Mexico: The Death Squads of Juarez


June 1, 2008: Drug gangs are destroying the police force in the city of Juarez (Chihuahua state, just across the border from U.S. Army base Ft Bliss) by delivering one death list (of police officers) after another. The first list, earlier this year, had 22 names. All but one of those on the list were murdered (7) or resigned (three after being wounded). A new list has a dozen names. The drug gangs are targeting officers who have been effective, or resistant to gang control (via bribes or threats).

May 31, 2008: The U.S. National Guard will be ending Operation Jump Start sometime in mid-July. The operation began two years ago, intended to assist the Border Patrol in "non-enforcement" jobs such as surveillance activities and maintaining border infrastructure (primarily fences and roads) along the US-Mexico border. In the meantime, the U.S. Border Patrol has added officers. Two years ago the Border Patrol had around 11,500 agents. It now has 16,000. Merely adding numbers, however, doesn't add operational capacity. It takes time to train new officers and then they have to gain experience. Has the Guard operation been effective? It depends. It certainly served as a political signal. National Guard units have improved some 500 kilometers of roads near the U.S.-Mexico border. That has a long-term benefit. Guardsmen have also received recognition for their assistance in surveillance.

May 26, 2008: The cities of Juarez (Chihuahua state) and Tijuana (Baja California) have both paid steep economic prices in the drug war. Tijuana has reported a steady drop in tourists (mostly day tourists from the US). Juarez was declared off-limits by Ft. Bliss, the major US military installation in El Paso, Texas (which is across the border from Juarez). Mexican businesspeople are concerned that some of the big maquiladoras factories will be effected by the violence and investors will decide to pull out of northern Mexico. For example, Tijuana officials estimate that at least 200 people have been killed so far this year in the Tijuana area in drug war-related violence. Tijuana lost a large foreign-run manufacturing plant in early 2008. The plant closed for many reasons, but the drug war was certainly one of them.

Oil production in Mexico declined in April to just over one million barrels a day. In 2004 Mexico was producing two million barrels a day.

May 24, 2008: The government once again urged the U.S. government to help stop weapons smuggling to Mexico's drug cartels. This is a frequent complaint from Mexico, used as a political counter when Mexico is criticized in the U.S. That noted, the complaint has some legitimacy. US and Mexican police have traced weapons captured from cartelista gunmen and many of them can be tracked to the US.

May 19, 2008: Four Americans were killed in the Mexican town of Rosarito, just south of the Mexico-California border (near San Diego). The bodies were found in a car near the beach. The Mexican authorities believe the four were involved in a drug smuggling scheme.

May 13, 2008: Mexican soldiers entered Sinaloa state to fight the Sinaloa drug cartel. The biggest troop movement was in the town of Culiacan, the state capital. A total of 2700 troops and federal police are involved in the operation. The Mexican government decided to move into Sinaloa because of a sharp increase in violence in the state. The Sinaloa cartel itself is "at war." Mexican police reported that an investigation of a gun battle in early May in Culiacan indicates that two factions of the Sinaloa drug cartel are fighting in the city. The fight started when one faction killed a local drug gang leader.

May 12, 2008: The EPR rebels once again rejected talks with the Mexican government. However, the EPR indicated that it may be interested in a "mediation" or using a mediator to conduct talks. In late April Mexican government said it would be willing to talk to the EPR. The "talk battle" is political theater. The EPR has little popular support but its attacks damaged oil and gas facilities in July 2007 and September 2007. It appears the Mexican government, which is far more concerned with the Cartel War, would like to "disarm" the EPR politically.




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