Thursday, December 28, 2006

San Bernardino County Sun - 'Here we are prisoners'

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico - The gunfire was deafening. Street corners all over the city were darkened by smoke from grenades and light artillery.
The dead lay in pools of blood flowing into the gutters that drain into the Rio Grande.

Men with automatic assault rifles stood stoic after the carnage. Then, one by one, they picked up the bodies of their victims, threw them into the back of pickup trucks and headed out of downtown.

Bystanders hid inside shops, behind trash bins - wherever they could find refuge from the explosive showdown between members of rival drug cartels.

"(I watched as) the men threw the bodies into the back of the trucks and SUVs," whispered Manuel, who was working at a parking garage that

day. "This city is controlled from the inside out by the cartels. ... They are killing anyone who gets in their way."
Here we are prisoners'

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cartels' hands seen in border abductions

More background on the most recent kidnappings.

Kidnappings long have plagued Mexican border cities, but the Piña and Lopez abductions didn't seem to fit the usual victim profiles.

Until recently, the majority of those kidnapped were young, usually between 18 and 25, and most were believed to have been linked or associated with the drug trade.

In contrast, Piña and the Lopez brothers were middle-age business owners with no known illicit trafficking links.

Sadly, as expected, the cancer is spreading to Texas.

"We're fearing this could be a trend in the future," a U.S. federal agent said. "We've already got both hands tied behind our back in dealing in these matters because of the ineffectiveness and impotency of the Mexican government."

Mexican authorities cooperate with the United States in a number of law enforcement areas, but when it comes to anything cartel-related, as in the Piña case, Mexican assistance is non-existent, agents said.

"The police there are of no confidence, and the military cannot control the area. It's wide open" for cartel operations, an official from another U.S. agency said.

Mexican and U.S. businessmen, and even those who travel for recreation, such as hunters, should be aware of the risks, authorities said. Metro | State

Thursday, December 21, 2006

2 more men have vanished across the border

The situation is not getting better.

LAREDO — A day after one family was reunited following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal, another stepped forward Tuesday to make a public plea for help finding their loved ones.

The three-week ordeal of Librado Piña Jr., now released and back with family, was highly publicized. But relatives of brothers Felipe and Sergio Lopez only now have decided to break a silence of more than 31/2 months.

The Lopez brothers, owners of a currency exchange business called La Moneda in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, were kidnapped in late August and haven't been heard from since, said Carmen Lopez, Sergio Lopez's wife.

Sergio Lopez is a U.S. citizen who lives in Laredo. His brother, a Mexican national, lives in Nuevo Laredo with his family.

Felipe Lopez was apprehended by a group of unidentified men as he left his office for lunch Aug. 23, Carmen Lopez said.

The men drove Felipe Lopez to his home, where they kept the businessman and his family hostage, inquiring about the details of their business, she said.

The next morning, not knowing what had happened to his brother the previous evening, Sergio was opening the money exchange when a group of eight men dressed in gray grabbed him and hauled him into a car, a witness told the family.

The kidnappers then disappeared with both brothers, Carmen Lopez said.

Two more kidnapped at the border

Monday, December 18, 2006

Drug cartels turn to kidnapping in South Texas

According to this story it is now just a likely that small businessmen will be kidnapped in Texas as in Mexico.

The surge in kidnappings has taken many Valley residents by surprise, the sheriff said.

''In Mexico, ransom kidnappings are a way of life. Over here it's an anomaly," he said.

Local and federal officials suspect that many of the abductions on the U.S. side of the border aren't reported. Victims and their families often fear retribution from the violent gangs believed to be responsible.

''In the majority of the kidnappings, there is a drug nexus or a connection to a human trafficking organization," said Treviño. ''This stranger-on-strang- er stuff, that's a rarity."

While officials in South Texas work to bring an end to the kidnappings, Mexican authorities are dealing with problems of their own.

The Matamoros-based Gulf Cartel and other drug gangs have branched out into the kidnapping-for-ransom business, U.S. law enforcement agents say.

''The Gulf Cartel has lost a great deal of money recently from interdicted drug shipments and has turned to kidnapping to recoup their losses," according to a U.S. intelligence report, which said 57 businessmen had been abducted recently in northern Mexico.

Drug cartels turn to kidnapping in South Texas | - Houston Chronicle

Culture of bribery taking root in South Texas

Mexico's bad civic culture is spreading into the border states. No surprise there, given the the border is a joke.

Bribery has also crept into Valley elections, said Othal Brand Jr., who ran his father's unsuccessful campaign for mayor last year in McAllen.

A political worker offered him "400 votes for $10 apiece, or $4,000," he said.

"It short-circuits the system," Brand said of bribery. "It speeds the process up and cuts red tape. It saves time or money, but without any conscience about the morality, the right or wrong."

Some worry that even more public officials could be compromised as vast amounts of drug money flow across the Texas border.

Laredo police frequently stop cars for speeding as they head through town on their way to Mexico, finding "massive amounts of cash," said Jerry Thompson, a history professor at Texas A&M International University. "One had $400,000 in a bag in the back seat. He didn't even have it in the trunk.

"What scares me is that this drug corruption is going to corrupt the judicial system."

Culture of bribery taking root in South Texas | - Houston Chronicle

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mexican first lady's cousin found shot to death

You know you have a crime problem when the aristocracy are getting killed in their cars.

MEXICO CITY — A cousin of Mexico's first lady was found dead of gunshot wounds just outside Mexico City, authorities said Wednesday.

The body of Luis Felipe Zavala, cousin of Margarita Zavala, was found in his minivan Tuesday night in the city of Naucalpan in Mexico State, said Carlos Flores, state deputy attorney general. Naucalpan borders Mexico City.

Authorities spoke with Zavala's wife, two of his brothers, and a brother-in-law — all of whom said he had no known enemies, Flores said.

President Felipe Calderon's office confirmed the death.

"It's evidently an execution because of the way his life was taken and the position he was found in," Flores told W Radio, noting that the body was found wedged behind the driver's seat. Zavala had been shot in the neck, the thorax and the side, apparently with a 9mm pistol, he said.

Mexican first lady's cousin found shot to death | - Houston Chronicle

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mexican government sends 6,500 troops to state scarred by drug violence, beheadings.

Well this is nice to see at long last. I wish the army the best of luck in retaking the parts of Mexico that are out of control, but I don't think it will be easy. Wonder what a private in the Army makes in Mexico. I suspect many will be swayed by the combination of money and terror the gangs use to maintain themselves.

We shall see.

VENTA DE BRAVO, Mexico – Mexico's newly sworn-in president sent more than
6,500 soldiers, sailors and federal police to violence-plagued Michoacan state
to crack down on drug turf wars that have left hundreds dead in a wave of
execution-style killings and beheadings.
Felipe Calderón took office on Dec.
1 pledging a “battle” against crime, promising more funds for the army and law
enforcement and appointing hardline Interior Minister Francisco Ramirez Acuna to
oversee the fight against organized crime.

“The battle against organized crime has just begun,” Ramirez Acuna said
Monday, as he announced the administration's first major offensive against drug
gangs. “We are looking to take back the spaces that organized crime has seized.”

Mexican government sends 6,500 troops to state scarred by drug violence, beheadings

Monday, December 11, 2006 awards to dead Mexican editors

Raúl Gibb Guerrero, Dolores Guadalupe García Escamilla and Alfredo Jiménez Mota Named's 2005 International Editors of the Year.

All died covering the Mexican Drug Wars.

In recognition of enterprise, courage and leadership in advancing the freedom and responsibility of the press, enhancing human rights and fostering excellence in journalism, our 2005 choice honors three Mexican journalists posthumously.

Raúl Gibb Guerrero, Dolores Guadalupe García Escamilla and Alfredo Jiménez Mota gave the ultimate sacrifice in their pursuit of journalistic excellence and freedom of press. Their courage, tenacity, and dedication in covering sensitive subjects, especially drug trafficking, caused them to live in a danger zone of threats and violence, which ultimately led to their murders. They led three very separate lives, but had the love of their country and press freedom in common.

By naming Raúl Gibb Guerrero, Dolores Guadalupe García Escamilla and Alfredo Jiménez Mota,'s 2005 International Editors of the Year we hope to highlight the dangers Mexican journalists currently face as well as the newspaper and news outlets' ongoing self-censorship policy enacted in order to protect their reporters and editors.

2005 International Editor of the Year Award -

Gunmen Slay Indian Activist in Oaxaca

The killings continue in Oaxaca in the wake of the general strike and police crackdown.

Gunmen Slay Indian Activist in Oaxaca -

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Mexico -- 80 prisoners on the loose in Cancun after riot

More fun and games down south:

CANCUN, Mexico – More than 150 prisoners escaped from a state penitentiary in Cancun early Friday after hundreds of inmates overpowered guards with knives and bats. Police quickly recaptured about half the men.
Guards shot and killed three inmates during the riot, said Red Cross official Ricardo Portugal, who received the bodies. Several prisoners and guards were wounded. > News > Mexico -- 80 prisoners on the loose in Cancun after riot

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The House of Death

This is a pretty amazing story. Like a bad detective movie the cops and robbers are hard to tell apart in this tale of woe. DEA and ICE informants are getting paid by the US to turn over information while kidnapping and murdering on the Mexican side of the border.

When 12 bodies were found buried in the garden of a Mexican house, it seemed like a case of drug-linked killings. But the trail led to Washington and a cover-up that went right to the top. David Rose reports from El Paso

The House of Death

Friday, December 01, 2006

Kidnapping for Cash Spreads to South Texas

A tortilla factory owner in Texas is kidnapped. Apparently he is Mr. Clean with no family or drug connections. There is no reason for the lawlessness to be confined to the poor side of the border, there are plenty of rich Americans to kidnap for cash on the other side. As we know, border enforcement is not happening.

As predicted the chaos of Northern Mexico is not contained and is spreading to the USA. Look for the assassinations of law enforcement, the bombings of newspapers and general intimidation to start happening on our side soon.

The Monitor - McAllen, Texas

Dope war leaves more victims dead in the streets of Monterrey

More of the same. Drug gangsters having shootouts in the middle of the city. Five dead, sadly including a poor lady riding on the bus.

MONTERREY, Mexico — Rival drug cartels continued their bloody turf war in the streets of this city early Thursday with a high-caliber shootout that killed five people, including a woman riding a bus home from work. The four male victims of the shootout included a former police commander and the head of a cell of the sanguinary Sinaloa drug cartel, according to media reports. Mexico