The date for operating the first major section virtual fence (Secure Border Initiative Network, or SBInet) the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been touting appears to have slipped farther into the future. The section around Sasabe, Arizona (Sasabe grid or Tuscon-1 test section of the SBInet) was to have been operating by December 2009. It is not complete, however, and DHS reports further delays are expected. The entire fence was supposed to be in place by Fall 2009 but now the US government says 2016-- maybe. The virtual fence consists of radars, towers, digital sensors (acoustic, seismic, etc), and camera systems. The DHS is learning that a lot of things besides smugglers and illegal immigrants can trigger the sensors like wild animals and domestic livestock.
January 20, 2010: The government reported that a huge riot erupted in a prison in the town of Durango (Durango state, north Mexico). Two-dozen inmates died in what was described as a gang war between jailed members of drug cartels. Prison guards and soldiers put down the riot. The Durango state area is regarded as Sinaloa drug cartel turf.
January 17, 2010: The army said that it intends to deploy an additional 860 soldiers in the city of Tijuana (Baja California state, across the border from San Diego, CA). Tijuana suffered around 600 drug gang-related murders in 2009.
January 15, 2010: The army announced that it plans to turn control of Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state) over to federal police. The government had already announced (January 13) that 2,000 more federal police will be deployed in Juarez. At the moment between 2,000 and 3,000 federal police are in the Juarez area. The Mexican Army has been accused of numerous human rights violations in Chihuahua state. The army disputes the accusations. The federal police are generally regarded as being less likely to use heavy-handed tactics (though they have a tough reputation, too). The government has repeatedly said it intends to withdraw (eventually) most of the soldiers deployed in the Juarez area. It is worth noting, however, that the military has assigned a number of retired officers as advisers to local and state police units, and in some cases given special police commands to former military officers.
According to very unofficial statistics (numbers put together by U.S. and Mexican media, mostly) around 30 US citizens were slain in Ciudad Juarez in 2009. Many were people simply caught in the crossfire. The total number of drug gang-related murders in the Juarez area in 2009 remains in dispute, but the government estimates it is around 2650.
January 12, 2010: Security forces arrested the leader of the Tijuana drug cartel, Eduardo Teodoro Garcia Simental (aka El Teo). Garcia's arrest is the third major arrest of a senior drug cartel leader within the last 30 days. President Calderon has said that capturing and jailing senior drug lords is essential to defeating the gangs.
January 5, 2010: According to the government, around 49,000 Mexican military personnel (army and navy) are engaged in anti-cartel operations throughout Mexico.
January 2, 2010: The government reported that federal forces arrested Carlos Beltran Leyva, a senior leader in the Beltran Leyva drug cartel. Carlos' brother, Arturo, was killed on December 17, 2009, in a marine commando raid run by the Mexican Navy.