Mexico: Murder Rate Hits New Highs

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July 31, 2017: The turf wars in three border cities have intensified dramatically in the last seven months. Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, and Matamoros are cities in Tamaulipas state and located on the border with Texas. Tamaulipas state was a Gulf Cartel strong hold, now it is a contested region. Police attribute the turf wars in the cities to the fragmentation of cartels and the factions are now fighting over drug trafficking corridors (or territories, known as plazas) that were once controlled by larger cartels. Basically, Gulf Cartel factions and Los Zetas Cartel factions are responsible for the mayhem. Reynosa in particular has seen a rise in violence since January 2017. Reynosa may be the best example of multi-factional conflict. A Los Zetas faction operates in the city. Authorities believe an armed group linked to the Sinaloa Cartel, called Los Antrax, operates in the city. In late May a contingent of Mexican marines was sent to Reynosa with orders to stop the factional combat. Despite the marines' expertise, violence continues. Two Zetas factions are fighting over Nuevo Laredo, the Cartel del Noreste and the Old School Zetas (Vieja Escuela Z). Gulf Cartel factions are fighting over Matamoros (which is on the Gulf of Mexico, across the border from Brownsville, Texas). The Jalisco New Generation Cartel may also have a presence in Tamaulipas state.

July 28, 2017: Ford Motor Company workers in Woodhaven, Michigan, found around 300 pounds of marijuana hidden on railroad cars used to ship Ford vehicles manufactured in Mexico to Detroit. The drug discovery was reported. This is the second discovery this month of marijuana hidden on a shipment of Fords and Lincolns originating in Mexico.

July 27, 2017: The Sinaloa Cartel apparently has a European branch that is working with a Romanian organized crime group. The cartel's Romanian connection is smuggling narcotics (primarily cocaine) into Great Britain, usually using trucks. The smuggling routes vary, but one goes through Spain.

Police in Nuevo Laredo discovered the bodies of four men and five women in front of a home in the city. Cartel gunmen are believed to be responsible for the murders.

July 25, 2017: The number of civic defense groups (local defense group or militias) continues to increase throughout the country. It is generally believed that at least 183 local self-defense groups have now been organized. Most of these groups are in Michoacan and Guerrero states although several new groups have recently appeared in Mexico state.

July 24, 2017: Marines killed five fuel thieves during a raid a gang safe house in Puebla state. The thieves belonged to a gang named Los Bukanas, which has become a major criminal organization in the state.

July 23, 2017: In Mexico City five people were murdered in drug gang-related violence. In one incident, two drug gang gunmen on a motorcycle killed four people exiting a bar.

July 22, 2017: The new homicide numbers are out and they are not good numbers. In June 2,234 murders were committed. That makes June 2017 the deadliest month since 1997, supplanting May 2017. The revised figure for May 2017 is 2,186 murders. For 30 days May 2017 was the deadliest since 1997. In the first six months of 2017 Mexico officially had 12,155 murders. That is a 31 percent increase over the same period in 2016. The murder rate for 2015 was 16 per 100,000. The high point during the Calderon Administration (2006-12) was 20 per 100,000. The murder rate has since kept pace with population growth. Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa have murder rates of about 20 per year per 100,000. North Africa is 5.9 and North America is 3.9. Europe is 3.5 and Asia is 3.1.

July 20, 2016: Marines killed eight drug gang members in a shootout in Mexico City. The firefight occurred in the Tlahuac area.

July 17, 2017: The government extradited Javier Duarte (former governor of Veracruz state) from Guatemala. Durate will face a range of criminal charges including money laundering, illegally obtained money to purchase real estate, and consorting with criminal organizations to commit violent crimes. One investigator believes Duarte and his cohorts may have stolen as much as three billion dollars from the public. Durate was arrested in Guatemala in April.

July 14, 2017: The Mexican national oil company, PEMEX, believes its alliances with commercial oil companies are beginning to pay off. A consortium of private companies recently announced that it has discovered a large offshore field in the Gulf of Mexico. That field may hold over one billion barrels of oil. Another company announced a discovery similar in size in another area of the Gulf of Mexico. PEMEX argued that it needed access to private capital and technical capabilities to develop new fields. Until now it was considered unpatriotic to allow PEMEX to enter into partnerships with foreign firms.

July 11, 2017: Masked men armed with knives and machetes attacked a children's party in Tizayuca (Hidalgo state) and murdered 11 people. Authorities said the murderers belonged to an organized criminal group. The owner of the home where the party was held was involved with a rival gang.

July 9, 2017: An Army patrol operating in the city of Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas state) discovered 94 assault rifles and 30,000 rounds of ammunition in a house in addition to three .50 caliber sniper rifles and several grenade launchers. Members of the patrol had noticed a group of armed men fleeing the house.

July 6, 2017: A prison riot in the Las Cruces prison (outside the city of Acapulco, Guerrero state) left 28 inmates dead and three wounded. Apparently five of the dead were beheaded by inmates who belonged to a death cult called Santa Muerte. A drug gang faction called the Independent Cartel of Acapulco, (Cartel Independiente de Acapulco) was involved in the riot.

In the town of Madera (Chihuahua state) 15 people died in a firefight between the Sinaloa Cartel and La Linea, the armed wing of the Juarez Cartel. Police said the firefight began around 5 a.m. and lasted for two hours. Security forces later arrested at three gunmen involved in the firefight. They also seized 10 vehicles, several weapons and grenades.

July 5, 2017: Guatemala has agreed to extradite the former governor of Veracruz state, Javier Duarte, to Mexico.

July 4, 2017: At least nine people have been murdered in Mexico City and Puebla state in violence related to fuel theft. In Puebla state a gang of gunmen attempted to extort money from a group of fuel thieves. A gunfight erupted that left three dead.

July 2, 2017: The government now says that from December 2006 to May 2017, 188,567 murders have been committed in the country.

July 1, 2017: Sinaloa state continues to bleed as seventeen drug gang members in Aguaje (Michoacan state) died in a shootout with security forces. Interestingly enough, the gang members in the firefight belonged to rival gangs who had been fighting prior to the arrival of security forces. Two gangsters had died in the gang firefight.

June 29, 2017: Investigators reported that three senior Mexican political opposition leaders and at least 12 political activists have been targeted by spyware. One of the officials is the head of the National Action Party (PAN), Ricardo Anaya. Opposition politicians have accused the government of being behind the spyware operations. President Pena has asked police to investigate allegation that the government has spied on private Mexican citizens.

A U.S. federal court has sentenced a former Los Zetas hit man, Marciano Millan Vasquez, to seven consecutive life sentences for murder. Vasquez was also involved in numerous other crimes, to include drug and weapons trafficking. He was a “plaza boss" in the border town of Piedras Negras (Coahuila state).

 

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