November 10, 2014:
In early November three members of the Guerrreros Unidos gang confessed to participating in the murders of 43 students near the town of Iguala (Guerrero state). The gang members claimed that Iguala police had arrested the students then handed the students over to the gang. The gang members said they shot and killed several of the students then burned their bodies. They also claimed 15 students had already been “asphyxiated.” The confessions were made the first week of November and officially revealed November 7. There were earlier indications that gang members were supplying useful information. In late October two gang members told investigators that they helped burn dozens of bodies near the town of Cocula (Guerrero state, not far from Iguala). Investigators subsequently found charred human remains near Cocula. Six bags of human remains were also found along a nearby river.
Federal authorities have so far arrested over 70 people in connection to the murders and kidnappings that occurred on September 26 in and around Iguala (Guerrero state). In addition to the 43 students who went missing, police shot and killed another six protestors on the evening of September 26. The mass murder has become a huge political problem for President Enrique Pena Nieto. The students’ disappearance (and at the time, suspected murders) forced the October 23rd resignation of Guerrero state’s governor, Angel Aguirre. A senior government official acknowledged that other evidence (beyond gang confessions) supports the allegations of municipal police collaboration. Several local policemen have been arrested. Federal police took over local police duties on October 19. On October 22, federal prosecutors issued arrest warrants for the local police chief, the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abaraca, and the mayor’s wife. On November 4, federal police arrested Abarca and his wife in Mexico City.
November 8, 2014: Several hundred protestors in the capital of Guerrero state burned cars in the streets and damaged several government office building. In October, demonstrators throughout Guerrero state have claimed that the state government played a role in the September 26 mass murder of 43 students in the town of Iguala. Now some protestors also accuse the federal government of involvement. Though the biggest protests have occurred in Guerrero state, surveying media reports indicates the anger and frustration with the government and its handling of the Guerrero massacre is now clearly a nation-wide phenomenon. A comment by Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam (made in a November 7 press conference discussing the crimes) inflamed emotions. Murillo Karam decided that he had taken enough questions and told media reporters "Ya me canse" -- which translates as "Enough, I'm tired." That was a huge mistake. Several million citizens heard his statement as a telltale example of elitist arrogance and refusal to take responsibility. Critics already claimed the murders (and involvement of Iguala’s mayor and his wife) are evidence of the political class’ disdain for the rule of law. (Austin Bay)
In the capital anti-government protestors set fire to the doors of the National Palace, an act of great symbolism.
November 6, 2014: Mexican drug cartels are expanding their “market share” of the methamphetamine sales in the US. Over the last two years, U.S. police have noticed that more “Mexican meth” is available the streets and less “home made” (ie, made in U.S. labs) meth is available. U.S. authorities attribute the increase in Mexican drugs to two factors. One reason is better enforcement. U.S. police have shut down thousands of local meth production labs. According to U.S. government figures, in 2013 U.S. security agencies shutdown 11,573 American meth labs. Call that the good news. The second reason rates as bad news. Cartel “marketing” operations have improved. Over the past three year, Mexican drug cartels have improved their logistics systems (OK, smuggling systems) into and through the U.S. The word “throughout” tells the tale. Federal and state authorities have issued numerous reports on cartel use of interstate highway corridors for drug smuggling. Drugs moved along corridors are then shipped along “branch corridors” for local distribution. The cartels apparently have a price advantage, at least in some regions. In the U.S. Midwest, the street price of Mexican meth is cheaper than local meth. (Austin Bay)
The government cancelled a contract allowing a Chinese firm to build (with several Mexican partner) a high speed railway from the capital to the north. This would cost $3.75 billion with most of the money coming from China. The government implied that the cancellation was caused by suspicions that the Chinese used bribes to get the deal done. China protested the cancellation. Mexico has encouraged more Chinese investment in Mexico, mainly because there is a huge trade imbalance between the two countries. China ships ten times as many goods to Mexico as Mexico does to China. The imbalance is running at over $50 billion a year and causing growing hostility towards China.
November 4, 2014: An elite federal police unit arrested mayor of Iguala (Gerrrero state), Jose Luis Abaraca, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda. The couple was found hiding out in a rented house in Mexico City’s tough, working class Iztapalapa district. The couple had fled Iguala after investigators found evidence that they were involved in the disappearance and likely murder of 43 students in Guerrero state. They are charged with ordering police in the city of Iguala to confront protesting students on September 26. Six protestors were killed in the protestors and 43 others (all students) disappeared. Federal prosecutors believe that Pineda asked her husband to use the police to stop the protestors. Pineda had announced that she was a candidate for mayor of Iguala (to replace her husband after he completes his term). She was scheduled to give a speech and she did not want the protestors disrupting her appearance. Pineda, who local media called “Lady Iguala,” had also brought in 3,000 political supporters for a party in Iguala’s main city plaza and she did not want protestors disrupting that event. National media now call Pineda “the First Lady of Murder.”
November 2, 2014: Gunmen murdered a former army general who was serving as a regional security commander in Tamaulipas state (Mexico-Texas border). Ricardo Nino Villarreal and his wife were murdered along a highway in neighboring Nuevo Leon state on November 1 but local citizens did not discover their car until November 2. Nino Villarreal commanded security operations in the Nuevo Laredo area (across the border from Laredo, Texas). Nuevo Laredo is a major Los Zetas cartel stronghold.
October 28, 2014: Investigators in Guerrero state who were searching for 43 missing students confirmed that they have begun excavating another mass grave site near the town of Iguala. Federal authorities said that the investigating team went to a site near the town of Cucolo (17 kilometers from Iguala) after two arrested members of the Guerreros Unidos gang told federal police interrogators they burned several bodies in the area.
October 27, 2014: U.S. police continue to examine cartel money-laundering operations in Los Angeles-area “fashion district” businesses. Investigators are analyzing digital data seized in raids on September 10, 2014 as part of Operation Fashion Police. The operation involved federal, state and local security agencies; 1,000 officers participated in the raids. Why did the Fashion District attract cartel money-launderers? U.S .and Mexican officials believe that the anti-money-laundering measures Mexico enacted in 2010 made it more difficult for the cartels to launder cash through Mexican financial institutions. One of the measures was to limit U.S. dollar deposits in Mexican banks. The clothes business (for that matter, the textile business) is a high-dollar business. Some 2,000 Fashion District businesses are being scrutinized, with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) anti-money-laundering project playing a critical role. Over $90 million in cash may have been stashed in Fashion District businesses. The cartels were moving money in increments of less than $10,000 -- what was the Treasury Department’s minimum for detailed reporting. Authorities now require Fashion District businesses to file much more detailed cash transaction reports. Investigators indicated that they are finding evidence that legitimate businesses in Mexico collaborated with cartel couriers. Mexican officials have pointed out that the cartels threaten legitimate Mexican businesses with violence (against property and personnel) if they refuse to cooperate with cartel operations.
October 22, 2014: Angel Aguirre, the governor of Guerrero state agreed to resign his office. Protestors have been demanding his resignation since late September when 43 students disappeared after participating in protests near the town of Iguala. Protestors alleged Aguirre conspired with the mayor of Iguala, Abarca, to frustrate the search for the students.