Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Federal agents sent to arrest Los Zetas die in plane crash

Guadalajara -
Mexican attorney general Jesús Murillo Karam has announced that six federal agents were killed in a plane accident Tuesday in Zacatecas, a state in north central Mexico, where they had gathered the day before to serve arrest warrants on three members of the notorious Los Zetas drug cartel. The plane crashed about noon, he said.

The dead included three law enforcement agents and the pilot, copilot and a mechanic. All were employees of the Procuraduría, Mexico's justice ministry. The three police officers were assigned to SEIDO, an agency which investigates drug cartel and organized crime activity.

Yucatán court orders recognition of gay marriage

*Updated Aug. 8*
Mérida, Yucatán -
In the first decision of its kind in this state, a Yucatán federal court has ordered local officials to recognize and register the marriage of two men, identified in legal filings only as Javier and Ricardo.

On Mar. 26 the men presented themselves before the Civil Registrar with all necessary documentation and asked to be married. The top official of the department refused, relying on the state's Family Code, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The applicants protested, citing a provision of Mexico's federal constitution which prohibits discrimination based on gender. The Registrar persisted in its refusal and declined to marry the men.

Mexico refused U.S. offer to "take out El Chapo Guzmán"

Military bosses were opposed, claims journalist - but "numerous politicians" know where drug lord is

*Updated May 2*
Guadalajara -
A Mexican journalist claims that during the administration of former president Felipe Calderón, the United States offered to capture or kill Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, the world's most wanted drug lord, in a "quick, easy surgical strike of 15 minutes. But the plan was rejected by Mexican military leaders, because only American personnel would have been allowed to participate in the operation."

Jesús Esquivel, a U.S. based writer for the Mexican paper Proceso, makes those allegations in his new book, The DEA in Mexico. One of Esquivel's main sources was José Baeza, a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mexican Supreme Court ruling expands abortion rights

On its second review of abortion in less than two years, SCJN gives a strong hint of where it's headed

*Updated May 19, 2014*
Guadalajara -
The Supreme Judicial Court of the Nation (SJCN) today struck down a state law which declared that life begins at conception, further moving the country towards elimination of most restrictions on access to abortion.

By an eight to three vote, the full court ruled unconstitutional and nullified legislation in Querétaro state, which "recognized, protected and guaranteed the right to life of every person from the moment of conception." Querétaro lawmakers had decided that "the products of fertilization form a human being, with corresponding legal rights until death." The SCJN rejected that determination as an arbitrary and insupportable legislative finding, which would prohibit abortion for virtually any reason.

Death in the Afternoon

"To show his nervousness was not shameful; only to admit it” - Ernest Hemingway, 1932

Aguascalientes, Sunday, April 28, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Timothy Hallett Tracy makes first appearance in Venezuelan court, as prosecutors announce charges

Conspiracy, aiding and abetting at the heart of the case

*Updated June 5 - Tracy deported after all charges are dropped*
Guadalajara -
Timothy Hallett Tracy was transported from his jail cell to a Caracas courtroom this morning for formal arraignment, but the proceeding came to an abrupt halt after he asked for medication.

News services covering the proceeding reported that it was unclear what Tracy had requested, or what medical ailments he might be suffering. Court officials said Tracy would be clinically evaluated as soon as possible so that the hearing could continue, perhaps later today.

Grass won't grow in Yucatán, says Mexican general

But other questions remain unanswered

Mérida, Yucatán -
That's what Brigadier General Luis Manuel Vélez Fernández de Lara, commander of Military Zone 32, claimed earlier this week. He wasn't referring to bluegrass or bermuda, of course.

Gen. Vélez, who assumed his post in June 2012, was offering up theories on why there is so little narco violence in Yucatán. One of the reasons, according to Vélez, is that a major cash crop for drug traffickers simply doesn't thrive in the state. He said that the Yucatán's soil and climate provide less than optimal conditions for cannabis cultivation. "The few plants we occasionally encounter are generally of very poor quality," he noted.

Friday, April 26, 2013

A bankrupt Acapulco can't meet its payroll

"Tenemos la bahía más bella del mundo, pero sí, estamos quebrado
We have the most beautiful bay in the world, but yes, we're broke" - Mayor Luis Walton

Guadalajara -
Pity Luis Walton, the mayor of Acapulco in Mexico's southwestern Guerrero state.

After six young Spanish tourists were brutally gang raped in their beach house early on the morning of Feb. 4, Walton shed tears as he pleaded for assistance from president Enrique Peña Nieto. He acknowledged that the "image of Acapulco" was on the line.
Spanish tourists raped, robbed on Acapulco beach front
Acapulco's tearful mayor begs Enrique Peña Nieto for federal help.

But the world showed mayor Walton no mercy. The international press called Acapulco "a death zone," causing huge cancellations by spring breakers. Spain's Foreign Ministry repeatedly warned its citizen to stay out of Guerrero - and many other parts of Mexico - as narco violence raged on unabated in the region. Gunmen ambush police patrol in war torn Guerrero state, leaving nine officers dead.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Venezuela arrests U.S. national Timothy Hallett Tracy, claiming he was sent to lead "right wing destabilization"

Defendant's intent was to launch a civil war, Maduro government charges

*Updated June 5 - Tracy deported after charges are dropped*
Guadalajara -
In Caracas today the leftist government of Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced the arrest of U.S. citizen Timothy Hallett Tracy on charges he was preparing a "violent ambush against state authority."

Some news broadcasts referred to Tracy, 35, as "the gringo." Reports say he was born in Michigan in February 1978.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Guerrero on verge of civil meltdown, as teachers riot

Union activists attack in all directions, destroying every major political headquarters in state capital

*Updated May 4*
Chilpancingo de los Bravo, Guerrero -
Rioting school teachers and their supporters went on a rampage for several hours today, taking over sections of this capital city of southern Guerrero state while they indiscriminately attacked public facilities and the local headquarters of most of Mexico's major political parties.

Malaysia's OLD drug war strategy

MGR's view

May 16, 2012 - Three Mexican brothers sentenced to die on rope for Malaysian drug crimes
Apr. 24, 2013 - U.S. drug czar releases "new strategy," focused on treatment and prevention

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

On eve of Obama visit to Mexico, U.S. drug czar releases "new strategy," focused on treatment and prevention

MGR News Analysis -
"An intelligent way to combat drug trafficking"

*Updated Aug. 29*
Guadalajara -
President Obama will arrive in Mexico next week - his first official visit since Enrique Peña Nieto took office Dec. 1 - and in advance of the trip Washington is busily advertising what it has billed as a new approach to combating drug usage in the United States.

The timing is not coincidental. The president has acknowledged that U.S. drug demand is responsible for damage done to Mexico and other Latin American nations. And a recent report by the U.S. Center for Investigative Reporting found that drug cartels regularly recruit U.S. nationals to haul their illicit merchandise across the border. Mexican drug traffickers find ready assistance in mules carrying American passports.

Six Lake Chapala police officers ordered to stand trial in kidnapping and attempted murder case

Linked to organized crime, prosecutors say

Guadalajara -
Six Chapala police officers have been bound over for trial on charges they kidnapped two men in that city and then turned them over to gunmen, who shot the victims and left them for dead.

Lake Chapala is 45 minutes southeast of Guadalajara. The neighboring community of Ajijic is home to thousands of expatriates, primarily Americans and Canadians.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guadalajara's mayor: "I'm worried about security"

"Not the results we wanted . . ."

Guadalajara -
Mayor Ramiro Hernández García didn't mince words today when he candidly admitted that Guadalajara's rising level of violence concerns him.

"Security here is a worry. It's our job to look for ways to deal with the problem of insecurity in the city. From our first day in office we've focused on that issue, but we've not had the results we wanted."

Mexico's House of Deputies proposes dramatic change in rules regulating foreign ownership of real estate

"One if by land, two if by sea"

Puerto Progreso, Yucatán, January 2008

Guadalajara -
By an easy majority this afternoon, Mexico's lower legislative chamber, the Cámara de Diputados, approved a bill which would entirely eliminate restrictions on the foreign ownership of land close to the country's international borders, or along its vast coastlines.

The roll call was 356 in favor and 119 against, with two abstentions.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Peña Nieto administration names Mexico's ambassador to Canada

Career foreign service diplomats tapped for two consul general posts in United States

Guadalajara -
The Institutional Revolutionary Party government of president Enrique Peña Nieto was busy naming diplomatic personnel today, and one of them was Mexico's new ambassador to Canada. He is Francisco Suárez Dávila.

Suárez was an undersecretary of the Hacienda during the administration of PRI president Miguel de la Madrid (in office 1982-1988; died 2012). The Hacienda is Mexico's tax collection and budget planning agency.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Mexico's Secretary of Defense: 158 narco gunmen killed by troops in first 90 days of Peña Nieto administration

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Secretary of Defense (SEDENA) has reported that during the first 90 days of the PRI administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto, federal troops killed 158 sicarios while repelling drug cartel and organized crime attacks.

A sicario is a gunman or hired executioner, often in the service of one of this country's 60-80 cartels.

Mexican drug cartels "have their tentacles in Canada," reports Montreal newspaper

Guadalajara -
Mexican drug cartels are rapidly expanding their influence in Canada, worrying the Ottawa government that more violence on national territory and and more dead Canadians involved with international narcotics trafficking will be the inevitable result.

Such were the conclusions Friday of La Presse, a prominent French language daily. Founded in 1884 and published in Montreal, the paper is owned by a subsidiary of the Power Corporation of Canada. The Apr. 19 La Presse report is here: Les cartels mexicains étendent leurs tentacules au pays.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mexican Supreme Court releases Canadian Cynthia Vanier, once again on narrow legal technicalities

Florence Cassez, reloaded

*Updated Apr. 27*
Guadalajara -
In a stunning rebuke to federal prosecutors, Mexico's Supreme Judicial Court today ordered the immediate release of Canadian national Cynthia Ann Vanier, who was held in custody for almost 18 months on charges she tried to smuggle one of the sons of the late Muammar Gaddafi into Mexico as his father's Libyan regime collapsed in 2011.

The court also freed an accused co-conspirator, a Mexican citizen, one of the four defendants in a curious case which angered Mexican officials and embarrassed Canadian ones.

Guerrero erupts as angry teachers besiege state capitol

Union activists occupy legislature, intimidating representatives and bringing planned session to a halt

*Updated Apr. 24 - Guerrero on verge of civil meltdown, as teachers riot

Chilpancingo de los Bravo, Guerrero -
A long simmering feud between a powerful school teachers' union and the Guerrero congress broke into outright violence Thursday, as union activists completely shut down a major highway through the region and forced their way into the state legislative chambers.

The union, Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores de la Educación de Guerrero (CETEG), has been marching along the famous Autopista del Sol for days, wreaking havoc with traffic and local commerce alike as it carries its complaints to the street. An Acapulco tourist workers' union said last week that blockades on the four lane have cost their industry at least 100 million pesos this season - about $8.3 million USD, and money which the hard hit resort can ill afford. Teachers in three states again form picket lines.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Enrique Peña Nieto is one of world's most 100 influential leaders - TIME

"This is a leader to watch."

Guadalajara -
Time Magazine has named Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party president Enrique Peña Nieto one of the world's 100 most influential people.

In a brief post, former New Mexico governor and United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson wrote, "The U.S. shouldn’t treat Peña Nieto like a patsy. He combines Reagan’s charisma with Obama’s intellect and Clinton’s political skills. This is a leader to watch."

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Highwaymen assault ADO bus on Yucatán peninsula, leaving 30 passengers furious while police "just laughed"

Bandits to passengers: "It's the government's fault, we're poor and there's no work"

Mérida, Yucatán -
Thirty passengers riding on a first class bus from Cancún to Veracruz were robbed by an armed commando team near Champotón in the Mexican state of Campeche early last Wednesday morning (Apr. 10), news sources have reported.

Champotón is a a Gulf city about 130 miles southwest of Mérida. The bus passed through this city shortly before the attack.

Guadalajara newspaper hit by grenade attack

Guadalajara -
Facilities belonging to Mural, a major Guadalajara newspaper, were attacked about 3:30 a.m. today at its suburban Zapopan location.

The Jalisco state prosecutor confirmed the at least two hand grenades were lobbed at the building from a passing vehicle. No suspects have been identified, he said.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Police intelligence officer executed in Guadalajara

"Plata o plomo" is the message

Guadalajara -
A 29 year old officer assigned to the intelligence division of the Jalisco State Police Dept. was assassinated in front of his home by a lone gunman yesterday.

The eight year veteran joined the force in 2005, and was assigned to a unit known as SIGMA, which monitors and investigates drug trafficking, the weapons trade and organized crime.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Eight found executed in Cancún; taxi drivers suspected

Three drug pushers, including two cabbies, arrested hours later - with probable links to Gulf Cartel

*Updated Apr. 16*
Cancún -
Eight people were found executed in this city today, all apparent victims of continuing drug war violence along the Riviera Maya in Quintana Roo state.

In the first incident a dead male was found in a residential neighborhood. He was bound and gagged, and his body had been wrapped in sheets and left on a street. Authorities have not released a cause of death or other details.

Los Zetas money washers on trial in Texas federal court

From the racetrack to the public dock

*Updated Sept. 5*
Guadalajara -
A 46 year old Mexican national who is the brother of a man federal authorities claim is the second ranking official of the powerful Los Zetas drug cartel will go on trial Monday in an Austin, Texas courtroom.

José Treviño Morales is facing multiple federal charges, including money laundering, which could land him in prison for the rest of his life. He is the brother of Miguel Ángel Treviño Morales, known as Z-40. Miguel is alleged to be the second in command of the Los Zetas and is presumed to be in Mexico, although his whereabouts are unknown.

Friday, April 12, 2013

U.S. national sentenced to 13 years in Guanajuato murder

Sexual escapade with teenager led to the homicide, prosecutors allege

Guadalajara -
Dylan Ryan Johnson, a 29 year old American citizen from Greene County, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after a Mexican judge convicted him in the 2003 murder of a 16 year old Guanajuato boy.

Greene was extradited to Mexico by U.S. authorities in December 2012, and was recently tried by a state district criminal court. He was also ordered to pay restitution of 32,000 pesos to his victim's parents - less than $2,700 dollars.

Mexican drug cartels have strong foothold in Europe

"We don't want the level of brutality seen in Mexico to be reflected here" - European Police Office

Updated May 5 -
Guadalajara -
The European Union's primary law enforcement agency, Europol, warned today that Mexican drug cartels are working hard to establish themselves as the primary players in the continental narcotics market, and in collateral criminal enterprises such as weapons and human trafficking.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mexico's troublesome policías comunitarias will prompt some to argue failed state theories

MGR News Analysis -
"Autodefensas," on the march in rural Mexico

*Jan. 14, 2014 - Michoacán security accord more of the same old song*
Guadalajara -
A political science professor, especially one specializing in comparative governments, would explain to a classroom of undergraduates that one of the classic symptoms of a failed state is the loss of monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within its territorial boundaries. Governments at all levels - federal, state and local - enjoy by their very existence the exclusive right to conduct policing operations to protect the citizenry. When they fail to do so, or begin to share that monopoly with third parties, circumstances may suggest internal collapse. In recent decades bona fide examples of failed states have been limited to developing continents, particularly Africa. Somalia is a classic illustration.

Illiteracy, rudimentary education hold back 40% of Mexico, while teachers in three states again form picket lines

PRI administration says it will make no deals with lawbreakers - or the "police" protecting them

*Updated June 7*
Guadalajara -
While Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas states deal with striking school teachers whose complaints are perennial, the Secretary of Education has reported that almost 50 million Mexicans are illiterate, or lack the basics of even a primary school education.

During a forum in Palenque, Chiapas, SEP Secretary Emilio Chuayffet emphasized that Mexican law regards education as a fundamental human right guaranteed to all citizens. He said the guarantee is not being complied with, and that the federal government must address the problem.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Criminal charges for abortion soar in Mexico, with poor indigenous women the most common defendants

*Updated Sept. 7, 2014*
Guadalajara -
Last August MGR reported that abortion prosecutions are on the rise in many Mexican states. A national advocacy group known as Grupo de Información en Reproducción Elegida (GIRE) now says that criminal complaints against women rose 164% in the two year period between 2009 and 2011.

Yucatán tourism remained flat in first quarter of 2013

Hostelry occupancy rates even weaker than in 2012

*Updated Apr. 15 - Progreso violence*
Mérida, Yucatán -
The Mexican Hotel Association (MHA) reported that Yucatán occupancy rates dropped 4.24% in the first 90 days of 2013, compared with the same period in 2012.

The numbers delivered by the trade group were anemic in the extreme. MHA said that average occupancy in establishments of all grades, from one star to five, was 46.38% during the first quarter of the year.

Industry professionals say most hostelries cannot turn a profit without at least 50% occupancy. In 2008, before the worldwide economic downturn, the peninsula enjoyed an average occupancy of 62%. Last fall, in anticipation of Mundo Maya "end of the world" activities, the rate was about 56-57%, according to the Yucatán Tourism Council. Overall the state reported a modest 4.5% increase in tourist traffic through the third quarter of 2012. Yucatán tourism languishes.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Nicaragua: drug traffickers "could overrun us"

Central American leaders will deliver a strong message to president Obama in Costa Rica

Guadalajara -
International drug trafficking continues to take a sizable bite out of the Mexican economy, as MGR reported yesterday. Mexican states will spend $1.17 billion on security in 2013. But it's a huge cost for its partner to the north, too.

In the past five years the U.S. has given Mexico well over a billion dollars in domestic security assistance under the Mérida Initiative, a 2007 agreement which provides for U.S. training and equipping of Mexican security forces, and joint intelligence gathering operations. It owes another half billion under the plan approved and funded annually by congress.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mexican states will spend $1.17 billion on security in 2013

Drug war has many costs, direct and indirect

*Updated Apr. 9*
Guadalajara -
Whether measured by direct outlays for policing or the heavy impact on national commerce, Mexico's 76 month old drug war remains a very expensive proposition.

Mexico has 31 states and a federal district. This year those entities will collectively spend more than a billion dollars on domestic security. The 14.2 billion peso price tag includes security expenditures by county governments.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

U.S. dollar continues downhill slide against Mexican peso

The "super peso" is on the rebound

*Updated May 31 - As May ends, U.S. dollar stages powerful rebound*

Guadalajara -
Last year ended on a disappointing note for the dollar, which lost ground against the peso during most of the final quarter of 2012. On Dec. 31, the exchange rate was a little below 13 pesos. Dollar falls unexpectedly against Mexican peso as U.S. goes over fiscal cliff.

Those who spend dollars south of the border will long for those good old days, however. One hundred days into 2013, the peso continues its upward climb against the greenback. Yesterday it reached its highest level since August 2011, prompting a Mexican paper to comment this morning, el súper peso está de vuelta - "the super peso is back." Overall the 19 month high is good economic news for Mexico, although not such good news for its heavily U.S.-dependent tourist trade. A weak peso and strong dollar attract and promote the latter, by making everything here cheaper for visitors. A rising peso does just the opposite.

Friday, April 5, 2013

U.S. gunrunners shipwrecked off Riviera Maya coast, Mexican press suggests

The Sloop John B?

*Updated Apr. 6*
Tulum, Quintana Roo -
An American sloop ran aground off this famed Riviera Maya resort early Thursday evening.

It was carrying a 33 year old man, his 27 year old pregnant (six months) wife and their child of about 15 months - and a thousand rounds of ammunition used in the AK-47 assault rifle and other firearms.

Mexico breaks up assassination plot targeting two federal legislators

*Updated Apr. 23* Guadalajara -
Mexico's Procuraduría General de la República (PGR) announced Thursday that authorities have arrested several men who planned to kill two brothers, both members of Mexico's federal congress. The PGR is the equivalent of the U.S. Attorney General.

The alleged conspiracy, details of which are still unfolding, targeted Ricardo Monreal Ávila, a member of the Cámara de Diputados which is the lower legislative chamber, and his brother, senator David Monreal Ávila.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mexican Senate wants details on Mexican citizens facing death penalty in United States

Guadalajara -
Mexico's Senate yesterday approved a measure which directs this country's Foreign Ministry to investigate and report on Mexicans facing the death penalty in American courts. The Senate wants to know how many are on death row, for what crimes and the status of each condemned prisoner's case.

The upper legislative chamber adopted the proposal at the instance of Labor Party senator David Monreal Ávila, who expressed concern about violations of civil rights in death penalty cases involving Mexican nationals in the United States.

Mexico has no death penalty, and will not extradite prisoners wanted on international warrants in capital cases unless the soliciting nation agrees to waive such punishment. That has happened in some cases involving drug cartel defendants. Los Zetas accused killer makes his first appearance in D.C. federal court.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mexico's March drug war tally was 1,025 dead, with Jalisco state in fourth place nationwide

On average, 35 persons died every day last month from drug cartel and organized crime violence, and more than one law enforcement officer every day - while PRI government says "things are looking up"

*Updated Apr. 12*
Guadalajara -
Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party government began its fourth month in office yesterday, and it already understands that victory in the 76 month old drug war will require a marathoner's endurance.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Death toll in Guadalajara bar attacks rises to eight

North American confirmed among the victims

"This worsening security situation already has caused problems for expatriates in Mexico in 2013" - Stratfor Global Intelligence, March 7, 2013

*Updated Apr. 9*
Guadalajara -
Four persons were killed late Easter Sunday evening and 16 others were injured in separate attacks against two drinking establishments in this capital city of Jalisco.  A fifth died hours later.  She was identified as a 23 year old waitress in one of the bars

The related attacks occurred about 10:30 p.m. as thousands of tapatios, as locals are known, were returning home after Holy Week vacations to Puerto Vallarta and other parts of the nation.

Mexico's Milenio news network originally reported that both bars were in suburban Zapopan, a hot zone for almost daily acts of drug war and organized crime violence..  But it later said they were within the city limits of Guadalajara.