February 18, 2013: The government continues to mention (rather frequently) corruption in the federal police (Federales). No one doubts that corruption exists in that organization, but it certainly looks like the newly elected president is trying to build a political consensus for creating a new national gendarmerie. There are plenty of recent examples of high-level Federales corruption. So far 14 Federals officers have been charged in the August 2012 ambush of a U.S. State Department SUV carrying two CIA agents and a Mexican Navy captain.
February 15, 2013: The murder rate in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state) continues to go down. The government attributes the drop in murders to better security. Several Mexican media outlets claim the real reason is that the drug cartel turf war is over. Either a cartel won or the cartels have reached a working agreement on operations in Juarez and Chihuahua State.
February 14, 2013: The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency reported that it had discovered another tunnel running from Mexico into Nogales, Arizona. The tunnel exit was some 200 meters inside U.S. territory. Over the last three years, various U.S. federal security agencies and state police have discovered 26 cross-border tunnels in Nogales.
February 13, 2013: The new government announced that it will spend between nine and ten billion dollars during the next year on social programs designed to keep Mexican youth from joining criminal organizations. The social programs will be set up and run in 251 cities and towns throughout Mexico. Nine federal government departments and their agencies will be involved but the programs will be coordinated by the new Interagency Commission for the Prevention of Violence and Criminality. The definition of social programs seems to be fairly flexible. The announcement indicated that some of the funds will be used to extend school hours as well as spending money on parks, health services, and programs to stop drug addiction.
February 8, 2013: The new president is opposed to legalizing marijuana because he believes it is a drug whose use leads to the use of more addictive and destructive drugs. This was in response to a question about moves in the U.S. to legalize marijuana use.
February 7, 2013: Cartel gunmen ambushed and murdered nine police officers in Apaxtla de Castreion (Guerrero state in western Mexico). The town is located in the tri-border area where Guerrero meets Michoacan and Mexico states.
February 6, 2013: U.S. prosecutors have seized $2.2 million in funds that were allegedly stolen by the former treasurer of the Mexican state of Coahuila. The U.S. federal prosecutors claimed that the money was stolen by Hector Javier Villarreal-Hernandez and then hidden in a bank in Brownsville, Texas. The U.S. bank then transferred the funds to a bank in Bermuda. U.S. investigators reported that Villarreal-Hernandez is deeply involved in what Mexican authorities believe is a major public funds scandal. While Villarreal-Hernandez was treasurer of Coahuila state, they added $246 million in debt.
February 5, 2013: An investigation concluded that the blast which badly damaged PEMEX’s Mexico City headquarters was caused by a gas leak. No sign of explosives was found at the site of the explosion. The death toll, however, has risen to 37.
February 3, 2013: Reports that the state of Coahuila’s debt load increased due to corrupt contracts with coal suppliers tied to narcotics cartels has led to new talk of debt reform by the federal government. The government is now examining ways to limit the amount of total debt that states and municipalities can incur. Mexico’s states are independent political entities within federal Mexico. The national government, however, has to approve any long term bonds issued by states and municipalities because the states and cities usually pledge their share of federal taxes as collateral for the bonds. This gives the national government a means of limiting the debt, albeit one that is indirect. Using Coahuila as an example, reformers claim corrupt municipal and state governments have used bond money to pay for contracts with businesses that are fronts for organized crime.
February 2, 2013: Government security agencies have launched a full-scale investigation into the explosion at the PEMEX headquarters complex in Mexico City. The January 31 incident killed 33 and injured 121. The blast occurred in a building called B2, which is a PEMEX facility directly adjacent to the 54-story PEMEX headquarters skyscraper. Nearly 4,000 workers and visitors were evacuated from the skyscraper immediately after the explosion.