Saturday, March 27, 2010

Across the Border in Mexico

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Want to end Mexican drug gang violence? Legalize drugs and the cartels will collapse
Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
(NaturalNews) Rather than curb their prolific use and propagation around the world, the global "war on drugs" has actually made the drug problem worse. According to the latest statistics, drug use around the world is on the rise in almost every category, despite the numerous anti-drug policies in place to supposedly curb their use. Heightened government crackdowns on drug trafficking in many countries have actually led to more, not less, drug-related gang violence.
Irrespective of where they are enacted, anti-drug policies everywhere have had the unintended consequence of actually leading to more violence and criminal activity, while doing little or nothing to actually lower drug use rates. In other words, enforcing anti-drug policies is a monumental waste of taxpayer dollars that seems to only be making the situation worse rather than better.
Mexico is a perfect example of the failed war on drugs. In 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon summoned a military crusade of 50,000 troops to crack down on the nation's drug cartels, which are a main source of drug flow into the US, one of the world's largest consumers of illicit drugs. But rather than contain the violence, these new enforcements have resulted in more than 45,000 deaths, as drug gangs have resorted to fighting each other for the best remaining smuggling routes.
In the US, the situation is not much different. While there might be less overall gang violence associated with the drug trade than there is in Mexico, an incredible amount of taxpayer funding is spent on targeting users of marijuana, for instance, which largely pose little or no threat to society. Meanwhile, domestic drug rings profit big time from the high prices they are able to fetch for these drugs on the black market.
Back in June, the Global Commission on Drug Policy published a report highlighting the failures of the global war on drugs. That report called for an end to "the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others." This is particularly true of the many people who use marijuana for legitimate medicinal purposes, as it is far safer and more effective than many legalized pharmaceutical drugs.
In the end, all the war on drugs has accomplished is to further the success of drug cartels, which are wreaking violence and havoc around the world. If many of the drugs that are restricted today were to become legalized, the drug cartels that currently thrive would quickly collapse, leading to a much safer world for everybody.
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Social Media Meets the Mexican Drug War
By Allan Wall
October 4, 2011
NewsWithViews.com
The ongoing Mexican drug wars rage on and the death toll continues to climb, with at least 41,000 slain since 2006. One grisly incident after another proceeds in a gruesome parade of violence and carnage. You think you’ve heard it all, then you read another outrage.
I read of one that occurred in Boca del Rio, which is part of the Veracruz metroplex, on Mexico’s Gulf Coast. When my wife and I visited Veracruz some years back, we’d travel by bus each evening to Boca del Rio and eat shrimp in an outdoor restaurant. We felt safe.
That was then. I read of a recent incident occurring in Boca de Rio on September 20th, 2011. During rush hour, armed, masked men wearing military uniforms brazenly blocked off a busy avenue by a mall. In full sight of everybody present, they proceeded to unceremoniously offload 35 dead bodies , piling them into two trucks and upon the ground of an underpass. It appears now that the unloaders belonged to the Sinaloa Cartel, and the cadavers were of Zetas.
Just another day in the drug war.
The technological changes that have affected Mexican society also affect the Mexican drug cartel war, as social networking sites have become a new front in the war.
Local media in violent areas of Mexico are under siege. Their journalists may be threatened, kidnapped or even killed. Therefore they may not always publicize drug cartel violence.
As a result, the social media have moved in to compensate, to a certain extent, for this vacuum. In violent Mexican cities, Twitter, Facebook, local blogs and chat rooms are used to share information about the violence. Users may check such sites to attempt to find out what areas of the city are more dangerous and had better be avoided. The data can be shared quickly and, depending on the site, with a certain degree of anonymity. At least that’s what the writers are hoping. Not that such information is always accurate either, but it’s a desperate attempt to find some certainty in a climate of chaos
On September 24th, 2011, in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, the head and body of a certain Marisol Macias were found. Her decapitated body was laying by a major thoroughfare, with her severed head on a nearby stone piling.
Who was Marisol Macias? She was in the newspaper business, working in an administrative position for a
Nuevo Laredo newspaper called Primera Hora.
Sadly, the killing of journalists is nothing new in Mexico. According to the country’s Human Rights Commission, since 2000, 74 Mexican journalists have been slain, with 8 killed so far this year.
However, it appears that Marisol Macias, though she was working for a newspaper, was not killed for that reason. Instead, she was slain in retaliation for what she had written on a social networking site, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo. In fact, that’s what a note left by her body said.
On the Nuevo Laredo en Vivo (“Nuevo Laredo Live”) website, readers can find tip hotlines on which they can contact the police, the Army or Navy. There is a section where information on drug gang activities (where they sell drugs, where they have their lookout positions) can be reported.
On Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, Marisol Macias used the screen name “La Nena de Laredo” (Laredo Girl). And that is precisely what the note left by her killers called her, indicating they knew exactly who she was and what she had written.
The message, written by hand, read
"Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I'm The Laredo Girl, and I'm here because of my
reports, and yours, For those who don't want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for believing in the Army and the Navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl...ZZZZ."
The “ZZZZ” refers to the Zetas.
It appears, therefore, that “Laredo Girl’s “anonymous” reports attracted the attention of the Zetas, who somehow found out her true identity. They killed her, then left the message as a warning.
Back at the Nuevo Laredo en Vivo website, the murder of Marison Macias being discussed by late in the day. The site’s posters did not back down, reminiscing about “Laredo Girl’s frequent postings and lambasting the murderous Zetas. “Why didn’t she buy a gun?” asked another poster.
Posting on social media sites is now being used by Mexicans to fight, or at least outmaneuver, the drug cartels. But as the Nuevo Laredo case illustrates, even the supposed anonymity of the social media is not a 100% protection against their murderous reach. A note to readers:
A note to readers: On September 28th, I appeared on the talk show of Silvio Canto, Jr., and we discussed this and several other topics. Interested readers may listen to the interview: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2011/09/29/todays-message-1 
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Narco Motor Trend
Borderland Beat Reporter Gerardo
Sunday, June 19, 2011
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Customized armored vehicles built and used by organized crime groups, confiscated in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon.
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Single axle cargo truck with the cab protected by tubular steel railing and a 5/16 inch steel plate parapet built on the frame. The slits on the parapets are used to fire weapons from the interior.
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Heavy duty/super duty pickups with 5/16 to 3/4 inch steel plate parapets.
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Narco gangster reveals the underworld
Cartels have taken cruelty up a notch, says one drug trafficker: kidnapping bus passengers for gladiatorlike fights to the death
By Dane Schiller dane.schiller@chron.com
Houston Chronicle
June 13, 2011, 12:26AM
[left: AFP/Getty Images
ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata was killed in the line of duty Feb. 15 when he was ambushed while driving between Monterrey, Mexico, and Mexico City.]
The elderly are killed. Young women are raped. And able-bodied men are given hammers, machetes and sticks and forced to fight to the death.
In one of the most chilling revelations yet about the violence in Mexico, a drug cartel-connected trafficker claims fellow gangsters have kidnapped highway bus passengers and forced them into gladiatorlike fights to groom fresh assassins.
In an in-person interview arranged by intermediaries on the condition that neither his name nor the location of his Texas visit be published, the trafficker also admitted to helping push cocaine worth $5 million to $10 million a month into the United States.
Law enforcement sources confirm he is a cartel operative but not a fugitive from pending charges.
His words are not those of a federal agent or drawn from a news conference or court papers.
Instead, he offers a voice from inside Mexico's mayhem — a mafioso who mingles among crime bosses and foot soldiers in a protracted war between drug cartels as well as against the government.
If what he says is true, gangsters who make commonplace beheadings, hangings and quartering bodies have managed an even crueler twist to their barbarity.
Members of the Zetas cartel, he says, have pushed passengers into an ancient Rome-like blood sport with a modern Mexico twist that they call, "Who is going to be the next hit man?"
"They cut guys to pieces," he said.
The victims are likely among the hundreds of people found in mass graves in recent months, he said.
In the vicinity of the Mexican city of San Fernando, nearly 200 bodies were unearthed from pits, and authorities said most appeared to have died of blunt force head trauma.
Many are believed to have been dragged off buses traveling through Mexico, but little has been said about the circumstances of their deaths.
The trafficker said those who survive are taken captive and eventually given suicide missions, such as riding into a town controlled by rivals and shooting up the place.
The trafficker said he did not see the clashes, but his fellow criminals have boasted to him of their exploits.
Killing 'for amusement'
Former and current federal law-enforcement officers in the U.S. said that while they knew Mexican bus passengers had been targeted for violence, they'd never before heard of forcing passengers into death matches.
But given the level of violence in Mexico — nearly 40,000 killed in gangland warfare over the past several years — they didn't find it tough to believe.
Borderland Beat, a blog specializing in drug cartels, reported an account in April of bus passengers brutalized by Zeta thugs and taunted into fighting. http://www.borderlandbeat.com/
"The stuff you would not think possible a few years ago is now commonplace," said Peter Hanna, a retired FBI agent who built his career focusing on Mexico's cartels. "It used to be you'd find dead bodies in drums with acid; now there are beheadings."
Even so, Hanna noted, killing people this way would be time-consuming and inefficient. "It would be more for amusement," he suggested. "I don't see it as intimidation or a successful way to recruit people."
Hidden behind designer sunglasses and a whisper of a beard, the trafficker interviewed by the Houston Chronicle talked at a restaurant's back table. He had silver shopping bags filled at Nordstrom, but seemed anything but a typical wealthy Mexican on a Texas shopping trip.
As a condition of the interview, he asked that he be referred to only as Juan.
He has worked as a drug-trafficker in Northern Mexico for more than a decade, he said, but has grown tired of gangsters running roughshod over each other and innocent civilians.
Juan, who has worked with the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, the two major drug organizations that control territory along the South Texas-Mexico border, said that back home, he sleeps with a semiautomatic rifle by his bed and a handgun under his pillow.
"It is like the Wild West. You can carry a gun and you are Superman," he said of gangsters and killing at will. "Like everybody says, it is out of control now. We have to put a stop to it."
A recent U.S. Senate report contends the Zetas are the most violent of Mexico's cartels. Its members are believed to be responsible for the recent killing of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who was shot on a Mexican highway.
'They brag about it'
Just on Thursday, authorities in Mexico said they arrested members of the Zetas and seized 201 automatic weapons, 600 camouflage uniforms and 30,000 rounds of ammunition.
"I am not defending the Sinaloa or the Gulf Cartel," Juan said of the Zetas' main rivals. "I earn more money with the Zetas, but I know the (crap) they do," he said. "They brag about it."
With the recent killing of the ICE agent and perhaps other attacks, the Zetas also are breaking the golden rule for Mexican traffickers: Don't kill Americans, he said. It brings too much heat.
If the Zetas are crushed, violence will lessen, he said, and Mexico's older cartels will go back to the older way of doing business - dividing up territory and agreeing not to clash with each other.
Death toll has exploded
Mike Vigil, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was the chief of international operations, said Mexican gangsters used to understand that violence should be used sparingly.
"They love brutality," Vigil said of the Zetas. "They do not care whether you are a police officer, a trafficker or an innocent bystander.
"The drug-trafficking organizations are eventually going to have to deal with the Zetas."
The death toll has exploded since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and dispersed military troops throughout the country to fight the cartels. The resulting battles have wrought carnage among local politicians, soldiers, gangsters and civilians alike.
As for the military, Juan said, "They are not helping," noting that the soldiers, like the gangsters, seem to kill whoever they want.
He also discussed some of the finer points of drug trafficking.
Checkpoints no problem
"We don't hide it," he said, telling stories of openly off-loading tractor-trailer rigs of cocaine in parking lots. "These are not lies. Everybody in Mexico knows it."
Even the checkpoints Mexican officials operate along the highways between Central Mexico and the border do not pose much of a problem, Juan said.
The trick, he confided, is to send someone in advance to bribe a commander so a drug load won't be bothered.
"It is better to tell them," he said. "It will cost you more if they catch it."
Tries not to be flashy
As for how he's been able to survive a decade, Juan said the secret is not being greedy or flashy enough to draw attention from other gangsters, who these days show no hesitation to cut down rivals.
He said he can quickly size up in a bar or cafe who is likely to be a trafficker, from the money they spend to the way they talk, sit or eat.
"You can tell in a restaurant or anywhere - that guy is moving dope," Juan said.
Other keys to longevity in the business: knowing your place in the Mexican under­world's hierarchy and not giving the impression you are making more money or interested in taking a chunk out of another gangster's livelihood.
"You keep doing the work you do," Juan said. "Stay at your level."
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Mexican Drug Gangs Increase Power in Central America
By Allan Wall
June 10, 2011
NewsWithViews.com
The scourge of the drug cartels is Mexico’s biggest security problem and the violence there continues.
But Mexican drug gangs are not confined to Mexico. They have established an effective presence north of the border, and have even expanded to Europe and Africa.
Possibly their most destabilizing presence is in Central America, southeast of Mexico.
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Mexico is a big country, approximately the size of Western Europe. It is also, by international standards, rather prosperous. It has the world’s 11th-largest economy and a higher than average gross domestic product per capita. Despite all its security problems, in 2010 the Mexican economy actually grew 5.5% and 22 million tourists visited.
We certainly shouldn’t minimize Mexico’s problems, but its size and huge economy help to absorb the danger.
On the other hand, consider the threat to three Central American countries - Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. They are less well-equipped to handle these problems than Mexico.
There are several reasons for this, beginning with location.
Cocaine is brought up from South America. There are several routes – by air, land or sea - to bring it up to Mexico and then to the U.S. Most of the routes pass through or by Central America.
The drug cartels are so rich that they have plenty of disposable income. Just as the cartels are able to buy off local officials in Mexico, they can do the same in Central America.
These three countries are much poorer than Mexico, either by total Gross Domestic Product, or by Gross Domestic Product Per Capita. Since their people are poorer than Mexicans, that makes their money even more tempting.
For the cartels, expanding their operations into Central American gives them more opportunity to hide out from Mexican authorities and expand their range of operations.
It makes sound business sense. Just as a corporation wants to expand to other countries, so does a drug gang, which is, after all, a sort of business.
The recent history of Central America makes the cartel intervention more convenient. Guatemala and El Salvador had civil wars and Honduras has had its share of strife. There are plenty of weapons floating around.
And, there are already-existing gangs in Central America, such as the notorious MS-13 group and others. These gangs have their own criminal connections which can be put at the service of Mexican cartels in destructive alliances.
The bottom line is the Mexican cartels are wreaking havoc in these societies.
Guatemala, which borders Mexico, is the worst hit thus far. Drug money has permeated the country as cartels build airstrips in the jungle. President Alvaro Colom calls the cartel invasion the biggest threat to his country and the region. Colom describes the situation: "Definitely these groups are very strong financially. They're strong in terms of violence. They're strong in how they manipulate authorities. We are doing what we can against them with our limited resources."
Last month, an armed group (probably Zetas) attacked a ranch in northern Guatemala, killing 27 people, most of them by decapitation. It was such an isolated area that the Zetas were easily able to high-tail it to the Mexican border, escaping from the Guatemalan army.
Guatemala has also proven to be a fertile recruiting ground for the Zetas, who have been able to enlist former members of the feared Guatemalan army unit called the Kaibiles.
El Salvador has become a center for money laundering for the cartels. (Money laundering is turning drug money into what appears to be legitimate money.) Why is money laundering so easy there? It’s because in 2001, El Salvador adopted the U.S. dollar as its currency.
It’s not that its currency was pegged to the U.S. dollar. The country actually adopted the U.S. dollar as its currency. So there are plenty of physical U.S. dollars in the economy which makes money laundering quite easy.
Honduras, has a relatively long coastline on the Caribbean Sea. This coast is a convenient for unloading boatloads of cocaine. Honduras, by the way, now has the highest murder rate in the Western Hemisphere.
What can be done for Central America? Guatemalan President Colom says the best solution is for Americans to stop buying cocaine. That’s a valid point. American consumers are the main financiers of the Mexican drug cartels now sowing mayhem in Central America.
Can we convince drug consumers to quit buying the stuff ? If not, should be re-evaluate the War on Drugs?
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Projecting the future of the Mexican drug war
Mexico’s fate in the war against the cartels will likely be the same as Colombia’s
By Jeffrey Haire
Monday, May 16, 2011
On Sunday, May 8th, 2011, tens of thousands of Mexicans marched to the capital to demonstrate for peace and a change in tactics in the four-1/2 year war launched by Mexican President Felipe Calderon against the cartels controlling the profitable drug trade routes north to the U.S. border.
Like Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe, Calderon has wielded the mano duro as President, in response to the narco-violence and corruption that have left nearly 35,000 people dead in Mexico since 2006.
According to El Universal, Tuesday May 10th, the public prosecutor’s office in the state of Durango reported finding 20 more bodies Monday, including three women, buried in narcoforsas, or clandestine graves, in five separate sites. This brings the total of buried bodies discovered in the last month in the capital city of Durango to 190. The bodies appeared to have been buried for an extended period of time and thus far have not been identified. Eleven male decapitated bodies were also discovered the same day in two separate sites in the capital city.
La Jornada also reported Tuesday that Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales had announced that a total of 183 buried bodies had been exhumed from 40 clandestine grave sites in San Fernando, northeastern Tamaulipas state, since April 6th 2011, and, that the victims died at the hands of Los Zetas gang. In August 2010, 72 illegal immigrants on border-bound passenger buses were also massacred by Los Zetas.
While the Durango victims have not yet been identified nor linked definitively to the drug trade, it is clear the Tamaulipas victims were innocents targeted as potential recruits or hostages for ransom. Since late 2010, the number of collateral casualties has significantly increased.
Much of the increase in collateral casualties is due to the cartels’ response to the government’s increasingly militarized strategies. In addition, the cartels don’t solely compete (and kill) for control of drugs, but to control every commodity, including people, that pass through their corridors.
The recent discoveries of the narcoforsas have increased the pressure on President Calderon to abandon the militarized drug war strategy and concentrate instead on a public safety model of policing the country.
Calderon is running out of time. He is up against rapidly changing public opinion about the violence spawned from his military campaign against the cartels, and the presidential elections of July 2012 which could radically change the Mexican government’s enforcement policies, and determine the levels of violence.
At the Sunday march, many Mexicans expressed interest in some sort of negotiated settlement with the cartels to end the violence. Calderon believes that the drug trafficking organizations do not understand anything but violence and will not abandon their trade without confrontation. It is unlikely that Calderon will change his course.
Before Vicente Fox from the conservative Partido Accion Nacional (PAN) was elected in 2000, and Calderon in 2006, Mexico had been ruled for 71 years by the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). The PRI was notoriously corrupt, but it was reliably corrupt. Mexicans always knew what they were getting with the PRI candidate, and the party functioned as an authoritarian structure that kept Mexico stable and unprosperous.
Since the 1970’s, it was an open secret in Mexican government that successive PRI presidencies effectively “managed” the drug cartels and transshipment routes in Mexico by designating which group could control which area. This insured the civil peace, and, each administration was consistent in keeping violence down amongst the drug cartels.
Opinion polls for the 2012 presidential election show Enrique Pena Nieto, the current governor of the State of Mexico, and the PRI candidate, with a double-digit lead over his nearest competitor.
According to The Economist, the PRI’s implicit position is that it would never have allowed the drug violence to get out of hand. Nieto has avoided comment on whether or not he would withdraw army forces from some cities. It is likely that a PRI victory would mean, at the least, a de-escalated and lower profile cartel strategy, with fewer casualties.
If the PAN prevails it is likely that Calderon’s strategies will continue. Even though he does not control the lower house of the Mexican congress, he succeeded in obtaining more U.S. intelligence support, including unmanned aerial vehicles in Mexican airspace. The number of armed U.S. agents and joint operations on Mexican soil is unprecedented. This is controversial, yet it offers Mexico hope in degrading the strength of the cartels, and ultimately reducing the violence.
Through methodical, multi-national law enforcement work, involving investigative and intelligence supremacy, and the steady neutralization of upper and mid-echelon gangsters through killing, arrest, and extradition, the Mexican government could fragment the present cartel groups and reduce the violence. This is not the same as winning the drug war.
In this scenario, just as occurred in Colombia, the organized aspect of Mexican drug trafficking will disappear and the drug cartels will be transformed and staffed with new and old players who operate opportunistically, and more independently, to fill the demand for illicit drugs. The violence will never completely disappear. Prohibition creates black markets, and the criminal groups that form to manage them will always use violence to defend them.
Without the elimination of demand for illegal drugs from the Unites States and Europe, the fragmented Mexican drug trafficking organizations would continue to operate in a different form, just as the major Colombian cartels of the late 20th century were replaced by unorganized, amorphous players drawn from the ranks of paramilitaries, street criminals, and existing black market players.
There is much at stake for the cartels and the Mexican government, and, with both sides displaying a high level of commitment, there will be continued bloodshed. The current, military-led enforcement approach will require the sustained political will of Mexican President Felipe Calderon (as well as that of his successor in 2012) and the continued support of the Mexican people to stay the course in light of a rising body count.
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CSI Mexico: Secret mass grave discovered in Tijuana shocks police
Mexican drug war
Jim Kouri
Monday, April 11, 2011
Police investigators and forensics technicians this week dug up bones, body fragments and teeth at a secret mass grave in Tijuana, Mexico, in a discovery that shocked even the most hardened law enforcement veteran.
The excavation project is part of a police search for the possible remains of 60 missing people believed killed in the Mexican drug war. DNA samples will be examined from the remains and compared with tissue samples of the missing people to establish their identities, a U.S. crime scene investigator working as a consultant in Mexico told the Law Enforcement Examiner.
The excavation, which started last week, is being done at a deserted area in the Tijuana vicinity. The location allegedly is owned by Jose Santiago Meza, who was arrested in 2009 and confessed to dumping 300 bodies in vats of acid.
Meza admitted he was paid $600 per week by a drug kingpin to get ready of the bodies of his gang’s victims.
Last week, the Mexican government announced the discovery of 59 bodies in mass graves. The bodies were discovered by police officers investigating the hijacking of a busload of civilians by suspected narco-terrorists in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas.
The location of the mass graves is a known hotspot for violence related to the powerful drug gangs who are terrorizing parts of Mexico.
The bodies were discovered in numerous mass graves in San Fernando, police said, with 43 corpses found in a single grave. It’s not known if any of the decayed bodies are those of missing Americans who may have visited Tijuana.
Police officers reported that they had found the graves while investigating reports that buses in the area had been stopped and passengers pulled off and kidnapped. In one police raid, 11 people were arrested, while five people being held captive by the alleged kidnappers were freed.
More than 35,000 Mexicans have died in drug-related violence since the president began deploying the army to fight the cartels in 2006. The Human Rights Commission estimated the number of missing people in Mexico since 2006 at 5,000.
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Thousands of Mexicans missing since beginning of drugs war
The missing are not included in the staggering 35,300 killed in the drug war since 2006
Jim Kouri
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The Mexican Human Rights Commission released a report this week claiming that thousands of people have disappeared in Mexico since 2006, the year President Felipe Calderon declared war on his country’s drug gangs.
The commission has reported that well over 5,000 people have been missing since 2006. The missing are not included in the staggering 35,300 killed in the drug war since 2006.
However, a United Nations study suggests Mexico’s security forces may have played a part in the disappearance of some of those declared missing, especially those who entered Mexico illegally from Central American countries.
In addition to federal (Federales) and local police agencies, the Calderon administration deployed more than 45,000 military troops to combat the powerful and deadly drug cartels.
The Mexican human rights commission recently gathered and analyzed data on people reported missing or absent. The data was obtained from the relatives of missing persons and from state authorities.
Of the 5,397 people, the commission’s report revealed that 3,457 of those who disappeared are men while 1,885 are women. There are 55 cases where the gender of the missing person is unknown.
Mexican officials said they are investigating the reasons behind the disappearances, and stated that the figure included those kidnapped for ransom and economic migrants from within Mexico and Central America whose whereabouts were unknown.
Mexico’s statistics were released after the United Nations said it had received complaints alleging abductions
carried out by Mexican soldiers. U.N. officials advised the Mexican government to stop using the army in anti-drug operations. But the U.N. had no recommendations as to how Calderon’s administration would be able to stop the brutal and deadly drug gangs when they are renowned for targeting and murdering police officers, police commanders, prosecutors and judges.
Mexico’s military in a recent survey ranks as one of the most respected institutions in Mexican society, well ahead of the politicians in its congress and the Roman Catholic Church clergy.
While most Latin American countries are or were accused of brutality, death squads and inhumane treatment of civilians, the Mexican army has never been involved in a military coup, nor has it faced accusations of systemic human rights violations.
Many of Mexico’s military, especially officers and non-commissioned officers, have studied tactics and strategy in the United States or were trained by military advisers.
Unfortunately, due to low-pay and minimal benefits, there are a number of Mexican soldiers and police officers who work on both sides of the law. In fact, one of the most terrifying drug cartels—Los Zetas—started out as a band of former military personnel who worked as protection for the drug cartels such as the Mexican Mafia. Now Los Zetas is an independent cartel that is killing and dismantling its competitors.
Many of the founders behind Los Zetas were former special forces members in the Mexican army, and they formed the outlaw paramilitary organization in the 1990s to provide protection for the Gulf cartel. Los Zetas recently struck out on its own in search of greater drug profits, and it has been engaged in a deadly battle with the Gulf cartel for control over smuggling routes into the United States.
However, unlike other drug cartels, Los Zetas further has morphed into a full-fledged organized crime enterprise with extortion, kidnapping and other rackets in multiple regions throughout Mexico.
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Gunmen kill 10 men in Mexican resort town bar
(AFP)
19 March 2011
MEXICO CITY — Ten people were fatally shot when gunmen stormed into a nightclub and opened fire early Saturday in the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco, police said.
Four others were wounded in the early morning shooting in Acapulco, which has seen a wave of drug killings as gang violence has gripped Mexico.
The Ministry of Public Security of the state of Guerrero said all 10 nightclub victims were men aged between 25 and 45.
The gunmen fled and there was no report of arrests. The motive was not immediately known.
Acapulco, once a glamorous getaway for Hollywood celebrities, has been struggling to distance itself from a series of brutal killings by rival cartels.
On Tuesday, gunmen pursuing a rival killed six people, including two children, after opening fire on two family homes in Acapulco.
Earlier this month, authorities unearthed nine bodies in three areas near the beach town.
Nearly 35,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug-related violence since the end of 2006 when President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led crackdown on the country's powerful drug cartels.
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2 mutilated bodies found in resort city of Acapulco
The Associated Press
Tuesday Dec. 28, 2010
ACAPULCO, Mexico — Police in the Mexican resort of Acapulco found the decapitated bodies of two men in front of a bar where 11 men were reportedly abducted earlier this month, officials said Monday.
Shell casings from assault rifles and two handwritten messages whose contents were not disclosed were found at the scene, according to a statement from police in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero where Acapulco is located. Such messages are often left by drug gangs.
Eleven men were reported abducted from the bar on Dec. 17. Such establishments are frequently the targets of extortion attempts.
Two of the abducted men were later found dead. Their hands and feet had been cut off.
Elsewhere in Guerrero, police found the remains of three people in a clandestine grave in the town Teloloapan, according to state police. The police report said the three unknown people were believed to have been killed about four months ago.
In Ayutla, Guerrero, meanwhile, a car ran into a group of people leaving a church Sunday, killing three and injuring four.
And in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz Monday, one policeman was killed, and a local police commander was wounded when a man opened fire on municipal offices in the town of Otatitlan. Three people who were attending a wedding at the town hall were wounded in the shootout.
Assistant state prosecutor Reynaldo Escobar said the victims at the wedding included a boy, one woman and an adult male.
And in the northern state of Durango, the army reported it had seized a cache of 84 rifles and 46 pistols, including one assault rifles with gold-colored inlays and another that has a grenade-launcher attachment.
The Defense Department said troops patrolling the mountainous area of Tamazula, Durango discovered the weapons and 770 kilograms of marijuana in 191 bales.
The army said Tamazula, located near the border with Sinaloa state, "is an area considered a bastion of criminal organizations."
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AP - Tue Jul 27, 2010
Police find 8 severed heads in northern Mexico
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100727/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_drug_war_mexico
MEXICO CITY – The severed heads of eight men were found left in pairs along highways in the northern Mexico state of Durango, state prosecutors said Tuesday.
The bodies had not yet been located, but the victims appeared to have been between 25 and 30 years old, officials said.
Durango has been the scene of brutal turf battles between drug gangs. Prosecutors said over the weekend that officials at a Durango prison let drug cartel gunmen to leave penitentiary and lent them guns and vehicles to carry out executions.
Also Tuesday, prosecutors in the central state of Puebla reported that three federal police agents were shot to death on a highway in a confrontation with gunmen. The assailants escaped.
In the northern border state of Chihuahua, prosecutors said a second cousin of Gov.-elect Cesar Duarte was shot to death by attackers in the city of Parral. The victim, lawyer Alberto Porras Duarte, was slain while waiting in a vehicle outside his office.
One of Duarte's nephews was killed earlier this month in the Chihuahua state capital in what appeared to be a failed kidnapping attempt. The state has been the scene of some Mexico's bloodiest drug violence.
In the border state of Tamaulipas, army officials reported Monday that they had captured nine Guatemalan citizens during patrols against drug trafficking organizations and seized seven grenades and two guns from the suspects.
A day earlier, troops in Tamaulipas detained 11 people believed to work for the Zetas drug gang and seized five rifles.
Almost 25,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in late 2006.
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Mexican Supreme Court Advances Gay Marriage Agenda
By Allan Wall
August 17, 2010
NewsWithViews.com
The issue of gay marriage continues to be a contentious one in Western countries, and Mexico is no exception. Recent decisions handed down by the Mexican Supreme Court have greatly advanced the gay marriage agenda. But it’s still controversial and there is still opposition.
In Mexico, unlike the U.S., the government only recognizes civil weddings, not church weddings. Most couples have a civil wedding and then a church wedding. However, only the civil wedding is necessary to be legally married.
Both in the U.S. and Mexico, marriages are not registered under the authority of the federal government, but under that of an individual state, such as Chihuahua in Mexico or Wyoming in the United States.
As in many countries, the establishment of same-sex civil unions is a stepping stone to same-sex marriage.
In 2006 and 2007, same-sex civil unions were established in two Mexican entities: the Federal District (Mexico City) and the northern state of Coahuila (which borders Texas on the U.S. side) . To date, no other Mexican state has established such a law.
In December of 2009, the Federal District legalized full-fledged same-sex marriage, with this law becoming effective in March of 2010. It was the first entity in all of Latin American to legalize same-sex marriage.
The law was opposed by the Mexican federal government. The dispute went all the way to the 11-member Mexican Supreme Court. In opposing the law, the Mexican Attorney General argued that it violated Article 121 of the Mexican Constitution (which governs the relations between Mexican states).
The Mexican Supreme Court recently handed two rulings on the matter (with a ruling on adopted still expected ).
The ruling of August 5th, 2010, upheld the Mexico City same-sex marriage law as being constitutional. (The vote on that ruling was 8 to 2).
Five days late, on August 10th, 2010, the Supreme Court went a step further. It decreed that same-sex marriages performed in Mexico City are valid marriages throughout all of Mexico. The decision did not, however, explicitly require that individual Mexican states are required to legalize gay marriage in their own states, just that they have to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in Mexico City.
One of the two justices who voted against that ruling was Chief Justice Guillermo Ortiz (not to be confused with a former governor of the Bank of Mexico, also named Guillermo Ortiz).
The aforementioned Article 121 of the Mexican Constitution contains a “full faith and credit” clause. This clause, allowing for translation, is word for word identical to a clause in Article IV, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution.
That means it’s going to be very hard, in either in the U.S. or Mexico, to keep this controversy at a state level. There is more to Mexico than Mexico City, and out in the hinterlands (and even in Mexico City) there is still plenty of opposition to gay marriage. In 2009, even before the Federal District legalization, the southeastern state of Yucatan explicitly banned gay marriage. After the Supreme Court’s rulings, other states may follow suit. The “full faith and credit” clause may be tested.
The gay marriage question is often presented as simply a matter of individual rights. Really though, it’s a matter that affects an entire society.
Same-sex marriage is a radical legal innovation in the Western World, where male/female monogamy has been the norm since ancient European times.
Gay marriage has not traditionally been a part of either
Roman/Napoleonic Civil Law in Europe and Latin American or,
Anglo-Saxon Common Law in the English-speaking countries.
Not only that, but marriage law is related to all other sorts of issues : child custody, inheritance, divorce law, etc. These areas cannot fail to be impacted by the radical social experiment taking place in various Western countries.
What about Mexicans who just don’t agree with the gay activist agenda? In other Western countries there has been a loss of freedom of speech in discussing this issue. In Europe, the UK, Canada and the U.S., some critics of the gay agenda have found themselves in legal trouble for expressing their opposition. Will this also occur in Mexico?
What the gay marriage activists are really striving for, in Mexico and elsewhere, is a transformation of the family and of society itself. So, does the rest of society have any say in the matter, or has it all been decided already by the activists?
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Mexico’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel: Los Zetas
Posted by Rachel Deluca
29 September 2009
Los Zetas is a Mexican Crime Organization that deals with drug cartels. They are also known as the Enforcement Branch of the Gulf Cartel. They have been linked to many homicides and threats. The group started out with just 31 people and now the men and women who are a part of the organization easily number in the thousands. The creator of the Los Zetas is Arturo Guzman Decenas, also known as Z1. Los Zetas is known to be the most alarming death group to have done organized crime in the history of Mexico. No one can compete with them. In the article it later describes how this group could bring down a nation.
Just recently (July 29, 2009), Los Zetas have performed a horrible act against a family in order to portray a message. It took place at 5 in the morning. Two vehicles pulled in front of the house. It took less than 5 minutes to kill the mother, father and their son. Then they set the house on fire leaving three little girls to burn to their deaths. The U.S. government has stated that the Los Zetas are “the most technologically advanced, sophisticated and dangerous cartel operating in Mexico.” Ralph Reyes, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Chief for Mexico and Central America said that
war against the Los Zetas will take years to win. He also said that the group patrols the streets of Fallujah, Iraq like a U.S. Infantry and not like a street gang. Almost every day newspapers in Veracruz have front page stories that talk about the violence of the Los Zetas.
“I loved doing it [murder]. Killing that first person. I loved it. I thought I was superman,” said Rosalie Reta, who was 13 when he killed his first victim. The U.S. government said that there is more like him out there. Here is a website with a video clip attatched that explains the Los Zetas and the stories written above. It was created by CNN News.
Luckily, things are trying to be done to repair the issue. Lately the Mexican police have arrested a man named Gregorio Sauceda Gamboa. He is a 44 year-old man that was a former police man and is wanted by Mexico and the U.S. He is said to be the leader, or boss, of the Los Zetas. They arrested him in a house raid and ended up arresting his wife and confiscating many weapons. He was charged with violation of federal laws concerning the ownership of firearms and explosives. Also, the Mexican government has sent troops the U.S. border region to help regain control of that area.
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American's Dying in Mexico: Let's Talk Facts, Figures and Big Pictures
Oscar, Oaxaca: Mar 9 2009
http://jacqui.instablogs.com/entry/americans-dying-in-mexico-lets-talk-facts-figures-and-big-pictures/
It is a tragedy when any person, be it man, woman, or child dies, especially in a foreign country, but we’re not here to talk about just any man, woman, or child in just any country around the globe; we’re here to talk about Americans dying in Mexico, specifically Americans who have died of unnatural causes between the years of 2004 and 2008.
As if Mexico hasn’t received enough damning media attention lately, recent media spun spotlights shine us as a country which slaughters innocent American citizens on a daily basis.
According to a Houston Chronicle investigation:
More than 200 U.S. citizens have been slain in Mexico’s escalating wave of violence since 2004 — an average of nearly one killing a week. More U.S. citizens suffered unnatural deaths in Mexico than in any other foreign country — excluding military killed in combat zones —from 2004 to 2007, State Department statistics show. Rarely are the killers captured.
First, let’s talk about unnatural deaths; what exactly is an unnatural death? An unnatural death, according to dictionary.com, is any death that is not natural, that’s easy enough, right? I’d say it’s pretty self explanatory, but if you have doubts, here is the definition, word for word:
Natural death is death that occurs from natural causes, as disease or old age, rather than from violence or an accident.
We know what violent death is, especially in Mexico. Over 6000 examples of violent deaths by mutilation, torture, decapitation, gutting, and dozens of AR-15 rounds passing through one’s body have been reported in 2008 alone.
Again, let’s go back to unnatural death. According to Wikipedia.com examples of unnatural death are: accident, execution, homicide, misadventure, suicide, terrorism, war casuality, adverse outcome of surgery and/ or being attacked by insects, reptile, fish, lions, tigers, bears, stingray, or other wild animal.
In other words, one can technically die an unnatural death by choking on a peanut, a traffic accident, being attacked by bees, or an adverse reaction to liposuction not just by being shot, stabbed, mutilated or beheaded, to death.
The Houston Chronicle goes on to state:
Most died in the recent outbreaks of violence in border cities — Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo.
Although, historically, even Mexico’s most violent urban centers had homicide rates below those of major U.S. cities, recent attacks and border violence driven by drug demand have escalated well beyond limited narco-executions. Juarez last year ranked among the world’s most murderous cities. The Chronicle analysis showed some American homicide victims were involved in organized crime. The dead include at least two dozen victims labeled hitmen, drug dealers, human smugglers or gang members, based on published investigators’ accusations. Others were drug users or wanted for crimes in the United States.
But in at least 70 other cases, U.S. citizens appear to have been killed while in Mexico for innocent reasons: visiting family, taking a vacation, or simply living or working there.
In addition to those killed, as many as 75 Americans, mainly from Texas and California, remain missing in Mexico, based on FBI data.
Now we are getting somewhere, roughly 70 cases of U.S. citizens killed in Mexico since 2004 were confirmed for innocent reasons. Seventy cases in three years, roughly 23.3 unnatural deaths per year.
Houston Chronicle released a follow up report 10 days later stating:
Americans in Mexico continued to be slain at a rate of nearly one each week through the end of 2008 and there is little reason to think the violence will stop anytime soon, U.S. Embassy officials have confirmed.
In fact, the number of homicides is likely higher, because many victims die after being taken to hospitals across the border and — along with other killings — often go unreported to the U.S. Department of State. I’m convinced the total number of deaths is very much under-reported said Ed McKeon, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs in Mexico told the Houston Chronicle.
In Juarez alone, the U.S. consul has estimated at least 30 Americans were slain last year in a wave of killings that took more than 1,600 lives.
Overall, the State Department’s official reports of deaths of citizens for 2008 in Mexico included 49 cases classified as homicides.
The U.S. consul estimates 30 American citizens slain in Juarez in 2008. That I can, sadly, believe as it is well known that in Ciudad Juarez, just across the border from America’s number 3 safest big city, El Paso, Texas, there is a horrific cartel war fighting for the largest drug corridor in the country.
That is also exactly why the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez released the following urgent advisory for any American citizen intending to visit Ciudad Juarez:
The U.S. Consulate General urges all Americans to carefully consider the risk and necessity of all travel to Ciudad Juárez and the state of Chihuahua. American citizens are not being targeted. However, U.S. citizenship provides no protection from the violence.
In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Mexican Congressman Juan Francisco Rivera Bedoya of Nuevo Leon, a former prosecutor who heads the national Public Safety Commission, said:
Most American victims get killed after crossing the border to participate in illegal activities or venturing into unsafe areas. Tourists visiting cathedrals, museums and other cultural centers are not at risk.
So, where do we stand? Roughly 70 confirmed innocent American deaths from 2004-2007, 75 missing U.S. citzens, and 49 confirmed American homicides in 2008.
To avoid arguement, let’s assume all 2008 confirmed American homicides as well as the 75 missing, were all innocent of any and all wrong doing. That leaves us with, rounding it off, 200 unnatural American deaths from 2004-2008, or 50 per year.
Statistics from the Integrated System for Immigration Operations (SIOM), show a total of 3,073,895 American tourists visited Mexico during the first four months 2008, compared to the 2,992,472 that did so during the same period in 2007. Bloomberg reports state Mexico had 22.6 million foreign tourists in 2008, a 5.9 percent gain from a year before. Mexico also has more than 1.2 million U.S. citizens who reside in Mexico; there has been yet to be a mass exodus to the U.S.
Let’s look at those figures again: 1.2 million U.S.citizens reside in Mexico. 3,073,895 U.S. citizens visited Mexico in the first four months of 2008, not four years just four months out of the entire 48 month U.S. citizen missing / unnatural death study.
According to the CQ Press’s 2008 report which ranks over 300 American cities in six different areas — murder, rape, burglary, robbery, aggravated assault and motor vehicle theft, New Orleans, Louisiana is the most dangerous city in the U.S with 209 homicides for the year. That is 209 murdered people in one city, in one year; I would assume most of them, if not all of them were American Citizens, but that’s neither here nor there; we’re talking about Mexico.
There is no conspiracy or attempt to cover up the truth. Mexico does have violence, people are killed; innocent people. There is a war in Mexico, but it is not a lawless, murderous free for all as the press ofton reports. American journalist, Jeremy Schwartz, who resides in Mexico, recently wrote:
While there are certainly some failed cities - I would never tell loved ones to go anywhere near Ciudad Juarez or Tijuana or Culiacan - most of the country is still stable and peaceful. As violent as the drug war has become, its victims are still overwhelmingly connected to the cartels. Few innocents are caught in the cross-fire. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a sightseeing trip to certain border towns or through the remote mountains of the Sierra Madre, but tourists should feel comfortable booking a trip to places like Puerto Vallarta or Oaxaca or Veracruz. In many parts of the country, the drug war remains confined to the headlines.
It has been commented in many blogs and news reports that if you are goig to Mexico “TRAVEL AT YOUR OWN RISK“, isn’t that what you do everytime you go anywhere? How many people have been killed driving to their neighborhood store for a gallon of milk? How many people have become victims while traveling?
There is nowhere in this world you can be considered 100% safe. There is no guarentee you will not fall victim to some sort of violence, even death, anywhere, anytime.
I am in no way trying to deny, condone, or lessen the true tragedy involving the deaths of these innocent American citizens here in Mexico; the killing of even one innocent person is one too many, but if you look at the figures and the entire picture, the big picture, as an American citizen, your chances of dying an unnatural death, here in Mexico are quite slim.
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Mexico Narco Junior Drug Gangster Assassins Kill for $300 a Head
2009/01/15
Mexican Narco Junior Drug Gangsters are killing rivals for three hundred dollars in a brutal drug war on the US border [Tijuana] that is increasingly recruiting younger people. A life is worth only $300 ?
Feuding gangs fighting for control of the city’s smuggling routes into California in the violent cities of Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez prize teenage drug cartel members because they aren’t given long prison sentences.
Mexico’s drug war has become increasingly Brutal. 5700 people were killed in 2008 as drug gangs fought each other and battled troops and federal police sent in by President Felipe Calderon. Recently Police found two teenage boys Beheaded in Tijuana.
By Law under Mexico’s Justice System - minors involved in organized crime are not treated as criminals and are normally released after counseling in a juvenile delinquency center – making them cheap labor who cannot be imprisoned.
Even those accused of Murder can only be given a Maximum 5 Year Sentence.
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The Drug Killings have Scared Off the much needed Foreign Tourists and Investors at a time when the Mexican Economy is falling into a recession because of the Global Economic Crisis.
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Also See:
Mexico - Conflict and Disorder
23 January 2010
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2010/01/mexico-conflict-and-disorder.html
and
Illegal Aliens and a New American-Mexican Border
08 July 2008
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.com/2008/07/american-mexican-border-and-illegal.html
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