June 1, 2009:
When he began the Cartel War in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon made it clear he saw the long term fight to be a battle for systemic modernization in Mexico -- meaning political and economic modernization. Political and economic corruption have gone hand in glove with crime in Mexico. Over the last few months the government has been releasing data on the number of public officials that have been arrested during the Cartel War. The typical media description of the charges is involvement or collaboration with the narcotrafficantes, though the savvier analysts call it what it is: examples of long term institutional corruption in the police and judicial arms of government, and corrupt politicians pulling the same crooked scam in the legislatures and executive bureaucracies. Calderon has said that corruption robs Mexico economically and politically, and he's right. On May 26 the federal government announced the arrest of 29 officials in Michoacan state, including ten mayors. Since the war began the government has arrested 573 local (municipal), state, and federal officials.
May 20, 2009: The U.S. National Guard personnel will once again be deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border to "support (local and state) law enforcement." Several U.S. state governors have requested that the federal government once again provide National Guardsmen for border duties.
May 19, 2009: The U.S. believes Los Zetas (the Mexican drug gang) have established a training site in the US. That much of the story is certain. As to the training site's whereabouts, there are several stories attributed to "reliable sources." A training site in the US is logical for a number of reasons. The Mexican Army reported in 2007 that it had raided several ranches in northern Mexico which were training sites for various drug cartels, and the Mexican military and police have kept them under surveillance. What goes on at the training sites? The Mexican police reports mentioned explosives and weapons training. It's believed that the training also includes kidnapping techniques. Kidnapping is a way of terrorizing innocent civilians who might inform on the drug gangs as well as terrorizing rival gangs. The cartelistas use kidnapping as a "debt collection technique." If someone fails to pay the cartel for a drug shipment, the cartel's hitmen kidnap the debtors relative.
May 16, 2009: The U.S. estimates that somewhere between $17 and $39 billion in drug money is sent from the U.S. to Mexico each year. Yes, that is just a guess, but it is based on an extrapolation from money seized in the U.S. and Mexico.
May 14, 2009: The government and army continue to argue that violence is down in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state). However, 81 people were murdered in April, up from 64 in March. Recently an army spokesman said that cartel men have taken to using pistols in gunfights with their enemies instead of automatic weapons, which suggests the criminals don't want to attract the attention of military patrols by carrying assault rifles around in the streets. Despite complaints from human rights organizations, deploying the army to protect the population has proven to be popular in Juarez. The city of Tijuana (Baja California state) has asked for more soldiers.