Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Police Get Death Threats from Drug Cartels with Funeral Flowers in Mexico

No end in sight. The recent firings of corrupt police are theoretically good, but now you have 500 angry-expolice. Did they get their uniforms back?

TIJUANA, MEXICO -- Gunmen suspected of working for organized crime groups killed three men in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, while another group of hired guns left funeral wreaths with threats aimed at police chiefs in the northern city of Hermosillo, officials said.

Mario Arnulfo Meza Reyes, 27, and Jose de Jesus Perez Castañeda, 28, were gunned down on a street in Tijuana's Libertad neighborhood, the Attorney General's Office in Baja California state, where the border city is located, said.

The body of an unidentified man who had been shot in the head was found in Tijuana's La Morita II district, the AG's office said.

Over the weekend, gunmen killed more than a dozen people in Tijuana, and some 650 people have been murdered in the border city, which is near San Diego, California, this year.

In Hermosillo, the capital of neighboring Sonora state, police found six funeral wreaths at different locations bearing threats against police commanders, the Sonora AG's office said.

The threats were signed by "Los Zetas," a group of army special forces veterans and deserters who initially worked as hitmen for the Gulf cartel and took over the criminal organization when its leaders were arrested.

"The 'narcowreaths' were left by unidentified individuals at different public places in the city during the early morning hours" of Monday, the AG's office said, without identifying who the threats were made against.

Mexican drug cartel gunmen use different methods to intimidate officials and rival traffickers, such as leaving threatening messages on bodies or in public places.

Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence, with powerful cartels battling each other and the security forces, as rival gangs vie for control of lucrative smuggling and distribution routes.

Armed groups linked to Mexico's drug cartels murdered around 2,700 people in 2007 and 1,500 in 2006, with the death toll this year already at more than 5,000, according to press tallies.

The majority of the killings have occurred in the states of Chihuahua, Baja California, where Tijuana is located, and Sinaloa.

Experts say that Mexico's most powerful drug trafficking organizations are the Tijuana cartel, which is run by the Arellano Felix brothers, the Gulf cartel and the Sinaloa cartel. Two other large drug trafficking organizations, the Juarez and Milenio cartels, also operate in the country.

The Sinaloa organization is the oldest cartel in Mexico and is led by Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco on Jan. 19, 2001.

Tackling the problem of drug-related violence, according to experts, is a major challenge both because of Mexico's notoriously corrupt security forces and because honest police officers are fearful of taking on the heavily armed drug mobs.

Since taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 30,000 soldiers and federal police to nearly a dozen of Mexico's 31 states in a bid to stem the wave of violence unleashed by drug traffickers.

The goal of the operation was to regain control of territory controlled by Mexico's drug cartels. EFE

Latin American Herald Tribune - Police Get Death Threats from Drug Cartels with Funeral Flowers in Mexico

Monday, November 24, 2008

Drug cartel gunmen ambush police in Culiacan, killing five officers.

More serious madness down Old Mexico way.

Reporting from Culiacan, Mexico -- The fourth corpse pulled from the bullet-shattered pickup truck didn't have the benefit of a body bag. Only the face was covered (with a useless bulletproof vest). The victim's red shirt was even redder, soaked with blood. His bare arm hung limply from a gurney as he was lifted to a wagon from the morgue, the toes of his boots pointed skyward, at odd angles.

He was one of five federal and state police agents killed in a brazen shootout Wednesday night on the city's prominent Emiliano Zapata Boulevard. The officers were ambushed by gunmen in three vehicles who opened fire at an intersection outside an enormous casino called Play.

The shooters escaped. Police, emergency workers and soldiers converged on the scene, as the casino's blue and purple neon lights blinked garishly over the dead men slumped in the cab and bed of the pocked pickup. In all, 10 people were killed in Sinaloa state during a 24-hour period ended Wednesday night, a deadly slice of the burgeoning Mexican drug war. Nationwide, more than 4,000 people have been killed this year, according to Mexican media reports, many of them law enforcement agents doing battle with powerful drug gangs.

Sinaloa, a fertile state on the Pacific coast, has long been at the center of Mexico's drug trade. It has become a hub of violence since President Felipe Calderon dispatched an army of soldiers and federal police to take on some of the biggest drug lords.

The alarming level of violence -- shootouts and kidnappings almost every day -- has sown panic and fear among a normally resilient citizenry.

"To live in Culiacan is a risk," said Javier Valdez, a journalist and writer who hours before the killings addressed university students about the dangers of working here. "There is a psychosis -- you breathe it, live it, smell it, sweat it."

This week, grenades were hurled at the offices of Culiacan's largest-circulation newspaper, El Debate. Although no one was hurt, the act was widely seen as a message of intimidation.

The slain police agents (seven have been killed here in seven days) were part of a unit dedicated to cracking down on the rampant streets sales of cocaine, marijuana and other narcotics. They were ambushed a couple of blocks from their headquarters, shortly after they dropped off a suspect. Two other federal police officers with the agents were seriously injured.

After the bodies were taken away and investigators from a variety of agencies (some mistrustful of each other) did their work, a tow truck operator began the task of hauling away the agents' vehicle, riddled by scores of high-caliber bullets, its tires flattened.

Suddenly, a white Honda Civic sped up, wheels screeching to a stop after somehow managing to penetrate police cordons. Three women and two men jumped out. They were relatives of one of the agents.

"Mi hijo! Mi hijo!" screamed one woman. "My son, my son!"

They cried and flailed their arms; one of the men, a brother perhaps, beat the hood of his car with his fists. "Oh, no, no, no," he moaned.

"Silence!" an officer in charge commanded. "Ladies, calm yourselves."

"You don't understand," one of the younger women cried back.

"Yes, ma'am, I do," he said.

Behind them, the tow truck cranked and wheezed as it heaved the pickup onto its flatbed.

Inconsolable, the family left for the morgue, one of dozens that have sprung up here and do brisk business.

The tow truck left as well, taking away its own casualty. At the ambush site, the air smelled of spilled gasoline. Three investigators in rubber gloves picked up spent shells, scattered for many feet, filling several plastic bags.

Drug cartel gunmen ambush police in Culiacan, killing five officers. - Los Angeles Times: "MEXICO UNDER SIEGE
Another bloody night in Sinaloa, Mexico"

Two Texas Tech employees gunned down in Juarez

Given the number of bullets fired into the car I see two possibilities: either they had come to the attention of the Juarez criminals somehow (dealing, pissing them off) or it was case of mistaken identity based on the car. Given the car had US license plates, the latter seems unlikely. So I am suspecting there is a lot more to this than a harmless shopping trip gone wrong. But, hey, anything can happen in Mexico.

EL PASO -- The violence in Juarez hits home over the weekend as two Americans are gunned down.

Officials with the Juarez Municipal Police confirmed two Americans -- a man and a woman -- were gunned down this afternoon in the Colonia Cuatro Siglos near the intersection of Hermanos Escobar and Rafael Perez Serna.

They were identified as Roberto Martínez and Ruth Velasco. Police estimated Martinez's age as being between 55 and 60 years and that of Velasco as being in between 35 and 40 years.

Investigators determined Martinez was driving the KIA Amanti and Velasco was his passenger. More than 50 bullet casings were found near the vehicle.

El Diario de Juarez reports another woman and a child were also in the vehicle -- which had New Mexico plates -- during the incident but were not hurt.

Margaret Althoff-Olivas, a spokeswoman for Thomason Hospital, knew Martinez and VElasco and confirmed they both worked for Texas Tech Medical Center. Martinez was a military veteran, she added.

"These were two very caring and very competent healthcare professionals and our hearts absolutely ache. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families. They were part of our family. They will be greatly missed. This should not have happened. Their loss is absolutely devastating to so many. I hope whoever did this is caught," she said.
KVIA.com El Paso, Las Cruces - Weather, News, Sports - Two Texas Tech employees gunned down in Juarez

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ciudad Juarez Journalist Shot Dead

Another sad story of journalists being killed in Mexico. Attempting to cover the drug wars is dangerous.

(AP)CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - A crime reporter in the violent Mexican border city of Juarez was killed Thursday, adding to dozens of journalist deaths in a country where newspapers are so fearful, many refuse to cover drug violence.

Armando Rodriguez had covered crime for 10 years in Ciudad Juarez, working for El Diario newspaper.

He was shot several times as he sat warming up his car outside his home.

A special federal prosecutor in charge of journalist killings will investigate the death in the city across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Officials did not immediately have any suspects or motive.

Mexico has become one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, in part because drug gangs target reporters whose stories detail their activities.

Many reporters refuse to put their bylines on stories, and many newspapers have stopped covering the drug gangs altogether.

With Rodriguez's death, 24 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, at least seven of them in direct reprisal for their reports on crime, and seven others have disappeared since 2005, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Rodriguez's death shows the need for Mexico to do more to protect the media, said the committee's Carlos Lauria.

"Mexico needs to break the cycle of impunity in crimes against journalists," he said.

Drug-related killings are soaring as cartels battle each other for lucrative routes used to deliver cocaine, marijuana and other illegal drugs to consumers in the United States.

President Felipe Calderon is cracking down and the cartels have responded with a vengeance, more than 4,000 people have been killed so far this year, more than 1,000 in Ciudad Juarez alone.

Corruption is widespread, reaching as high as the federal Attorney General's office, and the drug gangs often control more than the drug trade, extorting money from business leaders and even teachers.

On Wednesday, an anonymous banner appeared at the door of a public Ciudad Juarez kindergarten, threatening to attack the schoolchildren if the teachers don't hand over their Christmas bonuses.

Classes were immediately suspended as police decided what security measures to take.

Also Thursday, state police said at least one gunshot was fired outside the U.S. Consulate in the northern city of Monterrey, the third attack on the building in less than two months.

One of the bullets cracked the glass of Isais Perez's nearby fruit cart.

"I was going to take out some oranges to cut them up, and I heard the shot," he said.

"I didn't see a car, but it was loud. I went to buy a cigarette, and when I got back, I saw the impact."

In separate incidents last month, an unexploded grenade was tossed at the consulate and gunshots were fired, prompting officials to suspend visa services.

In the northwestern city of Culiacan, at least three of 27 kidnapped farm workers were safely released on Thursday.

It was still unclear why the group was abducted.

Assailants rousted the farmworkers from bed before dawn Monday at a vegetable farm just outside Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, then drove off with the group in a caravan of sport utility vehicles.

The three farm workers released told police they were driven to a mountainous area, fed for three days and then dropped off by the side of a highway and given 100 pesos each for a bus back to Culiacan.

The workers were blindfolded for part of the journey, so they couldn't tell authorities exactly where they had been.

Prosecutors believe the rest may also have been released and are trying to contact them to investigate the case further.

In the border city of Tijuana, meanwhile, three people were gunned down Thursday and police discovered a decomposing human head left near a hardware store.

Laredo Morning Times - LMTonline.com - > News

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Burned, cut-up body left at Mexican police station

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- Seven people are dead after a string of gruesome attacks in the Mexican border city of Juarez.

State police say a man's burned and headless body was found dumped in front of a police station. His severed hands lay next to his body, each holding kitchen lighters. A note left behind was directed to the Aztecas drug gang.

Police later found two men and two women executed in a sport utility vehicle parked outside a Social Security clinic. And a woman's body was found stuffed in a black trash bag.

Police chased a truck that opened fire on a state vehicle, causing a car crash that killed a bystander and injured four others.

All of the deaths were Monday. Police are investigating.

Now: Burned, cut-up body left at Mexican police station | police, body, left : TheMonitor.com

Friday, November 07, 2008

In Mexico, beheaded man hung from overpass

In Mexico, beheaded man hung from overpass


Associated Press

A beheaded man was hung from an overpass Thursday, a gruesome display even for this northern border city long used to drug-related violence.

Shortly after the grisly sighting about 5 a.m., police found the victim's head in a black bag in a nearby plaza, said state police spokesman Alejandro Pariente.

Pariente said the body was wearing black jeans, a red T-shirt and white sneakers, and was handcuffed. A banner apparently directed at rival drug-gang members was hung next to the corpse.

The victim's father identified the 23-year-old man.

Elsewhere, masked men gunned down two police officers in a convenience store in Chihuahua City, the capital of Chihuahua state, where Juarez is located, said Eduardo Esparza, spokesman for the state attorney general's office. After the killing Wednesday evening, assailants left a toy pig next to the bodies. Two shoppers also were wounded.

On Tuesday, a man wearing a pig mask was found hung in a residence in Ciudad Juarez. Near the body was a message threatening to do the same to others. Police believe the message was from drug gangs.

Drug violence has been escalating across Mexico and cartels have turned to increasingly gruesome methods to send a message to their rivals and police. Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, has registered one of the highest murder rates in the country, with more than 1,000 people killed so far this year.

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas/Southwest

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Police chief, 3 detectives gunned down in Mexico | World | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

More top law enforcement officers getting shot dead in Mexico. How sad for everyone involved.

MEXICO CITY — Gunmen killed a state police chief in the border city of Nogales and three police detectives in central Guanajuato state, as a wave of drug-related violence batters Mexican security forces, authorities said Monday.

In Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, authorities on Monday found the bullet-riddled bodies of six men in a vegetable warehouse along with more than 100 shell casings from assault rifles.

The bodies of three other men were found in a sport utility vehicle on a Tijuana street on Sunday. All had apparently been shot to death.

On Sunday night, Sonora state police chief Juan Manuel Pavon Felix was shot dead as he entered a hotel with his bodyguard and other officers, according to a statement from the state investigative police office.

Pavon had just finished directing police operations in the city, the statement said.

In Guanajuato, the state attorney general reported that gunmen killed three state police detectives on Monday at a restaurant near the border with the violence-plagued state of Michoacan, where drug cartels have been fighting bloody turf battles.

Scores of soldiers and police officers have been killed in escalating drug violence across Mexico.

On Monday, the government announced that a lawyer who has worked for the country's intelligence and national security agency, Rodrigo Esparza, has been named the new commissioner of federal police.

His predecessor, Gerardo Garay, resigned last week amid allegations that drug gangs have infiltrated senior levels of crime-fighting agencies.

Police chief, 3 detectives gunned down in Mexico | World | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle