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Articles on this Page
(showing articles 1 to 25 of 25)
- 06/07/17--21:34: _Enrique Iglesias Gi...
- 06/08/17--15:04: _The War that is Sti...
- 06/10/17--19:26: _Seven CDS Members A...
- 06/10/17--21:21: _Real Stories of Mex...
- 06/11/17--21:33: _ Why billionaire dr...
- 06/12/17--07:18: _Narcoterrorism and ...
- 06/12/17--16:12: _Tijuana: The victim...
- 06/12/17--21:30: _Border Patrol Agent...
- 06/14/17--14:37: _Tijuana: 21 liters ...
- 06/15/17--05:22: _"El Riño" Detained ...
- 06/15/17--07:09: _Narco Manta in Mich...
- 06/16/17--00:27: _Shoot out in the ce...
- 06/18/17--16:48: _SEMAR Destroys NINE...
- 06/18/17--17:31: _Ex Deputy Attorney ...
- 06/19/17--05:25: _Kaplan: The mysteri...
- 06/20/17--18:02: _"El BaBay" Jefe de ...
- 06/20/17--19:46: _San Jose del Cabo: ...
- 06/21/17--00:11: _Narco-millienials: ...
- 06/22/17--11:23: _" El Cenizo " Arres...
- 06/22/17--14:14: _Using Texts as Lure...
- 06/22/17--20:47: _MAY 2017 : The Most...
- 06/23/17--12:06: _Argentina Police Ar...
- 06/23/17--21:30: _'You can’t trust an...
- 06/24/17--22:51: _El Rana, of the Sin...
- 06/25/17--20:40: _The Colombian War F...
(showing articles 1 to 25 of 25)
Blog dedicated to the reporting of organized crime
on the border line between the US and Mexico.
on the border line between the US and Mexico.
- 06/07/17--21:34: Enrique Iglesias Gives A Healing Hand To Kids In Mexico
- 06/08/17--15:04: The War that is Still Being Won by El Narco
- 06/10/17--19:26: Seven CDS Members Arrested in LA with Drugs, Cash, and Arms
- 06/12/17--16:12: Tijuana: The victimized and murdered children of los narcomenudistas
- 06/12/17--21:30: Border Patrol Agent Kidnapped, Beaten, and Fingers Cut Off
- 06/14/17--14:37: Tijuana: 21 liters of liquid cocaine seized at airport
- 06/16/17--00:27: Shoot out in the centre of Cancun ( video)
- 06/18/17--16:48: SEMAR Destroys NINE Narco Labs Near Culiacan
- 06/18/17--17:31: Ex Deputy Attorney General of Michoacán Executed
- 06/19/17--05:25: Kaplan: The mysterious gringo that escaped by helicopter
- 06/20/17--18:02: "El BaBay" Jefe de Plaza of Cabo San Lucas Arrested
- 06/20/17--19:46: San Jose del Cabo: Body Count Rises to 18 in Clandestine Grave
- 06/21/17--00:11: Narco-millienials: the sons of the Mexican Capos take control
- 06/22/17--20:47: MAY 2017 : The Most Violent Month in 20 Years
- 06/23/17--21:30: 'You can’t trust anybody. We're on our own'
- 06/24/17--22:51: El Rana, of the Sinaloa Cartel arrested in Baja California
- 06/25/17--20:40: The Colombian War Fed by Mexican Cartels
Posted by DD republished from Look to the Stars
DD: As regular readers of Borderland Beat know we do not normally (I don't remember the last time we did) promote commercial or even philanthropic projects. But this one hit a nerve. Helping kids that have suffered and been traumatized because of the extreme violence occurring in parts of their country seems like a worth while project.
|I AM SAD. I do not care about anything today|
For his North American tour with Pitbull, and two years after injuring his hand at a concert in Mexico, Grammy Award-winning artist Enrique Iglesias has once again teamed up with Save the Children to launch a new #Hearts4Kids T-shirt promotion to help children affected by poverty and violence in Mexico heal emotionally.
T he new #Hearts4Kids T-shirt campaign builds on Enrique’s 2015 partnership with Save the Children to provide immediate relief to children after a natural disaster. The new T-shirt campaign will help children who face extremely frightening events and devastating tragedy recover emotionally and thrive for years to come. Eleven dollars ($11) from the sale of each T-shirt will go to Save the Children’s Healing and Education through the Arts or HEART program in Mexico.
HEART uses the arts to help children who experience chronic stress from their life circumstances of poverty and other distressing events tell their personal, often painful, stories. Through drawing, dance, drama and other art activities, children learn how to express their feelings, such as fear, anger and grief, so they can thrive.
“My heart goes out to kids who live in a state of constant turmoil and stress,” said Enrique Iglesias. “I feel fortunate to partner with Save the Children once again to make the world a little better for children. Just as my compassionate fans have helped before, I am confident that this new project of love and hope will provide relief to children who feel disheartened.”
The #Hearts4Kids T-shirt is available for purchase for $27.50 online at www.enriqueiglesias.com and for $35.00 at all U.S. concert venues on his North American tour this June and September. The T-shirt will range in price at international concert venues. The new T-shirt is inspired from the original design, which was a heart drawn by Enrique Iglesias on his white T-shirt after a drone injured his hand during a concert in 2015. The new T-shirt is a crew neck with a photo of Enrique at that concert and is available in black or red with white lettering and image.
We are grateful to Enrique Iglesias and his fans for opening their hearts to help children living in some of the toughest circumstances in Mexico," said Maria Josefina Menéndez, country director of Save the Children in Mexico. “When children bury their emotions, it can delay their development and affect their mental health. Art can provide a creative outlet of expression, especially for young children who struggle to find the words for how they feel.”
Added Menéndez, “We have seen a dramatic change in children once they share their stories. Their burden is lifted and they can focus on learning in school.”
Save the Children launched HEART in Mexico in 2016. In year one, HEART reached nearly 8,000 Mexican children affected by poverty, violence and migration in five provinces, including Baja California, Chiapas, Mexico City, Oaxaca and Puebla. The arts-based program is built into existing curriculums for children at preschools, primary schools, child and youth centers, and summer programs, as well as migration prevention programs for teenagers. HEART incorporates local arts traditions and uses locally-sourced art products.
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Ríodoce
By: Ismael Boroquez
June 5, 2017
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Zeta
By: Carlos Alvarez for Zeta
June 10, 2017
Extra Material from DOJ/ U.S. Attorney's Office,
FBI Press Release, June 8 2017
and Jammed Up
Posted by DD Republished from MxJTP
Written by Javier Valdez
Feb. 8, 2017
Originally Published in La Jornada (Sp)
DD; From time to time I will be posting stories written by Javier Valdez during his short life to insure we keep our memories of this brave journalist and his work alive.
|Around 60 search party members from 11 states in Mexico look for missing or disappeared people in the towns of El Quelite in Mazatlán and Sataya in Navolato. Photograph by Javier Valdez. Published in La Jornada.|
Culiacán, February 8, 2017—Carlitos says that he loves his sister and that he is not going to leave her unprotected. At his tender age he already feels guilty for something he did not do, for having failed to take care of and protect Zoé Zuleika. She has been missing for a year.
Carlitos – that’s what we’ll call him – is barely eight years old and he searches for missing people: a searcher of human remains who carries a small staff and pickaxe. His grey and black striped sweater keeps him from the morning chill. He is Mexico’s youngest searcher of the disappeared.
When you ask him what he is going to say to his sister when he sees her again, the boy answers:
"That I love her; that I am going to protect her."
Around the Navolato community of San Pedro, in the deciduous forest, the little one looks among whoever’s human remains, but really he’s searching for his sister.
With blows from his staff and still more from his pickaxe he looks for Zoe like someone who knows he will find her. His lively, black eyes light up like fireflies and he smiles when he thinks about her.
The last time he saw her, he remembers, was a year ago in his father’s truck, in Soledad, a town in San Luis Potosí.
He says that when he finds her he is going to protect her, including from his father whom he suspects took her. Carolina Gómez Rocha, 40, is mother to both children. She comes from San Luis Potosí, and she searches for missing people, even though she realizes it is unlikely she will find Zoé in the state of Sinaloa.
"I do these searches to strengthen the families who are here searching, not to find my daughter. I know that she is alive. I am her mother and my heart tells me so. I am here to support the cause. It has been an immense experience, and yes it does help me, it strengthens me, " she says. She’s a few yards from the Culiacán River, between the sand sifters and the cornfields.
She has four children: 8, 18, 20, and Zoé, 6. The youngest worry her and give her hope.
The day Zoé disappeared Carolina’s family had gone to a party. They went at the insistence of her father in law.
The girl, who was already tired, fell asleep in her father’s truck. A few minutes after midnight they decided to leave but the young girl was not there anymore.
Carolina and even Carlitos suspect his father. He does not ask about the girl. He has not joined in the searches or gone to the authorities even after they filed the criminal complaint. Her husband’s family acts just the same: indifferent. That’s why they don’t dismiss the idea that they have Zoé or know where she is.
Less than a kilometer from where the search party is looking, the prosecutor set up a roadblock. Two women police officers approach, ask questions in a friendly way, and allow or deny entry. Few get close. Further on, where they are conducting the search, there are four federal police patrol cars. They have dogs with them, dogs trained to search for human remains, and experts with their kit.
About thirty members of the Third National Search Party have come together to excavate and ask questions. This search will last two weeks. A Catholic priest is participating, as are many young women and several members of the Marabunta organization. Most of them wear white shirts with black text: Where are they?
According to statistics from the state prosecutor, around 2,200 people disappeared in Sinaloa during the last six years, the period when Mario López Valdez was governor. His term ended last December.
Some searchers look near the heavy machinery. Others go to another site in the truck belonging to the prosecutor’s forensic team. Still others seek shade under the poplars.
They laugh. They poke risqué fun at the young priest, circling in on each other. Even during the search there is time for fun yet memories still weigh heavy.
They are more than 60 searchers from 11 states. Right now they are looking for human remains in two graves: in El Quelite in Mazatlán, and in Sataya, Navolato. They have managed to unearth one body. It still has not been identified.
Some yards away, in an overgrown corner, Lucas, the police dog, digs again and again. So much so that it looks like he’s playing. The agents say he lifts his ears and his tail goes straight and he goes stiff when he finds human remains. He doesn’t do any of that today.
There’s Carlitos. With his staff and his pickaxe. Sometimes he wants to leave and attaches himself to his mother’s skirt. The two bob through the mess of dry branches, big leaves and uneven earth. It looks like they are crossing a swamp but they emerge clean.
After his sister disappeared, the boy went through a bad time at school. He enjoys math: but his grades went from 9s and 10s to 6s and 7s.
He carries himself aggressively. He locks himself in his room. He throws himself on his bed and cries, all the while clutching a photo of Zoé. He speaks to her. He cries over her. That’s why he goes to therapy. He falls down and he gets up. Here he raises his staff and plunges it into the ground.
– When you speak with your sister, what will you tell her?
– I will tell her I love her and I miss her and that I will protect her. That I can take care of her. That I won’t let my father leave her in his truck.
Award winning Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas was murdered on May 15, 2017 just after leaving Ríodoce, a newspaper he helped establish in Culiacán, Sinaloa. He was 50 years old. He published this story inLa Jornadaon February 8, 2017. His most recent book (previously published in Spanish as Levantones), appears in English translation and with an introduction to Sinaloa by Everard Meade as The Taken: True Stories of the Sinaloa Drug War, published earlier this year by University of Oklahoma Press.
Posted by DD Republished from Independent
Written by Ioan Grillo
This is no longer a problem that politicians can afford to ignore. The gangster economy affects people now: from the petrol in your car, to the gold in your jewellery, to your tax pounds (or euros, or dollars) financing the war on drugs
|Mexican police stand beside a skull discovered with other remains Getty|
A chain of crime wars is currently strangling Latin America and the Caribbean, drenching it in blood. And the first link in the chain is found in the US. Specifically, in a Barnes and Noble bookshop in a mall in El Paso, Texas.
I am sitting in the bookshop café, nursing my third cup of coffee and flicking through a pile of new books. As you do with new books, I am eyeing the photos, skimming the intros, just feeling and smelling the paper. I am also waiting for a drug trafficker who has spent four decades delivering the products of Mexican gangsters to all corners of the US.
The man I am waiting for is no criminal warlord controlling a fiefdom in Latin America; he's a white New Yorker with a university education. That is why I want to start the story here. Latin American journalists complain that the US side of the equation is never examined. Who are the partners of the cartels wreaking havoc south of the Rio Grande, they ask? Where is the American narco? Here, I found one.
A curious twist of fate led me to this meeting. A fellow Brit was cycling through the south-west US on an extended holiday. Texas was nice, but he fancied something edgier, so he slipped over the border to Chihuahua, Mexico.
Unwittingly, he entered one of the most violent spheres in the Mexican drug war, venturing into small towns to the west of Ciudad Juárez, at the time the world's most murderous city. He didn't do too badly, hanging out in cantinas and raising glasses with shady locals – until some gangsters held him in a house, threatened to cut his head off and got him to call his wife in England and plead for a ransom payment.
Attacks on wealthy foreigners in Mexico are actually very rare, but there have been sporadic cases, some of them deadly. In this case, the thugs had jumped at an opportunity that fell in their laps.
Thankfully, they released the Brit on receipt of the cash, and he made it home unscathed. He kept in contact with one of the people he had met on the border, an older man called Robert. While Robert knew the kidnappers, he apparently wasn't involved. He is the man I am going to meet now, one of the gangsters' US connections.
The British cyclist put us in touch, and I talked to Robert by email and then phone to arrange the get-together. He lives on the Mexican side of the border. But I told him I didn't want to go there after the kidnapping, and suggested we meet in El Paso, a stone's throw from Juárez, but one of the safest cities in the US. In a Barnes and Noble bookshop. Who would hold you up in a Barnes and Noble?
As I finish my drink, I spy Robert strolling toward me. He is in his sixties, in jeans and a baseball cap, with sun-worn skin and a raspy voice. I get yet more coffee, and we chat. He's good company.
Soon we decide we want something stronger and move on to a cowboy-themed bar in the mall where they serve local brews in ridiculous-size glasses. I hear Robert's tale as we sip from the flagons.
It goes back to 1968, when the US was in the midst of the hippie movement and fighting its hottest Cold War battle in Vietnam; when dictatorships ruled most of Latin America, and a recently martyred Che Guevara inspired guerrillas across the continent. Robert is from upstate New York, but in 1968 he went to university in New Mexico. There he had the fate of landing a roommate from El Paso with a cousin in Ciudad Juárez. His roommate told him he could buy marijuana for $40 a kilo from his cousin. This lit a fuse in Robert's mind: he knew that, back home in New York, this amount sold for $300.
The basic business of importing is buying for a dollar and selling for two. But with drugs, Robert realised, he could buy for a dollar and sell for more than seven. And he didn't even need to advertise. This was after the summer of love, and American youngsters were desperate for ganja from wherever they could get it.
It is hard for most of us to fathom a business with a mark-up of 650 per cent. You put in 1,500 bucks and you get back more than 10 grand. You put in 10 and get back 75. And in two more deals you can be a multi-millionaire. Narco finances turn economics inside out. Robert bought houses and nightclubs with suitcases of cash.
However, his drug-dealing dream hit a wall in the late 1970s when he was nabbed by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration. This is the flip side of narco-economics. Robert splurged on lawyers, got his assets seized and served close to a decade in prison. Yet after he got out, he went back into the trade, moving ganja and a little cocaine with a new generation of Mexican traffickers.
He carried on past middle-age, through marriages and divorces, booms and busts, through the end of the Cold War and the opening of democracy across the Americas. By the time he hit his sixties, he suffered from chronic asthma and heart disease. And he was still smuggling weed.
|At a roadblock, an identity card is checked against a missing list of 43 students abducted in 2014 (AFP/Getty)|
When Robert started trafficking drugs, his Mexican colleagues were a handful of growers and smugglers earning chump change. They needed Americans like him to get into the market. But over the decades, the narco networks grew into an industry that is worth tens of billions of dollars and stretches from Mexico into the Caribbean to Colombia to Brazil.
South of the border, the cartels spent their billions building armies of assassins who carry out massacres comparable to those in war zones and outgun police. They have diversified from drugs to a portfolio of crimes including extortion, kidnapping, theft of crude oil and even wildcat mining. And they have grown so much that they control the governments of entire cities in Latin America.
“Back in the old days, it was nothing like this,” Robert says. “They were just smugglers. Now they prey on their communities. They have become too powerful. And many of the young guys working for them are crazy killers who are high on crystal meth. You can't deal with these people.”
I ask Robert if he feels guilty about pumping these organisations with cash year after year. They could never have grown so big without working with Americans. He looks into his glass for a while and sighs. “It is just business,” he says. “They should have legalised many of these drugs a long time ago.”
Flip from El Paso over the Rio Grande and 1,400 miles south onto a hillside in southern Mexico. I am in the mountains where traffickers grow marijuana and produce heroin. The fate of these hills is locked with that of smugglers in Texas and drug-users across America by the pretty green and pink plants here. The hill is beautiful, thick with pine trees and bright orange flowers.
|Crime scene: a corpse is removed from the Juarez mass grave (AFP/Getty)|
The smell of death is overwhelming. It's like walking into a butcher's shop stuffed with decaying meat: putrid, yet somehow a little sweet. While I would describe the smell as sickening, it's not noxious. It's a movie cliché that people throw up when they see or smell corpses. That doesn't happen in real life. Corpses don't make you physically nauseous. The sickness is deep down, more an emotional repulsion. It's the smell and sight of our own mortality.
The stench of rotting human flesh is all over this hill from a series of pits where police and soldiers are pulling out corpses. They are dank, maggot-ridden holes that the victims probably dug themselves. The corpses are charred, mutilated, decomposed.
In Mexico, they call this a narcofosa, or drug-trafficking grave. But many of the victims here are neither drug traffickers nor in any way connected to the world of narcotics. They are shopkeepers, labourers, students who somehow ran afoul of a local cartel called the Guerreros Unidos, or Warriors United, and the corrupt police officers on their payroll. The troops dig up 30 corpses on this site, near the town of Iguala. And it's just one of a series of narcofosas dotting these hills.
Some of the corpses have been here for months, but no one came searching – until an atrocity that made world headlines. On 26 September 2014, Iguala's police and their colleagues, the Warrior gunmen, attacked student teachers, killing three and abducting 43. The global media finally learned where Iguala was. How could 43 students disappear off the face of the earth? It sounded like Boko Haram in Nigeria kidnapping schoolchildren, but this was right next to the US.
Thousands of troops poured in, uncovering graves like the one I am standing in. They followed the trail to a dump 10 miles away. Mexico's attorney general said the Warriors murdered the 43 there, burning their corpses on a huge bonfire and throwing the remains into a passing river. But family members refused to believe the government, which has a history of cover-ups to protect corrupt officials. A panel of independent experts also criticised the findings and urged a renewed investigation.
Mexico seemed to have become numb to murder. Between 2007 and 2014, drug cartels and the security forces fighting them killed more than 83,000 people, according to a government count. Some claim it was many more. As a reporter, I covered massacres where nearby residents seemed eerily detached. When an individual goes through a traumatic experience, the gut reaction is to block it out. Communities do the same. People became weary of killers, cartels and carnage. Victims become statistics.
Iguala changed that. The fact that the victims were students, the blatant police involvement, the inept government response – all shook Mexican society. People took to the streets in hundreds of thousands to protest against narco corruption and violence. The faces of the disappeared students filled posters on Mexico City walls and were held up in solidarity from Argentina to Austria to Australia. They were humans, not numbers.
The bloodshed in Mexico has grabbed the world's attention as it runs right up to the Rio Grande (and sometimes into the US). But fighting between shady criminal gunmen and trigger-happy troops rages in many corners of the Americas. In the favelas of Brazil, the crime “commandos” are in close urban combat with police and rivals, a conflict that has killed even more than in Mexico – and where US Navy Seals go to train. Honduras became the most murderous country outside a declared war zone as Mara gangs displace thousands, some who flee to the US as refugees. The ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica, are the killing fields of posses, along with one of the most homicidal police forces in the world.
Why are the Americas awash in blood at the dawn of the 21st century? How, after the US declared Cold War victories in the region, did it unravel so fast? And why are US politicians so quiet about these battles that have killed more than many traditional war zones?
In this landscape, a new generation of kingpins has emerged along with their own cult followings and guerrilla hit squads. These super-villains, from Mexico to Jamaica to Brazil to Colombia, are no longer just drug traffickers, but a weird hybrid of criminal CEO, gangster rock star and paramilitary general. They fill the popular imagination as demonic anti-heroes. Not only do they feature in underground songs in the drug world; they are also recreated in movies and even video games.
Between 2000 and 2010, murder rates rose 11 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean, while they fell in most of the world. Eight of the 10 countries with the highest homicide rates are now in the region, as are 43 of the world's 50 most violent cities. When you tally up the total body count, the numbers are staggering. Between the dawn of the new millennium and 2010, more than a million people across Latin America and the Caribbean were murdered. It's a cocaine-fuelled holocaust.
Politicians are confounded about how to handle this gangster power and bloodshed. Governments from Mexico City to Brasília send out troops with shoot-to-kill policies while denying they are fighting low-intensity wars. After shocking attacks on police in São Paulo, officers went on a revenge killing spree and are alleged to have murdered almost as many people in 10 days as Brazil's military dictatorship did in two decades. In some cases, politicians are in league with the gangsters and are part of the problem. But politicians aren't the sole cause of this mess. Others may not be allied with narco kingpins but genuinely struggle to find a policy that works.
Washington has no coherent strategy. The US continues to spend billions on a global war on drugs, while there is little enthusiasm at home for the fight. It bankrolls armies across Latin America – and US courts give asylum to refugees fleeing those same soldiers. Diplomats cosy up to their Latin American counterparts by saying they face only generic gang problems, but then Pentagon officials rock the boat by screaming that Mexico is losing control to cartels. Faced with such contradictions, politicians often take refuge in the default option: ignoring it.
But this is no longer a problem that politicians can afford to ignore. The gangster economy affects people now: from the petrol in your car, to the gold in your jewellery, to your tax pounds (or euros, or dollars) financing the war on drugs. The web of the crime families stretches across the hemisphere, leading to all kinds of unlikely places. It spins off to lime prices in New York bars, British secret agents, World Cup soccer stars, bids to hold the Olympic Games and questions over the start of the London riots.
In the summer of 2014, it was linked to 67,000 unaccompanied children arriving at the US southern border, causing what President Barack Obama called a humanitarian crisis. While not all had run from bullets, some showed clear evidence that they would be murdered if they went home. Less publicised was that tens of thousands of adults from the region were arriving on the southern border asking for political asylum. Some people ask why it matters if neighbouring countries fall to pieces. This is one of the reasons.
Posted by Chivis Martinez for Borderland Beat-
Note: BB friend Doc Bunker sent this in from Daily Beast thinking our readers would be of interest. Also noted in the article is another BB friend Ioan Grillo....Paz, Chivis
Cartels are getting their swagger back in Colombia, drug-war violence is skyrocketing in Mexico, Central American countries like El Salvador and Honduras are now saddled with some of the highest homicide rates in the world, and parts of Brazil are open battlegrounds. So just what’s behind the angry ride of the apocalypse through this hemisphere?
What we’re seeing is the rise of insurgencies that have no ideology beyond greed, but wage guerrilla wars as fearsome as those of the past that claimed to represent the poor and oppressed.
Bogota thought it had just ended its 50-year-old civil war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)—but surprise!—the drug-fueled killing goes on. Other rebel groups remain defiantly active, and there are signs that the FARC peace accords might not be a done deal just yet, as attacks persist.
One of the reasons FARC commanders can’t convince units to stand down is because those guerrillas in the mist are still running lucrative cocaine production operations. Meanwhile, other narco-traffickers in the Andean nation are firmly on the comeback trail. Add it all up and Colombia is churning out more coca now than it did back when Pablo Escobar was blowing up planes and running for congress, with production at a whopping 710 tons in 2016.
As for Mexico, a recent study makes the case that the current infierno de violencia is now the second-worst conflict in the world behind Syria. In El Salvador the murder rate is 81 per 100,000, with Honduras lagging just behind, making them the deadliest countries per capita in the Americas. As in certain parts of Mexico, the security crisis is so severe in El Salvador that citizen militias called autodefensas are taking up arms to fight the gangs themselves.
The loss of state control to violence-crazed, paramilitary outlaw and vigilante groups across Latin America is an ominous sign, indicative of a twisted new species of conflict that experts say is already impacting U.S. interests.
The “Crime War” Next Door
In his original, superbly researched, and well-titled book, Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields and the New Politics of Latin America, author Ioan Grillo characterizes the conflicts roiling the region, flat out, as “crime wars.”
“Crime groups and the gunmen they command in Mexico and Central America are not like the traditional insurgents of 20th-century Latin America in that they don’t have a clear ideology whether it be Marxist or Islamist,” Grillo tells The Daily Beast by phone from Mexico City.
“But they do act in ways that go way beyond regular criminals or even the mafia in terms of confronting security forces,” he says. These bandit battalions can involve “martial forces of up to 500 people in ground battles with light infantry weapons, including RPG-7 rocket launchers, which they use to shoot down helicopters.”
While outfits like the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico, Colombia’s FARC, or the Salvatrucha gangs of El Salvador “do control territory in certain ways, [they] don’t see themselves really trying to defeat the central government,” according to the British-born Grillo, who has spent more than a decade reporting from crime-war conflict zones across Latin America.
Instead of trying to take over the state apparatus, as ISIS has done in parts of the Middle East, “cartels and gangster warlords look for weak governments that they can bully and corrupt into allowing them to have as much power they want.” They don’t need to set up schools and run waterworks, but they do “put violent pressure on the government to achieve certain things,” such as unfettered control over narcotics production zones or shipping routes.
These are “groups whose power is based on violence, who are often led by psychopathic individuals, with a tremendous capacity for violence,” many of whom can be “heavy drug users themselves,” Grillo adds. But he also points out that there’s a distinct and nasty method to the madness, which marks “criminal insurgents” as distinct from common, garden variety scofflaws:
“They’re well-armed killers obeying instructions and working within a structure,” Grillo says. It’s “a big and complicated problem,” he concludes, and “national security [can be] threatened.”
“Narcoterrorism” and You
Dr. Robert J. Bunker, a security consultant who teaches at Claremont Graduate University, sees eye to eye with Grillo on the threat posed by the cartels and their criminal cousins. And he uses the term “narcoterrorism” to define the tactics they employ.
Narcoterrorism “represents a form of psychological warfare—many times utilizing extreme forms of torture and victim dismemberment—that is meant to intimidate and coerce” rival crime groups, authorities, and local populations, Bunker writes, in an email to The Daily Beast.
Bunker, who has also taught at the U.S. Army War College, says Mexican cartels in particular pose a “major threat” to the United States, involving “creeping institutional corruption along the American side of the border.”
One of the major frontier flashpoints of late is the Mexican city of Reynosa, just across the border from McAllen, Texas. The turf war between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas for control of Reynosa has claimed about 50 lives since the dust-up began in April, and American citizens allegedly have come under fire as well.
Mexican journalist Emmanuel Gallardo, who specializes in crime war coverage, says the Gulf Cartel is the top dog in Reynosa, in part because of a willingness to swell their ranks with “very young sicarios (hitmen), many of them just teenagers, who have no education” or job prospects.
He describes zones of mob rule within the city where “everything is controlled by the Cartel del Golfo, even the Jefe de Manzana (Block Chief), and the municipal leaders.”
Their opponents, the Zetas, were originally formed by disgruntled dropouts from the Mexican army. Although they’ve been somewhat weakened by clashes with authorities, Bunker still calls the Zetas “the poster children of narcoterrorism” who are “special forces trained, extremely ruthless, and highly competent in psychological warfare techniques.”
Recent reports indicate that smugglers are increasingly able to penetrate the U.S. without even breaking a sweat, as hundreds of border agents accepted some $15 million in bribes over the last few years (and those are just the ones who got caught).
“Mexican border plaza cities and crossing areas controlled by the cartels are able to generate ‘zones of corruption’ that can potentially extend along the trafficking corridors northwards,” Bunker writes. “The U.S. can readily handle violence directed at it, but the undermining of governmental trust among its citizenship is an entirely different matter.”
Know Your Enemy
Writer Ioan Grillo points out that many of the countries embroiled in mass-scale crime wars share certain common traits, such as “governments which are corrupt, with largely dysfunctional justice systems, and high rates of impunity.”
Economics also plays a role, according to Grillo, as most of these violence-wracked nations are also known for “divided populations with high rates of poverty, a few rich people, and a struggling middle class.”
While Bunker agrees that there are similarities in the symptoms that lead to explosions of well-organized crime groups, he also notes distinct differences from region to region:
“The Mexican cartels are far more sophisticated” than their counterparts, he says. Some of those groups can “field tactical units that possess armored SUVs, body armor, and infantry small arms that include assault rifles and grenade launchers, [and] 50 Cal sniper rifles.”
The Maras plaguing Central America “are far less militarized—more representative of violent street and prison gangs. They operate more at the handgun, shotgun, and rifle armament level but have been known to utilize IEDs,” Bunker says.
Then there is Colombia. According to Grillo, the conflict there is more of a hybrid that blends powerful cartels with a “more traditional Marxist insurgency, a more traditional war.”
Bunker concurs. “The FARC is an interesting case. They have guerilla training and access to infantry small arms.” With disarmament deadlines delayed, and the peace process uncertain, FARC foot soldiers have taken to sharing the lessons they learned in five decades of anti-government operations.
Reports coming out of Mexico claim FARC fighters have been schooling cartel sicarios there, and “we are seeing some numbers of their former fighters now going over to local Colombian and Brazilian street gangs to tactically train their members and provide new enforcer capabilities,” says Bunker, who has also advised Congress on security concerns.
The favelas (ghettos) of Brazilian cities have long been home to powerful gangs like the Red Commandos, which specialize in local narcotics trafficking. More recently, violence has flared up in the northern Amazonas state, as crime groups, often run by imprisoned leaders, battle for control of a drug “superhighway” near the regional capital of Manaus.
Taken altogether, Bunker sees the rise of these forces as part of a new, worldwide trend, one that “exists outside of the modern Clausewitzian paradigm of state-on-state conflict,” he adds.
“What most people do not realize is that what we are seeing take place with the cartels and narcos is but one component of a larger global struggle. Engagements with al Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and other countries represent yet another component of the wars now being waged [by insurgents] against the modern state form.”
Criminal Insurgencies, Civil Wars, and the Klan
While the criminal insurgencies in places like Colombia and El Salvador are certainly capable of deadly violence, the Mexican cartels are the most virulent of such groups operating in Latin America. There were 23,000 homicides in Mexico last year, making it the second-deadliest conflict zone in the world after Syria, and ranking it ahead of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Even more disconcerting is the fact that most of the bloodshed in Mexico results from small arms fire, with few casualties resulting from airstrikes or the use of artillery.
The soaring death toll (the murder rate has gone up now for the last three years in a row, increasing by at least 50 percent in one out of three states since 2016), has some observers wondering at what point Mexico’s “crime war” might slip into full-blown civil war. And it’s not just a question of semantics.
“If we can’t figure out how to categorize things we can’t figure out how to respond,” says Greg Downs, a University of California, Davis professor of history, in a phone call with The Daily Beast.
Downs points out that the phrase “civil war” carries an unpleasant stigma, since the phrase can grant unwanted legitimacy to the other side. During the early days of the fighting between the Union and the Confederacy, he says, it was called “revolution” or a “rebellion,” and the terminology “didn’t really harden into ‘Civil War’ for another 40 years.”
The author of the highly acclaimed After Appomattox, says that “virtually all [civil conflicts] include insurgencies and widespread criminal activity. They’re all wrapped up together.” Concrete definitions are “always going to be unclear in the moment.”
He goes on to mention a popular, 19th century term for these murky, low-grade, seemingly endless wars: “Mexicanization,” which was coined to describe “how countries fell into cycles [of violence] they could never escape from.”
Yet he stops short of calling Mexico’s current crisis a civil war, at least by the textbook definition of the phrase.
“Insurgency lies in this in-between state—a civil war is a claim of sovereignty. Are the cartels making the claim of a shadow state? Or is it the kind of older question of who makes the law where I am?”
Looking back through history, Downs draws an analogy between the narcos plaguing Latin America today, and groups of racist militias that roamed the South during the Reconstruction Era.
The cartels, he says, are “much closer to the Klan than to the Confederacy. The Klan didn’t want [to] write laws, but they believed they could make the law.”
How to Win (or Lose) a Crime War
So what can be done to end Latin America’s crime-war conundrum?
For Gangster Warlords author Grillo, the struggle needs to take place “on a global level.”
In part, he advocates international drug policy reform in order to reduce the thug armies’ profits from black market narcotics.
Grillo also suggests changing “the reality of ghettos which are outside the system [and] of helping these areas” with education programs and social work.
Mexican reporter Emmanuel Gallardo says that, in his country, the first step is for the state to clean up its act, and eliminate “corruption and impunity” for criminals.
“Here in Mexico if you have enough money and you commit a crime you just pay and are let go,” Gallardo tells The Daily Beast. “With money you can do whatever they want. You can kill a journalist if you want, and no one is going to stop you.”
Like fellow journalist Gallardo, Grillo also sees that building “real justice, law enforcement they can trust, real security for people,” may be the most challenging hurdle of all.
“The justice system has a lot of problems in the U.S., but it’s still largely functional in that people who commit murder go to jail,” Grillo says, contrasting it to the situation in Mexico “where most people who commit murder don’t go to jail.”
Less than 3 percent of homicides result in a conviction in Mexico, according to the Wilson Center, and other crime-war wracked countries in Latin America have similarly low rates.
Security consultant Bunker says local and state authorities are often simply outmatched:
Because the narcoterrorist groups “engage in both corruption and coercion, neither police nor military responses on their own are sufficient,” he says. “Police do not possess combat capability and the military does not possess anti-corruption and investigative capability. This is why these groups are so hard for states to deal with—they are literally evolving into nation-state killers.”
Bunker recommends “integrated law enforcement and military” forces which can be used “together or separately as appropriate to the threat...”
Civil War historian Downs worries that, in the absence of serious social reforms, even such a unified strategy won’t be enough: “With overwhelming force, states can break up an insurgency,” but criminal insurrections “don’t tend to come in ones—they come in groups.”
That raises a “dispiriting lesson from Reconstruction,” he says, referring to the Union Army’s futile attempts to quash the Klan. “It’s hard to keep it from turning into whackamole.”
Despite the difficulties, Downs warns against a policy of “acquiescence” whereby certain regions are abandoned to insurrectionists in order for state actors to achieve “stability at the cost of democracy.” And he likens the plight of freed people in the post-Reconstruction South to the struggle faced by poor campesinos and indigenous populations in many parts of Latin America today where “gangster warlords” often hold sway.
Cartels want to be left alone “to rule their fiefdoms, not for symbolic reasons,” but for economic ones, Downs adds, “to make money” and “assert control over the laboring population.”
That kind of criminal control—that new brand of narco-feudalism—helps explain why the “Pale Rider,” Death, is running roughshod over so many parts of Mexico, and Central and South America.
The failure to win the crime wars, Downs says, means nothing less than “surrendering democracy to oppression.”
The victimized and murdered children of los narcomendusitas
When many read about violence, not experiencing it directly, it's read, and thought about as a singular action. A man killed by gunfire, his body found on a street corner. A man beaten to death in a cheap motel room, blood smeared on the unwashed sheets. A woman strangled in her home.
Violence isn't singular, it's like an infection. Those who are bloodied, murdered, buried, are but the first person infected, the rest are yet to follow. Tijuana's retail methamphetamine and heroin trade is an epidemic of infectious disease, violence that consumes all in it's path, touching, burning, torturing all in it's path, never really dying, but spreading across the communities, whose wounds can never really heal.
|The car Ashley was killed in|
As retail cells, some tightly knit families, engage in tit for tat killings to unset the balances of power, children are murdered. The killers storm houses, fire into cars, ambush families while eating to kill their victims. Their lives aren't seen as worth more then the few thousand pesos made by their fathers, who often are retail drug dealers, or their killers, who kill for as little as a thousand pesos, or more commonly paid in product, cheap, easy.
What happens to the children whose fathers and mothers are murdered, in front of them? Or who never come home, from a trip to the store? There is a generations of children in Tijuana who have had at least one parent murdered. If there were 900 murders last year, you can assume there were at least 700 children, likely more, who were children of the victim.
How does am 11 year old process the murder of his mother, or father? How do they cope? How do they survive, if their provider was killed, and their mother terrified of further retribution? Who will care for them? There are little resources available in the United States for impoverished families, even less in Tijuana, even less for the families of narcomenudistas whose lives can begin and end in places like Sanchez Taboada, awash in blood and crystal meth.
|Roberto Carlos Marvilla, survived.|
His killers came for him on May 26th, in the afternoon, it was still light out, the waning afternoon hours, as the sun looms down over the city. Two men, in a grey honda civic, arrived, and entered through the front of the home. They fired at Roberto Carlos, and hit him, but their bullets also struck Hugo David in the neck, and head, he died on the scene, while his stepfather lived, transported to the hospital shortly after the attack.
Three days later, CJNG gunmen came for another narcocomudista, allegedly working for, or under groups associated with "El Guero Chompas", who was released in March of this year, to return to the bloody fight for his retail territory in eastern Tijuana. Chompas has been arrested and released twice in the last 5 years, despite his involvement direct or indirect in dozens of killings.
The bullet struck Ashley Castorena, 5, in her stomach, as she sat in the back of the family car, in traffic in Colonia Mariano Matamoros. Her parents, including Jesus Alberto Aispuro Medina, "El Mazapan", a narcocomudista, and her mother, drove to the hospital. Glass, blood, the frantic and anguished cries of a mother, as she watches her daughter slip away, fatally shot, bullets lodged in her tiny frame.
There is a familiar pattern here, impoverished communities, of which there are few choices, very low wages, and almost no hope. Mothers work in maquiladoras, or other entry level jobs, many of the men sell crystal, or work in some way for the retail cells controlling sales in the neighborhood. They try to have a life. Gifts on Christmas, food for the kids, maybe a carne asada every once in awhile.
Children are born into this world everyday, in Sanchez Taboada, Mariano Matamoros, colonias of Tijuana, Mexico, and beyond, in every place there is widespread, concentrated urban poverty. The symptoms are the same. The consequences are devastating. Children who join their families trade, or join the neighborhood cells, to stand on corners, halcones, runners, eventually gunmen, narcomenudistas themselves, in line for a shot at being the plaza boss.
Hundreds of children have had their parents murdered, and at least dozens have themselves been murdered. Who do we blame? Who do you attack? The parents fault. Or is it their parents fault? Have we become so callous and cold, self righteous we blame the children themselves for being in the way of bullets?
Roberto Carlos Marvilla and Jesus Medina survived the attacks. Do the dead come for them at night? Do their stepdaughters cries echo in their ears? Can they be drowned or silenced in the beers, the liquor, the crystal, the killings? They are the walking dead themselves, and they must know it, every time they leave the house, every time they feel the pistol in their waist, or tucked in the belt.
Will they be faster then the men sent to kill them? Or can they kill those who came for them? Catch them as they attend church on Sunday, firing into the vehicles, ambush them as they return from dinner, emptying 9mm shells in the backs of their targets....Can they take their parents away from their children too?
Lost souls, numb from the killing, lost in the frenzy of death, the metallic, heavy, snap of a slide being pulled back, or a magazine being inserted in a pistol, the echoing of gunfire in the night, the sounds of a child crying, the sight of one who will never cry again....
Sources: Zeta Tijuana
An off-duty Border Patrol agent has been hospitalized and is in stable condition following an attack Friday night in Doña Ana County, according to a press release issued Saturday by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
On June 10, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released the following statement about the incident:
“U.S. Customs and Border Protection is assisting in the investigation of a report of an assault against an off-duty Border Patrol agent assigned to the Deming, New Mexico, Border Patrol Station.
The agent was discovered on the side of the road by a motorist at 11 p.m. MDT. The agent suffered multiple, serious injuries to his head, chest and hands.
Emergency Medical Services transported the agent to a nearby hospital where he is being treated for his wounds. The agent is in stable condition.
CBP is working closely with the FBI, Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, and the El Paso Police Department on the ongoing investigation. CBP has informed its workforce of this report and has reminded its law enforcement personnel to be alert and aware of their surroundings and potential threats related to their service.”
That’s the only official word on the incident. However, unofficial information has been leaking out. Robin Zielinski, a photographer for the Las Cruces Sun-News newspaper, tweeted that a "credible source told me that fingers of off-duty Border Patrol agents were cut off during last night (sic) attack."
BREAKING: Credible source told me that fingers of off-duty Border Patrol agent were cut off during last night attack http://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/crime/2017/06/10/off-duty-border-patrol-agent-attacked/387065001/ …
The area immediately south of the border in the El Paso sector, where the Deming station is located, “is controlled by the Juarez Cartel and their enforcers, La Linea.
FBI is leading the investigation and their agents have been advised to remain vigilant and maintain a heightened level of awareness.”
21 liters of liquid cocaine seized at airport
An airport is nothing if not a microcosm of a society, trade, and commerce, as thousands pass through it's doors, for business, pleasure, passion, others simply earn a living in the closed world of an international airport. Across Mexico, and in border cities, groups of traffickers collaborate and conspire, conversations in hotel bars, stash houses, upscale microcosm, networks coordinate the purchase, packaging, transport of cocaine. Where it lands, how it gets there, who picks it up, who buys it, who resells it, who processes it, who crosses it, who buys it, and for what price.
Note , the 4 kilos seized in May were in powder form, not pressed kilos. The first thought would be that they are possibly of a higher quality, and would be pressed and recut in Tijuana. Also, it could be solely for smuggling purposes, the same kilos broken down into power, and given to couriers.
Liquified cocaine must be re converted into cocaine restaurants, and pressed into a kilo brick, to be sold to almost any and all buyers, as the re conversion process is not commonly known, even amongst traffickers, plus assessing quality would be much more difficult. This would likely be repressed in Tijuana, and then smuggled across, although the liquid form may be more appealing. In June 2012, a man from El Salvador was arrested at the San Ysidro border with 71 pounds of liquid cocaine.
If the kilos were of an above average purity, of say 90$, you could add an extra 200,000 or so, assuming the product would be processed, yielding an extra 4 kilos or so, conservative estimate. The average purity of a seized kilo in the United States is 74%, down 10% from 10 years earlier. (Per the DEA report for 2016) If one can safely assume that the most kilos seized are on the Southwest border, which accounts for roughly 90% of incoming cocaine, you can assume the average kilo leaving border cities is roughly 75%.
Sources: AFN Tijuana, Zeta Tijuana,
Translated by Yaqui for BorderlandBeat from El Universal
Dennis Garcia 6/11/2017
SEDENA (Secretary of National Defense) and AIC (Agency of Investigation of Crime) succeeded in the arrest of Jesus Rene Rodriguez Duenas, "El Rino", a key player in the structure of the Sinaloa Cartel; the faction headed by Ivan Guzman Salazar, son of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera.
|Ambush of Military Convoy Sept 30, 2016|
It took intelligence work to determine that Rodriguez Duenas is one of several criminals along with Ivan Guzman, who coordinated and participated directly in the attack on the Military convoy on Sept 30, 2016, and confirms that they were behind the attack which left five soldiers dead.
Duenas, "El Rino", also known as "El 20", is responsible for criminal activity in Culiacan, Sinaloa,
serving at the behest of "Los Menores", as they are known; the sons of the founder of the Sinaloa Cartel, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who has been extradited to the US and is in New York awaiting trial which will inevitably lead to a Life imprisonment sentence.
|The Guzman Family: Two Sons / One Father|
"The Federal Government reports that within the framework of institutional collaboration, SEDENA, along with AIC ( Agency of Investigation of Crime) , and the PGR arrested Jesus Rene Rodriguez Duenas on June 9, 2017, allegedly responsible for criminal activities carried out by the criminal organization based in Culiacan, Sinaloa", says the PGR statement.
According to the investigation, "El Rino/ "El 20" is the one who commanded the confrontations against rival organizations/ cells and the divisions of the Sinaloa Cartel to maintain control of the plaza in Navolato, Culiacan, and Cosala, Sinaloa.
At the time of arrest the man was detained with a large firearm, as well as two kilos plus 15 doses of crystal; 20 doses of methamphetamine and 30 doses of cocaine, all of which was put at the disposal of the PGR.
Upon entering Culiacan, the Military units were received with high-power weapon fire and the wounded person, "El Kevin" was "rescued" from the Army by the armed commando: the very next day the Secretary of National Defense, General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, described the armed commandos as "sick, insane, beasts and criminals" for attacking the uniformed soldiers.
|"El Kevin", later tortured and murdered|
With the recapture of "EL Chapo" Guzman and his later extradition to the US, the Sinaloa Cartel has become fragmented: on one side are the sons of the capo, Ivan and Alfredo Guzman, who have the support of Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, founder of the organization.
The other group is led by Aureliano Guzman,"El Guano", brother of "El Chapo", whom the federal authorities identify as one of the most violent members of the Cartel.
|Brother "El Guano" Guzman|
"El Guano" always has operated under the shadow of Joaquin, his brother, carrying out operations mainly in the towns of La Tuna, La Palma, and El Nogalito, but since the extradition of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman he has decided to fight his nephews for power of the Sinaloa Cartel criminal DTO.
Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Procesoarticle
Subject Matter: Cartel Alliance
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required
Reporter: Francisco Castellanos J.
In diverse points of the zone known as Occidente, narcomantas appeared this morning pointing to a new alliance of the criminal cells of Los Antrax and Neuva Generacion.
According to Judicial Authorities, the narcomantas have appeared in diverse points of the towns of Jacona and Zamora, where a dozen of them were located on bridges and other public places, such as the Monument a la Fresa, located next to the motorway from Jacona to Jiquilpan.
Other mantas appeared in the community of Santiago Tangamandapio, at the same time as the ones in Zamora were being hung on the health centre, a kiosk in the community square of La Rinconada and some pedestrian bridges.
One of the narco mantas was directed at Romualdo Albiter Rebollar, director of Public Security of Zamora.
The mantas were removed by police authorities after an alert that mobilized security forces from both Federal and State municipal forces.
One of the criminal groups was founded and commanded by El Chino Antrax until he was arrested in Holland on December the 30th of 2013. After the capture of Chino Antrax, Luis Eduardo Zambada, El Venado, become one of the leaders of this cell.
Original article in Spanish at Proceso
Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from an El Debate article
Subject Matter: Shoot out in Cancun tourist district
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required
A fierce shootout was registered in the commercial centre of Culiacan on Avenue Tulum, Coba and Bonampak up to the Plaza del Toros, in the Premier block of the city of Cancun, in which a confrontation between elements of the Army and State Police chased a group of sicarios.
In the first version of events, the confrontation between the armed groups happened at a place close to the bus station and the shootout continued into the restaurant zone and bars that ended at the plaza del toros.
The government of Quintana Roo has not confirmed the number of injured after the gun battle, but it is known that there are four people with gunshot injuries and one death.
Parts of the city centre are now closed, with police mobilized which has generated a climate of tension in the area. There were four detainees, all of whom were injured and were hospitalized, while others were detained by the Ministerial authority.
According to the residents testimony, gun shots were heard outside a shopping centre located on Tulum Avenue, at the top of Glorieta de las Estrellas and Lasa Caracoles, popularly known as Glorieta del Ceviche, in the centre of the city.
There were also detonations in the kiwi market, a few meters from the Glorieta and in front of the Municipal palace, very close to the same area.
The shooting spread to Nader Avenue, parallel to Tulum Avenue, where it is presumed that some of those implicated were injured.
The government of Quintana Roo issued a brief message: " The situation in Cancun is under control, after the arrest of a group of people.
Officially it was reported that it was the execution of a ministerial action, that provoked the chase and subsequent gun battle.
Some inhabitants reports gunfire at Plaza Las Avenidas, located in the Xcaret and Coba Avenues.
Original article in Spanish at El Debate
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Zeta
By Carlos Alvarez
June 17, 2017
El Siglo de Torreon also reports that in the Secretary of the Marina (SEMAR) statement the Naval
Agency developed this operation and proceeded with it strictly by the established procedures in The Manual of the Use of Force, The Common Application of the Three Armed Forces (of Mexico) and with "Absolute respect for Human Rights with a goal of bringing back security to Mexican families.
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Proceso
|Raul Miranda Valencia Shot Dead|
By Francisco Castellanos J.
June 15, 2017
Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Sinembargo article
Subject Matter: David Joel Kaplan
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required
Other articles in this series by Humberto Padgett
Traconi the escape artist of La Tanga Rosa
The Grey Automobile Gang
David Joel Kaplan starred in what was known in 1971 as "the escape of the century". As spectacular as the escape of El Chapo Guzman from Altiplano. David Kaplan was imprisoned in the Santa Martha Acatitla Prison, which was considered the most secure in the country, his escape was planned with milimetric precision by his sister.
A Bell helicopter fitted with a super-charged turbine, and piloted by an ex Vietnam vet was his vehicle to liberty.
Previously, like El Chapo in his escape from Puente Grande, he had tried to escape hidden in the pile of dirty clothes, the escape was foiled by someone giving up his plan.
Another escape idea by Kaplan was to hide in the false floor of a van owned by another USA prisoner called Church, who had been imprisoned for assassinating a Mexican policeman with his bare hands, this escape was also foiled.
These escape attempts proved fruitless until 18th of August of 1971 around 6:30 pm he achieved it, and like El Chapo, from under the noses of the guards.
Nine: Look Kaplan, its coming, you see it? The helicopter is close, Carlos i'm scared, Kaplan was trembling, a veteran of a dozen escape attempts.
Eight: 7600 inmates bar 2 were inside the dormitory passing the afternoon watching a film
Seven: The Bell helicopter with bubble cockpit descended through the rain into the interior of the prison, in the same manner that one really appreciates a girls when he has laid with her a long time, said the pilot.
Six: David Joel Kaplan, American, and Carlos Contreras, from Venezuela, leave their cell and head into the courtyard.
Five: Prison officers are confused, the helicopter is the same blue color as those used by the Federal District Police who come and go to the prison.
Four: Kaplan and Contreras run through the basket ball courts, its all or nothing now.
Three: Prison officers know something is wrong, the rain, the surprise, something is not right about the helicopter.
Two: The vigilante Cruz Victoriano raises his weapon and pulls the trigger, but the gun misfires.
One: Joel and Carlos acknowledge, the wide grin of Roger, a combat pilot vet from Vietnam with a reputation for being able to fly through a rainbow. The prison guards are stunned as the helicopter rises, the prison was considered the most secure in Mexico.
Zero: In ten seconds, at 6:35 in the afternoon of the August the 18th, 1971, he has accomplished the escape of the century.
The film biography of Kaplan is so peculiar that it perked the interest of a porn film producer born in the Soviet Union, featuring strip clubs and teams of Cuban sicarios.
The film includes a dead body, who he is accused of murdering, Luis Vidal Jr., with brown eyes instead of blue eyes like the real person.
The murdered mans wife claimed that the dead man was her husband and that he was also recognized by a waitress who saw in the Continental Hilton, where he stayed before disappearing.
When his wife was asked about how his eye color had changed she answered, "surely someone took my husbands eyeballs and put them in someone else".
The mysterious of Vidals death and the prosecution of Kaplan, his business partner is recounted in the book, Kaplan Fuga en diez segundos, by Eliot Asinof, Warren Hinckle and William Turner, published in Spanish by Lasser press in 1973. There also exists and autobiography about Carlos Contreras, cellmate and fellow escapee with Kaplan, called La Fuga del Siglo, or the escape of the century, published by Carnel in Venezuela, also in 1973.
Also Sinembargo has possession of the prison records and antecedents of Kaplan.
The most accepted version of Joel David Kaplan is that he was agent undercover for the CIA, and arms trafficker, and a family member of business empresarios with political interests in Cuba, from where they left after the revolution in 1959. For his part, Vidal Jr. was the son of Spanish businessman with friends in the Caribbean and in particular the Domincan dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, who was godfather to Vidal Jr.
On October 22nd, 1971, two boys found a pack of dogs devouring a corpse, which was later identified as Vidals.
After a trial plagued with irregularities, and beyond the propaganda in the biography written by Asinof, Hinckley and Turner in favour of Kaplan, the American and partner of Vidal was arrested, presented by the Mexican press as a murderer, tried and sentenced in 1964 to 27 years in prison for the crime of homicide, and three years for vidals clandestine burial.
Why did the Mexican system act with such ferocity against the wealthy American, in this epock at a quiet moment of the Cold War, it is speculated that Kaplan was a victim of his Uncle, a sugar and molasses magnate, Jacob M Kaplan, whose connection with the CIA, who was funding Latin American regimes which was widely known.
It was said that Kaplan was part of the assassination plot against John F Kennedy, and a drug smuggler with the knowledge of participation in the business of politicians at all levels.
At the end of the sixties and the start of the seventies, the penitentiary of Santa Martha was responsible for, according to former prison officers, the dissapearances of dozens of students and communist dissidents of the times, who were cremated in a smelting furnace that existed there.
To a high class American Jew, the Mexican jail was supposed to be the closest thing to a mediaval dungeon. Kaplan together with other prisoners from Lecumberri, they were transferred to Santa Martha, at that time outside of Federal District, with confinement in cells rather than dormitories.
These sites were called ZO or zones of oblivion, and its existence lasted until at least the middle of the last decade, at the start of the government of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
In Kaplan, fuga en diez segundos, he is described as a having dull, plaster-white skin with a musty smell typical of someone who has lived in confinement without sun or fresh air, but in the same book there are constant references of the benefits he received, thanks to the definitive corruption of the Mexican prison system, better food, unlimited conjugal visits, poker nights, a cell shared only with the Venezuelan who accompanied him on his escape, and bottles and bottles of whisky and rum.
In September of 1967, the Supreme Court Justice of the Nation denied the appeal of Joel David Kaplan, if the gringo wanted to leave Mexico, he would have to escape. The idea of escape became as ever present in his mind as the air in his lungs.
He conceived a plan to fake appendicitis and agreed with an ambulance driver, his departure and delivery, outside of Mexico City, to a group of two American women and a lame Canadian with whom he would travel to the North looking like tourists. The ambulance driver accepted a payment of 75,000 pesos. The plan failed when the Ambulance driver was fired at work for being drunk with drink he bought with Kaplans money.
His next ruse was, after giving bribes of 100,000 dollars, he would be pronounced dead and his corpse taken out of jail in a body bag, outside his body would be substituted with another actually dead person and he would flee to Peru. He asked for money from his Uncle, executor of his fortune who it turned out would not release the funds.
Judy, David's sister joined in his escape plans. He sought help from CIA ex-agents, ex-lieutenants and deserters of the Cuban regime, and distributed thousands of dollars in any number of ideas that included even burning down the penitentiary.
Something more viable happened in October 1970, when a young Mexican couple acquired some land in the plain of the former Lake of Texcoco, a land that was turned into a chicken farm, just 200 metres from the cell of Kaplan. Instead of increasing the number of chickens, the amount of land increased. The plan was to dig a tunnel that was only foiled when they ran into volcanic lava which was impossible to dig out clandestinely.
Judy Kaplan won the support of Victor Stadter, a former world war 2 fighter pilot and smuggler of everything from Capuchin Monkeys to influences gained in the most ostentatious brothels of Latin America.
Something that was especially interesting about Stadter, a proud descendant of Prussians and organized crime on the continent; this American was forged as one of the largest carriers of illegal goods flying his own planes, from Guatemala to Texas, a couple of decades before Carillo Fuentes earned the nickname Lord of the Skies.
Kaplan devised another plan that involved him being hidden inside a truck compartment. Another American called Church worked inside the prison building truck compartments which were sold by the prison to private businesses. After Kaplan had given up 50,000 pesos of the 100,000 agreed, Church gave him up.
Another idea was to get a transfer to the prison in Cuernavaca arguing health reasons, the need to breathe clean air at a lower alititude. The prison in the capital of Morelos is described at that time as a prison without doors, in which the prisoners were allowed to go to the city, enjoying great freedom.
The transfer never took place because enough palms could not be greased to make it happen.
Next Kaplan hired a makeup artist from the USA. A hairdresser in New York designed a wig for $700 that would fit Kaplans head, who in the infirmary of Santa Martha, would take a drug that mimicks the symptoms of malaria. The make up artist would arrive as a nurse to the infirmary and the two would change identities of each other so Kaplan could make good his escape, and the make up artist would be freed after proving he had been drugged by Kaplan, when the time came to execute the plan Kaplan actually was sick, too sick to carry out the plan and escape.
To flee by air? At the time it probably seems the worst of most of his hair-brained schemes. It was an idea born in the mind of Kaplan, according to the research of Asinof, Hincle and Turner, and the idea came about because of his knowledge of operations of the US Army in Vietnam that extracted prisoners taken by the Vietcong behind enemy lines.
Stadter contacted an old Texan friend, an Irish descendant by the surname Orville and nicknamed Cotton, who was working as a crop sprayer and who could contact the helicopter pilot, Roger Hershner, a fighter pilot in Vietnam and 29 years of age.
While Kaplan knew many of the details, they organized the escape. Kaplan had taken a photograph of the landing area for the dimensions of the space. The images were no good, but Stadter managerd to infiltrate a real estate agent from his family mascarading as a criminologist, and to whom the director of the prison provided a guided tour.
Kaplan decided to include Carlos Contreras Castro in the escape, a Venezuelan drug dealer who managed to disconnect the alarm from the watch tower, which was referred to as the control tower.
Roger took off at 5.53 of the afternoon of August 18th, from Pachuca, Hidalgo. He arrived at Sant Martha Acatitla at 6.35.
The escape was named "The escape of the Century".
Kaplan, successful in his escape by helicopter, opened up this method of escape from prisons. Two years after him, three members of the IRA escaped from a prison in the UK, once a companion of the terrorists kidnapped a helicopter pilot and forced him to fly it in the escape.
Since then there have been 42 escape attempts using this method, 30 of these have been successful. The last recorded was on June 7th 2014, in a Quebec prison where three men that fled were returned a few weeks later.
In 1975, Charles Bronson played Nick Colton in Breakout, a pilot hero in the rescue of a US prisoner in a dirty and corrupt Mexican dungeon.
It will be possible to see the escape of Kaplan, a CIA Agent, thanks to the film "The Fourth Company", a Mexican thriller directed by Amir Galvan and Vanessa Arreola and that will be released in the last quarter of 2016.
Galvan and Arreola used an identical helicopter to the one used by Kaplan, the Bell with dragonfly body and transparent bubble canopy. They filmed in Santa Martha penitentiary and the scene of Kaplans escape was filmed in the actual courtyard he escaped from in 10 seconds. Many of the smaller bit parts in the film were played by inmates of the penitentiary.
The film is a fiction resulting from years of documentary research and addresses the existence of a group of car theives, all housed at Santa Martha, who leave the prison every night to rob Grand Marquis automobiles. The criminal operation is directed by the police of Federal District, then in the hands of Durazo.
One would think that for a command of prisoners of the DF Penitentiary, better known as Santa Martha Acatitla, who have an opportunity to go out and operate on the streets of Mexico City in the late seventies, is an event that dazzles.
After leaving and entering the prison, commenting in an interview with Arreola and Galván, directors of The Fourth Company. The Fugue of the Century, where Joel Kaplan and his cellmate, Carlos Contreras, rose in a helicopter in the 10 seconds that gave them freedom forever, produces fascination equally in many free men, in the inmates of the present and in the short-lived survivors of "the fourth company," the squad of prisoners and in turn notable football players, whose story the filmmakers recover in a film that will bear the same name and which is released in the winter of this year.
Where the flight of the"Chapo is already the precocious aspirant to be the great escape in Mexico this century ", says Galván. The Fourth Company is a Mexican film of recent production where the loss of innocence of a young man and the self-governments in prison, twist a little known but as real and surprising history as the current self-government in 65 percent of the prisons of our Country-control in the hands of criminals in detention, of which specialists comment.
In our history we take Kaplan's escape as an allegory, as an astonishing symbol of freedom, absence of pressure, and presence of individual expansion and solidarity with others.The escape is one of the episodes that we recreate in the Penitentiary of the DF, the same place where the historical story of the fourth company originates during the six years of López Portillo.
"We achieved this thanks to the collaboration and support of both the population of inmates and authorities of the Government of the Federal District (GDF) during the management of Marcelo Ebrard and, well, the heart beats in a singular way when it is necessary to recreate a flight in a jail where a helicopter went down and when it took up took two prisoners and left a third that stayed, and is still remaining, because Raymundo Moreno Reyes, the oldest prisoner, close to serving half a century in the national prison system and who is part of our cast.
Raymundo is called Burrorero because he sold the milk of his donkey, and this one, according to him, is the third film in his filmography. Raymundo arrived at the old prison Lecumberri when he was 21 years old, and in the sixties he was transferred to the Penitentiary. On the afternoon of August 18, 1971, 6:35, he looked up at the sky and saw him arrive and go to the Kaplan helicopter.
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Debate
|Arrest of "El BaBay" and Search of his Vehicle in CSL|
June 19, 2017
Additional Info from Colectivo Pericue,
BCS Noticias, Zeta
Captured: "El Babay", Abraham Cervantes Escareaga. He is identified as the alleged leader of a cell of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion / CTNG in Tijuana and as one of the main generators of violence in the Los Cabos, BCS area. "El BaBay" is also the alleged successor of "El Javier" who controlled the plaza of San Jose del Cabo.
He was detained in a joint operation of the Navy Secretariat (Semar), the National Defense (Sedena), the Attorney General's Office (PGR) and the Federal Police in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur.
He was detained in a joint operation of the Navy Secretariat (Semar), the National Defense (Sedena), the Attorney General's Office (PGR) and the Federal Police in Los Cabos, Baja California Sur.
After several days of intelligence work, monitoring and surveillance, elements of the Security Cabinet detected "El Babay" and a companion on board a vehicle and the joint security forces initiated a stop and then a search. There were many rumors during the morning hours later confirmed by authorities.
"In the interior of the vehicle were two long arms and a short gun, armaments for the exclusive use of the Armed Forces, as well as several doses presumably of drugs, cash and communication equipment, which led to the arrest of the two people, a man and a woman," the federal government said in a joint statement.
"El Babay" is identified as alleged leader of a cell of the Tijuana Cartel that operates in that entity and as one of the main generators of violence in that municipality.
Unofficial information sources speculate that he could possibly be tied to the wave of violence in San Jose del Cabo in confrontations with rival cells.
|"Seeding the Terror"|
|Threats Against Journalists in General and Colectivo Pericue in Particular|
( Please Don't Forget Max ! )
personnel (Deputy Attorney General's Specialized in the Investigation of Organized Crime)
The crimes charged against Abraham Cervantes Escareaga could include drug trafficking, money laundering, and possession of arms and explosives for the exclusive use of the armed forces.
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from El Debate
NOTE by Yaqui: There have been plenty of more murders in CSL, SJ del C and La Paz and in other communities in Baja California Sur since these events although I have not read of more graves or seen a report from the Investigation.
Extra Material from BCS Noticias
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
|Beloved Veteran Journalist Max|
War Correspondent in the 1980's
73 Years Young
The discovery of these clandestine graves or "narcofasas", as they are known, came about due to the ongoing investigation into the murder of Journalist Maximino Rodriguez Palacios, locally known as Max, who was lost his life in April.
The Governor of Baja California Sur, Carlos Mendoza Davis, thinks the discovery of the graves could be related to the territory dispute of rival cells within the Cartel de Pacifico. He added " that few clandestine graves are usually found in BCS, it is rare, but sadly, with intelligence and a good investigation we are coming upon them".
It was around 15:00 hours on Tuesday, when the institution's staff located the clandestine burial site at kilometer 4.5 of the San José del Cabo-Cabo Pulmo road, where they found human remains of four males and two females.
|No Caption Needed|
The search continued on Wednesday and the unit reported seven more men and one woman were found buried for a total of 14 corpses located in one place, bringing the number up to 11 men and 3 women.
The recovery work was interrupted by the lack of natural light, but tomorrow (Thursday), the search will continue.
According to the information, the bodies are in an advanced state of decomposition, so forensic experts from the Department of Experiential Services will be in charge of taking DNA samples to be able to identify them.
Likewise, the PGJE invites relatives of disappeared persons to come to its facilities to obtain a genetic profile and thus help them to be able to identify the bodies that have been found.
On Saturday, June10, minutes before 11am Security Agencies received a call to alert them that a cooler with human body parts and heads had been discovered. The finding was reportedly at Kilometer 17.5 under the El Tule Bridge near Cabo San Lucas.
Authorities were immediately deployed to the area and corroborated the report and found the cooler with body parts and more partially buried very near by, all appearing to be that of two males.
|Puente El Tule / Coolers|
The area was cordoned off for forensic specialists to begin their investigation and hopefully, identify the
bodies. This latest finding brings the total of badly decomposed corpses to more than 18 individuals found in "Narco Fosas" (clandestine graves) near the center of the Municipality of Cabo San Lucas.
Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Noreste article
Subject Matter: Sons of Mexican Capos
Recommendation: No prior subject matter knowledge required
The new generation of narcos are unpredictable and volatile
The detention or assassination of the big Mexican capos has obligated the next generation. Now their sons are fighting for control of the organizations.
More than the sons of Joaquin El Chapo Guzman, there are a series of narco junior millenials, some in prison and others at liberty, that maintain the leadership and conserve the relation of power, that for their fathers would not be so easy.
The behaviors of this new generation will be unpredictable and volatile, affirms Carlos Flores, expert in criminal organizations and an academic of the Centre for Investigations and Social Anthropology.
They are unpredictable because they don't know who really has the power among their fathers. They don't know properly about leadership and agreements.
They are volatile because its uncertain the time they can maintain control of their cartels while large internal disputes wage by the disappearance of the historic leaders.
Generation narco millennial, those born in the 1980's and 90's, are considerably less skillful than their parents and therefore are more violent, despite having greater academic preparation.
Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar, one of the sons of El Chapo, while the evolution of the business was accompanied by the maturity of the main actors: parents, specifically in Sinaloa, now they have all these technological tools of knowledge, but have no knowledge of the field, the rural part and there are few who have been forged from below, said Carlos Rodriguez Ulloa, an analyst on security issues.
As good millennials are more public and use social networking in which they boast about their luxuries and successes.
What is to be decided is how much they are willing to stop being the star of youtube, Instagram and social networks, he says.
They are taking for granted that they will inherit the networks of corporate and government power that their parents sowed. Natural heirs, have a feel for the work their parents have put in and the risks they took to establish power in the corporations of this country.
In the list of succession are the children of the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel, from the Beltran Leyvas, the Cartel del Golfo and the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion. Some are in prison but there is no guarantee that they will remain there.
Alfredo Beltran Guzman, El Mochomito, is part of the Beltran Leyva family, is the son of El Chapos cousin, and has been in prison since last year.
The narco lineage
Within the Sinaloa Cartel, a strong organized crime dispute is being waged at this time. Two of its four leaders are in prison, El Chapo and Damaso Lopez and the two that are free, Ismael El Mayo Zambada and Juan Jose Esparragoza El Azul, who is not confirmed as dead, are born of the 70's.
But El Chapo's sons, Ivan Archivaldo and Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, born in 1983 and 1985, respectively, who allegedly have given their support to El Mayo to become leader of the organization. There is also his half brother Ovidio Guzman Lopez, born in 1991, who has managed to maintain a profile lower than that of his brothers. In 2012, he was designated by the Government of the United States as being part of the criminal organization.
In the list is also Damaso Lopez Serrano, El Mini Lic. The DEA has a psychological profile on him that designates he mentally has surpassed 30 years of age. He is considered a young seducer, with a certain tendency to sociopathy. He likes to travel to beautiful places, in which he conquers women and uses multiple businesses to launder money from the sale of tons of drugs.
The children of El Chapo accused his father, Damaso Lopez, of ambushing them in Sinaloa last February, to push them aside to make an alliance with the CJNG. Mini Lic does not have a good relationship with Los Chapitos allegedly because Ivan Archivaldo considered that his narco corrido that the one composed about him.
Lopez Serrano led a network of youths in the service of the cartel, known as Grupo Antrax or Los Antrax. He is known for filling his life full of luxury and excesses. Some analysts arrived at the consideration that he will be the true successor of El Chapo.
In the line of succession of the big cartels, there are also narco junior millenials that are currently behind bars, but nobody can guarantee they will stay there, as happened with Ivan Archivaldo Guzman who was arrested and released, warned Francisco Jimenez Reynoso an analyst at the university of Guadalajara.
The highest ranking is Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, El Menchito, son of Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, El Mencho, leader of the CJNG.
Ruben Oseguera Gonzalez, El Menchito, was arrested in 2014, but in February of this year a judge granted him an amparo to order an arrest warrant for the crime of organized crime.
El Menchito was born in 1990 in San Francisco, California. According to reports by the Attorney Generals office, he has ordered executions of antagonistic groups and could be related to the crimes of more than 70 victims exhumed in clandestine graves in November of 2013 in the municipality of La Barca, Jalisco.
He is also accused of venturing into the production and distribution of crystal, as well as sales of stolen fuel taken from Pemex pipelines.
Osiel Cardenas Jr, is the son of the former head of the Gulf Cartel chief Osiel Cardenas Guillen, and was arrested on December 31st of 2014, in the United States, charged with arms trafficking to Mexico. He was initially sentenced to 10 months in prison, but judicial authorities decided not to release him, he was then 23 years old.
His mother defined her son as immature and lacking in experience, in a letter she sent to the courts. She asked that they punish her son mistakes so that he would receive a lesson and not forget it. The decision you make will be the right one for my sons life.
Original article in Spanish at Noreste
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Debate
|WANTED : "El Cenizo"|
Michoacán.- On Wednesday morning, June 21, the arrest of Ignacio Andrade Rentería, alias El Cenizo, in Parácuaro, was confirmed. The action was coordinated between the Ministry of National Defense (Sedena) and the Attorney General's Office (PGR).
|CAPTURED: "El Cenizo"|
The information on the capture of one of the most powerful criminal of Michoacán, after the fall of Servando Gómez Martínez alias "La Tuta", former leader of the organization Knights Templar (Caballeros Templarios) in 2015, was confirmed by the PGR.
Authorities moved into the community on September 1, where they had intelligence information about the presence of the criminal cell that supposedly was in charge "El Cenizo" aka "Nacho" Rentería.
The locality deployed the troops that at one point were attacked by gunfire and immediately repelled bullets detonated by the gunmen.
In the fray two soldiers were injured and were carried off for medical attention. The officers managed to retract several gunmen and in the end as a result of the operation "El Cenizo" was apprehended.
This was the plaza chief of the municipality of Múgica, and also the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación.
Andrade Renteria was injured and was treated at the Regional Hospital of Apatzingán. Both were transferred to Morelia by air for presentation to the Attorney General's Office.
A security operation was implemented in the state against possible actions (disturbances) on the part of the criminals by the capture.
Daniel Rubio Ruiz, aka "El Cabezas", CNJG also Captured
In this regard, the governor of Michoacán, Silvano Aureoles Conejo, in his Twitter profile, sent a message congratulating the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) and the Secretary of Public Security of Michoacán for arresting "one of the Main Objectives in our security strategy ". He stressed that they will continue to work "without respite or rest for the safety of the Michoacans".
|Gov of Michoacan, Silvano Aurelos Conejo|
Morelia, Michoacan after being arrested in the municipality of Parácuaro by members of the Ministry of National Defense and Police Michoacán , Ignacio Andrade Renteria, "El Cenizo" , leader of the criminal group "Knights Templar" and one of its operators, Daniel Rubio Ruiz, "El Cabezas" , were transferred to the premises of the Delegation in Morelia of the Attorney General's Office. (PGR)
Posted by Yaqui and DD Republished from the New York Times
Leer en español
|Credit Alfredo Estrella/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images|
The targets include lawyers looking into the mass disappearance of 43 students, a highly respected academic who helped write anti-corruption legislation, two of Mexico’s most influential journalists and an American representing victims of sexual abuse by the police. The spying even swept up family members, including a teenage boy.
Since 2011, at least three Mexican federal agencies have purchased about $80 million worth of spyware created by an Israeli cyberarms manufacturer. The software, known as Pegasus, infiltrates smartphones to monitor every detail of a person’s cellular life — calls, texts, email, contacts and calendars. It can even use the microphone and camera on phones for surveillance, turning a target’s smartphone into a personal bug.
The company that makes the software, the NSO Group, says it sells the tool exclusively to governments, with an explicit agreement that it be used only to battle terrorists or the drug cartels and criminal groups that have long kidnapped and killed Mexicans.
But according to dozens of messages examined by The New York Times and independent forensic analysts, the software has been used against some of the government’s most outspoken critics and their families, in what many view as an unprecedented effort to thwart the fight against the corruption infecting every limb of Mexican society.
“We are the new enemies of the state,” said Juan E. Pardinas, the general director of the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, who has pushed anti-corruption legislation. His iPhone, along with his wife’s, was targeted by the software, according to an independent analysis. “Ours is a society where democracy has been eroded,” he said.
The deployment of sophisticated cyberweaponry against citizens is a snapshot of the struggle for Mexico itself, raising profound legal and ethical questions for a government already facing severe criticism for its human rights record. Under Mexican law, only a federal judge can authorize the surveillance of private communications, and only when officials can demonstrate a sound basis for the request.
It is highly unlikely that the government received judicial approval to hack the phones, according to several former Mexican intelligence officials. Instead, they said, illegal surveillance is standard practice.
“Mexican security agencies wouldn’t ask for a court order, because they know they wouldn’t get one,” said Eduardo Guerrero, a former analyst at the Center for Investigation and National Security, Mexico’s intelligence agency and one of the government agencies that use the Pegasus spyware. “I mean, how could a judge authorize surveillance of someone dedicated to the protection of human rights?”
“There, of course, is no basis for that intervention, but that is besides the point,” he added. “No one in Mexico ever asks for permission to do so.”
The hacking attempts were highly personalized, striking critics with messages designed to inspire fear — and get them to click on a link that would provide unfettered access to their cellphones.
|Credit Edgard Garrido/Reuters|
Carmen Aristegui, one of Mexico’s most famous journalists, was targeted by a spyware operator posing as the United States Embassy in Mexico, instructing her to click on a link to resolve an issue with her visa. The wife of Mr. Pardinas, the anti-corruption activist, was targeted with a message claiming to offer proof that he was having an extramarital affair.
For others, imminent danger was the entry point, like a message warning that a truck filled with armed men was parked outside Mr. Pardinas’s home.
For others, imminent danger was the entry point, like a message warning that a truck filled with armed men was parked outside Mr. Pardinas’s home.
“I think that any company that sells a product like this to a government would be horrified by the targets, of course, which don’t seem to fall into the traditional role of criminality,” said John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, which examined the hacking attempts.
The Mexican government acknowledges gathering intelligence against legitimate suspects in accordance with the law. “As in any democratic government, to combat crime and threats against national security the Mexican government carries out intelligence operations,” it said in a statement.
But the government “categorically denies that any of its members engages in surveillance or communications operations against defenders of human rights, journalists, anti-corruption activists or any other person without prior judicial authorization.”
The Mexican government’s deployment of spyware has come under suspicion before, including hacking attempts on political opponents and activists fighting corporate interests in Mexico.
Still, there is no ironclad proof that the Mexican government is responsible. The Pegasus software does not leave behind the hacker’s individual fingerprints. Even the software maker, the NSO Group, says it cannot determine who, exactly, is behind specific hacking attempts.
But cyberexperts can verify when the software has been used on a target’s phone, leaving them with few doubts that the Mexican government, or some rogue actor within it, was involved.
“This is pretty much as good as it gets,” said Bill Marczak, another senior researcher at Citizen Lab, who confirmed the presence of NSO code on several phones belonging to Mexican journalists and activists.
Moreover, it is extremely unlikely that cybercriminals somehow got their hands on the software, the NSO Group says, because the technology can be used only by the government agency where it is installed.
The company is part of a growing number of digital spying businesses that operate in a loosely regulated space. The market has picked up in recent years, particularly as companies like Apple and Facebook start encrypting their customers’ communications, making it harder for government agencies to conduct surveillance.
Increasingly, governments have found that the only way to monitor mobile phones is by using private businesses like the NSO Group that exploit little-known vulnerabilities in smartphone software. The company has, at times, operated its businesses under different names. One of them, OSY Technologies, paid Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, more than $40,000 to be an advisory board member from May 2016 until January, according to his public financial disclosures.
Before selling to governments, the NSO Group says, it vets their human rights records. But once the company licenses the software and installs its hardware inside intelligence and law enforcement agencies, the company says, it has no way of knowing how its spy tools are used — or whom they are used against.
The company simply bills governments based on the total number of surveillance targets. To spy on 10 iPhone users, for example, the company charges $650,000 on top of a flat $500,000 installation fee, according to NSO marketing proposals reviewed by The New York Times.
Even when the NSO Group learns that its software has been abused, there is only so much it can do, the company says, arguing that it cannot simply march into intelligence agencies, remove its hardware and take back its spyware.
“When you’re selling AK-47s, you can’t control how they’ll be used once they leave the loading docks,” said Kevin Mahaffey, chief technology officer at Lookout, a mobile security company.
Rather, the NSO Group relies on its customers to cooperate in a review, then turns over the findings to the appropriate governmental authority — in effect, leaving governments to police themselves.
Typically, the company’s only recourse is to slowly cut off a government’s access to the spy tools over the course of months, or even years, by ceasing to provide new software patches, features and updates. But in the case of Mexico, the NSO Group has not condemned or even acknowledged any abuse, despite repeated evidence that its spy tools have been deployed against ordinary citizens and their families.
From Hope to Intimidation
Journalists, human rights defenders and anti-corruption campaigners have long faced enormous risks in Mexico. For decades, they have been followed, harassed, threatened and even killed for their work, occupational hazards more common in authoritarian states than in countries in good standing with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, as Mexico is.
But when President Enrique Peña Nieto came into office in 2012, promising to lift Mexico to its rightful place on the world stage, there was an inkling of hope that the nation’s democracy was coming into its own.
His party passed a list of badly needed changes, taking aim at the failing education system and moving to enhance the transparency of Mexico’s bureaucracy. Competition in some core industries, like telecommunications, has increased.
But by 2014, much of the early promise of the Peña Nieto administration was dashed by the crises subsuming it, including the mysterious disappearance of 43 teaching students after a clash with the police, and accusations that the president and his wife got a special deal on a multimillion-dollar home from a government contractor.
The scandals have left an enduring mark on the president’s reputation. After a stunning rise built on a perfectly crafted image — a young, energetic president working across party lines, the embodiment of a new Mexico — Mr. Peña Nieto was suddenly recast as an out-of-touch, corrupt politician with abysmal approval ratings.
More journalists were killed in Mexico last year than during any other year this century, and 2017 is off to an even worse start. Government critics are routinely harassed and threatened, and now they are being targeted with incredibly sophisticated software.
In no small part, that fall was thanks to the Mexican journalists who broke news of the scandals, as well as the lawyers and activists who refused to let the country forget about them.
“You have to remember this was a government that went from setting the agenda to being entirely reactive,” said Carlos Loret de Mola, a news anchor for Televisa who has some of the best sources inside the Mexican government.
Mr. Loret de Mola, who received at least eight messages laced with NSO software, added, “They looked at journalists and thought, ‘They are bringing these things out and embarrassing us, so it’s better if we spy on them.’”
Mexico is still a far cry from Turkey, which jails more journalists than any other nation in the world. It is hardly China, an authoritarian state where critics are silenced and a Western-style free press has been cast as a political peril by the government. But Mexico is in crisis on these fronts all the same.
More journalists were killed in Mexico last year than during any other year this century, and 2017 is off to an even worse start. Government critics are routinely harassed and threatened, and now they are being targeted with incredibly sophisticated software.
“The fact that the government is using high-tech surveillance against human rights defenders and journalists exposing corruption, instead of those responsible for those abuses, says a lot about who the government works for,” said Luis Fernando García, the executive director of R3D, a digital rights group in Mexico that has helped identify multiple abuses of Pegasus in Mexico. “It’s definitely not for the people.”
‘About Getting Revenge’
Perhaps no journalist in Mexico has done as much to damage the reputation of the president than Carmen Aristegui. And few have paid as dearly for it.
In 2014, she and her team broke the scandal of the so-called Casa Blanca, or White House, a story of real estate intrigue that involved a special deal handed to Mexico’s first lady, Angélica Rivera, by a major government contractor close to the president.
The story reached a worldwide audience and forced the president’s wife to surrender the house, presenting the Mexican government with the sort of ethical quandary that in a different country might result in a congressional inquiry or the appointment of an independent prosecutor.
Instead, the president was cleared of wrongdoing by a prosecutor who had worked closely with his campaign team, while Ms. Aristegui lost her job. That moment marked the beginning of a sustained campaign of harassment and defamation against her: lawsuits, break-ins at her offices, threats to her safety and the monitoring of her movements.
“It’s been about getting revenge for the piece,” she said. “There’s really no other way to see it.”
So when she began receiving text messages in 2015 from unknown numbers, instructing her to click on a link, she was suspicious. One message asked for her help in locating a missing child. Another alerted her to sudden charge on her credit card. And she received a text message purportedly from the American Embassy about a problem with her visa. Impersonating an American government official is a possible violation of United States law.
When the messages failed to entice her to click on the links and inadvertently download the software, they grew increasingly strident, including one warning that she could be imprisoned. Several came from the same phone number, leaving a record of the spyware operator’s sloppiness.
Still, the spyware operators pressed on. Starting as early as March, they began targeting Ms. Aristegui’s then-16-year-old son, Emilio, who was living in the United States at the time. Some of the texts were similar to the ones she had received. Others were made-up headlines about Ms. Aristegui, sent from what appeared to be a news agency.
“The only reason they could be going after my son is in the hopes of finding something against me, to damage me,” she said.
Ms. Aristegui is the embodiment of the hope — and the crushing limitations — for a free media in Mexico. Though she was fired over what her employer called internal disagreements, she continued publishing on her own, eventually drawing enough of an audience to sustain a team of reporters.
But the work has taken its toll. In one lawsuit, filed by the president of her former employer, a judge cited Ms. Aristegui last November for her “excessive use of freedom of speech.”
Her website, Aristegui Noticias, has been hacked numerous times, including on the eve of publishing a major investigation into the massacre of more than a dozen civilians by the federal police.
And her offices were broken into last November. So brazen were the assailants that they didn’t bother wearing masks. Nor did they steal much — one computer, a watch and a bag hanging from the back of a chair. Their faces and fingerprints were captured on cameras in the office. Still, no one has been caught.
The threats, harassment, even the spying, all of it she channels into work.
It was Dec. 21, 2015, and Mr. Pardinas was at the beach with his family, trying to enjoy the start of his Christmas vacation. But his phone kept buzzing, at first with calls from lawyers, and then with an odd text message.
It had been a long few months in an even longer campaign: to pass an unprecedented law forcing Mexico’s public servants to disclose their financial conflicts of interest.
In November, he had presented a study on the costs of corruption in Mexico, confirming with facts and figures something that nearly all Mexicans knew in their hearts — that corruption was crippling the country.
He followed it up with media interviews, poking fun at the Mexican government’s embarrassing response to corruption. He joked that it probably spent more money on coffee and cookies than on the office in charge of prosecuting graft.
The study, the interviews, a seemingly endless gantlet of meetings with politicians — it all laid the groundwork for the new law, which Mr. Pardinas, a private citizen directing a public policy group, was helping to write.
So even as Christmas approached and his family relaxed in the coastal town of Puerto Vallarta, Mr. Pardinas was busily consulting lawyers on the final draft, which he had just over a month to submit.
And then a message: “My father died at dawn, we are devastated, I’m sending you the details of the wake, I hope you can come.” Attached was a link.
Mr. Pardinas thought it odd that whoever had sent such a personal text was not even among the contacts in his phone. He showed his wife the message, and decided to ignore it.
Things only picked up from there, both on his proposed law and the odd messages. The government roundly ignored his bill, until he and others gathered more than 630,000 signatures supporting it.
Mr. Pardinas’s tone grew bolder. He told one radio host that “for the government of Mexico, anti-corruption measures are like garlic to a vampire.”
Then came another text message. This one appeared to be from the news outlet Uno TV, which sends daily news headlines to cellphone users across the country. The headline struck him: “The History of Corruption Within the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness.” It was particularly alarming because that was his organization.
He declined once more to click on the link, suspecting foul play. More text messages came, including the next day. Only this time, having failed with Mr. Pardinas, they tried his wife.
The message, sent from the same news headline service, said that leaked videos showed Mr. Pardinas having sexual relations with a member of his staff. It was also sent to a colleague.
Mr. Pardinas called his wife, telling her that she appeared to be part of a broader harassment effort. “Oh, it’s these people again,” she responded.
The campaign to pass the law continued, and the bill made it through Congress relatively unscathed. But the Senate decided to add an extra provision:
Everyone who worked for a company that received government money would also have to disclose their interests and assets. That meant the bill would cover more than 30 million people.
The president vetoed the bill, saying it needed more discussion, essentially kicking the can down the road.
Mr. Pardinas continued his broadsides in interviews, naming obstructive lawmakers and well-connected companies that benefited from government money. Few activists go so far as to name names in interviews, but Mr. Pardinas, who holds a Ph.D. from the London School of Economics, plowed ahead anyway.
The initiative seemed doomed. Yet another message arrived, on Aug. 1, this one laced with menace: “Listen, outside of your house is a truck with two armed guys, I took their photo look at them and be careful.”
Mr. Pardinas, who was at work when this message came, once again declined to take the bait. But he did call his wife, again, asking her to look out their window to see if there was a truck parked outside. There was not.
“By the end, my wife had Olympic-style training in this hacking stuff,” Mr. Pardinas said.
|Credit Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press|
Mario E. Patrón was on edge. The conference table was packed with fellow human rights defenders, including the United Nations commissioner for human rights in Mexico. Everyone was there to discuss the bombshell expected to drop.
An international panel brought to Mexico to investigate the haunting disappearance of 43 teaching students was releasing its final report the next day, at the end of April 2016. The findings, Mr. Patrón knew, were going to be brutal.
The government would be accused of negligence, incompetence, even malfeasance in its handling of the case. Like others in the room, Mr. Patrón, whose organization represents the parents of the missing students, was wondering how the government would respond.
His phone buzzed and he glanced at the screen. “THE GOVERNMENT OF MEXICO GETS OUT IN FRONT OF THE GIEI,” the text message read, using the acronym for the international panel. It seemed like the news he had been waiting for.
He showed the message to his colleague, then clicked on the link. But instead of an article or a news release, it simply redirected him to a blank page. Confused, he left the meeting and raced to his office to begin making calls to see what the government had in store.
And like that, he fell into their trap.
Mr. Patrón is the executive director of the Miguel Augustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center, perhaps the most highly respected human rights group in Mexico. The group focuses on the nation’s most serious cases of human rights abuses, making it a nettlesome critic of the government.
In addition to Mr. Patrón, two other lawyers for the group were targeted with the software: Santiago Aguirre, the primary lawyer representing the families of the missing students, and Stephanie E. Brewer, a Harvard-educated American lawyer who has worked for the group since 2007.
“We have always suspected they spied on us and listened to us,” Mr. Patrón said. “But to have evidence that we are victims of actual surveillance — it confirms that we are under threat. And that the government is willing to use illegal measures to try and stop us.”
Beyond the missing students, Centro Prodh, as the group is called, is representing one of the few survivors of a military raid in 2014 in the town of Tlatlaya, where the army stormed a suspected cartel hide-out and killed 22 people.
The organization’s clients also include the women of Atenco, a group of 11 university students, activists and market vendors who were arrested by the police more than 10 years ago during protests in the town of San Salvador Atenco and brutally sexually assaulted on the way to prison.
Aside from the grave abuse of power, the case was especially sensitive: The governor who ordered the crackdown on the protesters was Enrique Peña Nieto, now the president of Mexico.
From the very beginning, the case was an uphill battle. Arrested on trumped-up charges, some of the women spent more time in prison than the officers who raped them.
Finding no recourse in Mexico, Ms. Brewer and others appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a regional body outside the Mexican judicial system, to review the case. And they waited — for nearly seven years.
Finally, in 2015, the commission found in favor of the women, ordering the government to investigate the case all the way up the chain of command, a directive that would include Mr. Peña Nieto. Ultimately, the case was sent to the Inter-American Court, an independent judiciary with jurisdiction over Mexico, a major blow to the nation’s presidency.
One evening Ms. Brewer was at home, getting ready for bed when a text message arrived. The date practically coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the assaults on the women, an eerie bookend to their decade-long struggle for justice.
On her phone was a provocative question, a taunt even, asking whether anyone defended the soldiers and members of Mexico’s navy who also suffered abuse.
“And you guys that do human rights against this, what about the dignity of them …” The message contained a link, presumably to a news story or a tip.
Intrigued, Ms. Brewer clicked on it. She was directed to a broken link, a telltale sign of the malware.
“It’s just part of defending human rights in Mexico,” she said. “It comes with the territory.”
Azam Ahmed reported from Mexico City, and Nicole Perlroth from Boulder, Colo. Paulina Villegas contributed reporting from Mexico City.
Azam Ahmed reported from Mexico City, and Nicole Perlroth from Boulder, Colo. Paulina Villegas contributed reporting from Mexico City.
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Zeta
|The Baja California Peninsula / West Coast of Sinaloa and Sonora|
The Gulf of California
According to data released Wednesday by the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System (SESNSP) of the Ministry of the Interior, in May of this year there were 2 thousand 186 intentional homicide cases, which surpassed the record figure of this crime in the last two decades, since the compilation of data is made monthly from 1997 to date.
The level of intentional homicide in May 2017 is greater than the maximum recorded, which was the number of 2,112 intentional killings in May 2011 during the last leg of the government of Felipe de Jesus Calderón Hinojosa.
The 2 thousand 186 records of intentional homicide cases of May of this year, signify 2 thousand 452 victims of violent acts. The figures are different because in a same preliminary investigation, open in state procurator's offices and state prosecutors, more than one death may be included.
The highest number of intentional homicides in May occurred in the State of Mexico, with 225 cases. It is followed by Guerrero, with 216 and Baja California with 197.
But considering the number of inhabitants of each entity, the highest percentage of intentional homicides occurred in Colima, with 31.69; Followed by Guerrero, with 26.47, and the states of the Baja California Peninsula, with 20 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.
|Mexican State of Colima Active Volcano|
June is getting off to an equally grim start: On June 14 their were six murders and six attempted murders in less than 24 hours inn Tijuana.
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Zeta
|Cocaine Packaged Ready for Shipment from Argentina|
June 20, 2017
Additional Material: Global Incidents Map
The Superintendent of Dangerous Drugs of the Federal Police of Argentina detained 17 alleged narcotics traffickers, four of them of Mexican nationality, and seized some two tons of cocaine that were to be sent to Spain, specifically Barcelona and Canadian cities, drugs that are valued by the authorities at some 60 million dollars.
|Specialized Packaging: including special wires and magnetic fields to avoid Scanners|
According to the Argentine authorities, this is the largest drug seizure in the last 25 years in the country.
A half-ton of the drug was packed in hundreds of hidden panels in eight steel coils, found in a warehouse in an industrial park in the city of Bahía Blanca, 650 kilometers southwest of Buenos Aires, the capital of that nation.
|Argentinian Port City of Bahia Blanca|
The firefighters spent several hours cutting the metal from the coils to remove the drug. Meanwhile, Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told Todo Noticias that the coils covered with eight layers of metal were specially prepared so that the scanners could not detect the prohibited substance.
|Industrial Warehouse in Bahia Blanca|
Another 500 kilos of cocaine were seized in the city of Mendoza, about a thousand kilometers west of the Argentine capital, near the Chilean border hidden in bags with precious stones. in the framework of the operation that culminated after four months of investigations.
"It's a huge organization...... we believe that the drugs entered from Chile," Bullrich said, adding that with increased vigilance in northern Argentina, drug trafficking networks changed routes. However, the official did not specify the identity of those arrested.
Bullrich also said the authorities are investigating whether these same criminal traffickers worked previously in very similar operations in 2012 and 2013.
The organization was led by six Mexicans, and two of the infamous Sinaloa Cartel members escaped arrest and international arrest warrants were issued. According to local media, the Argentine authorities presume that the drug was sent from Mendoza to Bahia Blanca by land and there packed in steel coils.
According to the Portal Infobae, the Mexicans arrested are part of a cartel in Michoacán and arrived in Argentina in early January to settle in Bahia Blanca with the intention of trafficking cocaine to Europe.
However, according to the newspaper La Gaceta, the detainees are part of the Sinaloa Cartel.
During the seizures, authorities also found $ 220,000 in cash, $ 158,000 Argentine pesos, five vehicles and several firearms. The alleged narcotics traffickers analyzed the shipping of the drugs from three different ports: Bahía Blanca, Campana and Buenos Aires.
|The Biggest Drug Bust in Argentine History|
This is the third time that Mexican cartel cell operations are being demonstrated in Argentina, since in the 1990s, when the Juarez Cartel laundered in that South American country, at least 21 million dollars through the purchase of properties. In 2008, the traffic of ephedrine of different organizations of Mexicans and Argentines was handled by the Sinaloa Cartel.
Posted by DD Republished from the Guardian
|Cartel violence in Tamaulipas state has claimed 254 lives in the first three months of this year, but has largely gone unreported in the press|
By Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
When Carlos Ulivarri heard that a body had been dumped by the side of a road just outside his hometown of Rio Bravo, a few miles south of McAllen, Texas, he knew he had to act fast.
But he did not even consider contacting the authorities.
Hours earlier, Ulivarri’s son, Luís Carlos, 23, had been shot in a bar, and then dragged into the night after an altercation with a group of men presumed to be members of a local drug cartel.
At first, Ulivarri held out hope his son might be alive. But at 10am the next morning, a friend called to say that a corpse had been spotted on a road outside town which marks the frontline between two warring cartel factions.
Ulivarri, the president of the Rio Bravo chamber of commerce, knew that the body might disappear for good if he did not move quickly, but he did not want to risk a confrontation with either gang, who are both known to monitor the road.
So instead of calling the police and waiting for an escort, he drove alone to the site, bundled his son’s body into his car, and brought him home for the last time.
“We are on our own,” Ulivarri said in a phone interview from his office in Rio Bravo, just six miles from the Donna international bridge into Texas.
“Everybody is frightened here, there is lots of danger and you can’t trust anybody. Lots of people are sending their children away to the United States but that is not the solution.”
Rio Bravo sits on the northern edge of Tamaulipas, a state which is currently gripped by a patchwork of conflicts between rival factions of the Gulf cartel.
It is a war which according to official figures has claimed 254 lives in the first three months of this year, but has largely gone unreported in the Mexican and international press.
Earlier this month, the US state department warned against all but essential travel to Tamaulipas.
“Violent conflicts between rival criminal elements and/or the Mexican military can occur in all parts of the region and at all times of the day,” it said.
And if the public circumstances of Luís Carlos Ulivarra’s murder illustrate the brazen quality of cartel violence, his father’s reaction reflects the pervasive distrust many locals feel towards the official response.
Locals describe a regime of constant terror, and widespread exasperation with a government security strategy which concentrates on the pursuit of cartel kingpins but has failed to establish a semblance of law and order in the state.
“The bullet-for-bullet strategy is failing. It gets rid of one cartel and another comes and everything remains the same,” Ulivarri said. “I am not a soldier and I don’t know what the strategy should be, but it is important to send the message that we are not the enemy.”
Years of government abandon allowed the Gulf cartel – and their notoriously bloodthirsty enforces, the Zetas – to consolidate their hold on Tamaulipas in the early, mid and late 2000s with a mixture of intimidation, exploitation and the infiltration of local authorities.
This changed when the Zetas turned on their former masters in 2010, unleashing a period of intense conflict and prompting the government to flood Tamaulipas with soldiers and marines. The strategy brought a temporary respite to the most dramatic violence, but did little to dismantle the subtler holds the cartels retained over communities and local politics.
The government’s “kingpin” strategy resulted in the death or capture of a string of bosses, leaving both the Zetas and the Gulf cartel much weaker – but splinter groups continued to terrorize the civilian populations.
And when rivalries between these second-generation cartels erupted into fresh violence last year, the government once again responded with new deployments of federal forces, and more detentions of local leaders.
|A girl looks at blood stains and a graffiti left by gunmen at a crime scene in Monterrey. Photograph: Tomas Bravo/Reuters|
National security commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido admitted last month that Tamaulipas remains one of Mexico’s most conflict-riven states, but argued that the strategy was working. “The small groups left do not have anything like the capacity of the old organizations had before their leaders were captured or neutralized,” he told Radio Formula.
But many in Tamaulipas question the official claims that the federal offensive has reined in the violence.
A spokesman for the office of President Enrique Peña Nieto said that the government is also working to improve security by strengthening local police forces and the judicial system.
“We still face important challenges and each episode of violence is an offence to society that we cannot allow to happen,” the spokesman said in a written answer. He said that in 2014 there were 38% fewer homicides in Tamaulipas than in 2012. “The government will not give up on this effort.”
But the official figures for the first quarter of 2015 show a 20% increase in homicides from the same period in 2014, and many locals say that murders are consistently under-reported.
Nancy Hernández, who heads a group of citizens seeking to help victims of violence, said the situation has been exacerbated by the cartels’ deep penetration of local authorities.
“In Tamaulipas the authorities became so closely allied with the narcos they lost control,” Hernández told La Jornada newspaper. “If you let the bandits into your house, there comes a time when they take over.”
Hernández said that despite the high-profile arrests, a daily litany of kidnappings, disappearances and extortion continues.
Little of this is reported in the local press which – as in other drug war zones – is subject to constant pressure and intimidation.
For years local reporters tended to ignore the violence completely, but today’s patchwork of territorial control has brought with it more complicated rules transmitted to reporters and editors via cartel press attachés.
“I have given up trying to understand why you are allowed to publish some things and some not,” said Enrique Juárez, who until February was the director of the newspaper El Mañana in the city of Matamoros. “But the controls are always there.”
Torres fled Matamoros, just over the border from Brownsville, Texas, after being abducted and beaten on the day his paper published a minimalist account of three days of open gun-battles in the city.
He now feels relatively safe in a different city controlled by a different criminal faction, but he knows that could change if the balance of power shifts.
Juárez takes little comfort in the government’s protection program for journalists under threat. Officials who had travelled to Matamoros to interview him about his case, abandoned the mission when they heard they would have to drive along a cartel-controlled road to interview him.
“What kind of protection do I have if the Mexican authorities themselves can’t come to where I am?” Juárez said, with a laugh.
The limitations on the media lead many to rely on Facebook, blogs and Twitter for real-time citizen reports of blockades, shootouts and cartel checkpoints.
The most active contributors always use anonymous addresses. Even so, several have ended up dead, with cartel warnings left by their corpses.
A man with the Twitter handle @MrCruzStar is one of the founders of the much-used #ReynosaFollow hashtag. He has never told his family of his online activities, in order both to protect them and reduce the risk they might unwittingly reveal his identity to a cartel informer. But he said he could not imagine giving up.
“When something happens I know there are people depending on me to let them know,” he said.
@MrCruzStar sees his responsibilities as including vigorously retweeting information he judges to be genuine, as well as downplaying posts he suspects are cartel propaganda, or efforts to manipulate public opinion from military intelligence.
“This war is taking place on social media as well,” he said.
Translated by Otis B Fly-Wheel for Borderland Beat from a Milenio article
Subject Matter: Francisco Javier Peralta Reyes, El Rana, Sinaloa cartel
Recommendation: Read this article by BB reporter Texcocosee link
Reporter: Bernardo Cisneros
Elements of the Ministerial Police of Baja California detained Francisco Javier Peralta Reyes, El Rana, alleged sicario from a cell of the Sinaloa Cartel, headed by Teodoro Garcia Simental, El Teo.
El Rana is accused of having participated in the assassination of three agents of the Municipal Police in Tijuana in 2009, said Jorge Alberto Alvarez Mendoza, Sub Attorney General of the State.
He explained that the detention of Peralta Reyes, 29 years of age, derived from an operation from an arrest warrant that he had against him for the homicides of the Municipal Police officers Arturo Flores Espinoza, Marcos Samuel Kuk Sierra and Napoleon Garcia Perez.
Alvarez Mendoza detailed that the three uniformed officers were shot to death on the 18th of September of 2009, were found in the parking lot of a convenience store located on Paseo Ensenada Avenue in the Playas de Tijuana fraccionamiento, where minutes earlier that had been speaking with fellow workers aboard their respective patrol cars.
He added that El Rana executed the three officers in the company of another six accomplices of who, four of them have been arrested and received sentences of up to 30 years in prison.
"With a base in the practical operations of the triple homicide, could prove that El Rana who headed the commando of sicarios that took the lives of the three elements of the Municipal Police of Tijuana, utilized assault rifles known as "Cuerno de Chivos", or AK-47.
Deriving from sufficient elements of proof, the now detained El Rana together with his accomplices will be consigned to the 8th Judge of the Primary Instance Penal Circuit for orders of apprehension, who motioned the recall of the arrest warrant, which was presented in 2011 for the crimes of homicide, attempted homicide, intentional damage to property and organized crime.
He indicated that El Rana would be held in the State prison at the disposition of the Judge, who will resolve the judicial situation of the detained, which in case of being subject to criminal proceedings will be carried out under the previous judicial system.
Original article in Spanish at Milenio
Translated by Yaqui for Borderland Beat from Proceso
By Rafael Croda