Mexico: The Cartels Do Houston

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November 29, 2011: The Mexican Army now has 45,000 soldiers involved in Cartel War operations. That is nearly 20 percent of the military’s 250,000 personnel. The number of troops deployed in the cartel fighting has been climbing steadily since the government launched the war in December 2006. The initial military commitment was a few thousand, with the figure of 10,000 troops used as a guideline during the first few months of the war. The military remains one of the most respected institutions in Mexico, but its image has been tarnished by allegations of human rights abuses. The government argues that the military is reliable and the security organization least susceptible to drug cartel corruption.

November 25, 2011: Mexico maintains the last island penal colony in the western hemisphere. Islas Marias is located about 120 kilometers miles off the west coast. Recently a half-dozen prisoners tried to escape using rafts made of plastic containers. The Mexican Navy arrested them some 100 kilometers southwest of the port of Puerto Vallarta, and returned them to prison.

November 24, 2011: Police discovered 26 bodies stuffed in three vehicles in the city of Guadalajara (Jalisco state). A week earlier police found 17 bodies in vehicles in Sinaloa state. Several of the 26 dead in Guadalajara had the names Milenio and Zetas scrawled on their bodies. The Milenio and Los Zetas cartels have formed an alliance in Jalisco state in an attempt to challenge the Sinaloa cartel. Police attribute the murders to the Sinaloa cartel, which is protecting its turf.

November 23, 2011: The Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) has accused the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) of having ties to drug cartels. The PRD has specifically accused the PRI candidate who won the Michaocan state governorship earlier this month of running what the PRD called a narco-campaign. Mexican media have produced a tape of a senior cartel leader threatening people in a Michoacan town with retribution if the PRI candidate lost. The drug lord threatened to burn down family homes. The Cartel War will be the biggest issue in the 2012 Mexican national elections.

November 22, 2011: Mexican Army soldiers discovered 15 million dollars in cash while searching a vehicle in Tijuana (Baja California state). The stash allegedly belongs to the Sinaloa cartel. The soldiers also seized drugs, weapons, and jewels found in the vehicle.

November 21, 2011: Police in Houston, Texas reported that one person was killed and one policeman injured when an undercover drug bust ended in a shootout with gangsters believed to be members of Los Zetas drug cartel. The alleged Zetas gunmen opened fire on a truck that was carrying a large container of marijuana (which was part of the sting operation) and killed the driver. The gunmen were traveling in sport utility vehicles and overtook the truck en route. The attack, which took place in Harris County, Texas (where Houston is located) mimicked vehicle-mounted tactics that Zetas have used on highways in northern Mexico and around the city of Monterrey. A Texas security officer described the attack as a Zetas-type assassination. Texas police expressed puzzlement that a gang would use such violent tactics in the United States just to secure control of a hundred or so kilograms of marijuana. The attackers were arrested and charged with murder.

November 17, 2011: Mexican security officers investigating the helicopter crash that killed the nation’s interior minister, Francisco Blake Mora, reported that initial investigation results indicate the crash was due to an accident caused by foggy weather conditions. Meanwhile, President Felipe Calderon has appointed a new interior minister. He is Alejandro Poire, who was chief of the Mexican intelligence agency, the Center for Research and National Security (CISEN).

November 15, 2011: The Mexican military reported that soldiers operating in Michaocan state (western Mexico) have arrested a senior commander of the Knights Templar cartel. The Knights Templar is a faction of La Familia cartel.

November 13, 2011: Police found the bodies of six bricklayers who were murdered cartel execution-style in the town of Bocoyna (Chihuahua state, northern Mexico). The bricklayers had been helping build an elementary school in the town. All of the men had had their throats slit. Two of the bodies were mutilated. The Juarez and Sinaloa cartels are fighting over drug smuggling routes in Chihuahua state (which borders on the US). Several people who live in small towns in Chihuahua have been murdered by drug gangs. The murders are meant to intimidate the populace by demonstrating the ruthlessness of the cartel bosses, and the government’s inability to protect innocent civilians.

 

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