Mexico: Cartels Expanding To Asia

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August 24, 2016: To add to his burgeoning political woes, president Pena now faces charges of plagiarizing extensive passages in his 1991 undergraduate law thesis. The charges were made by one of Mexico’s top investigative reporters. The reporter’s documentation includes word for word analysis of the suspect passages by a group of academic experts. About 25 percent of the thesis appears to be plagiarized. It seems he even stole one passage from former Mexican president Miguel de la Madrid.

August 23, 2016: Kidnappers have released Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, the son of Sinaloa cartel senior commander Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The young Salazar and five associates were kidnapped on August 15 while in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta. Security officials speculated that the kidnapping involved leadership issues in the Sinaloa cartel. Guzman the elder is supposed to be extradited to the United States for trial.

August 22, 2016: The government reported that the economy shrank 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2016. Still, overall, Mexico’s economy has grown by 2.5 percent measured on an annual basis. The 0.2 percent retraction is in comparison to the country’s first quarter 2016 performance. This is the first retraction in Mexico’s economy in three years. The drop in oil prices have affected the Mexican economy. Economists said Brazil’s and Venezuela’s economic ills have affected all of Latin America.

August 20, 2016: A U.S. government research agency has estimated that from 2006 to the end of 2015 the Cartel War has taken 80,000 lives. A lot of the dead were innocent civilians killed in turf wars between rival cartels.

August 19, 2016: Cartels operating in Tamaulipas state (borders on Texas) are modifying vehicles to look like military and police vehicles. Security forces recently engaged a cartel convoy (near the city of Reynosa) that included a pickup truck painted to look like a Mexican Navy vehicle. In 2015 U.S. security officials reported cartel operatives had used vehicles disguised to look like U.S. Border Patrol vehicles.

August 18, 2016: An investigation by the National Human Rights Commission has concluded that in May 2015 federal police killed 22 members of a drug gang at a ranch in Michoacan state then moved the bodies to make it appear the gang members were killed in a firefight. Federal police claimed they killed 42 members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel in a firefight on May 22, 2015. The gang members were hiding at a ranch located near the town of Tanhuato. There had been a firefight in the area that left one police officer dead. Police attacked the ranch, supported by an armed Blackhawk helicopter. A federal police official denied the accusation made by the commission. However, investigators reported that a number of the dead gang members were shot in the back of the head, indicating they were executed.

August 16, 2016: Two major Mexican media organizations are calling for a corruption investigation of president Pena. They cite the appearance of extensive conflicts of interest involving Pena’s personal financial interests (to include his wife’s), political donors and government policy.

Meanwhile, police in Puerto Vallarta (Jalisco state) are searching for a gang of 10 to 12 men that abducted six people on August 15. One of the abducted is the son of Sinaloa cartel commander Joaquin Guzman.

August 14, 2016: Gunmen have placed three ice chests, each containing a severed head, in front of a government building in the city of Chilpancingo (capital of Guerrero state). Authorities discovered the three headless bodies on streets in the city. Notes on the ice chests described the dead as “traitors.’ The gunmen identified themselves as members of a Jalisco gang called Los Jefes. The gang runs drugs and also runs extortion operations targeting farmers and small businesses in Guerrero state.

August 7, 2016: U.S. security officials said that two parents tried to use their 19-month-old child to smuggle methamphetamine across the Mexico-Texas border. The couple tried to cross the border at the Gateway International Bridge (near Brownsville, Texas) but the mother and the child were found to have three kg (almost seven pounds) of methamphetamine on their bodies.

August 6, 2016: The navy confirmed its newly acquired Arcturus T-20 surveillance drone is operational. It will be used to monitor coastal waters.

August 5, 2016: A senior police official has resigned from his job after media investigators discovered he had extensive property holdings in the United States. Arturo Bermudez Zurita was the senior public security secretary in Veracruz State. Bermudez and his wife managed to purchase five properties in Houston, Texas that had a combined value of around $2.4 million. Bermudez earned less than $39,000 a year (around $3,200 a month). Bermudez has political ties to Veracruz governor (soon to be former governor) Javier Duarte, who faces criticism for financial mismanagement and failing to control violence in the state.

August 3, 2016: Federal police in Mexico City arrested a high-ranking drug cartel enforcer, David Garza Avila. He is allegedly responsible for several executions in Tamaulipas state. Authorities believe Avila was in the city to meet a plastic surgeon who would reconstruct his face.

The Philippines confirmed that the Sinaloa drug cartel is operating there. Sinaloa uses the Philippines as a drug transshipment point for moving drugs to major markets in the region (China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore) plus points further east (India and the Middle East). Affluence in these areas has grown considerably since the 1990s and so has demand for recreational drugs.

August 2, 2016: The turf war in Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas state) is heating up again. Two Los Zetas factions fought one another and also engaged some soldiers. The firefights left four cartel gunmen and one soldier dead. Six soldiers were wounded.

August 1, 2016: Security forces arrested a mayor (of Alvaro Obregon) and a police officer in Michoacan state on charges they were involved in the murders of ten people. Allegedly on July 29 the ten victims were forced into a truck, on orders from the mayor. On July 30 their dead bodies were discovered near a Pemex pipeline in the area. The bodies had been burned along with the truck.

July 29, 2016: After encountering severe criticism for ending the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) oversight of the investigation of the Iguala Massacre, the government has changed its mind. The IACHR will once more be allowed to monitor the investigation into the disappearance (murder) of 43 student teachers in September 2014. Iguala is in Guerrero state.

 

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