Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in review: selected topics and posts

(Note to readers: This post is "under construction," so to speak, and I'll be adding links to it occasionally. As of December 31, 2011 this Blog and the MGRR supplement had over 450 posts, and it's a challenge to link even the primary stories I've reported on. Thanks for your patience, and check back periodically for new links).

Hit man with Mérida connection arrested in Cancún admits to 30 executions

Contract executioner claims that Thursday's double AK-47 murders were a 'mistake'

*Updates below*
Los Pelones is the name of a local organized crime group in Cancún, Quintana Roo. I've reported on them previously, as their actions have become more violent in recent months. It appears Los Pelones has been trying to challenge Los Zetas, who are generally regarded as the bosses of Q.R. state, for control of drug trafficking, extortion and other criminal enterprises in the area. See links below for more stories on Los Pelones.

Friday, December 30, 2011

AK-47 attack in Cancún leaves two dead

The male victims, 61 and 32, were talking in front of a house in a residential area about 9:00 p.m. last night when they were repeatedly shot at close range with automatic weapons. The assailants were described as two masked men who drove up, got out of their car, fired and then quickly left. They later abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot. Police, who are still searching for the suspects, found AK-47 ammunition in the car, together with a .9mm handgun.

Both victims were dead at the scene. No motive has been suggested by local authorities, who say that the murders raise Cancún's 2011 organized crime execution toll to 74.

"It was a mistake," says very prolific Los Pelones hit man:

Calderón drug war strategy has been the right one

MGR Opinion - some reflections five years into Mexico's offensive against the drug cartels

Sixty months ago president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa launched an unprecedented war against domestic terror in this country. With exactly 11 months remaining in his term, it's worth the while to pause briefly and examine where Mexico has been in that time, and where it's headed.

I continue to be amazed by the short sightedness of many who observe and write about Mexican affairs, especially when they're criticizing the Calderón strategy of direct and aggressive engagement of the drug cartels. Not a few of those writers, by the way, are in the United States. One recent article, written by an experienced U.S. journalist, said the strategy had been a "disaster" for Mexico, and irresponsibly implied that a large number of the drug war dead were innocent victims of Mexican troops (conveniently ignoring Human Rights Watch findings just to the contrary). Perhaps she can be forgiven, though, since the Los Angeles Times suggested much the same thing in a November editorial. Here is what I have ventured on the subject in the past 60 days:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Honduras "invaded by drug traffickers" - 100 tons of cocaine shipped yearly to U.S., "where customers are"

Mexico's pressure against drug cartels makes Honduras the new warehouse for U.S. bound cocaine

Tegucigalpa - In this capital city of Honduras, the government says it's being overrun by drug traffickers - many of them fleeing Mexico's armed forces, which are hunting down and capturing or killing cartel bosses with increasing frequency.

The Honduran minister of defense, Marlon Pascua, said Wednesday that over 100 tons of cocaine are shipped annually from its territory to the United States, "where the consumers are."

U.S. sailor goes out for a Christmas cup of tea, loses his life on Tampico street

The Associated Press reports this morning that a U.S. tugboat captain from Bainbridge Island in Washington state has died after being attacked in Tampico, Mexico last week.

Patrick Warga, 46, died in a San Diego hospital where he was flown after the assault, according to AP.

Tampico is in extreme southern Tamaulipas state, on the border with Veracruz state. As I've reported in multiple posts over the past week, 39 people, including three other U.S. citizens, have died in drug cartel violence there since December 23. See posts below.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Major Juárez crime boss captured - leader of La Linea extortion and execution squad

The game's over for "El mil amores" - the man of a thousand loves - and 3 associates

Two days ago I reported on Mexico's extradition to the U.S of a suspect involved with the brutal March 2010 murders of Lesley Ann Enriquez (Catton) and her husband Arthur Redelfs ( The couple were attacked by a hit squad on a busy street in Juárez after attending a birthday party with their seven month old daughter. They tried to reach the international bridge crossing to get back to their home in El Paso, but didn't quite make it. Both were shot to death at close range in their car. Lesley, four months pregnant, was an employee of the U.S. consulate in Juárez, and Arthur was a 10 year veteran of the El Paso County Sheriff's Dept. Their little girl survived unhurt in the backseat.

Despite deportations, Obama trounces Romney, Perry in Hispanic voter polls

Deportations of undocumented persons -- most of them from Latin American nations -- have hit record levels during the Obama administration. Since 2009 they have averaged over 300,000 per year, a rate almost twice that of the average during the second Bush administration. This year the United States deported nearly 400,000 people, and 72% - almost three out of four - were Mexicans. Read here for more details:

Mexico says 41,000 criminals taken down during Felipe Calderón administration

Latest to be arrested is Sinaloa cocaine kingpin wanted on federal charges in U.S.

Year end stats
Mexico's secretary of national defense says that 41,000 criminal suspects have been arrested since Felipe Calderón declared war against the country's powerful drug cartels exactly five years ago, in December 2006. The government has not issued an official death toll in recent months, but estimates range from 40-60 thousand. A statement issued today in Mexico City claims that the detentions were carried out "with full respect for human rights and the preservation of life, through the use of reasonable force."

Other drug war statistics issued by Mexico in recent days indicate that nationwide, about 45,000 soldiers are now engaged full-time in anti-narcotics trafficking or organized crime operations. The Calderón administration says the Mexican troops have been the subject of 1,971 attacks since the offensive began.

Update on Texans executed in Veracruz state: "I told her not to go to Mexico"

Today CNN has an excellent video clip about the young family murdered in Veracruz state Dec. 22. The victims, a 39 year old mother and her daughters, 19 and 13, were on their way to a family Christmas gathering, but never made it. I posted about the case last week.

The executions were utterly pointless and brutal. The video is informative but not gory or unpleasant to watch. Since the attacks on the three passenger buses, the bodies of another two dozen or so execution victims have been found in the same area, near the Tamaulipas-Veracruz border. The Texas family likely entered Mexico at or near the Brownsville-Matamoros crossing. In the wake of the attack the U.S. consulate issued an emergency travel warning late last week, urging Americans to exercise extreme caution.

CNN video clip:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

If approved, latest budget ceiling increase will push U.S. debt to GDP ratio over 100%

U.S. about to cross critical "red alert" threshold - but will there be a way back?

Last summer I wrote an editorial for The Yucatan Times entitled At the Edge of the Precipice. I wrote the piece in late August, shortly after the U.S. Congress and the White House had arrived at a last minute - correction, last second - deal, which saved the United States from potentially defaulting on its sovereign debt for the first time in history. According to some experts, the accord just might have also saved the world from imminent financial Armageddon.

In that article, I noted the following:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mexico extradites suspect in brutal Juárez execution of U.S. consulate employee

Saturday, March 10, 2010 was a bright, clear, sunny day along the south Texas border. Lesley Ann Enriquez Catton, 25, and her husband Arthur H. Redelfs, 30, both residents of El Paso, Texas, planned to attend a birthday party just across the Rio Grande in Ciudad Juárez, often referred to as the most dangerous city in the world. Lesley was an employee of the American consulate in Juárez, and Arthur was a 10 year veteran of the El Paso County Sheriff's Dept. Each weekday morning Lesley made the trip across the international bridge to her job at the consulate. Lesley and Arthur had a nine month old daughter, and she was four months pregnant with their next child.

Key aid to El Chapo Guzmán arrested - an underboss of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel

Feb. 22, 2014 - Mexico nabs El Chapo Guzmán after 13 years

Enrique "El Chapo" Guzmán is the most wanted man in the world, and easily the primary target of the Felipe Calderón administration as it enters the sixth year of an all-out war against Mexico's drug cartels, which began in December 2006. With just 11 months left in office, Calderón would like nothing better than to take down the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, or Cartel del Pacifico, as it's more commonly referred to here.

Death toll along Veracruz-Tamaulipas border rises to 39; 13 new victims found

The Mexican states of Veracruz and Tamaulipas are only a stone's throw south of the United States. Tamaulipas shares a common border of almost 150 miles with Texas. The increasing drug war violence in the area suggests that it could become the new Juárez of northeastern Mexico.

On Christmas Day 13 bodies were found abandoned in a truck in Tamaulipas, near the once popular resort city of Tampico. The condition of the remains, together with the customary narcomensajes, or executioner's warnings left at the scene, leaves no doubt that this was the work of drug cartels. The messages made taunting references to rival criminal organizations, investigators said.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Greetings from Mérida, a City of Peace

Happy holidays, readers.

DEA says the dreaded "derecho de piso" has arrived in the United States

Derecho de piso means "floor charge" or rent, but it's just another name for extortion. It's Mexico's hidden occupational tax, and it has the power to affect tens of thousands of business far more profoundly than all other market and economic vagaries combined.

An extortionist drops by and has a friendly chat with a business owner, often a small proprietor. He explains that the two are now in business together. Once a week, or on some other regular basis, a collector arrives to pick up the designated rent from the owner. A failure or refusal to pay may be followed by disastrous consequences.

Cuba will pardon almost 3,000 prisoners - but Alan Gross will not be among them

Cuba announced yesterday that about 2,900 state prisoners will soon be pardoned and released, partially as a sign of respect for Pope Benedict XVI, who will visit the island in late March 2012.

A government spokesperson said that convicted American contractor Alan Gross, who has been jailed in Havana since December 2009 and about whom I have posted many times on this Blog, will not be among those freed. Gross was sentenced to 15 years after his March 2011 conviction for state security crimes.

300 businesses close in Cancún, Riviera Maya due to 2011 narco extortion, threats

The peninsular newspaper Por Esto reports in its today edition that 2011 was a terrible business year for Gold Coast merchants and retailers on Mexico's luxurious Caribbean shore. They're trying to ride out the combined effects of a worldwide recession and the rapidly spreading power and influence of ruthless drug cartels, especially Los Zetas.

In October Por Esto reported that drug cartels, notably Los Zetas, were taking over all kinds of businesses in Quintana Roo -- restaurants, bars, night clubs, etc. The area includes such travel destinations as Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Isla de Mujeres and surrounding communities. All have long been international favorites, popular with North Americans and Europeans alike. But now their future is uncertain, as the drug traffickers branch off into collateral businesses and integrate themselves into mainstream commercial enterprises.

Another mass body dumping in Veracruz - 10 decapitated in war torn military district

On the heels of a series of terrorist attacks Thursday morning (Dec. 22) against three passenger buses, Veracruz authorities reported late Friday evening (Dec. 23) that the bodies of 10 persons had been found discarded in the northern part of the state earlier in the day, near its border with Tamaulipas state (see map). Veracruz, which is now essentially a federal military district, announced through its spokesperson that most of the unidentified victims had been decapitated, their bodies showed signs of torture and several severed heads were found near the corpses. The grisly discovery was made by an anonymous caller, who notified police. More details will be posted as available.

Previous 2011 body dumpings in Veracruz:;

Friday, December 23, 2011

Three Americans named as victims in Veracruz bus attack - mother, teenage girls

A mother and her two young daughters, all U.S. citizens, have been identified by media sources as among the victims in yesterday's deadly attacks against three passenger buses in Mexico's northern Veracruz state. Americans have been warned to avoid the area:

Spanish language news reports confirm that María Sánchez Hernández, 39, together with her daughters Karla Patricia Hartsell (Sánchez), 19, and Cristina Hartsell (Sánchez), 13, were killed. They were en route to a family Christmas gathering.

Murder in Mérida, after 9 years of threats

Suspect dispatches annoying victim, then rides his bike to city hall to surrender

Mérida doesn't have many homicides of any type. But one occurred yesterday. José Luis Tun May apparently got tired of "nine years of insults and threats" from his neighbor, Reidi Ovet Pat Avilés. Fed up, according to authorities, he ended the long-running quarrel with two blasts from a shotgun, and then rode his bike downtown to turn himself in.

José Luis told police that Reidi showed up at his doorstep yesterday afternoon, intoxicated and threatening him with death, which Reidi allegedly did on a regular basis. José asked him to leave, suggesting that the two try to "work out their problems" at a later time, when both were in "their right minds."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

U.S. warns citizens after narco terrorists launch offensive in Veracruz - 16 dead

"No motive" other than to attack civilians, say authorities; major carriers have suspended bus travel in the area until highways are secured by military forces

The U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the border from Brownsville, Texas, has issued an emergency travel alert for Americans in Veracruz state, after an attack there today left at least 11 bus passengers dead.

"Americans living in, visiting or traveling through the northern part of Veracruz should be on the alert, exercise extreme caution and avoid highway travel at night," said the warning.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Federal troops take over police functions in Veracruz - 1,000 local cops dismissed

Veracruz, the City of Cadavers (, no longer has a local police force. Due to widespread corruption in metropolitan departments, effective today all policing within the city and immediately adjacent communities, which comprise an area known as Veracruz-Boca del Río, will be carried out by Mexican troops. A federalized approach to community policing is an excellent idea, in my opinion, and proves why those presidential candidates who say they would remove the military from the drug war are simply talking nonsense. One of those who has so advocated is PRI's Enrique Peña Nieto (

Los Zetas accused killer makes his first appearance in D.C. federal court, and enters not guilty plea

Espinoza Indictment

It may be unusual for a member of Los Zetas to appear in downtown Washington, D.C., but one did today. He was in the custody of federal marshals, and at the United States Courthouse, just blocks from the White House and the Capitol.

Julian Zapata Espinoza was formally arraigned in the courtroom of Chief U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth. He's charged with the murder of federal immigration agent Jaime Zapata, and the wounding of his partner Víctor Ávila. The two unarmed ICE agents were ambushed by Lost Zetas gunmen on a highway in northern Mexico while on a business trip Feb. 15 (see main story below).

Los Zetas killer charged in death of U.S. immigration agent is extradited by Mexico

A member of the Los Zetas drug cartel, who is alleged to have participated in the murder of a U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent earlier this year, was extradited by Mexico to the United States yesterday (Dec. 20).

Julián Espinoza, alleged to be an operative of the powerful Los Zetas, was handed over to U.S. authorities in Veracruz, to answer warrants issued by a federal district court in the District of Columbia after the February 15, 2011 murder of ICE agent Jaime Zapata (pictured). Another federal agent, Víctor Ávila, was wounded in the same attack, which occurred in Mexico's San Luis Potosí state. Espinoza faces U.S. charges of murder of a federal agent, attempted murder of a federal agent and attempted murder of an agent while on international duty. Espinoza, who was arrested soon after the events, litigated in Mexican courts in an effort to prevent his extradition, but lost his final legal battle recently and was turned over to the FBI. He is expected to appear before the Washington, D.C. court this week for a detention hearing.

Squabble over Peña Nieto's literary gaff focuses attention on his qualifications

Mexico's "pre-campaign" has officially begun here, although what there is to distinguish it from the general presidential campaign which will officially commence in March is hard to say. The PRI and PRD nominees -- Enrique Peña Nieto and Andrés Manuel López Obrador -- have already come out of the gates swinging, as have the three PAN hopefuls. PAN won't choose its nominee until February, but in a much publicized event, stand-ins for the three candidates drew numbers from a box to determine which place each candidate will have on internal party ballots used to determine the winner. Such is the unique style of primary elections in Mexico.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mexican church leaders say Pope doesn't support any political candidate

So said the archbishop of Puebla, and an auxiliary bishop of the same city, in brief remarks to reporters at the Vatican today. Last week the Holy See announced that Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Cuba and Mexico in the first quarter of 2012, most likely in the last week of March. Mexico's presidential election will be held 90 days later, on July 1. The bishops emphasized that the timing of the papal visit was purely coincidental, and had nothing to do with next year's elections.

PRD candidate Andrés López Obrador tells supporters, he's no Robin Hood

PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador focuses on the plight of Mexico's poor in most of his campaign speeches, just as he did in 2006 when he nearly snatched the presidency from his PAN opponent, Felipe Calderón. Several weeks ago he said that he would create seven million jobs for the country's aimless youth (, and more recently he said that Mexico's top leaders would see their pay cut in half if he's elected ( It's no wonder everybody here refers to him as the leftist candidate.

43 years after student massacre, Mexico declares a day of mourning

Beginning in 2012, Mexico will officially recognize the events of October 2,1968, when dozens of student protesters and others were mowed down by soldiers and police during an early evening demonstration. Details.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Congressman says Mexico has lost trust in U.S. after secret DEA operations

In an interview with the Spanish language Univision network, Rep. Darrell Issa (R. Calif.), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, says it will be "very difficult" for Mexico to trust the United States again after the recent disclosure of secret arms sales programs and money laundering operations conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

"The (U.S.) government lied about Fast and Furious, and it would appear it lied about the laundering (of drug cartel profits)," said Issa. He told Univision that the programs had harmed the relationship between the two countries as they struggle against narcotics traffickers and cartels.

Is sunny Mexico a good place to retire?

McClatchy news service writer Tim Johnson, who covers this country from Mexico City, has an eye-opening piece on the wires today about what is happening in one "retirement haven" in central Mexico. Sounds like people may be waiting in line to head north -- while the value of their homes heads south. Sunny Mexico is not so sunny these days, at least for some in one quaint community.

Read Tim's story here:

Did the man behind explosive Wikileaks disclosures want to be a woman?

The man behind the Wikileaks disclosures, which tested U.S.-Mexico partnership

He sometimes dressed like a woman, went by the online name Breanna, and was interested in gender identity issues. That's what testimony at a criminal pretrial hearing for U.S. Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, 24, indicated yesterday. Manning was arrested in 2010, and was charged with multiple offenses under the U.S. military code, including the unauthorized delivery of classified materials to a third party.

The Article 32 proceeding, the armed forces equivalent of a preliminary hearing or grand jury investigation, is being held at Ft. Meade, Maryland, under heavy security. Manning has been charged with 22 counts, including "collaborating with the enemy," and faces life imprisonment if convicted.

U.S. agents south of the border? - an idea acceptable to 57% of Mexicans surveyed

A whopping 57% of Mexicans want American financial aid to help in their fight against the cartels and narcotics trafficking, and according to a 2010 study they're prepared to accept it even on the condition that U.S. agents enter the country to stage manage the drug war here.

Mexico's Center for Investigation and Economic Studies published the survey results in September. They were reported today by El Universal, a Mexico City newspaper.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

PRI's "Great Hope" - Enrique Peña Nieto - enters Mexico's 2012 presidential race

Opinion and News Analysis -

Enrique Peña Nieto has been the de facto 2012 presidential nominee of the powerful Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) since November 22, when his sole primary opponent conceded the race ( But today he made it official with Mexico's federal electoral office, signing off on the required documents.

Peña Nieto is the hands down favorite to become Mexico's next president, who voters will elect July 1, 2012. Preference polls over the past year have consistently shown Peña Nieto capturing 40%+ of the ballots, easily crushing any challenger. His opponent on the left will be Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) nominee. The National Action Party (PAN) will select its nominee next February. Three, including Mexico's only female candidate, Josefina Mota (, are vying for the chance to be PAN's 2012 standard bearer.

Risk of a "catastrophic event" in 2012 has increased, says Mexico's central bank

*Updates below*
The Bank of Mexico (Banxico) is Mexico's central bank, much like the U.S. Federal Reserve. Like the Fed, Banxico discharges its functions with complete governmental and political autonomy. Its directors are guided by the sole objective of maintaining economic stability, while of course promoting the purchasing power of Mexico's national currency, the peso. The CEO of Banxico is economist Agustín Carstens, a man often in the news here. He was appointed and confirmed in December 2009.

Based upon continuing severe uncertainty in European markets, and questions as to the survivability of the eurozone and the euro itself, Banxico yesterday increased the risk of a "catastrophic economic event" in its 2012 fiscal assessment of Mexico and other nations.

U.S. House approves Mérida Initiative funds to Mexico: another $248.5 million

Money to be applied in current fiscal year 2012

As I've reported in previous posts, the Obama administration has promised that by the end of this year, U.S. funding of the Mérida Initiative will have reached the $900 billion mark -- just over half of the package approved by Congress in 2008. The initiative is a 2007 agreement between the United States and Mexico which provides for U.S. training and equipping of Mexican military and police forces, as well as for intelligence gathering and sharing. The $1.6 billion price tag on this deal was given the green light by Congress at the urging of former president Bush, who negotiated it with Mexican president Calderón.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mexico apologizes for rape of 17 year old - after a decade of litigation seeking dignity

In February 2002, Valentina Rosendo Cantú was a 17 year old girl living in a remote section of Guerrero state on Mexico's southwestern Pacific coast. She is a member of an indigenous group known as the me'phaa.

One day a contingent of Mexican soldiers arrived in the area looking for local insurrectionists, the Ejército Popular Revolucionario (EPR). When Valentina did not respond satisfactorily to their questions, they took turns raping her.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mexico rejects U.S. claim that drug cartels are terrorists; demands "state sovereignty"

News Analysis - Mexico's drug war must be run from Los Pinos, not from Washington

Mérida, Yucatán --
The Mexican government pays as much or more attention to events on Capitol Hill as do most Americans - especially when those events would directly impact the affairs of this country. So when a Republican panel of a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee today approved a bill which would define Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations, as well as mandate a U.S "evaluation" of Mexico's internal institutions and capacity to confront organized crime within its own borders, president Felipe Calderon's administration was ready with firm disapproval. HR 3401 likely will go nowhere in the long run, but it's bound to create some hard feelings between the United States and Mexico in the short.

House Republicans vote to declare drug cartels terrorists, adopt new strategies

HR 3401 would divert funds from Mérida Initiative to new U.S. anti-cartel strategy

A bill approved by a U.S. House subcommittee today would represent a fundamentally changed approach to confronting Mexican drug cartels if it becomes law, said a House Democrat who opposed the measure. The Enhanced Border Security Act, HR 3401, was passed on a narrow partisan vote by Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Western Hemisphere Subcommittee. All the Democrat members voted against it.

Arguing that the measure would "tear the Mérida Initiative to pieces," committee member Rep. Eliot Engel (D. N.Y.) told his colleagues, " I don't think this is the way to go. We have to work with our allies, not dictate to them or force policies upon them. This bill represents a change of course from our (previous) policy of providing support to Mexico in its fight against organized crime."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Three Mexican brothers lose early bid to dismiss Malaysian death penalty case

Kula Lumpur -- The Federal Court of Malaysia has rebuffed an effort by three Mexican men to dismiss drug charges which have confined them for almost four years, and which could result in their eventual execution. The men had sought a ruling, known as a peremptory writ, which would have prevented the case from going forward for technical reasons. In rejecting the dismissal bid today the court ordered that the case be tried, but attorneys for the men said that in the event of a conviction, their legal arguments could be presented again for further consideration.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mexico closer to a federal femicide law - with jail time for officials who fail to act

Murders of women -- femicides -- are a perennial problem in this country, and the popular perception here is that many such cases are not diligently investigated or prosecuted. Some critics claim that local authorities embolden violent perpetrators by treating crimes against women as less significant than many other public offenses. Mexico`s Cancer - Domestic Violence, A License to Kill.

A member of Mexico's lower legislative body, the House of Deputies, told her colleagues this week that between 2007 and 2009, femicides throughout Mexico increased by 68%. Another deputy argued, "really, it's a crime we should be ashamed of." Today the House voted to make the murder of a woman a federal crime under some circumstances.

Young "Guadalupanos," all dressed up

Story and link to more photos:

Top boss of Los Zetas arrested in Veracruz - said to be co-founder of dreaded cartel

Mexican law enforcement had plenty of reason to celebrate yesterday with the capture of a key figure in the Los Zetas drug cartel. Los Zetas is perhaps the country's most feared criminal organization, responsible for thousands of horrific executions and brutal attacks against competitors, police and civilians alike. The government says that the Zetas ("Z's") are composed of former elite special forces troops of the Mexican military.

Raúl Lucio Hernández Lechuga, also known as Fernández Lechuga, and sometimes as "El Lucky" or "Zeta 16," was captured by Mexican marines on a highway between Veracruz and Mexico City. Hernández was taken into custody after a brief firefight in which one of his bodyguards was killed and a solider was injured.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Police kill 2 students during confrontation in Guerrero

Police killed two student protesters today during an altercation in the city of Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state on Mexico's Pacific coast. The metropolitan community is home to over 200,000, and is about 55 miles from Acapulco.

Vatican announces papal visit to Cuba and Mexico - set for last week of March 2012

Pope Benedict XVI will journey to Cuba and Mexico next year, shortly before the Christian Holy Week. A formal itinerary has not yet been established, but the last week of March is widely anticipated for the two country visit. No other stops are planned.

Today's announcement was made by the Holy Father himself, as he presided over an extraordinary evening Mass in honor of Mexico's national patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe (

Obama: U.S. drug demand responsible for damage done to Mexico and other nations; promises new strategy based on education

In a candid interview published today in the Argentine magazine La Nación, president Barack Obama acknowledged the U.S. must answer for the scourge of drug trafficking in Latin America.

"The problem suggests a shared responsibility," said the president. "We're working with our friends throughout the continent to improve security for their citizens."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mexico says it had "no knowledge" of DEA money laundering scheme, refutes DOJ

A week ago I posted on a major news story by the New York Times, which reported on December 3 that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Admin. routinely launders hundreds of millions of dollars annually in Mexican drug cartel profits, even flying the dirty money back to the States on government airplanes. Once safely deposited in U.S. banks by DEA agents, vast sums of cash are available to cartel bosses to pay their employees, contractors and themselves. Details here:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Canadian in Gadhafi smuggling conspiracy advertised an "Instant Response Team"

Padded, pompous CVs tell much about someone - and where he/she may be headed

In 30+ years of practicing law, I learned to spot all kinds of bogus resumes and CVs, many of them submitted by poseurs and charlatans claiming to be "experts" or "consultants" of one type or another. Invariably, they came from people with little or no formal education, little or no real world training, little or no significant job experience. A colleague used to call them gobbledygook resumes; I referred to them a bit more graphically. Even on a professional's website, like the well-regarded, you'll see them by the hundreds - CVs which are testimonies to creative writing, but little else. You can't make silk out of a sow's ear.

López Obrador promises PRD victory in 2012 - and a big pay cut for Mexican politicians

Top government officials will see their pay halved, says candidate

Manuel Andres López Obrador has been the de facto PRD (Democratic Revolution Party) 2012 presidential candidate for several weeks, since his sole primary opponent, Marcel Ebrard, gracefully conceded the race Nov. 15. Yesterday he officially registered with Mexico's federal election commission.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Christmas postcard from Mérida

Actually, some of these shots are from a year ago. Downtown Mérida is rather torn up right now, and will be so until January. The city is getting a bit of a facelift in its core historical district, so Christmas lights didn't go up there this season. I miss them.

Courtyard of state government offices, in the historic center.