Mexico: Soldiers For Sale


July 25, 2008: Hurricane Dolly once more brought attention to the US-Mexico border. A big hurricane (a 4 or 5) in the Rio Grande Valley, however, can cause major damage on both sides of the border. That would mean the US and Mexico would have to coordinate rescue and refugee efforts. Mexico has lots of experience with hurricanes and before Dolly hit the coast, the Mexican government was preparing to evacuate nearly 23,000 people from the Mexican town of Matamoros. Texas law enforcement personnel have indicated that at the moment it is doubtful that they could adequately communicate with their Mexican counterparts in the wake of a large-scale disaster. One of the issues that is yet to be resolved is air traffic control over the disaster area. That is always a problem. The US and Mexico would have to coordinate helicopter operations as well as fixed-wing air relief and air evacuation missions. US Army North (Army component of Northern Command) would likely play a role in these operations. US Army North is headquartered at Ft Sam Houston, Texas. (Austin Bay)


July 24, 2008: Kidnappers released five Asians (four South Koreans and one Chinese) who were taken on July 14. The Mexican police suspect that the five victims were actually dealing with "human smugglers" who had agreed to get them into the U.S.


July 23, 2008: Mexico's Chihuahua state and the town of Ciudad Juarez (across the border from El Paso) continue to be a "central front" in the Cartel War. Mexican authorities estimate that over 650 people have been killed in Chihuahua state in cartel-related violence since January 1. Five more people were slain on July 23. The total killed throughout Mexico in 2008 is somewhere between 1600 and 1700. Around 500 of the slain are Mexican security personnel (mostly police).


July 21, 2008: Mexican media and -increasingly��Mexican authorities are concerned that the drug lords will exploit the Mexican Army's big weakness: low pay. Though the Calderon administration raised military pay (eg, a 24 percent increase for security agencies in Mexico's fiscal year 2007 budget), the cartelistas can always pay a poor soldier more than the government. This is how the drug lords corrupted many police departments. A cop could make more in one night of illegal activities (or ignoring illegal activities) than he could in an entire year. The Mexican military is playing a central role in Calderon's Cartel War. One reason: the Mexican Army is one of the most respected institutions in Mexico.


July 18, 2008: The Mexican Navy seized a "semi-submersible" craft (identified in some news reports as a "submarine") in the Pacific Ocean. The navy found six tons of cocaine on board and arrested the four Colombians manning the craft. The navy spokesman met the press in Oaxaca state (southern Mexico) which indicates the interception was made in the Pacific well south of the Baja California peninsula.


July 15, 2008: Mexico posted an additional 200 federal police to Culiacan, Sinaloa, the site of a major drug gang shootout on July 11. That brings the total federal police and military presence in the area to around 3000. Sinaloa state has a population of around 2.5 million.

July 11, 2008: The Mexican Human Rights Commission said that it had documented and was continuing to investigate eight new cases of "abuse and torture" by the Mexican military.

Drug gangs slugged it out in a firefight in the town of Culiacan (capital of Sinaloa state). Nine people died in the initial exchange of gunfire. A subsequent shootout between fleeing gangsters and police left three policemen dead, for a total of 12 people killed. Several of the dead were innocent bystanders. Mexican authorities later said the firefight may have begun as an assassination attempt.

July 10, 2008: Mexico intends to use a large chunk of Merida Initiative funds to purchase aircraft. Approximately 40 percent of US-supplied Merida funds will go to buy Bell 412 helicopters and Casa 245 twin-engine fixed-wing aircraft.

July 8, 2008: In 2007 the Mexican government claims it found 6,532 weapons that it believes originated in the US. 1800 of the weapons were rifles, including AK-47 automatic rifles. This is the "iron river" of illegal weapons from the US the Mexican government complains about. In early January 2008 the US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) shifted several dozen agents to the US-Mexican border as part of Project Gunrunner.




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