On the northwest coast (Sinaloa State) police found a burned out van containing two bodies which were identified as two Australian surfers who had recently gone missing while traveling through Sinola. The state government has made a great, and seemingly successful effort to make the area safe for tourists despite the drug gang activity in the area. Now police are out to find the killers as soon as possible and get this incident out of the headlines. Meanwhile local cartel drug lord Joaquin (“El Chapo”) Guzman is still being active sought after his embarrassing July 11 escape from a high security prison. As part of that effort local police quickly raided Guzman’s properties in Sinola and confiscated items that could help keep Guzman from being captured. This included 33 high-end automobiles and motorcycles as well as dozens of illegal weapons, eleven aircraft, eight vehicles, six houses and other items. Guzman could be anywhere and is adept at avoiding detection and capture. The U.S. is helping by offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Guzman as well as charging and seeking to arrest close Guzman associates (including two of his sons). This puts pressure on the Sinola cartel that provides many of the resources that keep Guzman from capture. It is believed that the Americans are also using their international intelligence resources to detect if Guzman gets out of Mexico. The U.S. has also announced it will extradite and prosecute Guzman if he is taken alive. Mexico had previously refused to extradite Guzman and that was believed due to bribes. That is a tactic many high-end criminals have used successfully before. Mexican prisons are much easier to escape from than their American counterparts. In fact the American “supermax” prisons have never suffered an escape.
Costa Rica believes Mexican cartels are providing training for professional assassins and contract killers who work for Costa Rican criminal organizations. Costa Rica has evidence that the Sinaloa cartel has provided special instruction in escape and evasion tactics, surveillance and intelligence collection, and weapons. In the last five years Costa Rica has attracted more attention from international drug smugglers and other criminal organizations. Costa Rica has excellent international air connections. The country is politically stable and comparatively wealthy so spending lavishly does not immediately attract attention. Drug organizations can use a cut-out company to establish a legal presence and use the cut-out to handle smuggling operations under the guise of legal commerce. (Austin Bay)
December 1, 2015: The national oil company, PEMEX, reported that oil production was down 7.6 percent from January to October this year. Oil revenues ($39.5 billion) were down 38 percent as well. This is due to the continued low price for oil. This year the price of natural gas fell 38 percent since last year. PEMEX is refining 1.091 million barrels of oil a day, the lowest refining rate since 1990. Not all of this is due to the decline in oil prices. PEMEX’s refineries are old. Oil production in Mexican fields is declining. The bottom line effect is on national revenues. The government has relied on oil revenues to pay for many expensive programs. PEMEX has been slowly upgrading security at its facilities. Organized criminal gangs have siphoned oil and refined products from storage areas and pipelines. To make up for the loss in oil revenues the government has had to raise taxes and this has not been popular.
November 27, 2015: This was a bloody day. Gunmen killed four members of a civilian community defense force while it was patrolling in the town of Tixtla (Guerrero state). The teachers college attended by the 43 student teachers murdered in the Iguala Massacre is located in Tixtla.
Two policemen and three gunmen were killed in a series of gun battles in the city of Rio Bravo (Tamaulipas state). Rio Bravo is on the border, just south of the city of McAllen, Texas.
Eight dead bodies with slit throats were discovered on a highway in Oaxaca state.
November 26, 2015: Responding to political and media pressure, the Federal Police announced they will begin an investigation into the use of excessive force in operations. Critics are particularly interested in an incident earlier this year in the city of Apatzingan (Michoacan state) where six people died. There is evidence that the Federales used excessive force to restrain lawful protestors in Apatzingan.
November 25, 2015: The son of a senior Sinaloa cartel commander has been extradited to the US. Ismael Zambada Imperial, will be sent to San Diego, California, to face drug trafficking charges.
Police in Mexico state arrested 25 members of a kidnapping gang. Police had been assembling evidence for over a year before conducting the mass arrests. The gang had staged several notorious “headline” kidnappings in Mexico City. A spokesman said the gang is now “completely dismantled.” Several gang members were also charged with firearms possession and extortion.
November 23, 2015: The national oil company, PEMEX announced it wanted to partner with private commercial refiners to repair and upgrade its three biggest refineries (including Salina Cruz).
November 20, 2015: Police arrested several people involved in an international human trafficking ring that specialized in providing women and underage girls to criminal gangs running prostitution operations. Authorities in Mexico and the U.S. said the ring had two hubs: the Mexican state of Tlaxcala and New York City.
Three men confessed to a San Diego US federal court that they had smuggled weapons and ammunition into Mexico. The illegal weapons included AR-15s, AK-47s and .50 caliber machine guns (yes, several .50 caliber machine guns). The smugglers said that the weapons were hidden in speaker boxes and shipped by boat to Mexico.
November 19, 2015: U.S. Border Patrol agents in Arizona detained five Pakistani men and one Afghan man as they attempted to illegally cross the Mexico-US border. The men were being escorted by two Mexican men known to be involved in “human smuggling.” U.S. security agencies said that they could find no “derogatory information” (meaning they could find no information that the men had criminal or terrorist connections). The men were handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel.
November 18, 2015: Federal police arrested Ivan Cazarin Molina, a senior commander in the Jalisco New Generation cartel. He was charged with murder, drug trafficking, extortion and petroleum theft. Officials believe he was involved in the May 2015 attack on security forces that downed a Mexican Army helicopter.
Former president Vicente Fox said that the recent legalization of recreational marijuana indicates that all drugs will eventually be legalized in Mexico. Fox predicted in 2013 that by the end of current president Enrique Pena Nieto’s term marijuana would be legal in the country.
The body of a murdered Catholic priest was found on a rural road in Puebla state. Since 2013 eleven priests have been found murdered in Mexico. Two priests remain missing.
November 17, 2015: Earlier this year the U.S. Interior Department began releasing statistics about its Southern Border Program. This is an illegal migrant detention program focusing on Mexico’s Central American border. According to a recent update, security personnel detained about 168,000 from July 2014 to June 2015. From July 2013 to June 2014 it detained 97,000. Most of the illegal migrants detained (logically) come from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Many are trying to pass through Mexico to the U.S., but not all. Migrant advocates criticize the program as a crackdown on the poor and inhumane.
November 15, 2015: Cesar Gastelum Serrano, a senior commander in the Sinaloa cartel, has been extradited to the U.S. He was arrested in April 2015 in the resort town of Cancun.
November 14, 2015: Recent analysis of U.S. immigration and emigration statistics indicates that net migration from Mexico to the United States is somewhere below zero. From 2009 to 2014, slightly over million Mexican nationals returned to Mexico while 870,000 went to the U.S. That suggests the net loss is around 130,000 people.
November 10, 2015: Human rights groups are accusing the federal government of using the Interpol international police organization to harass its political opponents. Media have produced evidence that support the claim, at least in the case of Napoleon Gomez Urrutia. Gomez heads the Mexican mine workers union and is a vocal government opponent. The charge is that the government had Interpol issue what is called a red notice naming Gomez as a criminal. A red notice means an Interpol member wants the individual detained and extradited. Gomez had been accused of criminal activity; a Mexican court has since dropped the charges and ruled they had no merit. A review by Interpol concluded the Mexican government request was politically motivated. Gomez is living in Canada. Mexican civil liberties advocates say this is another example of crooked politicians criminally abusing government police authority. The abuse in this case focused on one individual. Ultimately a Mexican court exonerated him. Still, the abuse feeds widespread anger at crooked politicians and crooked cops. The nation has not forgotten the September 2014 Iguala Massacre (Guerrero state) where police helped murder 43 students at the order of the local mayor. (Austin Bay)
November 9, 2015: Ten people were slain and seven wounded in a gun battle that erupted at a cockfight in the town of Cuajinicuilapa (Guerrero state). Authorities think it may involve cartels because some witnesses claim gunmen stormed the scene and began shooting. However, a conflicting report said rival gangs began arguing before the shooting started. Either way, this is violent criminal action.
November 7, 2015: Shades of Nazis fleeing to South America? Argentina has evidence that escaped Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin Guzman may be hiding out in Argentine territory in a remote area near the Chilean border. He may have tried to cross the border into Chile.
November 6, 2015: The government is criticizing the U.S. Justice Department for failing to levy criminal charges against American Border Patrol officers who killed a Mexican national in 2010. The incident occurred in California near the border. The victim was shocked with non-lethal weapon then beaten by agents.
November 5, 2015: The U.S. DEA has released its annual report assessing the illegal drug business. The 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment said that the following Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) are operating in the U.S. : Los Cuinis; Beltran-Leyva Organization; La Familia Michoacana (aka La Familia); the Gulf Cartel; Jalisco New Generation Cartle; Juarez Cartel; The Knights Templar cartel; the Sinaloa Cartel; Los Zetas cartel (aka The Zetas).
Los Cuinis (The Cuini) is supposedly derived from the word cuñado, (brother-in-law). Well, before his arrest, its leader, Abigael González Valencia (aka El Cuini), worked closely with his brother-in-law, Nemesio Oseguera Cárdenas, a senior commander in the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. Gonzalez was arrested in February 2015 in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco state. The outfit also partners with drug trafficking organizations and narco-insurgents in Colombia and elsewhere in South American. Rumor intelligence claims it is very wealthy and focuses on the European and Asian drug markets.
November 4, 2015: Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that using marijuana for recreational purposes is not illegal.