Mexico: The War Gets Personal


November 22, 2013: Citizens of Michoacan state are complaining that cartel gunmen are continuing to commit crimes in their towns and villages and the federal government is failing to stop them. Several local government leaders in Michoacan complain that Knights Templar cartel members have even demanded the officials turn over ten percent of their salaries to the cartel – a tithe. Cartel gunmen have allegedly taken control of several cattle markets and timber markets in the state. They have also demanded a percentage of the profits of several citrus farming operations. The reports echo complaints made in 2012 by business owners in Coahuila state when Los Zetas cartel gunmen began threatening their legal businesses. In May 2013, a Mexican business organization reported that 36 percent of its members said extortion was a major problem in the country.

November 20, 2013: The government is continuing to expand the federal police force, which now has 38,000 policemen.

November 17, 2013: A group of around 400 self-defense force militiamen has taken control of the town of Tancitaro (Michoacan state). Government authorities said the large self-defense force entered Tancitaro after engaging in a firefight with what the authorities described as armed members of an organized criminal gang. The firefight occurred in the town of Pareo (near Tancitaro). Three gang members died in the firefight. Most of the militiamen are from the towns of Buenavista and Tepalcatepec.

November 16, 2013: Security officials reported the discovery of a mass grave site in Jalisco state. The grave is near the Jalisco-Michoacan state border. So far 18 bodies have been recovered from the site. Investigators found the grave site while searching for two federal police officers they believe were kidnapped (and likely killed) by either corrupt municipal policemen or cartel gunmen. Police had previously arrested 22 municipal policemen, in the town of Vista Hermosa (Michoacan state), the investigators believed were connected to the crime. A federal prosecutor said that several of the arrested cops confessed to turning the two missing federal policemen over to members of the Jalisco New Generation cartel.

November 11, 2013: Police arrested a former American soldier, security officials believe is the leader of a gang of kidnappers which has been operating in the northern states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas. The man was identified by two names: Luis Ricardo Gonzalez Garcia and Javier Aguirre Cardenas. Prosecutors alleged that the man entered Mexico in 2009, and organized a kidnapping gang with at least 16 members. They believe he served in the U.S. military from 1998 to 2002, and worked as a policeman in Texas.

A Canadian mobster was found murdered in Acapulco (Guerrero state). Canadian police officials identified the victim as Moreno Gallo, a former Mafia leader in the city of Montreal. Another Montreal Mafia leader, Nicolo Rizzuto, was murdered in Canada exactly three years ago to the day Gallo was murdered.

November 9, 2013: Advocates of community self-defense groups (local militias) claim that 5,000 people are now involved in community self-defense groups in Michoacan state. The figure seems a bit high but then national and international media have confirmed that many towns and villages in the state tell their reporters that they have local defense organizations of some type. The groups vehemently deny that they receive funding from cartels. That charge has been made by critics of the self-defense groups, to include federal government officials. In April, the Knights Templar cartel accused the Jalisco New Generation cartel of funding local defense groups. Of course, the cartel commandante who made the claim produced no proof, he just made the charge.

The motley collection of weapons (shotguns, hunting rifles, and machetes) journalists report the self-defense groups possess, however, indicates that most of the groups have armed themselves. Several community self-defense groups acknowledge they have now acquired semi-automatic rifles (AR-15s) and some AK-47s. The groups claim they seized the AK-47s from cartel gunmen. (Austin Bay)

November 8, 2013: Security officials reported the mayor (Ygnacio Lopez Mendoza) of the town of Santa Ana Maya (Michoacan state) was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. The mayor was a very public opponent of the drug cartels. He regularly complained to national and regional authorities that the gangs were extorting money from legitimate businesses in the state and threatening the local leadership of many villages in and around his municipality.

November 7, 2013: The national supreme court has overturned a controversial August 2013 appeals court decision which had freed a senior cartel commander accused of murdering a U.S. DEA agent. Rafael Caro Quintero had served 28 years of a 40 year sentence for the murder of DEA agent Ricky Camarena in 1985. Caro Quintero’s current whereabouts are unknown. He vanished after his release in August. Caro Quintero was at one time a senior commander in the now defunct Guadalajara Cartel. Many Guadalajara Cartel members joined the Sinaloa Cartel.



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