Mexico: Dam Busters And Other Delights


June 13, 2010: Sporadic violence is showing up in border areas that were previously ignored by drug cartels. In late May a federal police officer was shot and killed in Ciudad Acuna (across the border from Del Rio, Texas). At least two local businesses were set on fire recently in Acuna. Gangs want to “own” border towns in order to have access to the US. That is what the battle in Ciudad Juarez is about. Juarez, however, gives a cartel access to El Paso, Texas (a major city) which is also a communications and transportation hub. Nuevo Laredo is across the river from Laredo, Texas, which is at the southern end of Interstate 35. Acuna gives the cartel access to Del Rio, which has around 50,000 people, and is the only substantial town for a hundred miles. The only notable population center nearby is San Antonio, and that large city connects to Del Rio by a limited road net that is heavily patrolled because of illegal immigration. Mexicans and Texans are speculating that cartel activity in Acuna indicates that the Mexican and US governments are having some success against the cartels in the other border towns. That is speculation, but until May 2010, Acuna had been quiet.

June 12, 2010: Authorities reported a criminal gang took control of a natural gas well in northern Mexico and held it for over two weeks. The gang siphoned off the gas. The well was located near the town of Nueva Ciudad Guerrero (Tamaulipas state, across the border from Falcon Heights, Texas). The Mexican state oil company, PEMEX, has reported similar incidents in the past. Often a corrupt PEMEX employee is involved, though in some cases investigations have revealed the thieves simply tapped a pipeline. PEMEX believes some of the gangs have smuggled natural gas condensate and even stolen gasoline across the border and sold the products to commercial firms in the US.

June 10, 2010: The government reported Mexican Army soldiers arrested Hector Raul Luna Luna in Monterrey (Nuevo Leon state). Luna Luna is a senior commander in the Los Zetas drug gang, and runs Zeta operations in and around the city of Monterrey. Luna Luna is suspected of being behind the grenade attack on the U.S. consulate in Monterrey.

Federal police fought with striking miners at the Cananea copper mine (located in Sonora state). The mine's owners are attempting to re-open the facility, which has been shut down for three years by a strike. The Federales took control of the mine on June 6

June 9 , 2010: Mexican security forces confronted US agents along the Mexico-US border after a US Border Patrol officer killed a 15 year old Mexican boy. US officers claimed the youth was throwing stones at Border Patrol agents. The boy was shot on June 7 near a railroad bridge between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso.

June 4, 2010: Mexican businesses are reporting an improving economic climate, but the Cartel War and crime in general threaten their recovery from the global recession. Mexico's economy grew by over four percent in the first quarter of 2010. The biggest problem is the drop in the number of tourists visiting the country.

June 3, 2010: Police in Laredo, Texas stopped a truck attempting to smuggle weapons to Mexico. The police seized 147 assault rifles and over 10,000 rounds of ammunition.

May 31, 2010: Authorities called it one of the more gruesome discoveries, and that is saying something, given the drug gangs propensities for cutting off the heads of victims. Mexican police found at least two dozen bodies dropped down the ventilation shaft of an abandoned silver mine (near the town of Taxco, Guerrero state). The police said that drug cartels had used the mine as a place to quickly dispose of bodies.

June 2, 2010: US police are investigating rumors that the Los Zetas gang considered launching an attack on Falcon Dam. The dam is located on the Mexico-US border. Cracking the dam would have released millions of gallons of water from the reservoir and flooded the lower Rio Grande Valley. Why would Los Zetas consider an attack on the dam? Such an attack would be great for a Hollywood movie, but very bad for the smuggling business. Los Zetas would be treated as a terrorist organization and subject to attack by US and Mexican forces. The best answer anyone has come up with –so far-- is that Los Zetas would do it as a way of hampering smuggling efforts by the rival Gulf Cartel, which operates all over Mexico but regards the corridor between Laredo and Brownsville, Texas (or, on the other side of the river, Nuevo Laredo to Matamoros) as its prime turf. Los Zetas began as the enforcers for the Gulf Cartel but have since formed their own separate and very competitive organization. Los Zetas founders were Mexican Army defectors would conceivably have the engineering and demolition expertise to blow a hole in a dam as large as Falcon. Blowing up the dam, however, is another matter; that would take a lot of high explosive. Surveillance of the dam and reservoir has increased. Mexican residents south of the dam have told authorities that they have seen handbills warning that such an attack could occur.

May 28, 2010: The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agency announced that it will increase operations along the Mexico-Texas border's more remote areas. The announcement coincides with reports that people smuggling gangs are making greater use of remote stretches of the border operations.

May 25, 2010: The U.S. government announced that it will request an extra $500 million for border security. Another 1200 National Guard troops may be temporarily assigned to the border until the Customs and Border Patrol can train additional agents.

May 23, 2010: Documents captured in a May 2009 bust were leaked to the press earlier this year and they continue to rile the Mexican people and trouble the government. The document trove allegedly connects senior police commanders and government administrators to payoffs by drug cartels. The cartel gang leaders also had access to operational details, including the assignments of senior police officers.

May 21, 2010: Mexican President Felipe Calderón, in a speech before the US Congress, asked the US government to make a more determined effort to stop the smuggling of assault rifles and other weapons from the US into Mexico.


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