January 6, 2012: Mexico is concerned about illegal immigration from its southern neighbor. In the first eleven months of 2011 the government deported over 46,700 Central Americans. The overwhelming majority of the deportees (over 41,000) were men, 23,560 of the deportees came from Guatemala.
January 5, 2012: 31 convicts died in a gang fight in a prison in Altamira (Tamaulipas state, northern Mexico). Another 13 were wounded. Prison guards had to force their way back into the jail to restore order. Los Zetas cartel and the Gulf cartel are locked in a bitter turf war over Tamaulipas, which borders on the US. Officials suspect jailed members of the two gangs started the fight.
January 4, 2012: Several groups of college-age students took control of five radio stations in Guerrero state and broadcasted demands that the state governor resign. The students expressed outrage at the death of two students in an incident that occurred December 12. The broadcast also included demands that the December deaths be investigated. This year is an election year and the government is increasingly worried that student and labor violence will increase as the election approaches.
January 3, 2012: Mexican media has produced several estimates of the number of people killed in drug cartel-related violence during 2011. One major paper published the figure of 12,539. Two others reported 12,284 and 11,890. There is no official figure, but given the levels of violence in several states (Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, Veracruz, Guerrero, and Tamaulipas) somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 dead appears to be a credible figure. The figure for 2010 was around 15,000. That would mean around 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence since the Cartel War began in December 2006.
January 1, 2012: What will the 2012 presidential election mean for the Cartel War? No one knows, but President Felipe Calderon cannot succeed himself. Calderon touts the fact that 22 of the top 37 drug gangsters have been killed or arrested in the last three years, but he has also said, repeatedly, that the war against the drug cartels and criminal syndicates will continue for decades. That’s because winning the war requires systemic change in Mexico, such as an end (or at least diminishment) of corruption in the police forces and judiciary.
Five men the federal police arrested for crimes in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state) were believed tortured in order to elicit confessions. The men were arrested on charges of launching a car bomb attack and killing two police officers. The July 2010 car bomb attack was a very high-profile crime.
December 27, 2011: The security commander of the Sinaloa cartel, Felipe Cabreara Sarabia, was captured in Sinaloa’s state capital, Culiacan.
Mexican Army troops found 13 bodies stacked in an abandoned truck in Tamaulipas state.
December 24, 2011: In an operation in Veracruz State earlier this fall, Mexican marines discovered a sophisticated radio communications center being operated by Los Zetas drug cartel. It turns out that commo center was part of an elaborate alert network run by the cartel. The network included street salesmen and cab drivers with mobile radios who would pass on information about police and military vehicles. Since the initial discovery, Mexican soldiers and marines have found several more communications centers and relay transmitters, some located deep in the desert and powered by solar panels. The network was installed to give Zetas operatives an alternative communications system to use in lieu of cell phones. Intelligence agencies have become very adept at detecting cell phone calls. The radio and radio-relay system operates outside the cell phone system. Authorities speculated that Los Zetas began developing the system as early as 2006 and was largely built with commercially-available equipment. Zetas operatives could encrypt their conversations, making eavesdropping even more difficult. The system extended through several eastern Mexican states.
December 23, 2011: Security forces, under direction of the Mexican Navy, killed five armed robbers who were involved in an attack on the villages of El Higo and the ambush of three civilian buses. The gunmen had slain eleven people in the incidents. The security forces located the gunmen after the bus ambush and killed them in a firefight.
December 22, 2011: In the city of Veracruz-Boca del Rio, the federal government has fired the entire police force (over 900 officers) and officially disbanded the police. The reason is rampant corruption. The Mexican Navy will assume responsibility for protecting the area. Federal police will work in conjunction with the navy. Around 600,000 people live in the city.
December 18, 2011: Security forces arrested 28 state and local police officers in Guerrero state. The action was part of a major government effort to root out police corruption. The arrests came as Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, said that corruption in security and justice institutions were national “weaknesses and vulnerabilities.”
December 17, 2011: A new study of Mexico’s oil industry claimed that the decline in crude oil production is ending and that output may stabilize. Mexico has been producing 2.55 million barrels a day, a slight decline from 2009 when it produced 2.6 million barrels a day. However, in 2004 Mexico was producing 3.4 million a day.