Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Shootout in Mexico kills 7 federal police

The wholesale intimidation of law enforcment in Mexico continues, and seems to be increasing. This is a very sad day. The Federal Police are the gooodest good-guys that Mexico has. Imagine 7 FBI agents being killed in the USA. It would lead every news broadcast, and be a story that continued for days. Not so in Mexico where this is, sadly, just a slightly larger version of every day reality.

Shootout in Mexico kills 7 federal police
By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO – 1 hour ago

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Seven federal police and a suspected hit man were killed in a shootout Tuesday as authorities surrounded a suspected drug safe house in Culiacan, home to the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Four other federal police were hospitalized with wounds, and police took two suspected cartel members into custody, according to a federal police statement.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent nearly 3,000 federal police and soldiers into Sinaloa state two weeks ago as part of his campaign to take back parts of Mexico controlled by drug lords. In all, Calderon has sent more than 20,000 security forces to confront the drug trade, and the cartels have responded by targeting police and other security officials.

At least three banners threatening 21 local police officers by name were hung in the violent northern city of Chihuahua over the weekend.

"The officers are uneasy," Chihuahua state prosecutor's spokesman Eduardo Esparza said Tuesday. "They have been instructed to be in direct contact with the police station and to be extremely careful."

In the nearby border city of Juarez, a death list of 22 officers was left at a monument to fallen police four months ago, addressed to "those who still don't believe" in the power of the cartels.

Of the 22, seven have been killed and three wounded in assassination attempts. All but one of the others have quit.

The Associated Press: Shootout in Mexico kills 7 federal police

Bad Moon Rising: The Crisis in Ciudad Juarez

Amazing stats in this article: 14 dead cops. At least 420 dead total. One city!

This was a good summary: "... the unresolved femicides, aggressions against residents of the Lomas de Poleo neighborhood, round-the-clock drug markets and the proliferation of thousands of illegally-imported cars as examples of unanswered wake up calls. “There is no government or authority capable of putting order to the situation,” Ortiz said.

by Frontra NorteSur
By last weekend, what began as a public safety crisis earlier this year had evolved into a broader political-economic one as well. Stirred in with the narco war are rising street crime and kidnappings for ransom, all of which creates a generalized sense of insecurity. Talk is emerging of a “Nuevo Laredo Effect.”

Posted on May 27, 2008
Known for its irreverent tone and sarcastic headlines, Ciudad Juarez’s Lapolaka.com news service summed up the mood in the border city: “Ciudad Juarez is out of control, and it is entering into a stage of collective hysteria and war this Friday.” The Internet news site was, of course, referring to a still-mysterious and widely-distributed e-mail that warned of extreme violence planned for Ciudad Juarez last weekend. In a city ravaged by seemingly endless killings connected to a war between rival drug cartels, many people took the advice of the e-mail seriously and stayed home. Business at bars and restaurants evaporated, a bull fight was canceled and a concert featuring what passes these days as the old US rock group Creedence Clearwater Revival was similarly given the no-go.

“Ciudad Juarez resembled a ghost town on Saturday afternoon and evening,” said journalism student Claudia Moreno Torres.

“I’ve never seen a crisis like this one before,” said Pascual Hernandez, a restaurant owner in the Avenida Juarez tourist district who counts 40 years in the business. By last weekend, what began as a public safety crisis earlier this year had evolved into a broader political-economic one as well. Restaurants, bars, hotels, pharmacies, and other businesses have reported losing between 20-70 percent of normal sales in recent days.

Leopoldina Aguirre Anchondo, executive director of the Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said 350 small businesses have shut their doors since the beginning of 2008. Stirred in with the narco war and rising street crime, kidnappings for ransom, which could exceed more than 40 cases this year so far, are creating a generalized sense of insecurity.

According to Jorge Pedroza Serrano, executive director of the Maquiladora Association, it was business as usual for the hundreds of export factories that supply the U.S. consumer market. “Our workers and employees can circulate throughout the different sections of the city with the certainty that their physical integrity is respected,” Serrano insisted. “The different police agencies are ready to make sure of that.”

Talk is emerging of a “Nuevo Laredo Effect” shaking Ciudad Juarez, in allusion to the narco war that devastated Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, several years ago, when pitched street battles that even included bazookas dried up tourism, shut down businesses and sent perhaps thousands fleeing across the border to Laredo, Texas. Already, prominent Juarenses are reported lying low in neighboring El Paso, Texas.

Last weekend’s events partially bore out the e-mail’s predictions. On Friday, a man was kidnapped in front of his 6-year-old daughter at the Plaza Juarez Mall. While no massacres occurred in bars or restaurants, 25 people were reported murdered gangland style in separate incidents between May 23 and 25. In a gruesome scene, the bodies of five men were found dumped between a church and maquiladora export plant. Two of the victims were decapitated, and a “narco-message” bearing the signature of “La Linea,” reportedly a group of corrupt policemen, was left as a warning to others. Early Sunday morning, arsonists torched the La Finca bar, Vaqueras y Broncos nightclub and a National Autos lot.

The latest slayings brought this year’s murder toll to at least 371 victims, a statistic which surpasses the homicide count of 316 for all of 2007. So many killings are taking place that bodies are stacking up in the city morgue. And this year’s murder roll doesn’t include the 46 bodies discovered in two clandestine graves. According to Jaime Hervella, director of the Association of Relatives and Friends of Disappeared Persons in El Paso, the bodies could have been buried from five to 10 years ago. Not one corpse has been publicly identified so far, Hervella said.

“Juarez has been lost to us,” shrugged Arturo Dominguez, president of the city public safety commission. “The crime rate comes from not paying attention. All of us, citizens, functionaries and businessmen, lost control of the city watching was happening on the corner but saying nothing. It is regrettable there is no order, but if we’ve lost control, we shouldn’t at least lose hope.”

Prominent residents of the city were buried during the bloody month of May. Longtime bar operator Willie Moya, who ran Hooligan’s, Vaqueras y Broncos, Frida’s, Tabasco’s, Arriba Chihuahua, Willy’s Country Disco and other clubs popular among both US and Mexican citizens, was gunned down outside one of his establishments. The 48-year-old Moya was called Ciudad Juarez’s “King Midas” by some members of the local community.

Former federal Congressman Carlos Camacho, who served as the Chihuahua state delegate for the Attorney General for Environmental Protection, was kidnapped by men possibly dressed as soldiers and strangled to death. Camacho was known by many environmental activists from both sides of the border for his fervent opposition to a nuclear waste dump that was planned for Sierra Blanca, Texas, during the 1990s.

Targeted by killers, police continued falling in the line of hostile gunfire. Two municipal policemen were gunned down May 24 near the Delicias substation, bringing to 14 the number of city cops slain this year so far.

On May 25, a new list of policemen targeted for death was discovered posted in Chihuahua City. Unlike the previous list which focused Ciudad Juarez municipal policemen, the latest one also puts state officers squarely in the aim of assassins.

Last weekend’s events, in which an anonymous e-mail triggered the partial shutdown of an industrial city of more than 1.3 million people, raised hotly-debated questions about media, cyberspace, government and the drug culture. The Spanish-language U.S. television network Univision reported that organized crime succeeded in bringing a city to its knees by means of an anonymous threat, but the truth of the matter is that no one is sure who was the author of the e-mail. Theories ranged from criminal gangs to social conservatives to a teenager playing a bad joke on the Internet.

Ricardo Ramirez Vela, president of the local branch of the Canirac restaurant industry association, floated a novel theory: “I don’t doubt that this (e-mail) could have come from people who have businesses in the United States and are trying to profit from what is happening in our city.”

Across the Rio Grande, the jolting e-mail and ongoing violence sparked an emotionally charged but intellectually challenged exchange on the El Paso Times web site. A contributor who claimed to have witnessed the aftermath of a recent execution offered a tip of practical advice to anyone visiting Ciudad Juarez. He advised motorists to keep their windows cracked and the radio tuned down so sounds of gunshots could be easily heard.

While some writers took the opportunity to explore issues like the connection between the consumption of illegal drugs in the United States and violence in Mexico, others used the forum as a platform to expound thinly-disguised racist attitudes toward Mexicans. Some called for closing the border, deploying U.S. troops, constructing a huge wall and firing Patriot missiles into Mexico. As one writer commented in response to the proposal for an artillery barrage, Patriot missiles are shot into the air at other missiles. Until now, Ciudad Juarez’s latest narco war has not spilled across the border into the U.S., though the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City cautioned citizens about visiting the city last weekend.

Many people questioned the actions of elected officials, law enforcement authorities and the federal government. Even as new bodies were piling up for processing in the city morgue, Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza and Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz flew off to a mass transportation conference in Bogota, Colombia. Mayor Reyes left the city in the hands of a retired military officer, former Major Roberto Orduna, who was appointed only days earlier and almost immediately faced a rebellion by a unit of officers complaining of unreasonably long work shifts.

Out of sight during Ciudad Juarez’s worst crisis in recent years, the mayor and the governor drew critical comments in the press. Both men cut short their trips only to return to a blood-soaked homeland.

Many citizens wonder what the army is really doing in their city. Since March, more than 3,000 federal troops and police have been dispatched to Ciudad Juarez as part of an officially-proclaimed campaign to quell violence and bring organized crime to heel, but the violence has only worsened since the federales put their boots on the ground. With trained troops supposedly on patrol, it’s not clear how groups of armed men can freely roam the streets executing victims in broad daylight and burning down buildings without at least one or two of the assailants getting caught.

Hernan Ortiz, spokesman for the Popular Independent Organization, said the current round of events wasn’t surprising in view of the impunity that is practically institutionalized. Ortiz cited the unresolved femicides, aggressions against residents of the Lomas de Poleo neighborhood, round-the-clock drug markets and the proliferation of thousands of illegally-imported cars as examples of unanswered wake up calls.

“There is no government or authority capable of putting order to the situation,” Ortiz said. “The crimes against women are also a point of reference that says everything about the existing problem.”

By the evening of May 25, some residents were ready to lay their city’s deep heartaches to rest. A rowdy crowd of tens of thousands braved the uncertain evening and overwhelmed the city’s airport to greet Ciudad Juarez’s returning Indios soccer team. In a weekend match, the local heroes defeated the Esmeraldas in the rival team’s hometown of Leon, Guanajuato. The game witnessed a riot, with police firing tear gas and helicopters buzzing fans.

The collective euphoria at the airport aside, the lyrics from an old Creedence Clearwater Revival that were not sang live in Ciudad Juarez as expected perhaps best captured the spirit of the times in the troubled border city:

I see the bad moon rising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin.
I see bad times today.

Don’t go around tonight,
Well, it’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise…


Bad Moon Rising: The Crisis in Ciudad Juarez - Newspaper Tree El Paso

Monday, May 26, 2008

More public death threats against Chihuahua police

A very brief review of Blog Of The Gods will convince anyone that such threats are to be taken very seriously. The number of police killed in Mexico but the drug gangs is high.

via NAFBPO (National Alliance of Former Border Patrol Officers (USA))

El Diario (Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua) 5/26/08

Three large signs with the names of police officers to be executed appeared yesterday (Sun.) morning hung from pedestrian overpasses in different points of the city of Chihuahua (capital of the state of Chihuahua.) Twenty-one officers are named, most of them from the State Public Security Dep't. and from the state's Att'y. General's office. Last January, a similar death threat list of seventeen Juarez police officers was left at the Monument to the Police in Juarez. (A number of them have been executed since then.)

More public death threats ...

E-mail 'bloodbath' threat paralyzes Mexican city

400 dead in Juarez, too. Don't see as many stories about it as TJ or NL for some reason.

Mexico's northern border town of Juarez, infamous for its history of drug-related violence, has gone into lockdown after an e-mail began circulating warning of an unparalleled "bloodbath" in the coming days.
Shops, bars and restaurants have shut and soldiers are patrolling the streets, giving a surreal and dangerous tone to this city of 1.4 million people which sits just across the US border from the Texan town of El Paso.

Authorities are taking seriously the anonymous e-mail, which menaced "the bloodiest and most violent weekend in the history of Juarez."

The place is already reeling from a surge in murders that has claimed around 400 lives so far this year, several of them police officers and members of rival narcotics gangs.

The US embassy to Mexico has told US citizens that the message represented a "potential threat" and that public places, nightspots and the main streets in Juarez should all be avoided.

In Juarez, nerves frayed by the rising body count -- including at least 20 people killed over the past weekend, among them two policemen gunned down as they finished their shift -- have begun to shred in terror because of the much-forwarded e-mail, even though its veracity was unknown.

"We don't have any information to suspect that the e-mails are real," mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said on Sunday.

Nevertheless, he said, extra police were being sent to those streets and areas mentioned in the message.

The army has already been reinforcing security in the city since March, though its presence has done little to deter the crime wave. Each weekend has seen an average of around 25 murders.

Municipal officials believe the violence gripping the city is the result of a war between drug cartels.

Reyes Ferriz had claimed early last week that the conflict was having no impact on life in general in Juarez. But the sudden evacuation of the streets after the e-mails paints a different picture.

One measure of the effect of the threat was the time it takes to cross one of the bridges into El Paso.

Usually, it is a trip of more than an hour. On the weekend, vehicles were crossing over in less than five minutes.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Migrant kidnappings by Mexican cops on the rise

Please note: this is a slightly out of sync posting from March of this year that I misposted to a different blog. I am returning it to the rightful place.

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Cases of corrupt Mexican police kidnapping undocumented Central American migrants for ransom as they travel overland to the United States are on the rise, a United Nations official said on Saturday.

Jorge Bustamante, the U.N.'s special investigator for migrant rights, said extorting ransoms from migrants could be more lucrative for unscrupulous police than working for drug smuggling gangs.

"They kidnap migrants, ask them for information, relatives' phone numbers; then they extort money from the families," Bustamante said, presenting the conclusions of a week-long study of how undocumented migrants are treated in Mexico.

Bustamante told a news conference both federal and local police were involved in kidnapping rackets on Mexico's northern and southern borders. "It's an abuse and it's increasing," he said.

Tens of thousands of poor Central Americans make the long trek north through Mexico each year on their way to cross the U.S. border illegally. Many are mistreated and forced to pay bribes by both criminal gangs and police.

Bustamante said he met a Salvadoran man in the southern Mexican city of Tapachula who said his wife was still missing after police recently abducted and held the couple.

"It's a big business that involves everyone from taxi drivers to police chiefs. It's a business whose profits rival those of drug trafficking," Bustamante said.

Bustamante, who was invited to carry out his study by the Mexican government, criticized Mexico for doing little to improve the lot of migrants on its territory while at the same time demanding better treatment from the United States of illegal Mexican migrants there.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Catherine Bremer and Eric Walsh)

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Another Mexican town's police force quits out of fear

It's not just the border anymore. It's everywhere, or at least a lot of places in Mexico. This is a new level of breakdown. The narcotraficantes have eliminated one layer of resistance to their hegemony. Several remain, but they are not convincing.

Associated Press

ACAPULCO, Mexico — A southern Mexican town's 15-member police force has quit for fear of being assassinated in retaliation for a shootout with gunmen, a security official said Thursday.

Zirandaro was the second town in less than two weeks to be left without its police force as Mexico's drug cartels wage increasingly bold attacks against security forces. On Monday, the military took over a town near Texas after all 20 of its police officers were either killed, run out of town or quit.

Eight members of Zirandaro's police never returned to work after a May 13 shootout with gunmen that left a 32-year-old man dead, said Juan Heriberto Salinas Altes, the public safety secretary of the southern state of Guerrero.

The other seven officers — including the police chief — quit days later.

"The Zirandaro police quit the service because they feared the criminals would return to seek revenge," Salinas Altas told a news conference.

The identities of the gunmen were not known, but Salinas Altas said cells of both the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels were operating in the area.

About 20 Guerrero state police officers have taken over security responsibilities in Zirandaro, a town of about 24,000 people.

President Felipe Calderon has said the attacks against Mexican police show that cartels feel threatened by his crackdown against drug trafficking. Since taking office in 2006, he has sent more than 25,000 troops to drug hotspots.

But the disintegration of two municipal forces shows how vulnerable police feel in a country where, despite efforts to fight corruption, they can't be sure their colleagues are not on the cartels' payrolls.

Earlier this month, Mexico's acting federal police chief was killed in his home by an assassin who had keys to his house. A fellow federal police officer and four other people with alleged ties to the Sinaloa cartel were arrested in the killing.

President Bush's administration has pushed Congress to approve an initial US$550 million (euro349 million) to help fight drug crime in Mexico and Central America.

The U.S. Senate approved only US$450 million (euro285 million) for the plan on Monday, while the House has approved US$461.5 million (euro293 million).

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Antonio Garza, nonetheless said approval of the funding "signaled congressional support for this important measure to enhance ongoing U.S. programs for cooperating and coordinating with the Mexican government."

The two chambers must agree on a final version of the bill before sending it to Bush for final approval.

Another Mexican town's police force quits out of fear | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Two policemen shot, bodies dumped on Mexico highway | Reuters

We'll never know if they were good, honest police who were killed because they were trying to do their job or were hopelessly corrupt. Well the latter is a good guess, actually.
Guzman is the same fellow whose son was killed a few weeks back in a ambush at the mini-mart that involved more than 500 rounds being fired.

Also, 34 drug killings in one day! That's a new record I'm pretty sure.

By Cyntia Barrera Diaz

MEXICO CITY, May 21 (Reuters) - Two Mexican policemen were shot and their bodies dumped in a car on a busy Mexico City-bound highway, police said on Wednesday, the latest in a spurt of brutal drug gang murders near the capital.

The bodies, which showed torture marks, were left with death threats directed at anyone backing powerful drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman, Mexico's most wanted man.

They were found late on Tuesday in the trunk of a car abandoned on the Cuernavaca-Mexico City highway, a route used by commuters between the capital and the small colonial city where many have weekend homes.

"This is what will happen to those hanging out with El Chapo and El Mayo Zambada," one of the messages left with the bodies read, according to the daily Reforma. The newspaper said the victims' hands and feet were bound.

Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada is a key aide of Guzman's Sinaloa cartel that controls smuggling turf in northwestern Mexico.

Amelio Gomez, head of Mexico City's judicial police, told Mexican radio the slain policemen worked in the nearby central state of Morelos.

The two men were wrapped in bandages from the shoulders to the waist and one of them had been shot in the head at close range, Reforma said.

Killings between rival drug gangs have soared in recent weeks and attacks in or near the capital are on the rise. The murder this month in Mexico City of a senior federal police chief in charge of drug investigations shocked the country.

Another Mexican daily, El Universal, said Tuesday was the country's bloodiest day this year, with 34 drug killings.

Some media reports say the spike in violence could be due to a fracture within Guzman's cartel as one of its boldest operatives, Arturo Beltran Leyva, seeks to establish his own drug empire.

Beltran's brother, Alfredo, was captured by Mexican troops in January after a tip-off from Guzman in exchange for the release of one of his sons from jail, media reports say.

The recent killing of another of Guzman's sons, which experts think may have been ordered by the Beltran Leyva gang, and the arrest of one of his cousins are believed to have triggered more violence from the Sinaloa cartel.

Last month, police arrested nine alleged Sinaloa cartel members after a gunbattle that killed two police officers.

The operation was spearheaded by regional commissioner Edgar Millan, the police chief ambushed and shot dead a week later. Five more police chiefs have been killed in May.

Calderon has deployed some 25,000 troops and federal police to combat drug cartels since taking office in late 2006, but his campaign has failed to curb violence. Some 1,300 people have been killed in drug-related murders this year. (Editing by Catherine Bremer)

Two policemen shot, bodies dumped on Mexico highway | Reuters

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Violence erupts in Mexico's drugs heartland

Wow! 300 dead in Sinaloa, which has a very small population. Also the shooting of Shorty Guzman included firing 500 rounds! It's that type of violence that has caused even the US State Department to start warning people off of visiting Mexico. (Of corse few tourists go to Culiacan.)

No happy ending in sight ... stay tuned.

CULIACAN, Mexico (Reuters) - Violence has exploded in Mexico's drug smuggling heartland in a three-way battle between rival gangs and security forces, the biggest challenge yet to President Felipe Calderon's war against the cartels.

About 300 people have died in drug murders so far this year in Sinaloa, an arid western state that serves as the home turf of one of Mexico's main drug gangs and where traffickers worship a bandit as their own patron saint.

The killing spilled over to Mexico City this month when assassins hired by Sinaloan smugglers shot dead one of Mexico's top federal policemen at his home, in a direct challenge to the government.

Calderon has staked his reputation on weakening the cartels, and responded to the murder by sending an extra 2,700 soldiers to Sinaloa to try to tame the state.

But Sinaloa's hitmen, known for their swagger, were undaunted. A gang threw grenades at a police station and machine-gunned three houses just hours after the troop deployment, killing one person in the town of Guamuchil.

Synonymous for many Mexicans with drugs and "narcocorrido" folk ballads that glamorize the lives of leading traffickers, Sinaloa had a tradition of growing marijuana and opium long before U.S. illegal drug demand took off in the 1960s.

The cartel now mostly smuggles methamphetamines and South American cocaine up the Pacific coast.

"There has always been violence here because this is where drug trafficking was born ... but before it was under control," said 73-year-old Culiacan native Juan Murray.

Residents of state capital Culiacan say they now rarely go out at night because of the violence which they fear will worsen after rival drug hitmen killed the son of Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's most wanted man.

In a military-style attack, armed men from a rival faction gunned Edgar Guzman down at a strip mall in central Culiacan, on May 8, leaving 500 bullet casings strewn on the ground. Some 20 cars nearby were damaged in the withering gunfire.

The murder is widely attributed to the Beltran Leyva family, former allies in the cartel who have recently split with Guzman. The city expects bloody recriminations.

"The gangs are fighting each other and now with the army here the only thing we can do is hide in our houses," said Yira Sanchez, 26, holding her one-year-old daughter.


Beyond its own internal strife, the Sinaloa gang is locked in a nationwide turf war with the Gulf cartel and both sides abduct, torture and murder their rivals, sometimes beheading them.

While the Sinaloans have managed to stage attacks in Gulf territory just south of Texas, outsiders rarely penetrate Sinaloa.

Calderon, who has sent 25,000 troops against the crime syndicates since taking office in December 2006, has scored successes against the Gulf cartel, extraditing its leader Osiel Cardenas to the United States last year.

But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration complains that Mexico's federal forces are hindered by corrupt local police and the respect shown to Sinaloan drug bosses by the state's residents.

"This is the center of gravity of narcotics activity from a historical perspective and its going to take a very concerted effort to be successful," said Fred Burton, an analyst for the U.S.-based private intelligence firm Stratfor.

Despite the gang's power, residents say the Sinaloa cartel is now splitting after the January arrest of senior member Alfredo Beltran Leyva, seized with almost $1 million in cash.

The Beltran Leyva family is playing a more prominent role and has been blamed by the Mexican media for the killing in the capital earlier this month of Edgar Millan, the No. 2 in one of Mexico's federal police forces.

That shooting raised fears that Mexico could spiral down into a drug conflict like the one in Colombia in the 1980s and '90s, when traffickers planted car bombs and even downed a commercial jet in a terror campaign against the government.

"The attack on Millan has taken it to another level," said Statfor's Burton. "It is a signal to Calderon that these groups are very capable of reaching out and killing who they want to, where they want to."

Some 1,300 people have died in Mexico's drug conflict this year but most of the deaths are still among rival traffickers.

In Sinaloa, the local economy is closely linked to drugs and traffickers even have their own patron saint.

Near the old statehouse in Culiacan, devotees flock to the shrine of Jesus Malverde an outlaw figure who, according to local legend, robbed from corrupt officials and gave the spoils to the poor in the early 1900s.

Vendors hawk everything from keychains to tequila glasses with his image.

Soldiers wearing ski-masks in the sweltering heat last week shut down foreign exchange stores on Culiacan's Juarez Street to crack down on money laundering.

"The economy of Culiacan is half tomatoes ... and half marijuana and poppies. If they are really going to fight the narcos here, the economy of the state will completely collapse," said one street vendor too scared to give his name.

(Additional reporting by Anahi Rama; Editing by Kieran Murray)

Violence erupts in Mexico's drugs heartland

US Warns Tourists of 'Small-Unit Combat' at Mexico Border -- 05/16/2008

The State Department is now making it official: the border areas of Mexico are extremely dangerous, particularly if you are involved in any unsavory activity.

By Penny Starr
CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
May 16, 2008

(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. State Department has issued an alert, warning travelers that the "equivalent to military small-unit combat" is taking place across the southern U.S. border in Mexico and that Americans are being kidnapped and murdered there.

"Recent Mexican army and police force conflicts with heavily-armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades," said the State Department alert.

"Confrontations have taken place in numerous towns and cities in northern Mexico, including Tijuana in the Mexican state of Baja California, and Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua," reads the alert. "The situation in northern Mexico remains very fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements there cannot be predicted."

The State Department particularly urged that Americans be wary when traveling in that part of Mexico closest to the United States. "U.S. citizens are urged to be especially alert to safety and security concerns when visiting the border region," said the alert.

Murder and kidnapping of Americans has become routine in Tijuana, which sits just across the border from San Diego, California, according to the State Department, and sometimes heavily armed attackers wear the uniforms of the Mexican police or military.

"Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007," says the alert. "Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas. Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles."

The alert also warns Americans to avoid areas where drugs and prostitution are evident and to "refrain from displaying expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money and other valuable items."

In light of this alert, which was first issued on Apr. 14, and was listed as "current as of today, Thursday May 15 17:51:35 2008" on State's Web site on Wednesday, Cybercast News Service submitted a number of questions to the State Department via e-mail, and received non-responsive answers the next day. Cybercast News Service's questions were as follows:

-- "The alert says 'attacks are aimed primarily at members of drug trafficking organizations, Mexican police forces, criminal justice officials and journalists.' Can you provide more details about who has been attacked and the result of those attacks, including injuries, fatalities and legal ramifications?

-- "The alert says violence has 'escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades.' Can you provide more information, including the number of incidents involving these kinds of weapons and the number of weapons confiscated?

-- "The alert says that violence not related to drug trafficking has increased in Tijuana and Ciudad Jarez, with 'dozens of U.S. citizens ... kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007.' How many people were kidnapped or murdered and how do those numbers compare with the numbers in prior years?"

-- "The alert recommends that Americans avoid areas where prostitution and drug dealing occurs. Where are those areas?"

-- "How many incidents in 2007 and other years are recorded that show U.S. citizens being followed or harassed in the border areas, including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros and Tijuana?"

-- "How many kidnapping cases of U.S. citizens remain unsolved?"

-- "What actions is the state department taking to reduce the violence on the border?"

The State Department's written answer to those questions is as follows:

"The State Department's Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management (ACS) administers the Consular Information Program, which informs the public of conditions abroad that may affect their safety and security.

"Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert.

"The travel alert is a collaborative effort based on media reports and other information released within a particular country. It is provided so that American travellers (sic) can make an informed decision about their plans to visit a particular location at a particular time.

"For various reasons, American citizens often choose not to report their involvement in activities while abroad.

"Your best source for detailed statistics and information about specific locations would be from sources within Mexico."

US Warns Tourists of 'Small-Unit Combat' at Mexico Border -- 05/16/2008

Monday, May 19, 2008

Four killed in Mexico near border (Tijuana)

UPDATE: A reader posted more details on this shooting. Apparently only the woman was American, and she had a history of drug dealing. So remove this from the "innocent tourist" category and add it to the much, much larger "drug runners killing each other off" category.


Were these four friends out for some fun in Ensenada, or small time dealers who got in over their heads. Either way, it sucks to be them. The border is a scary place, no place to go for anyone just looking for a fun travel destination.

ROSARITO, Mexico (Reuters) - Four people believed to be Americans were shot in the head and dumped in a notorious drug-smuggling area in northern Mexico near the border with California, Mexican police said on Monday.

Police in the beach town of Rosarito, across the border from San Diego, said they discovered the bodies of three men and a woman on Sunday in an abandoned car in a remote patch of scrubland near the Pacific coast.

"The bodies had been there for at least a week. They were spotted by local people out hunting," a municipal police spokesman said.

Police concluded the victims were U.S. citizens because the vehicle had California license plates, the three men were of African-American appearance, the woman was Caucasian and a U.S. driver's license was found in the car, the spokesman said.

The remote area is one of many along the border used by drug gangs to smuggle marijuana and cocaine into the United States, police said.

Violence from Mexico's vicious war between rival cartels and the police and army has spilled over from the rough nearby city of Tijuana into once-quiet Rosarito and its outlying areas as gangs fight over smuggling routes into California.

Some 1,300 people have been killed in drug violence across Mexico this year and more than 2,500 died in 2007.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Robin Emmott; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

Four Americans killed in Mexico near border: police | U.S. | Reuters

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Suspected drug hit men dump head in Mexican city | International | Reuters

Hmm. We had a slight break in the beheading trend there for a few months, now it's back in a big way. This report also includes a bonus crime: two wounded men in a hospital are shot dead there. That is at least the second occurance of finishing-off-the-drug-killing-in-the-hospital reported here at Blog of the Gods.

MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - Suspected Mexican drug hit men dumped the head of a murdered man on top of a car in the street, police said on Friday, in a rare outrage in the wealthy city of Monterrey.

The head, found on Thursday night on the roof of a car parked in a middle-class residential area, had a written message next to it signed by the Gulf cartel, the country's most violent drug organization.

The ears were chopped off, a senior state police officer told reporters on condition of anonymity.

Mexican drug gangs, engaged in a bitter fight with each other and security forces, behead opponents to scare rivals, but this was the first such decapitation in Monterrey, home to large corporations and a wealthy business elite.

The message, written on cardboard or paper, suggested the victim may have been a common criminal who had passed himself off as a member of the Gulf cartel's feared Zetas hit squad.

"This is what happens to people who want to pass for Zetas," the message read, according to El Norte newspaper. The man's body has not been found, police sources said.

In Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico, gunmen dressed as federal investigative agents forced their way into a city prison and freed six inmates on Friday, the state attorney general's office said.

The inmates were arrested in March, accused of working for the Zetas, Mexican media said.

Also on Friday in Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso, Texas, drug hit men killed two rivals in a hospital near the city's main military base, police and doctors said.

The gunmen entered the private Hospital Juarez and shot the men in the waiting room in front of doctors and nurses. The two men had brought in two seriously wounded partners, fleeing from a gun battle.

"It happened at 2.30 a.m. and we called the police, but no one came until 7 in the morning," said a hospital nurse who declined to be named.

President Felipe Calderon has sent 25,000 troops and federal police to fight cartels across Mexico since 2006 -- including 2,500 troops to Ciudad Juarez in March and more than 2,700 this week to Sinaloa, the home state of kingpin Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, Mexico's most wanted man.

Despite those efforts, six high-ranking police officers were killed in the past two weeks. Drug violence has killed more than 1,100 people in Mexico this year.

(Reporting by Gabriela Lopez and Robin Emmott in Monterrey and Ignacio Alvarado in Ciudad Juarez; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Suspected drug hit men dump head in Mexican city | International | Reuters

What's Wrong With Mexico?

I usually don't include opinion pieces in this blog, but this one seemed very on target, so I've added it.

By John Gibson
Fox News

Some countries seem to never have to leave home to fight a war.

Take Mexico.

President Felipe Calderon has just sent thousands more troops into the northern state of Sinaloa to fight the drug cartels, which evidently have taken over both the Mexican side of the border with the United States and large swaths of Mexico proper near the border.

In the past two weeks, six senior police officers across Mexico have been assassinated by the cartels. The latest was Edgar Millan, who had been acting director of the federal police for just 30 days before he was shot outside his home in Mexico City. Up north, closer to the border, the cartels have even taken to decapitating their police victims to add an extra measure of horror to their assassination campaign.

As recently as last week the president promised (again) to take back the streets from the cartels. He's a little late out of the starting gate. Since he came to office in 2006 more than 3,500 people have died in the cartel violence. Drug hit men have even been targeting popular recording artists, who they kidnap and murder as punishment for hit songs that don't paint the cartel hombres in a favorable light.

We shall see how the Presidente does in this fight. So far the government of Mexico hasn't seemed up it. Cartel recruiters are so confident of their control of border towns they openly advertise gunmen jobs to soldiers willing to go AWOL from the army.

The whole sorry scene of the border war over control of drug routes has the air of an open insurrection that the government of Mexico seems powerless to put down. It's one thing to blame American drug consumers for the huge power of the cartels, it's quite another for the government to simply fail to stamp out the murderous insurrection with brutal force. It's a challenge to the very manhood of the Mexican government and there isn't a blue pill to cure this impotency.

Americans have had plenty of reason to mistrust the Mexican government over its inability to control the outflow of its citizens to the United States, where they live in legal limbo because they cannot make a living in their own home country. Americans even understand why the Mexican government wants its citizens in the U.S. (because they send home billions of dollars), but they resent deeply the Mexican government's complicity and facilitation of this wave of illegal immigration.

But the idea that the government cowers before armed gangs of drug cartel-paid gunmen is shocking. Mexico has virtually ceded a vast chunk of its sovereign territory to criminal gangs, watched its own officers of law and order hunted down and killed and seems unable to defend itself. Even the Maliki government in Iraq has finally decided to fight back against the illegal gangs of gunmen that threaten its very existence.

So what's wrong with Mexico? Doesn't it appear that Mexico is losing its status as a functional government if it can't even protect its own national police chief and many other local police officials? What is the nation of Mexico if it can't exert control within its own borders?

Mexico is so flacid it's pitiful and pathetic. The one upside, if you could call it that, is Mexicans certainly do not have to worry about living under an ironfisted police state.

What a sorry excuse for a government. Should somebody call the U.N.?

FOXNews.com - What's Wrong With Mexico? - John Gibson Radio

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Drug hitmen attack police in Mexico hot spot

Hand grenades seem to be pretty common with the drug gangs in Mexico now. Where do they get them? Mexican authorities blame the US for the proliferation of handguns and rifles in Mexico. I'm sure the handgun part is true. Many of the long guns they use appear to be military issue, full auto, based on the reports. (As in this one "machine guns"). Now also, use of grenades! This implies that the drug gangs have access to some government armory, somewhere. Grenades are not things that you can buy at "Joe's Guns" on Hwy. 99.

CULIACAN, Mexico, May 14 (Reuters) - Suspected drug hitmen threw grenades and opened fire on a police station in Mexico's Sinaloa state on Wednesday, just hours after the government sent thousands of troops to fight a powerful drug cartel there.

A group of 10 to 12 heavily armed men shot at the station with machine guns and attacked three other houses, killing one person, in the town of Guamuchil, about an hour away from Sinaloa's capital of Culiacan.

"They fired shots and threw (two) grenades and both of them exploded," a local policeman at the Guamuchil station told Reuters by telephone, asking not to be named.

The six policemen in the station were not injured in the attack in the early hours of the morning.

On Tuesday, President Felipe Calderon sent more than 2,700 troops into the state, known as the home of the country's most wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, head of the Sinaloa drug cartel. Soldiers patrolled Culiacan and a nearby town in military vehicles.

More than 1,100 people have been killed in Mexico this year as drug gangs fight each other and the security forces.

Calderon, a conservative who has sent 25,000 troops and federal police to fight drug cartels across Mexico since late 2006, pledged last week to take back Mexican streets from drug traffickers and gunmen.

But the latest attack shows the difficulty of a frontal attack on the drug cartels in their home territory. (Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Drug hitmen attack police in Mexico hot spot | Reuters

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Violence in Mexico spills across US border

"It's almost like a military fight". Yes, we are starting to suspect that, but of course we're not really treating it that way which mean using the military, not border patrol agents.

WASHINGTON - Three Mexican police chiefs have requested political asylum in the U.S. as violence escalates in the Mexican drug wars and spills across the U.S. border, a top Homeland Security official told The Associated Press.


In the past few months, the police officials have shown up at the U.S. border, fearing for their lives, according to Jayson Ahern, the deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.

"They're basically abandoned by their police officers or police departments in many cases," Ahern told AP.

Ahern said the Mexican officials — whom he didn't name — are being interviewed and their cases are under review for possible asylum.

In the most recent high-level assassination, a top-ranking official on a local Mexican police force was shot more than 50 times and killed. Drug-related violence killed more than 2,500 people last year alone in Mexico.

"It's almost like a military fight," Ahern said Tuesday. "I don't think that generally the American public has any sense of the level of violence that occurs on the border."

As the cartels fight for territory, this carnage spills over to the U.S., Ahern said — from bullet-ridden people stumbling into U.S. territory, to rounds of ammunition coming across U.S. entry ports.

U.S. humvees retrofitted with steel mesh over the glass windows patrol parts of the border to protect agents against guns shots and large rocks regularly thrown at them. At times agents are pinned down by sniper fire as people try to illegally cross into the U.S.

Mexico's drug cartels have long divided the border, with each controlling key cities. But over the past decade Mexico has arrested or killed many of the gangs' top leaders, creating a power vacuum and throwing lucrative drug routes up for the taking.

President Felipe Calderon, who took office in December 2006, responded by deploying more than 24,000 soldiers and federal police to areas where the government had lost control. Cartels have reacted with unprecedented violence, beheading police and killing soldiers.

In general, violence along the U.S. border has gone up over the years. Seven frontline border agents were killed in 2007, and two so far in 2008. Assaults against officers have also shot up from 335 in fiscal 2001 to 987 in fiscal 2007.

There have been 362 assaults against officers during the first four months of 2008, according to Border Patrol statistics. The pattern has been that when more security resources are deployed along the U.S. border, violence against officers spike in response.

Most assaults are along the San Diego and Calexico, Calif., border, as well as the Arizona border near Yuma and south of Tucson.

Now, about 14,000 U.S. border agents work on the southern border, up from more than 9,000 in 2001.

The Bush administration has requested $500 million to fight drug crime in Mexico. Congress is currently considering the proposal.

Violence in Mexico spills across US border - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Seven Dead in New Mexico Border Town Drug Killing

Governor Richardson is "Concerned". Isn't that nice!

Concerned is when your cat isn't home by dark. A full scale drug war killing thousands in the neighboring state seems like mabye Governor Richardson should be "alarmed" "deeply troubled" or even asking Bush to "send in the Marines".

We don't hear much about the New Mexico border. It is the smallest of the four states that have borders with Mexico. But that doesn't mean it is without group killings, just like TJ and Nuevo Laredo.

Note the latest trend of the banditos spraying hundreds of rounds in the contract killings. One assumes that either they don't know how to shoot, or that they are tyring to increase the intimidation (which is the point of all these kilings) by spraying bullets in such large numbers.

Either way it is a very scary trend.

DEMING, N.M. (AP) - Governor Richardson says he's concerned about violence along New Mexico's border with Mexico.

Authorities say seven men have been killed in the Mexican border town of Palomas in a turf war among drug cartels.

The Luna County Sheriff's Department says 162 gun shells were found where five men were killed Sunday in Palomas, across the border from Columbus, New Mexico.

Another 67 casings were found where a man and his son were fatally shot Friday.

A spokesman for Richardson says the governor has directed New Mexico public safety officials to be vigilant to ensure the problems don't spread into the United States.

Richardson also plans to ask New Mexico lawmakers to approve funding for an increased state law enforcement presence in the region.

El Paso/Las Cruces News, Weather, Sports and Entertainment - KDBC 4 - We are CBS! | Gov. Richardson concerned about border violence

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ciudad Juarez police chief gunned down by assassins

Very dangerous to be a lawman in Mexico.

MEXICO CITY — Assassins gunned down a senior police official in the border city of Ciudad Juarez early Saturday as Mexico's gangsters pressed their counteroffensive against the country's security forces.

Municipal Police Chief Juan Antonio Roman was shot about 2 a.m. in front of his house on the outskirts of the city, which is across the Rio Grande from El Paso.

Another of Roman's police commanders was shot shortly before he was killed.

Roman's was one of more than 100 deaths, including those of at least 20 police officers, attributed to organized crime last week across Mexico. Among those killed were a top commander of the Federal Preventative Police, whose gray-uniformed agents have spearheaded a crackdown on the criminal underworld.

Gangland violence has been sweeping Mexico as powerful narcotics smuggling gangs battle one another for dominance. At stake are the lucrative smuggling routes through the country to transport cocaine, marijuana and other narcotics to U.S. consumers.

President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the gangsters upon taking office in December 2006, dispatching some 30,000 troops and federal police to the most violence-plagued communities.

While failing to seriously curtail narcotics traffic, the offensive has weakened some criminal organizations, enhancing bloody internal rivalries. By some media counts, more than 3,000 people have died in the past 17 months, including scores of police officers and soldiers.

Violence against police was rare until recently in Mexico, as gangsters preferred to use silver instead of lead to persuade officials to leave them alone. But amid Calderon's offensive, the gangs have started hitting at the local, state and federal police.

"It's a war between the cartels and against the state," said Victor Clark, a human rights activist in Tijuana. "The government action has dealt a blow to the interests of organized crime, And they're fighting back."

Roman's name headed a list of "executable" city police officers that was publicly posted by gangsters in January.

Standing in the street in front of his house, with his wife and three children inside, Roman managed to shoot back at his killers but was cut down in a volley of more than 60 bullets, said Jaime Torres, a Ciudad Juarez police spokesman.

"He was able to repel the attack, but he was outnumbered," Torres said. "It's a very sad day."

Calderon called Friday for his nation to unite against the gangs. But years of endemic police corruption and abuses have left many Mexicans cynical.

Mexican officials have acknowledged that some officers — especially local and state forces — have been killed for their role in protecting one criminal gang or another rather than in the line of duty.

"They haven't been able to break the ties between the organized criminals, police and political power," said Clark, noting that 144 municipal and state police officers were fired in Baja California last week.

The federal police commander killed Thursday, Edgar Millan, was met by assassins as he arrived home in Mexico City. Investigators suspect they were helped by someone from within the federal police.


Ciudad Juarez police chief gunned down by assassins | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Acting head of Mexico's federal police killed in capital | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

Wow! That's a very big fish indeed. The drug gangs are completely brazen and fear no man. Mexico is close to being a failed state if it cannot even protect it's most senior leaders from gangland assassination.

Acting head of Mexico's federal police killed in capital

By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO Associated Press Writer
© 2008 The Associated Press

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MEXICO CITY — The acting chief of Mexico's federal police was shot dead early Thursday outside his home in the capital.

The Public Safety Department said Edgar Millan Gomez was shot 10 times and died hours later in a hospital. Two of his bodyguards were wounded.

A police official, who was not authorized to give his name, said Millan had been temporarily heading the federal police since his superior was promoted to a deputy Cabinet position on March 1.

Police have arrested a suspect with a record of car theft but have not yet determined a motive for the pre-dawn attack Thursday. The official said police were investigating possible drug links.

Mexico has suffered a wave of organized crime and drug-related violence in which more than 2,500 people died last year alone.

Millan was in charge of coordinating drug operations with the military. Since taking office in 2006, President Felipe Calderon has sent more than 24,000 troops to drug hotspots. Cartels have lashed back, killing soldiers and federal police.

Millan was the second top federal police official killed in less than a week in Mexico City. A Mexican federal police intelligence analyst was killed on May 2 in an apparent armed robbery attempt outside his home.

In January, police in Mexico City arrested three men armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers who were allegedly planning to assassinate Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a top prosecutor who oversees the extradition of drug traffickers.

Calderon condemned the attack on Millan.

"The government of Mexico expresses its deepest sympathy in light of this cowardly killing of an exemplary official, committed to the safety of Mexican families," Calderon's office said in a statement.

Millan helped capture one of Mexico's most feared kidnappers, Andres Caletri, in 2000, and helped disband two notorious abduction rings. In 2001, he was named head of anti-kidnapping operations for the Federal Agency of Investigation, Mexico's version of the FBI.

Acting head of Mexico's federal police killed in capital | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

Monday, May 05, 2008

Wave of organised crime kills 21 in Mexico

No end in sight. In fact it seems to be getting worse...

Wave of organised crime kills 21 in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AFP) — Sixty gunmen stormed a ranch, killing 10 people, as a surge of organized crime across Mexico left at least 21 dead.

Gunmen with automatic weapons stormed the ranch of prominent landowner Rogaciano Alba Alvarez, who was the target of two attacks in two days, authorities said.

Six people were wounded in the assault on the ranch in Petatlan, Guerrero state.

"Early this morning (Sunday), shortly after midnight, some 60 gunmen launched an assault on the home of Rogaciano Alba Alvarez, head of the Guerrero Cattlemen's Association, with at least nine people killed and another six seriously injured," a state official told AFP.

Another person died later on the way to the hospital. The owner was not among those killed.

Hitmen arrived at the Alba ranch in six pickup trucks and opened fire with AK-47s, killing the ranch workers. The state official said one of the owner's daughter was believed to have been kidnapped.

The violence came just 24 hours after Alba narrowly escaped an attack by another hit squad Saturday at a hotel in Iguala, also in Guerrero state. Seven people were killed in that incident and another eight wounded.

The hotel was hit as the ranchers were preparing an industry convention.

Alba, who also was targeted in an attack in 2006, is a past mayor of Petatlan (1993-1995). Local media have linked him to paramilitary groups accused of killing 17 members of a local rural workers organization.

Meanwhile, four police officers were killed in an ambush in the northern state of Sinaloa late Friday, authorities said. A local media report said another two local police officers had also been killed.

Federal and state authorities on Friday arrested 13 hitmen in Sinaloa and seized weapons and 379,000 dollars as part of the government's national anti-organized crime operation.

Since December 2006, President Felipe Calderon's federal government has deployed 36,000 military troops and thousands of police around the country in an operation aimed at clamping down on organized crime.

Officials claimed the rising death toll showed that criminals were panicking about the clampdown.

"This reaction by organized crime reflects how the Mexican government is fighting it in an unprecedented and systematic way," Public Safety chief Genaro Garcia Luna said at a weekend ceremony honoring policemen slain in recent days.

So far, organized crime has been behind a total of 1,100 deaths throughout Mexico since the beginning of this year, according to a tally by El Universal newspaper.

Wave of organised crime kills 21 in Mexico