Sunday, September 30, 2012

Two executed in Cancún hotel zone

"Red alert in tourist district," says local newspaper

*Updates below*
Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Two bodies were discovered here about 7:00 a.m. today, police say, the latest casualties in an ongoing drug cartel feud in Q.R. state.

The unidentified male victims were found near the entrance of a theme park known as Wet 'n Wild. Their throats had been cut.

A narcomensaje, or executioner's warning, was left nearby, signed by the Gulf Cartel.

A local Spanish language news source said that "this is the first time in almost 10 years that drug cartels have 'adjusted accounts' in one of the city's most protected zones." The term means retaliatory killings committed by one cartel against another.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Los Zetas are "dominant force" in Central America and have foothold in Belize, says United Nations analysis

Calderón drug war strategy has had demonstrable results in Mexico, U.N. report concludes

*Updated Apr. 2, 2013*
Guadalajara -
This week the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued a report which says that a powerful storm is brewing on Mexico's southern border, in a triangle of death which is increasingly run not by elected governments, but by narcotics traffickers. On Mexico's southern border is the most violent zone on the planet, says U.N. agency. The report suggests that Mexico's drug war is now being replayed in Central America, especially in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, which have weak internal institutions leaving them particularly vulnerable to organized crime groups. Skyrocketing homicide rates are partial proof of the problem.

A strategic paradox is evident. Mexico's gain has been its neighbors' loss, and the successes of Mexican armed forces in the 70 month old drug war launched by president Felipe Calderón in December 2006 portend difficulties for much poorer and far less prepared Latin nations which lay just beyond Chiapas state, on the country's southern frontier (More evidence Mexican drug war strategy is working, as violence shifts southward). UNODC noted this week that Mexican traffickers have relocated their businesses under pressure from the ejército mexicano. Calderón's National Security Strategy "had a profound impact on Central America," it said.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Murder in Maxcanú:Yucatán State Police officer kills four

Town demands justice for victims cut down by agent's "jealous rage"

*Updated Aug. 22, 2014*
Maxcanú, Yucatán
A Yucatán State Security Police (SSP) officer described as an “elite agent” of the force murdered four persons yesterday after accusing his wife of marital infidelity. His whereabouts are unknown.

Luis Antonio Sansores Durán, a former soldier with eight years service on the Robbery and Assault Special Operations Group, shot and killed his wife’s lover, Luis Canul Chan, 38, and three of Canul’s family members in Maxcanú, a town about 40 miles southwest of Mérida. An SSP spokesperson said Sansores' duties have included running security details for high ranking state government officials.

Police gave this account of events:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cancún International Airport was used as key narcotics distribution hub by Beltrán-Leyva, Mexico's SEIDO says

A million bucks in bribe money kept lips sealed

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
The Beltrán-Leyva Cartel was a short-lived (2006-2010) drug trafficking organization that's been out of business for two years. But news sources report today that the cartel regularly used this resort city's international airport as a stopping point for drugs being flown in from South America, principally cocaine. The narcotics were warehoused for a few hours or few days, and generally switched to other aircraft before continuing on their way west and north. The most common connecting point was Toluca, capital of the State of Mexico in the south-central part of the republic. Obviously, this could not have occurred without the active participation of many.

On Mexico's southern border is the most violent zone on the planet, says United Nations crime monitoring agency

Mexican drug war now being replayed in Central America

Guadalajara -
In Vienna today the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that Mexico's three closest neighbors to the south - Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador - comprise a deadly "northern triangle" of Central American nations which is one of the most violent and dangerous regions in the world.

UNODC blamed the problem on three factors: the prolific rise in narcotics trafficking, the presence of criminal organizations affiliated with established Mexican drug cartels, and weak internal institutions which leave each of the countries highly susceptible to domestic corruption and exploitation.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"Drug users are killing thousands of young people in the developing nations," Felipe Calderón tells U.N.

Outgoing president calls for international conference to consider alternative strategies, seek solutions

Guadalajara -
In his farewell address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Mexican president Felipe Hinojosa Calderón pointed a finger of heavy responsibility at drug users worldwide, accusing them of "killing tens of thousands of young people in the developing nations, bringing violence and horror to the places they call home."

"With all due respect, I place these deaths on the consuming nations," he told the attentive chamber.

The president said that demand in developed and economically advantaged nations is the main factor driving Mexico's drug war, and similar conflicts which its Latin American neighbors are confronting.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Don't throw us back," Calderón urges Peña Nieto, while hinting that U.S. may have to consider drug legalization

"It's grossly unjust and offensive that so many lives have been lost in Mexico due to indiscriminate trafficking in weapons coming from the United States" - Felipe Calderón, today in Washington

President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto takes office in nine weeks
Guadalajara -
Speaking in Washington today, Mexico's president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa had friendly but firm words for successor Enrique Peña Nieto.

"I don't see any option other than to continue with the struggle against criminals, apart from taking a step backwards by just telling them, 'Here you go, the city is yours, it's very pretty, take it, it's all yours.' The war against crime must continue," said the outgoing PAN president, who has about 70 days left in his six year term. Mr. Peña Nieto will assume office on Dec. 1.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Felipe Calderón, Mexican cabinet make last call on U.S.

President says he's leaving with "no regrets"

Guadalajara -
Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, his wife Margarita Zavala and his cabinet arrived in Washington early this evening for the president's final official visit to the United States.

Calderón's last full day in office will be Nov. 30. The next day Mexico's first PRI president in more than a decade, Enrique Peña Nieto, will be sworn in. Presidents here serve a 72 month term, known as a sexenio, and are not eligible for reelection. Calderón's National Action Party (PAN) has held Mexico's highest office since 2000, when Vicente Fox was elected president.

Vicente Fox enjoyed a solid relationship with former U.S. president George W. Bush, as did Felipe Calderón during Bush's last 24 months in office. Together the latter two forged a joint Mexico-U.S. security agreement to confront international drug cartels. That pact is alive and well, and will unquestionably survive the change in one - perhaps two - administrations (Governments come and go, but Mérida Initiative will continue). While the U.S. Congress is not always pleased with the course of Mexico's drug war, it's invested over $1 billion in the strategy just since 2008, and few if any realistic alternatives are on the table (U.S. set to approve more Mérida Initiative funds).

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Guadalajara's Virgin of Zapopan makes her rounds

MGRR photojournal report

Guadalajara -
Many have written about the Virgin of Zapopan, patroness and protector of Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco, and I can add nothing to what they've already said. But today she passed right by my front door, so I felt compelled to capture a few images.

The legend of Nuestra Señora de Zapopan dates to 1541 in this profoundly Roman Catholic nation. Here's one Church account.

Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, 12:30 a.m.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Routine traffic stop in Mérida yields Sinaloa Cartel "Boss of the Plaza" in Cozumel, Playa del Carmen

Quintana Roo capo for El Chapo Guzmán controlled narcotics trade in eastern Yucatán, police say

Mérida, Yucatán
On April 18 MGRR published an article which said the following: "A commando team of at least 50 hired executioners has arrived in Cancún to take control of the city's main plaza from two other warring groups. The executioners work for Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, a/k/a Los Matazetas, which allegedly is in close alliance with the most wanted narcotics trafficker in the world, Joaquín El Chapo ("Shorty") Guzmán. Guzmán escaped from a Mexican prison in January 2001, and runs the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, known in Mexico as Cartel del Pacifico. The United States claims that Sinaloa imports more drugs into the country than any other cartel. The U.S. and Mexico have offered millions of dollars in bounties for Guzmán's capture, and Felipe Calderón wants few things more than to take down the elusive trafficker before his six year term as president ends on Nov. 30."

The rest of that story, which describes a local drug trafficking war along Mexico's famous Riviera Maya coast, is here: 50 Matazeta executioners in Cancún to "recover the plaza" for Chapo Guzmán.

Governments come and go, Mérida Initiative will continue

So predict Mexican foreign minister and U.S. secretary of state, at a final diplomatic summit

Guadalajara -
In the U.S. fiscal year which begins Oct. 1, Mexico will receive another $250 million under a joint security agreement worked out with the United States in 2007. The Mérida Initiative was negotiated between outgoing PAN president Felipe Calderón and former U.S. president George W. Bush during his second term, to address the rising power of international drug cartels which threaten the domestic security of both nations. The plan is named after the Yucatán capital, where the two leaders met to hammer out the details. And although Congress is not entirely enamored of it, Members continue to fund the pact every year, often bickering over the details. (U.S. set to approve more Mérida Initiative funds, amid continued charges of torture, human rights violations by Mexican army).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

U.S. Inspector General files Fast and Furious Report

Disclosures are likely to further incite congressional Republicans as presidential election approaches

On November 1, 2011, an assistant U.S. attorney general told Senator Dianne Feinstein (D. Calif.), that of the then approximately 94,000 weapons seized by Mexican troops since the drug war began in December 2006, at least 64,000 could be directly traced back to the United States. That number represented about 68%, but Mexico has said that 80% of all firearms it seizes from drug traffickers came from the United States ("Dear friends in the United States - please, no more assault weapons to Mexico")

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Peruvian Nobel Prize winner flip-flops on drug war, and urges Peña Nieto to abandon Calderón security strategy

Calling the drug war "foolish," he urges legalization, joining a former Mexican president who agrees

*Correction below*
In an unusual turnabout from statements he made repeatedly over the past year, Peru's 2010 Nobel Prize winner in literature has called for an end to the six year old drug war launched by outgoing PAN president Felipe Calderón in December 2006.

At a book presentation on Monday, Mario Vargas Llosa said, "I hope Enrique Peña Nieto abandons this senseless strategy of fighting drugs solely through repressive measures, as has been done by Felipe Calderón. That's not the road, and Mexico is proof of it." Vargas Llosa holds joint Peruvian and Spanish citizenship, and frequently comments on Mexican affairs.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Case of alleged Hezbollah loyalist arrested in Yucatán leaves many questions unanswered

A disciple of radical Islam, or just a common thief?

*Updated content*
A U.S. citizen of Arab descent arrested in Mexico 10 days ago, alleged to be a member or supporter of the militant Islamic group Hezbollah, has been returned to federal court in San Jose, California, where he faces a charge of parole violation following 2010 convictions for bank fraud.

Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun, 44, a dual citizen of Lebanon and the United States, was taken into custody at a private residence in Mérida on Sept. 8. The arrest was carried out by Mexican federal immigration (INM) agents and state security police (SSP). Labboun was flown to Houston less than 24 hours later. But now he's back in California, where the criminal case originated more than a decade ago, and Labboun may have to explain to a federal judge why he took an unapproved vacation to the Yucatán peninsula.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fallout continues after attack on CIA agents, as Mexico and U.S. disagree over what happened at Tres Marías

MGR News Analysis -
A mere misunderstanding, or murder in the making at Three Marys?

*Updates below*
In late August two American CIA agents, operating clandestinely in Mexico, were saved from the unpleasant effects of AK-47 and AR-15 rounds (136 of them, to be exact) by the Level 7 armor plating of their Toyota Land Cruiser - but just barely. By the time Federal Police units arrived on the scene and ordered a cease fire, shrapnel had already penetrated the vehicle and slightly wounded the men, as well as the Mexican marine officer accompanying them as translator and aide-de-camp. It was a business trip the agents surely will never forget.

The curious details of the case - such as we have them - are reported here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Gruesome discovery in Jalisco on Independence Day: 17 bodies dumped along highway to neighboring Michoacán

A disquieting event in normally tranquil Jalisco state

There was no respite for law enforcement authorities in Jalisco today, as Mexico celebrated its 202nd birthday amid plenty of evidence that the 70 month old drug war rages on unabated.

The state prosecutor's office reported that at about 5:30 a.m., the bodies of 17 partially clothed men were found alongside a major highway which runs from this cultural heart of the nation to Morelia, capital of Michoacán state, just to the southeast. The bodies were discovered by passing motorists, piled up alongside the roadway. All had been bound with chains or ropes. Their eyes were taped shut.

Investigators say the victims were killed elsewhere and then dumped on the highway. They were adult males, say police, and appeared to have died from gunshot wounds. None of them have been identified. Their remains have been brought to Guadalajara for post-mortem examination.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Arab-American citizen with alleged terrorist ties arrested in Mérida, raising new concerns about Hezbollah cells in Mexico and Central America - and Yucatán

A U.S. citizen of Arab descent, alleged to be a member or supporter of the militant Islamic group Hezbollah, has been arrested in Mérida, the capital of Yucatán state.

The story was reported in today's edition of The Yucatán Times, a peninsular English language news service, and other press sources.

Rafic Mohammad Labboun Allaboun, 44, was taken into custody at a private residence in Colonia Francisco de Montejo on Saturday evening (Sept. 8), according to the paper. The arrest was carried out by Mexican federal immigration (INM) agents, and heavily armed state security police (SSP) units. Eight other persons with him were also detained. The operation was without incident, and there were no injuries.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

López Obrador breaks with leftist coalition, forms new party and calls for peaceful civil disobedience on Dec. 1

AMLO's departure from Movimiento Progresista marks an end to "political schizophrenia" on the left

*Updated Nov. 21*
Defeated presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador told supporters at a Mexico City rally today that he would leave the leftist political coalition known as Movimiento Progresista (MP) and form a new party. MP won about 32% of the ballots cast in the July 1 national election, which offered voters four choices across a broad political spectrum.

MP is composed of three parties: Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD), or the Democratic Revolution Party; Partido del Trabajo, or Workers' Party; and Movimiento Ciudadano, the Citizens' Movement.

López Obrador will become the leader of a fourth leftist party, Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (MORENA), the National Regeneration Movement, which will chart its own political course apart from MP.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mexico awaits a show of López Obrador muscle, as candidate follows through with final legal challenge

Tomorrow could be the last act in the long-running Andrés Manuel López Obrador drama, or just another scene in a political stage play which has no final curtain.

The defeated PRD candidate has refused to accept an August 30 federal court ruling which declared Enrique Peña Nieto the winner of the country's July 1 presidential contest. He's called supporters into the street Sunday to stand by him.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Six murders in 12 hours alarm Guadalajara metro and suburbs; federal and state security operations underway

Southern Pulse storm warning may already be proving its validity

Click on map to enlarge

Guadalajara proper has a population of over 1.5 million. Counting suburban communities, almost 4.5 million people live here. It's the second largest metro area in the country, exceeded only by Mexico City and the Federal District.

With a few exceptions, Guadalajara has been spared the worst excesses of the nearly six year old drug war. But there have been some dramatic exceptions.

In November 2011, the brutalized bodies of 26 execution victims were found in abandoned vehicles along a busy city freeway, an event which shocked the local community (and the federal and state governments).

Peña Nieto transition team confirms: Mexican army, marines and federal units will remain on the streets

MGRR News Analysis -
What a difference a year makes

Ten months ago, as Mexico's president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto prepared to launch his 2012 campaign, he made a quick trip north for a get-acquainted meeting with U.S. officials. In public comments, he called for a withdrawal of Mexican armed forces from the drug cartel offensive launched by president Felipe Calderón in December 2006 - the so called National Security Strategy. Four months later, in March, he told vice president Joe Biden that while he remained committed to the drug war, he would pursue a different strategy. The new PRI chief executive probably wishes he had been more circumspect in his comments.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mexico gets final "state of the nation" address from Felipe Calderón, amid rising tensions; YoSoy 132 spares no one

"Las autoridades electorales mandaron al diablo a la Constitución - The electoral court sent the constitution to hell" - Ricardo Monreal, PRD senator

Mérida, July 7: "If there is no justice for the people, there will be no peace for the government"

Mérida, Yucatán
Mexico is a nation simmering tonight.

Today marked both a beginning and an end. It's the beginning of the last 90 days of Felipe Calderón Hinojosa's sexenio, the stormy six year voyage on which the PAN president embarked Dec. 1, 2006. Historians, professionals and amateurs alike, will forever analyze and judge FCH's presidency based upon his National Security Strategy - "Calderón's drug war," as it's referred to by detractors here and abroad. About that there cannot be the slightest doubt.