Mexico: Payback

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October 24, 2016: Earlier this month Veracruz state governor Javier Duarte announced he would resign his office two months before the end of his term. Duarte faces numerous charges of corruption as well as using violence or threats of violence against citizens. Now two things have happened. On October 19 the government issued a warrant for his arrest. However, Duarte has disappeared. The hunt is on and the national intelligence agencies are involved. The federal charges include illicit enrichment, breach of duty and embezzlement. The federal warrant is being viewed by many as an attempt by the government to demonstrate that they will fight the so-called “culture of impunity” that allows the wealthy and well-connected to escape accountability for their crooked actions. (Austin Bay)

October 23, 2016: U.S. prosecutors have charged two Mexican citizens with laundering money on behalf of the Sinaloa cartel. The pair would go to banks in New York City and make cash deposits of under $10,000. The typical deposits ranged from $8,100 to $9,600. The deposits were made in legitimate banks. The small deposits added up. Prosecutors believe the pair laundered around one million dollars a month.

October 22, 2016: In April a Canadian company opened a gold mine in Guerrero state and now that mine has begun production. The government touts the new mine as a successful example of its policies that encourage new capital investment in Mexico. The tout has merit. At least two other Canadian mining companies are considering opening new operations in Guerrero state in what is called the Guerrero Gold Belt. However, there is a cost consideration that says a lot about running a big industrial enterprise in violence-afflicted Guerrero. The company that opened the mine in April has 1,800 employees and nearly six percent of them are security guards, well-armed security guards. The government has also had to beef up federal police presence near the mine and the surrounding area. The mine is located in El Limon-Guejes, a rural area north of Acapulco. Call it the cost of doing business. The cost adds up. The Institute for Economics and Peace estimated that the economic impact of violence in Mexico was $134 billion. (Austin Bay)

October 21, 2016: Navy security personnel raided a container ship docked in the port of Manzanillo and seized 136 kilograms of cocaine. The drugs were hidden among shipping containers bearing electronic equipment.

The government reports that in September 2,187 people were murdered nationwide. That’s 1.5 percent more than August (2,155) 4.2 percent more than July (2,098). The July numbers raised eyebrows because that was the first time murder victims exceeded 2,000 in a month since 2014 when the government began compiling and releasing the homicide statistics on a monthly basis. Has the murder rate increased? Maybe. But some informed analysts pointed out that the government may now be keeping more accurate records.

Another suspect in the Guerrero state “Iguala Massacre” has been arrested. The former chief of police in Iguala, Felipe Flores, had been in hiding since the mass murder of 43 student teachers was committed in September 2014. So far 131 people suspected of being involved in the massacre have been arrested.

October 18, 2016: Security personnel in Jalisco state discovered six mutilated victims of a drug gang. The six survivors had their hands cut off. A seventh victim was found dead. The seven victims had been kidnapped by criminals operating in and around the city of Guadalajara. The gangsters claimed their victims owed them money.

October 17, 2016: A federal judge was assassinated in Metapec, a town near Mexico City. Judge Vicente Antonio Bermudez Zacarias had ruled in several of the country’s most high-profile criminal cases. He was involved in a number of legal rulings regarding the investigation into Iguala Massacre. He had also heard cases involving defendants who were members of Los Zetas and the Jalisco New Generation cartel. Several hours after the judge’s assassination, Mexican media were given access to a security camera video of the murder. Police and commentators described the murder as a professional hit.

October 15, 2016: The Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) announced it will run a presidential candidate in the 2018 election. The Zapatista candidate will be “an indigenous woman” (probably a Mayan woman).

October 14, 2016: The national security office announced that it believes Sinaloa cartel senior commander Joaquin Guzman will be extradited to the US some time in February 2017.

October 12, 2016: Facing corruption charges, Javier Duarte, the governor of Veracruz state, has resigned two months before his term ends. In September, Duarte’s party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), essentially kicked Duarte out of the party. The PRI lost the June 2016 gubernatorial race in Veracruz. The in-coming governor has said a key goal of his administration is to punish Duarte for crimes.

October 6, 2016: According to new government figures, in the period running from January through August 2016, 867 kidnappings were reported in the country.

October 4, 2016: The government reported that from January 1 through the end of July 2016, security forces destroyed 18,026 hectares (nearly 40,000 acres) of drug crops (2,459 hectares of marijuana and 15,967 hectares of heroin poppy). 414 tons of marijuana were confiscated. That is down from 558 tons in the same period in 2015.

October 3, 2016: The government revealed that it had fired more immigration senior agents for taking bribes. The agents were accused of shaking down migrants from Cuba. All three fired agents worked in Chiapas state. Since 2013 when it began an anti-corruption drive, the agency has fired around 2,500 agents and employees.

October 2, 2016: Authorities have discovered 13 dead bodies near Lake Chapala (Jalisco state). The dead are believed to have been members of a drug gang and were apparently killed by another criminal faction in late September.

October 1, 2016: A soldier was killed in a firefight with a criminal gang near the town of Comonfort (Guanajuato state). The soldier was killed while chasing three vehicles filled with armed men.

September 30, 2016: An early morning attack on an army convoy near the town of Culiacan (northern Sinaloa state) killed five soldiers and left another ten wounded. Later in the day authorities announced they believe sons of imprisoned Sinaloa senior commander Joaquin Guzman were involved in the attack. The convoy was transporting a senior cartel leader, Julio Ortiz. Gunmen attacked the convoy with small arms and grenades. The attack destroyed two of the convoy’s vehicles. The attackers succeeded in freeing Ortiz. Within days the government retaliated. Over the next few weeks troops destroyed over 400 hectares of marijuana and poppy fields. Over 30 tons of recently harvested marijuana was seized and destroyed along with three facilities where synthetic illegal drugs were manufactured. Many arrests have been made and weapons, vehicles and other items seized.

 

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