What does the Cartel War cost Mexico? One study puts the cost at over $170 billion a year. That is about ten percent of the nation’s GDP. Again, this is an estimate that tries to assess the added security costs, infrastructure costs and loss, and various economic costs and losses. The government reported that 31,532 homicides occurred between January 2013 and the end of November 2013. The government classified 16,736 of the murders as “intentional” while 14,796 were labeled negligent manslaughter.
July 10, 2014: In the northeast (Tamaulipas state) police raided a location where 165 people from Cuba, Honduras, and El Salvador were being held captive by people smugglers who were demanding more money to get them into the United States. Such double dealing is common on the border, especially with non-Mexican migrants seeking someone who will get them across the border for a fee. Three of the kidnappers were arrested and the hostages said that one couple and their child had already been killed when they were unable to get anyone to produce more money for them.
July 8, 2014: Army operations in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon states continue to put pressure on Los Zetas and Gulf cartels. Security officials reported that though the Zetas remain very powerful and dangerous, the organization has suffered several major setbacks. Numerous small criminal gangs now challenge the Zetas. One small gang (labeled a splinter gang), Los Legionarios, is trying to take control of a smuggling corridor. The military acknowledged that the tactics it is employing in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon are similar to those it used in Michoacan state against the Knights Templar cartel. Security officials acknowledge that Tamaulipas represents a real challenge because it is the Gulf cartel’s home state. The current cartel grew from a U.S. Prohibition-era organized criminal gang that smuggled alcoholic beverages into Texas.
July 6, 2014: Though they are keeping a low profile, community defense organizations have begun appearing in Tamaulipas state. Community militia members say the low profile is necessary because the government remains suspicious of armed local defense groups. However, one report indicated that a neighborhood in the city of Tampico has formed a low-profile community defense organization and two other community defense groups have formed in small towns in Tamaulipas. Citizens in Tamaulipas complain that local police are incompetent or corrupt (or, in some cases, both). The villagers in Michoacan state, where the community defense movement took root and expanded, have the same complaint.
July 5, 2014: A wave of young (minor children), unaccompanied illegal immigrants from Central America has reached the U.S.-Mexico border. Most of the children are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The U.S. government is trying to provide the children with housing and food in various shelters. The “children’s crusade” has created a political firestorm in the U.S. regarding border security. Critics also contend that would-be illegal immigrants now believe they can enter the U.S. and even if apprehended will face few consequences for their actions. This has led parents in Central America to take the chance that their children can enter the U.S. and obtain refugee status. Criminal organizations engaged in human trafficking certainly tell parents that is the case. They then charge the parents lots of money to bring their children to the U.S.-Mexico border. Since the end of 2013, over 52,000 unaccompanied illegal minors have showed up at the U.S.-Mexico border.
July 3, 2014: In the United States several congressional representatives and state governors are asking the U.S. government to station more National Guard soldiers along the U.S.-Mexico border. The political leaders argue that the troops can help stop the surge of illegal immigrants that began this spring.
July 1, 2014: The government will soon send 5,000 new federal paramilitary policemen into the field. The force is being portrayed as the base component of the paramilitary gendarmerie force President Enrique Pena Nieto touted in his 2012 presidential campaign. Back in 2012 Pena promised that the eventual gendarmerie of 40,000 police would be the best force for confronting organized criminal cartels. Last year his administration cut the force down to 10,000. The new, smaller gendarme force is now part of the federal police force. The Mexican military has provided trainers. Several foreign countries have provided specialist trainers, among them France and Spain, which had large paramilitary police forces.
June 30, 2014: Soldiers killed 22 armed people (21 men and one woman) in a shootout inside a warehouse in Mexico state town. One soldiers was wounded. The troops were on patrol and discovered armed men guarding a warehouse. The gunmen fired at the soldiers. After the gun battle the army seized several weapons, including 22 automatic rifles and one hand grenade. Reporters who later visited the site complained that there were no signs of a sustained gun battle but could find no locals who were willing to contradict the army version of events.
June 29, 2014: The U.S. confirmed it will sell Mexico five UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters. The sale includes parts, support equipment, training and logistical support for the helicopters as well as extra engines. The Blackhawks will each have an advanced Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) system and two M134 7.62 millimeter light machine guns. The military is also refurbishing twelve of the 24 Russian Mil-17 transport helicopters it bought in the 1990s. The rest of these have been retired.
June 28, 2014: The government is now disputing a claim by the union representing U.S. Border Patrol personnel that that a Mexican police helicopter crossed the U.S.-Mexico border near the Arizona town of San Miguel and fired on U.S. border agents. The union report claimed that the helicopter crossed the border and fired two shots. Mexican security authorities said the helicopter was on an anti-smuggling mission near the town of Altar (Sonora state) and had suffered an attack while on the mission. A U.S. union official said the official Mexican statement was a lie. He said Mexican security personnel in the area had contacted Border Patrol agents and apologized for the incident.
The government arrested 83 of the people involved in the community self-defense group that on June 27 held a demonstration in the town of La Mira (Michoacan state). The government claimed the individuals were not abiding by new rules governing self-defense militias. The government alleged that the individuals were carrying illegal weapons. Security personnel alleged that one group had set up an illegal roadblock. Government policy is that self-defense groups must become part of the revived Fuerza Rural (rural self-defense corps). Several of the people arrested are senior leaders in the movement. They contend that the arrests are politically motivated. They also claim that though the security situation in Michoacan state has improved, it remains fragile.
June 27, 2014: The union which represent U.S. Border Patrol personnel claimed that a Mexican military helicopter crossed the U.S.-Mexico border south of Tucson, Arizona. The helicopter flew 100 yards into the U.S. and fired two shots at a Border Patrol vehicle manned by two Border Patrol agents. The vehicle and the agents were not hit. The helicopter returned to Mexico. Mexican security personnel then contacted U.S. authorities and apologized for the incident.
Security personnel have found the bodies of a former Knights Templar cartel gunman and his family. The gunman had quit the cartel and joined a community defense militia in Michoacan state. The man, his wife and three children had been tortured to death. The former gunman, Jose Santiago Valencia Sandoval, had spoken with several media groups about his former cartel connections. He also alleged that there are crooked militia members (ie, community defense militia members who work for cartels).
Over 300 members of the Michaocan General Council for Self-Defense Forces assembled in the town of La Mira (Michoacan state). Group leaders announced they were taking over the town, which is near the port city of Lazaro Cardenas. A General Council spokesman accused the government and the newly organized Rural Defense Forces (Fuerza Rural) of collusion with organized crime syndicates. The group is openly contesting the government’s attempts to impose restrictions on community self-defense groups.
June 23, 2014: In Tijuana soldiers arrested Fernando Sanchez Arellano, a senior commander in the Tijuana cartel (Arellano Felix Organization). This occurred while Sanchez was with a group of people watching a television broadcast of the Mexico-Croatia World Cup soccer match.
In Ciudad Mante marines arrested Los Zetas cartel’s senior commander in Tamaulipas state, Ricardo Ivan Santillan Trejo.
June 22, 2014: In the city of Reynosa (Tamaulipas state) police arrested Gulf drug cartel senior leader Juan Manuel Rodriguez Rodriguez. Back in August 2013 Rodriguez took control of the Gulf cartel in northern Mexico.
June 21, 2014: Police in Michoacan state arrested Huber Gomez Patino, who is one of the sons of Knights Templar cartel senior leader Servando Gomez. When he was arrested, Gomez Patino threatened police officers and security personnel with death if they did not free him. Gomez Patino is wanted on numerous drug trafficking charges and firearms charges.