilitary group Los Zetas have both engaged in kidnapping for ransom when federal police and military operations severely hampered their drug trafficking activities. Also, it is important to note that human traffickers will sometimes hold their “cargo” hostage for additional funds. The illegal nature of human trafficking makes it difficult for awaiting family members to go to the proper authorities to report such situations.

(click to view map)

July 21
Roel Rolando Ramirez was rescued after he was kidnapped July 17 in Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas state. Rolando Ramirez’s father alerted state police after his son phoned him for the ransom. Police were able to locate Rolando Ramirez in a hotel in Miguel Aleman and arrest the kidnappers.
Two men were killed with AK-47s outside of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. Authorities say the assassins were traveling in a truck on a state highway when they opened fire on the two men.
July 22
Five South Korean nationals were set free after they were kidnapped by a gang and spent 10 days detained in an undisclosed location in Reynosa. A $30,000 ransom was demanded but South Korean officials declined to comment on whether or not it was paid.
Los Zetas were presumed to be responsible for the deaths of three state police agents in Campeche state. The three officers were leaving a restaurant around midday in Ciudad del Carmen when the gunmen opened fire.
July 23
Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes received two letters threatening his life from Gente Nueva, a paramilitary group last known to be associated with El Chapo and the Sinaloa cartel. In one of the letters, the group accuses Reyes of siding with Carrillo Fuentes and the Juarez cartel and of “collaborating with the AFP.”
July 24
Twenty-one ministerial police officers resigned from departments in Culiacan, Mazatlan and Guasave, in Sinaloa state.
Salvador Barreno, director of the prison system in Juarez, Chihuahua state, was shot some 60 times by an armed group outside his home. He died at the scene.
July 25
Federal authorities seized four residences of Jesus Ernesto Sauceda Felix (aka El Chapo Sauceda), who is presumed to have been behind a drive-by shooting that killed eight innocent people, including a 15-yeqr-old girl, almost two weeks ago in Guamuchil, in Sinaloa state.
Federal police and elements of the Mexican military found 8,000 drums of chemicals used to make synthetic drugs in the basement of a warehouse in Guadalajara, Jalisco state.
The body of Pablo Aispuro Ramírez, a municipal police officer in Culiacan, was found hanging in a tree wearing a sombrero with a message pinned to his chest. He was reported kidnapped July 17.
July 26
Federal agents seized five large-caliber weapons, 17 magazines and 388 rounds of ammunition in a raid on a residence in Ejido, in Sonora state. Authorities say the residents of the home, members of the Sinaloa cartel, were planning an assault on rival groups.
July 27
A shooting in a prison 47 kilometers from Navolato, in Sinaloa state, left one prisoner dead and two others injured. A pistol was reportedly smuggled into the prison for the targeted assassination of Victoriano Araujo Payan, the brother of Gonzalo Araujo Payan, a former high-ranking Sinaloa cartel member who reportedly committed suicide in 2006.
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Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: HUSS on July 28, 2008, 05:39:08 PM
I have only one question after reading this thread.  How can anyone defend these people coming into the U.S illegally?

Not all the bleeding heart slogans in the world will change the fact that the U.S is spending more tax dollars then it is taking on, mostly on social programs and initiatives that would not need to be in place if the general population were more self sufficient. 

Cities are literally on the verge of bankruptcy, and still more uneducated, non english speaking people pour across the U.S mexican border that these financially unstable cities and states will have to suppport. 

Does it not bother you guys that there are hundreds of thousands of good, english speaking, university educated people waiting to legally enter the U.S who will be more then happy to pay taxes and give to society instead of taking?

Title: Mex military points guns at US BP agents
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 05, 2008, 08:08:43 AM
Mex military points guns at US BP agents  :x :x :x
Mexico Security Memo: Aug. 4, 2008
Stratfor Today » August 4, 2008 | 2110 GMT
Related Links
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Another Bloody Milestone
In the past week, the number of cartel-related homicides in Mexico surpassed 2,630 for the year, approximately the number of killings in the country during all of 2007. The country’s cartel war has intensified so much in 2008 that it has taken only seven months to claim the same number of victims that were killed in 12 months in 2007, which was a record year for drug violence.

While there are few corners of the country immune to organized-crime activity, much of the current violence is concentrated in areas where authorities have disrupted the largest criminal groups. The growing violence may simply be the price that must be paid for the government’s successes in targeting the cartels.

And there have been successes. A Mexican press report published in the past week detailed the progress the government has made in its operations against the Sinaloa cartel. Over the past two months, according to the report, authorities have investigated presumed money-laundering establishments, taken down a series of “transmission antennae” that formed part of the cartel’s communications network, and seized nearly 200 vehicles, an airplane, various weapons and currency worth more than $12 million.

None of these events alone represents a significant blow to the cartel. New money laundering networks can be set up, new police commanders bribed, and cellular phones can be used instead of radios. Continued over time, however, these kinds of successes would certainly disrupt the cartel’s business operations. With the security operations in Sinaloa state only a few months old, it remains to be seen how long the authorities can maintain their current operational tempo. One vulnerability of the operation is the absence of important industry or tourism in Sinaloa state, which makes the area a relatively low priority for security. There are many more important parts of the country that could emerge as hotspots and quickly draw security forces from their current assignments in Sinaloa.

Colombian Drug Trafficker Captured
Authorities in Mexico announced this past week the arrest of Ever Villafane Martinez, a Colombian drug trafficker believed to be the link between the Beltran Leyva organization in Mexico and the Norte del Valle cartel in Colombia. Villafane Martinez was arrested in Mexico City, where he had lived under an alias and operated a real estate business for several years. Authorities believe he fled Colombia sometime in 2001, when he escaped from a maximum security prison while awaiting extradition to the United States.

Much is unknown about the inner workings and external relationships of the Beltran Leyva organization and the exact role played by Villafane Martinez, which makes it difficult to assess the potential impact of his arrest. On one hand, if he was one of several mid-level members managing the cocaine flow from South America, any effects will likely be short-lived. On the other hand, if he had a management role high in the organization, or was the organization’s sole connection to its Colombian suppliers, the coming investigation into his financial records and Colombian acquaintances could have a lasting impact.

(click to view map)

July 28
A group of armed men opened fire on a police headquarters building in Lerdo, Durango state, killing two officers who were standing outside at the time of the attack.
The former police chief of San Juanito, Chihuahua state, died when he was shot 10 times by a group of gunmen chasing him in his vehicle.
A police patrol car forming part of a convoy transporting an alleged drug trafficker in Oaxaca, Oaxaca state, was intentionally rammed by an SUV driven by several armed men. Authorities believe the incident was an attempt to stop the convoy and rescue the suspect. The rescue attempt was unsuccessful and the alleged drug trafficker was kept in custody.
A police officer in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, was shot to death while driving by gunmen traveling in two vehicles that blocked his path and opened fire. After fleeing the scene, the gunmen returned to ensure that the victim was dead by shooting him in the head at close range.
July 29
Authorities in Aguascalientes, Aguascalientes state, reported the targeted killing of a former police officer. In a separate incident, a jeweler in the city was abducted by armed men from a restaurant where he was dining with his family.
July 30
Six members of a family — including two girls, ages 7 and 8 — were discovered dead in their home by unknown assailants in Ciudad Guzman, Jalisco state. Five of the victims had been shot in the head at close range, while the other was apparently killed by a knife. Authorities have suggested that the crime may have been motivated by robbery, since one of the victims had recently withdrawn a large amount of cash from a bank.
A federal police commander in Mexicali, Baja California state, was arrested by authorities in Los Angeles, Calif., on charges related to organized crime. The commander had reportedly fled to the United States with his family following the recent assassination of federal agents in Mexicali and amid rumors that he would be targeted next.
A police commander in Coacalco, Mexico state, was kidnapped from his home by six men armed with assault rifles.
A city official in charge of public works in Amatlan, Veracruz state, was shot to death by unknown assailants while driving his vehicle.
July 31
The chief of homicide investigations in Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, died when he was shot in the head at close range as he was leaving his home.
One person died and another was wounded in Ecatepec, Mexico state, when their vehicle was fired upon by gunmen traveling in two SUVs with federal police insignia on the side. Authorities recovered more than 150 shell casings from the scene.
Aug. 1
Authorities in Pajacuaran, Michoacan state, found the body of an unidentified man bound at the wrists and with three gunshot wounds to his head.
Two men died and a female police officer was wounded by gunfire attributed to gang members in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
The bodies of two unidentified men were found with gunshot wounds to the head in Nogales, Sonora state. In nearby Cananea, the charred bodies of two men were discovered in a burned vehicle.
Aug. 2
The body of an unidentified man with signs of torture and at least one gunshot wound in the face was found in Nextlalpan, Mexico state. A note criticizing the Michoacan state-based criminal group La Familia was reportedly found with the body, though the contents were not released.
Aug. 3
The bodies of four federal agents were found inside a car along a road in Queretaro, Queretaro state. Authorities reported that the agents had been abducted the day before in San Luis Potosi state.
Federal police in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, arrested three alleged drug traffickers after a pursuit and firefight that began when the suspects attempted to flee from the agents.
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Title: WSJ: MExico's Prohibition
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 18, 2008, 05:41:21 AM

Mary Anastasia O'Grady is a member of The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board and editor of the "Americas," a weekly column that appears every Monday in the Journal and deals with politics, economics and business in Latin America and Canada.
Ms. O'Grady joined the paper in August 1995 and became a senior editorial page writer in December 1999. She became a member of the Editorial Board in 2005. She previously worked as an options strategist, first for Advest Inc. and then for Thomson McKinnon Securities in 1983. She moved to Merrill Lynch & Co. in 1984 as an options strategist and was also a product manager and a sales manager for Merrill Lynch Canada and Merrill Lynch International during her 10 years with the company.
In 1997 Ms. O'Grady won the Inter American Press Association's Daily Gleaner Award for editorial commentary, and in 1999 she received an honorable mention in IAPA's opinion award category. In 2005 she won the Bastiat Prize for journalism, which honors writers who promote the institutions of a free society. Ms. O'Grady, who was born in Bryn Mawr, Pa., received a bachelor's degree in English from Assumption College and an M.B.A. in financial management from Pace University.

Mexico Pays the Price of Prohibition
August 18, 2008

With the world fixated on Vladimir Putin's expansionist exploits in Georgia, a different sort of assault against a democracy south of the U.S. border is getting scant attention. But it is equally alarming.

Mexico is engaged in a life-or-death struggle against organized crime. Last week six more law enforcement officials were killed in the line of duty battling the country's drug cartels. This brings the death toll in President Felipe Calderón's blitz against organized crime to 4,909 since Dec. 1, 2006.  A number of the dead have been gangsters but they also include journalists, politicians, judges, police and military, and civilians. For perspective on how violent Mexico has become, consider that the total number of Americans killed in Iraq since March 2003 is 4,142.

Kidnapping and armed robbery numbers have also soared. In Tijuana, a kidnapping epidemic has provoked an exodus of upper-middle-class families across the U.S. border in search of safety.

As this column has pointed out many times, one reason that security has so deteriorated in the past decade is the demand in the U.S. for illegal narcotics, and the U.S. government's crackdown on the Caribbean trafficking route. Mexican cartels have risen up to serve the U.S. market, and their earnings have made them rich and well-armed.

The victims of last week's killing spree include the deputy police chief of the state of Michoacan and one of his men, a detective in the state of Chihuahua, and a deputy police chief in the state of Quintana Roo. As of July, 449 police and military officers have died in the Calderón offensive, further underscoring the price Mexico is paying for the U.S. "war on drugs." But the costs go well beyond the loss of life.

Doctors hold banners during a demonstration against a recent wave of crimes and kidnappings in Tijuana, Mexico.
In a developed country like the U.S., prohibition takes a toll on the rule of law but does not overwhelm it. In Mexico, where a newly revived democracy is trying to reform institutions after 70 years of autocratic governance under the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the corrupting influence of drug profits is far more pernicious.

According to Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, part of the explanation for the kidnapping surge can be traced to the success of the government's squeeze on the drug runners. He told me in February that he expected the pressure to produce a fragmentation of the cartels, turf wars and an increase in other criminal activities to replace shrinking profits in drug trafficking.

If true, the kidnapping spree might be a sign that Mr. Medina Mora's strategy is working. But when federal investigators recently fingered Mexico City police in the kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old Fernando Martí, the son of a wealthy entrepreneur, Mr. Medina Mora's theory lost some credibility. Rather than being the work of demoralized criminals, kidnapping, in the capital anyway, appears to be just one business run by a well-oiled machine with institutional links.

Ricardo Medina, a leading Mexican opinion writer and the editor of El Economista, the country's top financial daily, told me on Thursday the case shows that "independent of the shooting war on drugs there is the problem of institutions being infiltrated by criminals and corrupted."

Even captured criminals often go free, Mr. Medina says, and all branches of government share responsibility for this crisis of impunity. It is true that judges can be intimidated or bribed. But it is also true, for example, that under Mexican law kidnapping is not a federal crime, and therefore must be handled by local authorities. Often victims do not want to press charges because there is a perception that the local police and local governments are in on it.

That perception has been strengthened in the Martí case, but the problem of impunity is hardly new. As Mr. Medina wrote in El Economista on Friday, "impunity is in view of everyone, day after day. We all see it even to the point of smiling ironically or shrugging our shoulders."

Why hasn't this problem been tackled? One possible explanation in Mexico City is that the district police and the rest of the district's bureaucracy represent an important constituency for the ruling Revolutionary Democratic Party (PRD). If the PRD's base prefers the status quo, there is a high political cost to challenging it.

Drug profits going to organized crime only complicate the matter. Writing in the latest issue of the Milken Institute Review, former U.S. foreign service officer Laurence Kerr takes a page out of U.S. history. "America has been in Mexico's shoes: flush with the bounty of illegal liquor sales, organized crime thoroughly penetrated the U.S. justice system during Prohibition. As long as Americans willingly bury Mexican drug traffickers in greenbacks, progress in constraining the trade is likely to be limited." Regrettably, Mexico's institutional reform will also be limited and the death toll will keep climbing.

Write to O'

Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 20, 2008, 05:05:00 PM
Violence in Juarez Persists
The bloody turf battles that have been waged for the better part of this year in the northern state of Chihuahua — and in the border city of Ciudad Juarez in particular — continued this past week. The usual cadence of violence in the state was punctuated by two particularly brutal incidents. In the first, eight men armed with assault rifles fired shots at the outside of a drug rehabilitation clinic in Juarez, then entered the building and opened fire again, killing eight people and wounding six others. In the second, at least 13 people — including a 1-year-old child — were killed when a dozen armed men entered a dance hall in Bocoyna, Chihuahua state, and fired indiscriminately at about 100 people celebrating a family gathering. Details of the family’s identity were not released, making it difficult to assess why the family would have been targeted.

The attack on the drug rehab center follows a similar attack during the previous week that left two dead. If the attacks were designed as intimidation to ensure a market of addicts for local distribution of narcotics, it is more likely that a local street gang would have conducted them — as they would have more to lose than would major drug trafficking cartels with markets north of the border. It is also possible, however, that those managing the clinics engaged in other activities detrimental to a cartel or local gang, or refused to cooperate with a local cartel presence. Regardless, the confluence of various criminal groups in the Juarez area and their struggle for control of the city will ensure that incidents like this continue.

Sinaloa Cartel Activities in Central America
Authorities in Costa Rica announced this past week the arrest of a Cuban-American and a Costa Rican believed to control overland drug trafficking routes in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua for the Sinaloa cartel. Authorities seized more than 600 pounds of cocaine from a warehouse during the arrest. The capture follows the seizure earlier this past week in Nicaragua of more than 1.5 tons of cocaine that belonged to a then-unidentified Mexican cartel, as well as the arrest of several Mexican nationals in Panama in possession of more than 150 pounds of cocaine. Authorities do not know how long the cartel had operated the route, but suggested that the Mexicans had only recently arrived in Central America. Reportedly, a lack of trust on their part drove them to more closely oversee the smuggling operation.

The increasing presence of Mexican drug traffickers in Central America is a shift that we have observed over the past year, as maritime and airborne routes to Mexico have become more difficult to use without detection. Several details of these most recent investigations offer keen tactical insight into how drugs are moved from South America to Mexico. Drugs on the route detected in this case, for example, enter Costa Rica via highway through an international port of entry and are kept several days in a safe-house near the border. The shipment is then transported overland across the entire country, entering Nicaragua on horse or on foot at a remote part of the international border. The shipment is then carried to the inland Lake Nicaragua, where is it picked up by boat and transferred to another vehicle as it continues on to Honduras.

Besides these tactical details, this incident offers an opportunity to consider the overall state of the drug trade. It is a testament to the current power of Mexican cartels in general that it is the Mexican groups — and not Colombian groups or others — that have extended their reach into Central America. This reach will not only prove useful for drug trafficking purposes, but also probably will be exploited for delivering drugs to the emerging consumer markets in much of Latin America. The shifts in cartel activity are also a testament to improvements in Mexican aerial and maritime interdiction.

Federal Police on Strike
Several hundred federal police agents in four states carried out a brief work stoppage Aug. 15, demanding additional days off, better pay and more powerful weapons. The strikes — which were carried out by agents assigned to Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa, and Tabasco states — left some airport posts in Guanajuato and highway checkpoints elsewhere temporarily abandoned. The Aug. 15 strikes appear to have been a response to the announcement from Mexico City this past week that federal agents would no longer accrue vacation days, therefore making more agents available for duty. The strikes also follow a demonstration this past week by more than 700 federal agents attending a training academy in San Luis Potosi who walked out of class in protest of lax security at the academy. (Several agents have been kidnapped and ambushed in recent weeks while attending the academy.)

Work stoppages, protests and walkouts have become common among state and local Mexican police forces over the past year, as an increase in cartel attacks on police has made the job too dangerous for officers to settle for the salary and working hours they signed on for. Strikes by federal police agents, however, are much less frequent — and their spread could potentially have a devastating impact on the government’s strategy in the cartel war. One clue as to how the government might react to expanded strikes can be drawn from an example we highlighted last week. Following the killing of four federal agents in Michoacan state, a federal police commander there alluded to agents’ concern for safety when he reassuringly announced the arrival of reinforcements and a “change in strategy” to prevent future targeting of agents. A more cautious approach to combating the country’s drug cartels is simply one option of many, which President Felipe Calderon’s administration are likely considering to prevent this latest headache from becoming a more pressing concern.

(click to view map)

Aug. 11
A group of alleged drug cartel enforcers verbally threatened reporters in the parking lot of a newspaper building in Nogales, Sonora state.
Three men driving along a highway in Durango state died when they were shot by men armed with assault rifles.
One person died and another was wounded when the vehicle they were traveling in failed to stop at a highway checkpoint in Sonora state. Authorities said the checkpoint — located just a few miles from a federal policy building — had been erected by an organized criminal group.
Authorities discovered the body of a police commander in Huaniqueo, Michoacan state, who was reported kidnapped several days before.
A deputy police chief in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo state, and his bodyguard died when they were shot outside the chief’s home.
Aug. 12
Federal authorities revealed that six officials in the anti-organized crime unit (SIEDO) of the federal attorney general’s office were arrested the previous week on charges of spying for the Beltran Leyva drug trafficking organization. An investigation that began several months ago based on military intelligence uncovered a Beltran Leyva counterintelligence ring inside SIEDO that was leaking classified information on cases and upcoming operations.
A deputy police chief in Tepalcatepec, Michoacan state, died when he was shot multiple times by armed men traveling in a vehicle.
Two federal police officers died during a firefight with armed men along a highway in Sinaloa state.
The body of an evangelical pastor who was kidnapped July 23 was found buried behind a safe-house in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. The kidnappers initially demanded $200,000, but the family could only pay about $20,000.
Aug. 13
The charred body of an unidentified man who had apparently been shot multiple times was found in the tourist town of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco state.
Two owners of a shipping company were kidnapped simultaneously in separate incidents in Poza Rica, Veracruz.
Aug. 14
A group of approximately 20 armed men traveling in 10 vehicles evaded capture after a prolonged pursuit by police in Tijuana, Baja California state.
A firefight between military forces and armed men in Rincon de Romos, Aguascalientes state, left at least one soldier and two gunmen dead.
Authorities in Sonora state reported that a gunbattle between smuggling gangs in Cananea left one person dead and at least three wounded.
Aug. 15
Authorities in Aguascalientes state reported the kidnapping of four people, including the police chief of Tepezala, a judge and police commander in the state capital Aguascalientes.
A severed, blindfolded head was found in Ecatepec, Mexico state.
One person died and another was wounded in a firefight between alleged alien smuggling groups in Mexicali, Baja California state.
At least 25 homicides were reported in separate incidents in Chihuahua state during a 36-hour period.
Two police officers were wounded in an apparent assassination attempt in Puebla, Puebla state, during which gunmen fired more than 80 rounds. Some reports indicate the officers were bodyguards for a deputy state attorney general.
Aug. 16
Hit men suspected of having ties to a drug cartel opened fire on a family gathering in the town of Creel, Chihuahua state, near the U.S. border, killing 13 people. Masked gunmen fired on the dance hall where a family gathering was taking place. The Mexican government sent 160 federal police and soldiers to the town after the attack.
Aug. 17
A firefight between federal police and gunmen traveling in three vehicles along a highway in Colima state left at least one dead.
Title: police chief killed in first day on job
Post by: Crafty_Dog on August 24, 2008, 05:49:36 AM

Mexican police chief slain 24 hours after replacing predecessor

03:15 PM CDT on Saturday, August 23, 2008, Associated Press

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- A northern Mexican town’s police chief was killed Friday just 24 hours after replacing a predecessor whose slaying had prompted the rest of the force to quit out of fear of drug gangs.

Jesus Blanco Cano’s bullet-ridden body was found at a ranch near the town of Villa Ahumada in Chihuahua state, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of El Paso, Texas, said Alejandro Pariente, a spokesman for the regional deputy attorney general’s office.

He had been beaten, blindfolded and his hands were tied behind his back. Twelve bullet casings were found at the scene.

Cano, 40, had been on the job for just a day. The previous police chief, two other officers and three residents were killed in May when 70 gunmen barged into Villa Ahumada, a town virtually taken over by drug gangs.

The rest of its 20-member police force quit in fear, forcing the Mexican military to take over. The town had slowly been recruiting new police and was without a police chief until Blanco took the job. The troops eventually left.

Mayor Fidel Chavez met Friday with state police, but nobody at this office could be reached for comment. Chavez had fled after the May attack, taking refuge in the state capital of Chihuahua City, but he returned after soldiers recovered the town.

Mexico’s powerful drug cartels have stepped up attacks against police in response to a military and police crackdown, beheading some officers and killing others outside their homes. Several towns and cities, particularly in the north, have struggled to hold together their police forces.

The mayor of Ciudad Juarez, a town just north of Villa Ahumada, announced a plan this week to recruit soldiers to replenish its depleting police force. Many police in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, have been killed after their names appeared on hit lists left in public. Others whose names appeared on the lists have quit.

Since taking office in 2006, President Felipe Calderon has sent more than 25,000 troops and federal police to retake drug hotspots across the country.

But homicides, kidnappings and shootouts have only increased. In Chihuahua state –home base of the powerful Juarez drug cartel— more than 800 people have been killed this year, a surge from less than 400 during the first half of 2007.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 23, 2008, 09:08:50 AM
Mexicans feeling pinch as income stream from U.S. slows


Mexicans feeling pinch as income stream from U.S. slows
10:52 PM CDT on Monday, September 22, 2008
By LAURENCE ILIFF / The Dallas Morning News

DEMACÚ, Mexico – Luis Martínez went from being a successful Dallas businessman to a struggling alfalfa farmer in rural central Mexico because of a North Texas crackdown on illegal immigrants.
Now, that crackdown is squeezing towns across Mexico as immigrant unemployment grows in the U.S. and money sent home declines at a record rate.

The Oak Cliff resident of 20 years was deported after a traffic stop in Carrollton near his recycling workshop. Immigration officials said he had violated his residency by leaving the country without permission – to attend a funeral in Mexico – during the lengthy wait for his green card.

Now in the alfalfa fields of his boyhood, Mr. Martínez, 43, faces a fate similar to hundreds of thousands of his countrymen who have been deported or who returned home after losing their jobs: a massive loss of income.
"You make $10 an hour over there and $10 a day here in Mexico," said Mr. Martínez, who added that in addition to his recycling business he has Dallas property and pays U.S. taxes.

A growing number of deportations, along with rising unemployment, are forcing Mexicans to further tighten their belts as remittances sent home dropped by nearly 7 percent in July compared with a year earlier. That's the biggest one-month fall on record as measured by Mexico's central bank.

Although some analysts question how the remittances are measured and suggest some may have made it back to Mexico under the central bank's radar, they agree that the effects of immigrant unemployment and deportations are increasingly being felt from Dallas to Demacú.
"Hispanic unemployment is likely to go up all the way to December before it comes down," said Manuel Orozco, who is head of a remittance project at the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington.

Of the 500,000 Hispanics who have lost their jobs since January 2007, he estimates 60,000 are illegal immigrants from Mexico. Some have been forced to take jobs that pay much less. "I have interviewed migrants, and they tell me they lost a job in construction at $15 an hour and now are washing dishes for $7 an hour," he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. authorities are deporting Mexican immigrants at a rate not seen in 50 years, including more than 208,000 "removals" from the U.S. interior in the current fiscal year, which ends this month.
"Deportations are a serious matter that has an effect on the money flows [to home countries]," Mr. Orozco said.

Because about 90 percent of immigrant earnings stays in the U.S., the deportations and job losses affect both sides of the border, authorities say."It means that the money not being sent back is not being generated here," said David J. Molina, an economics professor at the University of North Texas. "To a large extent, I would argue that that slowdown is not good for either side of the border."

But some differ. Jean Towell, Dallas president of Citizens for Immigration Reform, said falling remittances illustrate two things.
"It does show that enforcement, plus the economy, are working together to make it harder for the illegal aliens to stay in the country," she said. "For the people who receive remittances, of course, it's a bad thing. They rely on that since their country doesn't seem to be able to take care of the economy well enough so that people have a sustained rate of living."

In Demacú and in Dallas, the tough times for immigrants in the U.S. are felt house by house.
While Mr. Martínez toils in alfalfa fields, his wife is in Dallas. In Demacú, his 82-year-old mother, Gregoria, used to receive a little money each month from a nephew, but that's gone. Mr. Martínez's sister Julia said she too has lost income from children in the U.S., but she's not sure if it's because of hard times or because they have gotten married and moved on with their lives.

Another sister, Edith, said the children she teaches in elementary school depend on remittances from relatives in the U.S., but while the amount may have fallen, the money continues to flow like always, which encourages further immigration.

"These kids want to follow in the footsteps of their fathers – to leave, so they can build a house back home and have a car," she said.

Mr. Martínez said he is making the best of the family alfalfa business, looking for new markets and new ways to boost the slim profits. Maybe he'll be able to send money to the U.S. someday, he joked.
"I'm used to hard work, so it's not so bad," he said during a break from raking dry alfalfa into piles and lifting them into a truck. "Imagine if I had worked in an office."

And it's not just the lost money that he needs to put his daughters through school. It's his lost life in Dallas since his return to Mexico.
"It's very difficult. It's 20 years you have been gone, and when you come back, your friends are not here," Mr. Martínez said.

The stalled construction projects around Demacú are a clear sign, he said, that times are getting tougher for immigrants in the U.S.
"This town has maybe 50 or 60 young people that are working over there, and they have projects that are going on here, construction of houses and stuff like that, but because so many people there are being taken out of the country, it's affecting us a lot," said Mr. Martínez.

He called Dallas a city with "a small-town spirit" and the United States "a nation blessed by God." For those, and many other reasons, he is working his way back through the immigration service while hoping U.S. policies toward immigrants become more tolerant.

"We have hope something will happen in the U.S.A., something that can give us the opportunity to go back and keep working over there," he said. "I spent 20 years of my life in that country, so that means I am part of that country."

Staff writer Dianne Solis in Dallas contributed to this report.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: tankerdriver on September 27, 2008, 08:14:48 AM
North American Union - It's Coming
By William H. Calhoun

If you have not read the news in a few months, you may be unaware: there are plans to create a North American Union, whereby Mexico, the United States and Canada will eventually become a single country, with a single currency and a single superhighway system.

Construction on the NAFTA Superhighway, encompassing I-69 and directed by NASCO, has already begun in two states. It will run from central Mexico, through the middle of the United States, through Kansas City, and up into Canada. It will be four football fields wide, off limits to most Americans, and run by foreign companies.

The mechanism to implement the NAU is the SPP (Strategic and Prosperity Partnership of North America), which was settled between President Bush, President Vicente Fox and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin during their March 2005 summit meeting in Waco, Texas. Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice has been instrumental in setting the SPP plans in motion. The North American Union will modeled after ultra-liberal European Union, and put in place by administrative regulations under the SPP umbrella.

Outraged by this plan, four patriotic Congressmen (Reps. Virgil H. Good, Walter B. Jones, Ron Paul, and Tom Tancredo) have introduced H. Con. Res. 487, which states that "the United States should not engage in the construction of a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Superhighway System or enter into a North American Union with Mexico and Canada." In the last few weeks, patriot Americans from all over the United States have been telephoning their Congressmen demanding that H. Con. Res. 487 be put to a vote and passed in 2007.

Nevertheless, cheerleaders for the Bush Administration deny that any plans for a North American Union exist. Neocon Michael Medved says that "there's no reason at all to believe in the ludicrous, childish, ill-informed, manipulative, brain dead fantasies about a North American Union. The entire chimera has been conjured up to scare people over nothing...."

If there are no plans for a North American Union, then why did four of the most patriotic Congressmen see it necessary to introduce H. Con. Res. 487? And if it is not real, then what would H. Con. Res. 487 harm? Legislation preventing a "chimera" certainly cannot present any danger. Why are neocon Trotskyites like Medved becoming so emotionally unstable over a bill to prevent a "chimera"?

To any discerning mind, plans for a North American Union do exist. One only need to look at the wording of SPP documents, or look at the NASCO website. It has been set in motion. As Cicero famously said, "patere tua consilia non sentis, constrictam iam horum omnium scientia teneri coniurationem tuam non vides?"

How have we come to this place? The NAFTA agreement can be seen as the beginning, which the wisest recognized as a disaster from day one. Historically, conservatives have opposed free trade, and they should. It is destroying our economy, it is undermining our sovereignty, and it is national suicide. Many in the GOP, however, have been "neoconned" on this issue.

To see the connection between free trade the dissolution of the USA under the North American Union, only need to read Karl Marx. On Jan. 9, 1848, in "On the Question of Free Trade," Marx said, " general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade."

Notice, Marx's celebration of the breaking up of "old nationalities." Such a statement is similar to GW Bush's claim that the USA is not an "actual place," but an "idea." Neocons celebrate this Marxist notion of a "propositional nation," because it removes the historic prerequisites of nationhood: borders; a common language, history and genealogy; blood and soil; kith and kin; and genophilia (instinctive attachment to family and tribe).

It is thus that GW Bush and others have so adamantly supported the third-world invasion of American, and why many predict that the 700-mile fence will not be built. The U.S.-Mexico border must be abolished for the implementation of the North American Union.

It is all about profit and cheap labor, and big business adamantly supports the prerequisite of the North American Union: the third-world invasion of America. During the Cold War, big business sided with many conservatives to oppose Marxism. Now, however, most large corporations side with the internationalist Left.

In the 1950s, when our country was invaded, President Eisenhower responded with "Operation Wetback" and deported around a million invaders in a single year. Today, however, politicians say they are unable. Rather, they are unwilling.

Some of the greatest traitors in American history are right before our eyes: GW Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Arlen Specter, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Sam Brownback, Linda Chavez, Alberto Gonzales, Carlos Gutierrez, Ted Kennedy, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, John Edwards, Harry Reid, Linda Sanchez, Robert Menendez, Luis Gutierrez, Solomon Ortiz, and the list goes on and on. These miscreants have chosen Mexico, multicultural political correctness, and big business over hard-working Americans. They have betrayed Middle America.

And what can be done to stop this North American Union (aka, treason)?

Call and write your Congressmen, and demand a real patriotic President in 2008, like Duncan Hunter or Tom Tancredo.

We are under attack - both from within and without. Prepare for the oncoming madness! Stop the North American Union! Stop the third-world invasion!

William H. Calhoun is a writer, paleoconservative, poet-warrior in the classical sense, farmer on his ancestral estate, and graduate of the University of Chicago. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2008, NewsBlaze, Daily News

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: tankerdriver on September 27, 2008, 08:49:24 AM

I don't think we heard the last of this. It will be repackaged, put on a new coat of paint, and back on the agenda! With little or no media coverage at all, most people are not even aware of this!
Title: Bullet proof clothes
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 05, 2008, 07:52:09 PM
Bullet Proof Clothes In Mexico


By Marc Lacey
Published: October 6, 2008

MEXICO CITY: Exclusive clothing boutiques line Avenida Presidente Masarik here. A Burberry coat? A Corneliani suit? A Gucci scarf? Have enough pesos, and they are yours.

But tucked on a leafy side street in the Polanco neighborhood is a shop unlike the others, one whose bustling business says much about the dire state of security in this country. At Miguel Caballero, named after its Colombian owner, all the garments are bulletproof.

There are bulletproof leather jackets and bulletproof polo shirts. Armored guayabera shirts hang next to protective windbreakers, parkas and even white ruffled tuxedo shirts. Every member of the sales staff has had to take a turn being shot while wearing one of the products, which range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $7,000, so they can attest to the efficacy of the secret fabric.

"If feels like a punch," a salesman said of the shot to the stomach he received.

Just who is willing to fork over thousands of dollars for these chic shields? Customers include Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, not to mention assorted royalty, movie stars and other VIP's.

As Mexico grapples with an increase in drug-related violence, sales are steadily on the rise, the company said, though it declined to provide precise figures.

Those who duck into the private boutique, passing first through a metal detector, run the gamut.

There is the surgeon who finishes work at the hospital late and feels vulnerable while walking through the parking lot to his car. Now, that potential burglar can take a shot at him with a .38-caliber revolver, a 9-millimeter pistol or a submachine gun and still not pierce his lightweight, heat-resistant and quite fashionable coat.

There is the newspaper distributor who has scores of employees who collect papers from him in the wee hours of the morning to drop at doorsteps across the capital. He stopped at the boutique the other day for a jacket that can keep him in business even if someone tried to knock him off and take the rolls of cash he carries around.

There is the bullfighter who is scared not of bulls but of bullets and consequently ordered a matador's suit that can withstand gunfire.

Then there are Mexican politicians and business executives, some who have received threats and others who want to supplement their existing security measures, which in many cases already include bulletproof cars, home alarm systems, round-the-clock bodyguards and panic buttons.

"What we offer is one more chance at life," said Javier Di Carlo, the marketing manager, as he showed off the top-of-the-line Black collection in a private fitting room. "We don't want people to say to the criminal, 'Shoot me.' Nobody should feel like Superman. But if the criminal does shoot, we give our customers a chance to run away."

There is a whole lot of shooting going on in Mexico today. Every day, the papers are full of victims, bodies lying out in grotesque poses with bullet wounds all about. Some are garden-variety crime victims, but the drug cartels that control much of the Mexican countryside are behind the overwhelming majority. They pay off politicians and police officers and act as shadow governments in town after town along their transit routes. Cross them, and they do not hesitate to pull the trigger.

The rash of drug violence, together with a surge in kidnappings for ransom, has shaken everyday Mexicans. Ask a stranger for directions on the street these days, and fear is the first emotion that crosses the person's face. He or she might recover enough to describe how to go this way or that.

Studies have shown that more and more anxious Mexicans are pouring their money into defensive measures. Families and businesses across Mexico invest $18 billion in private security measures, a recent study by the Center for Economic Studies of the Private Sector found. Some people are trying to get their hands on weapons, which are tightly regulated here but widely available on the black market. To some, bulletproof fashion is the logical next step.

Still, not everybody is lining up. Jon French, a former State Department official who now runs a security company in Mexico City, said he considered the bulletproof luxury items more about ego than anything else. Most of the killings that fill the front pages — there have been 3,000 this year alone — are drug traffickers killing rivals, he pointed out.

"Certain members of the well-to-do class here have a tendency to be ostentatious," French said. "You see it in their bodyguards and chase cars. Some of this is so while at the country club they can talk about how protected they are. Now they can say, 'Look, I'm wearing body armor!' "
But Caballero, who opened the Mexico store two years ago and has since expanded with branches in Guatemala City, Johannesburg and London, counters by telling of his loyalty club program for clients. Called the Survivor's Club, it is open to anyone whose life was saved by wearing one of his protective garments. Its rolls, he said in a telephone interview from Bogotá, are on the rise.

To lower the chance that he is outfitting the bad guys, Caballero runs background checks on customers, checking their names against lists of fugitives compiled by the United States and Mexican governments. He points out that the clothing is not designed for the kind of warfare that is breaking out in some parts of Mexico, where drug assassins have used rocket launchers and grenades to wipe out rivals.

A bulletproof polo shirt is meant more to repel random street violence, of the kind that seemed as if it just might break out just around the corner from Caballero's shop the other day.

Fernando Arias Carmona, a salesman, wore one of the protective leather coats while he sat at a café on Masarik being photographed. People looking on inquired into what was the fuss was about. When told that Carmona's fashionable jacket was bulletproof, a man at the next table reached into his own jacket and said, "Let me test it out."

Fortunately, though, the man pulled out only with his fingers in the shape of a pistol.

Then, looking at the coat again, he said, "I want one of those."
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 08, 2008, 10:14:30 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Oct. 6, 2008
Stratfor Today » October 6, 2008 | 2034 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
More Murders in Tijuana

Tijuana saw a dramatic increase in violence over the past week. A total of 64 people were killed in cartel-related violence in the northwestern border city between Sept. 26 and Oct. 5, making the week the most violent for Tijuana in recent memory. Tijuana was the deadliest city in Mexico during the first quarter of 2008, with firefights and kidnappings a common occurrence. But this past summer was a relatively quiet one for Tijuana, perhaps because of military deployments there in May or because of an agreement between the warring factions.

The latest round of murders was particularly public and gruesome. Bodies with signs of torture were stacked next to a primary school and most had their tongues cut out. Later in the week, six bodies were discovered elsewhere in the city dissolving in barrels of sulfuric acid. Nearly every body was accompanied by a message to “El Ingeniero,” or Fernando Sanchez Arellano, the leader of the fractured Arellano Felix Organization (AFO). The Baja state attorney general’s office says members of the Sinaloa federation are behind the killings.

Fractured and weakened by arrests, the AFO is not in a position to hold the lucrative Tijuana plaza. Just to the north lie San Diego and Los Angeles, California, the two cities that drive the huge cocaine market in southern California. With the AFO weakened, it appears that the Sinaloa federation has been able to poach on its territory.

Sinaloa’s presence in Tijuana is nothing new. Its battles with members of the AFO earlier this spring are what led to military deployments there in May. Although it is too soon to tell, Sinaloa may be mounting a fresh offensive in Tijuana after concentrating on the city of Juarez during the summer. This is notable because Juarez has been relatively quiet for the past couple of weeks. Although murders still occur there every few days, this is not nearly as frequent as in some weeks in the summer, when 30 to 40 murders was the norm.

Opening up a second front in Tijuana raises the question of the future of Juarez. While the violence there will undoubtedly continue, if Sinaloa is shifting its focus to a weakened Tijuana, it could signal that some kind of deal has been struck in Juarez. Stratfor received information at the end of September indicating that the situation in

Juarez would be resolved in a very bloody fashion. While large-scale violence did not materialize, the resolution might have.

Argentine Arrests in Paraguay
On Oct. 1, Jesus Martinez Espinoza, the presumed leader of a Sinaloa cartel cell in Argentina, was arrested on charges of passport falsification and possession of ephedrine, along with two other Mexican nationals, in a hotel in Asunción, Paraguay. Martinez Espinosa was wanted in Argentina for leading a group of Mexican drug traffickers that reportedly operates several methamphetamine labs in Buenos Aires. According to Argentine press reports, Mexican nationals with ties to the Sinaloa cartel have begun to take over the local methamphetamine market in Buenos Aires. The high-profile murder of a Buenos Aires pharmacist who reportedly supplied the Mexican nationals with Indian ephedrine (a precursor ingredient to methamphetamine) brought a lot of media attention to the issue, prompting the Argentine government to act.

Over the past two months, the Argentine government has led a crackdown on the distribution and production of synthetic drugs throughout the country, and especially in Buenos Aires. The vast majority of those arrested have been Mexican nationals. According to investigators in Paraguay, it looks as though synthetic drugs are manufactured in Argentina, smuggled across the border into Paraguay then shipped to Mexico for ultimate distribution in the United States.

The connection between the Mexican nationals in Argentina and the Sinaloa cartel remains unclear. There are conflicting reports about whether the Mexicans are under direct orders from the senior Sinaloa leadership or if they are just a franchise backed financially by the Sinaloa cartel. Either way the presence of Mexican nationals actively involved in the synthetic drug market in Argentina further indicates that Mexican drug traffickers are spreading their involvement over the continent. The murder of the pharmacist was a way of making their presence known.

(click to view map)

Sept. 29
Catalino Ortuño Duarte, a Party of the Democratic Revolution candidate for the Guerrero state congress, was shot in the back and killed as he was travelling through the village of El Naranjo in Guerrero State.
The Mexican Chamber of Commerce threatened not to pay taxes to Ciudad Juarez because city authorities are unable to ensure the security of organized trade. The Mexican Chamber of Commerce also began negotiations with the FBI to advise local businesses on security measures.
Eighteen people were killed in Tijuana, and the bodies of 12 victims were dumped in a vacant lot next to a primary school.
The counselor of the National Chamber of Road Freight in Veracruz state reported that over the past three years assaults on the state and federal highways in the state have risen 25 percent.
Two 17-year-olds were shot to death in Zapopan, Guadalajara state, when their red Corvette was intercepted by three assailants in a silver Suburban.
The Mexican navy seized a shrimp boat carrying four tons of cocaine in the Gulf of Tehuantepec. The boat, which left from Mazatlan, Sinaloa, was being escorted by an unknown number of speed boats which fled the area when the navy appeared.
A gun fight between two rival groups of drug traffickers in Cajeme, Sonora state, left three dead.
Sept. 30
The secretary of public security in Tijuana announced the seizure of 19 firearms, four vehicles and several uniforms that had been stolen from various Mexican law enforcement agencies.
Six bodies were found dissolving in three different barrels of sulfuric acid in Tijuana. Two other bodies were discovered in barrels of acid later in the day.
Thirty armed commandos stormed a private airstrip in Navolato, Sinaloa state, subdued a local policeman who was guarding the airstrip and stole five Cessna airplanes that reportedly had been seized by the Mexican military in counternarcotics operations earlier in the year.
The attorney general of Guatemala said Guatemala is in favor of the Mexican prosecution of Daniel Perez Rojas, reportedly the number two of Los Zetas, and that Guatemala supports his extradition, which has been requested by Mexican authorities.
Oct. 1
Argentine police conducted some 11 raids on various hotels in Buenos Aires, searching for eight Mexican nationals involved in trafficking ephedrine.
The bodies of two males reported missing Sept. 26 were found on the La Costerita highway with several bullet wounds and signs of torture.
Federal agents arrested eight suspected members of the Gulf cartel at a restaurant in the Juarez colony of Mexico City.
President Felipe Calderon sent a reform package to the Mexican congress in an attempt to overhaul the country’s security apparatus.
Oct. 2
Paraguayan authorities arrested three Mexican citizens and seized five kilos of ephedrine at the Silvio Pettirossi International Airport.
Ten people were murdered in Chihuahua state, four in Ciudad Juarez. The death toll in Ciudad Juarez alone for the year stands at 1,075, with more than 1,400 people killed in Chihuahua state during the same period.
A police officer was shot four times in Navolato, Sinaloa state, but his life was spared thanks to his bullet proof vest.
Eight bodies were dumped in a vacant lot in an industrial Park in Tijuana, Baja California state. The bodies showed signs of torture and their faces were wrapped in duct tape.
A group of armed men set fire to five buildings and kidnapped two people in the northern part of Chihuahua state.
One person was killed and one injured as a group of gunmen attempted to kidnap a father and his son in the San Pedro municipality of Nuevo Leon.
Oct. 3
The manager of a television station in Juarez, Chihuahua state, was detained by the military for driving an armored truck.
Three people were killed in attacks in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.
Four bodies were discovered near Vicente Guerrero, Durango state, near the border with Zacatecas.
Five bodies were discovered in the Guadalupe Victoria colony of Tijuana, two of which had been decapitated.
Oct. 4
The mayor of Ixtapan, Mexico state, a common weekend getaway for Mexico City residents, was executed. Los Zetas are the lead suspects.
Narcomessages appeared in Oaxaca offering rewards for the capture of Jesus Mendez Vargas and Enrique Tlacaltel and saying that members of La Familia participated in the Sept. 15 grenade attacks in Morelia, Michoacan.
Eight bodies were discovered in various parts of Tijuana, two of which had been decapitated. Narcomessages were found nearby.
Oct. 5
Some 7.2 million pills of pseudoephedrine were seized at the airport in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, in a shipment from Calcutta, India.
Víctor Manuel Álvarez, a lieutenant in the Beltran Leyva Organizations, will be extradited to the United States on charges of possession with intent to distribute five kilograms of cocaine.
Two men were killed in Sonora at different locations. One was shot to death in Nogales by two gunmen and the other was gunned down in Hermosillo as he was driving his jeep.
A 30-year-old man was gunned down in his Chevrolet truck as he was driving down the Boulevard Insurgentes in Tijuana. The man was accompanied by a woman who was wounded and transported to a local hospital.
Title: stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 20, 2008, 09:34:21 AM
Mexico: Commercial Paper and a Tortured Budget
Stratfor Today » October 18, 2008 | 1555 GMT

Mexico’s 50-peso notesSummary
The security situation in Mexico has been dire for some time. Now the global financial crisis threatens to push the country into uncharted territory as the government struggles to prop up the economy while fighting a war against some of the wealthiest and most organized criminals in the world.

The Mexican government issued $3.9 billion in guarantees for Mexican commercial paper Oct. 17, Reuters reported. The move follows failed attempts by the Mexican cement company Cemex and Mexican units of American automakers to issue some $76 million in bonds. These developments are a sign of troubled times as Mexico feels the effects of the global financial crisis. The Mexican government had already injected $8.3 billion into the markets to prop up the peso. Putting all this money forward will strain an already-tortured government budget that is dependent on a failing oil industry and must support a critical war against drug cartels.

The most vulnerable aspect of the Mexican economy is its exposure to the declining U.S. market — particularly in Mexico’s export sector. Over 80 percent of Mexico’s exports go to the United States, and the emerging U.S. recession is sure to throw this trade relationship into chaos.

Mexico is also heavily linked to the U.S. economy through remittances. Mexicans working in the United States send approximately $24.3 billion per year back home — or about 3 percent of the gross domestic product. Declines in reported remittance rates have already been reported throughout Central American states, which rely heavily on these wealth transfers. As the U.S. economy shrinks, and competition for low-wage positions increases, illegal immigrants will be pushed out of the job market, and remittances to Mexico will decline even further.

Finally, Mexico is highly exposed to the financial crisis because of the shrinking pool of global credit and the growing number of nervous investors. On the one hand, this has caused a rapid devaluation of the Mexican peso as investors rapidly pull capital from third-world markets and dump it into safer markets (i.e., the U.S. dollar). On the other hand, we have seen the results of a rapidly shrinking pool of international credit as wealth has disappeared, banks have stopped lending and investors have panicked.

This has manifested itself in Cemex’s inability to issue corporate paper, which has been a serious cause for concern in Mexican business circles. Mexico’s banks are particularly vulnerable to shrinking global capital. About 80 percent of its banking sector is controlled by foreign entities, which means that 80 percent of domestic credit is subject to the whims of the international credit pool. Any serious threat to such a large portion of the banking sector could cause a collapse of the banking system.

But the economic situation is not the only threat to Mexico’s stability. Mexico is deeply embroiled in a war against violent drug cartels that control substantial portions of the country. The death toll in 2008 alone has risen to over 3,100 and appears likely to hit 4,000 by the end of the year. And the war is not free. The government’s ability to respond effectively to an economic crisis while funding a massive military and law enforcement effort is low — and the scarcity of funds could loosen public support for the cartel war as people look to solve their basic economic needs.

Moreover, a downturn in the economy will only exacerbate the security situation in Mexico. As jobs in the United States become scarce, many of the illegal Mexican migrant laborers there will be left jobless. Many will return to Mexico, where employment opportunities are no better. There is already some anecdotal evidence that reverse illegal migration into Mexico has become much more noticeable. The return to Mexico of thousands of unemployed young workers will flood the Mexican labor market.

There is no question that increased poverty and unemployment will contribute to a worsening security situation in Mexico. Ordinary criminal activities such as theft will likely increase, which could boost organized crime. Options in the legitimate economy will be few, but the underground economy — in drugs or other inelastic commodities — could flourish during a downturn. Indeed, a declining economy will make the cartels the only game in town, and rising unemployment will provide them with an excellent recruiting opportunity.
Title: Mexican cartels dominate the Americas
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 28, 2008, 04:53:34 AM

Mexican cartels dominate the Americas

As the most powerful drug trafficking force in the region, Mexican organized crime has spread far beyond the country in search of supplies for drugs to meet US demand, Sam Logan writes for ISN Security Watch.

By Sam Logan for ISN Security Watch


Assassinations related to drug trafficking in Mexico are on pace to pass 4,000 this year. By any count, violence in Mexico is at historical highs, and it is bad for business. Since the end of 2007, when Mexican President Felipe Calderon increased government pressure on organized crime, both the Sinaloa and the Gulf cartels have reached beyond Mexican boundaries to source supplies, secure trafficking routes and kill rivals.

Heavy pressure on Colombian drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs) opened the door for Mexicans to control a greater share of the cocaine supply chain. They now control cocaine routes out of Colombia from Andean ports to wholesale points well inside the United States. But pressure on supply routes and other areas of operation inside Mexico has forced these DTOs abroad. Guatemala, Peru and Argentina are a natural fit - corruption thrives and there is little to no government presence on borders and in many pockets of the country.

As Mexican criminals reach beyond their country to expand control over various drug-trafficking routes in the Americas, they bring a decades old violent brand of business - money or a bullet. Honor and pride push them further to kill anyone who cheats or betrays. Beyond the blood is a trail of dirty money that further corrupts, where Mexican DTOs have been linked to the electoral campaign of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in Argentina.

"Mexican drug traffickers go into locations where there are no laws or regulations," Michael Sanders, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington DC, told ISN Security Watch.

With billions of dollars to spend, little serious competition and a de facto presence in a number of countries, it is not a far stretch to consider that Central and South America have already become their domain.

The release valve

Pressure in Mexico has forced DTOs there into Guatemala, a neighboring Central American country that serves as a release valve, where they operate alternative supply routes with little trouble from the local government.

Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom publicly claimed on 5 September that his office and residential space was bugged by at least seven listening devices. Days later, few were surprised to learn one of his top intelligence officers, Gustavo Solano, was behind the espionage. Colom blamed the breech in security on the powerful influence of organized crime. Analysts believe the information gathered from the listening devices was sold to members of Los Zetas operating in Guatemala.

At least 300 members of Los Zetas operate in eight of Guatemala's 22 departments, according to Guatemalan news reports and a 17 October article in Mexican daily El Universal. The Guatemalan National Police believe there is a concentration of Mexican organized crime along the Guatemalan-Mexico border in the Peten department, on the country's stunted Caribbean coast, and placed in strategic locations on the borders with Honduras and El Salvador.

A 25 March shoot-out in the Guatemalan department of Zacapa left 11 dead, most of them Guatemalan criminals. Authorities believe the Zetas, formerly the military arm of the Gulf Cartel, consolidated power in the Central American country on that day, taking control over an old Gulf Cartel supply route that since at least 2004 has taken advantage of low altitude air space between two mountain ranges with no radar coverage to bring in planes. Most of this activity today is concentrated in the Sayaxche municipality of Peten, conveniently located on the border with Mexico and just miles away from a well-paved Mexican highway that leads north into the Mexican state of Chiapas, another area closely controlled by Los Zetas.

The other focus of Calderon's government offensive, the Sinaloa Cartel, has taken heavy losses due to the presence of thousands of soldiers in the states of Michoacan, Sinaloa and Sonora, the DTO's primary areas of operation.

Members of this cartel - once considered run solely by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman - in the past few years have branched into the methamphetamine business. The Sinaloa Cartel and other, smaller Mexican DTOs, now supply at least 80 percent of all methamphetamines consumed in the US according to the DEA's Sanders.

To launder proceeds from the sale of cocaine and meth (also known as "crystal" or "ice"), members of the Sinaloa Cartel have worked through front companies in Panama to move money back into Colombia where they are constantly pushing for more control up the supply chain.

"The Mexicans are in Colombia to purchase cocaine directly from coca labs to lower their costs," Roman Ortiz, director of Security and Post-Conflict Studies with Bogota-based Ideas for Peace Foundation (FIP), told ISN Security Watch in a recent phone interview.

Mexican DTOs, likely members of the Sinaloa Cartel, are active in Peru for the same reason, as recent violence in Peru suggests Mexican organized crime has joined with what the Peruvian government calls the Shining Path to spur coca leaf and poppy production in the country's highlands.

Backup in the Andes

By 15 October, a number of alleged Shining Path attacks left 17 people dead, 15 of them soldiers. Analysts in Peru believe these attacks may be related to the presence of Mexican DTOs who have hired back country militants to protect their supply routes out of the mountains, especially in the Ayacucho, Cusco, Huancavelica and Junin provinces of Peru - provinces where the Shining Path has caused trouble in the past.

Peru is considered South America's number two source for cocaine and poppy, the raw material source for heroin. Poppy fields, grown at high altitudes in Peru for opium collection, have been considered an illicit cash crop since 2005, when the Peruvian National Police announced the presence of some 5,000 acres of poppy flowers cultivated at over 15,000 feet in the country's southern highlands.

Between January and October 2008 the National Police registered seizures of 103 kilograms of opium paste, indicating the continued presence of poppy cultivation. Over roughly the same period, Peruvian police seized some 20 tonnes of cocaine, worth over US$2 billion according to Reuters and local reports.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime concluded in its 2007 Andean coca survey that production in Peru is up by four percent in Peru, compared to five percent in Bolivia and 27 percent in Colombia.

In early September, Peruvian police seized three tonnes of cocaine hidden in 200 separate bumpers used by boats to prevent damage when docking. At the time of the seizure, a concurrent operation in eight separate points in Lima netted 30 men (some of them Mexican) and Peruvian police believe were working directly for the Sinaloa Cartel, according to a 6 September article in Peruvian daily El Comercio.

South American ephedrine supply

When the Mexican government passed a law on 2 July making all cold medicines that use ephedrine and pseudoephedrine illegal, methamphetamine traffickers, in need of the same precursor chemicals to cook their drugs, were forced to look south.

Not weeks after the Mexican law came into effect, Argentine police arrested on 18 July nine Mexicans and one Argentine who had rented a luxury residence in the Buenos Aires suburbs to cook methamphetamines. A month later, authorities discovered a warehouse where tanks of ephedrine were stored. The meth lab and ephedrine storage tanks were directly linked to the Sinaloa Cartel.

At the top of the Argentine methamphetamine racket was Jesus Martinez Espinoza, an operator with the Sinaloa Cartel who traveled to Argentina to secure a source of ephedrine for methamphetamine production locally in Argentina and abroad in Mexico. He relied on three Argentine men, including Sebastian Forza, who had deep connections in the pharmaceutical industry, as his principal suppliers of ephedrine.

"Argentina can legally import 37 tonnes of ephedrine," the DEA's Sanders told ISN Security Watch, adding, "in 2006 Argentina imported 5 tonnes of ephedrine, and in 2007 Argentina imported 26 tonnes." Still 11 tonnes under the legal limit.

When Martinez's scheme began to unravel in mid July, his local connections had to go. All three Argentine businessmen disappeared on 7 August. Their bodies were found six days later in a ditch outside of Buenos Aires. Forza and the other two were handcuffed and sprayed with bullets. The triple homicide shocked Argentines, who are not accustomed to such assassination-style murders. The news catalyzed a massive investigation that led to Martinez's arrest in Asuncion, Paraguay, just hours before he was to board a flight to Mexico.

Investigations into Forza's past found a long line of bounced checks and deep debt. One of his former associates killed himself. And along with one of the other men allegedly killed by Martinez's men, Forza contributed as much as US$118,000 to the electoral campaign of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Taking over

Over the course of 2008, Mexican organized crime has been tied not only to the triple-homicide in Buenos Aires and the bugging of the office and bedroom of the Guatemalan president, but also to the deaths of five Mexican men, found with their throats slit in Birmingham, Alabama; the kidnapping of a six-year-old boy in Las Vegas, Nevada; and possibly violence in the Peruvian high country.

Between the Sinaloa and Gulf Cartels, Mexican organized crime has proven ties with local operators in a list of countries from the US south through Central and South America, including Guatemala, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Paraguay and Argentina.

"When considering methamphetamines, Mexican organized crime is the strongest in the region," Sanders said, pointing out that the countries in Latin America with relaxed chemical import regulations will likely become targets for Mexican DTOs in the future.

"South America has become increasingly part of [Mexico's] hunting grounds, and Guatemala is already deeply involved," Bruce Bagley, chairman of the Department of International Studies at the University of Miami, told ISN Security Watch adding, "these guys are not deterred by borders."

The only other criminal organization that has had this breadth of reach and disregard for national sovereignty was the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Billions more in profits, and potentially thousands more operatives with no political ideology, poise Mexican drug traffickers to become the region's next major security challenge.

Today these criminal groups represent the number one threat to national security in Mexico. Tomorrow, other countries such as Guatemala, Peru and Argentina may make the same claim.
Title: WSJ: Attorney General's office infiltrated
Post by: Crafty_Dog on October 28, 2008, 04:55:27 AM
second post of the morning
MEXICO CITY -- In what could be one of Mexico's worst cases of drug-related
corruption in a decade, Mexican officials alleged that a drug cartel
infiltrated the highest levels of Mexico's attorney general's office, paying
people there as much as $450,000 a month to get sensitive information about
antidrug activities.

The Sinaloa cartel, based in Mexico's western Sinaloa state, may even have
placed a mole inside the U.S. embassy in Mexico City who fed the drug lords
information from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to a
copy of an arrest warrant reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and reported
earlier by Mexican newspaper El Universal.

View Full Image

Agency France-Presse/Getty Images
Mexican police with alleged members of a drug cartel arrested in Mexico City
this month.

"We are currently investigating this issue along with our Mexican
counterparts," a DEA spokesman said.

Two senior Mexican antidrug officials were arrested in recent weeks in
connection with the scandal and charged with crimes related to drug
trafficking, officials said on Monday. At the time of his arrest in early
October, one of the men, Fernando Rivera, was deputy director general of
intelligence at the attorney general's organized-crime unit. Officials said
Mr. Rivera was the main liaison between the attorney general's office and
the Mexican army in coordinating antidrug efforts. The other person arrested
was Miguel Colorado, the technical coordinator of the antidrug unit. His
duties included assigning federal agents to various raids against drug

Lawyers for the men couldn't immediately be identified; in Mexico, most
court trials are closed to the public until a verdict is issued, making
contact with defendants and identifying their lawyers difficult.

Many federal agents have died during raids in the past few years, and others
have been murdered by cartel hit men, officials say.

In total, some 35 officials from the organized crime unit have been arrested
and are being investigated, officials said. Officials said they had dubbed
the continuing investigation "Operation Clean-Up."

The scandal reflects the difficulty of President Felipe Calderón's efforts
to crack down on Mexico's drug cartels. Mexico is the main trans-shipment
point for cocaine entering the U.S., U.S. and Mexican officials say, and is
widely seen as having overtaken Colombia's drug war in importance. So far
this year, an estimated 3,700 people have died in violence from the drug
war, most of them involved in the drug trade, according to counts kept by
Mexican news organizations.

Since taking office in November 2006, Mr. Calderón has deployed tens of
thousands of soldiers to different parts of Mexico to wrest back control of
areas under the cartels' sway. But since the crackdown, the number of deaths
related to drug violence has increased, according to the Mexican government.

The emerging scandal may be one of the most serious instances of drug
corruption to emerge since 1997 when Gen. Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo was
arrested shortly after being named head of Mexico's antidrug agency. Gen.
Gutiérrez was convicted of being in the pay of drug lord Amado Carrillo
Fuentes, known as the "Lord of the Skies," who later died while undergoing
plastic surgery.

The scandal is likely to be a setback for deepening cooperation between
Washington and Mexico City in the war on drugs, observers say. Under the
"Merida Initiative," the U.S. government will provide Mexico with $400
million in equipment and training a year for the next three years. Both
sides have said cooperation is much better nowadays than in the past -- 
especially in the wake of the 1997 scandal.

Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said the scandal would lead to an
overhaul of how his agency recruits, trains, and checks on its employees.
Mr. Medina Mora suggested that the investigations could yet implicate more
high-ranking officials.

"The investigation continues and we do not rule out that there are other
people who could have taken part in crimes that will be called to account,"
Mr. Medina Mora said. An adviser to Mr. Medina Mora said he hoped with the
arrests, officials had cut out "70% of the cancer" in the institution.

The investigation started as far back as December, according to a Mexican
government official, when the names of some Mexican officials began
surfacing in documents seized during raids of drug gangs.

In late June and early July, a Mexican former U.S. Embassy employee in
Mexico City was arrested and later testified that he had passed along
critical information to the Beltrán Leyva gang, a key part of the Sinaloa
cartel, in exchange for money. The witness, code-named "Felipe," also
accused several high-ranking Mexican officials, including Mr. Rivera.

"Felipe" said in his testimony that on one occasion, he was paid $30,000
from a man code-named "19" who worked with the Beltrán Leyva gang in
exchange for providing information about coming arrests of cartel members.

Deputy Attorney General Marisela Morales said Monday that higher-ranking
officials got much more money than "Felipe." She accused Messrs. Rivera and
Colorado of receiving "payments from $150,000 to $450,000 a month" for
information that would enable the Beltrán Leyva drug cartel to avoid
"searches, investigations, and arrest warrants" as well as obtain
information about rival drug gangs.

Write to David Luhnow at
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 05, 2008, 08:54:39 AM
October 18, 2008 | 1555 GMT
The security situation in Mexico has been dire for some time. Now the global financial crisis threatens to push the country into uncharted territory as the government struggles to prop up the economy while fighting a war against some of the wealthiest and most organized criminals in the world.

The Mexican government issued $3.9 billion in guarantees for Mexican commercial paper Oct. 17, Reuters reported. The move follows failed attempts by the Mexican cement company Cemex and Mexican units of American automakers to issue some $76 million in bonds. These developments are a sign of troubled times as Mexico feels the effects of the global financial crisis. The Mexican government had already injected $8.3 billion into the markets to prop up the peso. Putting all this money forward will strain an already-tortured government budget that is dependent on a failing oil industry and must support a critical war against drug cartels.

The most vulnerable aspect of the Mexican economy is its exposure to the declining U.S. market — particularly in Mexico’s export sector. Over 80 percent of Mexico’s exports go to the United States, and the emerging U.S. recession is sure to throw this trade relationship into chaos.

Mexico is also heavily linked to the U.S. economy through remittances. Mexicans working in the United States send approximately $24.3 billion per year back home — or about 3 percent of the gross domestic product. Declines in reported remittance rates have already been reported throughout Central American states, which rely heavily on these wealth transfers. As the U.S. economy shrinks, and competition for low-wage positions increases, illegal immigrants will be pushed out of the job market, and remittances to Mexico will decline even further.

Finally, Mexico is highly exposed to the financial crisis because of the shrinking pool of global credit and the growing number of nervous investors. On the one hand, this has caused a rapid devaluation of the Mexican peso as investors rapidly pull capital from third-world markets and dump it into safer markets (i.e., the U.S. dollar). On the other hand, we have seen the results of a rapidly shrinking pool of international credit as wealth has disappeared, banks have stopped lending and investors have panicked.

This has manifested itself in Cemex’s inability to issue corporate paper, which has been a serious cause for concern in Mexican business circles. Mexico’s banks are particularly vulnerable to shrinking global capital. About 80 percent of its banking sector is controlled by foreign entities, which means that 80 percent of domestic credit is subject to the whims of the international credit pool. Any serious threat to such a large portion of the banking sector could cause a collapse of the banking system.

But the economic situation is not the only threat to Mexico’s stability. Mexico is deeply embroiled in a war against violent drug cartels that control substantial portions of the country. The death toll in 2008 alone has risen to over 3,100 and appears likely to hit 4,000 by the end of the year. And the war is not free. The government’s ability to respond effectively to an economic crisis while funding a massive military and law enforcement effort is low — and the scarcity of funds could loosen public support for the cartel war as people look to solve their basic economic needs.

Moreover, a downturn in the economy will only exacerbate the security situation in Mexico. As jobs in the United States become scarce, many of the illegal Mexican migrant laborers there will be left jobless. Many will return to Mexico, where employment opportunities are no better. There is already some anecdotal evidence that reverse illegal migration into Mexico has become much more noticeable. The return to Mexico of thousands of unemployed young workers will flood the Mexican labor market.

There is no question that increased poverty and unemployment will contribute to a worsening security situation in Mexico. Ordinary criminal activities such as theft will likely increase, which could boost organized crime. Options in the legitimate economy will be few, but the underground economy — in drugs or other inelastic commodities — could flourish during a downturn. Indeed, a declining economy will make the cartels the only game in town, and rising unemployment will provide them with an excellent recruiting opportunity.


November 5, 2008 | 0332 GMT

Mexican Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mourino died Nov. 4 when the plane he was traveling in crashed three minutes before it was scheduled to land at the Mexico City International Airport, according to an official statement.

The LearJet 45 crashed near a major intersection in the capital, and reportedly occurred when the plane was on a normal approach path to the airport, when it should have been flying at an altitude of almost 1,000 feet. Also reported dead in the crash is the former director of federal organized crime investigations, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos. The plane was traveling from San Luis Potosi state, where Mourino had attended the signing of a security agreement between several states. CNN and TV Azteca reported that eyewitnesses said the plane exploded in midair, but this has not been confirmed.

It is unclear at this point what caused the crash. El Universal has reported that this same plane had a mechanical problem in 2005; however, this says little, since the plane appears to have been functioning over the past three years. Weather seems to have played no role in the accident. While mechanical failure or pilot error are likely causes, it is important to consider the possibility that foul play was involved, especially considering the escalating violence in Mexico’s war against the country’s drug cartels. Indeed, the Mexican army appears to be examining the potential for sabotage, as it reportedly has secured the San Luis Potosi airport where the flight originated and has begun an investigation.

If this crash does turn out to have been an act of sabotage carried out by one of the cartels, the implications of such an attack would be tremendous. If (and we do emphasize if here) the cartels are behind this, such an attack would be a direct hit against Mexico’s central government. The government would be forced to respond, most likely by drawing in troops from the border regions where the army is currently fighting the cartels to the interior to secure Mexico and prevent it from becoming a failed state. Also, considering Mexico’s economic situation, Mexico City would be stuck trying to prevent insolvency while trying to provide security. With only so many resources, Mexico would have to make some hard decisions indeed.

This situation will need to be monitored to determine the cause of the crash. Signs that would indicate the Mexican government believes the plane was sabotaged are the shutting down of air traffic and the ordering of drastic troop redeployments.

Tell Stratfor What You Think
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 08, 2008, 06:30:42 AM
  #1       Yesterday, 09:48 PM 
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 Mexico Seizes Hundreds of Drug-Cartel Weapons in Record Raid


ok, so who is thinking about responding with "they better not check out my basement"? you should go to this link and check out the extra photos. i like the gold plated desert eagle.,2933,449045,00.html

Friday, November 07, 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gonzalez Duran was arrested in Reynosa on Friday.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on November 08, 2008, 06:37:43 AM
No worries. Obama will give them amnesty and a "path towards citizenship" in exchange for their votes in 2012.
Title: Worrying signs from Border raids
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 12, 2008, 10:12:15 PM
Worrying Signs from Border Raids
November 12, 2008
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 17, 2008, 10:21:22 AM
November 17, 2008

For More of Mexico’s Wealthy, Expenses Include Guards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For my children, they don’t understand,” José said. “They’re happy to have these guys around. When they get out of school, there’s someone to take their backpack. There’s always someone around to play. I try to teach them that this isn’t normal. It shouldn’t be this way.”
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 17, 2008, 04:44:41 PM,8599,1858151,00.html?imw=Y

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 18, 2008, 12:57:20 PM

and most damning of all:


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

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

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

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

(click to view map)

Nov. 10
The mayor of Ciudad Juarez said he favors allowing citizens to use firearms to protect themselves.
The United States began the process of requesting the extradition of Jamie “El Hummer” Gonzalez Duran, who faces drug-trafficking charges in the United States.
In a survey conducted by, 56 percent of those questioned believe the plane crash that killed Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mourino was not accidental.
Three bodies with bound hands and feet, blindfolded, and showing signs of torture were discovered below a dam near Durango, Durango state.
Citizens of the indigenous community of Cheranastico, Michoacan, kidnapped 17 Paracho municipal policemen in protest of the arrest of Juan Escamilla Lucas for arms violations.
A group of armed commandos kidnapped 27 workers from a ranch in northern Sinaloa state.
Mexican military members confiscated nearly 1 ton of marijuana in the Huetamo municipality of Michoacan state.
Three men with high-powered rifles attacked members of the Mexican military’s 76th Infantry Battalion conducting an operation Chihuahua state, during which the military personnel seized 12 tons of marijuana.
Nov. 11
Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said that the Mexican government has underestimated the true power of the drug cartels.
Four alleged leaders of the international street gang MS-13 were detained in the southern state of Chiapas following an anonymous tip that led police to their safe house.
A confrontation between peasants and indigenous villagers in Chiapas state capital Tuxtla Gutierrez left one woman dead and nine others in police custody. Authorities also seized various firearms and magazines.
Twenty-seven day laborers kidnapped from a ranch in northern Sinaloa state on Nov. 10 were released. The ranch involved reportedly is connected to the crime family of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, who heads the Juarez cartel.
The burned bodies of two individuals were found along the federal Acapulco highway in Guerrero state.
One male and one female prison guard were shot dead in a local jail in Culiacan, Sinaloa.
Nov. 12
Mexican military personnel decommissioned a cocaine processing laboratory near the center of Culiacan, Sinaloa.
Mexican military personnel detained 22 policemen of various ranks for alleged connections to drug-trafficking organizations.
Six heavily armed assassins executed the director of public security for the city of Patzcuaro, Michoacan, as he left the public security department headquarters.
Mexican army personnel seized more than 120 firearms of various calibers, 1,500 rounds of ammunition and about 140 pounds of marijuana during operations in eastern Michoacan state.
Mexican army personnel guarded the offices of the Anti-Organized Crime Unit of the Mexican attorney general’s office as 21 police officers arrived from Baja California state for investigation into their presumed connections to drug trafficking.
Federal police seized more than 2 tons of marijuana, two firearms and three vehicles during operations in Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas state.
Nov. 13
Municipal police arrested 13 presumed members of the Milenio cartel in Tonala, Guadalajara, traveling in three trucks. Police seized 13 long arms, three short arms, various fragmentation grenades, and body armor with Federal Investigations Agency insignia.
Baja California state has asked for U.S. assistance in the search for ten municipal policemen associated with drug trafficking.
In three separate operations, police in Chiapas detained 13 men and women belonging to three different kidnapping gangs: “El Aguila,” “La Zorrita” and “Los Melendez.”
The U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, was closed after gunshots were heard near the building; consulate operations were suspended indefinitely.
Elements of the Mexican military seized 19 airplanes, various aeronautical equipment and several weapons reportedly used by drug traffickers in Cajeme, Sonora.
A body riddled with bullet holes was discovered in the Lomas de Guadalupe neighborhood of Culiacan, Sonora.
Nov. 14
A group of armed men stormed an immigration checkpoint in San Pedro Tapanatepec, Oaxaca state, kidnapping 12 women of Central American origin. State police officials indicated that the group might be linked to Los Zetas, the armed wing of the Gulf cartel.
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) members in the Mexican Senate have proposed reforms that will provide police officers and government officials with guarantees of protection during and after their commissions and entitle them to pensions. In response to an increase in infiltration of the police by drug cartels and attacks against authorities, PRI Sen. Francisco Herrera said that the safeguard will help “return to society not only hope, but also confidence in the security of the state,” El Milenio reported.
A group of armed men in Tijuana, Baja California state, shot four men and one woman. Shell casings found at the scene indicate the gunmen used 7.62mm-by-39mm and 2.23 caliber weapons, the police said.
Speaking in Acapulco, Mexican President Felipe Calderon praised the Mexican navy for recent success in the war against the drug cartels; naval cocaine seizures have reached nearly 43 tons.
Four people were shot and killed in two separate incidents in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, including a former farm leader and former alderman of the Democratic Revolutionary Party. The first incident involved a roadside shooting by gunmen armed with 9 mm pistols. The other incident involved a double execution with AK-47 rounds.
Elements of the State Judicial Police arrested three alleged members of the La Familia Michoacana criminal organization in Teoloyucan, Mexico state for allegedly threatening employees of the public safety department.
A group of armed men attacked a political convoy on one of the main avenues in Tijuana, Baja California state. Authorities reported that no one was injured during the incident.
Nov. 15
A man was found dead in the town of Churumuco, Michoacan state; the victim had two bullets in his skull.
Guerrero state Gov. Zeferino Torreblanca Galinso confirmed a report from a commanding officer of the Federal Investigations Agency that organized criminal elements are funding at least two social organizations in Guerrero state. The organizations’ names were not specified.
Five people were killed in Tijuana; two were shot with assault rifles at a restaurant, one man was shot dead in a pool hall, and two bodies were found in the street.
Nov. 16
Mexican drug dealers have established bases of operation in 42 of the 50 U.S. states, Mexican newspaper Milenio reported Nov. 16, citing Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) findings. According to the DEA, Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Montana, Alabama, Arkansas, Vermont and South Dakota are the only states that Mexican drug dealers do not occupy. The report indicates that the Juarez cartel is present in at least 21 states, including the U.S.-Mexican border states; the Sinaloa cartel in 17; the Tijuana cartel in 15; and the Gulf cartel in 13.
Tell Stratfor What You Think
Title: Barrio Azteca
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 19, 2008, 05:23:54 PM
The Barrio Azteca Trial and the Prison Gang-Cartel Interface
November 19, 2008
By Fred Burton and Ben West

Related Links
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: JDN on November 19, 2008, 06:53:50 PM
It is kind of sad really.
Mexico City is a beautiful city; cosmopolitan, cultured, fabulous restaurants and beautiful architecture and wonderful people.
I have been there a few times and always enjoyed it very much.

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

We take safety for granted, but it is not always available. 
Title: WSJ: Mexico's big strides on econ policy
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 01, 2008, 08:42:56 AM
Mexico Has Made Big Strides on Economic Policy Calderón was smart enough to hedge against falling oil prices.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In today's Opinion Journal


America's Other Auto IndustryMessing With Malpractice Reform


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


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

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

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

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

Write to O'

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 05, 2008, 10:19:13 AM
ospitals Now a Theater in Mexico’s Drug War


December 5, 2008

Hospitals Now a Theater in Mexico’s Drug War


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then, there is the risk of shootouts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But hospitals do not have that luxury. “We’re not judges,” said Carolina Aubanel Riedel, whose family owns Hospital del Prado. “We treat those who arrive.”
Title: Monterey Jewelry Store Murders
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on December 06, 2008, 11:45:12 AM
Jewelry store patrons murdered as a part of the ongoing Mexican drug war:,0,2178649.story?track=rss

Quite graphic.
Title: Mexico circling the drain?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 09, 2008, 07:56:57 PM
Part 1: A Critical Confluence of Events
December 9, 2008 | 1213 GMT

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

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

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

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

Economic Turmoil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mexico's most critical challenge is the convergence of events it now faces.
The downturn in the economy, the political dynamics or the deteriorating
security situation, each on its own, might not pose an insurmountable
problem for Mexico. What could prove insurmountable is the confluence of all
three, which appears to be in the making.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 09, 2008, 07:59:23 PM
second post of the day:


By Todd Bensman
The San Antonio Express-News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Express-News reporter Sean Mattson in Mexico contributed to this report
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 12, 2008, 08:43:01 PM
In Mexico, Assassins of Increasing Skill
Well-Coordinated Cartel Hits Show Greater Sophistication
A forensics team examines the scene of Huerta's murder. Assassins fired 85 rounds at Huerta's SUV, hitting him 40 times. No nearby vehicles were hit by stray bullets.

By William Booth
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 12, 2008; Page A16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Mexico, Assassins of Increasing Skill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 21, 2008, 03:16:05 PM
9 Headless Bodies Located in Southern Mexico
Sunday, December 21, 2008,2933,470710,00.html

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Confessions of a foot soldier
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 26, 2008, 05:14:11 AM
Friday, Dec. 26, 2008
By Ioan Grillo / Mexico City

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

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

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

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

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

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

In late March, Cobo's unit kidnapped a military officer, decapitated him and stuck his body out on a road, along with several bags of cocaine and about $2,000 in cash. "Franco told me that the officer was from military intelligence and he was getting too close," Cobo said. "The drugs and the money were planted so it would seem like he was involved in narco trafficking." Following the slaying, soldiers arrested Cobo and 13 others, along with semi-automatic rifles and radio equipment. His confession led the military to the suburban house where they dug up the bodies he had mentioned. Cobo was eventually sent to a civilian prison, where he awaits his court date on organized crime charges. Federal prosecutors declined to comment on whether his cooperation will lead to a more lenient sentence.
Find this article at:,00.html
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 01, 2009, 04:03:03 AM
Mexico: Cartel Sources in High Places
Stratfor Today » December 29, 2008 | 1834 GMT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More details must emerge about Gonzalez’s exact role in the Presidential Guard Corps and the nature of the intelligence he passed to the BLO in order to more accurately assess the threat he posed to the president. Even so, the fact remains that the cartels’ intelligence capabilities have extended to those charged with protecting Mexico’s president — and hence to Mexico’s political stability.
Title: Border webcams
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 06, 2009, 10:49:42 AM
Border webcams
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on January 07, 2009, 12:31:38 AM

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

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

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

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

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

Drug-related violence in Mexico, already at unprecedented levels, is expected to escalate further this year, with targets likely to include top Mexican politicians and law enforcement agents and possibly even U.S. officials, according to diplomats and intelligence experts on both sides of the border.
The warning underscores the difficult choices confronting President Felipe Calderón as he takes on drug cartels while weighing the implications of growing casualties in a year of midterm elections and a slowing economy.
It also reflects rising concern among U.S. officials and analysts about the deteriorating security situation, corruption among Mexico’s top crime fighters, and the vulnerability of the military to possible corruption in battling cartel gangs.
As the war against cartels escalates in 2009, so will the threats, particularly against U.S. officials and other Americans, officials, analysts and diplomats, including U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza, said in recent interviews.
“Calderón must, and will, keep the pressure on the cartels, but look, let’s not be naïve – there will be more violence, more blood, and, yes, things will get worse before they get better. That’s the nature of the battle,” Garza said. “The more pressure the cartels feel, the more they’ll lash out like cornered animals.
“Our folks know exactly how high the stakes are,” Garza said. He advised Americans traveling to Mexico to check State Department travel alerts at
A U.S. intelligence official based along the Texas border warned that U.S. officials, American businessmen and journalists will “become targets, if they’re not already.”
Title: Coming soon to a border near you-- MexiGaza
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 07, 2009, 09:03:15 AM
Wednesday, 07 January 2009


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

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

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

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

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

Posted by John Robb on Wednesday, 07 January 2009 at 07:45 AM
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 14, 2009, 08:32:18 AM
U.S. military report warns 'sudden collapse' of Mexico is possible
By Diana Washington Valdez / El Paso Times
Posted: 01/13/2009 03:49:34 PM MST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at; 546-6140.

Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on January 14, 2009, 07:07:04 PM

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

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

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

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

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

More stories on the violence in Mexico
Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at; 546-6140.
Title: BO's challenge
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 15, 2009, 09:20:56 AM

Geopolitical Diary: Obama's Mexico Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Title: Televisa attacked!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 15, 2009, 09:16:02 PM
Mexico Media on High Alert After Drug-Gang Attack on Televisa
AP – Officials examine a car related to an attack on the offices of the television company Televisa in Monterrey, …
Editors at Televisa, the world's most popular Spanish-language network, were having a lively news meeting in the northern Mexico city of Monterrey when they heard a series of pops followed by a thunderous explosion. Running outside, the editors realized the top breaking news item had come straight to them. The pops were bullets sprayed from Kalashnikov automatic rifles directly into the faÇade of their offices. The blast was from a fragmentation grenade. Next to the debris was a message scrawled on cardboard: "Stop just broadcasting us. Also broadcast the narco politicians," it said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Charles Bronson comes to Mexico
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 16, 2009, 01:17:46 PM
El Paso Times
Jan 15, 2009
Daniel Borunda

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

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

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

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

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

The announcement comes as Juárez struggles with a wave of homicides, extortions, carjackings, robberies and other crimes that began last year. Business people, teachers, medical professionals and others were targeted by extortionists in the last year as crime surged due in a part to a war between drug cartels. There were more than 1,600 homicides in Juárez last year.  There have been more than 40 homicides already this year, including 10 on Wednesday.
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 20, 2009, 08:26:25 AM
Potential Vigilante Violence in Chihuahua State

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

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

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

Increased Robbery, Theft From Acapulco Businesses

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

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

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

Security Breach in a Target-Rich Environment

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

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

Jan. 12

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

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

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

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

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

Tell Stratfor What You Think
Title: Police chief loses his head
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 21, 2009, 04:42:47 PM
New police chief's head left at station
Published: Jan. 20, 2009 at 8:53 PMOrder reprints  |  Feedback

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Oil production declines sharply
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 22, 2009, 05:03:13 PM
Output at Mexico’s state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos fell 9 percent in 2008, its fastest drop since World War II. The company is unlikely to reverse that decline anytime soon, either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: WSJ: Drug gangs have Mex on the ropes
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 26, 2009, 05:55:52 AM
A murder in the Mexican state of Chihuahua last week horrified even hardened crime stoppers. Police Commander Martin Castro's head was severed and left in an ice cooler in front of the police station in the town of Praxedis with a calling card from the Sinoloa drug cartel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write to O'
Title: Surprising news
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 27, 2009, 08:19:09 PM
By Peter Millard and Matthew Cowley
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--Petroleos Mexicanos's $2 billion bond sale on Tuesday was oversubscribed threefold, underscoring strong investor interest in Mexico's state oil company despite disappointing operating results last year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Planes seized FROM police
Post by: Crafty_Dog on January 31, 2009, 03:12:58 AM
Mexican gunmen forcibly take back seized planes


Around the World

Washington Post, Thursday, October 2, 2008; A20

Gunmen Steal Impounded Planes
Police in Mexico said 20 heavily armed men stole five small planes the army had seized in anti-drug operations. The gunmen tied up a police officer who was guarding the Cessna planes in the state of Sinaloa, then flew them out of a local airfield.
From News Services
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 02, 2009, 02:59:29 AM
TUCSON — Drug smugglers parked a car transport trailer against the Mexican side of the border one day in December, dropped a ramp over the security fence, and drove two pickup trucks filled with marijuana onto Arizona soil.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Page 2 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The violence has left a large contingent of police on this side of the border,” Sheriff Estrada said. “The killing will stop when somebody dominates. When somebody takes control.”
Title: Sinaloan diplomacy?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 02, 2009, 09:21:23 AM
second post of the day:

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Ultimately, cooperation could also become a strategy for the cartels to combat the government. If the cartels could move from not fighting each other to actively collaborating on undermining the government, they could pose a serious threat to the Mexican state. As mentioned above, many factors make this type of broad cooperation rather unlikely — honor among thieves is a fickle thing — but there are incentives for cooperation as well.
Title: Border incursions
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 02, 2009, 06:37:47 PM
Taken from another forum:

and most damning of all:
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Freki on February 03, 2009, 06:03:03 AM
All but the voanew link did not work?  My conspiricy alarm is going off :-D :-o :wink:
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 03, 2009, 08:48:42 AM
An updated version of the previous Stratfor report:

Hints of a Possible Cartel Cease-fire

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

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

Talk of a Shift in Strategy

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

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

Sinaloa Cartel Operations in Nicaragua

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

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

Jan. 26

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

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

Jan. 27

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

Jan. 28

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

Jan. 29

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

Feb. 1

At least one assailant shot and killed a police officer in Guadalupe y Calvo, Chihuahua state.
Tell Stratfor What You Think
Title: La Familia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 06, 2009, 05:21:12 AM
Another deadly Mexican syndicate

ISN Link

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

By George W Grayson for FPRI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How La Familia describes its goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spreading conflict

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grenade attack in Morelia

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

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

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

Title: Familia 2
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 06, 2009, 05:22:35 AM

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

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

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

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

Organization and resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Mexico’s heavily armed, vicious groups are increasingly conducting operations north of the Rio Grande. Too long ignored by Washington, this threat from the Mexican cartels - and their Andean suppliers - must become a priority of the Obama administration.
Title: illegals sue rancher
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 09, 2009, 10:07:06 PM
16 illegals sue Arizona rancher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"This is my land. I´m the victim here," Mr. Barnett said. "When someone´s home and loved ones are in jeopardy and the government seemingly can´t do anything about it, I feel justified in taking matters into my own hands. And I always watch my back."
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: G M on February 12, 2009, 06:45:09 AM

Just commiting the horrific crimes Americans aren't willing to do....
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 12, 2009, 11:41:13 PM,2933,491964,00.html

Thursday , February 12, 2009
By Joshua Rhett Miller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That would be very difficult to handle," Carpenter told "I suspect what'd you see fairly soon is an attempt to seal the border as much as possible. That would probably be the initial response, along with the building of additional facilities [to detain the Mexican refugees]. But nobody wants to see that happen."
Title: Our Bad Neighbor Policy
Post by: Body-by-Guinness on February 13, 2009, 06:13:09 AM
Our insane drug policies line the pockets of our enemies while seriously impinging on American liberties. CATO outlines below the impact of these policies. Full article can be found at the link below.

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

by Ted Galen Carpenter

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

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

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

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

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

Full piece here:
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Freki on February 17, 2009, 09:59:21 PM
By JULIE WATSON, Associated Press Writer Julie Watson, Associated Press Writer – Tue Feb 17, 4:56 pm ET

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

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

BBC Story from link above

Protests block US-Mexico border

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calderon's vow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Title: Two miles from the US
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 22, 2009, 05:41:26 PM

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

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

Title: Re: Two miles from the US
Post by: G M on February 22, 2009, 05:49:39 PM

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


Title: Mayor of Juarez hiding in US.
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 24, 2009, 10:06:05 AM
EL PASO - The El Paso Police Department is investigating alleged threats against Juárez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz, who reportedly moved his family to El Paso for safety reasons, Det. Carlos Carrillo said Monday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The FBI had warned him in advance about the cartel's plans, and then President Vicente Fox blamed the cartel for the attack on Martinez. A Chihuahua state policewoman was imprisoned in connection with the attack.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Freki on February 25, 2009, 05:47:05 AM
Who here guessed the answer to this one raise your hand. :roll:

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

Mexican officials characterized Tuesday's protests at the international bridges as suspicious, while Juárez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz condemned the deaths of four police officers killed in an ambush, also on Tuesday.
In a news conference Wednes day, Ferriz said one of those killed, police director Sacramento Perez Serrano, 49, had been recruited last July from the interior of Mexico to help reorganize the Juárez police force.
Perez was in charge of police operations.
Before the mayor's conference, officials removed banners with threatening messages aimed at police that had been placed in various parts of the city.
"These three officers, along with the police director, lived and died in the line of duty, and gave their lives to the country," Ferriz said. "Until his last day, (Perez's) only goal was to serve the public.
"Juárez Police Chief Roberto Orduño Cruz profoundly laments the loss of a man who lived and served our country with conviction, the same as the officers who died at his side."
Perez, who was a former Mexican army captain with a law degree, will be buried with honors, along with police Officers Antonio Arias Feria, Vicente Mata Beltran and Francisco Javier Reyes Moreno.
Officials said the officers were traveling by truck to the Babicora police station when they were attacked by a group of armed men around 5 p.m. Tuesday at Ejercito Nacional and Paseo de la Victoria, near the U.S. Consulate.
On another matter, Joint Operation Chihuahua issued a statement alleging that the protests that temporarily shut down three border bridges Tuesday -- about four hours before the policemen were killed -- were carried out by people "who received money for their participation" in the protests.
Officials said several people were observed Tuesday filling up buses with paid protesters to march against the military's crackdown on the Mexican drug cartels.
Joint Operation Chihuahua also confirmed that on Feb. 10 authorities detained taxi driver Oswaldo Muñoz Gonzalez, who reportedly inspired the protests, and that he is being investigated in connection with marijuana and weapons found in his possession.
About 20 Juárez taxi drivers took part in Tuesday's bridge blockades, officials said.
Joint Operation Chihuahua also cautioned the public against being used by others to take part in protests intended to discredit soldiers who were sent to Juárez to fight drug cartels.
Similar protests against the Mexican army, which has been accused of abuses, have occurred in other cities besides Juárez.
Last week, Nuevo Leon Gov. Natividad Gonzalez Paras said in a news conference that protests against the military operations in Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas and Veracruz "were organized and financed by the Gulf cartel Zetas," the drug organization's enforcement arm.
More than 5,000 people died last year as a result of drug violence in Mexico, including 1,600 in Juárez.
Diana Washington Valdez
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 25, 2009, 09:34:42 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Feb. 23, 2009
Stratfor Today » February 23, 2009 | 2248 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Chihuahua governor’s convoy attacked

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

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

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

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

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

Maritime drug trafficking

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

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

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

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

Click to view map

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

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

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

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

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

Feb. 21
A group of heavily armed men threw two grenades at a police building in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state, wounding at least five people.
A firefight between two criminal groups in Pueblo Nuevo, Durango state, left some 10 people dead.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Tom Stillman on February 25, 2009, 11:54:50 AM
It always amazes me how the simplest solutions are often overlooked or for that matter ignored. Here is one more for the books.
Title: Strat: The long arm of the lawless.
Post by: Crafty_Dog on February 25, 2009, 12:41:00 PM
Nice find Tom.

By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Last week we discussed the impact that crime, and specifically kidnapping, has been having on Mexican citizens and foreigners visiting or living in Mexico. We pointed out that there is almost no area of Mexico immune from the crime and violence. As if on cue, on the night of Feb. 21 a group of heavily armed men threw two grenades at a police building in Zihuatanejo, Guerrero state, wounding at least five people. Zihuatanejo is a normally quiet beach resort just north of Acapulco; the attack has caused the town’s entire police force to go on strike. (Police strikes, or threats of strikes, are not uncommon in Mexico.)

Mexican police have regularly been targeted by drug cartels, with police officials even having been forced to seek safety in the United States, but such incidents have occurred most frequently in areas of high cartel activity like Veracruz state or Palomas. The Zihuatanejo incident is proof of the pervasiveness of violence in Mexico, and demonstrates the impact that such violence quickly can have on an area generally considered safe.

Significantly, the impact of violent Mexican criminals stretches far beyond Mexico itself. In recent weeks, Mexican criminals have been involved in killings in Argentina, Peru and Guatemala, and Mexican criminals have been arrested as far away as Italy and Spain. Their impact — and the extreme violence they embrace — is therefore not limited to Mexico or even just to Latin America. For some years now, STRATFOR has discussed the threat that Mexican cartel violence could spread to the United States, and we have chronicled the spread of such violence to the U.S.-Mexican border and beyond.

Traditionally, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations had focused largely on the transfer of narcotics through Mexico. Once the South American cartels encountered serious problems bringing narcotics directly into the United States, they began to focus more on transporting the narcotics to Mexico. From that point, the Mexican cartels transported them north and then handed them off to U.S. street gangs and other organizations, which handled much of the narcotics distribution inside the United States. In recent years, however, these Mexican groups have grown in power and have begun to take greater control of the entire narcotics-trafficking supply chain.

With greater control comes greater profitability as the percentages demanded by middlemen are cut out. The Mexican cartels have worked to have a greater presence in Central and South America, and now import from South America into Mexico an increasing percentage of the products they sell. They are also diversifying their routes and have gone global; they now even traffic their wares to Europe. At the same time, Mexican drug-trafficking organizations also have increased their distribution operations inside the United States to expand their profits even further. As these Mexican organizations continue to spread beyond the border areas, their profits and power will extend even further — and they will bring their culture of violence to new areas.

Burned in Phoenix
The spillover of violence from Mexico began some time ago in border towns like Laredo and El Paso in Texas, where merchants and wealthy families face extortion and kidnapping threats from Mexican gangs, and where drug dealers who refuse to pay “taxes” to Mexican cartel bosses are gunned down. But now, the threat posed by Mexican criminals is beginning to spread north from the U.S.-Mexican border. One location that has felt this expanding threat most acutely is Phoenix, some 185 miles north of the border. Some sensational cases have highlighted the increased threat in Phoenix, such as a June 2008 armed assault in which a group of heavily armed cartel gunmen dressed like a Phoenix Police Department tactical team fired more than 100 rounds into a residence during the targeted killing of a Jamaican drug dealer who had double-crossed a Mexican cartel. We have also observed cartel-related violence in places like Dallas and Austin, Texas. But Phoenix has been the hardest hit.

Narcotics smuggling and drug-related assassinations are not the only thing the Mexican criminals have brought to Phoenix. Other criminal gangs have been heavily involved in human smuggling, arms smuggling, money laundering and other crimes. Due to the confluence of these Mexican criminal gangs, Phoenix has now become the kidnapping-for-ransom capital of the United States. According to a Phoenix Police Department source, the department received 368 kidnapping reports last year. As we discussed last week, kidnapping is a highly underreported crime in places such as Mexico, making it very difficult to measure accurately. Based upon experience with kidnapping statistics in other parts of the world — specifically Latin America — it would not be unreasonable to assume that there were at least as many unreported kidnappings in Phoenix as there are reported kidnappings.

At present, the kidnapping environment in the United States is very different from that of Mexico, Guatemala or Colombia. In those countries, kidnapping runs rampant and has become a well-developed industry with a substantial established infrastructure. Police corruption and incompetence ensures that kidnappers are rarely caught or successfully prosecuted.

A variety of motives can lie behind kidnappings. In the United States, crime statistics demonstrate that motives such as sexual exploitation, custody disputes and short-term kidnapping for robbery have far surpassed the number of reported kidnappings conducted for ransom. In places like Mexico, kidnapping for ransom is much more common.

The FBI handles kidnapping investigations in the United States. It has developed highly sophisticated teams of agents and resources to devote to investigating this type of crime. Local police departments are also far more proficient and professional in the United States than in Mexico. Because of the advanced capabilities of law enforcement in the United States, the overwhelming majority of criminals involved in kidnapping-for-ransom cases reported to police — between 95 percent and 98 percent — are caught and convicted. There are also stiff federal penalties for kidnapping. Because of this, kidnapping for ransom has become a relatively rare crime in the United States.

Most kidnapping for ransom that does happen in the United States occurs within immigrant communities. In these cases, the perpetrators and victims belong to the same immigrant group (e.g., Chinese Triad gangs kidnapping the families of Chinese businesspeople, or Haitian criminals kidnapping Haitian immigrants) — which is what is happening in Phoenix. The vast majority of the 368 known kidnapping victims in Phoenix are Mexican and Central American immigrants who are being victimized by Mexican or Mexican-American criminals.

The problem in Phoenix involves two main types of kidnapping. One is the abduction of drug dealers or their children, the other is the abduction of illegal aliens.

Drug-related kidnappings often are not strict kidnappings for ransom per se. Instead, they are intended to force the drug dealer to repay a debt to the drug trafficking organization that ordered the kidnapping.

Nondrug-related kidnappings are very different from traditional kidnappings in Mexico or the United States, in which a high-value target is abducted and held for a large ransom. Instead, some of the gangs operating in Phoenix are basing their business model on volume, and are willing to hold a large number of victims for a much smaller individual pay out. Reports have emerged of kidnapping gangs in Phoenix carjacking entire vans full of illegal immigrants away from the coyote smuggling them into the United States. The kidnappers then transport the illegal immigrants to a safe house, where they are held captive in squalid conditions — and often tortured or sexually assaulted with a family member listening in on the phone — to coerce the victims’ family members in the United States or Mexico to pay the ransom for their release. There are also reports of the gangs picking up vehicles full of victims at day labor sites and then transporting them to the kidnapping safe house rather than to the purported work site.

Drug-related kidnappings are less frequent than the nondrug-related abduction of illegal immigrants, but in both types of abductions, the victims are not likely to seek police assistance due to their immigration status or their involvement in illegal activity. This strongly suggests the kidnapping problem greatly exceeds the number of cases reported to police.

Implications for the United States
The kidnapping gangs in Phoenix that target illegal immigrants have found their chosen crime to be lucrative and relatively risk-free. If the flow of illegal immigrants had continued at high levels, there is very little doubt the kidnappers’ operations would have continued as they have for the past few years. The current economic downturn, however, means the flow of illegal immigrants has begun to slow — and by some accounts has even begun to reverse. (Reports suggest many Mexicans are returning home after being unable to find jobs in the United States.)

This reduction in the pool of targets means that we might be fast approaching a point where these groups, which have become accustomed to kidnapping as a source of easy money — and their primary source of income — might be forced to change their method of operating to make a living. While some might pursue other types of criminal activity, some might well decide to diversify their pool of victims. Watching for this shift in targeting is of critical importance. Were some of these gangs to begin targeting U.S. citizens rather than just criminals or illegal immigrants, a tremendous panic would ensue, along with demands to catch the perpetrators.

Such a shift would bring a huge amount of law enforcement pressure onto the kidnapping gangs, to include the FBI. While the FBI is fairly hard-pressed for resources given its heavy counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence and white-collar crime caseload, it almost certainly would be able to reassign the resources needed to respond to such kidnappings in the face of publicity and a public outcry. Such a law enforcement effort could neutralize these gangs fairly quickly, but probably not quickly enough to prevent any victims from being abducted or harmed.

Since criminal groups are not comprised of fools alone, at least some of these groups will realize that targeting soccer moms will bring an avalanche of law enforcement attention upon them. Therefore, it is very likely that if kidnapping targets become harder to find in Phoenix — or if the law enforcement environment becomes too hostile due to the growing realization of this problem — then the groups may shift geography rather than targeting criteria. In such a scenario, professional kidnapping gangs from Phoenix might migrate to other locations with large communities of Latin American illegal immigrants to victimize. Some of these locations could be relatively close to the Mexican border like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, San Diego or Los Angeles, though they could also include locations farther inland like Chicago, Atlanta, New York, or even the communities around meat and poultry packing plants in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic states. Such a migration of ethnic criminals would not be unprecedented: Chinese Triad groups from New York for some time have traveled elsewhere on the East Coast, like Atlanta, to engage in extortion and kidnapping against Chinese businessmen there.

The issue of Mexican drug-traffic organizations kidnapping in the United States merits careful attention, especially since criminal gangs in other areas of the country could start imitating the tactics of the Phoenix gangs.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 01, 2009, 06:01:56 AM
Top Mexico police charged with favoring drug cartel

02:49 PM CST on Saturday, January 24, 2009
Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – President Felipe Calderon's war on drug trafficking has led to his own doorstep, with the arrest of a dozen high-ranking officials with alleged ties to Mexico's most powerful drug gang, the Sinaloa Cartel.

The U.S. praises Calderon for rooting out corruption at the top. But critics say the arrests reveal nothing more than a timeworn government tactic of protecting one cartel and cracking down on others.

Operation Clean House comes just as the U.S. is giving Mexico its first installment of $400 million in equipment and technology to fight drugs. Most will go to a beefed-up federal police agency run by the same people whose top aides have been arrested as alleged Sinaloa spies.

"If there is anything worse than a corrupt and ill-equipped cop, it is a corrupt and well-equipped cop," said criminal justice expert Jorge Chabat, who studies the drug trade.

U.S. drug enforcement agents say they have no qualms about sending support to Mexico.

"We've been working with the Mexican government for decades at the DEA," said Garrison Courtney, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Obviously, we ensure that the individuals we work with are vetted."

Agents who conduct raids have long suspected Mexican government ties to Sinaloa, and rival drug gangs have advertised the alleged connection in banners hung from freeways. While raids against the rival Gulf cartel have netted suspects, those against Sinaloa almost always came up empty – or worse, said Agent Oscar Granados Salero of the Federal Investigative Agency, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI.

"Whenever we were trying to serve arrest warrants, they were already waiting for us, and a lot of colleagues lost their lives that way," Salero said.

The U.S. government estimates that the cartels smuggle $15 billion to $20 billion in drug money across the border each year.

Over the last five months, officials from the Mexican Attorney General's office, the federal police and even Mexico's representatives to Interpol have been detained on suspicion of acting as spies for Sinaloa or its one-time ally, the Beltran Leyva gang. An officer who served in Calderon's presidential guard was detained in December on suspicion of spying for Beltran Leyva.

Gerardo Garay, formerly the acting federal police chief, is accused of protecting the Beltran Leyva brothers and stealing money from a mansion during an October drug raid. Former drug czar Noe Ramirez, who was supposed to serve as point man in Calderon's anti-drug fight, is accused of taking $450,000 from Sinaloa.

Most of such tips are coming from a Mexican federal agent who infiltrated the U.S. embassy for the Beltran Leyva drug cartel. No such infiltrators have been found for the Gulf cartel, which controls most drug shipments in eastern Mexico and Central America. Sinaloa controls Pacific and western routes.

The DEA's Courtney agrees that there has been a greater crackdown on the Gulf Cartel in both the U.S. and Mexico, with more than 600 members of the gang arrested in September. But he declined to answer questions about Mexico favoring Sinaloa.

Calderon has long acknowledged corruption as an obstacle to his offensive, which involved sending more than 20,000 soldiers to battle drug trafficking throughout the country. The U.S. aid plan includes technology aimed at improving the way Mexico vets and supervises police.

The president vows to create a "new generation of police," consolidating agencies under Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, who heads all federal law enforcement.

That's what worries Granados Salero and other agents. So many of Garcia Luna's associates are under suspicion of Sinaloa ties that many wonder how he could not have known.

Calderon has publicly backed Garcia Luna, calling him "a man of great capacity."

"Obviously, if there was any doubt about his honesty, or any evidence that would call into question his honesty, he would certainly no longer be the secretary of public safety," the president said recently.

But some see the alleged Sinaloa ties with Garcia Luna's lieutenants as an old tactic used widely under the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico for 71 years with a tight fist. Officials in the past preferred to deal with one strong cartel rather than many warring gangs – what Calderon faces now. More than 5,300 people died in drug-related slayings in 2008.

"I fear that Secretary Garcia Luna ... is working on the idea that once one cartel consolidates itself as the winner, that is, Sinaloa, the violence is going to drop," said organized crime expert Edgardo Buscaglia, who tracks federal police arrests and has studied law enforcement agencies' written reports.

Garcia Luna has denied being involved in corruption. He has acknowledged that authorities in the past chose the path of managing cartels. But in an interview with the newspaper El Sol, he said that approach only strengthens the gangs in the long run.

Others say the high number of Sinaloa infiltrators is a reflection of the two cartels' very different styles.

The Gulf cartel is led by military-trained hit men so violent that they reportedly planned to attack even U.S. law enforcement agencies.

"They don't necessarily try to build networks of corruption. They prefer networks of intimidation," said Monte Alejandro Rubido, who leads Mexico's multi-agency National Security System.

Sinaloa, on the other hand, appears to use bribery and infiltration at least as much as its gunmen. Cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman bribed his way out of a Mexican prison in 2001, provoking suspicions the government was on his side.

Many Mexicans worry about giving so much money and power to a still corrupt force. Of more than 56,000 local and state police officers evaluated between January and October last year, fewer than half met the recommended qualifications, Calderon reported to Congress in early December. No similar numbers are available for federal police.

Agents like Granados Salero wonder who is in charge of police integrity.

"We agents find out about a lot of things," he said, "but who can we turn to?"
Title: 100,000 foot soldiers in cartels?
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 03, 2009, 01:17:23 PM

100,000 Foot Soldiers in Mexican Cartels

March 3, 2009

by Sara A. Carter

To dilute the will to win is to destroy the purpose of the game. There is no substitute for victory.

--General Douglas MacArthur

The U.S. Defense Department thinks Mexico's two most deadly drug cartels together have fielded more than 100,000 foot soldiers - an army that rivals Mexico's armed forces and threatens to turn the country into a narco-state.

'It's moving to crisis proportions,' a senior U.S. defense official told The Washington Times. The official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because of the sensitive nature of his work, said the cartels' 'foot soldiers' are on a par with Mexico's army of about 130,000.

The disclosure underlines the enormity of the challenge Mexico and the United States face as they struggle to contain what is increasingly looking like a civil war or an insurgency along the U.S.-Mexico border. In the past year, about 7,000 people have died - more than 1,000 in January alone. The conflict has become increasingly brutal, with victims beheaded and bodies dissolved in vats of acid.

The death toll dwarfs that in Afghanistan, where about 200 fatalities, including 29 U.S. troops, were reported in the first two months of 2009. About 400 people, including 31 U.S. military personnel, died in Iraq during the same period.

The biggest and most violent combatants are the Sinaloa cartel, known by U.S. and Mexican federal law enforcement officials as the 'Federation' or 'Golden Triangle,' and its main rival, 'Los Zetas' or the Gulf Cartel, whose territory runs along the Laredo,Texas, borderlands.

The two cartels appear to be negotiating a truce or merger to defeat rivals and better withstand government pressure. U.S. officials say the consequences of such a pact would be grave.

'I think if they merge or decide to cooperate in a greater way, Mexico could potentially have a national security crisis,' the defense official said. He said the two have amassed so many people and weapons that Mexican President Felipe Calderon is 'fighting for his life' and 'for the life of Mexico right now.'

As a result, Mexico is behind only Pakistan and Iran as a top U.S. national security concern, ranking above Afghanistan and Iraq, the defense official added.

Other U.S. officials and Mexico specialists agreed with this assessment.

Michael V. Hayden, who left as CIA director in January, put Mexico second to Iran as a top national security threat to the United States. His successor, Leon E. Panetta, told reporters at his first news conference that the agency is 'paying ... a lot of attention to' Mexico.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told CBS' '60 Minutes' on Sunday that 'the stakes are high for the safety of many, many citizens of Mexico and the stakes are high for the United States no doubt.'

In a December interview with The Times, President Bush said his successor would need to deal 'with these drug cartels in our own neighborhood. And the front line of the fight will be Mexico.'

A State Department travel advisory last month seemed timed to caution U.S. students contemplating spring breaks south of the border.

'Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades,' the advisory said.

Independent analysts warn that narco-terrorists have infiltrated the Mexican government, creating a shadow regime that further complicates efforts to contain and destroy the cartels.

'My greatest fear is that the tentacles of the shadow government grow stronger, that the cartels have penetrated the government and that they will be able to act with impunity and that this ever stronger shadow government will effectively evolve into a narco-state,' said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington.

The Mexican Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment on the drug war.

Mr. Calderon, however, has adamantly denied assertions that Mexico is becoming a failed state.

The Mexican government has 'not lost any part - any single part - of the Mexican territory to drug cartels,' he recently told the Associated Press.

His comments run counter to the impressions of U.S. law enforcement officials and some Mexican journalists reporting in Ciudad Juarez, a city just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

On a recent morning here, the once-bustling border town of 1.3 million was more like a ghost town.

'It's empty,' said a vendor of freshly baked tortillas and salsa, who asked to be identified only by her first name, Maria. 'We are in a losing war against the narco-traffickers. My business is dying, and soon it will join the graveyard of businesses that have had to close down. No one comes Juarez anymore.'

More than 1,800 people have been killed in the city since last year. The number continued to climb as The Times visited, with more than 20 deaths in one week.

In response to the challenge, U.S. and Mexican authorities have stepped up raids on cartel members in both countries.

Last week, U.S. and Mexican forces arrested 755 people, including 52 in the United States associated with the Sinaloa cartel. However, cartel leader Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman is still at large. He is thought to be living in Sinaloa and protected by hired gunmen and Mexican federal officials on his payroll, said a U.S. law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing intelligence operations.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) spokesman Garrison Courtney said last week's raids put a dent in cartel operations but that public attention to the crisis has been long in coming.

'If we don't start paying attention, the violence - which has already spilled into the U.S. - is going to get worse,' Mr. Courtney said. 'This is a shared interest between the United States and Mexico to go after these drug traffickers.'

In recent years, however, U.S. officials have been reluctant to share information with Mexican counterparts, fearing that they will leak to the cartels.

DEA officials interviewed by The Times said the Sinaloa cartel employs Mexican federal officials, while other cartels pay off local governments and police.

'Many times, what you see isn't really what's going on,' said a DEA official, who asked not to be named because of the nature of his work. 'Many times the death of federal officers or local police isn't a cartel making the hit, but the cartels themselves in the government fighting one another. The same thing has happened to the Mexican army, where the cartels have also bought loyalty to move dope into the U.S.'

Mr. Courtney said the Mexican cartels have 'evolved into the Colombian cartels of the 1980s. Even the government's reaction to what's going on there right now and over the last five years is what the government of Colombia faced when they went after Pablo Escobar. Juarez has seen an escalation in that same type of brutal violence.'

Escobar was a Colombian drug lord who died in 1993.

More than 2,000 Mexican army soldiers and 425 federal police are patrolling in Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located. More than 45,000 Mexican troops have been engaged in the drug war since Mr. Calderon took office in 2006.

Mr. Carpenter said the use of the Mexican military may be backfiring.

'I said at the time when Calderon called the military to take the lead role in confronting the cartels that he was undertaking a massive gamble,' Mr. Carpenter said. 'It is clear now that he is losing that gamble if he has not already lost it.'

A U.S. counterterrorism official said, however, that the severity of the crisis was bringing the U.S. and Mexican governments closer and that the CIA will work closely with Mexico if asked for guidance.

'Both countries have a common interest in clamping down on the cartels, and that has shaved away some of the underlying historical tensions in what has long been a close relationship with Mexico,' said the official, who spoke on the condition that he not be named. 'The Mexicans understand - perhaps more so than at any time in recent memory - that we are genuine about taking these people on.'

Meanwhile, thousands of Mexicans daily cross the Santa Fe bridge, which connects Ciudad Juarez to El Paso, ironically one of the safest U.S. cities.

'Why should we have to live like this?'asked Maria, the vendor. 'Why do our children have to die, while our neighbors live like nothing is happening? Every day we pray for something different, for peace. Every day our prayers are left unanswered.'
Title: Risks to travel in Mexico
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 06, 2009, 06:31:41 AM
Mexico: Spring Break Travel and Security Risks
Stratfor Today » March 5, 2009 | 1257 GMT

A Mexican federal police officer at a checkpoint in the resort city of AcapulcoSummary
As spring break season approaches, warnings about travel to Mexico invite a closer look at security in the country’s popular resort cities.

On March 2, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives became the latest government agency to release an alert warning citizens of the risks associated with visiting Mexico. In previous weeks, the U.S. State Department and the Canadian foreign affairs department also have issued travel alerts, and several American universities have urged their students to avoid visiting Mexico during the spring break season.

The impetus for these warnings, of course, is the continuously deteriorating security situation in Mexico created by ongoing drug cartel violence and the government’s response. On one hand, the bulk of this violence is concentrated in specific areas far from the country’s coastal resort towns, and thousands of foreign tourists visit the country each year, encountering at most only minor security issues. On the other hand, organized crime-related violence is extremely widespread in Mexico, and there are few places in the country that do not carry significant security risks. Firefights between soldiers and cartel gunmen armed with assault rifles have erupted without warning in small mountain villages and in large cities like Monterrey, as well as in resort towns like Acapulco and Cancun. In addition, it is important to understand the risks associated with traveling to a country that is engaged in ongoing counternarcotics operations involving thousands of military and law enforcement personnel.

While there are important differences among the security environments in Mexico’s various resort areas, as well as between the resort towns and other parts of Mexico, there also are some security generalizations that can be made about the entire country. For one, Mexico’s reputation for crime and kidnapping is well-deserved, and locals and foreigners alike often become victims of assault, express kidnappings and other crimes. Further complicating the situation is the fact that the general decline in law and order, combined with large-scale counternarcotics operations that occupy the bulk of Mexico’s federal forces, has created an environment in which criminals not associated with the drug trade can flourish. Carjackings and highway robberies in particular have become increasingly common in Mexican cities along the U.S. border and elsewhere in the country — an important risk to weigh for anyone considering driving through the area.

Other security risks in the country come from the security services themselves. When driving, it is important to pay attention to the military-manned highway roadblocks and checkpoints that are established to screen vehicles for drugs or illegal immigrants. On several occasions, the police officers and soldiers manning these checkpoints have opened fire on innocent vehicles that failed to follow instructions at the checkpoints, which are often not well-marked. In addition, Mexico continues to face rampant police corruption problems that do not appear to be improving, meaning visitors should not be surprised to come across police officers who are expecting a bribe or are even involved in kidnapping-for-ransom gangs.

Along with the beautiful beaches that attract foreign tourists, many well-known Mexican coastal resort towns also offer port facilities that have long played strategic roles in the country’s drug trade. Drug traffickers have used both legitimate commercial ships as well as fishing boats and other surface vessels to carry shipments of cocaine from South America to Mexico. In addition, many drug cartels have often relied on hotels and resorts to launder drug proceeds. Because of the importance of these facilities, drug-trafficking organizations generally seek to limit violence in such resort towns — not only to protect existing infrastructure there, but also to avoid the attention that violence affecting wealthy foreign tourists would draw.

But despite the cartels’ best intentions, there remains great potential for violence in many of these resort areas. For one, the Mexican government occasionally conducts arrests and raids against suspected drug traffickers in resort cities, and it is all too common for these criminals — armed with assault rifles and grenades — to violently resist capture, sometimes leading to protracted firefights and pursuits throughout the town. Second, many of these areas are disputed territory for the country’s warring cartels, and these ongoing turf battles can easily get out of hand. In either case, collateral damage to innocent bystanders is a very real possibility, as two Canadian tourists discovered in Acapulco in February 2007 when they were wounded during a drive-by shooting.

While security issues are a concern in almost every area of Mexico, the various coastal resort communities have unique characteristics that influence the type of crime and cartel activity seen there.

Cancun has historically been an important port of entry for South American drugs transiting Mexico on their way to the United States. It traditionally has been an operating area for the Gulf cartel and its former enforcement arm, Los Zetas. Today, Zeta activity in the area remains very high, though drug flow through the region has tapered off as aerial and maritime trafficking have decreased. Consequently, the Zetas operating in the area have branched out to other criminal enterprises, such as alien smuggling, extortion and kidnapping. There also have been suggestions that many members of the Cancun city police have been on the Zeta payroll; these rumors surfaced after the February assassination of a retired army general on charges that he was involved in the killing. These developments brought new federal attention to the city, including rumors that the federal government planned to deploy additional military troops to the region to investigate the local police and conduct counternarcotics operations. Few, if any, additional troops have been sent to Cancun, but ongoing shake-ups in the law enforcement community there have only added to the area’s volatility.

Along with Cancun, Acapulco has been one of Mexico’s more violent resort cities during the last few years of the cartel wars. Rival drug cartels have battled police and each other within the city as well as in nearby towns. The nearby resort town of Zihuatanejo, for example, recently experienced a police strike after several officers there were targeted in a series of grenade attacks in February. Suspected drug traffickers continue to attack police in Zihuatanejo, and at least six officers have been killed within the past week.

Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta’s location on the Pacific coast makes it strategically important to trafficking groups that send and receive maritime shipments of South American drugs and Chinese ephedra, a precursor chemical used in the production of methamphetamine, much of which is produced in the surrounding areas of the nearby city of Guadalajara. It is believed that several of Mexico’s largest and most powerful drug cartels maintain a presence in Puerto Vallarta and the nearby municipality of Jarretaderas for the purposes of drug trafficking. Despite this presence, however, incidents of cartel violence in Puerto Vallarta are relatively low. Threats from kidnapping gangs or other criminal groups are also lower in this resort city than in the rest of the country, and, like elsewhere, there is no indication that Americans or other international tourists are specifically targeted.

Mazatlan, located just a few hundred miles north of Puerto Vallarta, has been perhaps the most consistently violent of Mexico’s resort cities during the past few months. It is located in Sinaloa state, one of the country’s most violent areas, and the bodies of victims of drug cartels or kidnapping gangs appear on the streets there on a weekly basis. As in other areas, there is no evidence that the violence in Mazatlan is directed against foreign tourists, but the sheer level of violence means the potential for collateral damage is high.

Cabo San Lucas
Located on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, Cabo San Lucas has been relatively insulated from the country’s drug-related violence and can be considered one of the safer places in Mexico for foreign tourists. Although historically it has been a stop on the cocaine trafficking routes, Cabo San Lucas’ strategic importance decreased dramatically after the late 1990s as the Tijuana cartel lost its contacts with Colombian cocaine suppliers. As a result, the presence of drug traffickers in the area has been limited over the last five years. That said, it is still part of Mexico, and the city experiences problems with crime — including organized crime and kidnappings. Within the last year, for example, police have dismantled at least two kidnapping gangs in Cabo San Lucas, and in nearby La Paz, the son of a local airline owner was shot to death by several men armed with assault rifles
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 16, 2009, 09:26:53 AM
U.S., Mexico: Forming a Border Response
STRATFOR Today » March 15, 2009 | 1452 GMT

U.S President Barack Obama, along with other prominent U.S. officials, is discussing the possibility of sending U.S. National Guard troops to the border with Mexico. The National Guard already has experience along the border, specifically during an anti-illegal immigration operation from 2006 to 2008. But so far, talk surrounding this latest possible deployment indicates that it would focus on providing security to border areas where spillover violence from Mexico is occurring. While it is not clear exactly what would trigger a National Guard deployment, defining the threat along the border and formulating possible responses is the first step toward creating a national policy on the topic.


Several statements have been released during the first six weeks of the Obama administration that demonstrate its concern about the situation in Mexico and its intent to formulate a policy to address the Mexican border issue. President Barack Obama said March 11 that he was “going to examine whether and if National Guard deployments would make sense” and what circumstances would trigger their deployment. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said March 12 that her department intends to “make some significant movements to the southwest border.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates also has commented on the possibility of more cooperation between Mexico and the United States.

Over the past year, the U.S. government has become increasingly interested in the security situation in Mexico. Spillover of violence into the United States is already occurring, as evidenced by Mexican drug-trafficking enforcers invading a home in Phoenix and killing a delinquent drug dealer on June 22, 2008, and by constant cross-border provocations against U.S. Border Patrol agents, from rock-throwing to gunshots targeting Border Patrol agents.

It is clear that Mexican drug cartels have a degree of influence over crime in the United States, since so much criminal activity in the United States is drug-related. With Mexican drug cartels serving as the primary source of drugs for the U.S. market, it is inevitable that the organized criminal groups in Mexico establish some level of control and supervision over their U.S. criminal allies.

These connections, however, remain at the level of a law enforcement challenge. Presently, the problem is one faced by local and state authorities and, according to Napolitano, will continue to be the first line of attack for the Obama administration. At this point it is not yet clear what would trigger the use of the contingency plans being formulated by the Obama administration. Essentially, it is clear that the influence of the Mexican drug cartels is spreading throughout the United States, and particularly in the border states, it is not clear at what point the federal government becomes involved in coordinating a comprehensive response.

There are several possible scenarios that would trigger a response from the United States. One possible scenario would be a dramatic increase in the use of violence by cartel-linked gangs in the United States, like the Mexican Mafia or Barrio Azteca, mirroring their counterparts in Mexico. Other scenarios could include more violent and specific targeting of law enforcement officers on the U.S. side of the border, obvious incidents of Mexican drug traffickers crossing the border to carry out assaults in the United States, massive migration from Mexico in the case of state collapse or a similar, major security-related catastrophe.

If the situation required, the National Guard has the ability to provide support to law enforcement agencies so that they can better perform their jobs. Napolitano has said that federal support would consist of border-enforcement teams, more intelligence analysts and increased vehicle searches. This is similar to how Mexico’s military is currently assisting police, and how the Italian military was deployed to Sicily in 1992 to secure areas in order to allow police to carry out their work against La Cosa Nostra. The National Guard also has heavier firepower than police forces, which could be used suppress the kind of running gunbattles that frequently occur in Mexico but do not take place in the United States.

National Guard assets like helicopters, armored personnel carriers and aerial surveillance platforms would also contribute to law enforcement efforts along the border. But what the National Guard does not do is operate as a law enforcement agency. It cannot make arrests, and it cannot conduct investigations. The National Guard is simply a tool best used for stabilizing situations that have gotten out of control, or for enhancing government manpower and logistical capacity.

The National Guard has been sent to the border before. From June 2006 to July 2008, Operation Jump Start involved the deployment of 6,000 guardsmen to assist the Border Patrol in stemming illegal immigration traffic. Since then, governors of border states have been utilizing their state National Guard assets to assist in counternarcotics efforts. However, these efforts are relatively small, with less than 1,000 national guardsmen deployed across all four southern border states, and focus on assisting counternarcotics operations. A federally orchestrated response could draw on the deep reserves of National Guard members across the country for the purpose of national security.

Most importantly, drafting a federal plan (or at least talking about drafting a plan) to address violence spilling over into the United States will help build a national strategy on how to handle Mexico, including defining the breaking point that would force the United States to act more aggressively. Plans for securing the border are just one part of the administration’s policy toward Mexico, which Obama has said his administration will define within the next few months.
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 20, 2009, 10:26:31 AM
Three civilians — including one Norwegian tourist — were wounded March 19 in Taxco, Mexico, as two men armed with assault rifles abducted an unidentified man near the city’s main plaza. During the kidnapping, which occurred near a Red Cross fundraising event, the gunmen fired indiscriminately into the air and in the direction of the crowd, presumably to force them to scatter so the gunmen could drive away. Two of the three wounded civilians apparently had been struck directly by bullets or ricochets, while the third appeared to have injured her leg while escaping from the kidnappers’ vehicle as it drove off. Such scenes have become commonplace in Mexico over the last few years, and collateral damage is really nothing new. This incident in Taxco, however, highlights the risks associated with foreign tourists visiting Mexico as it experiences a deteriorating security situation.

STRATFOR has warned of the violent situation in Mexico and the risk of foreign tourists getting caught in the crossfire. The perpetrators behind the March 19 incident certainly were not targeting foreigners specifically; their target appears to have been a local man outside a nearby silver retailer, possibly an employee. While there is always the chance that the man was somehow involved in drug trafficking and was targeted for failure to pay a debt or for working for a rival cartel, it is also possible that he was simply one of the thousands of victims picked up annually by Mexico’s many kidnapping gangs.

But the rampant violence carried out by gangs of all professional levels is exactly the kind of threat foreigners can fall victim to. The incident on March 19 is reminiscent of a similar one in that occurred in February 2007, when a Canadian couple was injured in Acapulco as gunmen opened fire on a man walking near the hotel where the couple was staying. Injuring foreign tourists raises the international profile of Mexico’s violent drug war and rampant kidnapping problem, as the problem rises above the level of just gang-on-gang violence or “those who had it coming to them.” The negative publicity is bad for both the government and the country’s organized crime groups. This incident, however, underscores the potential for foreigners to unintentionally get caught in the crossfire during the daily violence that occurs throughout the entire country.
Title: NYT: Cartel violence growing in US
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 23, 2009, 05:39:11 AM
Its the NY Slimes, so caveat lector.  For example the canard about the US's gun rights being the cause of the supply of the cartels' grenades, automatic guns, etc.  These are MILITARY weapons whose provenance is most likely MILITARY sources e.g. Central America, Venezuela, etc.  And, btw how did the Zetas get their beginning?  They were trained by the US military-- and the solution, now that the violence comes to America, is to disarm the American people?!?!?!?!  :x :x :x

TUCSON — Sgt. David Azuelo stepped gingerly over the specks of blood on the floor, took note of the bullet hole through the bedroom skylight, raised an eyebrow at the lack of furniture in the ranch-style house and turned to his squad of detectives investigating one of the latest home invasions in this southern Arizona city.

A 21-year-old man had been pistol-whipped throughout the house, the gun discharging at one point, as the attackers demanded money, the victim reported. His wife had been bathing their 3-month-old son when the intruders arrived.

“At least they didn’t put the gun in the baby’s mouth like we’ve seen before,” Sergeant Azuelo said. That same afternoon this month, his squad was called to the scene of another home invasion, one involving the abduction of a 14-year-old boy.

This city, an hour’s drive north of the Mexican border, is coping with a wave of drug crime the police suspect is tied to the bloody battles between Mexico’s drug cartels and the efforts to stamp them out.

Since officials here formed a special squad last year to deal with home invasions, they have counted more than 200 of them, with more than three-quarters linked to the drug trade. In one case, the intruders burst into the wrong house, shooting and injuring a woman watching television on her couch. In another, in a nearby suburb, a man the police described as a drug dealer was taken from his home at gunpoint and is still missing.

Tucson is hardly alone in feeling the impact of Mexico’s drug cartels and their trade. In the past few years, the cartels and other drug trafficking organizations have extended their reach across the United States and into Canada. Law enforcement authorities say they believe traffickers distributing the cartels’ marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs are responsible for a rash of shootings in Vancouver, British Columbia, kidnappings in Phoenix, brutal assaults in Birmingham, Ala., and much more.

United States law enforcement officials have identified 230 cities, including Anchorage, Atlanta, Boston and Billings, Mont., where Mexican cartels and their affiliates “maintain drug distribution networks or supply drugs to distributors,” as a Justice Department report put it in December. The figure rose from 100 cities reported three years earlier, though Justice Department officials said that may be because of better data collection methods as well as the spread of the organizations.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has asked for National Guard troops at the border. The Obama administration is completing plans to add federal agents along the border, a senior White House official said, but does not anticipate deploying soldiers.

The official said enhanced security measures would include increased use of equipment at the ports of entry to detect weapons carried in cars crossing into Mexico from the United States, and more collaboration with Mexican law enforcement officers to trace weapons seized from crime scenes.

Law enforcement officials on both sides of the border agree that the United States is the source for most of the guns used in the violent drug cartel war in Mexico.

“The key thing is to keep improving on our interdiction of the weapons before they even get in there,” said Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security and the former governor of Arizona, who will be testifying before Congress on Wednesday.

Familiar Signs

Sergeant Azuelo quickly began to suspect that the pistol whipping he was investigating was linked to a drug dispute. Within minutes, his detectives had found a blood-spattered scale, marijuana buds and leaves and a bundle of cellophane wrap used in packing marijuana.

Most often, police officials say, the invasions result from an unpaid debt, sometimes involving as little as a few thousand dollars. But simple greed can be at work, too: one set of criminals learns of a drug load, then “rips” it and sells it.

“The amount of violence has drastically increased in the last 6 to 12 months, especially in the area of home invasions, “ said Lt. Michael O’Connor of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department here. “The people we have arrested, a high percentage are from Mexico.”

The violence in the United States does not compare with what is happening in Mexico, where the cartels have been thriving for years. Forbes recently listed one of Mexico’s most notorious kingpins, Joaquin Guzmán, on its list of the world’s billionaires. (No. 701, out of 793, with a fortune worth $1 billion, the magazine said.)


But a crackdown begun more than two years ago by President Felipe Calderón, coupled with feuds over turf and control of the organizations, has set off an unprecedented wave of killings in Mexico. More than 7,000 people, most of them connected to the drug trade or law enforcement, have died since January 2008. Many of the victims were tortured. Beheadings have become common.

At times, the police have been overwhelmed by the sheer firepower in the hands of drug traffickers, who have armed themselves with assault rifles and even grenades.

Although overall violent crime has dropped in several cities on or near the border — Tucson is an exception, reporting a rise in homicides and other serious crime last year — Arizona appears to be bearing the brunt of smuggling-related violence. Some 60 percent of illicit drugs found in the United States — principally cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine — entered through the border in this state.

The city’s home-invasion squad, a sergeant and five detectives working nearly around the clock, was organized in April. Phoenix assembled a similar unit in September to investigate kidnappings related to drug and human smuggling. In the last two years, the city has recorded some 700 cases, some involving people held against their will in stash houses and others abducted.

The state police also have a new human-smuggling squad that focuses on the proliferation of drop houses, where migrants are kept and often beaten and raped until they pay ever-escalating smuggling fees.

“Five years ago a home invasion was almost unheard of,” said Assistant Chief Roberto Villaseñor of the Tucson Police Department. “It was rare.”

Web of Crime

Tying the street-level violence in the United States to the cartels is difficult, law enforcement experts say, because the cartels typically distribute their illicit goods through a murky network of regional and local cells made up of Mexican immigrants and United States citizens who send cash and guns to Mexico through an elaborate chain.

The cartels “may have 10 cells in Chicago, and they may not even know each other,” said Michael Braun, a former chief of operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Elizabeth W. Kempshall, who is in charge of the drug agency’s office in Phoenix, said the kind of open warfare in some Mexican border towns — where some Mexican soldiers patrol in masks so they will not be recognized later — has not spilled over into the United States in part because the cartels do not want to risk a response from law enforcement here that would disrupt their business.

But Mrs. Kempshall and other experts said the havoc on the Mexican side of the border might be having an impact on the drug trade here, contributing to “trafficker on trafficker” violence.

For one thing, they say, the war on the Mexican side and the new border enforcement are disrupting the flow of illicit drugs arriving in the United States. The price of cocaine, for instance, a barometer of sorts for the supply available, has surged.

With drugs in tighter supply, drug bosses here and in Mexico take a much harder line when debts are owed or drugs are stolen or confiscated, D.E.A. officials said.

Although much of the violence is against people involved in the drug trade, law enforcement authorities said such crime should not be viewed as a “self-cleaning oven,” as one investigator put it, because of the danger it poses to the innocent. It has also put a strain on local departments.

Several hours after Sergeant Azuelo investigated the home invasion involving the pistol whipping, his squad was called to one blocks away.

This time, the intruders ransacked the house before taking a 14-year-old boy captive. Gang investigators recognized the house as having a previous association with a street gang suspected of involvement in drug dealing.

The invaders demanded drugs and $10,000, and took the boy to make their point. He was released within the hour, though the family told investigators it had not paid a ransom.

“You don’t know anybody who is going to pay that money?” the boy said his abductors kept asking him.

The boy, showing the nonchalance of his age, shrugged off his ordeal.

“No, I’m not scared,” he said after being questioned by detectives, who asked that his name not be used because the investigation was continuing.

Growing Networks

Not all the problems are along the border.


Page 3 of 3)

The Atlanta area, long a transportation hub for legitimate commerce, has emerged as a new staging ground for drug traffickers taking advantage of its web of freeways and blending in with the wave of Mexican immigrants who have flocked to work there in the past decade.

Last August, in one of the grislier cases in the South, the police in Shelby County, Ala., just outside Birmingham, found the bodies of five men with their throats cut. It is believed they were killed over a $450,000 debt owed to another drug trafficking faction in Atlanta.

The spread of the Mexican cartels, longtime distributors of marijuana, has coincided with their taking over cocaine distribution from Colombian cartels. Those cartels suffered setbacks when American authorities curtailed their trading routes through the Caribbean and South Florida.

Since then, the Colombians have forged alliances with Mexican cartels to move cocaine, which is still largely produced in South America, through Mexico and into the United States.

The Mexicans have also taken over much of the methamphetamine business, producing the drug in “super labs” in Mexico. The number of labs in the United States has been on the decline.

While the cartel networks have spread across the United States, the border areas remain the most worrisome. At the scene of the pistol-whipping here, Sergeant Azuelo and his team methodically investigated.

Their suspicions grew as they walked through the house and noticed things that seemed familiar to them from stash houses they had encountered: a large back room whose size and proximity to an alley seemed well-suited to bundling marijuana, the wife of the victim reporting that they had no bank accounts and dealt with everything in cash, the victim’s father saying over and over that his son was “no saint” and describing his son’s addiction problems with prescription drugs.

A digital scale with blood on it was found in a truck bed on the driveway, raising suspicion among the detectives that the victim was trying to hide it.

The house, the wife told them, had been invaded about a month ago, but the attackers left empty-handed. She did not call the police then, she said, because nothing was taken.

Finally, they saw the cellophane wrap and drug paraphernalia and obtained a search warrant to go through the house more meticulously.

The attackers “were not very sophisticated,” Sergeant Azuelo said, but they somehow knew what might be in the house. “For me, the question is how much they got away with,” he said. “The family may never tell.”

All in all, Sergeant Azuelo said, it was a run-of-the-mill call in a week that would include at least three other such robberies.

“I think this is the tip of the iceberg,” Detective Kris Bollingmo said as he shined a light through the garage. “The problem is only going to get worse.”

“We are,” Sergeant Azuelo added, “keeping the finger in the dike.”
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 26, 2009, 01:38:13 PM
tral America: An Emerging Role in the Drug Trade
March 26, 2009

By Stephen Meiners

As part of STRATFOR’s coverage of the security situation in Mexico, we have observed some significant developments in the drug trade in the Western Hemisphere over the past year. While the United States remains the top destination for South American-produced cocaine, and Mexico continues to serve as the primary transshipment route, the path between Mexico and South America is clearly changing.

These changes have been most pronounced in Central America, where Mexican drug-trafficking organizations have begun to rely increasingly on land-based smuggling routes as several countries in the region have stepped up monitoring and interdiction of airborne and maritime shipments transiting from South America to Mexico.

The results of these changes have been extraordinary. According to a December 2008 report from the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center, less than 1 percent of the estimated 600 to 700 tons of cocaine that departed South America for the United States in 2007 transited Central America. The rest, for the most part, passed through the Caribbean Sea or Pacific Ocean en route to Mexico. Since then, land-based shipment of cocaine through Central America appears to have ballooned. Earlier this month, U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Stephen McFarland estimated in an interview with a Guatemalan newspaper that cocaine now passes through that country at a rate of approximately 300 to 400 tons per year.

Notwithstanding the difficulty associated with estimating drug flows, it is clear that Central America has evolved into a significant transshipment route for drugs, and that the changes have taken place rapidly. These developments warrant a closer look at the mechanics of the drug trade in the region, the actors involved, and the implications for Central American governments — for whom drug-trafficking organizations represent a much more daunting threat than they do for Mexico.

Some Background
While the drug trade in the Western Hemisphere is multifaceted, it fundamentally revolves around the trafficking of South American-produced cocaine to the United States, the world’s largest market for the drug. Drug shipment routes between Peru and Colombia — where the vast majority of cocaine is cultivated and produced — and the United States historically have been flexible, evolving in response to interdiction efforts or changing markets. For example, Colombian drug traffickers used to control the bulk of the cocaine trade by managing shipping routes along the Caribbean smuggling corridor directly to the United States. By the 1990s, however, as the United States and other countries began to focus surveillance and interdiction efforts along this corridor, the flow of U.S.-bound drugs was forced into Mexico, which remains the main transshipment route for the overwhelming majority of cocaine entering the United States.

A similar situation has been occurring over the last two years in Central America. From the 1990s until as recently as 2007, traffickers in Mexico received multiton shipments of cocaine from South America. There was ample evidence of this, including occasional discoveries of bulk cocaine on everything from small propeller aircraft and Gulfstream jets to self-propelled semisubmersible vessels, fishing trawlers and cargo ships. These smuggling platforms had sufficient range and capacity to bypass Central America and ship bulk drugs directly to Mexico.

By early 2008, however, a series of developments in several Central American countries suggested that drug-trafficking organizations — Mexican cartels in particular — were increasingly trying to establish new land-based smuggling routes through Central America for cocaine shipments from South America to Mexico and eventual delivery to the United States. While small quantities of drugs had certainly transited the region in the past, the routes used presented an assortment of risks. A combination of poorly maintained highways, frequent border crossings, volatile security conditions and unpredictable local criminal organizations apparently presented such great logistical challenges that traffickers opted to send the majority of their shipments through well-established maritime and airborne platforms.

In response to this relatively unchecked international smuggling, several countries in the region began taking steps to increase the monitoring and interdiction of such shipments. The Colombian government, for one, stepped up monitoring of aircraft operating in its airspace. The Mexican government installed updated radar systems and reduced the number of airports authorized to receive flights originating in Central and South America. The Colombian government estimates that the aerial trafficking of cocaine from Colombia has decreased by as much as 90 percent since 2003.

Maritime trafficking also appears to have suffered over the past few years, most likely due to greater cooperation and information-sharing between Mexico and the United States. The United States has an immense capability to collect maritime technical intelligence, and an increasing degree of awareness regarding drug trafficking at sea. Two examples of this progress include the Mexican navy’s July 2008 capture — acting on intelligence provided by the United States — of a self-propelled semisubmersible vessel loaded with more than five tons of cocaine, and the U.S. Coast Guard’s February 2009 interdiction of a Mexico-flagged fishing boat loaded with some seven tons of cocaine about 700 miles off Mexico’s Pacific coast. Presumably as a result of successes such as these, the Mexican navy reported in 2008 that maritime trafficking had decreased by an estimated 60 percent over the last two years.

While it is impossible to independently corroborate the Mexican and Colombian governments’ estimates on the degree to which air- and seaborne drug trafficking has decreased over the last few years, developments in Central America over the past year certainly support their assessments. In particular, STRATFOR has observed that in order to make up for losses in maritime and aerial trafficking, land-based smuggling routes are increasingly being used — not by Colombian cocaine producers or even Central American drug gangs, but by the now much more powerful Mexican drug-trafficking organizations.

Mechanics of Central American Drug Trafficking
It is important to clarify that what we are defining as land-based trafficking is not limited to overland smuggling. The methods associated with land-based trafficking can be divided into three categories: overland smuggling, littoral maritime trafficking and short-range aerial trafficking.

The most straightforward of these is simple overland smuggling. As a series of investigations in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua demonstrated last year, overland smuggling operations use a wide variety of approaches. In one case, authorities pieced together a portion of a route being used by Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel in which small quantities of drugs entered Costa Rica from Panama via the international point of entry on the Pan-American Highway. The cocaine was often held for several days in a storage facility before being loaded onto another vehicle to be driven across the country on major highways. Upon approaching the Nicaraguan border, however, the traffickers opted to avoid the official port of entry and instead transferred the shipments into Nicaragua on foot or on horseback along a remote part of the border. Once across, the shipments were taken to the shores of the large inland Lake Nicaragua, where they were transferred onto boats to be taken north, at which point they would be loaded onto vehicles to be driven toward the Honduran border. In one case in Nicaragua, authorities uncovered another Sinaloa-linked route that passed through Managua and is believed to have followed the Pan-American Highway through Honduras and into El Salvador.

The second method associated with land-based trafficking involves littoral maritime operations. Whereas long-range maritime trafficking involves large cargo ships and self-propelled semisubmersible vessels capable of delivering multiton shipments of drugs from South America to Mexico without having to refuel, littoral trafficking tends to involve so-called “go-fast boats” that are used to carry smaller quantities of drugs at higher speeds over shorter distances. This method is useful to traffickers who might want to avoid, for whatever reason, a certain stretch of highway or perhaps even an entire country. According to Nicaraguan military officials, several go-fast boats are suspected of operating off the country’s coasts and of sailing outside Nicaraguan territorial waters in order to avoid authorities. While it is possible to make the entire trip from South America to Mexico using only this method — and making frequent refueling stops — it is believed that littoral trafficking is often combined with an overland network.

The third method associated with land-based drug smuggling involves short-range aerial operations. In these cases, clandestine planes make stops in Central America before either transferring their cargo to a land vehicle or making another short flight toward Mexico. Over the past year, several small planes loaded with drugs or cash have crashed or been seized in Honduras, Mexico and other countries in the region. In addition, authorities in Guatemala have uncovered several clandestine airstrips allegedly managed by the Mexican drug-trafficking organization Los Zetas. These examples suggest that even as overall aerial trafficking appears to have decreased dramatically, the practice continues in Central America. Indeed, there is little reason to expect that it would not continue, considering that many countries in the region lack the resources to adequately monitor their airspace.

While each of these three methods involves a different approach to drug smuggling, the methods share two important similarities. For one, the vehicles involved — be they speedboats, small aircraft or private vehicles — have limited cargo capacities, which means land-based trafficking generally involves cocaine shipments in quantities no greater than a few hundred pounds. While smaller quantities in more frequent shipments mean more handling, they also mean that less product is lost if a shipment is seized. More importantly, each of these land-based methods requires that a drug-trafficking organization maintain a presence inside Central America.

Actors Involved

There are a variety of drug-trafficking organizations operating inside Central America. In addition to some of the notorious local gangs — such as Calle 18 and MS-13 — there is also a healthy presence of foreign criminal organizations. Colombian drug traffickers, for example, historically have been no strangers to the region. However, as STRATFOR has observed over the past year, it is the more powerful Mexico-based drug-trafficking organizations that appear to be overwhelmingly responsible for the recent upticks in land-based narcotics smuggling in Central America.

Based on reports of arrests and drug seizures in the region over the past year, it is clear that no single Mexican cartel maintains a monopoly on land-based drug trafficking in Central America. Los Zetas, for example, are extremely active in several parts of Guatemala, where they engage in overland and short-range aerial trafficking. The Sinaloa cartel, which STRATFOR believes is the most capable Mexican trafficker of cocaine, has been detected operating a fairly extensive overland smuggling route from Panama to El Salvador. Some intelligence gaps remain regarding, for example, the precise route Sinaloa follows from El Salvador to Mexico or the route Los Zetas use between South America and Guatemala. It is certainly possible that these two Mexican cartels do not rely exclusively on any single route or method in the region. But the logistical challenges associated with establishing even one route across Central America make it likely that existing routes are maintained even after they have been detected — and are defended if necessary.

The operators of the Mexican cartel-managed routes also do not match a single profile. At times, Mexican cartel members themselves have been found to be operating in Central America. More common is the involvement of locals in various phases of smuggling operations. Nicaraguan and Salvadoran nationals, for example, have been arrested in northwestern Nicaragua for operating a Sinaloa-linked overland and littoral route into El Salvador. Authorities in Costa Rica have arrested Costa Rican nationals for their involvement in overland routes through that country. In that case, a related investigation in Panama led to the arrest of several Mexican nationals who reportedly had recently arrived in the area to more closely monitor the operation of their route.

One exception is Guatemala, where Mexican drug traffickers appear to operate much more extensively than in any other Central American country; this may be due, at least in part, to the relationship between Los Zetas and the Guatemalan Kaibiles. Beyond the apparently more-established Zeta smuggling operations there, several recent drug seizures — including an enormous 1,800-acre poppy plantation attributed to the Sinaloa cartel — make it clear that other Mexican drug-trafficking organizations are currently active inside Guatemala. Sinaloa was first suspected of increasing its presence in Guatemala in early 2008, when rumors surfaced that the cartel was attempting to recruit local criminal organizations to support its own drug-trafficking operations there. The ongoing Zeta-Sinaloa rivalry at that time triggered a series of deadly firefights in Guatemala, prompting fears that the bloody turf battles that had led to record levels of organized crime-related violence inside Mexico would extend into Central America.

Security Implications in Central America
Despite these concerns and the growing presence of Mexican traffickers in the region, there apparently have been no significant spikes in drug-related violence in Central America outside of Guatemala. Several factors may explain this relative lack of violence.

First, most governments in Central America have yet to launch large-scale counternarcotics campaigns. The seizures and arrests that have been reported so far have generally been the result of regular police work, as opposed to broad changes in policies or a significant commitment of resources to address the problem. More significantly, though, the quantities of drugs seized probably amount to just a drop in the bucket compared to the quantity of drugs that moves through the region on a regular basis. Because seizures have remained low, Mexican drug traffickers have yet to launch any significant reprisal attacks against government officials in any country outside Guatemala. In that country, even the president has received death threats and had his office bugged, allegedly by drug traffickers.

The second factor, which is related to the first, is that drug traffickers operating in Central America likely rely more heavily on bribes than on intimidation to secure the transit of drug shipments. This assessment follows from the region’s reputation for official corruption (especially in countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, Panama and Guatemala) and the economic disadvantage that many of these countries face compared to the Mexican cartels. For example, the gross domestic product of Honduras is $12 billion, while the estimated share of the drug trade controlled by the Mexican cartels is estimated to be $20 billion.

Finally, Mexican cartels currently have their hands full at home. Although Central America has undeniably become more strategically important for the flow of drugs from South America, the cartels in Mexico have simultaneously been engaged in a two-front war at home against the Mexican government and against rival criminal organizations. As long as this war continues at its present level, Mexican drug traffickers may be reluctant to divert significant resources too far from their home turf, which remains crucial in delivering drug shipments to the United States.

Looking Ahead
That said, there is no guarantee that Central America will continue to escape the wrath of Mexican drug traffickers. On the contrary, there is reason for concern that the region will increasingly become a battleground in the Mexican cartel war.

For one thing, the Merida Initiative, a U.S. anti-drug aid program that will put some $300 million into Mexico and about $100 million into Central America over the next year, could be perceived as a meaningful threat to drug-trafficking operations. If Central American governments choose to step up counternarcotics operations, either at the request of the United States or in order to qualify for more Merida money, they risk disrupting existing smuggling operations to the extent that cartels begin to retaliate.

Also, even though Mexican cartels may be reluctant to divert major resources from the more important war at home, it is important to recognize that a large-scale reassignment of cartel operatives or resources from Mexico to Central America might not be necessary to have a significant impact on the security situation in any given Central American country. Given the rampant corruption and relatively poor protective security programs in place for political leaders in the region, very few cartel operatives or resources would actually be needed if a Mexican drug-trafficking organization chose to, for example, conduct an assassination campaign against high-ranking government officials.

Governments are not the only potential threat to drug traffickers in Central America. The increases in land-based drug trafficking in the region could trigger intensified competition over trafficking routes. Such turf battles could occur either among the Mexican cartels or between the Mexicans and local criminal organizations, which might try to muscle their way into the lucrative smuggling routes or attempt to grab a larger percentage of the profits.

If the example of Mexico is any guide, the drug-related violence that could be unleashed in Central America would easily overwhelm the capabilities of the region’s governments. Last year, STRATFOR considered the possibility of Mexico becoming a failed state. But Mexico is a far stronger and richer country than its fragile southern neighbors, who simply do not have the resources to deal with the cartels on their own.
Title: WSJ: The PRI busts a move
Post by: Crafty_Dog on March 29, 2009, 09:39:18 PM
So top bankers smoked a peace pipe with President Barack Obama on Friday and agreed, however vaguely, to go along with his bailout plan. It is unlikely the powwow ended banker-baiting in Washington.

Why? Because our political leaders see the public's angst as an opening for a government takeover of key elements of the economy, finance in particular. In this way, they are not unlike Latin America's 20th century populists who railed against economic liberty, recklessly grew the state's power, and left a trail of want and misery in their wake. Modern day Mexico is a cautionary tale.

There the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ruled a corporatist state for 70 years and finally got voted out in 2000. Now, the old guard of the party is trying to launch a comeback. While most Mexicans see the economic contraction as a crisis, PRI "dinosaurs" (not unlike White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel) view it as an opportunity. It offers them a chance to regain power and again practice the potent politics of economic nationalism.

A made-to-order issue has presented itself with the U.S. government's new 36% ownership of Citigroup. Since Citi owns Mexico's Banamex, the U.S. is now part owner of the second-largest Mexican bank. Mexico's banking law forbids this: "Foreign entities that exercise governmental functions may not, in any manner, invest in or participate in the capital stock in commercial banks."

Mary O'Grady discusses the consequences of Mexico's opportunism during the current crisis. (March 30)
President Felipe Calderón's government has taken the position that, rather than being an intended purchaser of Banamex, the U.S. is an accidental owner as a result of a rescue. Such "exceptional" circumstances have to be expected if Mexico's banking system is to be open to international investors. The forced unloading of Banamex at a fire-sale price would be the same as announcing to the world that the country's banking system is no longer open to non-Mexicans. This would reduce competition, consumer choice and needed foreign investment.

To keep governments out of the banks in the long run but also keep the banking system attractive to foreign investment, the ministry of finance (Hacienda) has proposed a change in the law that would give governments three years to divest stock acquired in a rescue. After three years the holding company (in this case Citi) would have to publicly offer at least 25% of the Mexican bank (Banamex) on the Mexican bolsa. At the end of six years, if the U.S. were still a Citigroup owner, the number would move to more than 50%.

A good solution to an unforeseen problem? Not if you agree with the PRI that Mexico was a better place when it was closed to foreign competition. Writing in Mexico's El Universal under the headline "Hacienda: Flunked in Law and Nationalism" on March 23, diehard priístas Jesús Silva Herzog (secretary of Hacienda 1982-1986) and Francisco Suárez Dávila (a former undersecretary of Hacienda) tore into the government's proposal. Congress, they wrote, must defend the banking law and promote "the Mexicanization and sale of Banamex."

The champion of this idea in Congress is the leader of the PRI in the Senate, Manlio Fabio Beltrones, who also has grand presidential ambitions. His strategy, which is as old as the PRI itself, is to play on public fears about the U.S. as a powerful northern neighbor that threatens Mexican sovereignty. With the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo still fresh in the national psyche, atavistic politicians like Mr. Beltrones seem to think they can generate a popular backlash against the U.S. Doing it just months before midterm elections doesn't hurt either.

Or so the PRI may think. But this is a dangerous game given the economic importance of the bilateral relationship. What is more, there are suspicions that the party's motivations may go well beyond love of the flag. The Mexican press has been speculating that there are domestic interests, close to the PRI, who might like to buy Banamex in a close-out sale. If that's what's going on, it won't be kept a secret. The revelation will inflict great harm on Mexico's investment profile.

The PRI may feel it has some support from Mexico's Central Bank Gov. Guillermo Ortiz, who has worried aloud about foreign-owned banks restricting credit to Mexicans. But Mexican business columnist Enrique Quintana, writing in the daily Reforma, reported last week that in January, except for Spanish-owned Santander, foreign-owned banks did not cut credit. Instead, Banamex and Bancomer (also Spanish-owned) had increased credit while a number of domestically owned banks cut back. Perhaps Mr. Ortiz would make better use of his bully pulpit by advocating policies that would attract capital to Mexico, not frighten it away.

Surely kicking out foreigners during a crisis has a feel-good component to it, just as piling on bankers in Washington does. But in today's global economy, the cost of such behavior goes straight to the bottom line. Let's hope the PRI figures that out before it does real damage to Mexico.
Title: 90% number a lie
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 02, 2009, 01:45:40 PM

The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S.

While 90 percent of the guns traced to the U.S. actually originated in the United States, the percent traced to the U.S. is only about 17 percent of the total number of guns reaching Mexico.

You've heard this shocking "fact" before -- on TV and radio, in newspapers, on the Internet and from the highest politicians in the land: 90 percent of the weapons used to commit crimes in Mexico come from the United States.
-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said it to reporters on a flight to Mexico City.
-- CBS newsman Bob Schieffer referred to it while interviewing President Obama.
-- California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at a Senate hearing: "It is unacceptable to have 90 percent of the guns that are picked up in Mexico and used to shoot judges, police officers and mayors ... come from the United States."
-- William Hoover, assistant director for field operations at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified in the House of Representatives that "there is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States."

There's just one problem with the 90 percent "statistic" and it's a big one:
It's just not true.

In fact, it's not even close. By all accounts, it's probably around 17 percent.

What's true, an ATF spokeswoman told, in a clarification of the statistic used by her own agency's assistant director, "is that over 90 percent of the traced firearms originate from the U.S."

But a large percentage of the guns recovered in Mexico do not get sent back to the U.S. for tracing, because it is obvious from their markings that they do not come from the U.S.

"Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market," Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), told FOX News.

A Look at the Numbers
In 2007-2008, according to ATF Special Agent William Newell, Mexico submitted 11,000 guns to the ATF for tracing. Close to 6,000 were successfully traced -- and of those, 90 percent -- 5,114 to be exact, according to testimony in Congress by William Hoover -- were found to have come from the U.S.

But in those same two years, according to the Mexican government, 29,000 guns were recovered at crime scenes.

In other words, 68 percent of the guns that were recovered were never submitted for tracing. And when you weed out the roughly 6,000 guns that could not be traced from the remaining 32 percent, it means 83 percent of the guns found at crime scenes in Mexico could not be traced to the U.S.
So, if not from the U.S., where do they come from? There are a variety of sources:

-- The Black Market. Mexico is a virtual arms bazaar, with fragmentation grenades from South Korea, AK-47s from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from Spain, Israel and former Soviet bloc manufacturers.
-- Russian crime organizations. Interpol says Russian Mafia groups such as Poldolskaya and Moscow-based Solntsevskaya are actively trafficking drugs and arms in Mexico.
- South America. During the late 1990s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with the Tijuana cartel, according to the Federal Research Division report from the Library of Congress.
-- Asia. According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico.
-- The Mexican Army. More than 150,000 soldiers deserted in the last six years, according to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo. Many took their weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifle made in Belgium.
-- Guatemala. U.S. intelligence agencies say traffickers move immigrants, stolen cars, guns and drugs, including most of America's cocaine, along the porous Mexican-Guatemalan border. On March 27, La Hora, a Guatemalan newspaper, reported that police seized 500 grenades and a load of AK-47s on the border. Police say the cache was transported by a Mexican drug cartel operating out of Ixcan, a border town.

'These Don't Come From El Paso'
Ed Head, a firearms instructor in Arizona who spent 24 years with the U.S. Border Patrol, recently displayed an array of weapons considered "assault rifles" that are similar to those recovered in Mexico, but are unavailable for sale in the U.S.

"These kinds of guns -- the auto versions of these guns -- they are not coming from El Paso," he said. "They are coming from other sources. They are brought in from Guatemala. They are brought in from places like China. They are being diverted from the military. But you don't get these guns from the U.S."

Some guns, he said, "are legitimately shipped to the government of Mexico, by Colt, for example, in the United States. They are approved by the U.S. government for use by the Mexican military service. The guns end up in Mexico that way -- the fully auto versions -- they are not smuggled in across the river."

Many of the fully automatic weapons that have been seized in Mexico cannot be found in the U.S., but they are not uncommon in the Third World.

The Mexican government said it has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years -- but those grenades and the rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) are unavailable in U.S. gun shops. The ones used in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey in October and a TV station in January were made in South Korea. Almost 70 similar grenades were seized in February in the bottom of a truck entering Mexico from Guatemala.

"Most of these weapons are being smuggled from Central American countries or by sea, eluding U.S. and Mexican monitors who are focused on the smuggling of semi-automatic and conventional weapons purchased from dealers in the U.S. border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California," according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

Boatloads of Weapons
So why would the Mexican drug cartels, which last year grossed between $17 billion and $38 billion, bother buying single-shot rifles, and force thousands of unknown "straw" buyers in the U.S. through a government background check, when they can buy boatloads of fully automatic M-16s and assault rifles from China, Israel or South Africa?

Alberto Islas, a security consultant who advises the Mexican government, says the drug cartels are using the Guatemalan border to move black market weapons. Some are left over from the Central American wars the United States helped fight; others, like the grenades and launchers, are South Korean, Israeli and Spanish. Some were legally supplied to the Mexican government; others were sold by corrupt military officers or officials.

The exaggeration of United States "responsibility" for the lawlessness in Mexico extends even beyond the "90-percent" falsehood -- and some Second Amendment activists believe it's designed to promote more restrictive gun-control laws in the U.S.

In a remarkable claim, Auturo Sarukhan, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., said Mexico seizes 2,000 guns a day from the United States -- 730,000 a year. That's a far cry from the official statistic from the Mexican attorney general's office, which says Mexico seized 29,000 weapons in all of 2007 and 2008.

Chris Cox, spokesman for the National Rifle Association, blames the media and anti-gun politicians in the U.S. for misrepresenting where Mexican weapons come from.

"Reporter after politician after news anchor just disregards the truth on this," Cox said. "The numbers are intentionally used to weaken the Second Amendment."

"The predominant source of guns in Mexico is Central and South America. You also have Russian, Chinese and Israeli guns. It's estimated that over 100,000 soldiers deserted the army to work for the drug cartels, and that ignores all the police. How many of them took their weapons with them?"
But Tom Diaz, senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, called the "90 percent" issue a red herring and said that it should not detract from the effort to stop gun trafficking into Mexico.

"Let's do what we can with what we know," he said. "We know that one hell of a lot of firearms come from the United States because our gun market is wide open."
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 14, 2009, 11:21:19 AM
Mexico Security Memo: April 13, 2009
Stratfor Today » April 13, 2009 | 2148 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Reported Downturn in Violence
Mexico’s National Public Security Council (CNSP) released figures the week of April 5 describing a decline in organized crime-related homicides during the first three months of 2009. A CNSP official reported that there were 1,960 such killings in the first quarter of 2009, compared with 2,644 during the final three months of 2008. The statistics reportedly appeared in an official CNSP document delivered to the Interior Secretariat that also included a national assessment and a more detailed analysis of Chihuahua, Sinaloa and Baja California states — the areas that have accounted for most of the violence over the past year.

Chihuahua state accounts for some of the most drastic reductions in violence since February. The state registered 625 organized crime-related homicides during the first quarter of this year, down 26 percent from 842 during the last three months of 2008. Ciudad Juarez recorded a 39 percent decrease over the same period, from 547 killings to 331. Not surprisingly, the turning point appears to have been the February deployment of more than 7,500 military and federal police reinforcements to the area to support and expand the ongoing security operations. From February to March there was a 56 percent reduction in homicides in the state.

These statistics confirm STRATFOR’s assessment regarding the security situation in Ciudad Juarez and the rest of Chihuahua state, that the overwhelming number of troops deployed there would result in a significant decline in violence. More important, however, the statistics reinforce the Mexican government’s thinking about the violence by providing justification for the somewhat risky strategy of deploying such a large portion of available troops to such a small area. Mexico City is eager to take advantage of this kind of positive reporting as an example of how effective the government’s strategy has been, especially since U.S. President Barack Obama plans to meet in Mexico with President Felipe Calderon during this coming week to discuss, among other topics, increasing bilateral cooperation on counternarcotics and security issues.

And although the CNSP numbers are impressive in the comparisons provided, they are less impressive in a broader context. At an average of 881 killings per month, the last quarter of 2008 was by far the most violent during the last few years, to the point of being anomalous. Although a quarter-to-quarter comparison shows a significant decrease in drug-related violence, the first quarter of 2009 is still above average over the span of Calderon’s anti-cartel campaign, which began in December 2006.

April 6

One Mexican national was among a group of people arrested in Zulia, Venezuela, when authorities seized two small airplanes suspected of being used to transport drugs to Mexico.
Mexican army forces exchanged gunfire with suspected drug traffickers in Palomas, Chihuahua state, as the soldiers moved in to seize some 100 pounds of marijuana.
An armed robbery at a business in Queretaro, Queretaro state, ended in a firefight between the robbers and responding police officers that left two wounded, including at least one civilian tourist bystander who was at a nearby restaurant.
A city official in San Pedro Jicayan, Oaxaca state, died after being shot multiple times by several armed men while working in her home.
Some 20 armed men entered a hospital in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, and extracted a patient who had been admitted earlier in the day after being wounded in a firefight. Three police officers guarding the patient were disarmed by the gunmen.
A police officer in Badiraguato, Sinaloa state, died when he was shot once in the chest by a man armed with a shotgun during a firefight that began as several officers tried to stop and search a vehicle.

April 7

Mexican army officers raided a safe house in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, recovering more than $3 million in cash, 30 firearms, 2,000 rounds of ammunition and 179 watches.
Police in Acapulco, Guerrero state, found a severed head wrapped in tape next to a note, the contents of which were not released.
The bodies of two men with multiple gunshot wounds were found inside a vehicle in a canal in Guasave, Sinaloa state.

April 8

Three men died when they were shot multiple times by several assailants armed with assault rifles in a car wash in Gomez Palacio, Durango state.
Mexican army forces conducted a series of raids on buildings in several towns in Zacatecas state. In one building searched in Ojacaliente, soldiers recovered 14 cartridges of Tovex 11 explosives.
At least 10 suspected drug traffickers were discovered in a laboratory used to produce synthetic drugs and detained by police in Apatzingan, Michoacan state.

April 9

Zeta member Israel “El Ostion” Nava Cortez died during a firefight with soldiers in Fresnillo, Zacatecas state. Nava had worked as a bodyguard for high-ranking Zeta leader Miguel “Z-40” Trevino Morales and is suspected of working to secure territory for Los Zetas in Aguascalientes and Zacatecas states.

April 11

One police officer died and another was wounded when they were shot several times while driving in Tijuana, Baja California state.

April 12

One police officer died during a firefight with four armed men traveling in four luxury vehicles near Arcelia, Guerrero state.
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on April 21, 2009, 12:36:06 PM
Mexico Security Memo: April 20, 2009
Stratfor Today » April 20, 2009 | 2149 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
A Possible Clue to El Chapo’s Whereabouts

A Roman Catholic archbishop in Durango state sparked a minor controversy this past week by publicly stating that Mexico’s most wanted drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera lives near the small town of Guanacevi, Durango, as everyone knows except the authorities. The claim came as he was criticizing the government for not adequately investigating reports of organized criminal activity. The statement prompted inquiries from several politicians, and brought a response from the federal attorney general’s office that anyone with such information about criminals or fugitives was obligated to come forward. The archbishop later clarified that he was simply repeating rumors he had heard from his parishioners, and that he had no firsthand knowledge of El Chapo’s whereabouts.

Given Guzman’s legendary status, rumors and myths about him are in no short supply. Over the past two years, he has been said to be hiding in several spots in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and even Brazil. Against this backdrop and given the lack of supporting evidence, it is difficult to judge the credibility of the archbishop’s statement. Even so, it is among the more plausible theories regarding Guzman’s potential whereabouts.

Guanacevi is a small town in the eastern foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. The western edge of this range extends into eastern Sinaloa state, considered the home of the Sinaloa cartel and Guzman himself. The rugged terrain associated with this area makes road access difficult, decreasing the likelihood that an army patrol might pass by at random. Moreover, authorities pursuing someone through this region on foot or in a vehicle would be at a disadvantage vis-a-vis locals given their lack of knowledge of the various routes through mountains.

While it is certainly possible that the rumors about Guzman living near Guanacevi are just that, STRATFOR would not be surprised to learn that he spends at least part of his time in this area. But had he been living near Guanacevi, he most certainly has moved on by now given the archbishop’s statement.

Prison Convoy Attacked in Nayarit State
At least six federal agents and two prison employees reportedly were killed April 18 when their convoy came under attack by an estimated 30-40 armed men around 2 p.m. local time. The agents were transporting nine prisoners — including Geronimo “El Primo” Gamez Garcia, an important member of the Beltran Leyva drug trafficking organization (BLO) — from the Nayarit state airport to a federal penitentiary some 20 miles away. This was the final leg of a transfer of these prisoners, who had been held in a federal facility near Mexico City. Although the agents ultimately delivered all nine prisoners to their destination, the fact that the attack occurred and caused so many casualties highlights the vulnerabilities associated with these types of convoys as they are operated at present.

Based on various media accounts and statements from federal officials, it appears the convoy may have been ambushed at multiple points along the route, with the attackers also pursuing the convoy on one occasion and engaging it from the rear. The first incident reportedly occurred less than 1 mile from the airport exit, and began with the attackers driving a large agricultural truck onto the two-lane road in an attempt to block its path. The convoy was traveling at a high rate of speed, however, and managed to avoid the truck and to continue driving as two teams of assailants armed with assault rifles opened fire on the convoy from each side of the road.

This initial ambush appears to have disabled at least three convoy vehicles, killing at least two federal agents and two officials from the prison. One SUV reportedly pursued what remained of the convoy, firing on it several times before pulling away. Several reports also describe two additional attacks on the convoy at other points along the route to the prison, though federal officials have not confirmed this.

While this is certainly not the first time gunmen have attacked prisoner transfer convoys in Mexico, this particular incident appears to have involved a high degree of pre-operational planning and tactical intelligence. That no prisoners were reported wounded during the various gunbattles, for example, suggests that the gunmen knew what vehicles the prisoners were riding in and avoided firing at those vehicles. This assumes, of course, that the objective of the attack was to rescue one of the prisoners, not to capture him for interrogation and execution. In addition, the assailants also had foreknowledge of which prisoners were to be transferred — something reportedly kept secret even from the federal agents assigned to the convoy.

The BLO has a history of high-ranking penetrations of federal law enforcement. Of all the drug cartels in Mexico, they seem to have the best intelligence network inside the federal government. Considering that this attack looks to have been a well-planned attempt to free a high-ranking BLO member, it appears that intelligence network remains intact.

Click image to enlarge

April 13
Authorities in Venustiano Carranza, Michoacan state, found the body of an unidentified woman with a single gunshot wound to the head.
A sixteen-year-old boy died in Celaya, Guanajuato state, when a police officer shot him once in the chest and fled with several other officers. Authorities are investigating possible motives.
One man died when multiple assailants shot him several times as he sat outside his home in Guasave, Sinaloa state.
Mexican soldiers exchanged gunfire with a group of men in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state, after responding to an anonymous tip regarding armed men in the area. Authorities reported no casualties and no arrests, but seized an assortment of firearms and grenades from an abandoned vehicle at the scene.
April 14
Federal authorities announced the arrest in Tecpan de Galeana, Guerrero state, of Ruben “El Nene” Granados Vargas, a lieutenant of the Beltran Leyva drug trafficking organization responsible for various cartel activities in the region.
Authorities in Santa Ana, Sonora state, seized an assortment of firearms and ammunition from a series of safe houses, including what appears to be an M2 Browning .50 caliber and an M1919 Browning .30 caliber, though a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives official told reporters that the guns were actually semi-automatic variants of those weapons that came from U.S. sources.
April 15
One soldier and 15 alleged drug traffickers died during an eight-hour gunbattle in a remote area near San Miguel Totolapan, Guerrero state. An unknown number of suspects were also detained after the firefight in possession of eight vehicles, assorted assault rifles, grenades and two .50-caliber Barrett rifles.
April 16
Authorities found the bodies of three people bearing signs of torture in the trunk of a car in Petatlan, Guerrero state. The victims were reported kidnapped from Zihuatanejo two days before.
The body of an unidentified man was found in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan, with a note signed by La Familia warning against cooperating with Los Zetas. Two bodies with similar messages were found the following morning.
April 17
Police in San Lucas, Michoacan state, found the bodies of four unidentified men; three of the victims had been beheaded.
April 19
Authorities in Morelia, Michoacan state, arrested some 44 members of La Familia crime organization. One of the suspects detained was Rafael “El Cede” Cedeno Hernandez, who stands accused of managing the organization’s activities in Lazaro Cardenas, as well as of running a religious group designed to recruit and indoctrinate new members.
Title: Stratfor
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 05, 2009, 09:11:45 AM
May 4, 2009 | 1953 GMT
Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Swine Flu Update
The swine flu outbreak continued to dominate the Mexican government’s attention this past week as all nonessential businesses and government offices were ordered to close for five days in order to limit the potential spread of the virus.

The most recent information released by government health authorities states that the outbreak has reached its peak and entered a state of decline. While it is difficult to take that statement at face value, it sets the stage for a general resumption of government and economic activity throughout the country this coming week.

Tijuana Cops in the Crosshairs
Police in Tijuana, Baja California state, went on heightened alert this past week after a series of attacks in left seven officers dead and at least two wounded. The four attacks occurred within 45 minutes of each other during the evening of April 27, and began when a group of men armed with assault rifles opened fire on four police officers outside a convenience store, where the police had been called to investigate reports of a robbery. As the officers were exiting the building and heading to their patrol cars, an unknown number of assailants opened fire on them from several vehicles, killing all four officers.

Shortly thereafter, gunmen carried out three other attacks on police, killing two officers near their patrol car and one officer on a motorcycle. The final attack took place at a police building, where one officer died and another was wounded. It is unclear whether the attacks involved more than one team of assailants, though the reported timing of some of the incidents would have made it logistically difficult for one group to attack all of the targets, considering that each occurred in a different neighborhood.

While Tijuana consistently has been among the most violent cities in Mexico, the first few months of 2009 had shown a noticeable decline in violence, particularly regarding attacks on police. Before this past week, the number of officers killed in organized crime-related violence in the city was seven, which means the April 27 attack doubled the number of officers killed this year. It also means these attacks represent a significant event in terms of organized crime violence, and one that will have a meaningful impact on the city’s security situation, especially as it affects police morale. Officers already have reduced solo police patrols or required military escorts when venturing out into the city. Over the long term, these types of attacks have the potential to incite strikes and work stoppages, and could easily lead to increasing requests by city and state officials for additional federal resources.

Legalizing It?

Mexico’s congress approved a bill this past week that would decriminalize possession of personal-use quantities of illegal substances and open the door for state governments to pass and enforce laws aimed at combating retail-level drug dealing. Currently, all drug laws in Mexico are federal, and thus it falls to federal authorities to handle enforcement and prosecution. This bill, which was proposed by President Felipe Calderon, appears to be designed to reduce the burden on federal law enforcement and the attorney general’s office, which have become overwhelmed over the past few years by the country’s raging cartel war.

While Mexico’s federal police would certainly benefit from a reduced workload, it is not clear that this bill would have much real impact. It is important to recall that even though domestic drug consumption in Mexico appears to be gradually increasing, the country’s fundamental drug problem is still one of transshipment of wholesale quantities of drugs to the United States — one of the largest consumption markets in the world. Because of this, it is likely that the number of arrests and prosecutions potentially eliminated by this bill would be very low.

Click to view map

April 27

A police commander in Tenosique, Tabasco state, died when he was shot multiple times while driving to his home.
Four people traveling in a vehicle in Puerto Penasco, Sonora state, were shot to death by a group of assailants traveling in another vehicle.
The mutilated body of a man was found near a government building in Huatusco, Veracruz state.
One person died at an alleged cartel safe house in Uruapan, Michoacan state, when a group of gunmen fired and threw a fragmentation grenade inside.

April 28

Authorities in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, reported three separate organized crime-related homicides, including one man who was shot to death in the doorway of his home.
Authorities reported that one suspected drug grower was killed during a firefight with soldiers near Durango, Durango state.
A federal agent assigned to drug dealing cases was reported killed in Gomez Palacio, Durango state.

April 29

Authorities in Mexico City announced the arrest of Gulf cartel member Gregorio “El Goyo” Sauceda Gamboa in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state.
At least three people died in separate incidents in Tijuana, Baja California state, including a labor attorney who was shot to death in his office.
A police officer was reported to have been kidnapped while he was driving to work in Poanas, Durango state.
Authorities found the body of a police commander along a highway near Charo, Michoacan state. He had been shot multiple times.

April 30

The father of a Mexican baseball league player was reported kidnapped in Tijuana, Baja California state.

May 2

Acting on an anonymous tip, authorities found the bodies of five unidentified people in plastic bags below a bridge near Chilpancingo, Guerrero state. Officials suspect they had been dropped from the bridge.

May 3

The decomposing bodies of four unidentified people were found in shallow graves in Pilcaya, Guerrero state.
Title: !Que verguenza!
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 17, 2009, 06:17:17 PM
From New York Times:

May 17, 2009

Men Dressed as Police Free Mexican Inmates


MEXICO CITY — Armed men dressed as Mexican federal police officers entered a heavily guarded prison in the northern state of Zacatecas early Saturday morning and freed more than 50 inmates, many of whom were believed to be drug traffickers allied with the powerful Gulf Cartel, the authorities said.

The huge jailbreak, which took place about 5 a.m., was an embarrassment to the government of President Felipe Calderón, who has touted the arrests of thousands of drug traffickers over the last two years as evidence that organized crime groups were on the defensive.

The team of criminals who gained entry to the prison in Cieneguillas showed how vulnerable Mexican institutions remain.

The men arrived in a caravan of 15 vehicles with police markings as well as in a helicopter, according to news reports. To gain entry, the gunmen claimed that they were carrying out an authorized prisoner transfer.

After subduing the guards, they left with 53 of the prison’s 1,500 inmates, in an operation that lasted only minutes, officials said.

After they got away, police officers and soldiers swarmed the state, closing many roads as they searched for the fugitives, El Sol de Zacatecas, a local newspaper, reported.

Gov. Amalia García Medina of Zacatecas told reporters that there were indications that prison guards and their supervisors, who were being held for investigation, might have been complicit in the jailbreak.

It would not have been the first time. One of Mexico’s top drug lords, Joaquín Guzmán, known as El Chapo, escaped from a maximum security prison in 2001 in a getaway that investigations found was possible only with the aid of dozens of prison guards. Mr. Guzmán, who was named this year to the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires, hid in a laundry cart.
Mexican authorities are well aware of the vulnerability of their prisons. Mr. Calderón has dramatically increased the number of top drug traffickers extradited to the United States in recent years, to reduce the likelihood that they will continue to run their operations from behind bars or, worse still, find a way out.
Title: Counterintel to cartel corruption
Post by: Crafty_Dog on May 20, 2009, 04:11:26 PM
A Counterintelligence Approach to Controlling Cartel Corruption
May 20, 2009

By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

Rey Guerra, the former sheriff of Starr County, Texas, pleaded guilty May 1 to a narcotics conspiracy charge in federal district court in McAllen, Texas. Guerra admitted to using information obtained in his official capacity to help a friend (a Mexican drug trafficker allegedly associated with Los Zetas) evade U.S. counternarcotics efforts. On at least one occasion, Guerra also attempted to learn the identity of a confidential informant who had provided authorities with information regarding cartel operations so he could pass it to his cartel contact.

In addition to providing intelligence to Los Zetas, Guerra also reportedly helped steer investigations away from people and facilities associated with Los Zetas. He also sought to block progress on investigations into arrested individuals associated with Los Zetas to protect other members associated with the organization. Guerra is scheduled for sentencing July 29; he faces 10 years to life imprisonment, fines of up to $4 million and five years of supervised release.

Guerra is just one of a growing number of officials on the U.S. side of the border who have been recruited as agents for Mexico’s powerful and sophisticated drug cartels. Indeed, when one examines the reach and scope of the Mexican cartels’ efforts to recruit agents inside the United States to provide intelligence and act on the cartels’ behalf, it becomes apparent that the cartels have demonstrated the ability to operate more like a foreign intelligence service than a traditional criminal organization.

Fluidity and Flexibility
For many years now, STRATFOR has followed developments along the U.S.-Mexican border and has studied the dynamics of the cross-border illicit flow of people, drugs, weapons and cash.

One of the most notable characteristics about this flow of contraband is its flexibility. When smugglers encounter an obstacle to the flow of their product, they find ways to avoid it. For example, as we’ve previously discussed in the case of the extensive border fence in the San Diego sector, drug traffickers and human smugglers diverted a good portion of their volume around the wall to the Tucson sector; they even created an extensive network of tunnels under the fence to keep their contraband (and profits) flowing.

Likewise, as maritime and air interdiction efforts between South America and Mexico have become more successful, Central America has become increasingly important to the flow of narcotics from South America to the United States. This reflects how the drug-trafficking organizations have adjusted their method of shipment and their trafficking routes to avoid interdiction efforts and maintain the northward flow of narcotics.

Over the past few years, a great deal of public and government attention has focused on the U.S.-Mexican border. In response to this attention, the federal and border state governments in the United States have erected more barriers, installed an array of cameras and sensors and increased the manpower committed to securing the border. While these efforts certainly have not hermetically sealed the border, they do appear to be having some impact — an impact magnified by the effectiveness of interdiction efforts elsewhere along the narcotics supply chain.

According to the most recent statistics from the Drug Enforcement Administration, from January 2007 through September 2008 the price per pure gram of cocaine increased 89.1 percent, or from $96.61 to $182.73, while the purity of cocaine seized on the street decreased 31.3 percent, dropping from 67 percent pure cocaine to 46 percent pure cocaine. Recent anecdotal reports from law enforcement sources indicate that cocaine prices have remained high, and that the purity of cocaine on the street has remained poor.

Overcoming Human Obstacles
In another interesting trend that has emerged over the past few years, as border security has tightened and as the flow of narcotics has been impeded, the number of U.S. border enforcement officers arrested on charges of corruption has increased notably. This increased corruption represents a logical outcome of the fluidity of the flow of contraband. As the obstacles posed by border enforcement have become more daunting, people have become the weak link in the enforcement system. In some ways, people are like tunnels under the border wall — i.e., channels employed by the traffickers to help their goods get to market.

From the Mexican cartels’ point of view, it is cheaper to pay an official several thousand dollars to allow a load of narcotics to pass by than it is to risk having the shipment seized. Such bribes are simply part of the cost of doing business — and in the big picture, even a low-level local agent can be an incredible bargain.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), 21 CBP officers were arrested on corruption charges during the fiscal year that ended in September 2008, as opposed to only 4 in the preceding fiscal year. In the current fiscal year (since Oct. 1), 14 have been arrested. And the problem with corruption extends further than just customs or border patrol officers. In recent years, police officers, state troopers, county sheriffs, National Guard members, judges, prosecutors, deputy U.S. marshals and even the FBI special agent in charge of the El Paso office have been linked to Mexican drug-trafficking organizations. Significantly, the cases being prosecuted against these public officials of all stripes are just the tip of the iceberg. The underlying problem of corruption is much greater.

A major challenge to addressing the issue of border corruption is the large number of jurisdictions along the border, along with the reality that corruption occurs at the local, state and federal levels across those jurisdictions. Though this makes it very difficult to gather data relating to the total number of corruption investigations conducted, sources tell us that while corruption has always been a problem along the border, the problem has ballooned in recent years — and the number of corruption cases has increased dramatically.

In addition to the complexity brought about by the multiple jurisdictions, agencies and levels of government involved, there simply is not one single agency that can be tasked with taking care of the corruption problem. It is just too big and too wide. Even the FBI, which has national jurisdiction and a mandate to investigate public corruption cases, cannot step in and clean up all the corruption. The FBI already is being stretched thin with its other responsibilities, like counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence, financial fraud and bank robbery. The FBI thus does not even have the capacity to investigate every allegation of corruption at the federal level, much less at the state and local levels. Limited resources require the agency to be very selective about the cases it decides to investigate. Given that there is no real central clearinghouse for corruption cases, most allegations of corruption are investigated by a wide array of internal affairs units and other agencies at the federal, state and local levels.

Any time there is such a mixture of agencies involved in the investigation of a specific type of crime, there is often bureaucratic friction, and there are almost always problems with information sharing. This means that pieces of information and investigative leads developed in the investigation of some of these cases are not shared with the appropriate agencies. To overcome this information sharing problem, the FBI has established six Border Corruption Task Forces designed to bring local, state and federal officers together to focus on corruption tied to the U.S.-Mexican border, but these task forces have not yet been able to solve the complex problem of coordination.

Sophisticated Spotting
Efforts to corrupt officials along the U.S.-Mexican border are very organized and very focused, something that is critical to understanding the public corruption issue along the border. Some of the Mexican cartels have a long history of successfully corrupting public officials on both sides of the border. Groups like the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO) have successfully recruited scores of intelligence assets and agents of influence at the local, state and even federal levels of the Mexican government. They even have enjoyed significant success in recruiting agents in elite units such as the anti-organized crime unit (SIEDO) of the Office of the Mexican Attorney General (PGR). The BLO also has recruited Mexican employees working for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, and even allegedly owned Mexico’s former drug czar, Noe Ramirez Mandujano, who reportedly was receiving $450,00 a month from the organization.

In fact, the sophistication of these groups means they use methods more akin to the intelligence recruitment processes used by foreign intelligence services than those normally associated with a criminal organization. The cartels are known to conduct extensive surveillance and background checks on potential targets to determine how to best pitch to them. Like the spotting methods used by intelligence agencies, the surveillance conducted by the cartels on potential targets is designed to glean as many details about the target as possible, including where they live, what vehicles they drive, who their family members are, their financial needs and their peccadilloes.

Historically, many foreign intelligence services are known to use ethnicity in their favor, heavily targeting persons sharing an ethnic background found in the foreign country. Foreign services also are known to use relatives of the target living in the foreign country to their advantage. Mexican cartels use these same tools. They tend to target Hispanic officers and often use family members living in Mexico as recruiting levers. For example, Luis Francisco Alarid, who had been a CBP officer at the Otay Mesa, Calif., port of entry, was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison in February for his participation in a conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens and marijuana into the United States. One of the people Alarid admitted to conspiring with was his uncle, who drove a van loaded with marijuana and illegal aliens through a border checkpoint manned by Alarid.

Like family spy rings (such as the Cold War spy ring run by John Walker), there also have been family border corruption rings. Raul Villarreal and his brother, Fidel, both former CBP agents in San Diego, were arraigned March 16 after fleeing the United States in 2006 after learning they were being investigated for corruption. The pair was captured in Mexico in October 2008 and extradited back to the United States.

‘Plata o Sexo’
When discussing human intelligence recruiting, it is not uncommon to refer to the old cold war acronym MICE (money, ideology, compromise and ego) to explain the approach used to recruit an agent. When discussing corruption in Mexico, people often repeat the phrase “plata o plomo,” Spanish for “money or lead” — meaning “take the money or we’ll kill you.” However, in most border corruption cases involving American officials, the threat of plomo is not as powerful as it is inside Mexico. Although some officials charged with corruption have claimed as a defense that they were intimidated into behaving corruptly, juries have rejected these arguments. This dynamic could change if the Mexican cartels begin to target officers in the United States for assassination as they have in Mexico.

With plomo an empty threat north of the border, plata has become the primary motivation for corruption along the Mexican border. In fact, good old greed — the M in MICE — has always been the most common motivation for Americans recruited by foreign intelligence services. The runner-up, which supplants plomo in the recruitment equation inside the United Sates, is “sexo,” aka “sex.” Sex, an age-old espionage recruitment tool that fits under the compromise section of MICE, has been seen in high-profile espionage cases, including the one involving the Marine security guards at the U.S Embassy in Moscow. Using sex to recruit an agent is often referred to as setting a “honey trap.” Sex can be used in two ways. First, it can be used as a simple payment for services rendered. Second, it can be used as a means to blackmail the agent. (The two techniques can be used in tandem.)

It is not at all uncommon for border officials to be offered sex in return for allowing illegal aliens or drugs to enter the country, or for drug-trafficking organizations to use attractive agents to seduce and then recruit officers. Several officials have been convicted in such cases. For example, in March 2007, CBP inspection officer Richard Elizalda, who had worked at the San Ysidro, Calif., port of entry, was sentenced to 57 months in prison for conspiring with his lover, alien smuggler Raquel Arin, to let the organization she worked for bring illegal aliens through his inspection lane. Elizalda also accepted cash for his efforts — much of which he allegedly spent on gifts for Arin — so in reality, Elizalda was a case of “plata y sexo” rather than an either-or deal.

Corruption Cases Handled Differently
When the U.S. government hires an employee who has family members living in a place like Beijing or Moscow, the background investigation for that employee is pursued with far more interest than if the employee has relatives in Ciudad Juarez or Tijuana. Mexico traditionally has not been seen as a foreign counterintelligence threat, even though it has long been recognized that many countries, like Russia, are very active in their efforts to target the United States from Mexico. Indeed, during the Cold War, the KGB’s largest rezidentura (the equivalent of a CIA station) was located in Mexico City.

Employees with connections to Mexico frequently have not been that well vetted, period. In one well-publicized incident, the Border Patrol hired an illegal immigrant who was later arrested for alien smuggling. In July 2006, U.S. Border Patrol agent Oscar Ortiz was sentenced to 60 months in prison after admitting to smuggling more than 100 illegal immigrants into the United States. After his arrest, investigators learned that Ortiz was an illegal immigrant himself who had used a counterfeit birth certificate when he was hired. Ironically, Ortiz also had been arrested for attempting to smuggle two illegal immigrants into the United States shortly before being hired by the Border Patrol. (He was never charged for that attempt.)

From an investigative perspective, corruption cases tend to be handled more as one-off cases, and they do not normally receive the same sort of extensive investigation into the suspect’s friends and associates that would be conducted in a foreign counterintelligence case. In other words, if a U.S. government employee is recruited by the Chinese or Russian intelligence service, the investigation receives far more energy — and the suspect’s circle of friends, relatives and associates receives far more scrutiny — than if he is recruited by a Mexican cartel.

In espionage cases, there is also an extensive damage assessment investigation conducted to ensure that all the information the suspect could have divulged is identified, along with the identities of any other people the suspect could have helped his handler recruit. Additionally, after-action reviews are conducted to determine how the suspect was recruited, how he was handled and how he could have been uncovered earlier. The results of these reviews are then used to help shape future counterintelligence investigative efforts. They are also used in the preparation of defensive counterintelligence briefings to educate other employees and help protect them from being recruited.

This differences in urgency and scope between the two types of investigations is driven by the perception that the damage to national security is greater if an official is recruited by a foreign intelligence agency than if he is recruited by a criminal organization. That assessment may need to be re-examined, given that the Mexican cartels are criminal organizations with the proven sophistication to recruit U.S. officials at all levels of government — and that this has allowed them to move whomever and whatever they wish into the United States.

The problem of public corruption is very widespread, and to approach corruption cases in a manner similar to foreign counterintelligence cases would require a large commitment of investigative, prosecutorial and defensive resources. But the threat posed by the Mexican cartels is different than that posed by traditional criminal organizations, meaning that countering it will require a nontraditional approach.

Title: An Absolut outrage
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 05, 2009, 03:18:02 AM
Pasted here from the Israel thread-- I also note that Tecate beer has an ad, the exact words of which slip my mind with a similar riff:

 :x :x :x


An Absolut Outrage
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, April 08, 2008 4:20 PM PT

The Border: A vodka maker's ad campaign in Mexico is more than a marketing faux pas that offends many Americans. There's a real movement out there that feels our Southwest is really occupied Mexico.

The first rule of marketing is know your customer base. So when the makers of Absolut vodka began an ad campaign in Mexico featuring what a map of North America might look like "In An Absolut World," it was well aware it might appeal to many Mexicans there and here.

The ad by the Swedish Absolut Spirits Co. features an 1830s era map where Mexico includes California, Texas, Arizona and other southwest states. The U.S. border lies where it was before the Mexican-American war of 1848 and before the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo saw the Mexican territories of Alta California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico ceded to the U.S.

The campaign taps into the national pride of Mexicans, according to Favio Ucedo, creative director of the leading Latino advertising agency in the U.S., Grupo Gallegos.

"Mexicans talk about how the Americans stole their land," the Argentine native said of the Absolut campaign, "so this is their way of reclaiming it. It's very relevant and the Mexicans will love the idea."

This isn't the first ad campaign targeted at what some Mexican activists call the "Reconquista" movement of those who dream and work toward the day when the American Southwest will be reconquered. To them, illegal aliens crossing the U.S. border are merely returning home.

In 2005, a Los Angeles billboard advertising a Spanish-language newscast showed the Angel of Independence, a well-known monument in Mexico City, in the center of the L.A. skyline, with "CA" crossed out after "Los Angeles" and the word "Mexico" in bold red letters put in its place.

The activists working for this cause actually see themselves as "America's Palestinians" and view the Southwest as their Palestine and Los Angeles as their lost Jerusalem.

An editorial in the newspaper La Voz de Aztlan in Los Angeles stated: "There are great similarities between the political and economic condition of the Palestinians in occupied Palestine and that of La Raza in the southwest United States."

The editorial went on to say: "The similarities are many. The primary one, of course, is the fact that both La Raza and the Palestinians have been displaced by invaders that have used military means to conquer and occupy our territories."
A key player in the "Reconquista" movement is the National Council of La Raza. Its motto: "For the Race, everything. For those outside the Race, nothing."

Few caught the significance of the warmly received words of then-Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo before the Council in Chicago on July 27, 1997:
"I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders." During a 2001 visit to the U.S., President Vincente Fox repeated this line, calling for open borders and endorsing Mexico's new dual-citizenship law.

A secondary group in the "Reconquista" movement is an Hispanic student activist group known as MEChA, for Movimento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan).

It has spent the last three decades indoctrinating Latino students on American campuses, claiming that the American Southwest was stolen and should be returned to its rightful owners, the people of Mexico, under the name "Nation of Aztlan."

Aztlan is the mythical place where the Aztecs are said to have originated.

Former MEChA members include Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who was officially endorsed by La Raza for mayor and awarded La Raza's Graciela Olivarez award. Another MEChA member is former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who delivered the keynote address at La Raza's 2002 annual convention.

We have an idea: Let's build the border fence and pay for it by selling ad space, even to an ideologically driven company such as the makers of Absolut vodka. We'll drink to that.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on June 23, 2009, 10:24:43 AM
Mexico Security Memo: June 22, 2009
Stratfor Today » June 22, 2009 | 2214 GMT

The Mexican military increased the number of troops deployed to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, by 1,500 June 20, as part of the ongoing joint law enforcement and military operation to combat drug cartels. The new deployment brings the total number of troops deployed in Juarez to 5,500, with 1,300 troops patrolling surrounding areas. The boost in troops in the troubled border town demonstrates the Mexican government’s high level of commitment to maintaining a large deployment in Juarez, and comes at a time when the security situation is deteriorating.

The initial troop increase to Juarez in March succeeded in significantly reducing violence, with an average of only two deaths per day by late March. However, over the past several weeks violence has surged to an average of more than eight homicides per day. STRATFOR sources in Juarez say declining violence between the large cartels (Sinaloa and the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization), which remain the military’s main focus, was the primary reason for the initial drop and that the recent violence is associated with increased competition among local drug dealers. It is possible that the government is seeking to combat the rise of smaller organizations with the recent deployment, but the operational goals of the deployment have not been divulged.

Additionally, a little over 5,000 cadets from a Mexican military academy arrived in the Golden Triangle region of Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango states, to assist troops already in the region in counternarcotics operations such as eradicating crops and establishing check points. Rugged and sparsely populated, the Golden Triangle is the center of marijuana production for many drug trafficking organizations. The deployment of cadets indicates how thinly spread the Mexican military’s resources are — but it also provides an excellent training opportunity for the cadets. There are roughly 2,500 troops and federal law enforcement agents already in the region, and this deployment represents a significant increase of boots on the ground, but the cadets’ lack of experience will likely limit their roles.

Narco Sharks from Costa Rica

On June 16, Mexican authorities in the port city of Progreso, Yucatan state, seized nearly 2,000 pounds of cocaine concealed inside some 100 dead sharks that had been shipped inside a refrigerated cargo container. The drugs were reportedly detected by customs and naval personnel performing a routine inspection. The shipment, which appeared to be intended for a company in Tonala, Jalisco state, that manufactures shark-skin goods, was sent on a commercial transport ship from Costa Rica, where the company had recently opened an office to facilitate its import needs. A Mexican navy official said it appears the shipment was organized by the Gulf cartel and that a member of Los Zetas was to be responsible for escorting the shipment once it reached Progreso.

Following the discovery of the cocaine in Mexico, authorities in Costa Rica launched a series of investigations both in the city where the shipment originated and at a hotel compound farther south. Police there eventually arrested three Costa Rican citizens and named two Mexican men suspected of organizing the operation but who have so far evaded capture.

The presence of Mexican cartels in Central America is something STRATFOR has been tracking for some time. Among the more noteworthy aspects of this case is the supposed presence of Gulf cartel operatives inside Costa Rica. Until now, all investigations of Mexican cartels in the country have appeared to point exclusively to the Sinaloa cartel. If, in fact, this latest shipment was a Gulf cartel or Zeta operation, it would be stronger evidence of another Mexican drug trafficking organization operating inside Costa Rica — a development that could have negative implications for the country’s security environment. Not only would it increase the potential for corruption among local police and other officials, it also could lead to violent turf battles between the two Mexican cartels on Costa Rican soil.

June 15

A shipping entrepreneur was found murdered and handcuffed in a union office in Veracruz, Veracruz state. Police said the victim was handcuffed minutes before he was executed.
A methamphetamine laboratory was discovered by members of the Mexican army in a remote cave in Michoacan state, making it the sixth such facility found in the state in June.
A police commander was found executed with a single gunshot wound to the head at his home in Acapulco, Guerrero state. Authorities believe he was shot with his own weapon.
Members of the Mexican military arrested Juan “El Puma” Manuel Jurado Zarzoza, the reported head of Los Zetas in Cancun, Quintana Roo state. Juardo was allegedly part of the group of attackers that carried out the assassination of retired Gen. Mauro Enrique Tello Quinones.

June 16

A firefight between members of a local kidnapping gang and members of various law enforcement agencies in Uruapan, Michoacan state, resulted in the death of three kidnappers. Police received a report of a kidnapping minutes before intercepting the vehicle the kidnappers were driving. The man who was kidnapped before the incident was subsequently rescued.
Authorities found the bodies of seven unidentified people in Gomez Palacio, Durango state. The victims appeared to have been tortured but did not have gunshot wounds.
Three bodies were found in Guasave, Sinaloa state, with multiple gunshot wounds.

June 17

A deputy police chief in Tijuana, Baja California state, was shot to death by several armed men.
The attorney for a Gulf cartel suspect arrested in 2002 was shot to death in downtown Veracruz, Veracruz state, by several armed men.

June 18

The bodies of three men were found inside a vehicle in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, with a sign that read, in part, “We are the new group ‘Zeta killers’ and we are against kidnapping and extortion, and we are going to fight against [Los Zetas] in every state for a clean Mexico.”
Eight police officers were wounded in Puebla, Puebla state, when the vehicle they were riding in was fired upon by several armed men.

June 19

Gunmen traveling in several vehicles opened fire and threw fragmentation grenades at an ambulance that was carrying an alleged gang member to a hospital in Morelia, Michoacan state.

June 20

Four people were shot to death in separate incidents in Acapulco, Guerrero state, including one victim who had recently been released from prison.
An attempted traffic stop in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, led to a firefight between police and drug gang suspects that left at least on person dead.

June 21

Federal police agents at a highway checkpoint near Las Choapas, Veracruz state, seized nearly 2,000 pounds of cocaine from a large truck. Authorities believe the truck was heading to Mexico City.
Title: Yesterday's elections
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 06, 2009, 06:15:28 AM
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's former ruling party made a strong comeback in midterm elections Sunday, defeating President Felipe Calderón's conservative party and setting the stage for more gridlock in a country already politically divided, early returns showed.

With roughly a third of the votes counted, the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, won 35% of the vote compared with 27% for Mr. Calderón's National Action Party, or PAN, in the race for 500 congressional seats, 565 mayors and six governorships.

The biggest loser on the day was the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, which came within a hair of winning the presidency in 2006. Early returns showed it winning just 12% of the vote. Smaller parties and blank votes made up the rest of the tally.

"It's a big victory for us and sets us up well for 2012" presidential elections, said PRI official Pedro Joaquin Coldwell.

Mr. Calderón congratulated the PRI and called on all parties to put aside their own interests and work for the country. "We have to be able to raise our heads and look beyond ... our party or personal interests," he said.

The PRI, written off by pundits after a third-place finish in the 2006 presidential vote, did well largely thanks to voter apathy and its well-oiled party machinery at the local level. If early returns held, the PRI was expected to gain more than 100 seats in the lower house at the expense of the PRD and PAN.

The election came at a time when Mexico seems down in the dumps. Mexico's economy has been one of the world's hardest hit from the global recession because of its reliance on the U.S. as a market for manufacturing exports. Mexico's economic output is expected to drop at least 5.5% this year compared with last year -- the biggest decline since the aftermath of the country's peso crash in 1995.

Adding to a sense of trouble, the country is in the grips of an all-out war between the government and drug cartels. The violence has claimed 12,000 lives since Mr. Calderón took power in December, 2006. Throw in the recent outbreak of the A/H1N1 flu, falling oil output, a steady stream of corruption scandals at all levels, and a struggling national soccer team -- and you get a recipe for malaise.

"I'm voting for the least bad option given our poor choices," said Ana Luisa Torres, a 57-year-old homemaker who was casting her ballot for Mr. Calderón's PAN. "Mexico is not doing well, and we aren't changing things here fast enough."

Another voter, 65-year-old retiree Luis Peña, said he voted for the PRI because the PAN "showed it doesn't know what to do with power."

As a sign of voter disillusion, as many as 7% of the ballots cast were left intentionally blank as a protest against all major parties. Leading intellectuals had organized the drive as a message to the parties to put aside rivalries.

Mexico's Green Party snared 7% of the votes, but not from any environmental proposal. Its campaign was based on support for instituting the death penalty.

Mr. Calderón's party would have suffered a bigger defeat were it not for his war on drug cartels, which has involved sending 45,000 army troops to various states. The drive remains popular among voters, despite the violence.

"Mexicans are willing to put up with the violence in the short term if they feel the government is dedicated to stopping the narcos," said Roy Campos, head of polling firm Consulta Mitofksy.

Analysts say the election outcome actually has more to do with the dynamics of Mexico's political system than a referendum on Mr. Calderón. Simply put, voters in Mexican midterm elections focus on local issues and candidates, and parties tend to revert to their historic average for results.

"When turnout is low for midterms, it benefits the PRI, because they have the biggest party structure in Mexico," says Luis de la Calle, a former Mexican trade official and political consultant.

The contest was a lot more quiet than the presidential election of 2006, which resulted in a vote that was "too close to call" for days. When Mr. Calderón was finally declared the winner, his losing opponent, Andres Manuel López Obrador of the PRD, refused to concede and took to the streets with his supporters.

In the time since, Mr. López Obrador has yet to call Mr. Calderon "president," and has alienated many voters with his hard-line stance. Squabbling between rival factions has also hurt the party.

Mr. López Obrador's antics have helped pave the way for the return of the PRI. Although the former ruling party has yet to change its stripes out of power and remains dominated by special interests and backroom deals, polls show it is no longer the least admired major party, as it was for several years. That dubious distinction now belongs to the PRD, Mr. Campos says.

After the vote, whether Mexico can get unstuck again will largely depend on the inner workings of the PRI, itself a collection of interests and different groups vying for power. Several key PRI leaders may decide that to compete effectively in the presidential vote of 2012, the party needs to show voters it can govern responsibly.

"There may be incentives for things to get better," says Mr. de la Calle. Mr. "Calderón will be under pressure to show he's not a lame duck, and PRI needs to show it can accomplish something."
Title: Stratfor: Mex-US arms trade
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 09, 2009, 08:17:10 AM
Mexico: Economics and the Arms Trade
July 9, 2009
By Scott Stewart and Fred Burton

On June 26, the small Mexican town of Apaseo el Alto, in Guanajuato state, was the scene of a deadly firefight between members of Los Zetas and federal and local security forces. The engagement began when a joint patrol of Mexican soldiers and police officers responded to a report of heavily armed men at a suspected drug safe house. When the patrol arrived, a 20-minute firefight erupted between the security forces and gunmen in the house as well as several suspects in two vehicles who threw fragmentation grenades as they tried to escape.

When the shooting ended, 12 gunmen lay dead, 12 had been taken into custody and several soldiers and police officers had been wounded. At least half of the detained suspects admitted to being members of Los Zetas, a highly trained Mexican cartel group known for its use of military weapons and tactics.

When authorities examined the safe house they discovered a mass grave that contained the remains of an undetermined number of people (perhaps 14 or 15) who are believed to have been executed and then burned beyond recognition by Los Zetas. The house also contained a large cache of weapons, including assault rifles and fragmentation grenades. Such military ordnance is frequently used by Los Zetas and the enforcers who work for their rival cartels.

STRATFOR has been closely following the cartel violence in Mexico for several years now, and the events that transpired in Apaseo el Alto are by no means unique. It is not uncommon for the Mexican authorities to engage in large firefights with cartel groups, encounter mass graves or recover large caches of arms. However, the recovery of the weapons in Apaseo el Alto does provide an opportunity to once again focus on the dynamics of Mexico’s arms trade.

White, Black and Shades of Gray
Before we get down into the weeds of Mexico’s arms trade, let’s do something a little different and first take a brief look at how arms trafficking works on a regional and global scale. Doing so will help illustrate how arms trafficking in Mexico fits into these broader patterns.

When analysts examine arms sales they look at three general categories: the white arms market, the gray arms market and the black arms market. The white arms market is the legal, aboveboard transfer of weapons in accordance with the national laws of the parties involved and international treaties or restrictions. The parties in a white arms deal will file the proper paperwork, including end-user certificates, noting what is being sold, who is selling it and to whom it is being sold. There is an understanding that the receiving party does not intend to transfer the weapons to a third party. So, for example, if the Mexican army wants to buy assault rifles from German arms maker Heckler & Koch, it places the order with the company and fills out all the required paperwork, including forms for obtaining permission for the sale from the German government.

Now, the white arms market can be deceived and manipulated, and when this happens, we get the gray market — literally, white arms that are shifted into the hands of someone other than the purported recipient. One of the classic ways to do this is to either falsify an end-user certificate, or bribe an official in a third country to sign an end-user certificate but then allow a shipment of arms to pass through a country en route to a third location. This type of transaction is frequently used in cases where there are international arms embargoes against a particular country (like Liberia) or where it is illegal to sell arms to a militant group (such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym, FARC). One example of this would be Ukrainian small arms that, on paper, were supposed to go to Cote d’Ivoire but were really transferred in violation of U.N. arms embargoes to Liberia and Sierra Leone. Another example of this would be the government of Peru purchasing thousands of surplus East German assault rifles from Jordan on the white arms market, ostensibly for the Peruvian military, only to have those rifles slip into the gray arms world and be dropped at airstrips in the jungles of Colombia for use by the FARC.

At the far end of the spectrum is the black arms market where the guns are contraband from the get-go and all the business is conducted under the table. There are no end-user certificates and the weapons are smuggled covertly. Examples of this would be the smuggling of arms from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and Afghanistan into Europe through places like Kosovo and Slovenia, or the smuggling of arms into South America from Asia, the FSU and Middle East by Hezbollah and criminal gangs in the Tri-Border Region.

Nation-states will often use the gray and black arms markets in order to deniably support allies, undermine opponents or otherwise pursue their national interests. This was clearly revealed in the Iran-Contra scandal of the mid-1980s, but Iran-Contra only scratched the surface of the arms smuggling that occurred during the Cold War. Untold tons of military ordnance were delivered by the United States, the Soviet Union and Cuba to their respective allies in Latin America during the Cold War.

This quantity of materiel shipped into Latin America during the Cold War brings up another very important point pertaining to weapons. Unlike drugs, which are consumable goods, firearms are durable goods. This means that they can be useful for decades and are frequently shipped from conflict zone to conflict zone. East German MPiKMS and MPiKM assault rifles are still floating around the world’s arms markets years after the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist. In fact, visiting an arms bazaar in a place like Yemen is like visiting an arms museum. One can encounter century-old, still-functional Lee-Enfield and Springfield rifles in a rack next to a modern U.S. M4 rifle or German HK93, and those next to brand-new Chinese Type 56 and 81 assault rifles.

There is often a correlation between arms and drug smuggling. In many instances, the same routes used to smuggle drugs are also used to smuggle arms. In some instances, like the smuggling routes from Central Asia to Europe, the flow of guns and drugs goes in the same direction, and they are both sold in Western Europe for cash. In the case of Latin American cocaine, the drugs tend to flow in one direction (toward the United States and Europe) while guns from U.S. and Russian organized-crime groups flow in the other direction, and often these guns are used as whole or partial payment for the drugs.

Illegal drugs are not the only thing traded for guns. During the Cold War, a robust arms-for-sugar trade transpired between the Cubans and Vietnamese. As a result, Marxist groups all over Latin America were furnished with U.S. materiel either captured or left behind when the Americans withdrew from Vietnam. LAW rockets traced to U.S. military stocks sent to Vietnam were used in several attacks by Latin American Marxist groups. These Vietnam War-vintage weapons still crop up with some frequency in Mexico, Colombia and other parts of the region. Cold War-era weapons furnished to the likes of the Contras, Sandinistas, Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front and Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity movement in the 1980s are also frequently encountered in the region.

After the civil wars ended in places like El Salvador and Guatemala, the governments and the international community attempted to institute arms buy-back programs, but those programs were not very successful and most of the guns turned in were very old — the better arms were cached by groups or kept by individuals. Some of these guns have dribbled back into the black arms market, and Central and South America are still awash in Cold War weapons.

But Cold War shipments are not the only reason that Latin America is flooded with guns. In addition to the indigenous arms industries in countries like Brazil and Argentina, Venezuela has purchased hundreds of thousands of AK assault rifles in recent years to replace its aging FN-FAL rifles and has even purchased the equipment to open a factory to produce AK-103 rifles under license inside Venezuela. The Colombian government has accused the Venezuelans of arming the FARC, and evidence obtained by the Colombians during raids on FARC camps and provided to the public appears to support those assertions.

More than 90 Percent?
For several years now, Mexican officials have been making public statements that more than 90 percent of the arms used by criminals in Mexico come from the United States. That number was echoed last month in a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on U.S. efforts to combat arms trafficking to Mexico (see external link).

External Link
GAO report on arms trafficking to Mexico
(STRATFOR is not responsible for the content of other Web sites.)
According to the report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican officials in 2008. Out of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them, (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.

This means that the 87 percent figure comes from the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by the Mexicans or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. The 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing.

In a response to the GAO report, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wrote a letter to the GAO (published as an appendix to the report) calling the GAO’s use of the 87 percent statistic “misleading.” The DHS further noted, “Numerous problems with the data collection and sample population render this assertion as unreliable.”

Trying to get a reliable idea about where the drug cartels are getting their weapons can be difficult because the statistics on firearms seized in Mexico are very confusing. For example, while the GAO report says that 30,000 guns were seized in 2008 alone, the Mexican Prosecutor General’s office has reported that between Dec. 1, 2005, and Jan. 22, 2009, Mexican authorities seized 31,512 weapons from the cartels.

Furthermore, it is not prudent to rely exclusively on weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing as a representative sample of the overall Mexican arms market. This is because there are some classes of weapons, such as RPG-7s and South Korean hand grenades, which make very little sense for the Mexicans to pass to the ATF for tracing since they obviously are not from the United States. The ATF is limited in its ability to trace weapons that did not pass through the United States, though there are offices at the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency that maintain extensive international arms-trafficking databases.

Mexican authorities are also unlikely to ask the ATF to trace weapons that can be tracked through the Mexican government’s own databases such as the one maintained by the Mexican Defense Department’s Arms and Ammunition Marketing Division (UCAM), which is the only outlet through which Mexican citizens can legally buy guns. If they can trace a gun through UCAM there is simply no need to submit it to ATF.

The United States has criticized Mexico for decades over its inability to stop the flow of narcotics into U.S. territory, and for the past several years Mexico has responded by blaming the guns coming from the United States for its inability to stop the drug trafficking. In this context, there is a lot of incentive for the Mexicans to politicize and play up the issue of guns coming from the United States, and north of the border there are U.S. gun-control advocates who have a vested interest in adding fuel to the fire and gun-rights advocates who have an interest in playing down the number.

Clearly, the issue of U.S. guns being sent south of the border is a serious one, but STRATFOR does not believe that there is sufficient evidence to support the claim that 90 percent (or more) of the cartels’ weaponry comes from the United States. The data at present is inclusive — the 90 percent figure appears to be a subsample of a sample, so that number cannot be applied with confidence to the entire country. Indeed, the percentage of U.S. arms appears to be far lower than 90 percent in specific classes of arms such as fully automatic assault rifles, machine guns, rifle grenades, fragmentation grenades and RPG-7s. Even items such as the handful of U.S.-manufactured LAW rockets encountered in Mexico have come from third countries and not directly from the United States.

However, while the 90 percent figure appears to be unsubstantiated by documentable evidence, this fact does not necessarily prove that the converse is true, even if it may be a logical conclusion. The bottom line is that, until there is a comprehensive, scientific study conducted on the arms seized by the Mexican authorities, much will be left to conjecture, and it will be very difficult to determine exactly how many of the cartels’ weapons have come from the United States, and to map out precisely how the black, white and gray arms markets have interacted to bring weapons to Mexico and Mexican cartels.

More research needs to be done on both sides of the border in order to understand this important issue.

Four Trends
In spite of the historical ambiguity, there are four trends that are likely to shape the future flow of arms into Mexico. The first of these is militarization. Since 2006 there has been a steady trend toward the use of heavy military ordnance by the cartels. This process was begun in earnest when the Gulf Cartel first recruited Los Zetas, but in order to counter Los Zetas, all the other cartels have had to recruit and train hard-core enforcer units and outfit them with similar weaponry. Prior to 2007, attacks involving fragmentation hand grenades, 40 mm grenades and RPGs were somewhat rare and immediately attracted a lot of attention. Such incidents are now quite common, and it is not unusual to see firefights like the June 26 incident in Apaseo el Alto in which dozens of grenades are employed.

Another trend in recent years has been the steady movement of Mexican cartels south into Central and South America. As noted above, the region is awash in guns, and the growing presence of Mexican cartel members puts them in contact with people who have access to Cold War weapons, international arms merchants doing business with groups like the FARC and corrupt officials who can obtain weapons from military sources in the region. We have already seen seizures of weapons coming into Mexico from the south. One notable seizure occurred in March 2009, when Guatemalan authorities raided a training camp in northern Guatemala near the Mexican border that they claim belonged to Los Zetas. In the raid they recovered 563 40 mm grenades and 11 M60 machine guns that had been stolen from the Guatemalan military and sold to Los Zetas.

The third trend is the current firearm and ammunition market in the United States. Since the election of Barack Obama, arms sales have gone through the roof due to fears (so far unfounded) that the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress will attempt to restrict or ban certain weapons. Additionally, ammunition companies are busy filling military orders for the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan. As anyone who has attempted to buy an assault rifle (or even a brick of .22 cartridges) will tell you, it is no longer cheap or easy to buy guns and ammunition. In fact, due to this surge in demand, it is downright difficult to locate many types of assault rifles and certain calibers of ammunition, though a lucky buyer might be able to find a basic stripped-down AR-15 for $850 to $1,100, or a semiautomatic AK-47 for $650 to $850. Of course, such a gun purchased in the United States and smuggled into Mexico will be sold to the cartels at a hefty premium above the purchase price.

By way of comparison, in places where weapons are abundant, such as Yemen, a surplus fully automatic assault rifle can be purchased for under $100 on the white arms market and for about the same price on the black arms market. This difference in price provides a powerful economic incentive to buy low elsewhere and sell high in Mexico, as does the inability to get certain classes of weapons such as RPGs and fragmentation grenades in the United States. Indeed, we have seen reports of international arms merchants from places like Israel and Belgium selling weapons to the cartels and bringing that ordnance into Mexico through routes other than over the U.S. border. Additionally, in South America, a number of arms smugglers, including Hezbollah and Russian organized-crime groups, have made a considerable amount of money supplying arms to groups in the region like the FARC.

The fourth trend is the increasing effort by the U.S. government to stanch the flow of weapons from the United States into Mexico. A recent increase in the number of ATF special agents and inspectors pursuing gun dealers who knowingly sell to the cartels or straw-purchase buyers who obtain guns from honest dealers is going to increase the chances of such individuals being caught. This stepped-up enforcement will have an impact as the risk of being caught illegally buying or smuggling guns begins to outweigh the profit that can be made by selling guns to the cartels. We believe that these two factors — supply problems and enforcement — will work together to help reduce the flow of U.S. guns to Mexico.

While there has been a long and well-documented history of arms smuggling across the U.S.-Mexican border, it is important to recognize that, while the United States is a significant source of certain classes of weapons, it is by no means the only source of illegal weapons in Mexico. As STRATFOR has previously noted, even if it were possible to hermetically seal the U.S.-Mexican border, the Mexican cartels would still be able to obtain weapons from non-U.S. sources (just as drugs would continue to flow into the United States). The law of supply and demand will ensure that the Mexican cartels will get their ordnance, but it is highly likely that an increasing percentage of that supply will begin to come from outside the United States via the gray and black arms markets.
Title: 12 undercover feds killed
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 15, 2009, 05:26:21 AM
MEXICO CITY -- Twelve undercover federal police agents were captured, tortured, and executed by a relatively new and dangerous Mexican cartel calling itself La Familia, or The Family, officials said Tuesday.

The killings are a major psychological blow to President Felipe Calderón's war on drugs. The bodies of 11 men and one woman were found by locals on the side of a highway in Mr. Calderón's home state of Michoacán on Monday. The victims had their hands and feet tied, showed signs of torture, and had all been shot in the head at close range.

The agents had been in Michoacán to gather intelligence on the cartel, said Monte Alejandro Rubido, the government's top spokesman on security issues. Officials said they believed the killings were connected to the weekend capture of Arnoldo Rueda Medina, one of the cartel's major operators. "We have reinforced our operations in several states and we will not retreat a single step in our fight against organized crime," Mr. Rubido said at a news conference.

Since the Saturday arrest, gunmen believed to be working for the cartel have gone on a rampage, attacking police stations, army patrols and hotels in several different cities in Michoacán with grenades, AK-47s and AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. The attacks killed two soldiers and six other federal police agents, and wounded a further 18 agents.

Together with the executions, the toll from three days of violence climbed to 18 federal police agents killed, as well as the two soldiers -- not including about a dozen other civilian victims, police said. That would mark one of the bloodiest single episodes against federal forces since Mr. Calderón launched a crackdown on drug cartels shortly after taking power in December 2006.

The violence highlights the increasing power, brazenness, and operational capability of Mexican cartels like La Familia. Within a day of Mr. Rueda's arrest, gunmen attacked a hotel where police were staying in Apatzingán, federal police barracks in the tourist town of Pátzcuaro, a police base in Huetamo, and a police convoy on a rural road -- all in different parts of the state.

Since Mr. Calderón took power, more than 12,000 people have died in Mexico in drug-related killings.

The killings could raise political pressure on Mr. Calderón to retreat in the battle against drug lords. While the war on drugs is popular, many opposition politicians say it is only stirring up trouble and causing more violence. On Monday, leftist senator Carlos Navarrete called on Mr. Calderón to scale back the war on drugs, partly because traffickers could target senior law-enforcement and government officials.

The killings are also a major blow to the Federal Police. Mr. Calderón's government has invested millions in training, technology and arms for the agency, a two-year-old institution being fashioned after the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. It has been part of a national effort to clean up police agencies that have traditionally been corrupted by drug cartels.

Federal police have been dispatched across Mexico in joint operations with the military to take on drug organizations in areas where the local and state police are suspect. The officers work in two- to three-month shifts before being sent to a new hot spot. The reasoning is that if they are there any longer, the risk that the officers might succumb to offers of money or threats by the drug gangs becomes too great.

Responding to the violence, Mr. Calderón said that the cartels were increasingly desperate due to the crackdown by the federal government, which has included sending 45,000 troops to patrol cities. "In these cowardly attacks, brave members of our federal forces have lost their lives," Mr. Calderón said Tuesday. "They have fallen thinking it is possible to construct a safer Mexico. They have fallen fighting for the safety of all of us." A new poll by Mexican pollster GCE, however, showed that 51% of Mexicans believe the cartels have the upper hand in the drug war, while only 29% think the government is winning.

Of Mexico's major drug cartels, perhaps none is as dangerous as La Familia, a relatively obscure trafficking organization that has gained notoriety in the past year. Founded in part by a charismatic leader who preaches family values, the cartel first gained attention in 2006 in grisly fashion: By rolling the severed heads of five men onto a dance floor at a Michoacán disco, along with a hand-scrawled note warning off rival traffickers.

La Familia has tried to cast itself as a Robin Hood-type cartel, a quasi-legitimate business that gives back money to the poor, abides by a code of ethics such as not selling certain drugs like methamphetamines in Michoacán, and metes out justice to its enemies only when it is double-crossed. Experts say it recruits heavily among recovering drug and alcohol addicts. It has published manifestoes in local newspapers. One golden rule: "family" members of traffickers should be off-limits to both other traffickers and the federal government.

"It's a bit like a cult, a mixture of evangelicals with new-age self-help that gives members a sense of belonging and creates a very disciplined organization," says Alberto Islas, a security consultant based in Mexico City.

Federal officials say the cartel has infiltrated the state government to a shocking degree. Soldiers arrested 10 mayors in Michoacán, as well as 17 police chiefs, in May.

—Paul Kiernan and John Lyons contributed to this article.
Write to David Luhnow at

Title: LATimes: Congressman helping La Familia
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 16, 2009, 02:44:24 PM
Congressman-elect Julio Cesar Godoy is suspected of helping protect La Familia, accused of killing 16 officers recently. That has brought pressure on his half-brother, Michoacan Gov. Leonel Godoy.
By Ken Ellingwood
July 16, 2009

Reporting from Mexico City -- Last week, Julio Cesar Godoy was a congressman-elect. This week, he is a fugitive.

Mexican authorities say Godoy, a half-brother of Michoacan state Gov. Leonel Godoy, helped provide protection for La Familia, the drug-trafficking gang that has waged war on federal police across the state in recent days, killing at least 16 officers.
Officials have an arrest warrant but apparently can't find the younger Godoy, an attorney who was elected to Congress on July 5 as a candidate of the left-leaning Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD.

Feeling political heat, Gov. Godoy on Wednesday called on his sibling to turn himself in and confront the accusations. Godoy said his half-brother lived in a modest house, drove a used Volkswagen and showed no signs of links to organized crime. The two last spoke weeks ago, the governor said.

"He has to present his evidence if he is innocent," Godoy said in a radio interview. "If he is guilty, let them punish him with the full weight of the law."

The younger Godoy has not been seen in public since the campaign closed July 1. He didn't show up to vote on election day nor, after his victory, to collect the official notification that he had been elected to Congress.

Authorities, who did not specify when the arrest order was granted, announced the allegations Tuesday as part of the investigation into a string of attacks in Michoacan against federal police officers since Saturday. The attacks, including the slayings of 12 federal officers whose bodies were dumped near a highway, appeared to be in retaliation for the arrest of Arnoldo Rueda Medina, described as one of the gang's top three figures.

Officials say Saul Solis, a failed Green Party candidate for Congress, is also being sought for his alleged role as liaison between the crime group and officials and businessmen in Michoacan.

The allegations add new force to concerns over how thoroughly drug traffickers have infiltrated Mexico's political system, especially in smuggling crossroads such as Michoacan.

"Cartels like La Familia are born, grow and reproduce thanks to narco-politics, thanks to the complicity of those in power and the cloak of impunity that protects them," columnist Ricardo Aleman wrote Wednesday in El Universal newspaper.

The charges against Julio Cesar Godoy brought fresh pressure on his half-brother. Gov. Godoy, a member of the same political party, already faced questions after the state's attorney general and other aides were among 30 local and state functionaries arrested in May over suspected ties to La Familia.

The governor has dismissed the arrests as an election-season stunt by the administration of Mexican President Felipe Calderon, of the conservative National Action Party. And he rejected fresh calls to resign.

"I won't give them the pleasure," Godoy said Wednesday.

Monte Alejandro Rubido, a national security spokesman, said that a senior gunman arrested in the recent attacks revealed details about La Familia's structure. He said Julio Cesar Godoy and Solis worked for the group's alleged operations chief, Servando Gomez Martinez, who lives in Michoacan.

A man who said he was Gomez Martinez phoned a public affairs television show in Michoacan on Wednesday and called on Calderon to reach an accord with La Familia.

Hours later, Interior Minister Fernando Gomez Mont rejected the purported overture, saying Mexico would not negotiate with any criminal group.
Title: Strat: Mex Mil in the Cartel War
Post by: Crafty_Dog on July 29, 2009, 02:07:11 PM
The Role of the Mexican Military in the Cartel War
July 29, 2009

By Stephen Meiners and Fred Burton

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is in the middle of a four-day visit this week to Mexico, where he is meeting with Mexican government officials to discuss the two countries’ joint approach to Mexico’s ongoing cartel war. In prepared remarks at a July 27 press conference with Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora, Kerlikowske said Washington is focused on reducing drug use in the United States, supporting domestic law enforcement efforts against drug traffickers and working with other countries that serve as production areas or transshipment points for U.S.-bound drugs.

Absent from his remarks was any mention of the U.S. position on the role of the Mexican military in the country’s battle against the drug cartels. Kerlikowske’s visit comes amid a growing debate in Mexico over the role that the country’s armed forces should play in the cartel war. The debate has intensified in recent weeks, as human rights organizations in Mexico and the United States have expressed concern over civil rights abuses by Mexican troops assigned to counternarcotics missions in various parts of the country.

The director of Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission, for example, has encouraged the new legislature to re-examine the role of the Mexican military in the country’s cartel war, saying that the current approach is clearly not working. The number of citizen complaints against soldiers has increased over the last few years as the troops have become actively engaged in counternarcotics operations, and the commission director has expressed hope for greater accountability on the part of the armed forces.

Citing similar concerns, and the fact that such citizen complaints are handled by the military justice system — which has reportedly not successfully prosecuted a case in years — the independent U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her not to certify Mexico’s human rights record to Congress, which would freeze the disbursement of a portion of the funds for the Merida Initiative, a U.S. counternarcotics aid package for Mexico.

More important than any possible funding freeze from Washington, though, is the potential response from the Mexican government. President Felipe Calderon has emphasized that the use of the military is a temporary move and is necessary until the country’s federal police reforms can be completed in 2012. Legislative leaders from both main opposition parties complained last week that Calderon’s approach has unnecessarily weakened the armed forces, while the leader of the Mexican senate — a member of Calderon’s National Action Party — said the legislature will examine the role of the military and seek to balance the needs of the cartel war with the civil rights of the Mexican people. In addition, the president of Mexico’s supreme court has said the court plans to review the appropriateness of military jurisdiction in cases involving citizen complaints against soldiers.

Domestic debate and international criticism of Calderon’s use of the military are not necessarily new. Indeed, Calderon was defending his approach to representatives of the United Nations back in early 2008. However, the renewed debate, combined with recent changes in the Mexican legislature, have set the stage for a general re-examination of the Mexican military’s role in the cartel war. And while it is still unclear exactly where the re-examination will end up, the eventual outcome could drastically change the way the Mexican government fights the cartels.

More than Just Law Enforcement
Since taking office in December 2006, Calderon’s decision to deploy more than 35,000 federal troops in security operations around the country has grabbed headlines. While previous presidents have used the armed forces for counternarcotics operations in isolated cases, the scope and scale of the military’s involvement under Calderon has reached new heights. This approach is due in no small part to the staggering level of corruption among federal police. But primarily, the use of the military is a reflection of the many tasks that must be performed under Calderon’s strategy, which is far more complex than simply putting boots on the ground and requires more than what traditional law enforcement agencies can provide.

This broad range of tasks can be grouped into three categories:

The first involves duties traditionally carried out by the armed forces in Mexico, such as technical intelligence collection and maritime and aerial monitoring and interdiction. These tasks are well-suited to the armed forces, which have the equipment, training and experience to perform them. These are also key requirements in the country’s counternarcotics strategy, considering that Mexico is the primary transshipment point for South American-produced cocaine bound for the United States, the world’s largest market for the drug.
The second category includes traditional civilian law enforcement and judicial duties. Specifically, this includes actions such as making arrests, prosecuting and convicting defendants and imposing punishment. With the exception of the military routinely detaining suspects and then turning them over to law enforcement authorities, the tasks in this second category have remained mainly in the hands of civilian authorities.
The final category is more of a gray area. It involves tasks that overlap between Mexico’s armed forces and law enforcement agencies, and it is the area over the last few years in which the Mexican military has become increasingly involved. It is also the area that has caused the most controversy, primarily due to the fact that it has brought the troops into closer contact with the civilian population.
Some of the most noteworthy tasks in this final “gray” category include:

Drug-crop eradication and meth-lab seizures. In addition to being the main transit point for U.S.-bound cocaine, Mexico is also estimated to be the largest producer of marijuana and methamphetamines consumed in the United States. The U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center estimates that more than 17,000 tons of marijuana were produced in Mexico during 2007, most of which was smuggled into the United States. Similarly, seizures of so-called meth superlabs in Mexico over the last few years — some capable of producing hundreds of tons annually — underscore the scale of meth production in Mexico. The destruction of marijuana crops and meth production facilities is a task that has been shared by both the military and law enforcement under Calderon.
Immigration and customs inspections at points of entry and exit. Thorough inspections of inbound and outbound cargo and people at Mexico’s borders have played a key role in some of the more noteworthy drug seizures during the last few years, including the country’s largest cocaine seizure at the Pacific port of Manzanillo in November 2007. Similar inspections elsewhere have led to significant seizures of weapons and precursor chemicals used in the production of meth. In many cases, the Mexican armed forces have played a role in either stopping or inspecting suspect cargo.
Raids and arrests of high-value cartel targets. Beyond simply stopping the flow of drugs and weapons into and out of Mexico, the federal government has also sought to disrupt the powerful organizations that control the drug trade by arresting drug cartel members. Given the federal police’s reputation for corruption, highly sensitive and risky operations such as the arrest of high-ranking cartel leaders have more often than not been carried out by the military’s elite Special Forces Airmobile Group (GAFE). In most cases, the suspects detained by GAFE units have been quickly handed over to the attorney general’s office, though in some cases military personnel have been accused of holding suspects for longer than necessary in order to extract information themselves.
General public safety and law enforcement. The rise in organized crime-related violence across Mexico over the last few years has been a cause for great concern both within the government and among the population. A central part of the federal government’s effort to curb the violence has been the deployment of military forces to many areas, where the troops conduct such actions as security patrols, traffic stops and raids as well as man highway checkpoints. In some cities, the military has been called upon to assume all public-safety and law-enforcement responsibilities, disarming the local police force while looking for police links to organized crime. Another part of this militarization of law enforcement has involved the appointment of military officers — many of whom resign their commission a day before their appointment — to law enforcement posts such as police chief or public safety consultant.
It is this final trend that has led to most of the concerns and complaints regarding the military’s role in the cartel war. The federal government has been mindful of these concerns from the beginning and has tried to minimize the criticism by involving the federal police as much as possible. But it has been the armed forces that have provided the bulk of the manpower and coordination that federal police agencies — hampered by rampant corruption and a tumultuous reform process — have not been able to muster.

A Victim of its Own Success
The armed forces’ greater effectiveness, rapid deployment capability and early successes in some public security tasks made it inevitable that its role would evolve and expand. The result has been a classic case of mission creep. By the time additional duties were being assigned to the military, its resources had become stretched too thin to be as effective as before. This reality became apparent by early 2008 in public-safety roles, especially when the military was tasked with security operations in cities as large and as violent as Ciudad Juarez.

Even though the Mexican military was not designed or trained for law-enforcement duties or securing urban areas, it had been generally successful in improving the security situation of the smaller cities to which it had been deployed throughout 2007. But by early 2008, when soldiers were first deployed to Ciudad Juarez en masse, it became clear that they simply had too much on their plate. As the city’s security environment deteriorated disastrously during the second half of 2008, the military presence there proved incapable of controlling it, an outcome that has continued even today, despite the unprecedented concentration of forces that are currently in the city.

In addition to the military’s mission failures, it has also struggled with increasing civil rights complaints from citizens. In particular, soldiers have been accused of unauthorized searches and seizures, rough treatment and torture of suspects (which in some cases have included police officers), and improper rules of engagement, which have led several times to civilian deaths when soldiers mistook them for hostile shooters. In many cities, particularly in northern and western Mexico, exasperated residents have staged rallies and marches to protest the military presence in their towns.

While the military has certainly not acted flawlessly in its operations and undoubtedly bears guilt for some offenses, these complaints are not completely reliable records of the military’s performance. For one thing, many cartel enforcers routinely dress in military-style clothing and travel in vehicles painted to resemble military trucks, while many also have military backgrounds and operate using the tactics they were taught. This makes it difficult for residents, during the chaos of a raid, to distinguish between legitimate soldiers and cartel members. More important, however, is the fact that the Mexican drug cartels have been keenly aware of the threat posed to them by the military and of the controversy associated with the military’s involvement in the cartel war. For this reason, the cartels have been eager to exploit this vulnerability by paying residents to protest the military presence and spread reports of military abuses.

As the Mexican congress and supreme court continue the debate over the appropriateness of the military in various roles in the cartel war, it is important to recall what the armed forces have done well. For all its faults and failures, the military remains the most reliable security tool available to the Mexican government. And continued problems with the federal police reforms mean that the military will remain the most reliable and versatile option for the foreseeable future.

Any legislative or judicial effort to withdraw the armed forces from certain tasks will leave the government with fewer options in battling the cartels and, ultimately, in an even more precarious position than it is in now. The loss of such a valuable tool in some areas of the cartel war would force the government to fundamentally alter its strategy in the cartel war, most likely requiring it to scale back its objectives.
Title: Two Canadians shot down in Pto. Vallarta.
Post by: Crafty_Dog on September 29, 2009, 05:27:28 AM
2 Men Killed Execution-Style at Mexican Beach Resort

Monday , September 28, 2009

Two Canadian men were shot to death in execution-style killing outside an apartment building in the Mexican resort of Puerto Vallarta, authorities said Monday.

Witnesses told police that a gunman approached Gordon Douglas Kendall and Jeffrey Ronald Ivans outside the building they were staying in and shot Kendall, according to Jalisco state prosecutor Guillermo Diaz.

The gunman then chased Ivans to the pool area and shot him. Witnesses said two other gunmen arrived minutes later and repeatedly shot the dead or dying Canadians, Diaz said. The men fled and no arrests have been made.

Diaz said Ivans was carrying a handgun, though he apparently was not able to use it before he was shot. It is unusual for people in Mexico, particularly foreigners, to carry handguns. It was not clear if Ivans had a permit.

Rest of article:,2933,...est=latestnews
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on November 25, 2009, 04:50:06 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Nov. 23, 2009
Stratfor Today » November 23, 2009 | 2323 GMT

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels

La Familia Michoacana Cell Indicted in Chicago

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald announced Nov. 18 that 15 defendants allegedly working for La Familia Michoacana (LFM) had been indicted in Chicago, Ill. The indictment stems from the joint U.S.-Mexican federal law enforcement operation that ended Oct. 22 known as Project Coronado, a 44-month-long operation that netted 1,186 individuals in 19 states along with 1,999 kilograms of cocaine and $33 million.

The indictment charged the individuals based in Chicago for conspiring with an unnamed commander based in Michoacan state, Mexico to distribute large quantities of cocaine and funnel proceeds from drug distribution back to Mexico. The operator in Michoacan formed a command-and-control group to oversee the distribution of drugs in Chicago and northern Illinois, made up of the six charged in the indictment as well as smaller-scale distributors personally approved by the commander. The Chicago cell maintained residential property where it clandestinely stored and transferred cocaine and cash proceeds to and from retail operations in Chicago and other towns in northern Illinois. The cell fronted cocaine to their distributors and were paid once the consumer sales were made — indicating a high level of trust and cooperation between the traffickers and the distributors. Members of the cell also maintained ledgers documenting transactions with their distributors and tracked inventory at the various stash houses. The commander, according to the indictment, required his associates in Chicago to report to him on the cell’s distribution activities and collection of cash proceeds.

The details revealed in the Nov. 18 indictment indicate that LFM has had a deeper involvement in the U.S. narcotics network than previously thought. It was known that LFM was trafficking cocaine through Mexico and even across the border into the United States, but the activities of the Chicago cell show that LFM was also heavily involved in the smaller-scale distribution of drugs far from the U.S.-Mexican border, in addition to their known large-scale, cross-border trafficking activities. This shows that LFM had a reach all the way to the neighborhood streets of Chicago and other U.S. cities, not just the highway networks and metropolitan hubs that facilitate the large-scale flow of drugs throughout the United States.

Unusual Arrests in Cancun

Police arrested 12 members of Los Pelones gang in Cancun Nov. 17 on charges that they were responsible for at least seven murders in the city in recent months. Los Pelones is the enforcement arm of the Sinaloa cartel, and was formed to counter the physical force of rival Los Zetas, whom Sinaloa has fought frequently over territory. Los Pelones has an established presence in western Mexico, where the Sinaloa has its main operations, but this is the first case that STRATFOR is aware of in which Los Pelones members were active in Quintana Roo state, in eastern Mexico.

The Yucatan Peninsula is known to be Los Zetas territory and so the presence of Los Pelones members indicates a challenge to Los Zetas for control over the region. Cancun has typically avoided the large-scale violence seen elsewhere in Mexico due to its importance to the tourism industry and, as a result, a strategic hub for money laundering. The presence of a competing enforcement cell in Cancun could raise the potential for more violence in the resort town but, in addition to facing resistance from Los Zetas, the gang will also contend with the local police, which, due to rampant corruption, may very well be cooperating with Los Zetas

(click here to enlarge image)

Nov. 16

Federal police arrested Pedro Cabadas Duran, a U.S. citizen, on the Mexico City-Nogales highway near the border of Nayarit and Sinaloa states (near Tecuala, Nayarit) on suspicion of transporting several firearms illegally. After a routine traffic stop, police discovered an AK-47, two AR-15s and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in Cabadas’s vehicle.

Nov. 17

Soldiers dismantled a drug lab in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco state, seizing approximately 10 kilograms of a substance believed to be methamphetamine.

Nov. 18

The body of an unidentified man was found hanging from a footbridge over a highway in San Pedrito, Jalisco state. Police discovered his hands were bound with rope but did not find any identification documents on his body.
Unknown gunmen injured Sinaloa Public Security Director of Protection Services Rafael Gaxiola Penuelas in the Toledo Corro neighborhood of Culiacan, Sinaloa state.
Approximately 500 protesting farmers clashed with security forces near the governor’s offices in Pachuca, Hidalgo state. The protesters demanded the release of two persons and financial support for regional agriculture. Two federal agents were injured in the incident.
Soldiers discovered a drug lab in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state, and confiscated 260 grams of pure heroin, 4.5 kilograms of base heroin and 24 gallons of processing chemicals.

Nov. 19

Police arrested former public security chiefs Amador Medina Flores, Alejandro Esparza Contreras and Jose Santos Almaraz Ornelas in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The three men are suspected of links to drug trafficking organizations.

Nov. 20

Police arrested suspected La Familia Guanajuatense section leader Cristobal Altamirano Pinon in Leon, Guanajuato state. Pinon was arrested alongside suspected assassin Humberto Alvarez.
Soldiers detonated two grenades remaining from an attack on the state attorney general’s offices in Celaya, Guanajuato state. The attack was attributed to La Familia Guanajuatense.

Nov. 21

Police in Mexico City arrested an officer assigned to the Mexico City International Airport for suspected links to the Beltran Leyva Organization. The officer is suspected of links to several persons transporting drugs between Panama and Mexico.

Nov. 22

Five bodies were discovered in an abandoned truck in Culiacan, Sinaloa state. The bodies were not immediately identified and their state of decomposition made it difficult to determine a cause of death.
Police rescued four persons who were tortured and thrown into a sewer by unknown assailants in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
Three suspected drug traffickers injured Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state residents Sada Garza and Rodrigo Martinez Flores after opening fire at the intersection of Yucatan and Lago de Tamiahua Streets in the Independencia neighborhood.
Title: Re: Mexico-US matters
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 08, 2009, 08:33:38 AM
Mexico Security Memo: Dec. 7, 2009
Stratfor Today » December 8, 2009 | 0006 GMT

Related Special Topic Page
Tracking Mexico’s Drug Cartels
Zeta Prison Break

Presumed members of Los Zetas staged a brazen prison raid Dec. 4 in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon state, killing two state police officers guarding the prison and freeing 23 inmates. At the same time in nearby Juarez, Zetas engaged a Mexican military unit in a firefight in an apparent attempt to distract the superior security force away from the prison. While details are still coming in, the incident highlights the uphill battle the Mexican government is fighting as it tries to professionalize its law enforcement ranks.

The firefight in Juarez resulted in the deaths of 12 members of Los Zetas, including Ricardo “El Gori” Almanza Morales, the group’s regional leader in Monterrey. Nevertheless, the engagement served its purpose. As the firefight was under way, a Chevrolet pickup truck rammed the gates of the prison in Escobedo, whereupon armed men entered the facility and killed the two guards. The men then were able to free the prisoners, who included 16 former Garcia municipal police officers charged with colluding with organized crime after an investigation into the death of the Garcia police. Members of the federal police unit charged with guarding the prison were inexplicably off-site eating, leaving the prison very vulnerable.

Los Zetas have shown before that they will go to great lengths to protect and rescue fellow members and associates. A similar well-planned and coordinated operation took place in May in Zacatecas that freed more than 50 prisoners, although not a single shot was fired. This indicated that several — if not all — of the prison guards were complicit in the operation. The use of diversionary tactics in Juarez suggests a similarly high level of operational planning and coordination in the Escobedo prison break. It is also testament to the extent to which Los Zetas have penetrated local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and further indicates the level of corruption that still exists as Mexican President Felipe Calderon continues his security reforms.

A March Against Violence in Ciudad Juarez

On Dec. 6, in Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua state, some 5,000 citizens took to the streets during noon hour to protest the presence of the Mexican military and federal police and the high levels of violence in the city. The citizens were complaining that the presence of the federal forces has served only to fuel the violence rather than suppress it and that the federal personnel were running protection rackets against businesses and private citizens. The presence and use of the Mexican military on the streets of Mexican cities has come under increased scrutiny as allegations of human rights violations have mounted and its effectiveness has come into question.

Violence has continued to rise in the Juarez metropolitan area despite its having the highest concentration of security forces in the country — some 8,500 personnel. Nevertheless, more than 2,200 organized-crime related deaths have occurred so far this year. Still, the military seems to be the only viable option for the Mexican government, at least at the moment. While the military is not immune to corruption, Mexican law enforcement agencies are notoriously more corrupt, and none more so than the Juarez police (the enforcement arm for the Juarez cartel, La Linea, consists of former and current Juarez police officers).

The cartels have not ignored the public’s frustration over the Mexican military operating in its midst. Cartels have gone as far as to pay private citizens to protest the military’s presence. While there is no indication that there was any cartel involvement in the Dec. 6 protests in Juarez, the cartels undoubtedly are taking note and will likely leverage the growing public frustration.

(click here to enlarge image)
Nov. 30

Two men were reportedly kidnapped by a group of armed men in Ecuandureo, Michoacan state. Their bodies were later found with several gunshot wounds.
Three Mexican nationals were arrested in the Panama City International Airport for trying to smuggle cocaine inside their stomachs. The group was allegedly coming from Bolivia and bound for Guadalajara, in Jalisco state.
A kidnapping victim of Los Zetas who was rescued Nov. 25 from a safe house in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, and had agreed to cooperate with authorities, was found decapitated.

Dec. 1

Six men were kidnapped by a group of armed men in Ecuandureo, Michoacan.
Four individuals set fire to 28 vehicles that were supposed to be delivered to the Tijuana Municipal Public Security Secretariat in Tijuana, Baja California state.
An Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) activist was gunned down by a group of several armed men at a restaurant inside the Nuevo Santa Fe Hotel in Oaxaca, Oaxaca state.
Edgar Enrique Bayardo de Villar, former director of operations for the Federal Preventive Police and an informant for Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada Garcia and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, was assassinated by two men in a Starbucks cafe in Mexico City.

Dec. 2
Three men were found dead with their hands and feet bound in separate locations around the city of Acapulco, Guerrero state. On two of the bodies were messages from Arturo “El Jefe de Jefes” Beltran-Leyva.
A fragmentation grenade detonated outside the Union de Isidoro Montes de Oca Municipal Investigative Police station in Guerrero state. There were no reported injuries or damage reported.
The body of a man showing signs of torture and 30 stab wounds was discovered in the Tiamba neighborhood of Uruapan, Michoacan state.
Roberto Torres Salinas, director of operations for the Public Security Secretariat in Gomez Palacio, Durango state, was assassinated by a group of armed men. Torres Salinas reportedly was shot more than 50 times as he arrived at his home.

Dec. 3
Federal police arrested 13 men who allegedly worked for the Arellano Felix Organization to construct a smuggling tunnel in Tijuana, Baja California, that ran under the border into the United States.
Members of the federal police arrested three individuals reportedly associated with a kidnapping cell of the La Familia Michoacana organization in Morelia, Michoacan.
A municipal police patrol in San Francisco de los Romo, Aguascalientes state, was ambushed by a group of armed men. Two of the officers were killed and three were wounded.
The U.S. Department of Treasury designated 22 individuals and 10 companies associated with the Beltran-Leyva Organization as “specially designated narcotics traffickers.” This effectively freezes any of the designees’ financial assets in the United States and forbids any U.S. citizens from conducting financial or commercial transactions with individuals or companies listed.
The brother of Joel Torres Felix, a PRI leader in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, was gunned down by a group of armed men in the southern outskirts of Culiacan.
Five people were killed, including a federal police agent and commander, in a firefight between state and federal law enforcement agencies and suspected drug traffickers at a safe house in Coyuca de Catalan, Guerrero.

Dec. 4
Members of the anti-kidnapping force of the Morelos attorney general’s office arrested six members of the kidnapping gang Los Yeseros in Cuernavaca.
A federal police agent was gunned down in Escuinapa, Sinaloa state, by a group of men travelling in a car armed with AK-47s.
Los Zetas staged an operation to free 23 of their associates from a prison in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon, killing two guards in the process. A diversionary fire fight with a military unit in Juarez resulted in 12 Zetas being killed, including Monterrey Zeta leader Ricardo “El Gori” Almanza Morales.

Dec. 5
Members of the Mexican army and navy detained nine suspected kidnappers who had hours earlier kidnapped a truck driver and stole his load of 30,000 liters of diesel.
Mexico extradited Francisco Javier Mora to the United States to stand trial for the trafficking of cocaine and methamphetamine and Fermin Bucheta Temich to be tried for the sexual abuse of a minor.
Dec. 6
A group of armed men assassinated a man outside his home in Uruapan, Michoacan.
The Mexican Navy announced the seizure of 262 kilograms of cocaine and four speed boats and the arrest of nine individuals after a joint U.S. Coast Guard and Mexican navy operation in the Pacific Ocean near the Mexico-Guatemala border.
Some 5,000 citizens of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, took to the streets to protest the presence of the Mexican military and federal police and the high levels of violence in the city.
Title: NYT: Retrofitted vehicles
Post by: Crafty_Dog on December 13, 2009, 07:49:16 AM
Retrofitted Vehicles Offer Window Into Mexico’s Cartels
Published: December 12, 2009
CULIACÁN, Mexico — Federico Solórzano is no used car salesman, but he seemed to be getting into the part as he made the rounds of a well-stocked car lot the other day.

The Mexican Army has confiscated more than 700 vehicles in Sinaloa, including custom-made choppers and a classic Chevy painted like a Chicago police car.
“This is a 2009 Lincoln S.U.V.,” he said, gesturing toward a decked-out vehicle to his right. “Over there, we have two Corvettes. Here’s a Smart car.”
He was dressed in camouflage, and affixed to his shoulder were a golden eagle and single star, which gave away his real job as a Mexican Army general. But besides commanding the counternarcotics troops here in Sinaloa, the northwestern state that is the cradle of Mexican drug trafficking, General Solórzano also manages a huge used-car lot made up of vehicles the army has seized in Sinaloa over the past three years.

It turns out that much can be learned about the drug traffickers that the Mexican Army is combating by examining the 765 vehicles crowding the military base here awaiting disposition from the courts. If you are what you drive, drug dealers are devious, malicious, extravagant and quite conscious about security.

In some of the impounded vehicles, traffickers have installed hidden compartments, trap doors and fake sidewalls to hide drugs, drug profits and the arms they use to protect them.

“We noticed the screws here weren’t right,” said General Solórzano, pulling off a fake rear bumper from what appeared a garden-variety pickup truck. Hidden inside, he said, were cocaine and guns.

“And look at this,” he said, walking on to a Ford pickup, where he said $3 million in cash was recovered in November 2008.

Many of the vehicles that are seized during drug busts or traffic stops turn out to be armored. While bulletproofing is not illegal, General Solórzano said vehicles that had been sealed with metal and inch-thick glass raised the suspicion of soldiers and prompted them to search more vigorously for contraband.

The fact that some cars have been on the lot for as long as three years is a sign of the plodding nature of judicial proceedings in Mexico, where critics say guilt and innocence do not necessarily correlate to convictions and acquittals. Eventually, cars that are linked to criminal activity will be sold or given to government agencies for their use.

In the meantime, though,