Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mexican armed forces arrest 4,760 drug traffickers in first eight months of PRI administration

Military units remain at the vanguard of the drug war under new government

Guadalajara -
For those who thought, and predicted, that Mexican military involvement in the country's now 80 month old drug war would become a thing of the past once its new president was sworn in late last year, things have not quite worked out that way.

Mexico's army, marine and naval forces arrested 4,760 drug traffickers and members of organized crime groups between Dec. 1, 2012 and July 15, 2013, the Secretary of Defense (SEDENA) reported last week.

During the same period, military units seized or destroyed 454,000 kilos of marijuana, 2,223 kilos of cannabis seed and 20,322 plants. The marijuana and seeds were the equivalent of 456 tons. They also decommissioned 2,866 hectáreas of land under marijuana cultivation, or about 7,100 acres.

Other notable seizures by regular army forces: 65 kilos of heroine, 201 kilos of opium precursors, 690 kilos of cocaine, 3,429 kilos of methamphetamine and 72 clandestine laboratories where drugs were manufactured, many of them in isolated, hard to reach areas. The army is still paying the leading role in drug interdiction, a strategy implemented by former president Felipe Calderón in December 2006.

The vast majority of Mexico's marijuana, cocaine and synthetic drug production is delivered to U.S. markets, where an estimated 33,000 street gangs assist in the distribution of the merchandise in as many as 1,286 American cities.

"Mexico remains the U.S. market’s largest supplier of heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine and the transshipment point for 95 percent of its cocaine," the Washington Post reported on April 27.

Most U.S. bound cocaine passes through, but does not originate, in Mexico. The narcotics trade is wreaking havoc with domestic security throughout Central America. Guatemalan ambassador warns of growing Los Zeta drug cartel presence in his country.

The new administration of president Enrique Peña Nieto has no plans to consider decriminalizing marijuana or any other drug, despite the impetus for that north of the border. A widely reported public opinion poll last November showed that Mexicans are heavily opposed to drug legalization, and drug war security experts in this country have suggested that such would likely exacerbate, not reduce, the violence between Mexico's 60-80 drug cartels. Mexico's incoming PRI government pays little attention to marijuana legalization efforts in U.S.. Most of the 60,000 or more deaths in Mexico's 80 month old drug war have been traffickers and cartel operatives, not innocent bystanders, according to both the present and past administrations.

In Mexico City on May 3, president Barack Obama told his audience that "drug legalization is not the answer." In an interview three weeks later, Peña Nieto told a Colombian radio station much the same.

Meanwhile, Mexico is preparing to unveil the first detachments of its national gendarmerie, a police paramilitary force consisting exclusively of former service members who are now being trained for their new duties. An initial force of 10,000 is expected to make its formal debut at Sept. 16 independence day festivities. They will eventually be joined by 30,000 others, as well as 35,000 new members of the existing Federal Police.

Mexican military units seized many physical assets during the first 225 days of the new government. Among them were 918 all-terrain vehicles, 17 aircraft and 19 boats used by smugglers. The rural countryside is honeycombed with isolated landing strips, and security forces decommissioned 120.

Other seizures: 256 handguns, 4,475 assault rifles, 980 grenades, 847,000 rounds of ammunition. About $3.68 million dollars in cash was taken from traffickers, a third of it in pesos and the remainder in American currency.

Aug. 7 - Updated drug seizures reported by SEDENA today are even higher than those reported in this story.

July 28 - Mexican vice admiral killed in further Michoacán violence
July 16 - Mexican army shines again in Treviño Morales takedown
Apr. 24 - On eve of Obama visit to Mexico, U.S. drug czar announces "new strategy"
June 11, 2012 - New York Times got Mexican presidential candidates' drug war strategies wrong
Jan. 23, 2012 - U.S. decapitations may be the handiwork of Mexican drug cartels, says news report

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

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