Mexico: The Militias Strike Back


September 10, 2013: Despite recently electing a new president (Enrique Pena Nieto) who said he would do things differently, the Cartel War tactics have not changed much from those employed by the former president (Felipe Calderon). In late August the new president acknowledged his administration's proposed national gendarmerie (a large paramilitary force just for Drug War) would be a much smaller force than originally planned. The government admitted that the military will continue to have an active (ie, major) role in the war. As a candidate, Pena sold the gendarmerie as a better way to confront the large organized crime gangs in Mexico. His campaign pitch was to de-militarize the Cartel War, send the military back to the barracks, and concentrate on reducing violence in the streets. Pena expressed skepticism as to the utility of throwing drug kingpins in jail. However, August featured the arrests of two major drug commandantes and the government touted the arrests as victories. They were victories. It appears public is not impressed by the new administration. According to a major poll taken in late August, 49 percent of Mexicans think violence has increased in their country since Pena took office. Critics contend that around 1,000 people a month have been killed in drug cartel related violence since 2013 began and the critics cite official data. The critics are now openly calling the gendarmerie a campaign gimmick. It was. (Austin Bay)

September 8, 2013: Some 40,000 leftist union workers protested the government’s plan to modernize the national tax system and seek private investors in the national oil company. Despite claims that the demonstrators are pursuing what they call peaceful citizen mobilization, security officials are concerned about threats of violence from union militants. A senior left-wing leader accused the government of plotting to impose taxes on food and medicine. Many Mexican unions are corrupt. Corruption means many jobs in unionized industries go to political favorites or ghost workers (ie, non-existent people, so union officials or politicians can pocket the very real salary). Unionized operations are less capable of exporting goods (high costs, low quality) or providing Mexicans with affordable goods. Naturally, the union leaders and members resist reform.

September 2, 2013: Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC), the umbrella political organization representing community defense militias in Guerrero state, claimed that 70 community defense volunteers had disappeared from the municipality of Tixtla since the Mexican Army disarmed their organizations in late August. A CRAC spokesman also accused Mexican media of failing to tell the full story of how community defense volunteers acquired Heckler and Koch assault rifles. According to CRAC,  militia volunteers took the rifles from the Tixtla police department when they occupied the city hall

August 29, 2013: Eight prisoners who were transferred to a prison in Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas state) were murdered by other prisoners one day after arriving in the prison. Officials indicated that the murders were gang-related.

August 25, 2013: Security personnel discovered the headless bodies of 12 young people in a mass grave east of the city. The victims were kidnapped three months ago at a club in Mexico City. The media treated the kidnapping as another sensational gang-related crime. Investigators believe that drug dealers from the poor eastern neighborhood of Tepito had been trying to move in on the Union of Insurgentes, a gang that's named after the city's prosperous main north-south thoroughfare and controls sales in virtually all of the nightspots in the wealthiest parts of the city. The gang in control hires women as spies to flirt with potential rivals looking to sell drugs on their territory and valets are used as lookouts. Corrupt police with annual salaries of less than $10,000 are paid to turn a blind eye.

August 22, 2013: The government announced revisions for plans to field a new national gendarmes paramilitary police force.  By mid-2014, the new national police force will have 5,000 paramilitary policemen. The original plan was for the force to have 40,000 paramilitary policemen. According to official figures, only 1,700 have been recruited so far. Critics contend that a number of the recruits are former Mexican Navy marines and Mexican Army soldiers - in other words, the new force as it currently exists is the military with a new name.

In the last three days police and other security forces have found 23 bodies in Michoacan and Jalisco states. Authorities attribute the body count to a turf war being fought between the Jalisco New Generation cartel and the Knights Templar cartel.

August 20, 2013: The U.S. deported Sandra Avila Beltran to Mexico. Avila was arrested in Mexico in 2007 and extradited on drug smuggling charges to the U.S. in 2012. She faces money laundering charges in Mexico. Avila Beltran is connected to several senior drug lords in Mexico.

August 18, 2013: Mexican security forces arrested a senior Gulf Cartel commander, Mario Armando Ramirez Trevino. The arrest took place in the city of Reynosa (Mexico-Texas border). When arrested Ramirez had three guns and nine cell phones on him, as well as a large stash of cash, in pesos and dollars.

August 12, 2013: Drug cartel gunmen attacked a house in the town of Tuxpan (Michoacan state), killing seven people and wounding nine.

August 10, 2013: A Mexican court  in Jalisco state  ordered the release of drug kingpin Rafael Caro Quintero. He had been imprisoned for ordering the murder of U.S. DEA agent Enrique Camarena in 1985. The U.S. government expressed outrage at the release and called the court ruling deeply troubling. Corruption is suspected.

August 6, 2013: The Guerrero state Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities (CRAC, umbrella group for community defense groups) claimed that 1,500 CRAC members erected barricades in five towns. The community defense volunteers were acting in support of the community defense force in the town of El Pericon. CRAC claims the Mexican Army is harassing the El Pericon militia.

August 5, 2013: Some 3,000 citizens of the Costa Chica district in Guerrero state erected a barricade along a rural highway, in order to block an army unit. The protesters were demonstrating against the arrest of five members of a citizen defense group. Guerrero State Union of Peoples and Organizations (UPOEG), the mass organization that forms the backbone of local militias north of Mexico City, has done what the police no longer can do, get drug gangs to back off on their terrorist (kidnapping and murder) activities. In response, the police have been going after the militias and, as usual, ignoring the cartel crimes (mainly because many cops are on cartel payrolls).

August 2, 2013: The government continues to wrestle with how to handle community defense organizations, which have become a fixture in the rural areas of several western states. The government originally referred to them as vigilante groups. However, reporters who visited the areas found that the citizens had legitimate complaints about corrupt and incompetent state and local police departments.

July 31, 2013: Clashes continued in Michoacan state between Mexican Army units and cartel gunmen. The army is fighting both the Knights Templar cartel and the Jalisco New Generation cartel.




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