February 11, 2012: Do Mexican cartels have a political agenda? Does distinguishing between terrorism (terror with a political agenda) and high-intensity criminal brutality (organized, wide-spread terror to further a criminal cartel’s economic interests or survival) really matter? Consider Al Qaeda and Los Zetas. Al Qaeda wants to establish a global Moslem caliphate, which has ideological, social, and political implications of a very high order. The Zetas want babes and billions in the bank, they don’t care if you worship Zeus or Dr. Seuss, just don’t cross the gang. Defeating a terrorist outfit like Al Qaeda requires military action against the religious fanatics, as well as a sustained attack on its ideology. Defeating the Zetas requires military and police action and stiff criminal punishment. Criminal glamor may have allure (babes and billions) but it isn’t a belief system seeking to replace the current political order. However, it might be considered a spoils system of a type. There are other reasons to avoid the term insurgency. The Mexican government believes the term insurgent can suggest to some people a freedom fighter; cartel gunmen may pose as Robin Hoods, but they are not freedom fighters. So the government officials who avoid calling the cartels terrorist organizations have a case, even though the Mexican government, in a moment of passion, did call the August 2011 casino firebombing in Monterrey an act of terrorism. Well, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary made that same mistake last year when she referred to the insurgency in Mexico.
But verbal inconsistency by elected officials and diplomats is understandable. Mexico’s drug cartels are pushing the definitional envelope. The operations run by the Mexican Army in western Mexico are essentially stability operations, the types of operations armies run when they are combating an insurgency. The chunks of territory the army sweeps then occupies are quite impressive, too. The cartels may not want to replace the political order but they do seek to subvert it, this distinction makes for a hazy difference. That’s why hybrid terms like criminal insurgency have started cropping up. No, the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel et al don’t have a rigid ideological orthodoxy, but they do have an idea of what constitutes politically favorable conditions for their operations: a corrupt government with corrupt cops, weak judicial institutions, and a military focused on oppressing the peasants. Little wonder the cartels hate President Felipe Calderon and want to replace him with a pliant figurehead. This is a presidential election year in Mexico. The government is worried that the cartels are making their billions available to crooked politicians. The cartels do have a political goal, their version of a Mexican Reconquista, to bring back the crooked days of the old dinosaur PRI. (Austin Bay)
February 9, 2012: Soldiers seized 15 tons of methamphetamine in a raid in a suburb of the city of Guadalajara (Jalisco state). That’s right, 15 tons. To put that in perspective, in 2009, around 31 tons of meth were seized by police forces world-wide. Mexican authorities indicated that the meth belonged to the Sinaloa cartel.
February 8, 2012: Nine Texas citizens received prison sentences for buying weapons in the U.S. to arm Los Zetas drug cartel gunmen. U.S. law enforcement officials said those convicted were paid around two hundred dollars to buy a weapon and then turn it over to a cartel smuggler for shipment to Mexico.
February 7, 2012: The Knights Templar drug cartel has warned other drug gangs that they must avoid violence during an impending visit to Mexico by Pope Benedict XVI. The Knights Templar announced that they have declared a papal truce when the pope visits in March, and the gang is prepared to enforce the truce on other gangs.
February 6, 2012: The National Action Party (PAN), the party of current Mexican president Felipe Calderon, has selected its presidential candidate for the 2012 election. She will be the former education minister Josefina Vazquez Mota. The selection of a female candidate caused an immense media stir.
February 4, 2012: Mexican security personnel arrested a senior Sinaloa drug cartel leader, Jose Antonio Torres Marrufo, who allegedly controlled Sinaloa operations in the city of Ciudad Juarez and the rest of Chihuahua state. Torres Marrufo has also been linked to the U.S. government’s Fast and Furious weapons smuggling sting operation. He is also believed to be responsible for an attack on a drug clinic in Juarez (September 2009) in which 18 people were killed.
February 2, 2012: Mexican military personnel may have fired on and killed one person who was attempting to flee to the U.S. to avoid capture. Another man was wounded. The alleged incident took place on the Texas-Mexico border. A gun battle did take place near the Mexican town of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (Tamaulipas state). The men were crossing the Rio Grande River and heading for Sullivan City, Texas. Local U.S. law enforcement officers reported finding a dead body on the U.S. side of the border. A wounded man was hospitalized in Sullivan City. The U.S. Border Patrol is investigating the incident.
January 31, 2012: A military court has charged an army general who once commanded a unit in the border town of Ojinaga (southeast of Ciudad Juarez, across the border from Presidio, Texas) with drug smuggling, murder, and torture. Twenty-nine of his former soldiers are also facing similar charges, as well as charges of auto theft and kidnapping. The crimes were committed in 2008 and 2009. The soldiers may have been working with the Juarez drug cartel.
January 27, 2012: Soldiers discovered a drug tunnel digging operation in Nogales (Sonora state). The tunnel was headed toward the Arizona border – a block and a half away.
January 26, 2012: Nine people died in a street-corner gun battle in the city of Monterrey (Nuevo Leon state).
The army revealed that soldiers had arrested a member of the Beltran Leyva cartel in an operation in late January in Oaxaca state (southern Mexico). Oscar Santoyo Rodriguez is suspected of attempting to kill a Mexico City police administrator with a home-made bomb in 2008.
January 24, 2012: Some 2,400 Mexican marines are now serving as police in the city of Veracruz. The entire Veracruz police force was fired in December 2011.