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WSJ: Mata Zetas
« Reply #300 on: September 29, 2011, 04:13:16 PM »
Second post of the day

MEXICO CITY—A self-styled drug-trafficking group calling itself the "Zeta Killers" claimed responsibility this week for the recent murders of at least 35 people believed to belong to the Zetas, Mexico's most violent criminal organization.

The claim by the "Mata Zetas" has stoked fears that Mexico, like Colombia a generation before, may be witnessing the rise of paramilitary drug gangs that seek society's approval and tacit consent from the government to help society confront its ills, in this case, the Zetas.

On Wednesday, Mexico's national security spokeswoman Alejandra Sota vowed in a statement that the government would "hunt down" and bring to justice any criminal group that takes justice into its own hands.

 In the last four years, roughly 43,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug-related killings. Three Wall Street Journal reporters went to three of the country's most violent cities to tell the stories from a single day: Friday, July 29, 2011.
.Mexico's War
Just an Ordinary Day of Death in Mexico's War on Drug Traffickers (Aug. 27, 2011)
.The issue surfaced last week after 35 bodies were dumped just blocks away from a hotel in the port city of Veracruz where Mexico's state attorney generals were due to hold a meeting the following day. Two days later, after the convention kicked off, an additional 11 bodies were found in different parts of the city.

The shocking scenes, suggesting mass murder in front of the country's top law-enforcement officials, were followed up days later by a video in which five hooded men took responsibility for the murders, saying the victims were all Zetas who had carried out crimes like extortion.

"Our only objective is the Zetas cartel," said a burly, hooded man who said he was a Mata Zetas spokesman, in the video. The man said that unlike the Zetas, his group didn't "extort or kidnap" citizens and were "anonymous warriors, without faces, but proudly Mexican" who would work "clandestinely" but "always to benefit Mexico's people."

The mysterious group appears to be part of the New Generation drug cartel, which operates in the northwestern state of Jalisco, according to an earlier video that showed some three dozen hooded men brandishing automatic rifles as a spokesman vowed to wipe out the Zetas in Veracruz. In that video, the spokesman lauded the work of the Mexican armed forces against the Zetas, and urged citizens to give information on their location to the military.

The rise of any paramilitary gangs could propel Mexico into an even more violent stage of a drug war that has killed more than 43,000 people since President Felipe Calderón took power in December 2006.

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Soldiers secured 35 bodies in Veracruz last week, deaths for which the Zetas claimed responsibility.
.In Colombia, government-backed peasant militias formed to defend against Communist guerrillas in decades past were eventually taken over by drug traffickers, who were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people. "This is a version of para-militarism which is emerging," said Bruce Bagley, an expert on Latin America and drug trafficking at the University of Miami. "We are not sure who these guys are. They are outlaws, but if they kill Zetas, they could find a following among some of the Mexican political and military elite. It bodes very badly for the rule of law in Mexico."

Other analysts say the Mata Zetas appear to be just another drug gang battling it out with the Zetas over turf.

The new group "pretends to use vigilante tactics to finish off another criminal organization," wrote Eric Olson, an analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, on El Palenque, a Mexican website.

In the recent past, other cartels, most notably La Familia, based in the state of Michoacán, have tried to use the Zetas' reputation for brutality as a way of rallying popular support and gaining new adherents to fight them. La Familia recently suffered a major split after the group made peace with the Zetas.

Nevertheless, the rise of a group like the Mata Zetas raises troubling questions for ordinary Mexicans and the government: Is it a good thing when members of a bloodthirsty cartel known for murders, extortions, and kidnapping are themselves summarily killed by other criminals?

While Mexico's federal government has condemned the killing, the response by Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte was widely seen as more equivocal.

"It's lamentable the assassination of 35 people, but it's more so that these people had chosen to dedicate themselves to extortion, kidnapping and murder," the governor wrote on his Twitter account a day after the event.

Drug Crime in Mexico
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.Among other atrocities, the Zetas are blamed for last month's casino fire that killed 52 people in the business capital of Monterrey in Nuevo León state, and the murder of 72 U.S.-bound migrants last year in Tamaulipas state.

The Zetas evolved from a small group of elite soldiers who defected in the late 1990s to work as enforcers for the Gulf Cartel into a vicious multinational crime organization.

Since they broke with the Gulf Cartel in 2010, the Zetas have been fighting a bloody turf war across Mexico against other groups, in which thousands have perished.

Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the CIDE think tank in Mexico says that the emergence of illegal groups such as the Mata Zetas—perhaps with some help from local or national government authorities—wouldn't be a surprise, given the level of violence inflicted by the Zetas on the Mexican population and the Mexican state's inability to provide its citizens with protection.

Officials "would never tell you openly, but I wouldn't be surprised if some sectors of government look the other way, and I fear that parts of the civilian population would also see this with approval," he said.

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Re: WSJ: Mata Zetas
« Reply #301 on: September 29, 2011, 04:34:24 PM »
Second post of the day

"On Wednesday, Mexico's national security spokeswoman Alejandra Sota vowed in a statement that the government would "hunt down" and bring to justice any criminal group that takes justice into its own hands."

Jorge Chabat, a security analyst at the CIDE think tank in Mexico says that the emergence of illegal groups such as the Mata Zetas—perhaps with some help from local or national government authorities—wouldn't be a surprise, given the level of violence inflicted by the Zetas on the Mexican population and the Mexican state's inability to provide its citizens with protection.

Officials "would never tell you openly, but I wouldn't be surprised if some sectors of government look the other way, and I fear that parts of the civilian population would also see this with approval," he said.

Mexican authorities can't comabt this due to the high level of corruption in every government branch with the notable excpetion of the Mexican Marines. Violence strikes daily at any place and any time.
Officials indeed look the other way.
I've lived in Mexico for quite a while and one sees the strangest things.
The one thing that is curious is the difficulty with which anyone, that wanted to be a Mata Zeta would find and/or communicate with others due to the fact that finding people willing to risk this type of activity would prove extremely difficult without revealing oneself (a danger in and of itself).
The Mata Zetas are either already working for the government (and finding death squads in Mexico is like looking for rice in China - they are indeed ubiquitous) or they are small local groups that know each other extremely well (almost certainly the former rather than the latter).
« Last Edit: September 29, 2011, 05:16:59 PM by DF »


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Texas Border Security Report
« Reply #302 on: September 30, 2011, 08:43:48 AM »
This is a recent report by, among others, Gen. Barry McCaffrey.  It's over 180 pages but does have a 5-page executive summary.

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Re: Texas Border Security Report
« Reply #303 on: September 30, 2011, 11:31:10 AM »
This is a recent report by, among others, Gen. Barry McCaffrey.  It's over 180 pages but does have a 5-page executive summary.

Thank you. I'll print it and read it on my flight to New York tonight.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2011, 03:22:49 PM by Crafty_Dog »


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D.F. becoming part of battleground
« Reply #304 on: October 12, 2011, 08:57:49 AM »
In this week’s Above the Tearline, we are going to examine two recent brutal events in Mexico which could mean that the cartels are taking the fight to Mexico City.
We’ve been following cartel violence for quite some time at STRATFOR and it’s very easy to become numb to the levels of brutality that we see. From body dumps in Veracruz, to firefights across from Roma, Texas, with incursions into the United States.
However, there have been two recent events in Mexico City that give us cause to re-evaluate what could be occurring here and they are the murder of the two female journalists that were found naked, bound and gagged and their bodies dumped in a park in Mexico City. And most recently two severed heads were found on Oct. 3 in close proximity to the Mexican military office Sedena in Mexico City. These two recent brutal events are unusual in that it happened in Mexico City, which has historically been spared the levels of violence we have seen elsewhere throughout Mexico. The signal resonates with the murder of the journalists, which is a very powerful example to others who may be writing about cartel activity inside of Mexico, and now with the severed heads being found in close proximity to the Mexican military office, this is also a very powerful signal to the Mexican military from the cartels that anybody is accessible in Mexico.
In doing assessments of countries or monitoring the scope of violence that could be occurring, you’re consistently looking for tripwires that are crossed or anomalies which are outside the norm, and those are incidents such as what we have seen unfold here.
The Above the Tearline with this video is the tactical shift that could be taking place here with the cartels striking inside the Mexican capital, specifically targeting journalists and the Mexican military. The symbolism resonates, and it also clearly shows that the cartels are very capable of reaching out and targeting whoever they want throughout the country, even in the capital city of Mexico.



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Strat: Unlikelihood of Terror Attack from Mexico
« Reply #305 on: October 14, 2011, 01:36:52 PM »

The Unlikelihood of a Terrorist Attack in the United States from Mexico
October 12, 2011 | 1208 GMT
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An artist’s rendering of Manssor Arbabsiar in a New York courtroom on Oct. 11Summary
Charges announced by the U.S. Department of Justice on Oct. 11 allege that a man with connections to elements of the Iranian government planned to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Though threats are always present, it is very unlikely that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil will be successfully staged from Mexico. With the resources at hand, the U.S. response against such terrorist networks would be monumental, and cooperation with such terrorists would go against the interests of both the Mexican government and cartels.

Related Links
Mexico Security Memo: Defining Cross-Border Violence
New Mexican President, Same Cartel War?
The Strategic Challenges of the U.S.-Mexico Relationship
Recommended External Link
The complaint detailing the charges against Arbabsiar
STRATFOR is not responsible for the content of other Web sites.
An alleged plot to kill Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir in Washington using assassins from Mexico was described in an indictment announced Oct. 11. The plot raises a number of serious questions about Mexico’s utility as a staging point for terrorist operations against the United States. The porous nature of the U.S.-Mexico border and the potential for security breaches is always a high-interest issue in the United States and a perennial concern for U.S. security agencies.

The allegation that accused terrorist and U.S.-Iranian dual citizen Manssor Arbabsiar attempted to hire an individual whom he believed to have connections to a Mexican drug cartel raises additional concerns that Mexican cartels could use their  considerable linkages to the United States to help international terrorist organizations. Upon careful examination, the threat is much smaller than it might initially seem — in part because of close U.S.-Mexican cooperation and primarily because the threat of U.S. retaliation on any organization that participates in terrorist activities is extremely high.

The complaint detailing the Oct. 11 charges says Arbabsiar approached an individual already on the payroll of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who he thought had links to a “large, sophisticated, and violent drug-trafficking cartel.” Anonymous sources later told ABC News that the cartel in question was Los Zetas, who control much of the narcotics trade along Mexico’s eastern coast. Arbabsiar has been accused of asking the informant if he had experience with C-4 explosives, and the two discussed sending a total of four people to stage an attack on the ambassador. According to the complaint, Arbabsiar deemed civilian casualties acceptable as collateral damage. The DEA informant was offered and accepted (but never received in full) $1.5 million as a fee for the assassination. The informant did, however, receive a $100,000 down payment on the operation.

On Sept. 28, Arbabsiar flew to Mexico, was denied entry, and while en route to an unspecified destination was arrested in New York City by U.S. authorities Sept. 29. In the Oct. 11 announcement of the arrest, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the role Mexico played in the operation to arrest Arbabsiar was significant, but he declined to comment further.

The successful interception of the alleged plot, the cooperation with Mexico and the lack of involvement of any real drug cartels still leaves open the question: What if the source had been a real cartel member and the plot had actually gone through? Though there are always reasons for concern, there are a number of factors that make Mexico a particularly difficult route of penetration into the United States, particularly for groups known to have conflicts with the United States.

First, the United States has extremely active intelligence capabilities in Mexico. With the Defense Intelligence Agency, DEA, CIA, FBI and other agencies deeply embedded in Mexico, it is a heavily monitored environment — as evidenced by this case. And while the United States may be focused primarily on the drug cartels and cooperation with the Mexican government, Iranians raise red flags everywhere they go. As a general rule, the United States reacts strongly to any Iranian presence in Latin America and tends to actively engage host countries to ramp up cooperation and monitoring of Iranian companies and personnel in the region. The same heightened attention is paid to organizations with histories of terrorist activity, like Hezbollah.

Second, as friendly as Mexico is as an intelligence environment for the United States, it is equally unfriendly to U.S. enemies. The Mexican government has every reason to be hostile to a foreign entity hoping to launch an attack on the United States from Mexican soil. The reasons the United States would want to prevent such an attack are obvious, but Mexico is also inherently vulnerable both territorially and economically to any shifts by its northern neighbor. Should Mexico become a serious transit point for terrorist operatives seeking to attack the United States, the country would be subject to rapid U.S. intervention.

This brings us to the potential wild card in the equation: the cartels. Infamous for being especially violent and unscrupulous, Los Zetas are known to be active throughout the region in attacking rival cartels and Mexican security forces, human smuggling and drug trafficking. On its face, it might seem that the Zetas — or their competitor cartel, the Sinaloa Federation — could have the capacity to cooperate with trans-border terrorist campaigns. If nothing else, one might imagine, they could do it for the money. Looking more closely, however, any such plan would be exceedingly ill-conceived.

Despite participating in a wide array of illegal and often violent activities, the Zetas and all other cartels in Mexico are ultimately business organizations with long-term strategic goals. These are not organizations that are looking to make easy money or become involved in anyone else’s violent political statements. Mexican drug cartels are already facing challenges — struggling with one another and with the Mexican government for control over transportation routes that will allow them to transit cocaine from South America to the United States. Any foray into international terrorism would be bad for business. The United States and Mexico would focus every available asset on dismantling any organization that engaged in international terrorism. With deep links into Mexico and close physical proximity, the United States alone could dismantle a single network fairly rapidly. With cooperation from the Mexican government, it could do it even faster.

But the risks do not end there. If an individual or smaller group of individuals even loosely associated with a cartel attempted to cooperate with international terrorist groups, they would be risking not only the wrath of the U.S. and Mexican governments, but also the wrath of the cartels. Any group of individuals risking the safety of the cartel transportation networks would quickly be hunted down and turned over to the authorities by the cartels themselves in order to avoid inviting the fury of the U.S. or Mexican government on the cartel as a whole. It is a consistent pattern with Mexican drug gangs that perpetrators of high-profile, politically costly attacks are rapidly turned over to Mexican authorities by their own compatriots.

This is not to say that it would be impossible to hire Mexican criminals to attack U.S. targets. But any plan to use Mexican drug cartels to carry out attacks against the United States would threaten the very existence of the cartel. And with the United States, Mexico and the cartels all united against the possibility, any attempt to do so would be extremely unlikely to succeed.

Read more: The Unlikelihood of a Terrorist Attack in the United States from Mexico | STRATFOR


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Hillary Clinton behind OFF?
« Reply #306 on: October 21, 2011, 07:40:40 PM »

We do not have any opinion as to the trustworthiness of this site/author:

Last week it was reported that the State Department and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were deeply involved in the scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious, or Project Gunwalker. Today, however, new evidence has surfaced indicating that not only was Hillary deeply involved in the scandal but was one of the masterminds behind it.

According to investigative citizen journalist Mike Vanderboegh, sources close to the development of the Gunwalker scheme state that early on, Hillary and her trusted associated at State, Andrew J. Shapiro, devised at least part of the framework of what would later become Operation Fast and Furious. It was Shapiro who first described the details of the proposed scheme early in 2009 just after the Obama Administration took office.

Vanderboegh relates the following:

My sources say that as Hillary's trusted subordinate, it was Shapiro who first described to the Secretary of State the details of what has become the Gunwalker Scandal.

The precise extent to which Hillary Clinton's knowledge of, and responsibility for, the Gunwalker Plot, lies within the memories of these two men, Shapiro and Steinberg, sources say.

The sources also express dismay that the Issa committee is apparently restricting itself to the Department of Justice and not venturing further afield. The House Foreign Affairs Committee, they say, needs to summon these two men and their subordinates -- especially at the Mexico Desk at State -- and question them under oath as to what Hillary Clinton knew about the origins of the Gunwalker Scandal and when she knew it.

There is one other thing those sources agree upon. The CIA, they say, knows "everything" about the "Mexican hat dance" that became the Gunwalker Scandal.

The 'Steinberg' mentioned in the quote above is Hillary Clinton's former Deputy Secretary of State, who was appointed directly by Barack Obama and was considered from the start to be an 'Obama man' whose objective was to carry out the wishes of the President in the State Department.

Hillary had said of Steinberg,

Clinton said Steinberg had been a “fixture” at meetings with the National Security Council (NSC) and frequently represented the US State Department at the White House.

That statement is key. Hillary herself stayed out of all meetings dealing with strategy concerning the euphemism the Administration used to designate Gunwalker, 'strategy meetings on Mexico and the problem of drug and gun trafficking.' Hillary's absence would give the impression that she had no connection to the scheme while making sure that her views were represented by Steinberg and Shapiro, both of whom were fully complicit with the details that developed concerning how to pad statistics on U.S. guns in Mexico.

According to sources, Hillary was obsessed with gun statistics that would prove that '90% of the firearms used by Mexican criminals come from the United States.' As previouly reported, that meme, repeated incessantly by Democratic Senators, Barack Obama, certan members of the ATF, Janet Napolitano, and Hillary Clinton was patently and blatantly false. The fact that they all knew it was false is borne out by the lengths to which each of the above named co-conspirators went to attempt to 'prove' that the 90% figure was true.

Again, Vanderboegh relates the following:

My sources say that this battle of the "statistics" was taken very seriously by all players -- the White House, State and Justice. Yet, WHY was this game of statistics so important to the players? If some weapons from the American civilian market were making it to Mexico into the hand of drug gang killers that was bad enough. What was the importance of insisting that it was 90 percent, 80 percent, or finally 70 percent? Would such statistics make any difference to the law enforcement tactics necessary to curtail them? No.

This statistics mania is similar to the focus on "body counts" in Vietnam. Yet if Vietnam body counts were supposed to be a measure of how we were winning that war, the focus on the 90 percent meme was certainly not designed to be a measure of how we were winning the war against arming the cartels, but rather by what overwhelming standard we were LOSING. Why?

Recall what the whistleblower ATF agents told us right after this scandal broke in the wake of the death of Brian Terry: "ATF source confirms ‘walking’ guns to Mexico to ‘pad’ statistics."

Thus, from the beginning the scheme was to pad statistics on U.S. guns in Mexico in order to be in a strengthened position to call for gun bans and strict gun control at a time when it was politically unpopular. Further, the scheme would involve a made-up statistic, out of thin air--90%--which then had to be proved by using civilian gun retailers along the southern border as unsuspecting pawns to walk U.S. guns into Mexico by ATF agents, straw purchasers, and others with connections to Mexican drug cartels.

And the evidence points to the fact that Hillary Clinton was one of the original Administration officials who was 'in the loop' on the scheme from the very beginning.


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WSJ: Iran's South American/Mexican play
« Reply #307 on: October 24, 2011, 08:45:35 AM »

Regarding the alleged attempt by Iranian agents to enlist a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, there are two significant parts to the story. But only one of them is getting much attention.

That's the part about how Iranian officials apparently felt little compunction ordering up a terrorist attack on American soil. Some commentators have noted that the plot does little credit to the supposedly expert tradecraft of Iran's terrorist Qods Force, suggesting that unspecified rogue agents may have played a role. Others have argued that Tehran's readiness to conduct the attack suggests how little they think they have to fear from the Obama administration.

The real shocker, however, is how shocked the administration seems to be by the plot. "The idea that they would attempt to go to a Mexican drug cartel to solicit murder-for-hire to kill the Saudi ambassador, nobody could make that up, right?" marvelled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Information about the plot was initially met within the government with a level of incredulity more appropriate for an invasion by, say, alien midgets.

Yet policy analysts, military officials and even a few columnists have been warning for years about Iran's infiltration of Latin America. The story begins with the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, an example of the way Tehran uses proxies such as Hezbollah to carry out its aims while giving it plausible deniability. Iran later got a boost when Hugo Chávez came to power in Venezuela and began seeding the top ranks of his government with Iranian sympathizers. In October 2006, a group called Hezbollah América Latina took responsibility for an attempted bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. Since Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005, Iran has increased the number of its embassies in Latin America to 11 from six.

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Buenos Aires in March 1992, shortly after the bombing of the Israeli embassy.
.All this has served a variety of purposes. Powerful evidence suggests that Iran has used Venezuelan banks, airliners and port facilities to circumvent international sanctions. Good relations between Tehran and various Latin American capitals—not just Caracas but also Managua, Quito, La Paz and Brasilia—increase Tehran's diplomatic leverage. Hezbollah's ties to Latin American drug traffickers serve as a major source of funding for its operations world-wide. Hezbollah has sought and found recruits among Latin America's estimated population of five million Muslims, as well as Hispanic converts to Islam.

And then there is the detail that Latin America is the soft underbelly of the United States.

In September 2010, the Tucson, Ariz., police department issued an internal memo noting that "concerns have arisen concerning Hezbollah's presence in Mexico and possible ties to Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO's) operating along the U.S.-Mexico border. The potential partnership bares alarming implications due to Hezbollah's long-established capabilities, specifically their expertise in the making of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED's)." The memo also noted the appearance of Hezbollah insignia as tattoos on U.S. prison inmates.

The concerns that the Tucson police had immediately in mind were twofold. First there was the arrest in New York of Jamal Yousef, a former Syrian military officer caught in a 2009 Drug Enforcement Agency sting trying to sell arms to Colombian terrorists in exchange for a ton of cocaine.

Then there was the July 2010 arrest by Mexican authorities of a Mexican citizen named Jameel Nasr. According to a report in the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Siyasah, Mr. Nasr was attempting to set up "a logistics infrastructure of Mexican citizens of Shiite Lebanese descent that will form a base in South America and the United States to carry out operations against Israeli and Western targets." The paper added that Mr. Nasr "traveled regularly to Lebanon to receive instructions and inform his employers of developments," but that Mexican officials had been tipped off by his "long visit to Venezuela in mid-2008 . . . during which he laid the foundations for building a network for Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard."

Might Mr. Nasr have been connected to the Washington plot? Probably not, since he was arrested before it was hatched, though it's probably worth asking him directly. The larger problem, as Roger Noriega of the American Enterprise Institute points out, is that until now the administration hasn't been especially curious. "They don't want to mud wrestle with Chávez and roil the waters in Latin America," he says. "The policy of reticence and passivity sends the message that we don't know or care what's going on."

It's time to wise up. Until now, the idea of terrorist infiltration along our southern border has been the stuff of Tom Clancy novels. Not anymore. And unless Tehran is made to understand that the consequences for such infiltration will be harder than an Obama wrist slap, we can expect more, and worse, to come.


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NYTimes: Narcos inflitrated
« Reply #308 on: October 25, 2011, 07:49:33 AM »
WASHINGTON — American law enforcement agencies have significantly built up networks of Mexican informants that have allowed them to secretly infiltrate some of that country’s most powerful and dangerous criminal organizations, according to security officials on both sides of the border.

As the United States has opened new law enforcement and intelligence outposts across Mexico in recent years, Washington’s networks of informants have grown there as well, current and former officials said. They have helped Mexican authorities capture or kill about two dozen high-ranking and midlevel drug traffickers, and sometimes have given American counternarcotics agents access to the top leaders of the cartels they are trying to dismantle.
Typically, the officials said, Mexico is kept in the dark about the United States’ contacts with its most secret informants — including Mexican law enforcement officers, elected officials and cartel operatives — partly because of concerns about corruption among the Mexican police, and partly because of laws prohibiting American security forces from operating on Mexican soil.
“The Mexicans sort of roll their eyes and say we know it’s happening, even though it’s not supposed to be happening,” said Eric L. Olson, an expert on Mexican security matters at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
“That’s what makes this so hard,” he said. “The United States is using tools in a country where officials are still uncomfortable with those tools.”
In recent years, Mexican attitudes about American involvement in matters of national security have softened, as waves of drug-related violence have left about 40,000 people dead. And the United States, hoping to shore up Mexico’s stability and prevent its violence from spilling across the border, has expanded its role in ways unthinkable five years ago, including flying drones in Mexican skies.
The efforts have been credited with breaking up several of Mexico’s largest cartels into smaller — and presumably less dangerous — crime groups. But the violence continues, as does the northward flow of illegal drugs.
While using informants remains a largely clandestine affair, several recent cases have shed light on the kinds of investigations they have helped crack, including a plot this month in which the United States accused an Iranian-American car salesman of trying to hire killers from a Mexican drug cartel, known as Los Zetas, to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
American officials said Drug Enforcement Administration informants with links to the cartels helped the authorities to track down several suspects linked to the February murder of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, Jaime J. Zapata, who is alleged to have been shot to death by members of Los Zetas in central Mexico.
The D.E.A.’s dealings with informants and drug traffickers — sometimes, officials acknowledged, they are one and the same — are at the center of proceedings in a federal courthouse in Chicago, where one of the highest-ranking leaders of the Sinaloa cartel is scheduled to go on trial next year.
And last month, a federal judge in El Paso sentenced a midlevel leader of the Sinaloa cartel to life in prison after he was found guilty on drug and conspiracy charges. He was accused of working as a kind of double agent, providing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency with information about the movements of a rival cartel in order to divert attention from his own trafficking activities.
As important as informants have been, complicated ethical issues tend to arise when law enforcement officers make deals with criminals. Few informants, law enforcement officials say, decide to start providing information to the government out of altruism; typically, they are caught committing a crime and want to mitigate their legal troubles, or are essentially taking bribes to inform on their colleagues.
Morris Panner, a former assistant United States attorney who is a senior adviser at the Center for International Criminal Justice at Harvard Law School, said some of the recent cases involving informants highlight those issues and demonstrate that the threats posed by Mexican narcotics networks go far beyond the drug trade.
“Mexican organized crime groups have morphed from drug trafficking organizations into something new and far more dangerous,” Mr. Panner said. “The Zetas now are active in extortion, human trafficking, money laundering, and increasingly, anything a violent criminal organization can do to make money, whether in Mexico, Guatemala or, it appears, the U.S.”
Because of the clandestine nature of their communications with informants, and the potential for diplomatic flare-ups between the United States and Mexico, American officials were reluctant to provide any details about the scope of their confidential sources south of the border.
Over the past two years, officials said, D.E.A. agents in Houston managed to develop “several highly placed confidential sources with direct access” to important leaders of the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas. This paid informant network is a centerpiece of the Houston office’s efforts to infiltrate the “command and control” ranks of the two groups.
One of those paid informants was the man who authorities say was approached last spring by a man charged in Iran’s alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador. Law enforcement documents say the informant told his handlers that an Iranian-American, Mansour J. Arbabsiar, had reached out to him to ask whether Los Zetas would be willing to carry out terrorist attacks in the United States and elsewhere.
Authorities would provide only vague details about the informant and his connections to Los Zetas, saying that he had been charged in the United States with narcotics crimes and that those charges had been dropped because he had “previously provided reliable and independently corroborated information to federal law enforcement agents” that “led to numerous seizures of narcotics.”
The Justice Department has been more forthcoming about the D.E.A.’s work with informants in a case against Jesús Vicente Zambada-Niebla, known as Vicentillo. Officials describe Mr. Zambada-Niebla as a logistics coordinator for the Sinaloa cartel, considered one of the world’s most important drug trafficking groups. His lawyers have argued that he was an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration, which offered him immunity in exchange for his cooperation.
The D.E.A. has denied that allegation, and the Justice Department took the rare step of disclosing the agency’s contacts with him in court documents. The intermediary was Humberto Loya-Castro, who was both a confidant to the cartel’s kingpin, Joaquín Guzmán, known as El Chapo, and an informant to the D.E.A.
The documents do not say when the relationship between the agency and Mr. Loya-Castro began, but they indicate that because of his cooperation, the D.E.A. dismissed a 13-year-old conspiracy charge against him in 2008.
In 2009, the documents said, Mr. Loya-Castro arranged a meeting between two D.E.A. agents and Mr. Zambada-Niebla, who was floating an offer to negotiate some kind of cooperation agreement. But on the day of the meeting, the agents’ supervisors canceled it, expressing “concern about American agents meeting with a high-level cartel member like Zambada-Niebla.”
Mr. Zambada-Niebla and Mr. Loya-Castro showed up at the agents’ hotel anyway. The D.E.A. agents sent Mr. Zambada-Niebla away without making any promises, the documents said. A few hours later, Mr. Zambada-Niebla was captured by the Mexican police, and was extradited to the United States in February 2010.
Vanda Felbab-Brown, an expert on organized crime at the Brookings Institution, said that while some had criticized the D.E.A. for entertaining “deals with the devil,” she saw the Zambada case as an important intelligence coup. Even in an age of high-tech surveillance, she said, there is no substitute for human sources’ feeding authorities everything from what targeted traffickers like to eat to where they sleep most nights.
A former senior counter narcotics official echoed that thought.
“A D.E.A. agent’s job, first and foremost, is to get inside the body of those criminal organizations he or she is investigating,” the former official said, asking not to be identified because he occasionally does consulting work in Mexico. “Nothing provides that microscopic view more than a host that opens the door.”


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« Reply #309 on: October 25, 2011, 09:22:05 AM »
Second post of the day

Editor’s Note: Since the publication of STRATFOR’s 2010 annual Mexican cartel report, the fluid nature of the drug war in Mexico has prompted us to take an in-depth look at the situation more frequently. This is the third product of those interim assessments, which we will now make as needed, in addition to our annual year-end analyses and our weekly security memos.

While there has been a reshuffling of alliances among Mexican drug cartels since our July cartel update, the trend discussed in the first two updates of the year continues. That is the polarization of cartels and associated sub-groups toward the two largest drug-trafficking organizations, the Sinaloa Federation and Los Zetas. Meanwhile, the three primary conflicts in Mexico’s drug war remain cartel vs. cartel, cartel vs. government and cartel vs. civilians. Operations launched by the military during the second quarter of 2011, primarily against Los Zetas and the Knights Templar, continued through the third quarter as well, and increasing violence in Guerrero, Durango, Veracruz, Coahuila and Jalisco states has resulted in the deployment of more federal troops in those areas.

The northern tier of states has seen a lull in violence, from Tijuana in Baja California state to Juarez in Chihuahua state. Violence in that stretch of northern Mexico subsided enough during the third quarter to allow the military to redeploy forces to other trouble spots. In Tamaulipas state, the military remains in charge of law enforcement in most of the cities, and the replacement of entire police departments that occurred in the state during the second quarter was recently duplicated in Veracruz following an outbreak of violence there (large numbers of law enforcement personnel were found to be in collusion with Los Zetas and were subsequently dismissed).

The battles between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas for control over northeastern Mexico continue, though a developing rift within Gulf leadership may complicate the cartel’s operations in the near term. While Gulf remains a single entity, we anticipate that, absent a major reconciliation between the Metros and Rojos factions, the cartel may split violently in the next three to eight months. If that happens, alliances in the region will likely get much murkier than they already are.

In central and southern Mexico, fighting for control of the major plazas at Guadalajara, Acapulco, Chilpancingo and Oaxaca continues to involve the major players — Sinaloa, Los Zetas and the Knights Templar — along with several smaller organizations. This is particularly the case at the Jalisco and Guerrero state plazas, where there are as many as seven distinct organizations battling for control, a situation that will not likely reach any level of stasis or clarity over the next three to six months.

Though our last update suggested the potential for major hurricanes to complicate the drug war in Mexico, the region has avoided the worst of the weather so far. Though the hurricane season lasts until the end of November, the most productive period for major storms tends to be September and early October, so the likelihood of any hurricanes hitting Mexico’s midsection is fairly remote at this point.

Looking ahead toward the end of 2011, STRATFOR expects high levels of cartel violence in the northeastern and southern bicoastal areas of Mexico to continue. The military has deployed more troops in Guadalajara for the Pan-American Games, which run Oct. 14-30, as well as in Veracruz and Coahuila, and any flare-up of violence in those areas will likely be influenced by the military’s presence.

(click here to enlarge image)

Current Status of the Mexican Cartels

Sinaloa Federation

Over the past four months, the Sinaloa cartel, under the leadership of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, has continued to control the bulk of its home state of Sinaloa, most of the border region in Sonora state and the majority of Chihuahua and Durango states. The cartel continues to pursue its strategic goals of expansion into or absorption of neighboring cartel territories and to import precursor chemicals, mostly from China, for its methamphetamine production in Sinaloa, Nayarit, Guanajuato, Aguascalientes and Jalisco states. These shipments typically are received in the Pacific coast port cities of Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo.

In addition to marijuana, Sinaloa is known to be smuggling high-value/low-volume methamphetamines, domestically produced heroin and Colombian cocaine into the United States via the plazas it directly controls at Tijuana, Mexicali, Nogales, Agua Prieta, Columbus and Santa Teresa (both in New Mexico), Rio Bravo, El Porvenir and Manuel Ojinaga as well as the Gulf-controlled plazas at Ciudad Mier, Miguel Aleman, Diaz Ordaz, Reynosa and Matamoros.

As we will further discuss in a separate section below, it appears that Sinaloa recently managed to co-opt the formerly independent Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), which until early September was believed to be strongly distrustful of El Chapo. It is clear that dynamic has changed. Regarding Sinaloa’s running battles to subdue the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes cartel (VCF, aka the Juarez Cartel) and take control of the Juarez plaza, the slow, long-term strangulation of the VCF remains in progress.

Sinaloa recently took two significant hits to its leadership when regional chief Jose Carlos Moreno Flores was captured by military forces in Mexico City in mid-September and Noel “El Flaco Salgueiro” Salgueiro Nevarez, leader of Sinaloa’s enforcer arm Gente Nueva, was captured in Culiacan, Michoacan state, in early October.

According to information released by Mexico’s Defense Secretariat, Moreno Flores ran Sinaloa’s Guerrero state operations in the cities of Chilpancingo, Jaleaca de Catalan, Izotepec, Pueblo Viejo, Buena Vista, Tlacotepec and Leonardo Bravo. He also controlled agricultural drug operations in Izotepec, Tlacotepec, Chichihualco and Chilpancingo.

Salgueiro Nevarez reportedly founded Gente Nueva and had led it since 2007. Also under his control were the Juarez street gangs Los Mexicles and Los Artistas Asesinos, which conduct operations against the Juarez cartel and its allies Los Aztecas. Salgueiro Nevarez also ran operational cells in Guerrero and Durango states. His removal may adversely affect Gente Nueva’s operational cohesion, though it is not yet clear whether he had a trusted lieutenant in the wings to replace him.

Gulf Cartel

In the last four months, it has become apparent that a schism within the Gulf cartel over divided loyalties may be evolving into a split with large and violent consequences. As discussed in the 2009 and 2010 annual cartel reports, Gulf leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen continued to run the cartel from his federal prison cell in Mexico after his capture in March 2003. He was subsequently extradited to the United States, where he was convicted. Currently, he resides in the U.S. Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado, where tight security measures make it difficult for him to maintain any control over his organization.

Following his removal from power-by-proxy, Osiel Cardenas Guillen was replaced as leader of the organization by a pair of co-leaders, his brother Antonio Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas Guillen and Jorge Eduardo “El Coss” Costilla Sanchez. This arrangement shifted when Antonio Cardenas Guillen was killed in a six-hour standoff with Mexican military forces in November 2010.

The split within the Gulf cartel that we are now watching began to a large extent with the death of Antonio Cardenas Guillen. At the time, it is believed that Rafael “El Junior” Cardenas, the nephew of Osiel and Antonio Cardenas Guillen, expected to replace his uncles as leader of the Gulf cartel. Instead, Costilla Sanchez assumed full control of the organization. The schism became wider as two factions formed, the Metros, which were loyal to Costilla Sanchez, and the Rojos, which were loyal to the Cardenas family.

While government operations against the Gulf cartel resulted in the capture of several plaza bosses over the last three months — Abiel “El R-2” Gonzalez Briones, Manuel “El Meme” Alquisires Garcia, Ricardo Salazar Pequeno and Jose Antonio “El Comandante” Martinez Silva — internal violence brought down one of the factional leaders. On Sept. 3, 2011, the body of Samuel “El Metro 3” Flores Borrego was found by authorities in Reynosa. Flores Borrego had been the trusted lieutenant of Costilla Sanchez and served as his second in command as well as Reynosa plaza boss. These two men were at the top of the Metros faction.

Then on Sept. 27, in a rather brazen hit on U.S. soil, gunmen in an SUV opened fire on another vehicle traveling along U.S. Route 83 east of McAllen, Texas. The driver, Jorge Zavala from Mission, Texas, who was connected to a branch of the Gulf Cartel, was killed. Though his role in the cartel is unclear, he is rumored to have been close to a senior Gulf plaza boss, Gregorio “El Metro 2” Sauceda Gamboa, who was arrested in April 2009. As indicated by his “Metro” nickname, Sauceda had been aligned with the faction of the Gulf cartel that supports Costilla Sanchez.

On Oct. 11, the Mexican navy reported that the body of Cesar “El Gama” Davila Garcia, the Gulf cartel’s head finance officer, was found in the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas. According to a statement from the Ministry of the Navy, the body was found in a home, dead of a gunshot wound. El Gama had been Antonio Cardenas Guillen’s accountant, but after the 2009 death of Tony Tormenta, El Gama was made plaza boss of the Gulf cartel’s port city of Tampico for a period of time, then placed back in Matamoros as the chief financial operator for the cartel. Many questions arise from this killing, but it could be another indication of internal Gulf conflict.

Though the Gulf split has been quietly widening for two years, the apparent eruption of internally focused violence during the past quarter indicates the division may be about to explode. The consequences of a violent rupture within the Gulf cartel likely include moves by Los Zetas and Sinaloa to take advantage of the situation and grab territory. This would further heighten violence beyond the already volatile conditions created by the three-way battle between Los Zetas, the Gulf cartel and government forces for control of Mexico’s northeast.

Arellano Felix Organization

Little has changed in the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) since July’s update on cartel activity in Tijuana, Baja California. The AFO (aka the Tijuana Cartel) is widely considered to be operating by permission of the Sinaloa cartel, an agreement suggested by a drop in the turf-war homicide rate in Tijuana. According to the Mexican federal government, deaths by homicide statewide in Baja California from January through August 2011 numbered 464, compared to 579 for the same period in 2010.

In mid-August, Mexican authorities arrested AFO member Juan Carlos Flores “El Argentino” in Tecate, Baja California. Carlos Flores indicated that he was subordinate to a man known only as “El Viejon,” who is second in command of the AFO, which is led by Fernando “El Ingeniero” Sanchez Arellano. On July 9, Mexican authorities arrested Armando “El Gordo” Villarreal Heredia, an AFO lieutenant who reported to Sanchez Arellano. Any significant gains or losses for the AFO have gone largely unnoticed since the cartel effectively operates as a Sinaloa vassal organization.

For the near term we do not expect significant changes within or related to the AFO, although given the cartel’s continued but discrete interaction with Los Zetas, we believe there will probably be a resurgence of open hostility by the AFO at some point to regain control of its plazas.

The Opposition

Los Zetas

Los Zetas continue to fight a large, multi-front war across Mexico. They are combating the Gulf cartel, Sinaloa and Mexican government forces in the northeast while assisting the Juarez cartel in holding Sinaloa forces back in Chihuahua state. Los Zetas are also taking control of additional territory in Zacatecas, pushing into Jalisco, Nayarit, Guerrero and Mexico states and battling Sinaloa in the southern states of Oaxaca and Chiapas. The organization is being hit hard by the Mexican military in its home territories in Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Veracruz states and fighting to hold the crucial plazas at Monterrey and the port of Veracruz against incursions by Sinaloa, Gulf and CJNG.

Certainly, Los Zetas are being pressed on every side. What we find telling is that despite significant challenges to their ownership of Monterrey and Veracruz, Los Zetas do not appear to have been displaced, though we do expect violence to increase significantly in the near term as rival groups openly push into both cities. While Los Zetas have withdrawn from territory before — Reynosa in the spring of 2010 being a prime example — the loss of that plaza was not detrimental overall to the cartel’s operations, given its control of other plazas in the region and in Nuevo Laredo. However, we expect to see Los Zetas ramp up defensive efforts in Monterrey and Veracruz, two cities that have great strategic value for the cartel.

From July to mid-October, federal operations against Los Zetas in Veracruz, Zacatecas, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosi and Quintana Roo states netted 17 cell leaders and plaza bosses, including Angel Manuel “Comandante Diablo” Mora Caberta in Veracruz, Jose Guadalupe “El Dos” Yanez Martinez in Saltillo and Carlos “La Rana” Oliva Castillo, reported to be the third in command of Los Zetas, in Saltillo. During a two-month operation in Coahuila, government forces also reportedly seized caches of weapons, ammunition, tactical gear and 27 tons of marijuana and freed approximately 97 kidnapped migrants.

Over the past four months, questions have emerged in the U.S. and Mexican security communities about the strength, cohesion and capabilities of Los Zetas. At times, information from open sources, government reports and confidential STRATFOR sources on both sides of the border has been contradictory — which tends to be the norm given the exceptionally fluid nature of the drug war. The question of whether Los Zetas are weakening has many factors, including leadership losses, gains or losses in territorial control, increases or decreases in apparent smuggling activities (which directly tie to revenue) and the quality and quantity of human resources.

As we discussed in July, the estimated 30 deserters from the Mexican army’s Special Forces Airmobile Group (GAFE) who originally formed the core cadre of Los Zetas have been shrinking in number. On July 3, one of the remaining 11 “Zeta Viejos” at large, Jesus Enrique “El Mamito” Rejon, was apprehended by Mexican Federal Police in Atizapan de Zaragoza, Mexico state. In the past decade, 15 members of the original core group have been reported captured and imprisoned and nine have been reported killed. It is not realistic to assume, however, that the organization has lost the specialized skillsets, training and knowledge that those particular individuals possessed.

When evaluating reports of captured or killed Zeta leaders and the effects those losses might have on the organization, it is important to consider what leaders remain, the size of the manpower pool (both in terms of trained foot soldiers and potential recruits) and the existence of training programs and infrastructure for the rank and file.

First, unlike the more traditional Mexican drug cartels, which tend to be family-centric, the Los Zetas organization is more of a meritocracy, and a number of later recruits have risen to leadership positions. Prime examples are Miguel “Z-40” Trevino Morales, who was recruited roughly two years after the group’s 1998 founding and has risen to No. 2 in the organization, and Carlos “La Rana” Oliva Castillo, reported to be the regional boss over the states of Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas and Coahuila, who joined Los Zetas in 2005 and was captured the first week of October 2011. In recent media reports of his capture, Oliva Castillo is described as the No. 3 leader in the organization behind Trevino Morales. While STRATFOR has yet to corroborate Oliva Castillo’s position in the cartel, if he did in fact replace captured third-in-command Jesus “El Mamito” Rejon, neither part of the founding group.

Second, it is known that Mexico’s Defense Secretariat “lost track” of as many as 1,700 special operations soldiers over the past 10 years, according to documents obtained from the Federal Institute for Access to Information by the Mexican newspaper Milenio. A March 8 Milenio article indicated that at least 1,680 Special Forces Airmobile Group (GAFE) soldiers had deserted in the past decade, including trained snipers, infantrymen and paratroopers with advanced survival and counternarcotics training.

It is not reasonable to assume that all of the GAFE deserters over the last decade went to work for Los Zetas or any of the other drug-trafficking organizations. However, it is reasonable to expect that, in an environment where cartels have had a wide presence and a demonstrated willingness to pay handsomely for highly skilled soldiers, a significant proportion of the GAFE deserters would sell their skills to the highest bidder and many would gravitate toward Los Zetas. If even one-third of the GAFE deserters chose to join any of Mexico’s cartels, there are likely dozens of highly skilled soldiers already in positions of authority or working their way up the Zeta organizational ladder (along with recruits from other Mexican military branches and law enforcement agencies).

While the organization long has recruited predominantly from military and law enforcement pools, which means most new recruits are already able to use basic firearms and understand fundamental tactics, the strength of Los Zetas comes from structured training in small-unit combat tactics at facilities modeled after GAFE training camps. According to STRATFOR sources with access to seized training materials, Zeta training includes basic marksmanship, fire-team drills and room-clearing techniques.

The thoroughness of Zeta training depends on the tempo of the drug war. Prior to about May 2010, Zeta camps in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and elsewhere operated with sufficient space and freedom for recruit training to last as long as six months. When the Mexican government and the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia Michoacana (LFM) cartels began to press them on every side, Zeta recruit training was reduced. According to a captured Zeta foot soldier, basic training in early 2011 involved two weeks of boot camp in which rudimentary firearms skills were taught. The recruits were then mobilized to gain additional training on the battlefield. The net effect has been seen in such “loose cannon” events as the Falcon Lake shooting in September 2010 and the  botched carjacking attack on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents travelling through San Luis Potosi in February 2011. Nevertheless, we expect that Los Zetas will ramp up training whenever possible since their continued success depends upon it.

What we find important in these dynamics is that Los Zetas have taken several big hits in the past several months but have managed to absorb the losses without any overall diminution of the organization’s size or reach, even though the persistent pressure has reduced the capabilities of rank-and-file Zeta operatives. The net effect has been the organization’s fairly static condition. Peripheral Zeta losses on the outskirts of Monterrey and Veracruz have been offset by recent gains in Zacatecas state and elsewhere. It certainly is possible, however, that the last months of 2011 may see an overall degradation of Los Zetas if CJNG and Sinaloa are successful in making inroads into Monterrey and Veracruz, and we expect the military to continue its operations against Los Zetas as well.

Cartel Pacifico Sur

Since the last cartel update, we have seen little activity by Cartel del Pacifico Sur (CPS). The cartel has suffered no significant arrests, and any violence associated with group has gone unnoticed in contested areas. This lack of reported losses and gains for CPS may be due to its alliance with Los Zetas, which attracts most of the media attention. There also is the possibility that, while Sinaloa and the Mexican government focus their efforts on Los Zetas, CPS is taking advantage of a lull in territorial battles to concentrate on smuggling activities and rejuvenate its revenue streams. We do not consider CPS to be marginalized at this point and will be watching for signs of activity during the last quarter of this year.

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization

Although constriction of the VCF continues, the cartel retains the loyalty of the approximately 8,000-member Azteca street gang, which has helped it hold on to Juarez and maintain control of the three primary ports of entry into the United States, all of which feed directly into El Paso, Texas. STRATFOR sources recently indicated that the VCF also retains supply lines for its marijuana and cocaine shipments and continues to push large quantities of narcotics across the border.

On July 29, Mexican authorities captured Jose Antonio “El Diego” Acosta Hernandez, the top leader of La Linea, the VCF’s enforcement arm. His position in the VCF hierarchy makes him difficult to replace. For the cartels, there is never a good time to lose an important figure, but the loss is felt even more acutely when the figure is the leader of a cartel’s armed wing and he is removed from the mix during a heated and prolonged battle for survival.

The whereabouts of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes and his closest lieutenants are unknown. At the beginning of 2011 there was an expectation that the level of violence associated with Sinaloa operations against the VCF would continue to escalate, given the indicators seen at the time. However, over the last eight to nine months we have seen cartel-related homicides drop significantly. It appears now, though, that violence again is on the rise in Juarez. Gun battles and targeted killings are increasing in the city, and STRATFOR sources in the region expect the current trend to continue through the end of 2011.

La Resistencia

La Resistencia was originally a confederation between enforcers from Guadalajara-based affiliates of the Sinaloa Federation, the Milenio Cartel and Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel’s faction, along with enforcers from the Gulf Cartel and LFM. The organization was intended to fight against Zeta incursions into Jalisco and Michoacan. Following the July 2010 death of Coronel, the alliance splintered as the LFM made a push to take over Guadalajara and Coronel’s followers blamed Sinaloa leader El Chapo Guzman for Nacho Coronel’s demise.

In the melee that followed, the Milenio Cartel was badly damaged by the arrests of high-profile leaders and by battles with the strongest of the splinter groups from Coronel’s organization, CJNG. Remnants of the Milenio Cartel have continued to use the La Resistencia name. Although La Resistencia was originally formed to combat Los Zetas, it recently announced an alliance with the group. If there is an alliance forming, it could help explain why CJNG, the enemy of La Resistencia, recently traveled across Mexico to target Zeta operatives in the port city of Veracruz.

La Resistencia has been hit hard by CJNG and the Mexican government, but an apparent alliance with Los Zetas raises questions regarding the transfer of skills and the potential for a significantly increased Zeta presence in La Resistencia’s area of operations. We will be watching this situation closely, since the dual dynamic of a Zeta-La Resistencia alliance and CJNG’s cross-country operation lead us to expect elevated violence over a substantial part of Mexico’s bi-coastal midsection.

Independent Operators

La Familia Michoacana

LFM continues to suffer losses at the hands of the Knights Templar and the Mexican government. On Oct. 5, LFM leader Martin Rosales Magana “El Terry” was captured in Mexico state, the most significant hit to the cartel’s leadership since Jesus “El Chango” Mendez’s fall in July. The Mexican Federal Police claims that the La Familia structure is disintegrating and the cartel no longer has much access to essential precursors in the production of methamphetamines. The continued losses indicate that LFM as an organization is nearing its end. However though LFM’s losses have hurt the organization, the cartel continues to show activity. In a raid in July, U.S. law enforcement agencies arrested 44 individuals in Austin, Texas, who allegedly were LFM members, though it remains unclear whether the cell in Austin worked for LFM or the Knights Templar.

There have been indications that remnants of LFM are continuing to seek an alliance with Los Zetas. Narcomantas signed by the Knights Templar were intended to send a message to El Terry, blaming him for aligning with Los Zetas. Following his arrest in early October, Mario Buenrostro Quiroz, the alleged leader of a Mexico City drug gang known as “Los Aboytes,” claimed in an on-camera interview that El Terry had sought an alliance with Los Zetas prior to his arrest. This claim followed reports that Jesus “El Chango” Mendez was also seeking an alliance with Los Zetas before being arrested. While the Mexican government denies LFM has achieved an alliance with Los Zetas, LFM will likely continue pressing for any advantage to stay alive as the Knights Templar continue trying to eradicate it.

The Knights Templar

One question that emerged over the last quarter is whether the Federal Police will increase its focus on Knights Templar operations. With LFM’s organizational decline, Federal Police will have more resources to target the Knights Templar in Michoacan and Mexico states. Federal Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas has suggested an imminent end to LFM and a shift in operations against the Knights Templar.

The Knights Templar have taken hits from Mexican federal forces, but there have been no indications that the group’s organizational structure has been seriously impacted. Arrested in September was one of the group’s principal members, Saul “El Lince” Solis Solis, the highest-level Knights Templar leader to fall in the third quarter. A number of other Knights Templar leaders were arrested in the third quarter, including Bulmaro “El Men” Salinas Munoz and Neri “El Yupo” Salgado Harrison. The effect of these arrests on the group’s operations remains unclear.

The Knights Templar continue to display narcomantas in Michoacan and Mexico states. In September, the cartel offered monetary rewards for information leading to the capture of certain individuals named on the banners (known LFM members who the Knights Templar claimed were aligned with Los Zetas).

The early October arrest of Los Aboytes gang leader Buenrostro Quiroz has raised questions about Knights Templar leadership. In the video of Buenrostro Quiroz being questioned by authorities, he said he met with Knights Templar leaders approximately a month before he was captured. He further claimed that Nazario “El Mas Loco” Moreno Gonzalez is still alive and heading the Knights Templar with Servando “La Tuta” Gomez Martinez, former LFM plaza boss, as second in command. There has been no evidence supporting Buenrostro Quiroz’s claims, although Moreno Gonzalez’s body was never found when he was reported dead in December 2010. The prospect of Moreno Gonzales, the ideological founder of LFM, still being alive would explain to a large extent LFM’s immediate decline following the emergence of the Knights Templar in March.

The Knights Templar will continue to target LFM members in Michoacan and Mexico states, and as it takes over La Familia’s turf it will likely increase its methamphetamine production operations. Regardless of whether an alliance exists between LFM and Los Zetas, we anticipate increasing conflict between the Knights Templar and Los Zetas in the coming months due to both groups’ territorial aspirations.

Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion

When we began discussing Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion in the last quarterly update, we included it in the “Independent Operators” section. We took the cartel at its word, which had been made clear its publically released videos, that CJNG had declared war on all other cartels. The organization, based in Guadalajara, consists primarily of former Sinaloa members who had worked for Nacho Coronel and who believe that Nacho was betrayed by Sinaloa leader El Chapo Guzman Loera. However, recent activities by CJNG have greatly muddied our take on the group.

Between Sept. 20 and the first week in October, at least 67 bodies labeled as Zetas were dumped in Boca del Rio, a wealthy southern suburb of Veracruz. The first batch of 35 bodies was dumped in a busy traffic circle in broad daylight during afternoon rush hour. All of the killings were claimed by CJNG. We find this odd for two reasons: While it is not surprising that CJNG would go after Los Zetas, Veracruz is very much outside of CJNG’s home territory in Guadalajara, and CJNG appears to have conducted these operations in cooperation with the Sinaloa Federation. Therefore, it seems as though CJNG may have been co-opted by Sinaloa (though Sinaloa has not confirmed this).

However, as discussed in the Sinaloa and La Resistencia sections above, such a restructuring of affiliations makes sense, and we anticipate that CJNG’s links to other cartels will become increasingly clear over the next quarter.


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Stratfor: IEDs
« Reply #310 on: October 26, 2011, 02:39:45 PM »

An IED Attack in Monterrey

On Oct. 20, as a Mexican military patrol chased a vehicle carrying suspected cartel gunmen through the streets of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, an unidentified party remotely detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) placed in a parked car moments before the patrol passed by it. There were no reported deaths or injuries from the blast, but all of the gunmen in the vehicle escaped. Though this is the first IED attack Monterrey has witnessed,  there have been other such attacks in Mexico within the past year or so. In July 2010, La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes cartel, set off an IED in a car in Ciudad Juarez, killing four people; between August and December 2010, the Gulf cartel deployed as many as six IEDs throughout Tamaulipas state; and in January 2011, a small IED detonated in Tula, Hidalgo state, injuring four people.

In the aftermath of such attacks, it is tempting for observers and the mainstream media to assume cartel violence in Mexico has reached an unprecedented level of escalation, and that an increased use of IEDs is all but certain. However, the Oct. 20 ambush, sophisticated though it was, actually showed some degree of restraint on the part of the planners, as did the IED attacks of the past year elsewhere in Mexico. Given the psychological impact and tactical effectiveness of IED use in a combat environment — and cartel personnel armed with the knowledge to construct sophisticated explosive devices — perhaps more astonishing than the occurrence of IED attacks is the fact that cartels do not conduct them with more regularity or on a greater magnitude than they have. That the cartels choose not to do so illustrates a calculated strategy aimed at staving off further American involvement and limiting negative domestic public opinion against them.

courtesy of El Universal
A Mexican soldier stands near the site of the Oct. 20 Monterrey blastMilitary grade explosives are very easy to acquire on the black market in Mexico. More readily available and cheaper than guns, they are routinely confiscated by security forces. In fact, the army has made notable seizures as recently as the past week. On Oct. 18, the Mexican army seized around 20 kilograms (about 45 pounds) of C4 in or around Mexico City, capable of producing an explosion 10 times larger than that of the Monterrey blast. Later on Oct. 20, the army seized 45 blocks of C4, detonators, weapons and cell phones in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz state.

The prevalence of individuals practiced at constructing explosive devices adds to the issue. Many cartels employ ex-military personnel as enforcers. Los Zetas, for example, were founded by defectors from the Mexican army’s Special Forces Airmobile Group and originally served as the enforcement arm of the Gulf cartel before embarking on their own narcotics trafficking operations. These individuals learned the intricacies of demolitions as part of their military training, and they are now in a position to deploy — or train others to deploy — IEDs across the country.

However, former members of the military are not the only ones in Mexico who know how to make bombs. The country’s mining sector has given many people an expertise in the use of explosives and has contributed to cartel inventories. Industrial hydrogel explosives have been used in some IEDs, notably in an attempt made in Juarez in August 2010. They also have been seized in cartel munitions caches in large enough quantities to bring down buildings.

Despite the availability of explosives and the prevalence of people who know how to manipulate those explosives, large IEDs have yet to be deployed in Mexico. This dynamic has been very different from what we have seen in places like Colombia in the 1980s and 1990s. The reason for this is simple. The leaders of Mexico’s various cartels conduct business based on the principle that if they can stand to benefit from something — an assassination, extortion or even a licit activity — they will do it; if not, it will be avoided. The use of large IEDs would create substantial domestic pressure and compel the Mexican government to come down hard on the cartels — much harder than Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s administration has demonstrated to date.

More important, cartels cannot afford direct and heavy-handed interdiction from the U.S. government aimed at their total dismantlement. The use of large, powerful IEDs would lead the Mexican government to designate the cartels as terrorist organizations. Such a designation would allow U.S. law enforcement easier access to their finances and operation, something the cartels want to avoid at every cost. It could also lead to dramatically increased U.S. involvement in the fight against the Mexican criminal cartels.

Mexico’s drug cartels must weigh the tactical benefits of using IEDs with the strategic need to keep the U.S. government off their backs. Intermittent IED attacks can be expected in the future, but those attacks will continue to utilize small amounts of explosives to mitigate the risk of U.S. involvement — or political crisis in Mexico. This dynamic could possibly change should one of the criminal cartels become desperate and believe they have nothing to lose, but as we saw in the case of La Linea in Juarez, the group did not follow through on their threat to employ a 100-kilogram vehicle-borne IED even when heavily pressed.

(click here to view interactive map)

Oct. 19

The Mexican military seized a drug lab in Zapopan, Jalisco state. Approximately 27 metric tons of chemical precursors were discovered.
Mexican authorities seized a heroin and cocaine processing lab in Xochitepec, Morelos state. Two individuals were detained in the operation.

Oct. 20

An improvised explosive device in a vehicle exploded Oct. 20 as a Mexican military convoy passed by it in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, while pursuing gunmen. All the gunmen escaped.
A police radio operator was killed by gunmen in a security hut in Veracruz city, Veracruz state. The operator was involved in an ongoing operation in Los Volcanes neighborhood. Police pursued the gunmen afterwards, killing one gunman and injuring another.
The Mexican military detained five alleged Los Zetas members in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz state. Among the five was Rodrigo Herrera Valverde, a nephew of the former Veracruz state governor, Fidel Herrera Beltran.

Oct. 21

A confrontation in Tancitaro, Michoacan state, between gunmen and the Mexican military left one soldier and three gunmen dead.
Three individuals were executed in Apatzingan, Michoacan state. Their bodies were left with a narcomanta signed by the Knights Templar stating that the individuals died because of their behavior.

Oct. 22

Police seized 42 kilograms of cocaine from a tractor-trailer near Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
Police arrested four suspected La Barredora members in Acapulco, Guerrero state.

Oct. 23

A convoy of gunmen executed three individuals in Villa Ocampo, Durango state. The same convoy was reported driving through Las Nieves, Durango state, prior to the executions.
Soria “El Hongo” Adrian Ramirez, leader of Cartel del Centro, was arrested in Ojo de Agua, Mexico state. Cartel del Centro is reportedly in territory disputes with the Knights Templar, La Familia Michoacan and La Mano Con Ojos.
A confrontation between Mexican authorities and gunmen in Doctor Gonzalez, Nuevo Leon state resulted in the death of a Los Zetas plaza boss and the capture of three Los Zetas members. The plaza boss, Gabriel “El Cochiloco” Hernandez Hernandez, was responsible for the municipalities of La Laja and El Oregan in Nuevo Leon state.

Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Restrained IED Attacks a Necessary Tactic For Drug Cartels | STRATFOR


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Rafael Cardenas Vela of Gulf Cartel captured in US
« Reply #311 on: October 27, 2011, 01:31:14 PM »
Vice President of Tactical Intelligence Scott Stewart discusses the arrest of Rafael Cardenas Vela and what it means for the Gulf Cartel and for security in Mexico’s northeast.

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

•   Mexican Drug War Update: The Polarization Continues

On Oct. 26, U.S. authorities announced they had arrested Rafael Cardenas Vela in a traffic stop in Port Isabella, Texas on Oct. 20. The arrest of Cardenas, who is also known as “El Junior,” is significant because he was one of the leaders of two factions that are currently fighting for control of the Gulf Cartel. The struggle among these differing Gulf Cartel factions could have a significant impact on the security situation in Mexico’s northeast.

Rafael Cardenas Vela is the nephew of Osiel Cardenas Guillen, former leader of the Gulf Cartel. Osiel Cardenas Guillen was convicted in a U.S. court in 2010 and sentenced to serve 25 years, which he is currently serving in the Supermax prison in Florence, Colo. Following the arrest of Osiel Cardenas Guillen, control of the Gulf Cartel was handed to his brother, Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, also know as “Tony Tormenta,” as well as Jorge Eduardo Costilla Sanchez, who is know as “El Coss.”

That arrangement seemed to work fairly well for several years, but it broke apart following the death of Tony Tormenta in November 2010. This led to a rift in the Gulf Cartel between a faction of those members of the cartel who are loyal to the Cardenas family and a section of the cartel that is loyal to El Coss. In recent months, we’ve been watching as that friction and tension have increased and it appears currently that it’s on the verge of breaking into an all-out war.

In early September, we saw one of El Coss’s major lieutenants, Samuel “El Metro 3” Flores Borego, get assassinated in northern Mexico. And this was one of the signs that tensions were increasing between the two factions. We believe that it’s very likely that the arrest of El Junior is connected to this inter-factional fighting between the Gulf Cartel, and it’s quite possible that the information that led to his arrest was leaked to U.S. authorities by El Coss, his primary rival for control of the Gulf Cartel.

The fact that Cardenas was in U.S. custody for several days before his arrest was announced is very interesting. It indicates to us that he was likely cooperating with U.S. authorities. So we’re going to be watching this Gulf Cartel infighting very carefully for signs that it’s going to weaken these various cartel factions enough that other organizations can move into their areas of operation. In this case of the Gulf Cartel, we have both Los Zetas, who used to be the enforcer group of the Gulf Cartel before splitting from them in January 2010 and are now bitter rivals with the Gulf Cartel, and of course their allies, the Sinaloa Cartel.

Over time, the Sinaloa Cartel has shown that it is very aggressive at moving into and taking territory from its former allies like we saw in Tijuana and in Juarez. So it would not be surprising for them to try to make a move in the northeast to take control of Matamoros. And it’s going to be important to watch the area around Matamoros to see if the areas that are controlled currently by the Gulf Cartel fall to one of these other very powerful cartel organizations.


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Activists vs. Cartels
« Reply #312 on: October 31, 2011, 09:43:45 AM »
The online activist collective Anonymous released a video Oct. 6 in which a masked spokesman denounces Mexico’s criminal cartels, demands that a member of Anonymous kidnapped by Los Zetas be released and threatens to release information about individuals cooperating with Mexico’s cartels. If Anonymous carries out its threat, it will almost certainly lead to the deaths of individuals named as cartel associates, whether or not the information released is accurate. Furthermore, as Mexican cartels have targeted online journalists and bloggers in the past, hackers could well be targeted for reprisal attacks.

Anonymous, an online collective of activists including hackers, lashed out at Mexican cartels in a video released online Oct. 6. In the video, a masked individual claiming to speak on behalf of Anonymous denounces Mexico’s cartels and demands that Los Zetas release a member of Anonymous kidnapped during a street-level protest named Operation Paperstorm in Veracruz state. The spokesman also threatens to release revealing information about journalists, police, politicians and taxi drivers colluding with the cartels.

Simply disseminating information on cartel members will not significantly impede overall cartel operations, but if Anonymous carries out its threat, it will affect cartel associates and others the that cartels could target for retaliatory attacks.

Anonymous is not an organized, monolithic group; rather, it is a collection of activists whose organizers work under the name Anonymous. Hackers have conducted several online activities using the name Anonymous, as they have had to develop code for conducting cyberattacks. The collective of hackers takes on several different causes and carries out attacks involving participation by experienced hackers and unskilled members alike. Not everyone involved in Anonymous participates in every action, and some actions are more popular than others.

The Anonymous spokesman in the video does not specify how many individuals support the threat against the cartels or how the group acquired the information it threatens to release. It would not take a group of hackers to obtain the kind of information the spokesman claims Anonymous could release; much of this kind of information could be acquired via rumors circulating through Mexico. In fact, the Anonymous spokesman does not mention anything about using hacking activities to acquire confidential information about the cartels.

However, there are many examples of hackers acting under the name Anonymous acquiring personal and sensitive information about their targets. Recently, hackers shut down child pornography website Lolita City and reportedly posted more than 1,500 usernames and activities of the website’s users. On Oct. 21, Anonymous hackers stole sensitive information — including Social Security numbers — from a series of police-affiliated targets including the International Association of Chiefs of Police website and the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association email portal and revealed more than 1,000 usernames and passwords of Boston police officers. Although cartels’ activities are focused on the streets of the cities they control, even cartels use the Internet for communication and some business transactions. Any cartel activities occurring online could be potential vulnerabilities if individuals involved in the new Anonymous threat can identify them; though the threat from Anonymous does not necessarily mean that hackers are now targeting cartels, given the history of activities carried out in Anonymous’ name, it is certainly possible.

If Anonymous carries out its threat, members would use online media outlets to publish revealing information about the cartels and their associates. Anonymous members frequently focus on these media, which allow them to post revealing information while concealing their own identities. Any information released to the public would not pose a direct threat in itself; it would be up to others to determine the information’s validity and whether to take action. For example, if Anonymous claims that a politician is colluding with criminal cartels, the politician could be threatened by whatever actions the Mexican government decides to take or by members of rival cartels.

Loss of life will be a certain consequence if Anonymous releases the identities of individuals cooperating with cartels. Whether voluntarily or not, cooperating with criminal cartels in Mexico comes with the danger of retribution from rival cartels. Taxi drivers, typically victims of extortion or otherwise forced to act as lookouts or scouts, are particularly vulnerable. In areas such as Acapulco, Guerrero state, reports of murdered taxi drivers occur weekly. The validity of the information Anonymous has threatened to reveal is uncertain, as it might not have been vetted. This could pose an indiscriminate danger to individuals mentioned in whatever Anonymous decides to release.

The online media frequently used to organize Anonymous-labeled activities are far removed from the violent world of Mexican criminal cartels. This distance — along with the likely physical distance of many Anonymous members from Mexico — could limit the activists’ understanding of cartel activities. Anonymous activists may act with confidence stemming from perceived anonymity when sitting in front of a computer, but this could blind them to any possible retribution.  Cartels have targeted bloggers and online journalists in previous attacks, and even hackers in Mexico are not beyond the cartels’ reach. Cartels reportedly have turned to the information technology community in the past, coercing computer science majors in Mexico into working for them. Any Anonymous activists inside Mexico who are targeting or perceived as targeting the Mexican cartels will be just as vulnerable as online journalists and bloggers as the cartels seek to make them examples of what happens when someone exposes or publicizes damaging information about cartel activity.

Anonymous activists can threaten to reveal information about cartels or launch cyberattacks. But even if the cartels cannot track down the individuals directing cyberattacks or releasing information, the cartels will continue to commit acts of violence meant to warn the online community about such activities.


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Re: Mexico
« Reply #313 on: November 01, 2011, 04:15:17 PM »
Tactical Analyst Ben West discusses online activists Anonymous’ continued efforts against Mexican drug cartels and the cartels’ responses.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Related Links
•   Mexico’s Cartels Draw Online Activists’ Ire
•    Dispatch: Implications of a Mexican Drug Lord’s Capture
•   Mexican Drug War Update: The Polarization Continues
A member of the online activist group, Anonymous, released a video statement October 31 stating that it will continue to search for and publicize sensitive data about Mexican criminal organizations despite the physical threat of doing so.
Based upon past examples, the latest Anonymous campaign against Los Zetas could spill over into the real world, resulting in violence and deaths as Los Zetas target a new group.
Online media has been in conflict with Mexican criminal and drug organizations for some time now. Journalists are known to be targets of the cartels and plenty have been killed in the past.
Bloggers are also included in the online media campaign against the cartels, but they have typically not been targeted as much — likely because the information they post has not had as much of an impact on cartel operations as the journalists have.
However, that could be changing with the addition of Anonymous to the anti-cartel online media campaign in Mexico.
Throughout August and September of this year four people with connections to anti-cartel blog websites have been attacked.
• Two individuals killed and hung from a bridge in Nuevo Laredo with signs warning not to post on blogs.
• A girl found beheaded in Nuevo Laredo who had contributed to anti-cartel blogs in the past.
• Additionally, an Anonymous member claimed that a volunteer was abducted by Los Zetas while distributing pamphlets in Veracruz.
Anonymous has conducted successful Distributed Denial of Service Attacks on institutions such as Visa and MasterCard and has stolen sensitive information from HB Gary Federal in 2011 and subsequently publicized internal emails from that group. It brings together a group of individuals with a higher skill-set and sense of operational security than the less savvy anti-cartel bloggers already active in Mexico.
This higher skill-set means that Anonymous could contribute to the effectiveness of the online struggle against the cartels or at least bring more publicity to the issue. It’s important to remember that the U.S. has been engaging in its own electronic observation of the Mexican cartels for years. Anonymous likely won’t be able to turn up more information than the U.S. government already has, but they are able to publicize more information than the U.S. government can.
If Anonymous is able to increase the effectiveness of online operations seeking to expose cartel activities then that makes them and other anti-cartel bloggers in Mexico much higher profile targets than before.
Anonymous is not an organization. It’s important to remember, it is a loose association of individuals. It’s not the group itself then, but the individuals involved, who become targets of the cartels.
We have seen reports that Los Zetas are deploying their own teams of computer experts to track those individuals involved in the online anti-cartel campaign, which indicates that the criminal group is taking the campaign very seriously. Those individuals involved face the risk of abduction, injury and death — judging by how Los Zetas has dealt with threats in the past.


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Re: Mexico
« Reply #314 on: November 10, 2011, 02:24:51 PM »

AFO Lieutenant Arrested

Mexican authorities arrested a senior member of the Arellano Felix Organization (AFO) on Nov. 5 in Tijuana, Baja California state. According to a statement from the Mexican Defense Ministry, Juan Francisco “La Rueda” Sillas Rocha, the AFO’s top enforcer, who is believed to have reported directly to current AFO leader Fernando Sanchez Arellano, was arrested after shooting and wounding two rival cartel members near Insurgentes Boulevard. An army spokesman said Sillas was captured after police and soldiers cordoned off the area immediately following the attack.

In 2007, the Sinaloa Federation encroached on the AFO’s long-held territory in Baja California, prompting an all-out turf war between the groups. AFO leader Luis Fernando “El Ingeniero” Sanchez Arellano, a nephew of the cartel’s founders, allegedly ordered Sillas to regain Tijuana from rival Teodoro “El Teo” Garcia Simental, who had defected from the AFO and joined ranks with Sinaloa. As a result, Tijuana was extremely violent from 2007 to 2009, with decapitations, hangings and daylight shootouts becoming common occurrences. The violence subsided after Garcia was arrested and after Sinaloa absorbed AFO’s territory, relegating Sanchez Arellano’s organization, which was severely damaged by the war and unable to resist, to a reluctant vassal that paid Sinaloa for the right to exist.

Sillas’ arrest furthers the trend of cartel dynamics in the area. Any push from the AFO to regain territory lost to Sinaloa likely would have been conducted by Sillas. Though the AFO has not been eliminated completely, the arrest of Sillas means that the AFO’s chances of countering Sinaloa and regaining power in Tijuana are diminishing. Likewise, as the AFO’s power continues to wane, the Sinaloa Federation’s grip on territory along Mexico’s Pacific coast only strengthens.

Mayor Killed in Michoacan

While distributing campaign material for Michoacan state gubernatorial candidate Luisa Mario Calderon Hinojosa, Ricardo Guzman, the mayor of La Piedad, Michoacan state, was shot and killed Nov. 3 by an unidentified gunman in a black SUV bearing Jalisco state plates. According to reports, Guzman died as he was being transported to a hospital by ambulance.

With the presence of multiple drug cartels, including Los Zetas, the Knights Templar, remnants of La Familia Michoacana and the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, Michoacan public officials on all levels are vulnerable to competing cartel pressure. Candidates from all three major Mexican political parties reportedly have been threatened during the recent campaign season in Michoacan, and six municipal police chiefs have been killed in the state in 2011 alone.

Mayors and other local officials are particularly susceptible to cartel pressure. Unlike governors or presidents — but like cartels — mayors must operate in their local environments (state and federal officials are by no means insulated from cartel machinations, but they are further removed from the warlike environments found in some of these locations). If such officials are perceived to favor a cartel, they will be attacked by a rival cartel. If they refuse to work for a specific cartel, that organization will attack them in retribution. If they have no support from any cartel, they are vulnerable to attack by all.

For mayors and other local officials, consorting with criminal groups often is a matter of necessity, and since they generally have security inferior to that of presidents and governors, they often fall victim to attacks or pressure. In fact, 25 mayors have been killed throughout Mexico since 2006. The timing of this incident, however, is notable, as are those involved.

The candidate for whom Guzman was campaigning is the sister of current Mexican President Felipe Calderon. Like her brother, she is a member of the National Action Party (PAN), as was Guzman, who, according to Calderon Hinojosa’s campaign manager, had received threats prior to the shooting. The campaign manager did not give any specifics as to why or by whom the threats were made, and at present there is no hard evidence to suggest the killing was a targeted political assassination. The possibility cannot be ruled out, however. Neither can it be ruled out that Guzman was attacked to send Calderon Hinojosa or her brother a message.

There is another line of investigation into the murder. According to media reports, Guzman is rumored to have issued permits that would grant casinos authorization to operate in La Piedad. Authorities are looking into this theory, as it suggests an element of corruption in Guzman. But even though casinos and organized crime often are intimately linked, any concrete connection tying Guzman to organized crime remains unconfirmed. Of course, the attack could be personal and completely unrelated to his position as mayor.

Whatever the precise motive behind Guzman’s killing, the timing of the attack serves as a reminder that politicians are not immune to cartel operations; in fact, they are often the targets of such operations. Politicians can guarantee key access and cover for cartels looking to operate in a number of arenas, including money laundering and entering legitimate businesses. They also are limited to serving only one term, so they are somewhat expendable. The gubernatorial elections in Michoacan are the final elections in Mexico before the presidential election takes place in 2012. In light of the Nov. 3 attack, STRATFOR will be watching the lead-up to the presidential election carefully for signs of cartel influence.

(click here to view interactive map)

Nov. 1

The bodies of two men shot multiple times were discovered in an SUV in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state. Their hands were bound.
Mexican authorities raided a Gulf cartel safe-house in Temixco, Morelos state. An unidentified number of Gulf cartel lookouts were arrested in the raid.
Mexican authorities arrested 21 municipal police officers in the cities of Pesqueria, Linares and Mina, Nuevo Leon state, for their connections with criminal organizations.

Nov. 2

Gunmen attacked Mexican soldiers as they raided a safe-house in Xochitepec, Morelos state. One gunman was killed and three others were arrested.
Federal police rescued at least eight kidnapping victims from a safe-house in Reynosa, Tamaulipas state.
Two criminal groups engaged in a firefight in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state. Gunmen used public and private transit vehicles to block several roads in the city.
Mexican military forces seized four residences in Xochitepec, Morelos state, used by a criminal organization. During the operation, authorities seized weapons, chemical precursors and surveillance equipment used to monitor pedestrians entering and exiting an adjacent airport.
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Federal Ministerial Police commander in Saltillo, Coahuila state.
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Ricardo Guzman Romero, the mayor of La Piedad, Michoacan state.

Nov. 3

Mexican military forces engaged in a firefight with unidentified gunmen while on patrol in Tantoyuca, Veracruz state. One of the gunmen was arrested, though the rest escaped.
Federal police arrested Hector Russel “El Toro” Rodriguez Baez, a leader of La Familia Michoacana, in Chalco, Mexico state.

Nov. 4

Mexican military forces engaged in a firefight with gunmen while on patrol in Mocorito, Sinaloa state. All of the gunmen escaped.
Unidentified gunmen executed 15 individuals in various areas of Culiacan, Sinaloa state.

Nov. 6

Mexican authorities announced the arrest of Victor Manuel “El Gordo” Rivera Galeana in Mexico state. Rivera was a founder and leader of La Barredora, a criminal organization operating in Acapulco, Guerrero state.
A narcomanta signed by La Familia Michoacana was left with a dead body in Chalco, Mexico state.
Armed men executed a man at a bar in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. All gunmen escaped before the police arrived.
Mexican authorities seized 2,913.4 kilograms (6,422.9 pounds) of marijuana stored in a warehouse in Miguel Aleman, Tamaulipas state.
Gunmen entered the offices of El Buen Tono news agency in Cordoba, Veracruz state, destroying computers and other equipment before setting an office on fire.

Nov. 7

Mexican authorities announced the arrest of Juan Francisco “La Rueda” Sillas Rocha, a lieutenant of Arellano Felix Organization leader Luis Fernando Sanchez Arellano. Sillas was arrested over the previous weekend in Tijuana, Baja California state.
Mexican authorities discovered two bodies in Mexico City with a narcomanta signed by La Mano con Ojos and The New Administration organization.

Read more: Mexico Security Memo: AFO Continuing To Lose Power in Tijuana | STRATFOR


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Re: Mexico
« Reply #315 on: November 15, 2011, 07:18:46 PM »
Acabo de regresar del DF.  Parece que se murio' en un accidente de helicopetero la Secretaria de Gobernacion Blake.  Hace tres anos en maneras semajantes se murio' OTRO Secretaria de Gobernacion.  Dado que fueron despedidos dos otros SdeG, en 5 anos, han habido 4! 

Mucho mas por reportar, pero ahora estoy cansado.


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Strat 11/17
« Reply #316 on: November 17, 2011, 11:27:28 AM »

Zetas Paymaster Apprehended

After receiving a tip about suspicious activity Nov. 11 in the Hacienda Las Palmas area of Escobedo, Nuevo Leon state, Mexican marines arrested five suspected members of Los Zetas. Among those arrested was Juan Carlos “El Charly” Morales Magallanes, a high-ranking financial operator who, according to the Navy Secretariat, is believed to be responsible for preparing and disbursing the Zetas’ payroll in multiple cities across Nuevo Leon state, including Cienega de Flores, China, Santiago, Monterrey, Villa Garcia, Escobedo, Allende, Marin, Apodaca, Montemorelos and others.

Given the illicit nature of the cartels’ businesses and the propensity toward violence, it can be easy to forget that drug cartels and other criminal organizations are bound by many of the same business practices as legitimate enterprises. Like licit businesses, these organizations have bills to pay and records to maintain. They have cash inflows and cash outflows, and whoever is tasked with the flow of money must ensure that all “accounts” are reconciled. This includes doling out salaries to “employees” — from street-level informants to high-level assassins to corrupt police officers and politicians.

If the Navy Secretariat’s description is accurate, Morales had a unique position within his organization: As a paymaster, he paid salaries, procured weapons and bought everything from vehicles to cellphones. He thus would have keen insight into whom the cartel employs in his region — atypical for someone in a criminal organization that takes steps to minimize its members’ knowledge of its various branches. Most important, however, is that his arrest and the search of the location where he was arrested could lead authorities to financial information on the Zetas that can and likely will be exploited. It also could lead them to other cartel targets.

As a general rule, a criminal organization’s survival depends upon a high degree of compartmentalization. Low-level informants or operatives who provide around-the-clock surveillance of street corners, blocks or neighborhoods report only to their boss; they know which organization they work for and, likely, who that organization’s leader or leaders are, but they have little knowledge as to the criminal operations, money flows and movement of people of the group. The prevailing wisdom is that the less the various members of an organization know about other compartments, the less valuable they are to law enforcement. Thus, criminal organizations such as the Zetas maintain dozens of layers between a low-level corner lookout and overall leader Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano.

Law enforcement officials therefore place great value on the paymasters of illicit enterprises. They are singular points of failure, whereby the capture of one can compromise many aspects of the organization’s structure or, in the case of the Zetas, the structure of a particular region. Nuevo Leon state, where Morales was arrested, is the Zetas’ largest territory, and Morales’ capture potentially opens up to law enforcement the single most vulnerable component of the organization in that region: money, and the knowledge of where and to whom that money goes.

Morales may or may not cooperate with the authorities. If he does provide the authorities with actionable intelligence — and if the authorities quickly follow up on the intelligence he provides — the damage to Los Zetas in Monterrey and central Nuevo Leon state may be profound and extensive. This is especially true if he can provide them with information that could allow the authorities to seize accounts or shut down funding channels of Los Zetas, a top priority for the Mexican government.

Sinaloa Federation Lieutenant Captured

Mexican authorities on Nov. 9 arrested a senior member of the Sinaloa Federation in what has been described as a well-planned and well-executed military raid in Culiacan, Sinaloa state. Believed to be part of Sinaloa leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera’s inner circle, Ovidio Limon Sanchez reportedly oversaw the purchase, transportation and distribution of cocaine and other drugs to the United States, mainly to Los Angeles and other parts of Southern California. Limon had been wanted for extradition to the United States, which had placed a $5 million reward on his capture.

His arrest has precipitated a number of theories in the mainstream media, the most striking of which is that in retaliation the Sinaloa Federation commissioned the assassination of Mexican Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora, who died in a helicopter crash four days after Limon’s arrest.

STRATFOR considers this story unlikely. To mobilize an assassination against an official as high-ranking as the interior minister (or Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who reportedly was supposed to fly later that day in the same helicopter that crashed) would require unmatched intelligence, planning, and logistical and operational capabilities. Sinaloa would have to activate, and perhaps pay up front, multiple operatives with the skill set to conduct such an attack. It would also require knowledge of the helicopter flight schedule and the president’s and interior minister’s travel itinerary. In short, there are too many working parts to successfully plan and execute this kind of sophisticated plot in a mere 100 hours.

(click here to view interactive map)

Nov. 8

At least 10 gunmen ambushed Alejandro Higuera Osuna, the mayor of Mazatlan, Sinaloa state, while he was traveling along the Autopista del Pacifico. Higuero survived the ambush unharmed.
A firefight between the Mexican army and gunmen took place in Saltillo, Coahuila state. Three unidentified individuals were killed and two soldiers were injured.
Mexican authorities announced the capture of Alejandro “El Alex” Chavez Moreno, identified by authorities as the leader of Los Mano con Ojos. Chavez is believed to be responsible for more than 70 executions.

Nov. 9

Federal police arrested three members of La Familia Michoacana in Chalco, Mexico state.
Unidentified gunmen killed the manager of a hardware store in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.

Nov. 10

Five gunmen were killed in two separate shootouts with the Mexican military in Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila state.
Mexican authorities announced the seizure of a training camp near Madero, Chihuahua state. Authorities seized assault rifles, ammunition, grenades and vehicles.
Police discovered a residence used by a criminal organization in Marin, Nuevo Leon state. Authorities discovered the burned bodies of two men inside the residence.
Gunmen opened fire on a gas station in Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state, killing a 16-year-old boy.
The Mexican army seized more than 9 tons of marijuana from four vehicles in Culiacan, Sinaloa state.

Nov. 11

Mexican authorities arrested five Los Zetas operators in Escobedo, Nuevo Leon state, two of whom were financial operators for the criminal organization.
Mexican authorities discovered the decapitated bodies of a man and a woman in a taxi in Acapulco, Guerrero state.

Nov. 12

Mexican authorities announced the arrest of Samuel Reynoso Garcia, also known as Inocencio Carranza Reynoso, a senior member of the Knights Templar. Directly linked to the leader of the Knights Templar, Servando “La Tuta” Gomez Martinez, Reynoso Garcia was arrested with nine accomplices.

Nov. 13

Gunmen ambushed agents from Durango state’s bureau of investigations in Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango state. One agent was wounded in the ambush.

Nov. 14

Mexican authorities arrested Rigoberto “Comandante Chapparo” Zamarripa Arispe, a Zetas plaza boss in Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state.

Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Authorities Arrest Suspected Zetas Paymaster | STRATFOR


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Destapo de la corrupcion
« Reply #317 on: November 22, 2011, 02:55:59 PM »
No tengo ningun opinion sobre lo siguiente.

Cabe mencionar que segun el episodio del momento de la revista "Proceso", la cual yo estaba leyendo durante mi reciente visita al DF, el recien fallado Secretaria de Gobernacion, Blake Mora, quien venia de BC, no buscaba subir a la presidencia sino regresar a ser Gobernador de BC. 

Dado las circunstancias de su muerte, la curiosa muerte de otro Secretaria de Gobernacion hace tres anos, y el despedido de dos Secretarias mas durante este sexenio, esa estrategica de Blake Mora es muy curiosa.

« Last Edit: November 22, 2011, 03:03:05 PM by Crafty_Dog »


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Armed illegals stalked Border Patrol
« Reply #318 on: November 23, 2011, 09:04:53 AM »
Armed illegals stalked Border Patrol
Mexicans were ‘patrolling’ when agent was slain, indictment says
By Jerry Seper
The Washington Times
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SLAIN: Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry called out, “I’m hit,” after a bullet pierced his aorta. He died at the scene. (Associated Press)

Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show.

A now-sealed federal grand jury indictmentin the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terrysays the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.

At least two of the Mexicans carried their assault rifles “at the ready position,” one of several details about the attack showing that Mexican smugglers are becoming more aggressive on the U.S. side of the border.

According to the indictment, the Mexicans were “patrolling the area in single-file formation” a dozen miles northwest of the border town of Nogales and — in the darkness of the Arizona night — opened fire on four Border Patrol agents after the agents identified themselves in Spanish as police officers.

Two AK-47 assault rifles found at the scene came from the failed Fast and Furious operation.

Using thermal binoculars, one of the agents determined that at least two of the Mexicans were carrying rifles, but according to an affidavit in the case by FBI agent Scott Hunter, when the Mexicans did not drop their weapons as ordered, two agents used their shotguns to fire “less than lethal” beanbags at them.

At least one of the Mexicans opened fire and, according to the affidavit, Terry, a 40-year-old former U.S. Marine, was shot in the back. A Border Patrol shooting-incident report said that Terry called out, “I’m hit,” and then fell to the ground, a bullet having pierced his aorta. “I can’t feel my legs,” Terry told one of the agents who cradled him. “I think I’m paralyzed.”

Bleeding profusely, he died at the scene.

After the initial shots, two agents returned fire, hitting Manuel Osorio-Arellanes, 33, in the abdomen and leg. The others fled. The FBI affidavit said Osorio-Arellanes admitted during an interview that all five of the Mexicans were armed.

Peck Canyon is a notorious drug-smuggling corridor.

Osorio-Arellanes initially was charged with illegal entry, but that case was dismissed when the indictment was handed up. It named Osorio-Arellanes on a charge of second-degree murder, but did not identify him as the likely shooter, saying only that Osorio-Arellanes and others whose names were blacked out “did unlawfully kill with malice aforethought United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry while Agent Terry was engaged in … his official duties.”

The indictment also noted that Osorio-Arellanes had been convicted in Phoenix in 2006 of felony aggravated assault, had been detained twice in 2010 as an illegal immigrant, and had been returned to Mexico repeatedly.

Bill Brooks, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s acting southwest border field branch chief, referred inquiries to the FBI, which is conducting the investigation. The FBI declined to comment.

The case against Osorio-Arellanes and others involved in the shooting has since been sealed, meaning that neither the public nor the media has access to any evidence, filings, rulings or arguments.

The U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego, which is prosecuting the case, would confirm only that it was sealed. Also sealed was the judge’s reason for sealing the case.

The indictment lists the names of other suspects in the shooting, but they are redacted.

In the Terry killing, two Romanian-built AK-47 assault rifles found at the scene were identified as having been purchased in a Glendale, Ariz., gun shop as part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) failed Fast and Furious investigation.

A number of rank-and-file Border Patrol agents have questioned why the case has not gone to trial, nearly a year after Terry’s killing. Several also have concerns about the lack of transparency in the investigation, compounded now by the fact that the court case has been sealed.

Shawn P. Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, which represents all 17,000 nonsupervisory agents, said it is rare for illegal immigrants or drug smugglers to engage agents in the desert, saying they usually “drop their loads and take off south.”

“The Brian Terry murder was a real wake-up call,” Mr. Moran said. “It emphasizes the failed state of security on the U.S. border, which poses more of a threat to us than either Iraq or Afghanistan. We have terrorism going on right on the other side of the fence, and we’re arming the drug cartels.

“My biggest fear is that someday a cartel member is going to go berserk, stick a rifle through the fence and kill as many Border Patrol agents as he can,” he said.

Mr. Moran said he understood the “rationale of working things up the food chain,” as suggested in the Fast and Furious probe, but had no idea how ATF planned to arrest cartel members who ultimately purchased the weapons since the agency lacks jurisdiction south of the border and never advised Mexican authorities about the operation.

“It was a ridiculous idea from the beginning, and it baffles us on how it was ever approved,” he said.

Mr. Moran also challenged the use of less-than-lethal s in the shooting incident, saying field agents have been “strong-armed” by the agency’s leadership to use nonlethal weapons. He said they were not appropriate for the incident in which Terry was killed.

“That was no place for beanbag rounds,” he said, noting that the encounter was at least 12 miles inside the U.S. and was carried out by armed men looking specifically to target Border Patrol agents.

CBP has said Terry and the agents with him carried fully loaded sidearms, along with two additional magazines, and were not under orders to use nonlethal ammunition first.

Mr. Moran, himself a veteran Border Patrol agent, said he also was “surprised” that the suspected Mexican gunmen were carrying their weapons at the ready position, meaning that the butts of the weapons were placed firmly in the pocket of the shoulder with the barrels pointed down at a 45-degree angle. He said this probably meant they had some level of military training.

More than 250 incursions by Mexican military personnel into the United States have been documented over the past several years.

The Border Patrol has warned agents in Arizona that many of the intruders were “trained to escape, evade and counter-ambush” if detected. The agency cautioned agents to keep “a low profile,” to use “cover and concealment” in approaching the Mexican units, to employ “shadows and camouflage” to conceal themselves and to “stay as quiet as possible.”

Several of the incursions occurred in the same area where Terry was killed, including a 2005 incident in which two agents were shot and wounded by assailants dressed in black commando-type clothing in what law-enforcement authorities said was a planned ambush. More than 50 rounds were fired at the agents after they spotted the suspected gunmen.

Many of the Mexican drug cartels use former Mexican soldiers, police and federal agents to protect drug loads headed into the U.S. Many cartel leaders also have targeted U.S. Border Patrol agents and state and local police, sometimes offering bounties of up to $50,000.


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As we suspected , , ,
« Reply #319 on: November 27, 2011, 03:31:31 PM »
There's been an 800 pound gorilla lurking just out of range or most Gunwalking reporting: how many of the firearms being used criminally in Mexico were first sold by the State Department to the Mexican government? This piece outlines the broad parameters:

U. S. Government May Be Primary Suppliers of Mexican Drug Cartel Guns
by Tom Stilson

With Operation Fast and Furious headlining the news, there is no doubt civilian arms have been trafficked into Mexico. However, many of the arms used by Mexican cartels are NOT supplied by civilian gun outlets in the United States. Based upon the statistics I have compiled, our State and Defense Departments may be the premier suppliers of weaponry to Mexican drug cartels — not the US civilian.

From 2003-2009, over 150,000 Mexican soldiers deserted from their ranks. Drug cartels became so confident in their recruitment of military personnel that they posted help wanted ads for hit men, traffickers, and guards. When these soldiers desert, their US-supplied weapons (grenades, sniper rifles, assault weapons, etc.) often accompany them over to the cartels. In 2008 and 2009, 13,792 and 20,530 small arms were exported to Mexico from the US. Over 92% of these arms were civilian legal semi-automatic or non-automatic firearms, a number eerily similar to the debunked 90% number echoed by the ATF. A 2008 State Department memo to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi shows a $1,000,000 shipment of select fire M4A2 assault rifles to the Mexican Federal Police Force, (AKA Federales) one of the most corrupt Mexican government agencies.
The most recent numbers from 2010 show the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) — the State Department agency responsible for overseeing the exportation of military goods — authorized the transfer of 2.5 million units of small arms, weapon optics, silencers, and related components. In that same year, over 11 million units of ammunition and 127,000 units of explosive ordnance were cleared for exportation to Mexico. This amounted to $25 million worth of small arms, ammunition, and explosives shipped to Mexico authorized by our State Department.

In recent months, allegations have surfaced that the State Department’s US Direct Commercial Sales Program and DDTC may have directly shipped arms to the Zetas, the Gulf Cartel’s hit squad. The Zetas were at one time trained and supplied with American weaponry by our own 7th Special Forces Group in the early 1990s. These claims against the State Department arose even after the DDTC recognized the Americas Region in 2009 as having the highest rate of unfavorable traces for their Blue Lantern Program. The Blue Lantern Program involves traces performed by the DDTC to ensure exported military weaponry does not end up with an unauthorized nation or organization. For the Americas, 80% of traces where unauthorized end users were identified involved small arms. Data specifically for Mexico was unavailable from the State Department.

From 2008 to 2009, when President Obama entered office, Defense Department expenditures to Mexico have increased from $12 million to $34,000,000 and State Department expenditures increased from $7.2 million to $356 million. While 2010 data is currently unavailable, it appears our foreign aid to Mexico has continued to increase for 2011. These statistics imply the State and Defense Departments may very well be the top suppliers of small arms to Mexico’s drug cartels and not civilians. Only the information obtained from ATF Firearms Traces will tell. However, those records are not public. After the DOJ and the White House knowingly pursued attemp at new gun control legislation, we are left to ask the question; is this just another case of government stupidity or is this something more premeditated?


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Zeta hit in Texas?
« Reply #320 on: November 30, 2011, 03:19:38 PM »
November 30, 2011


Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the recent murder allegedly
committed by Mexican cartel members and the complexity faced by law enforcement
agencies when cross-border violence occurs.

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

In this week's Above the Tearline, we are going to look at an incident that appears
to be a Mexican cartel-related murder in Texas.

Last Monday, in the Houston area, several undercover officers from a High Intensity
Drug Trafficking Areas Task Force (known as a HIDTA) were following a
tractor-trailer from south Texas transporting drugs in an undercover operation. Four
suspects ambushed the truck, firing shoulder weapons, shooting and wounding a task
force police officer and killing the driver, who media have identified as an
undercover government informant. 

The true motive for the attack is unclear. There has been speculation in the media
that the suspects attacked the truck to steal the marijuana, with others speculating
the real target was the undercover informant. It is unknown if the shooters were
aware that undercover police officers were surveilling the drug load. We have heard
through our law enforcement contacts the suspects may be linked to the violent Zeta
cartel organization. The brazen nature of the ambush certainly fits their m.o., but
killing government informants in the U.S. is something the cartels have typically
tried to avoid. The pressure the feds can place on the cartels disrupts their supply
chain and causes the cartels to lose money. 

The DEA has taken the lead investigative role, which is a positive step, assisted by
the Houston Police Department Homicide Division and the local sheriff's department.
However, behind the scenes, other state and federal agencies are also assisting the
DEA, to include the Texas DPS, ATF and the FBI. Three of the four suspects are
allegedly Mexican nationals, so the State Department and ICE will interface with our
Mexican counterparts, and an investigation will be conducted in Mexico to determine
if the suspects are connected to a drug trafficking organization. At the national
level, traces will also be conducted on the suspects through the entire U.S.
intelligence community. As you can see, a lot is taking place behind the scenes.

What is the Above the Tearline aspect of this video? The DEA needs to determine
whether or not a cartel source sold out the details of the undercover operation to
the bad guys. If so, the internal leak needs to be found before other drug
operations are jeopardized.
More Videos -

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.


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State Dept behind more sales? Departamento de Estado atras de aun mas ventas?
« Reply #321 on: December 07, 2011, 06:10:09 AM »
Legal U.S. gun sales to Mexico arming cartels
By Sharyl Attkisson

(CBS News)  Selling weapons to Mexico - where cartel violence is out of control - is controversial because so many guns fall into the wrong hands due to incompetence and corruption. The Mexican military recently reported nearly 9,000 police weapons "missing."
Yet the U.S. has approved the sale of more guns to Mexico in recent years than ever before through a program called "direct commercial sales." It's a program that some say is worse than the highly-criticized "Fast and Furious" gunrunning scandal, where U.S. agents allowed thousands of weapons to pass from the U.S. to Mexican drug cartels.

CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson discovered that the official tracking all those guns sold through "direct commercial sales" leaves something to be desired.

One weapon - an AR-15-type semi-automatic rifle - tells the story. In 2006, this same kind of rifle - tracked by serial number - is legally sold by a U.S. manufacturer to the Mexican military.

Three years later - it's found in a criminal stash in a region wracked by Mexican drug cartel violence.

That prompted a "sensitive" cable, uncovered by WikiLeaks, dated June 4, 2009, in which the U.S. State Department asked Mexico "how the AR-15" - meant only for the military or police - was "diverted" into criminal hands.

And, more importantly, where the other rifles from the same shipment went: "Please account for the current location of the 1,030 AR-15 type rifles," reads the cable.

There's no response in the record.

The problem of weapons legally sold to Mexico - then diverted to violent cartels - is becoming more urgent. That's because the U.S. has quietly authorized a massive escalation in the number of guns sold to Mexico through "direct commercial sales." It's a way foreign countries can acquire firearms faster and with less disclosure than going through the Pentagon.

Here's how it works: A foreign government fills out an application to buy weapons from private gun manufacturers in the U.S. Then the State Department decides whether to approve.

And it did approve 2,476 guns to be sold to Mexico in 2006. In 2009, that number was up nearly 10 times, to 18,709. The State Department has since stopped disclosing numbers of guns it approves, and wouldn't give CBS News figures for 2010 or 2011.

With Mexico in a virtual state of war with its cartels, nobody's tracking how many U.S. guns are ending up with the enemy.

"I think most Americans are aware that there's a problem in terms of the drug traffickers in Mexico, increases in violence," said Bill Hartung, an arms control advocate with the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. "I don't think they realize that we're sending so many guns there, and that some of them may be diverted to the very cartels that we're trying to get under control."

The State Department audits only a tiny sample - less than 1 percent of sales - but the results are disturbing: In 2009, more than a quarter (26 percent) of the guns sold to the region that includes Mexico were "diverted" into the wrong hands, or had other "unfavorable" results.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation's Larry Keane, who speaks for gun manufacturers, said he understands the potential for abuse.

"There have been 150,000 or more Mexican soldiers defect to go work for the cartels, and I think it's safe to assume that when they defect they take their firearms with them," Keane told CBS News.

But Keane said the sales help the U.S.

"These sales by the industry actually support U.S. national security interests," Keane told Attkisson. "If they didn't, the State Department wouldn't allow them."

"Do they need better oversight?" asked Attkisson.

"It's certainly for the State Department and the Mexican government to try to make sure that the cartels don't obtain firearms that way," he replied. "But that's really beyond the control of the industry."

Mexico is now one of the world's largest purchasers of U.S. guns through direct commercial sales, beating out countries like Iraq. The State Department office that oversees the sales wouldn't agree to an interview. But an official has told Congress their top priority is to advance national security and foreign policy.


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Zeta Narcomanta?
« Reply #322 on: December 09, 2011, 08:49:11 AM »
Recommended External Links
Image and translation of Zetas narcomanta
STRATFOR is not responsible for the content of other websites.

Zetas Narcomanta Challenges the Government

Mexican media began reporting Dec. 2 of a narcomanta attributed to Miguel “Z-40” Trevino Morales, the overall No. 2 leader of Los Zetas, that appeared in an as yet undisclosed city in Mexico. In a clear threat to Mexican authorities, the banner read, “The special forces of Los Zetas challenge the government of Mexico.” The banner went on to say that “Mexico lives and will continue under the regime of Los Zetas. Let it be clear that we are in control here and although the federal government controls other cartels, they cannot take our plazas … Look at what happened in Sinaloa and Guadalajara.” The last sentence is a reference to the mass killings and body dumps attributed to the Zetas in Culiacan and Guadalajara discovered Nov. 23.

The language used in the banner is intriguing; never before has a cartel referred to itself as a “regime,” and such brazen, adversarial terminology directed against the Mexican government is uncommon. It is difficult to imagine a drug cartel with a pedigree as violent as the Zetas wanting to assume governmental duties. Historically, while cartels have exerted influence over portions of Mexico, they have not sought to actually govern. Instead they use corruption or fear to ensure an unrestricted ability to conduct their criminal operations.

Though it specifically references the incidents in Culiacan and Guadalajara, there is no way to verify that Trevino actually commissioned the banner. Trevino has commissioned banners in the past, and, given his predilection for violence, his underlings would be unlikely to author something on his behalf without his approval. The fact that the message in this banner is so out of character suggests the possibility that it is a disinformation campaign directed against Los Zetas. If this is indeed a disinformation effort, the Sinaloa Federation, which, as the other pre-eminent cartel in Mexico, has the most to gain from increased government action against the Zetas, cannot be ruled out.

What is more interesting than the content of the banner is how little is known about its origins. No media agency has definitely stated where the banner was found — or if there were others like it. Narcomantas are prevalent in Mexico, and details of their appearances are not hard to come by in the media. Also, major messages are frequently left with the bodies of mutilated enemies to prove bona fides. But for whatever reason, no agency has been able to ascertain the location of this banner (a rumor surfaced that it appeared in Ciudad Victoria in Zetas territory, but that rumor remains unconfirmed). That six days have passed without any indication of the location suggests the Mexican government, which is constantly attempting to maintain an image of control in the war on drugs, is taking the threat seriously and is disallowing the details of the banner’s location to come out.

More Victims in Veracruz

Seven bodies were found Dec. 4 in the Adolfo Lopez Mateo neighborhood of Veracruz, Veracruz state. All of the bodies were bound and gagged, and some of them bore signs of torture. The cause of death is unconfirmed, but from photographs of the scene it appears that many were shot. As many as five of the seven bodies had their faces completely covered by their shirts, which had been pulled over their heads and fastened to their necks with duct tape. Uncorroborated witness statements said members of the state police had executed the victims.

On the surface, the location in which the bodies were dumped seems notable. The Adolfo Lopez Mateo neighborhood lies just 2 miles from Boca del Rio, where the bodies of around 35 alleged Zetas members were dumped in September. (Less than a week later, another 32 bodies were found in stash houses in the same neighborhood.) At that time, STRATFOR predicted that the Zetas would carry out reprisals in Veracruz; the forecast was accurate, but the location was not. On Nov. 23, the Zetas dumped 24 bodies in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, and 26 bodies in Guadalajara, Jalisco state, the following day. Based on the messages left at the scenes, these two events — not the Dec. 4 incident — were revenge killings for the Boca del Rio incident in September.

Notably, the Dec. 4 victims were killed in a different manner than the September victims (who were suffocated), and there were no messages left at the scene to suggest the killings were in fact reprisals. This, coupled with the unconfirmed statements suggesting state police involvement in the killings, presents a few possible explanations.

Given the long-term control the Zetas have maintained in Veracruz and the possibility that that control included coercion of or collaboration with the state police, the victims may have been connected to the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) and/or the Matazetas, who are believed to have been responsible for the September killings. With such control, it is possible that the state police acted on orders of the Zetas to kill the seven victims discovered Dec. 4.

Alternatively, Los Zetas may have killed the seven victims directly. If this were the case, they likely would have left a message with the bodies claiming retribution or providing some kind of explanation or threat. In either case, the time elapsed between the September killing of Zetas members and this possible retribution is not unreasonable; the Zetas would need time to investigate and track down the perpetrators.

There is the potential that the seven dead were members of Los Zetas and that this was a continuation of the September killings. But because the modus operandi was so different — specifically, there was no writing on the bodies or other written messages to indicate an affiliation of the victims with any group — it is unclear which cartel is responsible. What is clear is that the two mass-killing events in Boca del Rio in September were not isolated events. Rather, STRATFOR sees this series of events as an escalation of the cycle of retributive violence in Veracruz — in scale if not in frequency.

Whichever explanation is correct, it is clear that the struggle between Los Zetas and the CJNG in Veracruz is continuing, and more violence can be expected in the important port city.

(click here to view interactive map)

Nov. 29

Mexican authorities discovered the remains of three dismembered bodies in Xochitepec, Morelos state, after receiving an anonymous tip.
Mexican marines arrested Ezequiel Cardenas Rivera, the son of former Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel “Tony Tormenta” Cardenas Guillen, at a residence in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state.
The prison director and twenty other officials at the San Pedro Cholulu prison in Puebla state were arrested in connection with the Nov. 27 prison escape of Los Zetas cartel members.
Four banners appeared in various areas of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, addressing Mexican President Felipe Calderon and linking the president to supporting Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera. The banners were signed, “The United Citizens of Juarez and Mexico.”

Nov. 30

Mexican authorities seized more than 3.9 metric tons of marijuana from a drug tunnel in Tijuana, Baja California state, running under the U.S.-Mexico border.
A narcomanta left with the body of an elderly man in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state, mentioned the theft of $5 million and the name “Tono” Pena.

Dec. 1

Mexican authorities seized a synthetic drug lab in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, that housed various precursor chemicals for methamphetamine. No arrests were made.
Mexican authorities seized more than 550 kilograms (about 1,213 pounds) of methamphetamine in a drug lab in Zapotlanejo, Jalisco state.

Dec. 2

A narcomanta signed by the Knights Templar was posted on a bridge in Morelia, Michoacan state. The banner stated that the Knights Templar is not a criminal group and encouraged citizens to enjoy the “December holiday.”
After a two-month operation, the Mexican military dismantled Los Zetas communications networks in the states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, San Luis Potosi, and Tamaulipas.
A radio host was murdered at a nightclub in Chihuahua, Chihuahua State. Witness reports claim the murderer was wearing military-style clothing.

Dec. 3

Mexican authorities arrested 22 police officers throughout Tabasco state for connections to Los Zetas.

Dec. 4

The bodies of five executed individuals were discovered in Sinaloa Municipality, Sinaloa state.
Gunmen fired at the house of the mayor of Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon state.

Dec. 5

Federal Police arrested six members of the Independent Cartel of Acapulco in Acapulco, Guerrero.
Gunmen shot and killed the police chief of Saltillo, Coahuila state, and his 11-year-old son.


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Desinformation continues in Tamaulipas
« Reply #323 on: December 16, 2011, 11:37:36 AM »
Mexico Security Memo: The Disinformation Continues in Tamaulipas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Stratfor: CJNG: Regional threat w National Reach
« Reply #324 on: December 22, 2011, 05:34:02 PM »

CJNG: Regional Threat with a National Reach?

On Dec. 13, unknown gunmen in Ecuandureo, Michoacan state, ambushed another criminal group (some media agencies have reported that the targeted group was from La Familia Michoacana). The ambushed group’s leader reportedly was killed in the attack, and the assailants are said to have fled the scene after the assault. Mexican military personnel and federal police were deployed to the area. Additional security personnel were sent to border crossings between Michoacan and Jalisco states.

Authorities later detained five individuals near the scene of the attack. One detainee reportedly confessed to being a member of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), a Sinaloa Federation enforcer group from Jalisco state. Authorities also seized three AK-47s with 480 rounds of ammunition, two AR-15s with 690 rounds of ammunition, five pistols with 41 rounds of ammunition and various unidentified tactical gear. Two vehicles — a truck and an SUV — were also seized. The vehicles were reportedly armored, though the level of armor is not known and some media reports indicate only one vehicle was armored.

That authorities deployed to the Michoacan-Jalisco border in response to the attack suggests that they suspected the attackers might attempt to cross into Jalisco. That fact, combined with the suspect’s confessed membership in Jalisco-based CJNG, indicates a connection between the attack and the arrests, though media reports did not link the two.

If CJNG were responsible for the Dec. 13 ambush, it would mean that the group is expanding its geographic reach. CJNG obviously has been active in Jalisco, and its subgroup, known as the “Matazetas,” or Zeta killers, has claimed the killing of dozens of suspected Zetas in Boca del Rio, Veracruz state. (CJNG not only struck Los Zetas on their home turf in Veracruz, but remained there for an extended period of time.) Now, with the possible CJNG attack in Michoacan, it seems CJNG is evolving from a regional organization into a hit squad with a national reach.

Shallow Graves in Jalisco State

A man and four University of Guadalajara students were found dead in Jalisco state Dec. 14-15. Media reports vary widely in describing the sequence of events, the cause of death, the number of casualties and other details — while new details emerge every day. What statements from the Jalisco state attorney general do make clear is that the victims were found buried in shallow graves in the courtyard of the Federation of Guadalajara Students’ (FEG) headquarters.

Originally a student organization at the University of Guadalajara, the FEG is one of many informal groups at Mexican universities that extort money from food and drink vendors in exchange for the right to sell goods on and around campuses. The FEG no longer has any formal ties to the university and instead operates with high schools affiliated with the university. There are no prior reports of the group engaging in this degree of violence.

According to reports, a fried-dough vendor named Armando Gomez, his son and three other University of Guadalajara students went to FEG headquarters Dec. 9 to complain about the amount of protection money the FEG was charging them. Family members of Gomez and of the students reported that the victims never returned home after the confrontation. On Dec. 14, three bodies were found at the FEG headquarters, and the remaining two bodies were found nearby the following day. According to the attorney general, the families identified the bodies as those of Gomez and the students. The Jalisco Institute of Forensic Science reported that Gomez and his son died of gunshot wounds to the head, while the remaining three victims had been stabbed.

The events do not necessarily portend an overall escalation of violence in the Jalisco capital, nor do they suggest a growing trend within the FEG. More importantly, the killings serve as a reminder that drug cartels, while responsible for an overwhelming amount of crime and death in Mexico, are not the only ones capable of crime and violence.

(click here to view interactive map)

Dec. 13

Gunmen driving in two vehicles ambushed a government convoy in Chihuahua City, Chihuahua state. The city clerk of Gran Morelos, Chihuahua state, was killed, and the head of the Public Security Secretariat in Chihuahua state was wounded. All of the gunmen managed to escape.
Gunmen murdered the prison director of the Centro de Readaptacion Social at an intersection in Saltillo, Coahuila state.
A criminal cell was ambushed by gunmen in Ecuandureo, Michoacan state, resulting in the deaths of the cell’s leader, Javier Guerrero, and three of his men.
Five members of the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) were arrested as a result of a Mexican military operation in Ecuandureo, Michoacan state. Authorities seized five rifles and five pistols as well as 27 kilograms (about 60 pounds) of marijuana.

Dec. 14

Gunmen ambushed a convoy of police vehicles in Tepic, Nayarit state, that was carrying the state’s attorney general. Some of the gunmen reportedly were wounded in the ensuing clash, but all of them escaped.
Police in Tijuana, Baja California state, arrested two Sinaloa Federation operators, who confessed to working in a cell led by a man known as El Neto.
Gunmen opened fire on the main entry of a hospital in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. No one was wounded in the shooting and no arrests were made.

Dec. 15

Mexican authorities discovered the body of Juan “El Juancho” Guzman Rocha, cousin of Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, on the side of a highway in Aguaruto, Sinaloa state. Guzman Rocha’s body was bound, bore signs of torture and had sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
Nine gunmen and one soldier were killed in a confrontation between the Mexican military and an armed group in Saltillo, Coahuila state.

Dec. 16

Members of the Sinaloa Federation attacked municipal police and civilians who were thought to be Zetas drug distributors in the cities of Fresnillo, Jerez, Rio Grande, Sombrerete and Zacatecas, Zacatecas state. Four individuals were killed and eight were wounded in the attacks. After the confrontation, gunmen went to a hospital and removed three of the wounded who had been admitted in the aftermath of the attack.

Dec. 17

Mexican authorities arrested eight members of the Knights Templar in Leon, Guanajuato state. Two kidnapped individuals were rescued as a result of the operation.
The Mexican military seized a weapons cache in Tayahua, Zacatecas state, and arrested one individual connected to the seizure. Among the weapons seized were various assault rifles, magazines, ammunition, high-caliber rifles and a grenade launcher.
Thirty-six gunmen attacked Mexican military personnel in Caracuaro, Michoacan state. Six gunmen died and two soldiers were injured.

Dec. 18

The Mexican military rescued 21 undocumented Central Americans who had been kidnapped from a safe house in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Authorities also detained three armed individuals.


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Upcoming presidential elections
« Reply #325 on: December 23, 2011, 06:10:58 AM »

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

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

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

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

The National Action Party

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

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

The Institutional Revolutionary Party

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

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

The Revolutionary Democratic Party

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

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

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

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

Read more: Mexico's Political Parties Look Ahead to 2012 Presidential Election | STRATFOR


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WSJ: Trial exposes odd ties
« Reply #326 on: January 08, 2012, 07:00:35 AM »
MEXICO CITY—When a top Mexican or Colombian drug lord is captured, events normally go something like this: He gets extradited to the U.S. and makes a closed-door deal with prosecutors to give information on the drugs trade while getting a reduced sentence in return. The public finds out little to nothing of the details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enlarge Image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

« Last Edit: January 08, 2012, 07:21:53 AM by Crafty_Dog »

Hello Kitty

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Re: Mexico
« Reply #327 on: January 11, 2012, 12:44:32 PM »
"Dec. 7
•   Mexican authorities arrested three alleged members of the Zetas-aligned Milenio cartel for their involvement in the deaths of 26 individuals in Guadalajara, Jalisco state."

Do you have anything else on this Guro?


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Stratfor: Annual Report
« Reply #328 on: January 24, 2012, 08:07:47 PM »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Status of Mexico's Major Cartels

Sinaloa Federation

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

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

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

Los Zetas

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

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

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

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

The Gulf Cartel

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

La Familia Michoacana

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

The Knights Templar

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

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

Independent Cartel of Acapulco

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

Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion

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

Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization/Juarez Cartel

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

Cartel Pacifico Sur

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

Arellano Felix Organization

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

2011 Forecast in Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resupplying Leadership

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

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

2012 Forecasts by Region

Northeast Mexico

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Southeast Mexico

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

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

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

Southwest Mexico

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

Pacific Coast and Central Mexico

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

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

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

Northwest Mexico

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

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

Outside of Mexico

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

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

Government Strategy in 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello Kitty

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Re: Mexico
« Reply #329 on: February 01, 2012, 09:17:47 AM »
Just had nine people killed right down the street from our house three weeks ago. This won't be ending any time soon. It is what it is. It will end in a full scale revolution. There will be no peace brokering. The cartels are to powerful and corrupt, to settle for anything less than absolute control or death. An ugly fact.


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« Reply #330 on: February 08, 2012, 02:43:00 PM »
Remobilizing Forces

Two narcomantas signed by the Cartel de Jalisco Nuevo Generacion (CJNG) were found Feb. 3 in Acapulco, Guerrero state. Through the messages, the CJNG vowed to "clean" Acapulco as it did Veracruz, referring to the multiple mass killings of Los Zetas there in late 2011. It specifically called out such criminal groups as the Independent Cartel of Acapulco (CIDA), Los Zetas and residual elements of the Beltran Leyva Organization, all of which are known to operate in Acapulco. The message also noted that the CJNG had no quarrel with Mexican authorities -- the Federal Police, the Mexican Navy and the National Defense Secretariat were all named -- but rather with the cartels that are "terrorizing" Acapulco.

The CJNG is now the third known major criminal organization aligned with the Sinaloa Federation to operate in Acapulco -- La Gente Nueva, Sinaloa's longtime enforcer unit, and La Barredora are the other two. A relatively nascent criminal group, La Barredora has been fighting CIDA for control of Acapulco for some time, and it aligned with Sinaloa in the latter half of 2011. Acapulco is a valuable plaza, so these groups are not interested in sharing power or territory. While La Barredora will continue to direct its efforts toward CIDA, the CJNG will continue its stated intention of fighting Los Zetas and other elements in Acapulco.

Larger cartels often use smaller affiliate groups -- enforcer units or regional gangs -- to assert their control in places far from their home turf. Backed by a powerful and resourceful patron, these affiliate groups become more powerful than they would be on their own (though it is unclear how much autonomy affiliate groups maintain). But this practice poses an inherent danger: If left unchecked, smaller groups could become too powerful, thereby threatening the authority of the patron. Such was the case with Los Zetas, who began as an enforcer unit with the Gulf cartel but have since become the largest cartel, in terms of areas of operation, in Mexico.

Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera understands this dynamic, and in utilizing affiliate groups, he is careful not to allow any one group to become so powerful that that it could jeopardize his power. One way he keeps these groups in check by constantly remobilizing them.

This may indeed explain CJNG's recent itinerancy. Hailing from Guadalajara, Jalisco state, the CJNG conducted operations in Jalisco, Michoacan and Veracruz states before being deployed to Guerrero state. Meanwhile, La Barredora, which originated in Acapulco independently of Sinaloa, reportedly was operating in Guadalajara by December 2011. In reshuffling the CJNG, La Barredora and other groups to different territories -- and at times consolidating them into one territory -- Guzman is ensuring that no one plaza is the exclusive domain of any one group.

NCJ Attacking Soft Targets in Chihuahua

For the past month the New Juarez Cartel (NCJ), the new iteration of the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organization's (VCF's) enforcement arm, La Linea, has been actively killing municipal police officers in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. But now it seems the group has begun to target police officers in Chihuahua, a city the VCF used to own before the Sinaloa Federation largely took it over.

In the past week, three municipal police officers and a brother of an officer from a joint police force were killed in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. In one instance, gunmen shot an off-duty police officer while he was at a bar. Following the deaths, narcomantas signed by the NCJ were found in Chihuahua city; the messages contained threats to the city's law enforcement, which the NCJ believes is supporting Sinaloa.

Specifically, the narcomantas threatened the Policia Unica, a task force composed of municipal, state and federal law enforcement officials. While the threats are credible, it should be noted that the NCJ generally has not engaged on-duty police officers. Typically, the NCJ targets off-duty officers or small groups of on-duty officers rather than heavily armed groups. The killing of police officers shows the NCJ is trying to loosen Sinaloa's grip on the city. That it is targeting relatively soft targets reflects the weakness of the NCJ.

Jan. 31
•   The Mexican military had multiple confrontations with gunmen in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state. Gunmen used public buses to establish roadblocks near several of the firefights. During the confrontations, gunmen reportedly stole a tiger from a Matamoros circus.
•   Two U.S. missionaries were found dead in separate areas of their home in Santiago, Nuevo Leon state, each with electrical cords wrapped around their necks. A safe, dug out of a wall in their home, and the couple's SUV were missing.
•   The Mexican military arrested police chief Leocadio Cabrera Delgado and 32 municipal police officers in Guasave, Sinaloa state, after they failed to respond as back up in a firefight in which three soldiers were killed.
•   Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police station in General Teran, Nuevo Leon state.
Feb. 1
•   U.S. Customs seized 26 kilograms (57 pounds) of methamphetamine hidden in a shipment of cucumbers at a border crossing near McAllen, Texas.
•   Mexican authorities found the body of a man who had been shot in the head in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The body was in front of a wall with a narcomanta signed "Los Z Zona Centro."
•   Gunmen ambushed a federal police patrol in Acapulco, Guerrero state. Three gunmen were killed.
•   Gunmen opened fire on two women at a gas station in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, killing one and injuring the other.
•   Several hooded men robbed the Casino Caliente in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. They fired at least two shots before taking $300,000 from the casino's safe.
•   Gunmen shot and killed a police officer in a bar in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. The officer was an escort for the city's police chief.
•   Mexico state's attorney general and Department of Public Safety announced the arrest of La Familia Michoacana's main operator for drug sales in Chimalhuacan.
Feb. 2
•   The Mexican military presented 13 sicarios who were arrested during military actions throughout Nuevo Leon state.
•   The Mexican army dismantled a communications network used by drug traffickers in Praxedis G. Guerrero, Chihuahua state. Soldiers seized various radio communication devices and four solar cells used to power the communication hub. No arrests were made during the operation.
•   The Mexican army seized 9.8 kilograms of opium gum in El Nayar, Nayarit state. Five rifles, a magazine, 69 rounds of varying calibers and an abandoned vehicle were also seized.
•   A firefight in Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas state, between gunmen and the Mexican military carried over across the U.S. border. One gunman was injured and two others were arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol.
•   Mexican officials announced the deployment of 4,000 soldiers to Morelia, Michoacan state, marking the largest deployment in the state since July 2009.
•   Unidentified attackers killed a man in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state by throwing him over a bridge and onto a city street below.
•   Gunmen in multiple vehicles opened fire on two bars in Colonia Obrerista of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, and launched Molotov cocktails that failed to detonate. Only one injury was reported, but some witnesses said four people were kidnapped. The gunmen spray painted a message to a rival gang on the wall of one of the bars.
•   Mexican authorities discovered the body of a burned man tied to several car tires in Tulancingo, Hidalgo state. A narcomanta signed "La Gente" was left with the body and threatened a similar fate to rivals.
•   At least 10 municipalities in Michoacan state received threats from an unnamed criminal organization, prompting the closure of primary schools in several municipalities.
•   Mexican authorities found the bodies of three executed men in a ditch approximately 400 meters from an educational institution, between the municipalities of Juarez and Guadalupe in Nuevo Leon state.
•   Gunmen in multiple vehicles ambushed Miguel Angel Yunes Marquez, a state program coordinator, and his brother Fernando Yunes, a PAN candidate for the Senate, in Alamo, Veracruz state, while the two were traveling from Alamo to Castillo de Teayo in an armored vehicle. Neither were hurt.
•   Mexican authorities discovered the body of a male La Resistencia member in Zapopan, Jalisco state. The man had been shot to death, and a narcomanta threatening other La Resistencia members was left with the body.
Feb. 3
•   Gunmen carrying sidearms killed three men, including two brothers, outside a residence in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. The gunmen spray painted a message addressed to a criminal group on the wall near the bodies.
•   A gunman killed the brother of a State Unified Police commander outside a residence in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.
•   Mexican authorities found a nude, male body showing signs of torture in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. The victim's hands and feet were tied and a black bag covered his the head. A message left with the body indicated the man was killed for being a member of Los Aztecas, a Ciudad Juarez street gang.
•   Gunmen traveling in a vehicle and carrying firearms ambushed and killed three men in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state.
•   Mexican authorities discovered a male body with five gun shot wounds, including two in the head, on a road in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
•   Two narcomantas were placed on bridges in Acapulco, Guerrero state. They were signed "The C.N.G.J. warriors for the freedom of Acapulco," referring to the New Generation Jalisco Cartel. The banners said that CJNG plans to "clean the plaza" of CIDA, Beltran and Los Zetas.
Feb. 4
•   A gunman opened fire in Far West dance bar in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state, killing nine and wounding seven. Witnesses said the gunman fired indiscriminately after entering the bar. The victims included a police officer and a member of the band playing at the bar.
•   Two men were executed by gunmen in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. Both bodies were left with a narcomanta addressed to a cartel.
•   Mexican federal authorities announced the arrest of Jose "El Marrufo" or "El Jaguar" Antonio Torres Marrufo, the leader of the Sinaloa enforcer branch Gente Nueva. The arrest was made in Leon, Guanajuato state.
Feb. 5
•   Gunmen shot a female municipal police officer several times in the head in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. According to witnesses, the gunmen were traveling together in a vehicle.
•   Several narcomantas signed by NCJ, or New Juarez Cartel, were hung from bridges in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state. The banners blamed Sinaloa members for killing innocent people and accused the Policia Unica of supporting the Sinaloa cartel.
•   Mexican authorities found two decapitated women in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon state. Two narcomantas were left with the bodies, the contents of which have not been revealed.
•   Mexican authorities found a male body that had been set on fire after the victim’s execution in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon state.
•   Gunmen entered a residence in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state and shot and killed a man before setting the house on fire. The victim's mother and a second man were wounded as a result of the fire. The gunmen spray painted a message on a wall of the residence.
•   The Mexican military killed Guillermo "Francisco Contreras" or "El Pariente" Rubio Castillo in Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua state. Rubio oversaw the transportation of drugs from mountain areas for the Juarez cartel.
•   The Mexican army seized a shipment of 7,900 kilograms of marijuana from a trailer in Monclova, Coahuila state.
•   Mexican marines killed Los Zetas leader Mario "El Comandante Chabelo" Alberto Cantu Cantu in San Nicolas, Nuevo Leon state. According to media reports, Cantu may have been the plaza boss for Nuevo Leon state.
Feb. 6
•   Four gunmen killed two men who were talking to a woman on a residential street in Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state. The woman remains under investigation by law enforcement.

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Re: Mexico
« Reply #331 on: February 13, 2012, 01:06:57 PM »

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Re: Mexico
« Reply #332 on: February 13, 2012, 01:12:34 PM »

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Stratfor: Meth in Mexico
« Reply #334 on: February 16, 2012, 08:26:59 AM »

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

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

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

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

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

Examples from the Past

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

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

The Mexican Weakness

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

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

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

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

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

The Solution

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

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

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

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

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

A True Mexican Criminal Industry?

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

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

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


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Re: Mexico
« Reply #335 on: April 01, 2012, 05:24:37 AM »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: In Nuevo Laredo, Killings May Herald a Sinaloa Incursion | Stratfor


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While Mexico burns
« Reply #336 on: April 01, 2012, 05:33:07 AM »
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With the Focus on Syria, Mexico Burns, by Robert D. Kaplan
March 28, 2012 | 1237 GMT
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 By Robert D. Kaplan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Read more: With the Focus on Syria, Mexico Burns, by Robert D. Kaplan | Stratfor


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Re: Mexico
« Reply #337 on: May 16, 2012, 06:37:01 AM »

Mexico Security Memo: Zetas-Sinaloa Conflict Intensifies
May 16, 2012 | 1255 GMT
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 Criminals have assembled dramatic displays of corpses throughout Mexico since May 4, when 23 victims were arranged in two separate displays in Nuevo Laredo. Narcomantas accompanied both, the first signed "El Chapo" and the other unsigned but denouncing Gulf cartel leaders and a former sicario, or hit man, for the Sinaloa Federation. On May 9, Mexican authorities discovered 18 bodies near Guadalajara, Jalisco state. According to state authorities, Los Zetas and the Zetas-affiliated Milenio cartel were responsible. And in the highest-profile incident, 49 dismembered bodies were dumped along a highway near Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state, along with a narcomanta in which Los Zetas claimed responsibility.

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

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

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

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

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



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Compartiendo secretos
« Reply #338 on: July 06, 2012, 10:35:00 PM »
Vea el 6 de Julio:

PD:  !Felicitaciones a Mexico por su eleccion!


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Stratfor: Record high violence in Torreon
« Reply #339 on: July 18, 2012, 07:41:27 PM »

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

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

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

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

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

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


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Record-High Violence in Torreon | Stratfor


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Stratfor: Other consequences of OFF
« Reply #340 on: July 18, 2012, 09:58:38 PM »
Segunda post del dia:

The Other Consequences of Fast and Furious
July 12, 2012 | 0900 GMT
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By Scott Stewart

On the night of Dec. 14, 2010, U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was shot and killed while on patrol in an Arizona canyon near the U.S.-Mexico border. Two guns found at the scene were linked to an investigation being run by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) called "Operation Fast and Furious," sparking a congressional inquiry into the program and generating considerable criticism of the ATF and the Obama administration. Because of this criticism, in August 2011 ATF acting director Kenneth Melson was reassigned from his post and the U.S. attorney for Arizona was forced to resign.

Currently, the congressional inquiry is focused on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been accused of misleading Congress about what he knew about Fast and Furious and when he learned it. The Obama administration has invoked executive privilege to block the release of some of the Department of Justice emails and memos sought by Congress pertaining to the operation. The controversy escalated June 28 when the U.S. House of Representatives voted to hold Holder in contempt of Congress for ignoring its subpoenas.

As all Second Amendment issues are political hot buttons, and with this being a presidential election year in the United States, the political wrangling over Fast and Furious is certain to increase in the coming months. The debate is also sure to become increasingly partisan and pointed. But, frankly, this political wrangling is not what we find to be the most interesting aspect of the operation's fallout. Rather, we are more interested in the way that criticism of Fast and Furious has altered law enforcement efforts to stem the flow of guns from the United States to Mexico and the way these changes will influence how Mexican cartels acquire weapons.

Law Enforcement Shifts
Several of these law enforcement changes already have been enacted. For example, the number of ATF inspectors has been increased due to additional funding for an inspection program through the U.S. Southwest Border Initiative. This means that there are more inspectors to audit the sales records of licensed gun dealers. In southern Arizona, for example, the number of inspectors was increased from three to eight. According to the ATF, these inspectors oversee the operations of some 430 federally licensed firearms dealers in six border counties.

These firearms dealers include gun store proprietors as well as independent dealers working the gun show circuit. The increase in ATF inspection staff and activity has sparked an outcry from gun show dealers who claim they are being unfairly harassed by inspectors. ATF sources have told Stratfor that they do not harass dealers but that the staff increase has allowed the bureau to catch up on inspections it was not able to conduct in the past. The sources also said they believe that their increased presence at gun shows is scaring away cartel buyers, although, obviously, some gun show firearms are still finding their way into cartel hands.

Another procedural change occurred in August 2011, when the ATF began a new program in which licensed gun dealers in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are required to report to the ATF bulk sales of certain types of rifles, namely semi-automatic rifles larger than .22 caliber with detachable magazines such as the semi-automatic AR-15 and AK-47 variants favored by the cartels. The new rule requires gun dealers to report people without federal firearms licenses who buy two or more of such rifles to the ATF within five working days. The rule has raised the ire of some Second Amendment activists, but the ATF notes that it has had a similar reporting regimen for multiple sales of handguns in place since 1975.

The attention that Fast and Furious attracted to the gun smuggling problem also has led to an increase in interdiction efforts by other U.S. federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Furthermore, weapons cases have reportedly been given increased prosecutorial priority by U.S. attorneys -- meaning they are now less likely to decline prosecution of a gun case than before the controversy emerged. This has led to increased pressure on lower-level violators such as straw purchasers -- people paid by arms traffickers to buy guns from dealers. Greed will ensure that people continue to work as straw purchasers, but considering the increased risk of prosecution and the new reporting requirements, straw purchasers and the traffickers who employ them will be more exposed.

In May 2012, the ATF claimed that the reporting requirements have led to a decrease in large-volume sales of semi-automatic rifles (10 or more in a single purchase). The ATF also said that traffickers are adapting their weapons procurement methods to the new regulations.

Arms Smugglers Adapt
Despite their impact, the law enforcement and reporting changes cannot stem the tide of weapons entirely. In the same way that drug flows adapt to law enforcement interdiction efforts, weapons flows will also adjust. Previous federal investigations have shown that Mexican cartels have contacts in many different parts of the United States, including cities such as Chicago and Atlanta, far from the border. One way to bypass the increase in ATF inspections and the border state reporting requirements is to buy guns in states located farther from the border. Of course, this would require the weapons to be transported longer distances to get to Mexico, increasing transportation costs as well as exposure to interdiction efforts. A shift in the points of purchase would also almost certainly result in the expansion of the new reporting requirements to other states.

Although it will never be possible to completely cut off the flow of guns to Mexico from the United States, it can be reduced. This would force the cartels to search for new sources of weapons.

One significant emerging source of AR-15/M16 variants is something called an 80 percent lower receiver. (The lower receiver is the part of the AR-15/M16/M4 that carries a manufacturer's serial number. These 80 percent lower receivers do not have any serial numbers.) Under U.S. federal firearms law, the unfinished lower receiver is not considered a firearm and thus can be shipped anywhere and sold to anyone without a license. Once the remaining machining on the lower receiver is completed, one can build an AR-15, M16 or M4 carbine by purchasing the additional required parts -- such as the bolt assembly, trigger assembly and barrel -- which also are not considered firearms. Once the weapon is fully assembled, it is then considered a firearm and subject to federal firearms law.

While the 80 percent lower receivers are intended for do-it-yourself gun enthusiasts, according to the ATF, these guns have also begun to show up in increasing numbers in Mexico.

Many if not most of the semi-automatic rifles purchased in the United States and smuggled into Mexico are converted to be capable of fully automatic fire by armorers working for various cartel groups. The same armorers are capable of finishing the machining on 80 percent lower receivers and assembling completed firearms from them. The finishing process is not difficult, and there are specialized jigs one can buy and instructional videos posted on the Internet to assist in the process. With experience, proper parts and equipment, a competent machinist can quickly and easily finish a lower receiver in an hour or less.

But acquiring 80 percent lower receivers is not the only alternative for cartels. As noted previously, the Mexican cartels obtain weapons from a variety of sources. The main reason they buy rifles and high-powered pistols from the United States is that such weapons are cheap and readily available. The United States is also nearby, so the guns do not have to be transported very far. Once in Mexico, such weapons can be sold to cartels or on the black market for three times their purchase price in the United States. This explains the difficulty of shutting down the flow of weapons between the two countries. The gun trade is almost as lucrative as the narcotics flowing north.

The premium prices Mexican cartels are paying for guns mean that even if the U.S.-Mexican border could somehow magically be sealed tomorrow, arms merchants from elsewhere would be able to fill the void. Indeed, there are some weapons that the cartels simply cannot buy from the United States due to a lack of availability. Such weapons include hand grenades, 40 mm grenades, M60 machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and M-72 anti-tank rockets. Instead, the cartels buy such items from members of the Mexican military, militaries in countries such as Guatemala and El Salvador, or international arms dealers. The cartels would go to these same sources to replace the weapons unavailable in the United States due to increased arms interdiction efforts. South American groups such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and Peru's Shining Path have demonstrated that it is not difficult for groups to arm themselves via the black arms market in the Western Hemisphere.

Rifles and other weapons are durable goods, and it is not unusual to find weapons in Mexico that were provided by the United States, the Soviets or the Cubans to various governments and insurgent groups during the Cold War. Weapons are also fungible, or easily substituted for each other. This means that an AK-47 rifle made in the Soviet Union in the 1950s could be replaced by a variant made in East Germany in the 1970s or in China or Romania today. Indeed, it is not uncommon to find assault rifles of various makes and ages in cartel possession. In videos published by groups such as the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion, gunmen armed with FN-FAL rifles have appeared alongside comrades armed with various models of AKs, M16s and M4s. A cartel gunman does not care where his rifle comes from.

In recent years, Mexican cartels have begun to forge close relationships with Chinese organized crime groups that are helping the cartels obtain precursor chemicals for the manufacture of methamphetamine and other synthetic drugs. These Chinese groups also are reportedly becoming increasingly important components of Mexican cartel money-laundering efforts. Chinese criminal groups have close ties with the Chinese arms manufacturers, and it is possible that they could begin sending guns to their Mexican contacts with the other illicit cargo.

The Mexican cartels have also reportedly become progressively more involved in the transportation of cocaine to Europe via Africa -- a continent awash in black market assault rifles and other weapons. Some of the cocaine trafficked into Europe is handled by Balkan groups with access to large stockpiles of weapons in Eastern Europe.

These various connections ensure that the Mexican cartels will continue to have access to assault rifles and other military ordnance for the foreseeable future, regardless of how much progress U.S. authorities make in their efforts to stem the flow of guns to Mexico.

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


Read more: The Other Consequences of Fast and Furious | Stratfor


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Stratfor: Drug War developments Q2
« Reply #341 on: July 26, 2012, 04:55:08 AM »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Read more: Mexican Drug War Update: Third Quarter | Stratfor


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Rumors of a split within Los Zetas
« Reply #342 on: August 01, 2012, 02:55:33 PM »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Rumors of a Split Within Los Zetas | Stratfor


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Re: Mexico
« Reply #343 on: September 12, 2012, 05:47:12 AM »

Arrest's Impact Likely Limited

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

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

Read more: Mexico Security Memo: Senior Gulf Cartel Member Arrested | Stratfor


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WSJ: US shifts drug fight
« Reply #344 on: September 18, 2012, 07:23:11 AM »
U.S. Shifts Mexico Drug Fight
Military Aid Plummets as Washington Turns Focus to Bolstering Legal System.
Article Comments (4) more in Latin America | Find New $LINKTEXTFIND$ ».
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MEXICO CITY—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets her Mexican counterparts at a security summit in Washington Tuesday to discuss the next phase in the drug war: how to train the judges and prosecutors that will be trying suspected drug lords.

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

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

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

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Police escort prisoners in Mexico in August. U.S. aid efforts are turning toward legal and police training.
Officials in both countries increasingly believe the root of Mexico's problem lies in creating an honest police force, professional judges and a prison system comparable with that in the U.S.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write to Nicholas Casey at


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LO sale del PRD para establecer MORENA
« Reply #345 on: September 18, 2012, 02:45:57 PM »
second post:

Networked Intelligence | 18 September 2012

MEXICO - López Obrador leaves PRD to create new party

On 9 September 2012, defeated presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced in Mexico City that he would leave the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) in order to focus on turning his social project, the National Regeneration Movement (Morena), into a political party.

Dado su politica izquierdista y que su fuerza politica esta' en el sur, se supone que el nombre del partido no es un accidente.  Aunque la logica es obvia desde cierto punto de vista, en mi opinion tambien fomenta tensiones raciales.  No sorprende que el lo haga, lo menciono, no mas.



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Re: Mexico
« Reply #347 on: October 02, 2012, 10:20:30 PM »


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National Review: Univision hace su tarea (homework)
« Reply #348 on: October 04, 2012, 12:44:52 PM »

*Univision Does Its Homework* (
By John G. Malcolm
October 3, 2012 4:00 A.M.

Univision has done some outstanding investigative reporting on Operation Fast and Furious, the ill-conceived and disastrously executed gun-smuggling operation that was designed to identify the kingpins of a Mexican firearms-trafficking network but resulted in the transfer of approximately 2,000 high-powered weapons into the hands of dangerous thugs connected with the drug cartels. A recently issued report from the Justice Department’s inspector general criticizes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona, and senior DOJ officials for their roles in this botched investi*gation. The report cites “a series of misguided strategies, tactics, errors in judgment, and management failures that permeated ATF Headquarters and the Phoenix Field Division, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”

President Obama remains in denial about Fast and Furious. When asked about it two weeks ago, he responded: “Well, first of all, I think it’s important to understand that the Fast and Furious program was a field-initiated program, begun under the previous administration. When Eric Holder found out about it, he discontinued it.” This is wrong on two counts. First, Operation Fast and Furious began in the fall of 2009, under the current administration. Second, it ended on December 15, 2010, the day it was discovered that two Fast and Furious weapons were found at the scene where U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was murdered. That was two full months before Attorney General Eric Holder claims to have known about the operation.

Operation Fast and Furious began in 2009, after federally licensed firearms dealers informed ATF that several individuals were purchasing large quantities of AK-47-style rifles and FN 5.7 caliber pistols. These pistols are known as “cop killers” in Mexico because the bullets fired from them can penetrate the Kevlar vests worn by law-enforcement authorities. At the time, the northern Mexican states were a veritable battlefield, where the Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels were fighting for control and the increasingly powerful Zetas were seeking to enlarge their territory. ATF encouraged gun-store owners to continue selling to the straw purchasers it was monitoring to avoid alerting the criminals to the presence of law enforcement.

Former Mexican attorney general Victor Humberto Benítez Treviño estimates that approximately 300 Mexican citizens have been killed with Fast and Furious weapons, and hundreds of guns remain unaccounted for. Some victims had been identified even before the Univision report. For example, there was Mario Gonzalez Rodriguez — the brother of former Chihuahua state attorney general Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez — who was kidnapped by members of the Sinaloa drug cartel in October of 2010. His tortured body was later discovered in a shallow grave. Following a shootout with Rodriquez’s suspected kidnappers, Mexican police seized 16 weapons, two of which were traced to Operation Fast and Furious.

But Univision has made some startling new and tragic connections. On the night of September 2, 2009, twelve hit men, looking for members of the Sinaloa cartel and carrying AK-47s they had acquired thanks to Fast and Furious, forced open the main door of Casa Aliviane, a drug-rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juárez. Once inside, they sprayed the building with bullets. Of the 19 young recovering addicts, 18 were killed. The massacre was ordered by José Antonio Acosta Hernandez (also known as “El Diego”), the leader of La Linea, the enforcement arm of the Juárez cartel.

At the time, Acosta Hernandez was at war with José Antonio Torres Marrufo, an enforcer — he reportedly once skinned an enemy’s face to make a soccer ball — close to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa cartel. When Mexican authorities captured Marrufo in February 2012, they found a cache of guns that included powerful anti-aircraft weapons, as well as firearms linked to Operation Fast and Furious.

According to Univision, Acosta Hernandez was behind another bloodbath involving Fast and Furious guns. On January 30, 2010, a commando unit of at least 20 hit men parked outside a house in Ciudad Juárez. A birthday party of high-school and college students was going on inside, but Hernandez mistakenly thought it was occupied by members of the Sinaloa cartel. Around midnight, his men broke into the house and opened fire on nearly 60 teenagers. Outside, lookouts gunned down a screaming neighbor and several students who tried to escape. When the hit men fled, they left 16 young people dead and twelve others wounded. Three of the weapons used that night were traced to Operation Fast and Furious. When Acosta Hernandez was finally captured in July 2010, with Fast and Furious weapons in his possession, he confessed to Mexican authorities that he was responsible for nearly 1,500 murders.

And, as if letting 2,000 high-powered guns “walk” were not enough, it appears that the Obama administration launched other gun-walking operations as well. According to Univision, “weapons from [Florida-based] Operation Castaway ended up in the hands of criminals in Colombia, Honduras and Venezuela.” And the inspector general’s report states that his office is investigating “at least one other ATF [operation] . . . that involves an individual suspected of transporting grenade components into Mexico, converting them into live grenades, and then supplying them to drug cartels.”

The Mexican government has every right to be furious about this matter. If foreign law-enforcement agents had let nearly 2,000 weapons be delivered into the hands of U.S. gang-bangers — without any notice to or coordination with the feds — there would be serious repercussions.

Operation Fast and Furious is a disaster and a disgrace. Univision and the inspector general deserve credit for attempting to get to the bottom of this mess.

— John G. Malcolm is a senior legal fellow at the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation.
---End Quote---


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Re: Mexico
« Reply #349 on: October 09, 2012, 08:38:40 PM »
MEXICO - Federal police officers linked with Beltrán Leyva Cartel

On 3 October 2012, a U.S. Government Official told the Associated Press (AP) that there is strong circumstantial evidence that the federal police officers who fired at a U.S. Embassy car in Mexico, in which two CIA agents were wounded, worked for organized crime. He further asserted that the ambush could have been a targeted assassination attempt. A Mexican official confirmed to AP that prosecutors are investigating whether the Beltrán Leyva Cartel was behind the 24 August 2012 attack.

MEXICO - Peña Nieto to end Pemex control of refining, exploration

On 5 October 2012, Ildefonso Guajardo, Coordinator of Business Relations with President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto’s transition team, told Bloomberg that Peña Nieto wants to break state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos’ (Pemex) monopoly on oil refining and exploration. The President-elect is considering legislation that would not involve the two-thirds congressional majority needed for constitutional changes.