Over the weekend: Cartels assuming mafia roles; Feds lacking support from state and local enforcement
El Financiero (Mexico City) 8/14/09
Colombia confiscates Sinaloa cartel property
Colombian authorities seized seven properties of the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, including a hotel, in a raid of narcotics gangs in the eastern part of the country. A report from Bogota this Friday said the properties, valued at seven million dollars [US], were in the names of people linked to the cartel.
El Universal (Mexico City) 8/14/09
Looting of Pemex widespread
The damaging looting of the products of the Mexican state-owned petroleum industry, Pemex, has not been restricted to crude oil, but also includes natural gas, petrochemicals, hijacking of tank cars and pipelines, contamination of oil producing areas and theft of equipment. Not only is organized crime implicated, but also company employees and unions. Tracking the syphoning of Pemex productions from 2004 indicates that the criminal activities exist in nearly every state and have cut deeply into company profits.
Police chief murdered
The Chief of Police in San Francisco del Rincon, Guanajuato, was shot to death by three occupants of a vehicle at a traffic checkpoint in the center of town. After the shooting, the attackers fled the scene. One suspect was later arrested.
La Jornada (Mexico City) 8/14/09
Four killed, one wounded
Four men were executed and another left wounded in an apparent mob hit in Coacalco, state of Mexico. Along with the bodies was a message accusing the victims of collaboration with two criminal organizations and a warning for two others.
Four more in Cuernavaca
A confrontation between two criminal gangs shooting it out between moving vehicles took place in Cuernavaca, Morelos, resulting in four dead. The moving gun battle took place through city streets in the early morning hours, ending at the edge of town. During the fight, one fragmentation grenade was used. [No further details were reported.] A reader commentary complained: “And the police? In the entire gunfight, not one patrol and the fight lasted nearly a half hour.”
El Diario de Ciudad Juarez (Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua) 8/14/09
Protests in Caracas
Hundreds of Venezuelans protested today in the streets of Caracas to demand justice after an assault against a group of journalists by presumed followers of President Hugo Chavez left 12 injured. The journalists were attacked as they were handing out papers with warnings against new education legislation. The controversial law, applauded by Chavez, would “dismantle the bourgeois, capitalistic education system,” he said.
Norte (Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua) 8/14/09
Police murders continue
The murder of a female police official in Cd. Juarez yesterday raises the city’s total of such police fatalities for the year to 38.
Cambio de Michoacan (Morelia, Michoacan) 8/15/09
Area chief of La Familia Michoacana arrested
Federal police arrested Hector Manuel Oyarzabal Hernandez, a presumed member of the crime organization La Familia Michoacana and boss of the cartel’s areas of operation in Ixtapaluca, Chalco, Valle de Chalco and Ozumba in the state of Mexico. His arrest was made after a police operation spotted some armed men in an urban area. Besides Oyarzabal, agents arrested seven of his accomplices. Police also seized 12 rifles, 2 shotguns, 5 vehicles and 2 motorcycles. [Photo relates]
El Universal (Mexico City) 8/15/09
Possible Mexican trade agreement with Brazil
Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced that his government will begin consultations with diverse government sectors to analyze the possibility of obtaining a Free Trade Agreement (TLC) with Brazil. “We want to be partners with Brazil. The strongest economies in Latin America are Brazil and Mexico. Imagine what we can do together,” he said.
La Voz de la Frontera (Mexicali, Baja California) 8/15/09
Fox urges return of Army to regular duties
Mexico City – Ex-president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, asserted that it is time that the three levels of government assume the fight against crime and that the Army return to their normal posts. Fox said President Calderon’s plan to fight organized crime is good, but it is necessary to take the Army off the streets as soon as possible. He considers that to do this, it would be necessary to restructure and strengthen the federal police and the police of the 31 states that make up the country. Fox asserted that the state governments must return to assuming their responsibility in this matter. These measures should be taken as soon as possible, he said.
La Jornada (Mexico City) 8/15/09
Central Americans rescued in Reynosa
Mexican Army troops liberated 123 undocumented Central American hostages from a building in Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and arrested the seven men holding them for extortion. The Army’s actions took place after they received an anonymous tip. The seven men arrested [apparently all Mexican] had at least one firearm and reportedly beat their prisoners, demanding money in exchange for their release.
El Universal (Mexico City) and Cambio de Michoacan (Morelia, Michoacan) 8/16/09
La Familia, Michoacan’s de facto government
In Hidalgo City, Michoacan, some 35 miles east of the state’s capital of Morelia, merchants know well the payment list for “protection” exacted by the drug cartel La Familia Michoacana in order to stay in business: 100 pesos [$7.75] monthly for a vendor’s stand in an alley, on up to 30,000 pesos [$2,335] for an automotive or builders supply concession. If one doesn’t pay, he suffers a beating. A second such offense can result in death. “Yes, it is La Familia… they take you away and they beat you up. Every day the victims [the word used was madreados, a term not politely translated] arrive at the hospital,” commented a mechanic.
The drug cartels have truly become mafias of extortion, charging for protection and dealing in everything, even pirating movies on DVDs. Cocaine no longer generates the profit it did because it has become ever more difficult to trick the Mexican and US authorities, which is why the cartels have gone to additional criminal activities, including those easier and more profitable than drugs. Two and a half years ago, President Calderon launched the fierce campaign against narcotraffic, which has already killed 11,000 people and converted quiet rural localities like Hidalgo City into battle fields. The criminal gangs are now inserting themselves into the Mexican society as never before, making it harder to fight them. They manage businesses, generate employment and offer social services not provided by the government. The local authorities say they do not have enough people to investigate the gangs and ask the state to intervene. The state, in turn, passes the responsibility on to the federal government, since organized crime is in that jurisdiction.
A police report on the cartel in April pointed out that “a sense of ‘impunity’ is derived from the confidence that no one is going to confront them, not the police (because in many cases it is presumed that corruption exists within the police forces), nor the civilian society (because they live intimidated and their panic impedes action).” In Hidalgo and neighboring cities, civil authorities are thought to work for La Familia Michoacana since the criminal organization controls most of the central and western parts of Mexico.
In Arteaga, another city in Michoacan, the “capo” of La Familia, Servando Gomez Martinez, “La Tuta,” is venerated because he helps the people with food, clothing and even medical services. “He has the reputation as a man who helps people. He’s a common man like us who wears huaraches,” said a farmer, pointing to his own native sandals. An agent from the US, speaking anonymously, said, “This is like Chicago when Al Capone managed it all. He controlled everything from shoeshine boys to taxi drivers.”
La Tuta, Servando Gomez Hernandez
Customs inspectors replaced
Mexico replaced 700 customs inspectors with agents recently trained to spot contraband. The replaced officers were not fired, only that the agency decided not to re-hire them after their contracts expire at the end of this week. The replacements number 1,400 who have recently received inspection training and had their backgrounds “exhaustively” scrutinized. La Frontera, (Tijuana, Baja California) reported that 80 of the new inspectors entered on duty in Tijuana today.
Assorted gang shootings
An attack on the Chief of Police in Monclovia, Coahuila, resulted in the deaths of three of his bodyguards, all ranking officers, although the chief was not injured. In Altamirano, Guerrero, a well-known attorney of that city was found tortured and murdered. His severed head, hands and feet were found in an ice chest and the rest of his body in plastic bags. On the ice chest was a message supposedly signed by La Familia and directed at Los Pelones. Meanwhile in Culiacan, Sinaloa, four men were shot to death yesterday and in Mexicali, Baja California, two were victims of gang-type murders. Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, registered ten murders for the same period.
El Financiero (Mexico City) 8/16/09
US allays fears in Brazil
Sao Paulo, Brazil – US Undersecretary of Defense Frank Mora assured the Brazilian media that his country’s military operations based in Colombia will be limited to Colombian territory. “This mission has nothing to do with the Brazilian Amazon. All that is discussed between the Pentagon and the Colombian military is about Colombia and only about Colombia,” he said in an interview with the Brazilian daily, O Globo. The official ruled out that his country could use Colombian bases to attempt attacking neighboring countries as some governments in the region and some Brazilian political factions fear.
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Foreign News Report
The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) extracts and condenses the material that follows from Mexican and Central and South American on-line media sources on a daily basis. You are free to disseminate this information, but we request that you credit NAFBPO as being the provider.