Mexico: Trolling For Tips About Traitors

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November 20,2008:  The governments Cartel War began in late December 2006. At the two year point the pessimists point to scores of murders committed each week and the discovery of new arms caches near the US-Mexico border. President Calderon seems more determined than ever to continue the war. He thinks it's a war that was already on, and all he did was commit the Mexican government to winning it. For several reasons, Calderon has given the Mexican Army a primary role in the war. One is that the Mexican military is a national organization that for the most part enjoys the trust of the Mexican people. That isn't the case with the Mexican police and judiciary. Another reason is the weapons used by the cartel's gunmen. Rocket-propelled grenades, automatic rifles, and light machine guns gave the gunmen a firepower edge. The cartels had stockpiled a lot of weapons and ammo. The government recently reported that in the period from December 1, 2006 to October 30, 2008, military and police forces have seized 25,657 guns. The figure includes "13,807 assault and other rifles." The security forces also found 1,642 grenades and 2.4 million rounds of ammunition.

November 18, 2008: The bloodbath in Tijuana continues. Government officials reported that fourteen people were killed in "gang violence" over the three day period from November 15 through November 17. An assault rifle was used in one shootout between gunmen. Between January 1 and mid-November, over 650 people have been murdered in Baja California. Local officials in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state, across the border from El Paso) estimate that over 1300 people have been murdered in their city and its immediate environs. The national total is "over 4000." That may be a low figure. The Mexico City newspaper El Universal estimates the national figure is over 4,500. And remember – that figure is a best guess.

November 13, 2008: Kidnappings in Mexico continue to increase. The government estimates that 65 kidnappings occur each month. This is an increase of almost ten percent over 2007. One media group says that "at least three people a day" are kidnapped—which would mean 90 a month.

November 12, 2008: President Felipe Calderon knows he has a soul mate in Colombia's president, Alvaro Uribe. Recently Calderon and Uribe met to discuss their war on drug cartels. Colombia went through a decade of violent internal conflict, with daily murders and crime committed by both criminals and guerrilla groups. Since Uribe began a national counter-attack in 2002, the situation has improved, but it has been a tough fight. Uribe told Calderon that Colombia's monetary reward program for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of drug lords had proved to be a key to improving police intelligence.

The government approved a $260 billion budget. The budget will have a "30 percent increase in security spending" to fight the Cartel War.

November 7, 2008: Federal police arrested a senior member of the Gulf drug cartel, Jaime Gonzalez. The police trapped Gonzalez in the city of Reynosa (on the US-Texas border). The police said a group of cartel gunmen tried to attack a military convoy. Gonzalez is a member of the Gulf cartel's paramilitary organization, the Zetas. Also found in the town was the "largest weapons cache" in recent history. The police seized approximately 280 assault rifles, 130 other weapon, 287 grenades, six heavy machine guns, an anti-tank weapon (rocket launcher of some type) and 500,000 rounds of ammunition.

November 5, 2008: A recent US State Department study (covering July 1, 2005 to June 30th, 2008) reported that more ordinary US citizens were killed in Mexico during that period than in any foreign country. Deaths in Mexico accounted for 29 percent of Americans killed abroad (a total of 637).

November 4. 2008: The interior minister and a dozen other people were killed when the minister's Learjet crashed in Mexico City. Nine people were on board the aircraft. At least four more people were killed when the plane hit the Mexico City neighborhood. Another 40 people were injured. Juan Camilo Mourino was a political ally and close adviser of President Calderon and played a key role in directing The Cartel War.

November 2, 2008: Police arrested Antonio Galarza, a senior leader in the Gulf drug cartel. The arrest took place in Monterrey.

The acting Federal police commissioner, Victor Gerardo Garay, resigned after one of his more senior aides was accused of working for a drug cartel. The aide allegedly provided the Sinaloa cartel protection from police interference, specifically in the transshipment of drugs through Mexico City's major airport.

October 28, 2008: The Chamber of Deputies overwhelmingly passed a series of constitutional reforms that will make it easier for foreigners to invest in Mexico's oil industry. President Calderon had made investment reform a major economic goal. Mexico is particularly interested in investors who will help finance more off-shore drilling. The Cartel War also has an economic angle. The violence is jeopardizing investment in Mexico. The Finance Ministry estimates that the "deteriorating security" situation in Mexico reduces the gross domestic product about one percent annually. Mexico's 2007 GDP was around $850 billion.

Government prosecutors have charged an Interpol agent working in the US embassy in Mexico City with providing the Beltran-Leyva drug cartel with "information about anti-narcotics operations." (The Beltran-Leyva cartel is a "spin off" operation" from the Sinaloa cartel.) The government also recently charged five government security officials (two members of the Attorney General's office and three senior policemen) with warning drug cartels about impending anti-drug operations. This is bad news and also good news. Corrupt officials have been selling information to the cartels –that's bad-- but they are also getting caught. Why? Senior security officials believe they are getting better information. Recent military-led operations in northern Mexico have "put pressure on the cartels." A pay-off is that locals feel secure enough to provide intelligence officers with quality intelligence. Intelligence then slowly "tracks back." Sometimes the info leads nowhere. Sometimes it leads to corrupt senior officials. That may or may not have happened in this specific instance, but that is the process.

 

 

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