Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ten killed across Mexico in Christmas Eve drug violence

CIUDAD JUAREZ (AFP) -- Ten people, including a police officer, were killed across Mexico in the hours before Christmas, in the latest spasm of violence in the country's brutal drug war, officials said on Friday.

Officials said the body of Javier Coapango, coordinator of public security for a town just outside Mexico City, was found dumped along the side of a road on Christmas eve. He had been kidnapped on December 17.

Another man was fatally shot in southern Mexico, while eight other corpses were found in the north, near the country's border with the United States, authorities said.

A state Justice Department official who was not authorized to be quoted by name said the bodies were discovered by a farmer.

The bodies were found near the town of Tuxtla Chico, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of another border settlement where Mexican and Guatemalan drug traffickers engaged in a series of gunbattles that killed 17 people last month.

Feuding drug cartels have engaged in a brutal battle for dominance, with more than 5,300 people have been killed this year across Mexico.

The rampant violence comes despite the deployment of 36,000 troops across the country.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008


I don't recall hearing the term "narco-terrorist" but it is a good one. Nice to see some more detailed reporting on the ins and outs of the cartels. In the past such reporting has proved dangerous to those reporting it.

December 27, 2008 - 11:27 p.m.
NUEVO LAREDO – One of the most ruthless drug cartels in history owns Nuevo Laredo, and its sights are set on controlling a highway that leads straight to Victoria.

After years of fighting in the streets, just three hours southwest of Victoria, the public violence is suddenly calm. At first glance, the Laredo corridor appears peaceful again.

Hidden beneath this 18-month lull, however, a sinister story surfaces. The brutal Gulf Cartel seized control of a border city, strangling public confidence with murder, terror, extortion, corruption and kidnapping.

Nuevo Laredo newspaper reporters, threatened with murder, no longer cover the streets, which are still rife with violence.

After winning a three-year war against a rival, the Gulf Cartel operates unimpeded. With ownership of a lucrative entry port, the cartel is focused on controlling U.S. Highway 59, which winds to your back door.

Documentary filmmaker Rusty Fleming spent three years on the border and in Mexico to chronicle the violence. For the first time, Fleming agreed to revisit the Laredo corridor to show firsthand what’s at work in this lucrative entry port.

He agreed to again travel deep into Nuevo Laredo – to city corners held by the Gulf Cartel. Three Advocate journalists visited eerie cartel shrines, the locations of kidnappings and the home of an assassinated police chief.

Signs of the cartel violence that some say is headed Victoria’s way linger everywhere in this once-peaceful Mexican city.

Victoria Advocate - Narco-Terrorists

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

8 bodies found in plastic bags in southern Mexico

It is hard to keep track of all the carnage. I think the 5,300 dead number is on the low side though. Not sure why the obsession with beheading. Did they learn that from the Jihadis? Hanging heads on a Christmas tree is certainly grim.

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico — Eight bodies were found stuffed in plastic garbage bags and dumped on a rural road near the Guatemalan border in an area plagued by drug violence, authorities in southern Chiapas state said Tuesday.

The victims have yet to be identified, but police believe they may include Mexicans, Guatemalans or Colombians.

A state Justice Department official who was not authorized to be quoted by name said the bodies were discovered by a farmer. At least one had bruises and marks indicating he may have been tortured.

The bodies were found near the town of Tuxtla Chico, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) south of another border settlement where Mexican and Guatemalan drug traffickers engaged in a series of gunbattles that killed 17 people last month.

Brutal slayings by drug cartels are on the rise in Mexico, and officials estimate that more than 5,300 people have died in organized crime-related slayings this year.

On Sunday, the decapitated bodies of eight army soldiers were found along an urban boulevard in the southern state of Guerrero.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Mexico's Defense Department slammed what it called "inappropriate and hurtful" comments on the soldiers' deaths.

While the department did not specify what had offended it, one Mexican newspaper ran an editorial cartoon Tuesday titled "December Decorations" that showed the hand of a drug trafficker hanging severed heads with military-style haircuts on a Christmas tree as if they were ornaments.

8 bodies found in plastic bags in southern Mexico | World | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

4 Police Gunned Down in Mexico Border Town

Not only are the killers brazen, but they are obviously so sadistic that the think noting of making a joke of killing someone. According to the story "Another victim, identified as Gerardo Padilla, 25, had been decapitated; a Santa Claus hat was on his head, which had been placed between his legs."

One would say they need to bring in the Army, but they have and the narcotraficantes just decapitated 14 of them, as well. (See previous blog posting.)

4 Police Gunned Down in Mexico Border Town
List of 28 police officers threatened by name in list attached to 4 dead bodies.

CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO -- Four municipal police were killed and one wounded in simultaneous attacks at various locations in this violent metropolis just across the border from El Paso, Texas, authorities said.

The attacks occurred around midnight Sunday when cartel hit men fired shots at a police substation inside Ciudad Juarez General Hospital, a security cabin at a residential community, a police station in the southwestern part of the city and a patrol car near one of the U.S.-Mexico border crossings.

Two officers were killed at the hospital, one inside the patrol car and the fourth at the Aldama precinct house, the city's Public Safety Office said.

In response to these attacks, the municipal police instituted a rule on Monday requiring officers patrol the city in caravans of between two and four vehicles.

Separately, authorities said that on Monday they found four bodies a few meters (yards) from the Juarez command post of the Chihuahua state police, together with a message threatening 28 police officers by name.

The bodies were handcuffed and had their eyes blindfolded. Another victim, identified as Gerardo Padilla, 25, had been decapitated; a Santa Claus hat was on his head, which had been placed between his legs.

Ciudad Juarez is Mexico's most violent city, accounting for 1,400 of the more than 5,400 gangland murders reported nationwide so far this year.

Authorities attribute the carnage to battles over smuggling routes to the United States and internal power struggles within Mexico's powerful drug cartels.

Since taking office, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 30,000 soldiers and federal police to nearly a dozen states in a bid to crush the cartels.

The operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to the drug gangs' ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking prosecutors.

Latin American Herald Tribune - 4 Police Gunned Down in Mexico Border Town

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Nine men decapitated in Mexico drug violence

gIt is quite extraordinary that the drug gangs have taken to this level of gruesome violence and intimidation. One usually expects criminals to mind their business, but in Mexico they seem intent on challenging the social order.

MEXICO CITY, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Mexican police found nine decapitated bodies on Sunday in a city near the tourist resort of Acapulco, and at least some of the victims might have been soldiers who were battling against powerful drug gangs.

The bodies of the men, which were marked with signs of torture, were left on the side of a highway, while their heads were stuffed in a plastic bag found outside a shopping center, police in the state of Guerrero told Reuters.

Local media reported that nine soldiers were abducted on Saturday as they left a regional military base near the city of Chilpancingo, about an hour north of Acapulco. An army spokesperson could not confirm that the victims were soldiers.

Mexico's President Felipe Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and federal police since 2006 to take on cartels that move cocaine and other drugs into the United States.

A note left with the severed heads warned that more authorities would be decapitated, the state police said. The state police chief said some of the victims were soldiers, Reforma newspaper reported.

Calderon's offensive has helped fuel a major increase in drug violence. More than 5,300 have died so far this year, over twice as many as in 2007, according to the attorney general's office. (Reporting by Jason Lange and Armando Tovar, editing by Philip Barbara)

Reuters AlertNet - Nine men decapitated in Mexico drug violence-police

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Friday, December 12, 2008

In Mexico, Cartel Assassins of Increasing Skill

Not a glimmer of hope anywhere in this story. The bad guys are winning, the good guys are dying.

In Mexico, Cartel Assassins of Increasing Skill - washingtonpost.com

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico -- The hit was fast, bold, lethal. Jesús Huerta Yedra, a top federal prosecutor here, was gunned down last week in a busy intersection 100 yards from the U.S. border in a murder of precise choreography.

In Mexico's chaotic drug war, attacks are no longer the work of desperate amateurs with bad aim. Increasingly, the killings are being carried out by professionals, often hooded and gloved, who trap their targets in coordinated ambushes, strike with overwhelming firepower, and then vanish into the afternoon rush hour -- just as they did in the Huerta killing.

The paid assassins, known as sicarios, are rarely apprehended. Mexican officials say the commando squads probably travel from state to state, across a country where the government and its security forces are drawing alarming conclusions about the scope and skill of an enemy supported by billions of dollars in drug profits.

"They are getting very good at their jobs," said Hector Hawley Morelos, coordinator of the state forensics and crime laboratory here, where criminologists and coroners have been overwhelmed by more than 1,600 homicides in Juarez this year. "The assassins show a high level of sophistication. They have had training -- somewhere. They appear to have knowledge of police investigative procedures. For instance, they don't leave fingerprints. That is very disturbing."

Alejandro Pariente, the spokesman for the attorney general in Chihuahua state, said, "They are called organized crime for a very good reason. Because they are very organized."

In Ciudad Juarez, a tough industrial city across the river from El Paso, where 42 people have been killed in the last week, the morgue serves as a grim classroom for the study of drug violence along the border.

In an interview last week, a busy coroner in the forensics lab spoke while performing an autopsy. A dozen dead men awaited final exams, sprawled on metal tables, their bodies pebbled with fat bullet holes, open eyes staring at fluorescent bulbs. The men were all eventually classified as "organized crime" homicides, which account for the majority of deaths in Ciudad Juarez, the most violent city in Mexico.

On Monday, federal Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said there have been 5,376 drug-related killings this year in Mexico, double last year's number. Later that evening, Victor Hugo Moneda, who led Mexico City's investigative police agency, was killed in an ambush as he was exiting his car at his home in the capital. The assailants, using a car and motorcycle, fired 22 shots, according to police.

In the Juarez morgue, the three walk-in freezers are filled to capacity with more than 90 corpses, stacked floor to ceiling, in leaking white bags with zippers. After a few months, those who are not identified are buried in a field at the city cemetery at the edge of the desert.

"The patterns that we often see with organized crime homicides are high-caliber weapons, multiple wounds, extreme trauma," said Alma Rosa Padilla, a chief medical examiner, who completes as many as five full autopsies each day. "They don't go to the hospital."

One U.S. anti-drug law enforcement officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he works in Mexico, said, "The Mexican army has had a problem with deserters. So have the police, including special anti-crime units. They are now working for the other side."

More than a dozen top Mexican law enforcement officials have been detained recently for allegedly working for the drug cartels, including Noé Ramírez Mandujano, the nation's former top anti-drug prosecutor. He was arrested last month on suspicion of accepting $450,000 in exchange for sharing intelligence with traffickers.

According to information released Thursday by the Mexican congress, more than 18,000 soldiers have deserted the Mexican army this year. In the last three years, 177 members of special-forces units have abandoned their posts, and many went to work for organized crime.

Recently, Chihuahua Gov. José Reyes Baeza said that hired gunmen who have been arrested confessed that they carried out executions for 1,000 pesos per killing, about $75.

Weapons pour over the border here from Texas, bought illegally from street gangs or legally at sporting goods stores in the United States. Last month, the Mexican army made the largest seizure of illegal firearms and military-type weapons in more than two decades, uncovering a cache of 540 rifles, 165 grenades and 500,000 rounds of ammunition in a house in Reynosa, just across the border from McAllen, Tex.

According to Mexican officials, rifles stolen from Fort Bliss, a U.S. Army post in El Paso, end up on the streets of Juarez. At the forensic laboratory, the ballistics team pulled out a dozen weapons, including AK-47s, AR-15s, M-16s and other military-grade arms.

"I think that the government is simply overwhelmed. The cases are coming in fives and tens now, and it is probably very hard to keep up," said Tony Payan, an expert on the drug trade and professor at the University of Texas in El Paso. "The government is on the defensive. The thugs have the upper hand here. They probably perfect their techniques faster than the government can find the experts or the resources to combat them."

Huerta's murder was a bold strike. He was the second-ranking federal prosecutor in the state. Recently, the 40-year-old lawyer was handed the case of slain journalist Armando Rodríguez, a veteran police reporter at El Diario newspaper who was killed by a gunman in front of his house last month in Ciudad Juarez. The reasons behind Huerta's killing remain unknown.

When forensic investigator David García and his partner arrived in their white van 15 minutes after the shooting on the afternoon of Dec. 3, the municipal police were marking the perimeter of the crime scene with yellow tape and the first soldiers were arriving to stand guard.

The sunny, broad intersection of Arizona Street and Boulevard Pope John Paul II abuts the Rio Grande and is a five-minute drive from a main bridge into El Paso. Easily visible across the river was a picket line of U.S. Border Patrol vehicles.

Huerta was riding in the passenger seat of a new silver-colored Dodge Journey SUV with Texas plates, which had stopped at a red light. The car was driven by a secretary at the prosecutor's office, Marisela Esparza Granados. When García arrived, the splintered windshield wipers on the vehicle were still struggling to operate.

The intersection around the Dodge was littered with spent shells. García and his partner, who carry clipboards but no weapons, methodically photographed the scene and collected 85 casings, all in the caliber consistent with the account some witnesses told police -- that two hooded men from two vans pulled in front of the Dodge and opened fire with AK-47s.

The criminologists at the forensic lab were struck by several details. First, they suspected that Huerta was followed by at least one, and perhaps several, chase vehicles, which would have helped the gunmen get into position to ambush Huerta. They knew the car Huerta would use and his route, the investigators said.

Second, the criminologists were impressed with the precision, speed and audacity of the attack.

When it rolled to a stop at the traffic light, Huerta's vehicle was surrounded by other cars at a crowded intersection. But no other vehicles were hit by stray bullets. Later, Hawley, the lab coordinator, pointed out the tight pattern of gunfire pocking the SUV's windshield.

"You see they hit where they aim. He was the target. Not her," Hawley said. The assassins concentrated their fire directly at Huerta, who was not wearing a bulletproof vest. "If they know they're wearing a bulletproof vest, they ignore the chest and shoot the head," he added.

The autopsy revealed that Huerta had been struck at least 40 times, most in the chest. The passenger seat of the SUV was soaked with blood. The secretary, Esparza, was struck only three times, though a neck wound was fatal.

In the crime laboratory, the shell casings were examined by the ballistics team and recorded. The bullets are almost always from the United States. The assassins do not trust bullets made in Mexico, Hawley said, adding, "The American bullets are better."

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Indiscriminate drug killings sow terror in Mexico - Yahoo! News

It just keeps getting worse. So much for cheap beer in TJ.

TIJUANA, Mexico (Reuters) – Gunmen are deliberately killing innocent people with random shootings at bars, restaurants and shopping malls in the city of Tijuana in a new scare tactic that takes Mexico's drug war to new depths.

Hit squads have killed at least 50 people, including around 10 children, since October in an escalation of violence in public places that security officials say is akin to terrorism.

The indiscriminate attacks, including shootings in cinemas, pool halls and restaurants, appear to be an attempt by the weakened Arellano Felix cartel to show security forces and rival gangs that it is still a force despite setbacks.

In one recent attack, gunmen in body armor and armed with assault rifles stormed into Tijuana's popular Crazy Banana pool hall and opened fire on customers, killing four men and a woman.

"We were playing pool and these masked men came in shouting and started firing at everyone," said day laborer Juan Miguel at the scene, wiping blood from his head after the attack. He declined to give his surname.

"Anyone close to them was immediately killed," he said.

City police say none of the pool hall victims appeared to have links to drug gangs, a marked change from drug killings across Mexico this year when hit squads have gone after specific targets even if they also clumsily killed others.

"In fact, we don't see a clear target in any of the recent killings of this kind. We cannot rule out that these are terror-style acts," said Juan Salvador Ortiz, a deputy prosecutor for Baja California state, home to Tijuana.

Police and anti-drug experts believe Tijuana's Arellano Felix organization, which has been hurt by the arrests of former leaders and a turf war with other gangs, is behind the shootings as it desperately tries to hold its ground.

Under a nationwide clampdown on drug gangs, President Felipe Calderon has sent thousands of soldiers and federal police to Baja California since January 2007, complicating life for the Arellano Felix clan that became notorious and made a fortune in the 1990s for smuggling cocaine into California, one of the world's top drug markets.

Soldiers have made big drug seizures and captured more Arellano Felix leaders but have failed to stop the violence.

"The Tijuana turf is too valuable to lose. They are doing this to stay in the city, to show their power and ridicule the authorities," said Victor Clark, a drug trade expert at San Diego State University, of the public shootings.

"Empty streets make it easier for them to operate."


Drug killings throughout Mexico have skyrocketed this year, scaring off investment and prompting the United States to send hundreds of millions of dollars to help its southern neighbor.

The number of fatalities has more than doubled to nearly 5,400 people so far this year and 2009 could be even worse, Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said on Monday.

The army has warned people in Tijuana to stay indoors as much as possible, angering city residents.

"We cannot live locked up. They are the ones who should be behind bars," Tijuana's Archbishop Rafael Romo told Reuters.

The new scare tactics come amid a shocking level of violence in Tijuana, once a freewheeling city serving tequila, sex and medicine to Americans crossing over from San Diego.

Tijuana has seen more than 700 people killed this year in drug-related violence as Mexico's most-wanted man Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, a prison escapee who leads a cartel from the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa, tries to gain control.

The rival Gulf cartel and its armed wing, the Zetas, has joined the fight, fanning out from its home turf across the border from Texas.

The three biggest gangs are using horrifying methods to outdo each other, beheading victims, cutting up bodies, dumping them in barrels of acid and even storming hospitals to finish off targets they had left wounded but clinging to life.

In the first major attack on civilians, suspected drug gang members threw grenades into a packed crowd celebrating Mexico's independence day in September in the western city of Morelia, killing eight people and wounding more than 100.

Indiscriminate drug killings sow terror in Mexico - Yahoo! News

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Mexican drug cartels infiltrating Guatemala (gang shootout - 18 dead)

Like a cancer spreading through a body the naroctrafficantes are extending their reach both North and South. The American law enforcement has some ability to temper this, does Guatemala?

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (CNN) -- Mexican narcotraffickers are gaining an increasing presence in Guatemalan territory.

That was made clear Sunday, when at least 18 people were killed in a face-off between members of a local cartel and a Mexican cartel in a frontier zone between Mexico and Guatemala.

"The hypothesis we have is clear, and it is that several cartels here that are operating in Guatemalan territory already have certain alliances with Mexican cartels, specifically the alliances that have been made for the passage of drugs," said Marlene Blanco Lapola, chief of the National Civil Police.

At the crime scene, police found vehicles that were registered in Tamaulipas, a state in northeast Mexico, and documents that indicate the Mexican origins of some of the dead.

According to authorities, pressure that Mexico has exerted on these groups could have led them to use nearby Guatemalan territory instead.

"We are studying the arrival of many Mexicans, specifically members of the Zeta group, who have wanted to come to take advantage of the Guatemalan territory, a situation that we -- as authorities -- will not permit," Blanco said, referring to one group of narcotraffickers.

According to one political analyst, this week's killings are an example of the globalization of crime. He believes that conditions in Guatemala made the country ripe for the establishment of such groups.

"It's no secret to anybody that the institutions in our country are weak, that they lack human and technical resources," said the analyst, Manuel Villacorta.

"Without doubt, organized crime is taking advantage of these evident levels of vulnerability that the Guatemalan institutions present," Villacorta said.

Experts point out that two other events of similar violence have occurred this year in Guatemala, underscoring the fact that the groups feel they are free to act with impunity.

Mexican drug cartels infiltrating Guatemala - CNN.com

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Monday, December 08, 2008

26 Killed in Mexico Drug Violence Over Weekend

Wow, worse than normal, which is a sad thing to say.

CHILPANCINGO, MEXICO -- At least 26 people were killed in Mexico over the weekend in separate incidents, including 10 who died in a shootout between soldiers and gunmen in Guerrero state and five murdered at a bar in Ciudad Juarez.

Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, is considered the country's most violent city, with more than 1,400 murders reported this year.

Gunmen burst into Alamo's bar in Juarez early Sunday and opened fire, killing five people and wounding four others.

This was the second attack of this type in less than two weeks. On Nov. 28, gunmen murdered eight men at a seafood restaurant in the border city, which is in Chihuahua state.

A couple and a man were shot to death in separate incidents while driving in Ciudad Juarez.

Three bodies were also found in Juarez, including one dumped in a soccer field and two others in the city's southeast section.

The victims, who were between 25 and 30, were wrapped in blankets and their hands and feet had been tied, a trademark of the gunmen who work for Mexico's drug cartels.

In Tecate, a city in the northwestern state of Baja California, two people were gunned down and a third wounded in a shooting on Saturday night.

Army troops, meanwhile, battled gunmen in a series of clashes in Palos Blancos, a town in the southern state of Guerrero.

A soldier and nine gunmen were killed in the running gunbattles, which lasted about half a day and also involved police.

Soldiers, along with federal, state and municipal police officers, responded when a shootout started between rival gangs, the Public Safety Secretariat said.

When they arrived at the scene, the security forces were greeted by gunfire and engaged the gunmen in the series of shootouts, which also left two police officers wounded.

The gunbattles started at around 3:00 a.m. Sunday and did not end until about 2:00 p.m.

After the shooting ended, police conducted a search and found a body in an abandoned vehicle, and seized 10 other automobiles, 14 rifles, five pistols and two hand grenades.

The crime scene in Palos Altos has been cordoned off by some 400 soldiers and police officers.

In Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero, two heads and a threatening message were found in a bucket near the Technical Institute.

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 into the United States.

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 and Sinaloa.

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

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 anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels' ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking prosecutors.

The Attorney General's Office recently began investigating its own staff, particularly the SIEDO organized crime unit's members and the Federal Investigations Agency, Mexico's equivalent of the FBI.

As part of the probe, begun after a protected informant revealed links between drug cartel kingpins and police, a dozen high-ranking officials, including erstwhile drug czar Noe Ramirez, have been arrested.

The initial investigation concluded that Ramirez received $500,000 a month for sharing intelligence with drug lords.

Latin American Herald Tribune - 26 Killed in Mexico Drug Violence Over Weekend

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rescued Immigrants claim kidnapping, rape, torture

The border is a dangerous place for all sides of the triangle, smugglers, the smuggled and law enforcement. It seems like the real fix has to be made in Mexico (and further south).

The Monitor
Jeremy Roebuck
Dec. 2, 2008

EDINBURG — Mario Olivares Cifuentes thought he understood the risks of illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Tales of migrants drowning in the Rio Grande or succumbing to the oppressive South Texas sun spread frequently among those hoping to make the trek.

But for Olivares, a Guatemalan migrant, the real danger emerged only after passing those natural perils.

For almost a day, he and 20 of his countrymen were allegedly kidnapped, tortured, raped and held for ransom in a stash house east of Edinburg before federal agents rescued them last week.

Their purported tormentors — a group of Mexican nationals believed to have abducted the immigrants from another smuggling organization — are set to appear before a federal judge today. (Wednesday)

"These are just some of the many risks that illegal immigrants face when crossing illegally," said Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño, whose office has since joined the investigation.

U.S. Border Patrol agents discovered the 21 Guatemalan nationals on Nov. 25 packed in a cramped mobile home near the intersection of Tower and Texas roads. But as they interviewed the group of men and women a more harrowing picture of the conditions they had lived through emerged.

"All of the aliens claimed they had been constantly terrorized by their captors," said Guadalupe Sanchez, a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in an affidavit filed in the case.

According to Sanchez' affidavit, the migrants were guided to an Hidalgo stash house Nov. 24 after crossing the Rio Grande with a group of coyotes.

But within an hour of their arrival, five armed men burst into the building and abducted them. The men guided the Guatemalans to another location, where they reportedly turned their weapons on their victims.

The men threatened the immigrants' lives if they could not secure ransoms from family members in the United States and abroad, the Guatemalans later told agents.

Olivares reported being tied up overnight and beaten by the men, according to court filings. Three other women said they were taken into back rooms and raped by their captors.

ICE agents arrested the five purported kidnappers soon after the stash house raid.

Andres Perez Moshan, 26; Humberto Alvarez Cheo, 20; Roberto Salinas Martinez, 23; and Euclides Moreno Dominguez, 26; all face federal human smuggling charges. The fifth - a 16-year-old juvenile - is being held as a witness in the case but has not been charged with a crime.

Two of the men - Perez and Moreno - will also face state charges of aggravated sexual assault for alleged attacks on the woman.

It was not clear Tuesday whether any of the suspects had retained or had attorneys appointed for them.

If convicted on all charges, the men could face 10 years in federal prison. Those charged with rape also face the possibility of a life sentence in a state facility.

Fifteen of their alleged victims remain in ICE custody pending their return to their home country. Six others - including the three purported rape victims — are being held in the United States to testify in the ongoing criminal case.

"Crimes perpetrated on illegal immigrants like this happen much more frequently than people realize," the sheriff said. "Most of the time, they go unreported."

News: Rescued immigrants claim kidnapping, rape, torture | rescued, claim, torture - News - TheMonitor.com

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Monday, December 01, 2008

12 Gunmen Kill 8 at Restaurant along Texas Border

Not much to give thanks for in Ciudad Juarez this weekend. It is difficult to imagine how hard life must be there now.

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Over 40 Murders Reported this Week

New details on a deadly discovery across the border from El Paso. This morning police in Ciudad Juarez say at least 12 masked gun men opened fire inside an upscale seafood restaurant and killed at least eight people. The attack comes a day after seven men were found executed in a school soccer field in an upper class neighborhood in Juarez.

In all, 40 murders were reported over the holiday week along the border near El Paso. Police say the men were armed with AK-47 and fired off more than 100 rounds.

New Details: 12 Gunmen Kill 8 at Restaurant along Texas Border