Mexico: Gangsters Defeated, But Not Destroyed


January22, 2007: The Mexican government is allowing the extradition to the U.S. of 11 drug gang members. In the past, Mexico had refused to extradite, because this was seen as an affront to national pride, and because these major drug criminals had successfully bribed government officials. Four of the extradited were men identified as "drug kingpins" by American authorities. One was Osiel Cardenas of the "Gulf" drug cartel. Cardenas was arrested in 2003. As is typical in Mexico, Cardenas received special treatment in jail (via bribes and intimidation) and was still in charge of drug gang despite being behind bars. This sounds similar to some organized crime leaders in the U.S. But special, high security, prisons have been built in the U.S., that make it much more difficult for convicts to conduct outside business. Cardenas was flown back to the U.S. on January 19. A senior member of the Sinaloa cartel was also remanded to U.S. custody. The U.S. Attorney General's office called the extradition the "largest in history" from Mexico. U.S. and Mexican analysts see the extradition as another "attack by the Calderon government" on crime and corruption in Mexico. This is the "legal prong" of an offensive that includes the use of Mexican Army troops and special federal police units.

January 19, 2007: Mexican authorities are concerned that a rise in the price of tortillas (corn flat bread) will lead to civil unrest. The price of tortillas rose ten to 14 percent in 2006. The cause: international demand for corn. The government is particularly concerned about Oaxaca and Chiapas, which have both experienced extended periods of turmoil. Mexico may import more foreign corn and on January 17 the government authorized the "duty free import" of around 700,000 tons of corn. The government hopes the imported corn will help stabilize tortilla prices.. In 1994 the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas protested many government policies, but one of their complaints included a rise in the price of tortillas due to an impending reduction in price subsidies.

January 14, 2007: Mexico's President Felipe Calderon claimed that Mexico is now "safer" than it was when he became president in December 2006. Calderon said that the homicide rate in Mexico had declined 70 percent since he sent military and police units to arrest drug gang members in several of Mexico's western and border states.


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