RSS Feed

Category Archives: Drug-related violence on the border

These are reports of drug-related violence on the border – violence that is coming our way. This violence may be related to terrorism.

As cartels rapidly expand in U.S. cities, authorities confront futility of drug arrests

Posted on

September 8th, 2011

America’s war on drugs is virtually lost on all fronts: illicit drug use is increasing, drug cartels are growing stronger and enforcement is becoming less effective — and the government is well aware of all this, according to documents released this week.

In three separate releases this week — a drug threat assessment (PDF) by the Department of Justice (DOJ), a national survey of drug use patterns and a leaked U.S. Customs memo (PDF) — a bleak picture is painted of the nation’s longest war.

The DOJ assessment is perhaps the most striking: it claims that brutally violent Mexican drug cartels have now set up shop in over 1,000 U.S. cities, up from just 230 cities mentioned in a 2009 DOJ assessment. They’ve effectively set themselves up as the dominant suppliers of illegal drugs in every major U.S. population center, and focus on smuggling through southern California and south Texas.

Fueling their rise is an increased interest in marijuana and methaphetamine among Americans: according to a survey released Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), 8.9 percent of Americans were users of illegal drugs, up from 8.7 percent a year earlier and 8 percent in 2008. Marijuana use was up more than any other drug, going from 5.8 percent of the population regularly using it in 2007 to 6.9 percent in 2010.

All told, DHHS claimed there were 17.4 million current marijuana users in the U.S., accounting for 76.8 percent of the total number of illicit drug users. About 9 million people were using drugs other than marijuana, with pharmaceutics being the leading category. Young people ages 15-29 were far more likely to use illicit drugs, the survey found, with usage rates tapering off with age.

Despite these figures, the number of young people age 12-17 who suffered from a drug addiction or dependency went down from 2002 to 2010, going from 8.9 percent to 7.3 percent.

Overall, the situation only looks to get worse: in a leaked U.S. Customs and Border Protection memo provided to Public Intelligence, government agents acknowledge a redundancy mechanism employed by cartels that essentially makes arresting key leadership and seizing major shipments pointless. Every time high-ranking cartel members were captured or killed, existing trends in drug supply and demand went unchanged.

“The removal of key personnel does not have a discernable impact on drug flows as determined by seizure rates,” the memo concludes. “[Drug trade organization (DTO)] operations appear to have built in redundancy and personnel that perform specific duties to limit the damage incurred by the removal of any one person. By sheer volume alone, drug operations would require more than one individual to coordinate and control the process. While the continued arrest or death of key DTO leadership may have long-term implications as to the control and viability of a specific DTO, there is no indication it will impact overall drug flows into the United States.”

The federal government spent over $15 billion on enforcement measures in 2010, according to the Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Some estimates (PDF) also showed state and local governments kicking in over $25 billion more.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) figures show that a drug arrest is made somewhere in the U.S. about every 19 seconds, with the vast majority being for for simple possession.

Mexico Criminal Gangs Are Rational Actors

Posted on

September 7, 2011

Though notorious for their brutality, Mexico’s organized criminal groups are rational actors who respond to market dynamics. If they are not forced into a showdown or loss of face, their behavior can be influenced.

In the Mexican press, the prevailing narrative on organized criminal groups is one of irrationality, of crazed monsters on the loose, but the reality is the exact opposite. Yes, the criminal gangs’ methods are harsh and designed to compel compliance, but their intense violence and cruelty is driven by objectives that can, with expert guidance, be used to positively influence the threat they pose.

These groups are competing to prosper in a fragmenting and hyper-competitive market that has seen its primary market (drugs) placed under pressure. This has forced them to enter new markets, such as extortion of corporations and individuals, kidnapping, robbery and oil theft.

The leadership of these groups are actively trying to reduce both their own risk and their “costs of doing business,” while maximizing profit.

How Mexican criminals mimic African warlords

Analysis of African “Blood Diamond” warlord behavior is directly applicable to that of Mexican criminal enterprises. The two groups share motives, methods, ferocity and absence of restraint. Both cartels and warlords are attempting to extract wealth from areas under their control while repelling competitors. In Africa it is mineral extraction. In Mexico it was transit rights to service the U.S. drug market, but has now diversified into wholesale extortion and other crimes. Writing in 2008:

Individuals are goal-oriented and adaptive, and will attempt to reach their goals by what they see as the easiest and least costly or most efficient means. (Rationality does not have to be a universally agreed-upon mindset.)…

“Blood diamonds” [is] a special case [of] resource-based means of civil war. To the degree that any primary extraction process can be sequestered by a powerful minority, the opportunity for conflict, extortion, and interruption rises. Coupling this concept with the fact that most wars today occur within nations rather than between them, the risk analysis of investing firms should be re-evaluated…

Collier and Hoeffler found that conflicts occur when rebels respond rationally to market opportunities, much as entrepreneurs and investors do. Civil wars that are so often blamed on chaotic, irrational ethnic, religious and communal feuds now have a unifying thread:

“Rebels need to meet a payroll without actually producing anything, so they need to prey on an economic activity that won’t collapse under the weight of the predation… Natural resources is a good one. The same characteristics that make a commodity readily taxable — that it’s rooted to a spot, it can’t move — make it readily lootable, too.”…

Negotiation short of warfare between opponents is extremely difficult, both for African warlords and Mexican traffickers, as there is no defined system to adjudicate grievances and no external entity to enforce compliance to agreements. The result is that the conflict groups take the least risky path of immediately attempting to eliminate their opponents in a winner-take-all effort. Again from 2008:

While most interstate wars end in a negotiated settlement, the majority of intrastate conflicts end with the extermination, expulsion, or complete surrender of one side. Civil wars with a communitarian or ethnic dimension are especially difficult to negotiate and the most likely to result in protracted strife, and, closely mapping to the African experience, often go on for years and sometimes decades. Szayna and Tellis note that the reason is straightforward:

“To end intrastate strife the warring sides must lay down arms and respect an agreement usually in the absence of a legitimate government and under conditions in which the agreement is generally unenforceable. In conditions of communitarian strife [it is] especially difficult for the two sides to go on coexisting in the same state. Put differently, there are only two main pathways for the regulation of ethnic conflict:

– Eliminating the differences (genocide, forced transfer of population, partition/secession, and integration/assimilation);

– Managing the differences (hegemonic control, arbitration by third party, federalization, and power-sharing).”

Because the trust that would allow for management of differences is absent once conflict starts, it is understandable that elimination of the differences becomes the preferred choice and that many ethnic and communitarian conflicts end up in prolonged and bloody strife, sometimes mixed in with attempts at genocide and complete elimination of the other side.

Criminal actions that appear irrational to the public generally have very sound operational and profit-driven motives.

Three converging threat trends

Three trends are currently combining in Mexico to put personnel and commercial assets at greater threat from criminal groups:

1) Territorial incursions and expulsions among cartels: Increasingly splintered criminal groups attempting territorial incursions and expulsions of their competitors. Such attempts are typically extremely violent.

2) Revenue expansion beyond drugs: Drug gangs are broadening their focus to extortion, both of individuals and corporations.

3) Increased willingness to target foreign nationals and firms: Growing effectiveness of formerly covert U.S-Mexican military cooperation is lessening cartel sensitivity to antagonizing the U.S.

Territorial struggles and splintering of violent groups

President Felipe Calderon’s effort to dismember the largest cartels by focusing upon their leadership has backfired. Deprived of senior leadership, second tier members have broken away and formed their own criminal groups.

These increasingly splintered criminal gangs are violently competing with both their former groups and other new groups, each attempting to penetrate competitors’ territory and expel the former owners. In some cases this has resulted in many entities fighting over smaller territories with increasing violence. The recent arson attack against the Casino Royale in Monterrey is being cited as one such extortion effort, but in early stages it is difficult to distinguish extortion from an effort to expel rival groups.

Revenue expansion beyond drugs

The post September 11 tightening of U.S. borders increased the cost of moving drugs to market. While significant quantities continue to get through, as evidenced by the stability of U.S. street prices, greater volumes have to be sent north to maintain that flow. Cartels soon discovered their own citizens as consumers, sparking a wave of drug addiction in Mexico. Selling within the country brings a lower street price, yes, but has lower costs with much less risk.

The next significant leap was institutionalized extortion of businesses large and small, as well as individuals. Largely unpublicized until now, this “tax” on commerce has reached epidemic proportions up and down Mexican supply chains. Thousands upon thousands of businesses have closed while the better financed have relocated, both businesses and their owners, to the U.S. Cartel responses to this last step have been to scour social networking sites to look for relatives still in Mexico who can be kidnapped for ransom against the fleeing owners.

Criminal enterprises have long infiltrated the petroleum sector and have now moved into penetrating commercial firms and their suppliers, to the point of taking over entire supply chains or taking revenue from large portions of the chain.

These more recent revenue streams have exhaustively targeted Mexican nationals. As the Mexican target set declines due to predation, closure and emigration, criminal groups will turn to foreign assets and those entities that have immobile fixed investments in the country.

Increased willingness to target U.S. nationals and firms

We have frequently commented on U.S. drone overflights of Mexican soil, including the March 16 observation, “Drones in various formats have been over Mexico for some time. What is new is the open admission coupled with deep penetration, multi-sensor efforts. Vetted sharing is also up.” it is clear that such missions are accelerating along a wide spectrum of communications, photographic, radar and signature intelligence collection.

This increasingly rich intelligence stream is being put to operational use by vetted, isolated silos of Mexican forces operating with U.S. intelligence, even launching from U.S. soil. A U.S. military officer said, “The military is trying to take what it did in Afghanistan and do the same in Mexico.”

This cooperation will inevitably increase direct criminal activity against foreign firms, including U.S. nationals and firms, which criminal groups have heretofore largely sought to avoid lest they draw U.S. retaliation. Once such “retaliatory” actions become common, these criminal groups will have less to lose in reacting to U.S. efforts and confronting foreign commercial assets.

Managing risks

The security situation in Mexico, and notably Monterrey, is deteriorating at an accelerating pace as threats worsen country-wide. Risks long keenly felt by Mexican nationals are becoming evident to foreign nationals and firms.

Criminal behavior must be influenced early, when groups are selecting their target. Cost and risk rise dramatically once your personnel and assets have been selected as targets. The worst days of Colombia saw security costs reaching as high as 50 percent of operating revenue.

Commercial firms have three options:

-Deflect (move hostile intent to another target)

-Defer (delay hostile efforts)

-Defend (interdict an incipient hostile attack)

Remember that these rational criminal actors are actively trying to reduce both their own risk and their “costs of doing business,” while maximizing profit. As Defend is rarely a response option against such heavily armed opponents, commercial firms gravitate to Deflect and Defer.

Properly guided, potential targets (both enterprises and individuals) can take advantage of this ongoing feature of criminal planning and activity to make themselves less attractive than other potential targets under surveillance by these criminal groups.

Surveillance for target identification and selection has become more costly to criminal groups as their competitors ambush one another’s surveillance teams or track them back to their operating bases. Targets seen as predictable and less risky quickly rise up the targeting queue.

Criminal groups are rational actors whose actions can be influenced. A well designed systemic plan could help companies reduce the risks of operating in Mexico.

Mexican cartel dramatically boosts meth production

Posted on

September 06, 2011

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel appears to be expanding methamphetamine production on a massive scale, filling a gap left by the breakdown of a rival gang that was once the top trafficker of the synthetic drug.

The globe-spanning Sinaloa cartel is suspected of dealing record tons of drugs and precursor chemicals processed in industrial-sized operations.

The apparent increase in the Sinaloa group’s involvement comes as the Mexican government says it has dismantled the La Familia gang with key arrests and killings of its leadership, and as Mexico is once again the primary source of meth to the United States, according to U.S. drug intelligence reports.

Methamphetamine production, gauged by seizures of labs and drugs in Mexico, has increased dramatically since 2008.

Mexican authorities have made two major busts in as many months in the quiet central state of Queretaro. In one case, they seized nearly 500 tons of precursor chemicals. Another netted 3.4 tons of pure meth, which at $15,000 a pound would have a street value of more than $100 million.

* * * * *

Authorities said they couldn’t put a value on the precursors, which were likely headed for a 300-foot-long industrial processing lab found buried 12 feet underground in a farm field in the cartel’s home, Sinaloa state.

“We think it was Sinaloa,” said a U.S. law enforcement official in Mexico, noting that Sinaloa can piggyback meth onto the network it already has for cocaine, heroin and marijuana. “They may now have this renewed interest in trying to control a bigger portion of the meth market. Although La Familia has distribution points in the U.S. … they don’t have the distribution network that Sinaloa cartel has.”

He couldn’t be named for security reasons.

Steve Preisler, an industrial chemist who wrote the book “Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture” and is sometimes called the father of modern meth-making, said “the quantity is just amazing.”

“It is a huge amount of starting material which would allow them to dominate the world market,” Preisler, who served 3½ years in prison more than two decades ago, emailed The Associated Press in reply to questions. He added that the most efficient production methods would yield about half the weight of the precursors in uncut meth, or between 200 and 250 tons, which could be worth billions of dollars.

Officials of Mexico’s federal police, army and attorney general’s office refused to comment on who owned the meth lab or precursor warehouses.

Meth availability in the United States has rebounded since the drop in 2007 and is directly related to production in Mexico, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Meth seizures remained roughly level in the United States at 8.16 tons in 2008 and 8.27 in 2009. But Mexico went from seizing 0.37 tons in 2008 to 6.72 tons in 2009, a U.N. report said.

Mexican meth seizure figures for 2010 are not yet published, but the U.S. official said they almost certainly rose over 2009.

Authorities seized 200 tons of precursor chemicals at the seaport of Manzanillo last year, a raid that the Attorney General’s Office described at the time as the largest in Mexican history. The Queretaro seizure in July was double that.

Seizures of methamphetamine laboratories also have increased dramatically, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2011 International Narcotics Control Report. The number of methamphetamine labs seized by Mexican authorities jumped from 57 in 2008 to 217 in 2009, and the number of busts remained almost as high in early 2010. The volume “suggests that it is not solely for U.S. and domestic consumption,” the report said.

* * * * *

The Mexican government says its offensive against La Familia, a pseudo-religious gang based in western Michoacan state that was once the country’s main meth producer, is one of the key successes in its crackdown on organized crime and drug-trafficking. Founder Nazario Moreno Gonzalez was killed in a two-day shootout with federal police in December. His right-hand man, Jose de Jesus Mendez Vargas, who allegedly ran the meth operations, was arrested in June.

But the U.S. official said other gangs are now trying to fill the void.

Sinaloa, headed by fugitive drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, tends to think big. In mid-July, Mexican soldiers found a 300-acre marijuana field in Baja California, the biggest such plantation in the country’s history. The army said laborers for the Sinaloa cartel planted thousands of plants under vast swaths of shade cloth and irrigated and fertilized them.

But nobody was prepared for the size of the meth network that officials found in industry-heavy Queretaro, one of Mexico’s safest states in terms of drug violence.

A June 15 raid uncovered 3.4 tons of pure meth.

In July, soldiers discovered another warehouse at an industrial park piled with 300 metric tons of solid phenylacetamide and the equivalent of about 150 tons of liquid methyl phenylacetate.

Used in an old type of meth production known as “P2P,” the ingredients are easier to smuggle, or to make from other substances that aren’t specifically banned.

142 death reported for the month of August in Sinaloa

Posted on

September 5, 2011

Sinaloa, Mexico.- The month of August was deadly for Sinaloa with a reported number of 142 death in violent acts. The number of victims killed by violence in Sinaloa this year so far totals 1,328. For the most part the state has been immune to the wave of violence that has been striking Mexico the last couple of months in the states of Guerrero, Zacatecas, Nayarit, Michoacan and Veracruz. With most of the executions happening in the border states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon and Chihuahua. Almost every Mexican state is being affected by the violence, but not with the level of the states mentioned.

Here are composed reports of some of the victims in Sinaloa that were found on different newspaper websites in Mexico. Put together for the readers to take a look into the different violent death that have been recorded in Sinaloa this past month, with most of the focus being given to other Mexican states with more executions or even in some states with less executions.

The victims range from a group of young men that get gunned down while getting ready to have dinner at a hamburger stand to a military man getting killed while turning into a military base. You got a fisherman, welder, accountant, lawyer, commissioner, police chief, construction worker, journalist and a disabled man that was in a wheelchair selling newspapers gets riddle with high caliber weapons at a busy corner street. Nobody was safe from the violence that hit Sinaloa this past August.

Resident of Buenavista Killed
Monday August 01, 2011

Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The victim was a resident of Buenavista, also located in the municipal of El Fuerte, a few kilometers to the west of the recreation center known as the Bocatoma in the town of San Blas.

The person in this case is named Luis Alberto Ayala Alvarez, 33 years old. Apparently the victim was running across the paved road when he was hit with a high caliber weapon.

He was identified at the scene of the murder by his own father, who said he last saw him on Saturday night at a dance celebrating the anniversary of the community.

He went home to change clothes and never saw him alive again, “said the father.”

Women executed and thrown into the water

Monday August 1, 2011

Elements of the Municipal Police and State Police, along with the prosecutor, went to the dam of La Primavera which is located south of Culiacan, Sinaloa.

In the water remained the dead woman floating, was suffocated with a plastic bag and thrown in to the canal. The body was discovered by people fishing in the area and immediately gave warning to authorities who confirmed the find.

Two woman are killed in Mazatlan
Tuesday August 02, 2011

Mazatlan, Sinaloa .- Bloody month of August in Mazatlan. Two young women were savagely killed at the doorstep of their home in the early morning. Located in the dangerous section of Santa Fe, advise the Secretary of the Municipal Public Security.

The victims were identified as Alma Rosa López Millán of 28 years and Noelia Rodriguez Guerra of 30 years.

The women were blind folded and repetively stabbed to death with a knife in the neck. A total of 69 women have been killed in Sinaloa this year.

They leave two executed in Sinaloa
Wednesday August 3, 2011

Two men were killed Tuesday in Culiacan, Sinaloa. The first incident occurred on the streets of the colony February 5, where the dead man remained .

The stranger had received several bullets in the body and was also wrapped in a blanket. Forensic Medical Service personnel picked up the remains and took him to their facilities.

Then another executed man was found inside a vehicle parked at the northern exit of town. The body was abandoned in the back seat of a gray Jetta car.

The gunmen put a plastic bag over the head of the victim and then gave the traditional coup de grace. They also left a narco message where it said the dead man was a thief.

Three young men brutally riddled in Sinaloa

Thursday August 4, 2011

Yesterday was reported the discovery of three bodies in El Tamarindo, Sinaloa. It was a dirt road where they found three young men executed by a group of drug traffickers.

The three men were bound hands and feet, eyes covered with duct tape. They were savagely tortured and shot dead.

In addition, Next to the bodies where they are face down were dozens of shell casings from AK-47. Forensic Medical Service personnel picked up the bodies and took them to the morgue in Culiacan. So far they have not been informed of the victims names .

Four men dismembered

Friday August 5, 2011

A gruesome discovery was recorded during the afternoon of Friday in La Palma Belonging to Navolato, Sinaloa, were they found the dismembered remains of four people.

Elements of the Municipal Police, State Police and the Mexican Army arrived at a road leading to Campo Berlin behind a school. At that point there were at least 10 black plastic bags with the remains of four men. Inside of them it had the heads, arms, legs and feet.

Unofficially reported that the men had been kidnapped by an armed group several days before. They were identified as Alejandro Sosa, Alberto Nicolás Leyva Medina, Jonathan Uriel Estrada Medina and Jesus Eduardo Beltran Meza. But officials did not confirm the identities.

Person found in Narco Grave

Sunday August 7, 2011

Mazatlan, Sinaloa .- The body of a man stabbed to death was discovered in a clandestine grave in the town of Villa Union.

The finding was after a military whistleblower alerted the presence of suspicious subjects in an area that leads to Amapa.

Physical characteristics according to reports, the man was between 30 and 35 with one front tooth broken, he was about 1.65 meters tall. His killers shot him in the neck and had seven horizontally stab wounds to the chest .

Man appears floating
Sunday August 7, 2011

On saturday there was the discovery of a body floating in the waters of the Canal Humaya, located in the town known as Coyote and El Alto in Sinaloa.

Workers were the first to notice the person floating, so they called the authorities. Fire personnel were the first to arrive and made the rescue.

The body was in an advanced state of putrefaction and was still in handcuffs. The man was wearing an orange shirt and denim pants .

Agents for Researchers conducted the proceedings, while the Forensic Medical Service personnel took the body to the morgue, where she hopes to be named.

Gunmen execute five young people in Sinaloa
Sunday August 7, 2011

During last night the five young adult came to a hamburger stand, they were preparing for dinner when a heavily armed commando was present and made the slaughter.

The incident took place in the community of Coyotito in the municipal of San Ignacio, Sinaloa. In fact the five young men died instantly, the situation caused sadness in the community and an intense mobilization of elements from different police forces.

The executed were identified as Jesus Adrian Iribe Astorga, 18, Manuel Astorga Salazar, 18, Saul Zamora, 18, Mauro Andres Ibarra Prieto, 19, and Jose Carlos Lamarque, 18.

In addition Mr. Saul Zamora, 50, was taken to a hospital in Mazatlan because of the injuries in the attack. There were more than 100 shell casings found from AK-47 and AR-15.

Gunmen kills his drinking buddy
Monday August 8, 2011

During the early hours of Monday their was a violent act in front of the Santa Maria Clinic in Culiacan, Sinaloa.

One man was killed, the body was left in the corner of Ramon Corona and Francisco Villa in the Heart of town.

He was slightly built, about 40 years old and 1.70 tall. The victim had no identification and was taken to the morgue as unknown.

Man killed in Sinaloa
Tuesday August 9, 2011

A man was found executed during the day near El Tamarindo in Sinaloa.

According to initial reports, the male person was very close to the Canal Irrigation 37. The man was already in advanced state of putrefaction with three shots in the head. Police elements said that the victim had been dead for three days.

Hours later they managed to identify him as Hector Manuel Cuén Flores, 34, who according to unofficial information had been kidnapped by an armed group about a week ago.

Women beheaded in Sinaloa
Wednesday August 10, 2011

Mocorito, Sinaloa. The decapitated body of a woman so far unidentified, was found Tuesday afternoon in Pericos. The body was found at the edge of Mexico’s International Highway 15 at Kilometer 50, between the communities of Rancho Viejo and Pericos.

The victim was wrapped in a blanket with a cooler beside her containing the head. Hands were still tied with rope. Slim, light brown skin, approximately 1.60 tall and had 35 to 40 years. Was wearing blue denim pants and a light gray shirt.

The body of the deceased was in a state of decomposition it is presumed that she was murdered about 48 hours ago.

Dead in Navolato
Wednesday August 10, 2011

NAVOLATO. Two days after having been deprived of his freedom at home by gunmen, a neighbor of Navolato appeared dead.

At around 09:30 am residents of Valdez Montoya reported finding a body under an abandoned truck next to the drain of Tio Gary. Police rushed to the scene and located a Dodge Ram Model 2004 with plates from Sinaloa.

Under the unit officers discovered the body of a person who would be identified as Roberto Peñuelas, 30 years old, who had bullet wounds.Shot under his truck down a dirt road in the municipality.

Two Brothers are executed

Thursday August 11, 2011

The findings were reported in the colony Popular, located in Navolato, Sinaloa. The bodies remained inside the vehicle Nissan Tsuru, it had no license plates.

One boy was in the trunk of the car and the other in the back seat. The executed were identified as Javier Alonso Verástica Rios, 23, and his brother Jesus Fernando, 19.

Found a dead person

Thursday August 11, 2011

Choix, Sinaloa. At approximately 10:30 am on Thursday, a man was found dead between the communities of La Tuna and el Zataque.

According to the police report, the body was in an advanced state of decomposition with signs of torture.

The body was identified by some as Tomas Miguel Valdez Robles, 30 years old. Residing in the community of El Zataque who was not reported missing.

Young construction worker found dead
Thursday August 11, 2011

On Wednesday a young man was found dead on highway Culiacan to Culiacancito in Sinaloa, in the town of La Higuerita. Element researchers confirmed the situation.

Hours later was identified as Javier Espinoza, 20. Reports said he had disappeared the day before yesterday.

The family said, that the young man had barely move to the city and was working in construction. He went to work in the mourning and never came back. The family took it upon their self to go look for him. First in clinics and hospitals, and after going to the ministerial police to file a report.

The victim was found shot five times in the torso and head.

Gunmen execute former Chief
Friday August 12, 2011

Fidel Plascencia Esparza, former director of the Anti-Theft Unit for the Ministerial Police in the State of Sinaloa and Efrain Ibarra Espinoza, legal director of the Ministerial Police were kidnapped by gunmen.

Minutes after the action, the armed group freed Efrain Ibarra in the city of Guasave, however Fidel Plascencia later appeared lifeless.

Authorities reported that Fidel had his feet and Hands bound. Showing signs of brutal torture and received three bullets that robbed him of life. The finding was reported in the vicinity of the colony Palmetto in the city of Culiacan.

Military clash with hitmen
Saturday August 13, 2011

The Mexican Army clashed yesterday with a group of gunmen in the municipality of Salvador Alvarado, Sinaloa.

Officials said the soldiers were patrolling when they were able to locate an armed group that was in the Ranch El Indio, Near International Highway 15.

The gunmen attacked the soldiers and began a confrontation where part of the armed group was able to flee the scene, however two gunmen were killed and two others were capture.

They seized four AK-47 rifles, several handguns, a rifle barrett, a grenade launcher, chargers, cartridges, radio equipment, cell phones, trimmings, marijuana, cocaine, and six trucks.

They shoot two, one survives
Saturday August 13, 2011

In Navolato two men were deprived of freedom and then shot, one died and one survived the shooting.

Two men from Aguapepito a neighboring town of Navolato were kidnapped by an armed group. At midnight on a thursday in Laco a neighboring town were heard gunshots, but it wasn’t until mid morning on friday when the two bodies were found dumped in a field.

One of them was identified as Omar Jesus Lopez 29-year-old that died, his partner was dying and was rushed to medical attention.

killed when he was getting home
Sunday August 14, 2011

Today, another run was recorded in Navolato, Sinaloa. A man who just came home was surprised by two gunmen who were waiting, then strangers approached the man and shot him several times.

Relatives of the victim called authorities immediately and thus began the corresponding investigations. Forensic Medical Service personnel took the body of Ephraim Ledon, 29.

Gunmen execute disable man
Monday August 15, 2011

The day began and Edelgard Cortes, 35, was preparing to work and never imagining he would receive a tragic blow. The disabled newsboy was in a junction of Highway Chinitos-Angostura, in the town of Guamuchil, Sinaloa.

The man in the wheelchair was selling newspapers, however there were unidentified and heavily armed men that fired from a vehicle at the disabled man.

The seller was killed instantly, the murderers fled and people called the authorities. Police elements came immediately where the man’s body remained in the wheelchair.

Executed in Lomas de San Isidro
Monday Aug 15, 2011

Culiacán, Sin .- A person not identified, was found shot to death in an area of Lomas de San Isidro.

According to the reports of the investigating officer, the victim was allegedly discovered robbing a house when an armed group shots him in the flight of finishing and dies in the sidewalk.

The body was found by authorities around 23:30 saturday, on Calle De Las Fuentes, near the corner of Central Park.

Eyewitness in the hands of the Attorney General, indicate that the victim was allegedly stealing copper wiring from a residence and was surprised when he was attacked with bullets.

They kill and leave him near his home
Tuesday August 16, 2011

Minutes before 20:00 pm yesterday authorities were present at El Carrizo in Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The investigating officers received a report of a corpse and immediately moved to the point reported.

Their was a dead man who was face down with his hands tied. The executed had his jeans below the waist, with several shell casings near the body .

Forensic Medical Service personnel picked up the remains of the man who was later identified as Eduardo Perez Zazueta, 40 years old. He had his home near where he was found dead.

They kill him at close range

Tuesday August 16, 2011

Culiacán, Sin .- Three shots took the life of a man that was a car body repairer and was executed inside the shop where he worked in the colony Rafael Buelna.

The youth was identified as Juan Alvarez Moreno, 20, who had his home in Pine Street, the sector above.

The attack was recorded at 17:05 hours yesterday at the workshop Buelna located in the corner of March 21 Avenue and Fresno Street.

Three armed men descended from the SUV, where employees were gathered in a corner of the workshop. Individuals separated Juan Alvarez from the others and then shot him several times at close range. After committing the attack, the subjects approached the SUV and fled the scene without being located.

Baseball player killed
Wednesday August 17, 2011

Los Mochis, ahoms, Sinaloa .- A young baseball player that plays in the league “Clemente Grijalva” was shot in the head while being kidnapped by a group of heavily armed in the outskirts of a bus terminal on federal street.

Victims name was Antonio Celia Valdez, 21 years of age, residing on the street of Juan de la Barrera 1671 East, in the colony Of Jiquilpan.

The young man, besides having played with baseball teams las Aguilas de Ahome and the Semilleros de Cohuibampo in the league of baseball “Clemente Grijalva”, was preparing to perform as a teacher of physical education.

Young man shot in the doorway of his home

Wednesday August 17, 2011

San Ignacio, Sinaloa .- A young man was gunned down outside his home early yesterday morning, which is located one block from the base of the State Ministerial Police, in the municipality of San Ignacio.

Dionicio Vizcarra Palomares, 24, alias “El Michilla.” Laid in the street of Emiliano Zapata, Colony Río Asuncion.

According to reports from the Ministerial Police, the crime occurred at 02:00 hours yesterday. The cause of death was hypovolemic shock. Medical examiners found four wounds caused by gunshot in the back and one in the left leg.

Kidnapped and executed
Thursday August 18, 2011

Los Mochis, Sinaloa .- A person was found executed approximately at 8:40 am on Thursday at the old road leading to the town Compuerta.

The now deceased was identified as Jesus Ramon Armenta Miranda, 31-year-old had his home in Colonia Lopez Mateos.

This person was kidnapped early this morning at 01:15 hours when unknown individuals arrived at his home on board a green pick-up, which were between 4 and 6 people carrying guns.

Upon arriving at the home of the victim they began to yell out his name. However, seeing Miranda Armenta unresponsive subjects were introduced into the house because the door was open, they searched the house and managed to locate him in one of the rooms.

After that they beat and took him in the pick-up to an unknown destination.

Hours later, Jesus Ramon was found dead at the scene mentioned above and his body showed multiple gunshot wounds.

clash: Two killed in Mazatlan
Friday August 19,2011

Mazatlan, Sinaloa .- An armed commando carrying assault rifles was traveling in three late-model trucks appeared in the afternoon, section Santa Fe, spreading terror among the residents.

It resulted in two deaths, one directly attacked while riding his motorcycle and the other trying to escape the bullets.

Unofficially, theirs been talk of a confrontation between two trucks and that the victims had nothing to do with it, but were as often happens in the wrong place.

Armed group kills two brothers
Friday August 19, 2011

On Wednesday a group of organized crime kidnapped five people who were at a home in Colonia Humaya in Culiacan, Sinaloa.

It was not until yesterday when two of the kidnapped were found in a field call Cardinal by a channel, they had been executed.

Authorities rushed to the scene and found the two young lifeless bodies were their hands remained tied. They were also tortured and shot dead at the site were they found dozens of shell casings.

The executed were identified as Jose Roberto Lopez Garcia, 26, and Juan Francisco López García, 28.

Man dies that had just been released from jail

Friday August 19, 2011

A man who just had a few days of leaving prison was surprised by a group of assassins when he was in the Division Chula Vista, located in the city of Culiacan, Sinaloa.

The strangers shouted his name, so the man ran several blocks until the gunmen caught up with him and gave him seven bullets that ended his life instantly.

Paramedics arrived in the town but it was too late because he was dead. Elements of the Municipal Police also attended the report of several neighbors who observed the crime.

Medical Examiner’s picked up Leobardo Salazar Rodriguez, aka El Diablo 29.

Brother of the executed appears in La Bocatoma

Friday August 19, 2011

Los Mochis, Sinaloa .- The Deputy Regional Justice in the north reported this morning that one of the missing persons who accompanied the young man last night who was killed in La Bocatoma, El Fuerte, has appeared wounded in a hospital in Sonora.

The person was identified as Refugio Arredondo Moroyoqui , who was the brother of Romualdo Arredondo Moroyoqui, the young man who was found executed Thursday night in the vicinity of the community next to a van that allegedly took them to a dance, according to versions of their family, along with them was another young man who still continues as disappeared.

The three were allegedly assaulted last night by unknown persons with AK-47, reportedly killed one of them as the other two fled the scene of the shooting for their lives.

Commando enters Culiancan General Hospital

Friday August 19, 2011

The Attorney General of the State of Sinaloa, confirmed that during the first minutes an armed group on Friday went into the General Hospital in the city of Culiacan.

The gunmen arrived at the hospital and got out of a luxury SUV, Immediately went to the young man who had just entered the hospital and who was wounded by gunfire, was shot to death.

Authorities reported the name of Jesus Aaron Rubio Beltran, 28 years old.

Executed Commissioner in Ocoroni, Sinaloa
Saturday August 20, 2011

Angostura, Sinaloa. Killed by bullets and wrapped in a duvet was found on the highway Benito Juarez (La Costera), who was the curator of Ocoroni, Sinaloa.

The victim was named Juan Manuel López Bernal, who had 45 years of age and had his home in the community mentioned above.

The location of the body was reported to the Department of Public Safety and Municipal Transit Angostura around 06:00 hours yesterday.

The deceases body was found today at about Kilometer 115, as authorities said, in a place known as the curve of Tesitos.

As an elected official, the now deceased participated in several demonstrations in support of agricultural producers, blocking Highway Mexico 15 and they demanded a compensation of 500 million pesos were more than 7,500 hectares were restored.

They find a man executed in a channel
Sunday August 21, 2011

Culiacán, Sinsloa. The body of a male person, not identified, was found dead floating in the channel known as Recursos.

The body was found in a decomposed state and had signs of torture.

This person has no more than 30 years of age, approximately 1.70 tall, dark complexion and wearing blue jeans with an orange shirt.

The find was around 08:30 hours, approximately 250 meters north of the bridge on the road known as “Costerita.”

Two young men riddle in Cuiliacan
Sunday August 21, 2011

Culiacan, Sinaloa . The early hours of Saturday in Las Quintas, two young individuals aboard a brand new sports car were “riddled” with bullets, one was dead at the wheel and the other a few feet while reaching to get off and run, however, was “shot” dead.

The intersection of Puebla and Hermosillo, was the scene of double murder accomplished by at least three gunmen.

Only one of the “executed” has been identified as Quentin Valdez Rios, age 21, residing in the subdivision Los Olivos.

Rios Valdez was traveling as a passenger in a red Ford Mustang GT with plates of the state of Sonora.The young man driving was dead at the wheel of the Mustang GT, and who’s identity is unknown. His companion managed to get out and run to the corner of Ciudad Victoria, but was shot dead in the back.

Two young men were executed and burned when coming back from a Party

Monday August 22, 2011

Sinaloa authorities confirmed that on Sunday they found the bodies of two youths who were burned inside a vehicle, it was found in the receivership of el Baile, south of Culiacan.

The boys were identified as Rodolfo Torres Apodaca , 28, and Joseph Alexander, just 15 years old. Both were from the colony Toledo Corro, located in Culiacan. They reportedly went to a Quinceañera in a dance clubs, however, in Maxipista were intercepted by an armed group.

The unknown gunmen riddled the two boys, then set fire to the vehicle they were traveling in a Tsuru. When authorities arrived to protect the area and start the investigations.

Rival gunmen clash

Tuesday August 23, 2011

Last weekend, police elements were circulating Avenue Munich at the height of Fractionation Las Mañanitas In Mazatlan, Sinaloa. The police found a person who had been shot.

The place was abandoned and two trucks had also been hit by bullets, in one of the vehicles was the man who was shot.

The executed was identified as Genaro Abel Arellano Tirado. Witnesses said, at that point there had been a clash between members of rival criminal groups, which lasted several minutes. People said that several men had escaped, some were wounded and left in two taxis.

Pursued young man gets shot and crashes
Thursday August 25, 2011

Los Mochis, Sinaloa .- Pursuit and a bullet wound to a young man by the road Topoto los Mochis.

Authorities report that the person traveling in a unit being chased by armed men along the road leading to the port of Topolobampo.

At the height of the junction he was hit by gunmen, they shot him causing a wound in the back and the unit in which he was riding capsized.

The young man called Cristian Regino Atienza, 19, resident of the Colonia Las Margaritas, upon the arrival of police forces and staff of the Red Cross took him to the hospital.

Journalist executed in culiacan
Thursday August 25, 2011

Yesterday morning an armed group intercepted the journalist Humberto Salazar Millan in Culiacan, Sinaloa. The journalist was on board of aTahoe with one of his brothers. Then the gunmen took him away.

It was not until today when they learned of Humberto, as the authorities confirmed that they found him dead. The journalist’s body was found in La Cochera which is located in Campo Morelia, Culiacan.

The journalist was shot in the head and also had hits in the body. He was found face down and wearing the same clothes when he was kidnapped.

Murdered a neighbor of Ranchito de Llanes
Friday August 26, 2011

Sinaloa de Leyva . With a bullet in the mouth that came out his neck was found in the neighbor town of Llanes Ranchito, Sinaloa. Who was killed between the mountains, 500 meters from the village Agua Blanca.

The victim of the violence was named Arnoldo Flores Peñuelas, 41.

The Preventive Police said they received a report at 9:30 am that on the edge of a dirt road was the body of a person who was identified as Arnoldo Flores Peñuelas.

Gunmen riddled two men

Friday August 26, 2011

Two men were brutally gunned down when they were driving on board his vehicle through the streets of the colony Lázaro Cárdenas in Culiacan, Sinaloa.

The driver and passenger were attacked by an armed commando on Avenida Patria. Witnesses said several subjects fired several times against the crew until they were dead.

The vehicle was struck against a post. The bodies were inside the car and investigating officers collected at least 50 shell casings.

Forensic Medical Service personnel picked up the bodies and took them to the morgue, where one of them was identified as Juan Antonio Cuevas Cervantes, 30.

Attempt to kidnapped and they assassin a welder

Saturday August 27, 2011

Guamuchil, Sinaloa. A welder was murdered with an AK-47 in the city of Guamuchil.

Authorities have reported that on the streets of Independencia and Cuahutémoc three trucks arrived and try to deprive the freedom of Marco Antonio Samudio, 31 years old.

The man resisted the kidnapped and was killed at the spot, according to the first eyewitness accounts on the site.

A man is gunned down outside his home
Saturday August 27, 2011

Mazatlan, Sinaloa .- A man was shot to death outside his home in Foresta Infonavit.

The deceased was identified at the scene by local officers as Guillermo Grande Guzman, 30, residing in the place of attack.

In the scene municipal officials disclosed that armed men arrived on a motorcycle, where Guillermo Guzman fell from a van he was traveling in, then was shot several times and the gunmen took flight.

One dead, two injured in a shooting attack

Saturday August 27, 2011

Three youths were killed after a shooting attack in Infonavit Barrancos. The incident occurred late afternoon when the three were talking outside a home between Calle Rosendo Rodriguez arte 112 and 110, one of them was washing a car.

Suddenly two men came and began to shoot the three young boys who fell , the gunmen fled.

One was dead on the spot and two were wounded so badly they were taken in private vehicles to get medical care but died moments later.

At the time Cristian Ulysses Guerrero García that was 20 years of age died, then moments later the other two died that were identified as Nery Osuna Meza 20 years and Ernesto Alfonso Gallardo Uriarte 20 years as well.

A Military man is killed

Sunday August 28, 2011

Los Mochis, Sinaloa .- A Mexican Army lieutenant who was assigned to the 89 Infantry Battalion, was shot dead by unidentified assailants who attacked him from a car.

The incident occurred yesterday morning, off the premises of the military town on the International Highway, when waiting for the free passage to enter the unit attached. Who died as a result of the severe wounds inflicted by bullets. His name was Esteban Villa Lopez, 38 years old.

The incident caused a massive mobilization of law enforcement agencies and military forces, but the attackers managed to escape.

Three killed in a car to car shooting
Sunday August 28, 2011

Navolato, Sinaloa.- Three men were shot dead in a car to car shooting in the town of La Sinaloa, municipal of San Pedro.

The victims were named Sergio Adrian Castro Camacho, 36yr’s old who was driving, Juan Ley Ibarra, both residents of the village El Battalion in the same municipal, and Jose Manuel Cervantes Aispuro, also 36yr old, residing at La Sinaloa.

According to the version of events the victims were intercepted by subjects traveling in a red Malibu.
Meanwhile, Aispuro Cervantes was assisted and transferred to facilities in Navolato Social Security, where he died while being treated.

One killed in clash with military
Monday August 29,2011

Los Mochis, Sinaloa .- A person died after a chase and shootout against the army and police in the vicinity of Praderas de Villa.

This person was on board of a Mitsubishi truck L200, white double cab. It appears that elements of the group Urban Mixed Base Operations (Bomu) tried to make a stop, the driver causing the persecution.

While being pursued, the person allegedly assaulted the soldiers and police with a firearm. As security forces repelled the attack and managed to mortally wound the individual who was on board of the truck.

A woman suffered gunshot wounds in attack and dies at hospital
Monday August 29, 2011

Mazatlan, Sinaloa .- A woman died this morning when she was attack by gunmen and shot in the head. The person shot was identified by authorities with the name of Brisa, which apparently had a grazed wound in the head.

The facts came at 22:30 hours in the International street corner by la Escollera, Colony Benito Juarez.The authorities said, the young people were outside the home, when a motorcycle passed by and fired at them, where the woman fell and was taken to the hospital in a taxi, where she died.

One kidnapped and another killed in Navolato

Monday August 29, 2011
Navolato, Sinaloa .- A native of Navolato was executed and another was kidnapped by gunmen when they were in a business located at the entrance of the community in El Limoncito, municipality of Navolato.

The deceased was identified by relatives as Jose Ramon Angulo Soberanes, 35, who had his home in Bachimeto, Navolato.

The merchant who was deprived of freedom was called Victor Bueno Ramirez, 37, residing in the subdivision Chulavista in the municipality.

The reports said, the incident took place at 19:20 pm yesterday, in a business of Oil Filters called The Well, located on the road to Bachimeto front of the Agricultural Plata.

Acountant dies in hospital after being shot

Tuesday August 30, 2011

Mazatlan, Sinaloa .- An accountant died in a private hospital after being shot yesterday morning.The aggression against the practitioner was reported at 06:50 hours and occurred on the street Belisario Dominguez, near the corner of Mariano Escobedo, in the center of the city.

Ministerial Authorities identified the victim as Armando Paez Osuna. He was 61 and lived in an apartment building located in that sector.

The version that leaked at the site, said the accountant was walking towards his office which is located on the ground floor of a building down the street of Belisario Dominguez, and a few meters before, was beaten and shot to death by a hitmen.

Council worker murder in El Fuerte
Tuesday August 30, 2011

Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The Coucil Director of the City El Fuerte was found murdered inside his vehicle in Colexio, Choix.

He answered to the name Gilberto Felix Navarro, known as “black”, 41, residing in the colony Infonavit in El Fuerte. At first the body was not identified but upon requested data from the truck they found that the owner was Gilberto Felix Navarro.

The gunmen shot him to death while he was in his Ford lobo truck
Choix municipal authorities were reported to El Fuerte, where relatives confirmed that indeed it was the public official.

Coupe de grace in El Salado

Wednesday August 31, 2011

Culiacan, Sinaloa.- The individual was found executed with a coupe de grace in a plot of land, between the towns of La Palma and La Higuera in the municipal of El Salado.

When authorities arrived they found him with a shot to the head. Their was a single casing that was found next to body. The victim did not have any identification.

He was wearing blue denim shorts with a cap of the same color, an orange shirt which was next to the body and white tennis shoes. The deceased was of dark complexion, slim build, medium height and 40 years or so.


Mexican drug cartel busted in Utah – 30 pounds of METH recovered

Posted on

Aug. 31, 2011

ST. GEORGE – Agents with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration took down several key figures from the Mexico-based Sinaloa Cartel on Tuesday during the wrap-up of an 18-month investigation they say “decimated” a Utah-based cell of the violent transnational crime ring.

At least seven arrests Tuesday took place in the Salt Lake Valley and along Interstate 15 in or near Juab County as part of Operation Broken Glass, which has netted more than 30 arrests in Utah, California and Nevada over the course of the investigation.

“It was a great day,” DEA Supervisory Special Agent Sue Thomas said. “We removed the cell head, who was the guy who was coordinating the shipments coming to Utah from Mexico and California.”

Thomas said no drugs were found in the man’s vehicle when he was stopped by the Utah Highway Patrol.

“But we know he was associated with a load that was coming into town,” she said. “He was traveling to Utah from Phoenix and had crossed the (U.S.-Mexico) border just a few days earlier.”

Thomas said she did not have information on whether any of the suspects are in the country illegally.

“It takes ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) a little while to get their pedigree,” she said.

Prosecutors were expected to begin seeking federal indictments against the suspects in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City during the next few weeks.

DEA agents aren’t certain how long the cell had been operating, but Thomas said it was a well-coordinated operation that was deeply entrenched in the Salt Lake City area. The cell was handling large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, she said.

Most of the drugs were being moved into Utah in small packages by couriers.

“The traffic stop (in Juab County) is just a small part,” Thomas said. “As the case progressed, we had the opportunity to take some drug traffickers out (of the operation) – just quietly. … I-15 is a pipeline and … we’ll know that drug flows are coming into Salt Lake City. It is usually advantageous to our operation to not stop them in Salt Lake City.”

The Sinaloa Cartel is one of seven major drug enterprises in Mexico that have been battlling with each other and government officials since Mexico’s president declared a war on the cartels in late 2006.

Reports of beheadings and bodies dissolved in vats of acid became common after the outbreak of the “war,” but in spite of government action on both sides of the border, the flow of drugs from Mexico into the United States has continued largely unimpeded.

The Sinaloa Cartel maintains a strong influence throughout northern Mexico and, while its leaders generally remain in Mexico, the globe-spanning organization’s influence has been growing throughout the United States.

Thomas said the drugs allegedly involved in “Broken Glass” tend to cross the border in California and then travel to transportation hubs such as Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, where they can be sent out to other locations.

“A huge shipment can come into Salt Lake City, but only a small portion may make it back to Southern Utah,” she said. “It can branch out all over the country.”

Tuesday’s arrests in the Salt Lake Valley included a raid on a home in South Jordan and a Mi Ranchito restaurant in South Salt Lake.

Authorities seized more than 30 pounds of methamphetamine, 200 pounds of marijuana, a kilogram each of heroin and cocaine, as well as guns and more than $322,000 in cash.

“We think that was a drop in bucket in terms of what they were moving,” Thomas said.

A pound of methamphetamine is worth about $14,000 on the street, she said.

Authorities expect Tuesday’s action to have an immediate impact on the availability of street drugs.

“All the drug task forces throughout the state … recognize the cases we’re working on are going to impact communities within the state,” Thomas said.

“They work hand in hand with us. … We’re very fortunate to have that partnership between local and federal (agencies).”

Mexico Needs Better Strategy in War Against Drug Cartels

Posted on

Aug 31, 2011

The Aug. 25 attack on a casino in Monterrey, Mexico, might have been the deadliest massacre in the government’s five-year war against drug traffickers. It is unlikely to be the last.

More than 50 people were killed when a group of armed men entered the Casino Royale at about 3 p.m., ordered everyone to leave, doused the building with gasoline and set it ablaze. The attack took less than three minutes.

It’s not certain which of Mexico’s drug cartels was responsible, although it hardly matters. Immediately after the attack, Mexican President Felipe Calderon — who until now had rejected characterizations of his country’s endemic drug violence as terrorism — called it “an act of terror and barbarity,” and those responsible, “true terrorists.”

Calderon declared war on the cartels in January 2007. Had he failed to act then, the drug lords’ power and influence would have grown big enough to threaten the Mexican state. Since the war began, as many as 40,000 Mexicans have been killed. But whichever way the government characterizes those responsible — as terrorists, criminals or miscreants, — it is more important that Mexicans and their U.S. neighbors take a step back, understand the nature of Mexico’s war against the drug gangs and take appropriate measures to win it.

Foreign analysts sometimes argue that Mexico’s drug war is a type of insurgency, and then compare it to Colombia’s. In fact, it is fundamentally different. The cartels are criminal gangs whose only goal is to run their businesses and take over as much of the lucrative narcotics trade as possible. Unlike the “narco-guerrillas” in Colombia, they have no political agenda, are not allied with militant groups that do, and have shown no ambition to control territory or build a government structure in areas where they operate.

Many Mexicans believe that the U.S. is responsible for the rise of the drug cartels. That is also wrong. Although Calderon is probably the most pro-American president in Mexico’s history, he is still willing to blame the U.S., at least partly, for Mexico’s troubles. Within hours of the attack, while acknowledging that the two countries are “neighbors,” “allies” and “friends,” Calderon said the U.S. must stop the “indiscriminate” sale of assault weapons to Mexican gangs and claimed that “the economic power and firepower of the criminal organizations operating in Mexico and Latin America come from this endless demand for drugs in the United States.” The Americans, he said, “share responsibility.”

It is true that, according to some estimates, 70 percent of the weapons used by Mexican drug gangs are smuggled across the American border and that the U.S. must do much more to stop the illegal gun trade. It is also true that American demand for narcotics fuels Mexico’s drug business. But if easy access to guns were the cause of Mexico’s predicament, then Texas would be as lawless as Chihuahua. If a border with the U.S. drug market were the problem, then Canada would also be fighting such gangs.

So if Mexico’s internal strife is not an insurgency and not primarily the U.S.’s fault, what is it? One possibility is that it is the result of decades-long corrupt and incompetent government, popular contempt for the rule of law, a weak civil society and a growing gap between rich and poor. These conditions created a state that is unable to enforce its laws, provide services or opportunities for its poorer citizens, or create a sense of community across regional or class boundaries. Seen this way, the current drug violence might be a symptom of more fundamental problems afflicting Mexican society.

So far, Calderon has relied exclusively on the Mexican army and a reformed police force to defeat the cartels. The U.S. has supported this strategy by significantly increasing cooperation with Mexican law-enforcement authorities. For fiscal year 2012, the Obama administration has requested almost $329 million in assistance for Mexico, about 80 percent of which will go to the police or the armed forces. But as Calderon enters his last year in office, victory over the cartels is as elusive as ever.

Training and equipping Mexico’s security services are vital to defeating the drug gangs. But internal conflicts are rarely won by military means alone. The Mexican government also needs to establish the rule of law, strengthen social cohesion, act against corruption, and provide decent education and economic opportunities for Mexico’s poor.

Calderon deserves credit for identifying the cartels as a threat to Mexico’s future. He has a final chance to make progress in the drug war and lay a foundation that his successor can build on. He should do so by putting Mexico on the path toward a more just and law-abiding society.

Officials find more tunnels along Arizona border

Posted on

August 31, 2011

Law-enforcement officials called to a house in Douglas last week found an unusual sight: a large hole in the floor of one room and mounds of dirt piled high in other rooms. The hole was the opening of a tunnel that drug smugglers were burrowing from the United States to Mexico.

It was the second tunnel discovered along the Arizona border in less than two weeks. Federal law-enforcement officials are concerned that the discoveries show that smugglers are increasingly using tunnels to smuggle narcotics into the U.S. to evade tighter border security.

This summer, the Border Patrol finished installing new fencing in Nogales that allows agents to see to the other side, making it more difficult for smugglers to avoid detection. The Border Patrol also has installed more than 300 miles of fencing and vehicle barriers along Arizona’s border with Mexico in recent years and added hundreds of agents.

“As smuggling organizations have more trouble moving their contraband both between the ports of entry and through the ports of entry due to increased technology and vigilance at the ports, then they will turn to more of these covert measures,” said Vincent Picard, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Phoenix.

Agents in the Border Patrol’s Tucson sector, which covers most of Arizona’s border with Mexico, discovered eight tunnels through the end of July of this fiscal year. That is three more than the same period last year, said Mario Escalante, a Border Patrol spokesman in Tucson.

The eight do not include the two tunnels discovered in the past two weeks.

The house where the tunnel was found in Douglas is a few yards from the border with Mexico. The tunnel had collapsed, and smugglers were re-excavating it when Douglas police found it on Tuesday, following up on a tip from a resident.

Although the house was filled with dirt excavated from the tunnel, Mexican authorities were unable to find an entrance on the southern side of the border, Picard said.

He said the border tunnel was unusual as criminal organizations usually dig tunnels that start on the Mexican side and come out on the U.S. side because boring tunnels requires costly equipment such as saws, augers, lights, generators and wood to reinforce walls – tools that can be difficult to conceal but that may not draw as much attention in Mexico as in the U.S.

A week earlier, on Aug. 16, officials discovered a sophisticated drug tunnel in Nogales, Ariz., that was 90 feet long, 3 feet wide and 3 feet high. The tunnel, which ran from Nogales, Sonora, into Arizona, was shored up by two-by-fours and plywood, similar to a mining shaft. It also contained ventilation tubing, tools and electrical cords.

The tunnel exited in a parking lot in Nogales, Ariz., near the Morley border gate. Smugglers concealed the opening by plugging the hole with a piece of concrete supported by a large floor jack underneath, Picard said.

The tunnel was discovered after ICE agents monitoring surveillance cameras noticed a white box truck parked in the lot. After the truck pulled away, ICE agents and Nogales police stopped the vehicle and found 2,600 pounds of marijuana inside, Picard said.

ICE and Border Patrol agents determined that the marijuana had been loaded onto the truck while it was parked over the hole leading to the tunnel.

Agents arrested two Nogales residents and a juvenile from Mexico who were inside the truck, Picard said.

He said most tunnels were used to smuggle drugs – not migrants – because smugglers want to draw as little attention to the passageways as possible.