Mexico: Total War Succeeds


October 30, 2009: Mexico continues to improve its federal police forces, with the FBI as its model. The government has concluded that training and education key to improvement and for the past year the federal police have made an effort to recruit college graduates. Increasing pay (to deter the allure of bribes) is another reform. Improving the federal police, according to government leaders, will have a “trickle down effect” on state and local police – at least that's the idea. The program is another example of President Calderon's “systemic war” (also called systemic reform) to modernize Mexico.

The NGO Reporters Without Borders recently reported that Mexico has become “one of the most dangerous places to work as a reporter...” For years drug cartels have made it a practice to kill pesky journalists.

October 27, 2009: Police continue to run operations in Michoacan state focused on the “La Familia” drug cartel. The government announced the arrest of drug lord Abel Valadez Orbie (alias “El Clinton”) who has been implicated in the assassination of a mayor in Michoacan. Authorities said that they had received “several tips” on El Clinton's whereabouts. His arrest follows the October 22 arrest of six members of the cartel. The federal police and military have put a lot of effort into getting intelligence on La Familia, but the arrest of El Clinton suggests that the recent arrests in northern Mexico and the US have produced a great deal of actionable intelligence. La Familia has been a tough nut to crack in Michaocan. The cartel is a “diversified” criminal organization that runs a variety of rackets and has invested in numerous legitimate businesses. A recent government statement said La Familia operates a debt collection service. The cartel also donates to legitimate local charities, which buys good will, especially in the small towns. La Familia has bribed numerous officials. In May the police arrested ten mayors in Michoacan who were on the cartel's payroll.

But police pressure is producing results and the roll-up isn't limited to Michoacan. The government announced that police arrested the “second in command” of Los Zetas, Carlos Adrian Martinez Muniz. The arrest occurred in Nuevo Leon state on October 20. The police raided a safe house and discovered two kidnap victims and an arsenal of rifles and grenades. A police statement said that Martinez Muniz was also captured with “numerous deposit slips” made out to “various people in various states.”This sounds like another intelligence coup.

The government also announced the October 22nd arrest of five Gulf cartel gunmen who were allegedly involved in four murders in Hidalgo state.

October 23, 2009: Is the government's Cartel War effective? In a recent discussion in the US, a number of analysts defended the Calderon government's decision in December 2006 to declare war on the cartels. The main point supporters make is that the Mexican government decided to act vigorously on a broad front and address a spectrum of social problems that contributed to the rise of sophisticated criminal organizations. Past governments had “looked the other way” as the organizations used terror tactics to intimidate local police and civilians. In some places the cartels had bought off the public officials and had essentially created their own “drug duchies” (separatist enclaves) within Mexico.

October 22, 2009: The U.S. announced the arrest of 303 members of the La Familia drug cartel. The arrests took place in the US (in 19 states). The police operation was named Operation Coronado. Millions of dollars in cash and over 400 weapons were seized.

October 20, 2009: As of October 15, 1986 people have been murdered in cartel-related violence in Cuidad Juarez (Chihuahua state).

October 19, 2009: Six gunmen arrested by the Mexican Army in the Ciudad Juarez area have confessed to committing 67 murders. The gunmen told interrogators that the murders were ordered by their cartel leaders. Their targets were members of rival drug gangs. The military, working with police in Joint Operation Chihuahua, arrested the gunmen in early October. The gunmen worked for the Carrill Fuentes cartel. According to an official report released to the press, the gunmen stated that they operated in a “cell” (isolated team). The gunmen were involved in numerous other criminal activities to include car jackings (stopping cars and robbing the drivers) and auto theft. They also operated an extortion racket in Ciudad Juarez, focusing on bars, restaurants, massage parlors, funeral homes and auto repair shops.

October 9, 2009: Police discovered the body of a state official hanging from a bridge in the city of Tijuana (Baja California state). The state official was in charge of drivers licenses. Authorities said that the man was allegedly involved with drug cartel members and had supplied gunmen with fake drivers licenses.

Police in Guerrero state reported the discovery of ten bodies along a highway. The bodies had been bound and mutilated.

Police in Jalisco state reported a firefight between drug cartel gunmen and a task force of Mexican soldiers and police. The firefight occurred in a “rural area” (likely a ranch occupied by the drug cartel). Four gunmen died in the firefight. The police arrested 17 gunmen. Police helicopters provided air cover during the firefight, but the cartel gunmen fired on and hit one of the aircraft. A Mexican Army helicopter gunship then arrived and attacked the cartel gunmen. One soldier and one policeman were wounded in the firefight.


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