Friday, January 27, 2012

Eight executed on Monterrey street

Nuevo León state has already recorded 98 murders this month; Monterrey will implement special security operation to counter increasing drug cartel violence

Monterrey, capital of Nuevo León , is an important commercial and industrial center in northern Mexico. The city proper has a population of over one million, but the metropolitan area, which includes many surrounding towns, is home to more than four million people.

Monterrey is about 100 miles south of the U.S. border, and unfortunately for its residents, it lies squarely on the path of major northbound drug routes. Those routes are in dispute between two of the country's most powerful drug cartels, Los Zetas and Cártel del Golfo (Gulf Cartel). The city has been the scene of much violence in recent months, including a daytime arson attack against the Casino Royale last August which left 52 people dead (

About 5:30 a.m. yesterday (Jan. 26) sleeping residents of a Monterrey neighborhood were awakened suddenly by the staccato reports of gunfire. Police were summoned and arrived within minutes, discovering the bodies of eight men adjacent to the street. The young male victims had been driven to the scene, placed on the ground and were executed at point blank range. Each of the men, whose ages ranged from 18 to 30, had been shot in the head with a .9 mm weapon. A narcomensaje, or executioner's warning, was left with the bodies. Locals were said to have been terrified by the unprecedented executions at a major residential crossroads. Killings are common in the city, but not at such locations.

The mass shootings, coupled with three other organized crime murders Thursday which authorities believe were committed by the same gunmen, raised the January death total to 98 in Nuevo León, most of whom have been killed in Monterrey. Police in the capital city plan to launch a special security operation to deal with the rising tide of violence, which they attribute to relentless cartel "adjustments of account" -- in this case by Los Zetas.

Late Thursday evening and early this morning police raided a Monterrey bar and arrested virtually everyone there. About 200 customers and employees were taken into custody for questioning in connection with the 11 executions. What evidence authorities had, if any, is unclear, but many such establishments in the city are owned, controlled or infiltrated by criminal elements, which acquire them for money laundering and investment purposes ( By this evening the majority of the detainees had been released, but 62 are still being interviewed and are considered suspects.

This may prove to be a very difficult year for Monterrey. According to a drug war death tally issued by Mexico's Attorney General on January 11 (link below), in the first nine months of 2011 some 399 people were killed in organized crime incidents in the city. Data for the last quarter of the year has not yet been released, but assuming the murder pace remained the same, the city had 532 homicide victims in all of 2011. With 98 already dead as of January 27, an annual projection for Monterrey could easily be 1,200 victims by the end of 2012. If so, that would represent a 225% increase from last year.

Death toll in Mexico's drug war through December 31, 2011 was 47,515:

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