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Mexican border city hits 3,000 dead in drug war

In Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 at 9:45 am

This year’s death toll in drug-related violence in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, the hardest hit by Mexico’s drug war, rose to 3,000 Tuesday after two men were shot dead on a street, authorities said.


Ciudad Juarez has seen its homicide rate rise to one of the highest in the world after vicious turf battles broke out between gangs representing the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels in 2008.


That year, 1,623 people were killed in drug-related violence, and the toll increased to 2,763 deaths in 2009.


With prosecutors’ spokesman Arturo Sandoval announcing the latest grim milestone, a total of 7,386 people have died in the city of 1.3 million people across the border from El Paso, Texas, in three years. Most were members of rival drug gangs, but civilians, police and recovering drug addicts have also been targeted.

A federal police officer stands on a vehicle as he guards the area near a car where two people lie dead in the heavily guarded ‘safe’ zone, the PRONAF, in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monday Dec. 13, 2010.

More than 28,000 people have died throughout Mexico in the four years since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels when he took office in December 2006.


The U.S. Embassy touted Mexico’s increased cooperation in anti-drug efforts, noting in a statement that on Tuesday Mexico extradited 14 suspects wanted in the United States on drug, organized crime, money laundering, weapons and homicide charges.


The extraditions “represent another victory in our joint fight against organized crime,” the embassy said.


And touting Mexico’s own successes in the offensive, Calderon said Tuesday that a big party led to the demise of a drug cartel chief, who was killed in a shootout with federal police.


The La Familia gang invited hundreds of people to a party last week in the western city of Apatzingan and didn’t bother to keep it a secret, Calderon said in an interview with W Radio.


Federal police learned about it and the shootout broke out when they arrived to investigate, he said. The government says that La Familia leader Nazario Moreno, nicknamed “The Craziest One,” was killed in battles that lasted two days and spread to key parts of Michoacan state, with gunmen blockading roads with burning vehicles.


“What happened those days is that we gave La Familia cartel the biggest blow in its history,” Calderon said. “With a certain amount of insolence, they organized a party, a gathering of hundreds of their people. … Everyone found out about the party.”


The government says cartel gunmen fled with their dead during the shootouts, and Moreno’s body has not been recovered.


After Calderon spoke, the lower house of Mexico’s Congress voted 384-2, with 21 abstentions, to rescind the congressional immunity from prosecution of a fellow legislator accused of links to La Familia.


Congressman Cesar Godoy Toscano has denied the accusations, although tapes have surfaced in which he allegedly chats with a man identified as a leader of the cartel.


Godoy Toscano already faces federal charges for allegedly protecting La Familia, but congressmen in Mexico are given immunity from arrest while in office. Tuesday’s vote suspended him from Congress, but provided that he can return to office if he is acquitted or the charges are dropped.


While Godoy Toscano had filed an appeal against his arrest on the first set of charges, which is still working its way through the courts, the Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday it will file a second set of charges against him alleging money laundering.


A statement by the office did not give specifics of the new charges, or any indication of whether allegedly laundered money may have been used in Godoy Toscano’s election campaign.


The congressman was not present at the vote, and his whereabouts were unclear.

La Familia has been the most flamboyant of Mexico’s drug cartels. The gang claims it is trying to protect Michoacan — Calderon’s home state — from other cartels and common criminals, a message it touts in banners and even in occasional interviews with the news media.

The gang has not bothered to lower its profile since Moreno’s reported death. Sympathizers — some with small children — have marched repeatedly in Apatzingan and the state capital of Morelia, carrying signs supporting the capo and demanding the withdrawal of federal forces.

On Tuesday, the Interior Department issued a statement saying such demonstrations show only the cartels’ “incipient penetration of some local sectors, but not any social support for crime and its tactics.”

Later, in a rare joint statement, federal police, prosecutors, the army and navy urged all three levels of government — local, state and federal — and all three branches of government to work together against drug cartels.

The statement said La Familia members “are nothing more than criminals whose only intention is to terrorize and attack society.”

“Far from protecting Michoacan residents from crime, they deeply hurt them. They commit murders, extortion and kidnappings,” the statement added.

Moreno, 40, the dead drug lord, was considered the ideological leader of La Familia, setting a code of conduct for members that prohibits using hard drugs or dealing them within Mexican territory.

He reputedly handed out Bibles and money to the poor, and wrote a religiously tinged book of values for the cartel, sometimes known as “The Sayings of the Craziest One.”

The gang, specializing in methamphetamine, is also known as one of Mexico’s most vicious. La Familia emerged as an independent organization in 2006, announcing its split from the Gulf cartel when it rolled five severed heads into a nightclub in the city of Uruapan.

Soon afterward, Calderon deployed thousands of federal troops and soldiers into Michoacan, a crackdown he quickly extended to other cartel strongholds in northern and western Mexico. Several top drug lords have been brought down but gang violence has soared to unprecedented levels, claiming more than 28,000 lives in four years.

“I’m a Michoacano and the situation of the state hurts,” Calderon said. “We cannot allow the law of a cartel to rule a state.”

Also Tuesday, the Mexican navy reported it seized nine go-fast boats and a total of 15 metric tons (16.5 tons) of marijuana during two days of searches in the Gulf of California.

The navy said in a statement that patrol aircraft detected three suspicious boats near an island just off the coast of Baja California state on Dec. 11. The three boats were later found abandoned, with 512 packages of marijuana on board.

Two days later, a search by land, air and sea detected six other boats and six suspects in a nearby town. Those boats were carrying 1,058 packages of marijuana.

Source: SGGP

Mexican troops kill 11 in clash with drug gang: official

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2010 at 6:56 am

Up to 25 bodies found in Mexican silver mine

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 5:17 am

Between 20 and 25 bodies were recovered from an abandoned silver mine in southern Mexico, apparently victims of drug gang violence, federal police commissioner Facundo Rosas said Sunday.


The corpses appear to have accumulated over an undetermined time as they were tossed over a 300-foot (100-meter) precipice into the abandoned mine, located near Taxco, a colonial-era city popular with international tourists. The region is dotted by hundreds of mines.


Rosas said authorities were alerted to the mass grave by a suspect and they began pulling bodies from the mine late Saturday and continued their work Sunday. He didn’t give the identities or causes of death of the victims.

Supporters of Cancun Mayor Gregorio Sanchez take part in a protest in Cancun, demanding for his release, May 30, 2010

Police and military crews exploring the underground site wore breathing equipment to guard against the possible noxious gases in the mine.


The state of Guerrero, where Taxco is located, is plagued by drug violence among rival gangs, and marked by brazen attacks on police and soldiers engaged in a crackdown on traffickers.


But Taxco is better known for its silver jewelry, winding streets and Holy Week processions.


Rosas said Sunday that in an unrelated case, authorities arrested two brothers named on Mexico’s Most Wanted list for their ties to organized crime.


The brothers are suspected members of La Linea drug gang, and Rosas said they’re tied to drug dealing, kidnapping, extortion, car theft and several murders in the north Mexico state of Chihuahua.


Meanwhile in the state of Morelos, south of Mexico City, police identified human remains left on a road in several different plastic bags as a local prison director.


The state prosecutor said in a written statement that the director had headed the prison for two months. The statement did not mention a motive for the murder.


More than 23,000 people have been murdered in drug gang violence since President Felipe Calderon cracked down on drug traffickers in late 2006.

Source: SGGP

18 gunmen killed in attacks on Mexican army bases

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2010 at 7:09 am

Dozens of gunmen mounted rare and apparently coordinated attacks targeting two army garrisons in northern Mexico, touching off firefights that killed 18 attackers.


The attempts to blockade soldiers inside their bases — part of seven near-simultaneous attacks across two northern states — appeared to mark a serious escalation in Mexico’s drug war, in which cartel gunmen attacked in unit-size forces armed with bulletproof vehicles, dozens of hand grenades and assault rifles.


While drug gunmen frequently shoot at soldiers on patrol, they seldom target army bases, and even more rarely attack in the force displayed during the confrontations Tuesday in the border states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon — areas that have seen a surge of bloodshed in recent months.

A soldier patrols near a crime scene in the municipality of China on the outskirts of Monterrey, Mexico, Tuesday, March 30, 2010.

The violence mainly involves a fight between the Gulf cartel and its former allies, the Zetas, a gang of hit men. The cartel — which has apparently formed an alliance with other cartels seeking to exterminate the Zetas — has been warning people in the region with a series of banners and e-mails that the conflict would get worse over the next two to three months.


Gunmen staged seven separate attacks on the army, including three blockades, Gen. Edgar Luis Villegas said Wednesday. He called the attacks “desperate reactions by criminal gangs to the progress being made by federal authorities” against Mexico’s drug cartels.


Villegas said gunmen parked trucks and SUVs outside a military base in the border city of Reynosa trying to block troops from leaving, sparking a gunbattle with soldiers. At the same time, gunmen blocked several streets leading to a garrison in the nearby border city of Matamoros.


Another gang of armed men opened fire from several vehicles on soldiers guarding a federal highway in General Bravo, in Nuevo Leon state.


Troops fought back, killing 18 gunmen, wounding two and detaining seven more suspects. One soldier suffered slight injuries.


Soldiers also seized 54 rifles, 61 hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades, eight homemade explosive devices and six bulletproofed vehicles used by the attackers.


Mexico’s northern states are under siege from the escalating violence involving drug gangs.


The U.S. consulate in the northern city of Monterrey warned American citizens who may be traveling for Easter week about recent battles in the states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila and Durango. The consulate said U.S. citizens traveling by road from Monterrey to Texas “should be especially vigilant.”


One of the clashes between soldiers and gunmen killed two gunmen on the highway connecting Monterrey and Reynosa, which is across the border from McAllen, Texas.


Less than two hours before that shootout, Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina had assured citizens that authorities regained control over the state’s highways.


“I’ve found the highways calm. We ask that if citizens have plans to go out and enjoy these vacations, they should do so,” Medina said.


Also on Wednesday, authorities in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco announced that the nephew of one of Mexico‘s most-wanted drug gang leaders was captured together with a police chief accused of protecting a notorious cartel in a key port city.


Federal police detained Roberto Rivero Arana, who identified himself as the nephew of reputed Zetas gang leader Heriberto Lazcano, the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement issued late Tuesday.


He was arrest along with Daniel Perez, the acting police chief of Ciudad del Carmen, an oil hub in neighboring Campeche state. The statement alleged Perez received 200,000 pesos ($16,000) a month for protecting the Zetas.


The arrests come as the Zetas are under pressure from a bloody turf war with their former ally, the Gulf cartel. Authorities blame that fight for contributing to a surge of violence in Mexico’s northeastern border states north of Tabasco and Campeche.

Perez was acting chief pending a permanent appointment, Ciudad del Carmen Mayor Aracely Escalante said Wednesday.

“He’s an agent who had been with the police force long before we took over the town government,” Escalante said. “We had given him our trust.”

The two men were found with 10 assault rifles, a grenade, ammunition, drugs, police uniforms and worker suits with the logo of Mexico’s state oil company, Pemex, the Attorney General’s Office said.

Last week, Tabasco Gov. Andres Granier warned that the arrests of several suspected Zetas over the past several months could stoke turf battles in his region. He asked the federal government to send troops.

Meanwhile, the Mexican government announced that federal police will take over the anti-crime campaign currently headed by the army in the violent border city of Ciudad Juarez.

The army deployment has come under criticism from those who say soldiers are not trained for police work, and complaints they conducted illegal searches and detentions. But perhaps more important is the fact that killings have continued apace, even with troops in the city across the border from El Paso, Texas.

An unspecified number of soldiers will remain in Juarez to help combat drug gang violence that killed more than 2,600 people last year, and 500 more so far this year in the city of 1.3 million.

Starting Thursday, “the Mexican army will start gradually transferring responsibility for public safety to civilian authorities, to federal authorities at the beginning and gradually to state and local” forces, the Interior Department said in a news release.

The statement said 1,000 federal officers will be added to the police deployment in the city, bringing the number of federal agents to 4,500.

More than 7,000 troops had arrived in Juarez by mid-2009.

The department said the change was part of a new strategy to focus on social programs as an answer to the continuing violence.

Elsewhere, four severed human heads were found early Wednesday in Apatzingan, a town in the western state of Michoacan. Residents found the heads, with eyes still blindfolded, lined up at the foot of a monument along with a threatening message, state prosecutors said.

In Morelia, the Michoacan state capital, police reported finding the bodies of three young men who had been shot to death. The bodies had messages stuck to their chests with knives, The contents of the messages were not released.

Police in the border city of Nogales reported finding the bullet-ridden bodies of three men, including a city transport official, on a rural road along with three burned-out vehicles.

Wednesday marked the beginning of Mexico’s Easter Week vacation, and police in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero reported that gunmen had held up two motorists on the highway leading to the resort of Acapulco. The gunmen stole the victims’ vehicles, but they were not injured.

Source: SGGP

Vietnamese, Mexican shoe industries seek closer ties

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2008 at 3:11 pm

Leather shoe producers and exporters from Vietnam and Mexico gathered at a seminar in Mexico City on July 31 to discuss ways to boost bilateral cooperation.

Participants, including representatives from 14 Vietnamese businesses and 20 local companies, looked into the possibility of jointly developing material sources in Mexico to take full advantage of its human resources, technology and tax incentives.

They also aimed to increase Vietnam ’s imports and exports of leather and shoes with Mexico and the North American market as a whole.

Present at the workshop, the first of its kind between the two countries, were Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Leather and Footwear Association Ngo Dai Quang and Vietnamese Ambassador to Mexico Pham Van Que.

Manuel Uribe, chairman of the Asia and Oceania Committee of the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE) and Enrique Miche, chairman of the COMCE’s Mexico-Vietnam Business Cooperation Committee, also attended the event.-