Army and police operation in western Mexico led to the arrest
of members of the Gulf drug cartel and Sinaloa cartel as well as members of the
Valencia cartel. The Gulf cartel arrests were made in Veracruz (on the east
coast of Mexico). Apparently, members of the Gulf cartel's associated
gang, the Zetas, had also been arrested. The Zetas operate as a "private army"
and have been involved in numerous murders along the Texas-Mexico border. The
Mexican government is sending a political message. The Calderon government will
challenge the drug cartels. Though there has been no rhetorical or media
indication that the Mexican government has chosen to treat the cartels as
"insurgents," the focus on the gangs' "combat power" certainly suggests the
Mexican government has taken that tact in operational terms.
23, 2006: The government approved at $205 billion budget. Moreover, the budget
is supposedly a balanced budget. During the presidential campaign, President
Felipe Calderon promised he would work for fiscal and budgetary
22, 2006: The government reported its security forces had seized seven tons of
marijuana. The marijuana was on board vans ready for shipment (presumably north
to the U.S.). The raid caught the vans on a ranch north of Guadalajara, Mexico.
This indicates the anti-drug operation that began in Michoacan state has been
expanded into other regions of Mexico.
21, 2006: The Army arrested ten alleged drug traffickers in Michoacan state.
17, 2006: The Army announced a major drug bust operation in western Mexico. The
army arrested Elias Valencia, head of the Valencia drug cartel. (Elias Valencia
took control of the gang when his father, Armando, was arrested in 2003.) The
Army and various police organizations began a large-scale counter-drug
operation in Michoacan state on December 11. The operation included a large
"sweep" of Michoacan by troops supported by armored vehicles. Police had been
ambushed in southwestern Michoacan and it looks like the armored vehicles were
a response to the road ambushes. The state has been the scene of fighting
between the Gulf Cartel (out of Matamoros) and the Valencia cartel. The two
cartels had been shooting at one another and committing "execution style"
gangland slayings. The army reported one firefight on December 13 near what was
described as a "marihuana plantation." One drug gang member was killed in that
incident and a second man was arrested. Mexico's new president, Felipe
Calderon, promised he would take action against the drug gangs. It looks like
action includes the Mexican Army deployed as a police force but also conducting
operations that look more than a bit like counter-insurgency operations.