Work has begun on the first section of the "virtual fence" that was proposed as part of the 2003 Secure Border Initiative. The first section is a 37 kilometer long stretch sited south of the city of Tucson, Arizona. The "virtual fence" is a linked network of sensors, including motion sensors, seismic sensors, and cameras. The total cost of a 3,200 kilometer long system is around seven billion dollars.
May 10, 2009: The Cartel War continues in Michoacan state. Security authorities reported three separate violent attacks they believe are related to the drug war. Three men were killed by gunmen in the town of Zamora. Another man was murdered in the town of Arteaga. Gunman also attacked an isolated ranch and killed five ranch employees (and four horses, as well).
Federal authorities arrested 14 people in the city of Cuernavaca on suspicion of smuggling weapons. The smugglers are believed to be working for the Beltran Leyva narcotics gang.
May 8, 2009: According to both the Mexican and US governments, Mexican drug cartels are increasingly active in Central America. The first assumption is that the Cartel War is "driving them south" (ie, into Guatemala). However, it may well be that intelligence on the organizations is improving. Over the years narcotics cartels have used small airfields throughout Central America. Guatemala has reported several "Mexico-type" drug gang firefights over "smuggling turf."
As the fear of a killer flu epidemic continues to recede, Mexican businesses and school are reopening across the country. As of May 6 Mexico had record around 1100 swine flu cases and approximately 40 "swine flu-related" deaths.
Better late than never -- the US government has officially placed La Familia Michoacana (aka "La Familia"), the Zetas, and the Sinaloa Cartel (aka "Mexican Federation") on the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act "blacklist". This makes it easier to deny cartel operatives access to the US financial system, "squeeze and seize" cartel financial assets when they are identified, and sanction cartel-related companies and enterprises. The US Treasury Department sees the "Kingpin Act" as a particularly useful anti-crime tool. It allows government agents to target group and individual finances and assets.
The government announced the arrest of 28 Tijuana (Baja California state) police officers on suspicion of involvement with organized crime. They are suspected of working for or receiving payoffs from the Arellano Felix cartel.
May 7, 2009: The Cartel War, global recession, and now the swine flu have all hurt Mexico economically. Mexico's GDP is expected to decline four percent during 2009.
May 5, 2009: The mayor of Cuidad Juarez (Chihuahua state, across the border from El Paso, Texas) stated that he believes the Mexican Army will maintain a permanent anti-cartel garrison in his city. The army has indicated it will keep 2,000 soldiers in Juarez to reassure the population and to continue its counter-cartel mission. At the moment the Mexican Army has 5,000 soldiers in Ciudad Juarez.
May 4, 2009: Police discovered two more narcotics cartel massacre sites, both in Guerrero state. One is particularly gruesome. Seven people were murdered. Their bodies were wrapped in plastic and then thrown off a bridge into a river. Four more victims were discovered in a small canyon near the town of Pilcaya.
April 29, 2009: Federal police have arrested Gregorio "El Goyo" Sauceda Gamboa, a leader of the Zetas drug gang and long associated with the Gulf cartel. Sauceda was arrested in the town of Matamoros (Tamaulipas state), which is across the Rio Grande River (Rio Bravo del Norte) from Brownsville, Texas.
The government closed all "non-essential federal offices" in Mexico City in order to combat the swine flu (H1N1 virus). All "non-essential" businesses were also closed. (Sanitation services, hospitals, transportation services, and grocery stores remained open.)