Mexico: Manhunt And Massacre Shake Things Up

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October 28, 2015: It is ironic, but Mexican security forces are facing an increasing number of accusations that they have abused illegal migrants. In mid-2014 the government began Operation Sur which was supposed to curb illegal Central American migrants from entering Mexico. Operation Sur increased surveillance operations along Mexico’s southern border and improved border inspections. The government also tried to improve registration of legal migrants. Many (but not all) intended to try to enter the U.S. Local police forces in southern Mexico have been accused of extorting money from illegal migrants.

October 25, 2015: Police have detained over 70 people in Mexico City’s Iztapalapa district.  Several days ago police found a body hanging from a bridge in the district. The area has a very high crime rate. Federal District (Mexico City) police apparently have decided to crack down on crime. Prosecutors said that 31 of the people arrested face felony robbery, drug trafficking, sex assault and auto theft charges.

October 23, 2015; Security forces continue to search for Sinaloa cartel drug lord Joaquin Guzman in Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango states. Since October 14, police and military forces have expanded their operations and are conducting what are essentially large scale anti-cartel operations in all three states. The focus, however, remains on the so-called Golden Triangle area in the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains where the three states share a border. Over 600 people have fled that area because they fear more fighting between cartel gunmen and the security forces. The commando units involved in the October 14 raid have now been identified as the 27th Naval Infantry (Marine) Battalion and the Army’s Special Forces Battalion (FES).

October 22, 2015: Federal police seized 12 tons of marijuana and arrested 22 people after they discovered another cross-border drug smuggling tunnel connecting warehouses in the city of Tijuana to San Diego, California. The tunnel was over 800 meters in length. It had a rail system and was ventilated. The tunnel was ten meters below ground. The composition of the soil in this part of the border makes it relatively easy to build these tunnels.

October 21, 2015: Security forces have arrested six people it believes were involved in drug lord Joaquin Guzman’s July 11 prison escape. One of the men arrested is Guzman’s brother-in-law. Another man arrested is an attorney who had access to the prison and acted as an intermediary between Guzman and those building his escape tunnel. Another person arrested allegedly piloted a plane which flew Guzman out of the area and to an airfield in Sinaloa state.

October 20, 2015: In central Mexico (Puebla State) a mob assaulted and killed two young men who were conducting a poll.  The two men were asking citizens questions about tortilla purchases and tortilla consumption. People in the town became very suspicious. This place (Ajalpan) has been the scene of several murders and kidnappings. A rumor spread that the two people were planning on kidnapping children. A crowd of at least 1,000 (possibly 2,000) gathered, many of the people alerted buy social media. They began throwing stones at the two men. The men fled into a building but the mob dragged them back into the street, beat them to death then burned their bodies.

Authorities now believe that marine commandos did not wound Guzman in a raid earlier this month. However, Guzman was injured when he fled from security forces. He broke his leg while escaping. Special operations soldiers spotted Guzman on October 9 near the town of Cosala (Sinaloa state). After Guzman escaped the commandos, security officials closed off access to 13 municipalities north of Sinaloa’s state capital, Culiacan. Security forces also attempted to seal the off the Durango and Chihuahua borders. 

October 19, 2015: The U.S. decided to deny Mexico $5 million in security aid to signal American displeasure with human rights violations in Mexico.

Cartel gunmen driving in a truck with Texas license plates fired on a Mexican Army patrol in the northeast (Tamaulipas state). The soldiers returned fire and killed two of the gunmen.

October 15, 2015: Mexico and the U.S. are experimenting with a truck cargo “pre-inspection” program. Customs officials from both countries will inspect a cargo in the exporting country. Cargoes that pass inspection will be allowed to cross the border without another inspection. The goal is to reduce the waiting time at the international boundary.

October 14, 2015: There are reports that guards in the Altiplano prison heard load banging noises on the morning of July 11 but did not investigate the cause. If they had, they would have discovered drug lords Joaquin Guzman’s accomplices hammering away at the floor beneath his shower. The hole connected to a mile-long tunnel, through which Guzman escaped. Media have obtained a recording of the hammering noise.

Military forces arrested Daniel Quintero Riestra, a senior commander in the Jalisco new Generation cartel. He was captured while vacationing on a boat off the coast of the port city of Cancun.

October 12, 2015:  In the northeast (Tamaulipas State) soldiers found eight up-armored trucks stored in an underground garage. Aerial surveillance spotted what looked like a bunker in the rural area. Three other, non-armored vehicles were also seized.

October 11, 2015: Security officials are confirming a major operation is taking place along the border of Sinaloa and Durango states (northwestern Mexico). The central focus is on the Tamazula municipality.  Marines apparently almost captured fugitive drug lord Joaquin Guzman; there are claims he was wounded while escaping. Details, however, are sketchy. Soldiers and marines entered the area in force the first week of October. Mexican officials concluded several weeks ago that Guzman had fled to Sinaloa state. However, officials indicate that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has cell phone-related evidence that places Guzman is in the region. The speculation is DEA used a geo-location system to pinpoint Guzman’s whereabouts. Guzman has spoken to his attorneys by cell phone.

October 8, 2015: UN human rights officials are asking the government to set a timetable for relieving military personnel of law enforcement duties. A senior UN official said that soldiers are not trained for law enforcement. Interestingly enough, the Mexican Army agrees. However, the military also says at the moment the government’s options are limited. Police are not up to the task of confronting wealthy, well-armed international drug trafficking organizations.

October 6, 2015: The defense minister (who is also head of the Army) said that he will not  let a team of international investigators question Mexican soldiers about allegations they had a role in the disappearance of the 43 students who were murdered in the September 2014 Iguala massacre. The incident continues to be a major political problem for president Pena. The defense ministry said that some 50 soldiers have already been interviewed by Mexican investigators.

October 4, 2015: Police arrested a top drug cartel assassin, Melissa Margarita Calderon Ojeda (aka La China). She was suspected of being involved in over 150 murders in the last decade.

October 3, 2015: Security officials revealed that they are increasingly certain that Sinaloa cartel drug lord Joaquin Guzman is now hiding somewhere in Sinaloa state. Guzman escaped from a high security prison in July 2015.

October 1, 2015: The federal attorney general’s office has concluded security forces tortured a witness involved in the case of the 43 student teachers who disappeared in September 2014.

September 30, 2015: Mexico extradited two drug lords and 11 other criminals to the U.S.  The biggest names in the group are Edgar Valdez Villarreal, one of the Sinaloa cartel’s top enforcers, and Eduardo Costilla who was at one time the head of the Gulf cartel.

September 27, 2015: A year after the Iguala Massacre (September 26-27 2014), president Pena’s government continues to receive bitter criticism over its failure to adequately address the terrible incident.  So far forensic experts have managed to identify the remains of only one victim.

 

 

 

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