Mexico: The Discrete Charm Of The American Advisor


November 29, 2010: Mexican security organizations have continued to increase their level of cooperation with the U.S.. Intelligence fusion (sharing intelligence) has been the chief focus, but the Mexican military has also expressed an interest in help with improving tactical and operational training, particularly in counter-insurgency methods. U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) has had a Mexican liaison officer for at least two years and now the U.S. military describes the Mexican officer as a permanent liaison officer. The Mexican military is subtle about the developing relationship and the U.S. military understands the political context. Mexican ultra-nationalists would scream if the cooperation were too evident. The U.S. military has around $35 million budgeted to help Mexico with counter-narcotics operations and training. In 2008 the budget was around $12 million, so this is a significant boost in funding. A lot of the instruction goes on in the U.S., though a few U.S. instructors and training teams have taught security courses in Mexico.

U.S. and Mexican police are finding a growing number of smuggling tunnels on the border. Some are a kilometer long. The U.S. has brought in equipment that can detect the tunnels, but the Mexicans have been equally successful at just noting street traffic and working informants.

November 24, 2010: The government announced that it will reinforce federal police and military units engaged in operations in the northern Mexican states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon (both border on Texas). The overall operation is named Coordinated Northeast Operation. Increased cartel-sponsored violence in the city of Monterrey (Nuevo Leon state) is one reason. The government intends to stop the roadblock tactic that cartel gunmen have used to harass citizens and ambush local and state police.

The U.S. government delivered three Black Hawk UH-60M helicopters to Mexico's federal police force. The helicopters were provided as part of the Merida Initiative to combat drug cartels.

November 23, 2010: Police continue to hammer the Beltran Leyva drug cartel. Prosecutors announced the arrest or Carlos Montemayor, who had replaced Edgar Valdez, who was arrested last summer. Montemayor was captured in Mexico City and  told police that kidnapping and murder of 20 Mexican tourists in the city of Acapulco was a case of mistaken identity. The murders occurred in September. Beltran Leyva gunmen thought the tourists were members of the rival La Familia cartel.

November 18, 2010: Texas governor Rick Perry said that the U.S. needed to consider using more aggressive tactics to keep violence along the Mexico-U.S. border from escalating. The governor said that Mexico needed to approve whatever type of assistance the U.S. could provide, but that assistance could include military forces. The state of Texas, in fact, is engaged in what state security officials have called paramilitary operations. The Texas state police are part of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The Texas DPS has 16 helicopters and uses them along the border to deploy field intelligence teams and tactical strike teams. The DPS runs a joint operation intelligence center (JOIC) in the state capital, Austin.

November 18, 2010: Drug cartel gunmen killed the manager of an oil services company. The murder took place near the town of Thuatlan (Vera Cruz state). The oil services company works for Mexico's national oil company, PEMEX.

Security officials reported that ten people were slain and five wounded in several violent clashes in Jalisco state (western Mexico). In one gun battle, Jalisco state police killed five cartel gunmen and arrested four others. The police reported the gunmen belonged to Los Zetas drug cartel.

November 17, 2010: A senior member of La Familia drug cartel, who was recently arrested by Mexican police, told authorities that an offer made by cartel leader Servando Gomez is legitimate. Mexican media had reported that Gomez had offered to disband the cartel. Why? Because La Familia is in disarray, having had a number of leaders either killed or captured.

November 16, 2010: A U.S. Border Patrol officer fired at and wounded a suspected illegal immigrant. The officer encountered the suspect in a canyon just north of the Mexico-U.S. border. The Border Patrol officer was conducting his patrol on horseback. The wounded man was taken by helicopter to the hospital.

November 14, 2010: A recent government report noted that drug cartels have made an increasing number of threats to news media. The report followed an investigation into the murders of journalists throughout the country –and there have been scores of them. The drug gangs want to intimidate media outlets for several reasons. Silencing critics is the obvious objective, but getting positive coverage (from frightened reporters, producers, and editors) is another payoff. There are rumors that some drug cartel members have issued actual press releases. The cartels have used websites in the past and posted videos, and also made numerous statements to reporters, but the press release approach takes that up a notch.

November 10, 2010: The Mexican ambassador to the U.S. claimed that international media focus too much attention on drug gang violence in Mexico. The ambassador objected to the if it bleeds, it leads mentality of the press and said that good news stories in Mexico are ignored. The ambassador's complaint echoes that of Iraqi leaders. The ambassador does have a point. Mexico had a 2009 murder rate of 15 per 100,000 people. Venezuela had a murder rate of 48 per 100,000.

November 8, 2010: The newly elected mayor of a small town in Vera Cruz state was kidnapped and murdered in what authorities suspect is drug cartel-related violence. Two people traveling with the mayor-elect were also slain. Gangs have been targeting small town mayors throughout Mexico.

November 7, 2010: Seven people were killed at a family gathering in the city of Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state).

Police discovered a mass grave near the city of Acapulco containing the dead bodies of 18 tourists who disappeared September 30.

November 6, 2010: Mexican marines killed a senior leader in the Gulf drug cartel. Authorities said that Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen (also known as Tony Tormenta) was slain in the city of Matamoros (Tmaulipas state, across from Brownsville, Texas). Cardenas died in a gun battle that took the lives of two marines as well as three Gulf cartel gunmen. A reporter from Matamoros, who was caught in a crossfire, also died in the battle. Residents of Matamoros reported the firefight lasted two hours. An after action report stated that 150 marines were involved in the operation, supported by 17 vehicles and three helicopters.

November 4, 2010: Mexican and U.S. police reported they discovered 550 meter long drug tunnel running beneath the Mexico-California border. The tunnel connected a warehouse in Tijuana to one in San Diego.




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