Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jalisco homicides remained unabated in September

Ajijic, Jalisco, on Lake Chapala, is home to Americans and Canadians alike. But the road to the quaint and quiet town became a corpse dumping ground in May.

*Updated Nov. 8*
Guadalajara -
On average, the Jalisco Institute of Forensic Sciences conducted four autopsies a day in September, a pace more or less consistent with most of 2012, authorities report.

One hundred twelve men and eight women lost their lives as a result of homicide last month, two less than in August. Guadalajara proper, not surprisingly, led the charts with the most murders. Suburban Zapopan was in third place with 16 homicides, Puerto Vallarta had 12 and Tlaquepaque, part of the Guadalajara metro area, recorded nine.

A great number of these murders were the product of drug war violence, with the principal competitors being Los Zetas, Los Matazetas and the Sinaloa Cartel. Investigators attribute 11 of the September homicides in Jalisco state to incipient gang violence, slightly less than May's tally of 15. Gang cases concern them greatly (Mexican drug cartels will likely morph into "super gangs," says security firm).

The worst single event in Jalisco last month was the Sept. 16 discovery of 17 bodies along a highway leading to Morelia - torture and execution victims all (Gruesome discovery in Jalisco on Independence Day: 17 bodies dumped on highway to Michoacán). The murdered men, some of whose identities still have not been determined, may have been killed in an adjoining state, but they nonetheless became part of Jalisco's 2012 crime stats.

The worst savagery this year occurred in May, when the severed heads and butchered remains of 18 execution victims were found in two vehicles on the busy highway running from Guadalajara to Lake Chapala, about 30 miles southeast of the city. A narcomensaje (executioner's warning) signed by Los Zetas was left at the scene. The town of Ajijic, which fronts the lake, has long been a haven for U.S. and Canadian visitors and permanent residents. The expat community was unnerved by the specter of Mexico's drug war at its virtual front door, with the visible evidence left on a main route familiar to all.

Homicides are keeping police busy in Guadalajara this month as well. Six murders occurred in a 24 hour span on Tuesday (Oct. 9). A note signed by Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (Los Matazetas) was left with one victim, whose body was found in the trunk of an abandoned taxi.

In a separate incident the same day, a 35 year old woman who was playing with her three year old son in a city park was attacked by an execution team. Police say she was a street peddler of drugs, probably a chapuline (independent retailer), and that the hit squad stopped by to "settle accounts." The gunmen told her to drop her child. When she refused to do so they tore the boy from her arms and shot her three times at close range. She died at the scene in front of the toddler. The two killers fled, and there have been no arrests.

Jalisco's 2012 homicide tally, by month:
Jan. - 124
Feb. - 133
Mar. - 159
Apr. - 128
May - 130
June - 115
July - 130
Aug. - 122
Sept. - 120

Oct. 12 - An official of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said Mexico is confronting a true "emergency" in its war against cartels and organized crime, and urged that military forces remain on the street until circumstances permit a "return to quarters." It's unusual for the U.N. to comment on the internal law enforcement affairs of another country in such a candid manner.

Oct. 24 - Three persons were killed in separate incidents last night in Zapopan, in what appear to be organized crime hits. Local authorities plan to beef up security with 500 new police officers, 200 new security cameras, and dogs.

Oct. 28 - A heavily armed commando squad ambushed the police chief of Jocotepec last night while he was in route to Lake Chapala in the company of two escorts. Jocotepec is minutes west of the expatriate popular community of Ajijic. The officers escaped injury, despite the fact that the assailants used AK-47s. Soldiers and state police rushed to the scene. Three suspects were taken into custody, including two women, one 18 years old.

Nov. 8 - October homicides in Jalisco fell to 105, but that didn't help the annual stats. So far this year 1,300 homicides have been recorded in the state, 104 more than in 2011. Authorities report that most are organized crime executions.

Sept. 6 - Six murders in 12 hours alarm Guadalajara metro and suburbs; security sweeps underway
Aug. 27 - Mexico, "deadliest country in the world"
Aug. 26 - More narco blockades in Guadalajara, by Los Matazetas

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