Mexico: It Is Being A Very Bad Year

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March 27, 2017: The U.S. DEA(federal anti-drug agency) believes a small but very effective drug cartel known as Las Moicas is on its way to becoming a major source of heroin in the United States. DEA identified Las Moicas as a separate “cartel faction” in 2009 that was based in Michoacan state That led some investigators to conclude its personnel were once members of the now-splintered Familia Michoacana cartel. Other circumstantial evidence suggests that is highly probable. Las Moicas initially focused on California’s heroin market. It may have cooperated with a California-based gang called “the Mexican Mafia” (also known as La M). According to the DEA, at one time Familia Michoacana was known to have worked with La M. In 2015 Las Moicas began expanding its operations, but did so while maintaining a low profile. Now the DEA has concluded Las Moicas ranks with major heroin traffickers like the Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa cartels. Apparently Las Moicas continues to work with smaller criminal gangs. Other cartels began making extensive use of this technique four to five years ago. The major cartels “outsource” (sub-contract) some operations to smaller gangs. The smaller gangs are sometimes called affiliated gangs. For example, at one time the government estimated the Gulf Cartel had twelve affiliated gangs which handled operations in specific areas or performed specialized criminal tasks. Las Moicas may have refined this technique. (Austin Bay)

March 26, 2017: Police in Tamaulipas state recaptured one more prisoner who escaped in the mass jailbreak of March 23. By the next day police recaptured 12 of the 29 escapees. One escapee, however, killed a civilian while attempting to steal a car and 16 escapees remain at large.

March 23, 2017: Using a tunnel 29 prisoners escaped from the prison in Ciudad Victoria (Tamaulipas state). Following the mass jailbreak, police discovered a 37 meter (120-foot) long escape tunnel beneath the prison. The tunnel was 4.5 meters (15 feet) below ground. Authorities said it had taken the prisoners several months to dig the tunnel. Most of the escaped prisoners are believed to belong to Los Zetas cartel. Cartel members attempted a mass break from the prison in December 2016. In that incident a group of cartel gunmen attacked the prison. Two Zetas factions are fighting a turf war in Ciudad Victoria.

Miroslava Breach Velducea, a journalist with a national reputation, was murdered in Chihuahua City (Chihuahua State) as she drove her car out of her garage in order to take one of her children to school. Media in Mexico City described her murder as an assassination. She was the third reporter murdered in Mexico this month.

March 21, 2017: Firefights in Cuauhtemoc (Chihuahua State) between factions of the Juarez Cartel have left eight cartel members dead. At least four policemen were wounded responding to the clashes. Officials believe a senior leader of the Juarez Cartel’s La Linea enforcer faction was killed in one of the firefights. La Linea is sometimes described as the cartel’s enforcer “wing,” but some security officials believe it has become a faction. Most of the gunfights occurred along a highway north of Cuauhtemoc, late on the night of March 19 and into the next day. Since March 19 police have seized 14 cartel vehicles and some of them turned out to be armored SUVs. The Juarez Cartel (or at least parts of it) and the Jalisco New Generation are fighting a turf war in Chihuahua State.

March 18, 2017: Five senior members of the Sinaloa Cartel have escaped from the Aguaruto State Prison in Culiacan (Sinaloa State). One of the escapees, Juan Jose Esparragoza Monzon, was identified as a senior lieutenant of Sinaloa’s current top leader, Ismael Zambada. Esparragoza Monzon is the son of the now deceased Juan Jose Esparragoza. The elder Esparragoza was one three founders of the Sinaloa Cartel (along with Zambada and Joaquin Guzman).

March 14, 2017: Some 40 schools in the San Miguel Totalapan area of Guerrero state have reopened. The schools closed in late February protest attacks by Los Tequileros gang.

Investigators in Veracruz State have found over 250 skulls in a mass grave outside of the city of Veracruz. Authorities believe drug cartels used the wooded site, known as Colinas de Santa Fe, to bury the bodies of murder victims. It is likely the site contains the bodies of many people who have disappeared over a period of years. Civilian anti-cartel groups began combing the site in mid-2016. Citizens groups have formed in several states to look for mass grave sites and investigate them. So far Veracruz site is the largest mass grave site discovered.

March 12, 2017: The government announced it has arrested Giulio Perrone, a member of the Italian Camorra (Naples) mafia organization and will extradite him to Italy where he is wanted for cocaine smuggling. He had been a fugitive since 1998. Interpol discovered that he was living in the city of Tampico (Tamaulipas state). Police arrested him in Ciudad Madero (Tamaulipas state). Italian criminal groups and Mexican cartels do have contact. In 2008 authorities arrested several members of an Italian criminal organization known as “the 'Ndrangheta” on charges of aiding smuggling operations run by the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels.

March 9, 2017: Media report a Los Zetas faction has released a video showing the faction beheading a rival gang member. The video is similar to those released by the Islamic State. The video purportedly showed a man kneeling. He was then beheaded. The video was temporarily available on the internet but was quickly removed.

March 7, 2017: The government’s official crime monitoring service reported that 2,156 people were murdered in January 2017 and 2,098 in February 2017. Media reported that this set a record for most murders in a two month period (4,254). In the first two months of 2011 3,554 people were killed.

March 6, 2017: In Puebla State Federal police arrested Saul Romero, who was wanted in the U.S. on charges of human trafficking. He is charged with forcing underage girls to become prostitutes in six U.S. states.

March 3, 2017: U.S. prosecutors in Indiana have charged 17 suspects with helping a Mexican cartel smuggle methamphetamine and cocaine in the U.S. Most of the suspects were arrested in 2016.

March 2, 2017: Two suspected cartel gunmen murdered Cecilio Pineda Birto outside a carwash in the town of Pungarabato (Guerrero State). Pineda was a journalist who specialized in live streaming reports on crime in Guerrerro state. The murderers fled on a motorcycle. Pineda was also a critic of what he called government “inaction, corruption and collusion” with criminals. He had recently reported on Los Tequileros, a criminal organization operating in Guerrero state. He had accused state government officials of conspiring with the leader of Los Tequileros. The gang is notorious. Several communities in Guerrero state have protested the “impunity” the gang appears to enjoy. In late February a group of public school teachers in the state announced they would go on strike until authorities arrested the senior commander of Los Tequileros, Raybel Jacobo de Almonte. Several local self-defense militias (autodefensas) in Guerrero state claim that they organized specifically to defend their homes against Los Tequileros.

March 1, 2017: Police discovered the bodies of eleven murder victims in the town of Boca del Rio (Veracruz state). Investigators said the corpses showed signs of torture. The murders were attributed to narcotics traffickers who are fighting a turf war in the state.

 

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