Mexico: Off With The Heads


October 20, 2012: It is not quite equivalent to killing Osama Bin Laden but for Mexicans who have suffered in the Cartel War, it comes close. The death of the leader of Los Zetas, Heriberto Lazcano, continues to be major news. Lazcano (El Lazca) was killed in a firefight with Mexican Marines on October 14. The firefight took place in the northern state of Coahuila. Marines also killed one of Lazcano’s bodyguards. So far, so good. However, Zetas gunmen attacked the funeral home where his body was held and stole it. That’s another reason the story continues to be big news. Is he really dead? Authorities have DNA evidence and police took fingerprints of the corpse but legend makers will say he isn’t, no matter the evidence. There are other indicators. Police and media report that a new leader (Miguel Angel Trevino) has taken control of the cartel.

October 17, 2012: The government charged seven security officials with collaborating with drug gangs. Three of the individuals work for the nation’s central organized-crime unit.

October 16, 2012: Police raided three teachers' colleges in Michoacan state (western Mexico). The campuses had been under siege for over a week as demonstrators protested curriculum changes that required students to take computer science and English courses. Over 120 protestors were arrested at the three schools. Ten police officers were injured in the raids.

October 15, 2012: The government asserted that its program of putting constant pressure on the leaders of the drug cartels is paying off. The arrests and deaths of senior cartel commanders have weakened the organizational structure of the cartels. The homicide rate in Mexico is down seven percent this year, when compared to 2011.

October 13, 2012: Soldiers killed Manuel Torres Feliz (El Ondeado) in a firefight near the town of Oso Viejo (Sinaloa state). Torres Felix is a senior commander in the Sinaloa drug cartel. The soldiers also seized weapons, ammunition, and other military equipment. Troops were sent to guard the site of the firefight and the morgue where Torres Felix’s body was sent. The government is obviously taking steps to avoid a repeat of the theft of Los Zetas’ commander’s Heriberto Lazcano’s body.

October 12, 2012: The U.S. government designated El Salvador’s MS-13 gang (also called Mara Salvatrucha) as a transnational criminal organization. MS-13 was formed in the Los Angeles, California area but now has connections throughout the world. It has extensive connections with Mexican drug gangs. The gang may have as many as 30,000 members and associates world-wide. Two years ago investigators suggested that MS-13 might be a conduit for shifting some Mexican cartel operations to El Salvador. The designation makes it illegal for Americans and U.S. financial institutions to engage in any business with the gang or gang members.

October 9, 2012: Marines killed Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, head of Los Zetas drug cartel in a firefight near the town of Progreso (Coahuila state). Fingerprints taken by marines confirmed the body was Lazcano’s, who vied with the Sinaloa cartel’s Joaquin Guzman for the title of the most wanted gangster in Mexico. He was a former army special forces soldier and he built Los Zetas along military lines. The government announced his death but also had to admit it did not have his body. Zetas gunmen attacked the funeral home where his body was being kept and stole the corpse.

October 8, 2012: Naval personnel arrested Los Zetas regional commander Salvador Afonso Martinez on October 6. He was believed to be the Zetas leader who organized the mass murder of 72 Central American migrants in 2010, in Tamaulipas state (northern Mexico). Martinez is believed to be in charge of Los Zetas operations in the states of Coahuila, Tamaulipas, and Nuevo Leon.

October 5, 2012: A U.S. Border Patrol agent who was killed on a patrol on October 2 may have been killed by an inadvertent shot fired by another border security agent. The incident took place near Naco, Arizona.

October 3, 2012: The U.S. believes that three Mexican drug cartels are active in the U.S. city of Chicago, Illinois. Apparently the cartels supply the majority of the illegal drugs available in the city.

October 2, 2012: U.S. Border Patrol agent Nicholas Ivie was slain in an incident near the Arizona-Mexico border. The agent was shot in a remote area between the towns of Naco and Bisbee. The agent’s death is under investigation.

U.S. government officials are indicating that investigators have found circumstantial evidence that the Mexican Federal police who wounded two U.S. CIA officers in an incident on August 24, were working for a criminal gang. The Mexican government provided the name of the cartel under suspicion: Beltran Leyva. The Mexican government acknowledged that it is looking into whether or not the Beltran Leyva cartel may have co-opted (bribed) the police detachment involved. The U.S. initially called the incident an ambush and since then some government security personnel have called it an assassination attempt. The two CIA officers were in a U.S. embassy vehicle (armored SUV) and were chased and shot at by Mexican Federal police on a road near Cuernavaca. A senior Mexican Navy officer was also in the vehicle.

October 1, 2012: The government said that the Attorney General's Office is continuing to study the U.S. Department of Justice report on Operation Fast and Furious. Fast and Furious was a badly botched U.S. sting operation that smuggled around 2,000 weapons into Mexico, with the alleged intent of fingering sources of illegal firearms entering Mexico and identifying drug cartel weapons buyers.

September 26, 2012: The theft of crude oil and refined petroleum products continues to plague Mexico’s national oil company, PEMEX. A recent investigation of pipelines in Mexico discovered numerous breaks in the lines where criminal gangs were siphoning off oil. Oil and oil distillate theft has become a big business. One investigator estimated that criminal gangs are stealing over one billion dollars a year in crude oil and refined products. Some of the products are smuggled into the United States.

September 24, 2012: Cartel gunmen attacked a burial ceremony in Torreon, Coahuila and murdered seven people and wounded 17. The ceremony was for a man murdered by a drug cartel. Some of the people at the ceremony were carrying weapons and fired back.




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