There have been rumors for years that cartels have used drone (UAV) aircraft to fly drugs over the U.S. border. Now the rumors come with statistics. Though no U.S. security agency is on the record about cartel drone operations, one estimate making the rounds is that cartels flew approximately 150 drone smuggling missions in 2012. The drones transport high value drugs such as cocaine. Using drones to smuggle drugs is inevitable. Drones have a small radar signature. They are cheaper to acquire and use than other options, such as building a long tunnel. The UAVs can carry small payloads (2-3 kg/4.4-6.6 pounds) but have the endurance and range to fly over a hundred kilometers and land automatically (usually by parachute) at a specific location. All this is controlled by an onboard flight computer and GPS. Someone on the U.S. side can refuel and launch the UAV on a return trip. Such UAVs can be bought for under $20,000 and used dozens of times. (Austin Bay)
July 31, 2014: A special anti-drug police group in Peru arrested Alberto Santillan, a key member of the Tijuana cartel. He is one of Peru’s most wanted criminals and high-level drug smugglers. Santillan is the commander of a smuggling ring called Safari which operates in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico. The group moves drugs into Mexico and the Tijuana cartel handles distribution.
Acting on a tip over military and police personnel raided a house in the coastal city of Madero and freed 70 Central American migrants. No one was arrested but cartel gunmen were believed responsible for kidnapping the migrants and holding them for ransom. Those whose families who cannot pay are killed. Every year thousands of Central and South American migrants were either kidnapped or robbed by Mexican drug cartels.
July 28, 2014: Federal and state police in Mexico state (central Mexico) rescued 44 people who were being held hostage in a drug rehabilitation center in the city of Ixtapaluca. Seven of the 44 were children. The police arrested five people on charges of kidnapping.
July 24, 2014: Police in Tamaulipas state reported that gunmen in rival factions of the Gulf cartel fought a battle in the city of Nuevo Progreso. The day before five gunmen were shot in a convenience store. Mexican Army and marine units responded to this violence as well as federal police.
July 23, 2014: Mexican marines on patrol in the town of Valle Hermoso (Tamaulipas state) were attacked by a group of gunmen and promptly killed one gunmen. He was wearing combat fatigues and carried an assault rifle and was apparently a member of the Gulf cartel.
July 22, 2014: Some 57,000 unaccompanied minor children from Central America were stopped at the U.S.-Mexico border between October 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014. The U.S. Border Patrol says that is approximately double the number that crossed in the previous nine month period. U.S. authorities say that most of the minors were brought north through Mexico by people smugglers (coyotes). The smugglers charge the parents of the children from $4,000 to $10,000 and in the past year have raised their prices. Investigators report that the human smugglers pay off drug cartels to protect them enroute. They also bribe Mexican government officials. Meanwhile, U.S. security officials fear that cartels are taking advantage of the surge in illegal unaccompanied minors to smuggle drugs. Drug seizures along the Mexico-U.S. border have dropped, as police, Border Patrol and other security agencies have focused on the wave of young illegal migrants. A spokesman for the union representing Border Patrol personnel recently claimed that the drug cartels coordinate to send large numbers of illegals across the border. When U.S. security agents respond to the migrants, the drug traffickers then send over the drugs.
July 19, 2014: The U.S. Border Patrol reported that agents received fire from a very high powered rifle on the Mexico side of the border. The incident occurred on the night of July 18 around 8:30 pm. Agents identified the weapon as a .50 caliber (12.7mm) rifle fire. The incident occurred on the Rincon Peninsula (across the Rio Grande River from Reynosa, Mexico). Agents said they believed the fire was intended to suppress security operation on the U.S. side of the border. Agents later detained some 40 people in the area who had crossed the border prior to the rifle fire.
July 16, 2014: Officials in South Carolina believe members of a Mexican drug cartel were involved in a July 9 kidnapping in their state. State investigators believe the three cartel members now under arrest kidnapped a drug courier and demanded $400,000 in ransom from his own criminal bosses in Mexico. The courier had delivered around 200 pounds of marijuana to a customer in the state.
July 13, 2014: Marines killed eight gunmen working for Los Mazatlecos gang. The marines engaged the gang members in the town of El Garbanzo (Sinaloa state). The marines also seized eight assault rifles, two SUVs and ammunition. Fausto Isidro Meza Flores is senior commander of Los Mazatlecos. He also works with the Beltran-Leyva cartel.
July 11, 2014: Mexican Army soldiers arrested a regional commander (Gonzalo Martin Souza) in the Guerreros Unidos cartel. Souza and an associate were arrested in the city of Puebla (Puebla state). Soldiers also seized 24 kilos of cocaine and three vehicles. Guerreros Unidos broke away from the Beltran-Leyva cartel in 2011.
July 9, 2014: Government investigators are looking into the June 30 firefight where Mexican Army soldiers killed 22 people. One soldier was wounded in the incident, which occurred in a warehouse in San Pedro Limon (Mexico state). Many have questioned the military’s story, given the large casualty toll. Every one of the alleged gunmen (one was a gunwoman) were killed in the firefight.