Mexico: The Highway Of Death

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March 7, 2016: Federal security forces have experienced a sharp increase in violent attacks in western Jalisco state by gunmen belonging to the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG). The situation in Jalisco is now similar to that in Michoacan state before the large-scale army intervention. Municipal and state police forces in the area have also been targeted. Since February 24, five police officers have been murdered by cartel gunmen. The cartel gunmen killed three municipal policemen in the town of Tlaquepaque (near the state capital, Guadalajara). On March 1 gunmen tried to assassinate the mayor of Ahualulco (west of Guadalajara). He was traveling in armored vehicle and survived the attack. Back in 2010 the CJNG was a faction within the Sinaloa cartel. Federal authorities now say it is now a separate and powerful criminal cartel.

March 5, 2016: In a rural area of Puebla State police discovered ten barrels filled with acid and human remains. They also found nine sacks with human remains. Initial analysis said that the barrels and sacks contained the remains of at least three people. The victims may have been killed on March 1 when a criminal gang raided a cockfight in the nearby town of Cuautlancingo.

March 3, 2016: It has been awhile since anyone thought of Mara Salvatrucha 13 (MS-13) as merely a street gang. However, U.S. security officials have begun describing MS-13 as a highly-organized criminal operation that cooperates with Mexican drug cartels. For example, there is evidence that MS-13 helps Mexican cartels distribute drugs in the US. El Salvadorians living in Los Angeles, California area formed the original MS-13 street gang in the early 1980s. In the last decade a new leadership cadre emerged. The organization now has branches in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. These countries serve as transit points for smuggling South American cocaine through Mexico and into the U.S. The new leaders built on these existing operations, using money acquired from criminal activities to capitalize businesses in Central America and in the United States. The MS-13 businesses launder money for MS-13 (and perhaps other criminal organizations.) Security officials in the U.S. and Honduras believe some of these businesses have also created “legitimate” business operations, after running extortion schemes to drive out truly legal businesses. No wonder the Honduran government regards MS-13 as an internal threat. (Austin Bay)

March 2, 2016: In Mexico the government continues to deny requests to release autopsy reports of the 42 cartel gunmen killed by security forces in Michoacan state on May 22, 2015. Government critics that the 42 to 1 (42 cartel, 1 security officer) death rate suggests the battle was really an extra-judicial killing. The government continues to insist that there was no evidence to indicate federal police conducted summary executions.

Sinaloa cartel drug lord Joaquin Guzman said he wants to be extradited to the U.S. but with conditions. He is willing to plead guilty to criminal charge in a U.S. court is the United States promises him a short sentence in a medium security prison.

March 1, 2016: Two splinter factions of the Los Zetas cartel are fighting for control of the city of Ciudad Victoria (Tamaulipas state, on Texas border). The Vieja Escuela faction (Old School, also known as Grupo Bravo) is fighting with another faction named Cartel Del Noreste (CDN). Since the beginning of 2016 there have been several gun battles in the city and at least one confirmed execution murder.

February 28, 2016: Security forces in Mexico City rescued 87 women who had been forced into prostitution. Citizen complaints led to police raid on four illegal bars in the capital city’s Iztapalapa neighborhood. Police arrested eight people suspected of running the prostitution ring. The suspects will likely face kidnapping charges.

February 25, 2016: Mexican media reported that for several years Joaquin Guzman’s two sons have been running day to day Sinaloa cartel operations. The reports suggest that arresting Guzman will not significantly interrupt cartel operations. Guzman escaped from prison in July 2015 but was re-arrested in January 2016.

February 23, 2016: In January 71 people were murdered in the city of Tijuana (Baja California state) because of cartel-related violence. Authorities said this is the highest number of murders since 2010. Yet 2015 was a deadly year in Tijuana, with 670 murders. The Jalisco New Generation cartel is trying to take control of some of the narcotics smuggling routes that pass through Tijuana.

February 22, 2016: A former American Immigration and Customs Enforcement administrator has claimed that security forces in Mexico and the U.S. made use of actor Sean Penn’s visit to Mexico to interview drug lord Joaquin Guzman. Penn visited Mexico in October 2015 and interviewed Guzman. During Penn’s trip, law enforcement intelligence followed social media communications and direct communications made by some of Guzman’s subordinates.

February 21, 2016: The navy has now ordered a total of ten Tenochtitlan-class patrol ships. The ships can easily handle missions up to 250 kilometers off-shore. The ships displace 250 tons, are 43 meters (140 feet) long and have a crew of 18. Their max speed is 52 kilometers an hour. Tenochtitlans have a range of 3,600 kilometers when cruising at a speed of 18 to 20 kilometers an hour. They can remain at sea for about two weeks. The ships can conduct a variety of US Coast Guard-like missions, to include sea patrol and surveillance, maritime security, maritime interdiction and search and rescue. Each ship is are armed with two 12.7mm machine guns and carries a 7.5 meter (24 foot) rigid inflatable boat (RIB).

February 19, 2016: Drug cartels are increasingly deploying their own UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles). Security forces on both sides of the border have spotted cartel drones watching the border and, well, looking for U.S. and Mexican security forces. The UAVs are also being used to smuggle narcotics. In April 2015 U.S. police found a crashed UAV carrying 12.7 kg (28 pounds) of heroin. The UAV crashed near Calexico, California.

 

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