Call it the Southern Route. Argentine police believe a Mexican drug cartel is shipping cocaine through Argentina and shipping a lot of it. Police seized two metric tons of cocaine in the port of Bahia Blanca on June 19. The cocaine was hidden in steel coils in an effort to deceive customs and police electronic scanners. The big cache had a street value of at least $60 million. In the same anti-smuggling operation, Argentine security forces seized another half-ton of cocaine in in Mendoza province, near the border with Chile. And that indicates the new shipping route. Police say the usual route for drug smuggling in Argentina is Bolivia or Paraguay, not Chile, but Argentina’s borders with Bolivia and Paraguay are heavily patrolled. Since the major territorial disputes between Argentina and Chile have been resolved their mutual border is more open. The cocaine route begins in Peru. The drugs may still transit Bolivia on the way to Chile. From Chile smugglers enter Argentina’s Mendoza province and move the cocaine to an Argentine seaport for shipment. Police believe cocaine from the two metric tons discovered in Bahia Blanca had two destinations: Canada and Spain. Why do authorities suspect a Mexican cartel is involved? Police and security forces arrested 17 people in the anti-smuggling operation, and four of them were Mexican citizens from Michoacan state. Several major cartels have a significant presence in Michoacan state.
June 24, 2017: The government denies that any government agency is conducting surveillance activities on journalists who complain that their phones are tapped and their emails monitored. There are also reports of computer hacking and other cyber-attacks on journalists critical of government policies. The government agree to investigate the allegations.
June 23, 2017: The U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector has renewed an agreement with Mexico to prosecute human trafficking crimes both in Mexico and in Arizona. This agreement first went into effect in 2005. Procedural issues in Mexico have briefly suspended the agreement. In 2016 over 140 human smugglers were tried in Mexico based on evidence gathered by the Border Patrol in the U.S.
June 22, 2017: The government’s latest monthly murder statistics are out. In May 2,186 murders were committed in Mexico. This is a new high, surpassing May 2011 when 2,131 people were killed. Officially, 9,916 murders were committed between January 1, 2017 and May 31, 2017. This is a 30 percent increase over the number of murders committed in the first five months of 2016. Mexican authorities believe the increase in heroin trafficking and turf battles over heroin production areas and smuggling corridors have contributed to the increase in homicides.
June 21, 2017: In the west (Michoacan state) soldiers captured Ignacio “El Cenizo” Andrade Renteria, the senior commander of the Knights Templar Cartel. Renteria and soldiers were wounded in the brief gun battle the preceded the arrest of Renteria and five of his gunmen. In February 2016, marines and federal police arrested Andrade Renteria and 26 of his gunmen in neighboring Guerrero state. But shortly thereafter the government released him. Media claimed the cartel paid a huge bribe.
June 20, 2017: Authorities believe gunmen belonging to a Zetas cartel faction dumped a trash bag containing three heads on the major highway between the city of Monterrey and Ciudad Victoria (Tamaulipas state).
June 19, 2017: In the northeast (Tamaulipas state) rival factions of the Gulf Cartel continue to wage a turf war for control of a drug trafficking corridor running through the city of Reynosa. The turf war is ugly by turf war standards. Both factions have been burning their victims remains in 55 gallon fuel drums. So far the bodies of at least 60 victims have been incinerated. It is believed the dead are for the most part cartel gunmen in rival factions or relatives of gunmen in rival factions.
June 16, 2017: In the south (Quintana Roo state) police found two dismembered bodies stuffed in suitcases. The bodies have not been identified but investigators believe the murders are cartel-related. On June 15 police in nearby Cancun engaged cartel gunmen in a firefight. One gunmen was killed. Three other gunmen were arrested, two of them wounded. The firefight took place in midtown Cancun, a well-known tourist town.
June 15, 2017: The U.S. and Mexico have are examining ways to attack the “supply chains” of international criminal organizations. Police and security forces would disrupt the “flow” a smuggling operation, targeting all of its connecting operations. This would be applied to drug smuggling, human trafficking and a range of other criminal activities. There are other security issues involved. The U.S. State Department recently said that there are connections between criminal networks (like drug cartels) and terrorist networks. Some of the connections are financial. The terrorist connections have led some U.S. security officials to advocate employing American special operations forces in the Cartel War. (Austin Bay)
June 11, 2017: In the northwest (Baja California Sur state) security forces found two severed heads in an ice cooler. It is believed the heads belong to two dismembered bodies discovered in another ice cooler on June 10. All this took place near Cabo San Lucas, a major tourist town.
June 9, 2017: In the northwest (Baja California Sur state) investigators found 14 bodies (11 men and three women) in a mass grave near San Jose del Cabo. The murder rate in Baja California Sur has spiked. From January through April 2017, at least 144 people have been murdered in the state. That is five times the number killed during the first four months of 2016.
June 7, 2017: U.S. energy companies have exported natural gas to Mexico worth $3.7 billion. It is believed that Mexico would have purchased more gas if there was more cross-border pipelines available. Some natural gas was shipped to Mexico as liquefied natural gas (LNG) on LNG tankers. At the moment 17 pipelines moved natural gas from the U.S. to Mexico and four additional pipelines are being built.
June 6, 2017: In the northeast ((Tamaulipas state) seven people were killed and 13 injured in a prison shootout Three of the dead were police officers and at least one state police officer was wounded. State security officials said that some of the rioting prisoners had obtained automatic rifles.
June 5. 2017: The government announced it will extradite (from Panama) another former state governor who is wanted on corruption charges. From 2011 to 2016 Roberto Borge was governor of Quintana Roo state. He was arrested June 4 in Panama City, Panama while on his way to Paris, France. Borge is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the party of President Pena. So far eight former Mexican state governor have been convicted of serious criminal charges or have been indicted on serious criminal charges.
June 4, 2017: In the north (Nuevo Leon State bordering Texas) police discovered a pickup truck with four bodies wrapped in plastic bags. The pickup truck had Texas license plates. A message from a Los Zetas cartel faction, the Cartel Del Noreste (CDN) was found in the truck. The message claimed the dead bodies were members of the Los Zetas Vieja Escuela (Old School Zetas) faction. The two break-off gangs are fighting a turf war in Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states.
June 2, 2017: Navy personnel discovered recovered 1.2 tons of cocaine floating in the Pacific Ocean near the city of Acapulco. A total of 32 bales were in the surf just off a major beach.
June 1, 2017: The Navy seized nearly a ton (822 kilograms) of cocaine found on a fishing boat in Baja California Sur state. The cocaine was hidden in the boat’s fuel tanks.
May 31, 2017: The Mexican Army reported that between December 2012 and February 21, 2017, its personnel have suffered 1,038 attacks perpetrated by organized criminal gangs. 66 soldiers died in these attacks and 330 were wounded. Tamaulipas state was where the most attacks occurred, a total of 596. 17 soldiers were killed in attacks in Tamaulipas.