Mexico: Cartel Wars Cripple Economy


September18, 2008: The government has concluded that crime and crime-related violence have cut growth in Mexico's gross domestic product (GDP). The official figure is one percent – meaning the drug war and the crime wave stunt Mexican economic development. This isn't news. Political corruption in Mexico stunts growth even more, and corrodes public confidence as well. This is why President Felipe Calderon has placed so much emphasis on cleaning up police departments and fighting political corruption. What the violence does do is increase the doubts of foreign investors who are interested in building new factories in Mexico.

September 17, 2008: U.S. and Italian police are going after the overseas operations of the Mexican Gulf Cartel. Raids in both countries have arrested 175 people and attempted to shut down drug distribution and money laundering. The U.S. has indicted the three senior leaders of that cartel.

September 10, 2008: The US will delay deploying a "virtual fence" complex. The "fence of sensors" project is being run by the Boeing corporation. Political pressures to build key physical fences is one reason. Still, deployed sensors (audio and video) already play a role in watching the US-Mexico border.

September 6, 2008: The government said Mexican Army soldier arrested a major drug cartel leader, Alberto Sanchez. He is a "kingpin" in the Gulf cartel. Sanchez was arrested in Villahermosa, Tabasco state.

September 5, 2008: The "kidnapping boom" or epidemic has become a major political topic in Mexico. It is one reason President Felipe Calderon held a special national security conference in Mexico City in late August. Kidnapping the rich and politically powerful gets headlines, but Mexican media point out that kidnappers strike across the economic spectrum. This is one reason many Mexicans are talking about "reinstating the death penalty" for the crime of kidnapping. Even lower and middle-class families have had family members kidnapped. Here, the kidnappers demand from $500 to $2000 for the loved-one's return. Calderon is trying to use public indignation as a tool for reforming the police. The gangs commit these crimes because they think they can get away with it – and one reason has been police corruption. This is what Mexican reformers have called "institutional weakness" in the police forces.

The Mexican Army is taking control of security in several towns in Michoacan state. The move by the army has been an on-going process.

September 3, 2008: Government security officers reported that they had found a 150 meter long "drug smuggling" tunnel in the town of Mexicali. The tunnel had not been completed but the objective was the California city of Calexico.

The Mexican army arrested three men suspected of killing 15 people in the town of Nuevo Casas Grande (Chihuahua state). The men placed under arrest were armed with assault rifles.

September 2, 2008: One Mexican soldier was killed and four others wounded in a firefight between the Mexican Army and a group of gunmen. The firefight occurred in Tamaulipas state.

August 27, 2008 A group of approximately 15 "cartel hit men" made a big mistake when they attacked a group of Mexican Army soldiers camped in Guanajuato state. The hit men threw grenades at the soldiers and then attacked with automatic weapons. Two soldiers were wounded in what became an extended firefight. However, the soldiers killed three gunmen,

August 26, 2008: Cartel hit men attacked a ranch in Chihuahua state near the town of Aldama and killed five people. The area has been a battleground between two rival drug gangs.

August 25, 2008: The government said that drug cartel leaders had "given permission to their hit men" to cross the US border in order to attack "targets." US police sources also reported the same story. The possibility of "spillover violence" isn't new but these allegations by the police indicate the drug gangs are threatening violence. Why? There could be a political objective – bait the US into launching an attack on drug cartel hit men and then portraying the attack as an attack by the Yankees. That might politically weaken the Calderon government. "Might" is the operative word. The Mexican Army is doing fairly well in taking on the drug cartels and President Felipe Calderon is popular, in part because he is taking on the gangsters. 





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