Mexico: Vigilantes Become Official


September 27, 2013: U.S. and Mexican investigators are alleging that Mexican drug cartels are now using significant amounts of methamphetamine precursor chemicals supplied by Chinese Triads (Chinese transnational criminal organizations). Mexican cartels dominate the meth market in the U.S. In 2011, the Mexican Navy intercepted several shipments (exact number unspecified) of precursor chemicals shipped from Shanghai to Mexican ports. The shipments (30 tons according to one estimate) contained methylamine and pseudoephedrine. Security forces in Belize seized a shipment of these chemicals and other precursor chemicals in April 2012. The shipment came from China and investigators concluded the shipment was headed for Los Zetas cartel.

September 24, 2013: Security personnel have arrested a fourth policemen suspected of aiding a criminal gang in the May 2013 mass murder of 12 people kidnapped in a Mexico City bar. So far 18 people have been arrested in connection to the murders.

April 23, 2013: Local community self-defense groups (also known as community police) in Michoacan state are telling authorities and reporters that they are trying to get more and better weapons. One village self-defense militia in Michoacan has shown reporters its stash of semi-automatic AK-47 assault rifles. The villagers claim they stole the rifles from cartel gunmen. The story is credible. In May 2013, Mexican security forces disarmed a village in Michoacan state after authorities found a dozen AK-47 and nine AR-15 assault rifles.  However, the self-defense groups, particularly in the rural areas of Michoacan and Guerrero states, now say they will resist Federal Police and military units who try to disarm them. The Guerrero state government has told several self-defense groups that it is considering giving them some form of official status. The state would also provide training and pay for what some government security personnel are calling rural guards. Officially, Mexico still has a Guardia Rural (Rural Defense Force) though the program is in disarray. It appears that Guerrero is considering revitalizing the Guardia Rural.

September 22, 2013: Gunmen armed with assault rifles attacked a house in the town of Loma Blanca (near Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state) and killed 10 people. Police reported dead bodies were found in the yard and street, indicating the gunmen shot fleeing victims.

September 21, 2013: Security forces arrested 2 Mexico City police officers who have been linked to the May 2013 murders of 12 people who were kidnapped from a bar in the capital’s Zona Rosa district. Their bodies were discovered in August. So far 17 people have been arrested for alleged involvement in the murders. Among the arrested are the 2 living co-owners of the bar. A third co-owner was murdered in July. Prosecutors say the murders are connected to a turf war between two Mexico City gangs.

September 19, 2013: The Mexican Navy (Secretaria de Marina) has decided to buy its fourth Dutch-designed patrol ship. The Damen Stan Patrol 4207 will be built at the Mexican Navy facility in Tampico (Tamaulipas state). The DSP 4207 can conduct coastal patrols and operate throughout Mexico’s 380 kilometer offshore Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).  The vessel is very similar to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Sentinel class fast response cutters.

September 18, 2013: The U.S. military confirmed that Mexican Army representatives visited Fort Hood, Texas in August. The Mexican Army delegation received briefings on U.S. Army logistics and maintenance management. The briefings included helicopter maintenance and support operations. The group also visited an air force base and reserve air base to study aviation maintenance and logistics.

September 16, 2013: Panamanian security officials believe that at least 4 Mexican cartels (Beltran-Leyva, Juarez, Sinaloa, and Los Zetas) are operating inside the country. Panama currently has around 90 Mexican nationals in prison, all charged with crimes related to drug trafficking. Panama is not a safe place for Mexican cartel operatives. The Panamanian government estimates that 20 Mexicans involved in drug gang operations were murdered in Panama between 2009 and 2012.

September 15, 2013: The United States alleges that Mexican drug cartels have recruited U.S. soldiers to work as gunmen. U.S. authorities recently convicted a former U.S. Army private of murdering a former member of the Juarez cartel in El Paso, Texas in 2009. Cartel leaders believed the victim was an informer for an American police agency.

September 13, 2013: BATFE (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives) agents claimed that an assault rifle seized in July, when drug lord Miguel Angel Trevino Morales was arrested, was supplied via a Texas gun dealer. The dealer, Manny Rodriguez, had once served a prison sentence for illegally selling machine guns. Prosecutors are alleging the Rodriguez has knowingly supplied Los Zetas cartel with assault rifles.

September 12, 2013: Mexican authorities arrested another man suspected of being involved in the December 2010 murder of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The arrest involved Mexican police assigned to Interpol as well as federal police and Sinaloa state police. The U.S. FBI also played a role in the investigation. The suspect, Ivan Soto Barraza, was arrested near the town of El Fuente. This is the third arrest in the Terry murder case. Two weapons recovered at the scene of Terry’s murder were supplied to Mexican cartels through the Fast and Furious sting operation run BATFE, which sent between 1,700 and 2,000 weapons into Mexico.

September 11, 2013: 4 men armed with machetes killed a state representative in Morelia (Michoacan state). The attackers also killed a reporter who was interviewing the state representative. The legislator, Osbaldo Esquivel Lucatero, had been arrested in 2009, on charges of politically protecting the La Familia drug cartel. The charges were later dropped.

Members of Mexico’s teachers union fought with police in Mexico City. The union is violently resisting education reforms proposed by the government. This union is regarded as being one of the most corrupt in Mexico.

September 10, 2013: Police in Tijuana (Baha California state) claim that the man they arrested on September 1 is the leader of a kidnapping gang that has kidnapped, tortured, and raped victims for several years. The gang specializes in kidnapping Mexican citizens who are trying to cross into the U.S. illegally. The gang captures its victims then demands ransoms from the victims’ families.


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