Mexico: Corruption, Cartels, Credibility and Culpability


September 26, 2015: The Attorney General's Office (PGR) has added seven new cartels to its official list. These cartels are small but still have power where they are active. Several of these cartels formed from rival factions within the major cartels. The list includes:

The Mazatlecos Cartel, formed by members of Los Zetas and the Beltran Leyva Cartel. It operates in Sinaloa state. It may have been started by Beltran Leyva to disrupt the Sinaloa Cartel. It has now carved out its own niche in drug trafficking and extortion.

The Chapo Isidro Cartel specializes in distributing marijuana, heroin and methamphetamines in the US. It also has operations in western and central Europe.

The Precursor Chemical Cartel (Cartel de los Precursores Quimicos) covers a resource and production niche. It obtains and distributes precursor chemicals needed for drug production, like making meth or refining opium into heroin.

The New Southern People Cartel (Cartel Gente Nueva del Sur) has is based in southeastern Mexico. It deals drugs but also runs other criminal enterprises, including stealing and selling oil. Investigators believe is charges other criminal groups a transportation fee (tax?) when they move drugs or smuggle goods through its territory.

The State Cartel (Cartel del Estado) mostly operates in populous Mexico state (central Mexico). It was formed by a surviving faction of the Familia Michoacana Cartel.  It runs drug trafficking and kidnapping operations. It also has a large regional (Mexico state and neighboring states) drug dealing operation.

The Office Cartel (Cartel de la Oficina) was formed by gunmen who once worked in the armed (enforcer) wings of the Sinaloa, Zetas and Beltra Leyva cartels. It is establishing a reputation for using extremely violent tactics, which is no surprise.

The PGR said that it does know lot about the Airport Cartel (Cartel del Aeropuerto) other than it does exist. Its personnel appear to have a great deal of technical expertise in aerial smuggling operations. The cartel uses private strips throughout Mexico and some commercial airports.

September 25, 2015: Two U.S. congressmen representing districts in Texas want the U.S. government to immediately extradite Tomas Yarrington and Eugenio Hernandez Flores. BothYarrington and Hernandez are former governors of Tamaulipas state, which borders Texas.  Both men are accused of aiding drug cartels and organized criminal activities. Yarrington allegedly worked with several cartels including Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel.  He also had close associates in Texas and assets in Texas. Yarrington governed Tamaulipas from 1999 to 2005. Hernandez ran the state from 2005 to 2010.

September 21, 2015: So far the government has arrested 13 people allegedly connected to Sinaloa cartel senior commander Joaquin Guzman’s July 11 prison escape. Seven of the 13 under arrest worked at the Altiplano Prison where Guzman was jailed. Three people were senior officials in the federal prison system. The government has a $3.8 million reward out for Guzman’s capture.

September 20, 2015: Officials reported the arrest of Melissa Margarita Calderon Ojeda. She is believed to be the leader of a drug cartel assassination team known as Los Damaso. The assassination team works for Los Antrax, which is the Sinaloa cartel’s enforcement and security organization. Los Antrax may have as many as 1,500 gunmen (and women).

September 18, 2015: Security forces captured Gildrado Lopez Astudillo, a senior leader in the Guerreros Unidos Cartel. He is believed to have been involved with the cartel gunmen who helped execute then destroy the bodies of the 43 missing student teachers killed in the Iguala Massacre (Guerrero state) in September 2014. 

September 15, 2015: The Foreign Ministry and president Pena demanded that Egypt conduct a complete investigation of the September 13 incident where Egyptian security forces killed eight Mexican tourists who were participating in an adventure tour of a remote area of Egypt’s Western Desert. Apparently the troops who were pursuing some Islamic terrorists and did not receive (or pay attention to) the notice that the tourists had received permission to be where they were. A helicopter gunship shot up the tourists and their Egyptian drivers and guides, believing them to be the Islamic terrorists in the area.

September 14, 2015: Media dispute government murder figures which claim a major drop in the murder rate. The government claims 16,858 murders committed over the last 19 months linked to organized crime. That would represent a 54 percent drop since President Enrique Pena took office. Media claim the number is 55,000. One media group says no way.  It has evidence 26,037 organized crime murders occurred in 2014.

September 13, 2015: A splinter faction of the Tijuana cartel appears to be copycatting the Jalisco New Generation cartel. The splinter faction calls itself the CTNG, the Tijuana New Generation Tijuana Cartel. After banners reading CTNG began showing up in the Tijuana area, authorities noticed a spike in violence. Now it is a turf war. Over the period September 8-12 eight men and three women were killed in gang violence in and around Tijuana (Baja California state).

Eight Mexican tourists were killed in Egypt’s Western Desert when an Egyptian attack helicopter fired on their vehicles.

September 11, 2015: In the United States officials in Utah and police in Salt Lake City announced the seizure of $2 million worth of heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. Officials trace the drugs to Mexican cartels. Several drug traffickers were arrested in the operations. One of the traffickers arrested in Salt Lake City was armed and also had two hand grenades.

September 9, 2015: A new DEA report concluded that the Sinaloa Cartel is the most powerful Mexican criminal organization in the United States.  The report called the Sinaloa the “dominant” Transnational Criminal Organization in the U.S. The Gulf Cartel, Knights Templar, Beltran Leyva, Jalisco New Generation Cartel, Los Zetas and Juarez Cartel are also active within the U.S. The report also looked at control of drug trafficking corridors. Texas is a major corridor. The Sinaloa Cartel controls the Texas Panhandle and dominates many areas in North Texas. The Gulf Cartel controls the Gulf Coast area. Beltran Leyva controls the vast West Texas area from Abilene to El Paso. This is Interstate 20 from Abilene and then Interstate 10 from Fort Stockton to El Paso. But other cartels exert significant control as well. Los Zetas dominates from Laredo to San Antonio (Interstate 35) and controls the border area around the city of Eagle Pass. The Zetas also have a presence in the city of Brownsville, as does the Gulf cartel. Brownsville is located at the mouth of the Rio Grande River on the Gulf of Mexico. (Austin Bay)

September 7, 2015: Estimates vary widely on just how much Mexican cartels make from drug trafficking in the US. However, official and media sources do agree it is a lot of money. A good estimate is between $20 and $29 billion a year in the US.

September 6, 2015: Independent investigators from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported they could find no evidence to support the government's claim that the remains of the victims of the Iguala Mssacre were incinerated. The group has been investigating the disappearance of 43 Mexican students who were murder in September 2014.  That crime incited national anger. Several other groups are also rejecting the government's account of events. Doubts about the government’s investigation and allegations that the government is covering up evidence of security force involvement have added to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s political troubles. (Austin Bay)

September 1, 2015: President Pena has replaced six cabinet ministers, including his national security commissioner.  The move is an attempt to regain credibility with Mexican citizens.  Pena’s approval polls have dived as he confronts allegations of cronyism, corruption and failure to conduct a thorough investigation of the September 2014 murders of 43 student teachers in Guerrero state. Many citizens believe the July 2015 prison escape by Sinaloa senior commander Joaquin Guzman was an inside job and ultimate involves high government officials. There is no linkage to President Pena, but his administration has still suffered a loss of prestige and support.





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