Mexico: Death From Above

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July 8, 2015: American media continues to treat Mexican acquisition of U.S. military weapons as news. This is not news. For over two decades the United States and Mexico have discussed closer defense cooperation and there have been occasional weapons sales. For example, in 1991 Mexico bought two Blackhawk helicopters and over the years added to its fleet. In 2007, as the Cartel War escalated, Mexico said that it was in the market for modern military equipment, to include more American Humvees.

The government has been unable to halt the growing practice of stealing gasoline (petrol) from pipelines. Last year there over 4,000 such illegal taps, which saw over a billion dollars’ worth of refined petroleum stolen and resold. The hardest his states are Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Jalisco, Nuevo Leon and Zacatecas. The government has ordered the state owned petroleum company (Petroleos Mexicanos or PEMEX) to stop using the pipelines for moving refined products. In 2014 the government announced that PEMEX would begin using private sector energy companies to improve operations. For a long time this was forbidden but in 2013 the government succeeded in passing energy reform legislation. PEMEX now can put out drilling contracts and production licenses for public bid. PEMEX is supposed to accept the bids which offer the best economic returns. Though this may not sound controversial, in Mexico it is. The left-wing party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) remains firmly against private sector involvement in oil, gas and energy operations. Without help from private firms PEMEX faces continued decline (in oil production) because the political appointees running PEMEX had, for decades, proved unable to operate the oil fields efficiently. Many other countries have faced the same problem and solved it by contracting commercial firms to do what the bureaucrats could not.   

July 5, 2015: In the north (near Falcon Lake) a navy UH-60 helicopter came under fire from people on the Mexican side of the border. The crew of the helicopter returned fire and killed six people on the ground. This occurred about 30 kilometers from the border while the helicopter was out looking for suspicious activity. The navy released video showing where six bullets hit the helicopter (but did no serious damage). On May 1st cartel gunmen further west shot down a military helicopter using an unguided RPG rocket launcher.

July 4, 2015: In the west (Michoacan state) the leader of a local self-defense militia was ambushed and killed by two cartel gunmen. Three others (two bodyguards and the local police chief) were wounded in the attack.

The government has grown tired of continuously militant teachers. In 2013 the legislature passed a package of education reforms recommended by the president and the education ministry. One reform included teacher testing. Militants in the National Coordinator of Educational Workers (CNTE) faction of the national teachers union has staged numerous strikes across the country, to include the occupation of city centers. There are several city occupations in the state of Oaxaca where the extremely militant Section 22 faction (a faction of CNTE) controls the union chapters. National media are speculating that the government will crack down on the militants in Oaxaca, as an example for the rest of the union. This sound like a repeat of 2006, when national police and the military moved into the city of Oaxaca and tore down barricades and protestor camps.

July 3, 2015: Federal police arrested Martin Villegas Navarrete, a senior commander in the Beltran-Leyva cartel. The arrest took place in Mexico City’s Roma Norte district.

July 2, 2015: There are reports that the army’s 102 Battalion, accused of the June 2014 murders of at least 20 people in the town of Tlatlaya,  had orders to execute suspected criminals. Critics of the military point out that orders to execute are illegal.

June 30, 2015: The military is helping Tamaulipas state security personnel conduct a car window tint removal campaign. Yes, you read that correctly. The idea is that transparent windows will help police and soldiers identify criminals.

July 27, 2015: Opposition politicians and pro-reform groups are calling attention to the fact that national outrage over the Ayotzinapa 43 has not subsided. Some reformers are asking for public opposition to what they call the “narco-coopted political establishment.” That is a good phrase. The Ayotzinapa 43 I another media idiom for the Iguala Massacre. In September 2014 police and a drug gang murdered 43 student teachers near the city of Iguala (Guerrero state). The government, however, insists it is taking action. So far 108 people have been arrested for alleged participation in the crime. 74 of the people under arrest are police officers from Iguala and the town of Cocula (near Iguala).

June 24, 2015: If there are drug lords, why not drug ladies. Or perhaps drug duchesses? Security officials believe that Enedina Arellano Felix (La Jefa) is now running the Tijuana cartel.  Mrs. Arellano Felix is an accountant as well as accomplished criminal. The government also claims that it has severely damaged the Tijuana cartel and it is a shell of its former self.

June 23, 2015: Police and soldiers arrested Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, deputy commander of the Jalisco New Generation cartel.  He is also the son of the cartel’s senior commander Nemesio "El Mencho" Oseguera. Moreover, he was born in the United States.  Oseguera was carrying an assault rifle and four hand grenades when he and his brother in law were arrested in a suburb of Guadlajara (Jalisco state). It is widely believed that this arrest damages the New Generation cartel.

June 21, 2015: Police in the Monterrey suburb of San Pedro found four dead bodies dumped in the streets. The victims had been murdered, execution style. Three of the bodies were nude. Police in Monterrey found the bodies of four other victims of cartel violence on June 20.

June 20, 2015:  Soldiers near the city of Matamoros (Tamaulipas state) killed six suspected cartel gunmen in a shootout. Soldiers reported they were on patrol when gunmen in SUVs shot at them near the farming village of Vanguardia. The gunmen died while trying to get away from the soldiers.

Cartel gunmen in the town of Garcia (40 km from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state) murdered ten people in a beer distribution warehouse. The warehouse was part of a Corona beer distribution center. According to witnesses, the gunmen were attempting to extort money from workers at the business.

June 19, 2015: U.S. authorities have indicted Hernandez Flores, the former governor of Tamaulipas state, for money-laundering. Hernandez allegedly received bribes from Los Zetas cartel, in return for letting the cartel operate freely in the state. Hernandez remains at large somewhere in Mexico.

June 18, 2015:  Last year Mexico agreed to help curb illegal immigration to the U.S. by Central Americans traversing Mexican territory. The government recently revealed that between October 2014 and April 2015, authorities detained 92,889 Central Americans who had entered Mexico. Most of the detained are citizens of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The government said the increased detentions demonstrate that its Southern Border Program is working. Some 5,000 federal police are deployed along the Mexico-Guatemala border.

June 16, 2015:  Cartel gunmen in Michoacan state ambushed a police convoy.  Two policemen and two civilians were killed by the gunmen. At least five policemen were wounded. Three civilians died when the gangsters set the vehicles on fire. The incident occurred on the highway between the towns of Apatzingan and El Alcalde.  Authorities believe the gunmen belong to the Knights Templar cartel.

 

 

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