Mexico: Corrupt Politicians Under Attack

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June 26, 2016: Since the beginning of 2016 four states in western Mexico have experienced major increases in violence. Guerrero state and its resort city of Acapulco have witnessed a major uptick in violence. So has Jalisco state and tiny nearby Colimas state. The seaport of Manzanillo in Colimas state has been the scene of a vicious turf war between drug cartels. Turf wars among drug cartels is more accurate. The Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG), the Knights Templar, the Sinaloa cartel and a couple of smaller drug gangs are involved in the fighting in Guerrero and Jalisco states. Violence has also been increasing in Baja California, which borders on the U.S. state of California. The battle for Baja pits the CJNG and its local affiliate, the Cartel Tijuana Nueva Generacion (CTNG) against a faction of the old Arellano Felix cartel. The Sinaloa cartel is also involved. The city of Tijuana is across the border form San Diego, California. The CJNG also intends to gain control of the Baja California town of Ensenada. (Austin Bay)

June 25, 2016: Three federal police officers were murdered and two civilians wounded in the central market of the city of Chilapa (Guerrero state). The gunmen used automatic weapons.

June 23, 2016: President Pena is facing criticism in his own Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) for the losses of four state governorships in the June 5 elections. He isn’t doing well with the electorate in general, either, not a 35 percent approval rating. Media critics say that Pena and the PRI have failed to democratize. That was the major concern when Pena was elected president. Would the PRI revert to its old authoritarian, corrupt ways? Pena swore that the PRI had changed. He and his administration are now dogged by ethical issues. The biggest problem remains the Iguala Massacre. Most of the Mexican electorate believes the government has not told the truth about the September 2014 murders of 43 student teachers in the city of Iguala (Guerrero state). (Austin Bay)

Five people extradited from Mexico were arraigned in a U.S. federal court in New York. The five face charges for human trafficking crimes, including sex trafficking. Both U.S. and Mexican officials said the extradition reflected the close, cooperative efforts of both countries to stop criminals and criminal organizations engaged in human trafficking.

June 22, 2016: Talks between the government and protesting teachers in Oaxaca state have failed to produce a peace agreement that would end the violence. The death toll is now ten because of violent teacher protests on June 19 in the city of Nochixtlan (Oaxaca state). Over a hundred were injured, half of them police officers. CNTE, the national teachers union again denied the government’s claim that radical teachers had started the violence and insisted that that 12 people died in the incident. Meanwhile, a state prosecutor in Oaxaca reported that seven of the ten people killed died of gunshot wounds while on died while handling explosives.

June 21, 2016: Authorities in Tamaulipas state (which borders Texas) believe cartel hitmen murdered a TV news reporter working for a local TV station in Ciudad Victoria (capital of Tamaulipas). Two factions of Los Zetas cartel, Grupo Brave/Vieja Escuela( Group B/Old School) and the Cartel Del Noreste (CDN, Cartel of the North East) are fighting a turf war in Ciudad Victoria. CDN had controlled Ciudad Victoria but Grupo Bravo is moving into the city. Police believe the journalist was murdered by one of the factions. The reporter was also a school teacher and covered society news and local events. She never wrote about crime.

President Pena said that the death of eight people in the June 19 violence in Nochixtlan (Oaxaca state) was regrettable. According to the government, 53 civilians and 100 police officers were injured. 23 people were arrested. None of the dead were teachers.

June 20, 2016: The government said that it is still trying to ascertain the number of dead and injured in a riot and violent clash that occurred in the city of Oaxaca (Oaxaca state) on June 19. A government spokesman said the violence erupted when police tried to disperse a crowd of demonstrators protesting the government’s education policies. Some of the demonstrators were protesting new regulations that require mandatory testing.

Australian police report that the Sinaloa cartel has become a major drug trafficker in Australia. The Australian government has evidence that the Sinaloa cartel first entered the country in 2010. Since then it has stitched together a distribution network that includes biker gangs and criminal gangs from several ethnic (Chinese, Lebanese and Albanian) groups. Sinaloa may have supplied some of these local gangs with weapons.

June 19, 2016: A violent clash between security forces and demonstrators has occurred in the city of Nochixtlan (Oaxaca state, north of the state capital, Oaxaca city). The national teachers union, CNTE, is very strong in Oaxaca state. Members of the CNTE had been staging demonstrations in the city for several days. The demonstrators were protesting government education reforms and the June 12 arrest of a union leader. The government claims that demonstrators threw stones and gas bombs (Molotov cocktails) at security forces. At least six people have been killed. There have been other demonstrations in the state, including demonstrations in Oaxaca city.

June 17, 2016: Police found the decapitated bodies of seven men on a rural dirt road near the town of Rosario (Sinaloa state). The victims were tree loggers who went missing since June 13. The police believe cartel gunmen killed them just because they were in gang territory.

June 16, 2016: Mexico has extradited a Sinaloa cartel kingpin from the United States. Jesus Hector Palma Salazar finished a sentence in a California prison. He will now serve a sentence in a Mexican prison for two murders committed in 1995.

June 13, 2016: Gunmen attacked a baseball game being played in the town of Acatzingo (Puebla state) killing two people and wounding six. Authorities said that so far they had no motive for the attack.

June 12, 2016: The government arrested Ruben Nunez, a leader of the CNTE teachers union in Oaxaca state, on corruption charges. It is believed Nunez was involved in a kickback scheme that paid him $1.3 million.

June 11, 2016: Police in Coahuila state have arrested several people who helped operate a Los Zetas cartel crematorium. The Zetas used the crematorium to incinerate the remains of murder victims. Authorities many of the murder victims incinerated in the crematorium were friends and relatives of two former Zetas who are now protected witnesses in the United States.

June 10, 2016: The initial results of the June 5 election were fairly accurate. The PAN won seven state governorships, the PRI won five state. Media now say the election marks “the return of the PAN” which is positioned for a major comeback in the 2018 national elections. At the municipal level (local level) the PAN now governs around half of Mexico’s population. The Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) fared poorly. It came in second in elections in Mexico City.

Jorge Martin Torres, a member of the Sinaloa Cartel, has pled guilty to money laundering charges in a US court. Torres was arrested in 2014 in San Antonio, Texas. He was taking a U.S. vacation when he was arrested. Some of his money laundering activities were in the city of Chicago, Illinois.

June 9, 2016: American authorities confirm that Mexican cartels have become a major source for the drug fentanyl. Fentanyl is an opioid. It is believed that the rock musician Prince Nelson was using fentanyl when he died in April 2016.

June 5, 2016: Election reports have not been finalized, but it appears that the National Action Party (PAN) will win governorships in seven of the 12 states where the governorship is at stake. It also appears the PAN will do well in other state and municipal contests. Media call the election a huge setback for President Enrique Pena’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

June 4, 2016: Sporadic protests broke out in the 12 states that have elections scheduled for June 5. The elections are for state legislatures, mayors and other local offices. There are some governorships at stake. The federal district (Mexico City) is also holding elections. One demonstration in Nuevo Leon state protested against “corruption and impunity.” There has also been some scattered pre-election violence. In late May a political office in the city of Veracruz was firebombed. Several candidates for offices in Veracruz state reportedly dropped out of their races after receiving threats from drug cartels.

June 3, 2016: Prosecutors in Nuevo Leon state have charged former Governor Rodrigo Medina and ten members of his former administration with fraud. Medina is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) as is the current president of Mexico. Prosecutors believe Medina was involved in a $200 million land sales scam that involved the state purchase of ranch land. Nuevo Leon was trying to get a Korean car manufacturer to put a plant near the state capital, Monterrey. The car manufacturer agreed to put the plant in Nuevo Leon and is now manufacturing cars in the town of Pesqueria.

June 1, 2016: The army has activated a new Military Police (MP) battalion effective May 27. The 21st MP Battalion will be stationed at Guachochi, Chihuahua state. The army has been slowly expanding its MP capabilities. It is likely that the 21st MP battalion will eventually become a component of a new MP brigade that the army intends to deploy in late 2017. The new brigade will conduct serve as a public security force in Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila states.

May 31, 2016: A U.S. Department of Justice counter-smuggling task force discovered 83 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside a charter bus. The bus was traveling empty from Mexico to Wilmington, Delaware. The bus cleared the border at San Ysidro (California) without the drug being detected. The cocaine was hidden in in a metal compartment above the left rear tire and had a street value was around $10 million.

 

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