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Jan 16 11 2:37 PM
A soldier stands guard at a crime scene where the body of an unidentified man was found in San Sebastian Tutla on the outskirts of Oaxaca January 14, 2011.According to local media, the man was carrying a pistol but it was unclear who killed him and whether he was involved in drug trafficking.
Gang's terror felt far from drug war on U.S. border
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ
IXTEPEC, Mexico – A priest who shelters stranded migrants needs police protection. A chopped-up body turns up with a threatening message. Beheadings are on the rise. The local press is too frightened to write about any of it.
This is not northern Mexico, where drug gangs fight for turf along the U.S. border and the Mexican government wages an open battle against them. This is the south, where the brutal Zetas cartel is quietly spreading a reign of terror virtually unchallenged, all the way to the border with Guatemala — and across it.
Just as they have done in the north, groups claiming to be Zetas have set up criminal networks to control transit routes for drugs, migrants and contraband such as pirated DVDS, intimidating the populace and committing gruesome murders as an example to the uncooperative.
Four years ago they started preying on the south, Mexico's poorest region. They moved into Oaxaca, Chiapas and other southern states and then northern Guatemala, where attacks on townspeople became so commonplace that the government last month sent in 300 troops to regain control of the border province of Alta Verapaz.
In towns on the Oaxacan isthmus and the center of Oaxaca city, the capital, the wealthy as well as street vendors and migrants have been kidnapped and subjected to extortion.
Then last month, the gang blamed for massacring 72 migrants in the summer in the northern state of Tamaulipas became suspects in the disappearance of more than 40 Central American migrants in Oaxaca. The abduction drew international attention when the El Salvadoran foreign ministry reported the crime, but the Mexican government initially denied it happened.
The travelers were last seen Dec. 16 near the city of Ixtepec, along the sun-scorched transit route for thousands riding northbound freight trains. Twenty escaped and took refuge at a migrant shelter run by the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, who says he has learned the kidnappers have ties to the Zetas.
The Mexican Attorney General's Office announced the arrest this month of a Nicaraguan and a Mexican on suspicion of being involved, but said nothing about Zetas or the missing migrants.
The Mexicans say the Zetas have hired Guatemalan former counterinsurgency soldiers to train new recruits, and a Zetas training camp for hit men was uncovered on the Guatemalan border last year.
Alejandro Poire, Mexico's government spokesman for security issues, said the reported scope of Zetas activity in southern Mexico is hardly comparable to the turf battle raging between the Zetas and their competitors in the north, where a split from their former employers, the Gulf Cartel, has sparked regular grenade attacks and daylight shootouts.
But to Solalinde, the Zetas "are a terrible de facto power."
"Unfortunately, we have a very corrupt country, with law enforcement agencies infiltrated" by organized crime, the priest said.
Four days after Solalinde reported the kidnapping and named the Zetas, he was visited by a burly, shaven-headed man whom police identified as a known hit man.
Police now patrol outside the shelter of unfinished cinderblock rooms, where migrants sleep on cardboard or blankets and stray dogs and cats wander about.
"There is danger," Solalinde said. "But imagine if every single person in Mexico kept silent, if all looked the other way, if no one did anything? That would be terrible for Mexico."
The Zetas rule by fear, threatening police, city officials, journalists and anyone else who gets in their way.
In November, on a much-visited cliff overlooking the picturesque center of Oaxaca City, police found a severed head in a gift-wrapped box. A threatening message left with the head was signed "Z," apparently for Zetas.
In the Oaxacan city of Juchitan, a decapitated man was dumped by a road in November and another was found chopped up in May with a note saying he was killed for posing as a Zeta.
"There are places, cantinas, where we all know they sell drugs, where the Zetas get together. Everybody knows, but nobody does anything," said a local journalist who requested anonymity fearing reprisals.
Authorities, however, contest the notion they are doing nothing. In Chiapas state, on the Guatemala border, more than 240 local and state police officers have been fired or arrested since 2008 for having links to the Zetas, according to the state Public Safety Department.
The Zetas formed in the late 1990s from a small group of elite soldiers based in Tamaulipas who deserted to work for the Gulf drug cartel.
They earned their notoriety by becoming the first to publicly display their beheaded rivals, most infamously two police officers in April 2006 in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco. The severed heads were found on spikes outside a government building with a message signed "Z" that said: "So that you learn to respect."
That year, the Gulf cartel, emboldened after retaining control of the northern border city of Nuevo Laredo, sent the Zetas to take over the south, which they kept after their boss, Gulf leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen, was extradited to the U.S.
By 2008, the Zetas had operations in 28 major Mexican cities, according to an analysis by Grupo Savant, a Washington-based security think tank.
They operate unchallenged in the south, the think tank says. While other cartels are preoccupied with maintaining their Pacific coast ports and northern border transit routes, the Zetas make hundreds of millions of dollars from extortion and trafficked goods coming overland via Guatemala.
Mexico's federal government acknowledges that Zetas have no geographic concentration like other cartels and therefore have shown up in disparate parts of the country. They operate almost like franchises, sending one member to an area they want to control to recruit local criminals.
For Central Americans migrating north, there are few options but to risk their lives crossing Zetas-controlled territory.
At the migrant shelter in Ixtepec, Denis Torres, a 24-year-old bricklayer from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, said he set out on his journey despite his family's pleas to stay. He said he was determined to join his uncle in Miami, where he had been promised a construction job.
"You do travel in fear, thinking they can kidnap you and torture you or kill you just because you came pursuing the American dream," he said.
Jan 23 11 12:52 PM
The Mexican military clashed with suspected members of La Familia drug gang last night in two incidents that led to the arrest of five members of the notorious drug cartel.Two soldiers were wounded in the confrontations, which took place in the city of Zamora.The five detained men were paraded in front of the media along with weapons seized during their capture.Drug trafficking in the area is dominated by a cult-like band of thugs known as La Familia (The Family), which uses Christian evangelical propaganda to discipline its members while controlling locals with bribes and extortion rackets.SEE VIDEO HERE: http://www.keyc.com/node/46419
Jan 27 11 12:42 PM
Cruise ships canceling Mazatlan stop, citing crime
By ALEXANDRA OLSON
MEXICO CITY – Some cruise ship companies are canceling stops in the Mexican Pacific port of Mazatlan and others are considering it due to crime against tourists.
Disney Wonder has dropped calls to Mazatlan from its seven-night Mexican Riviera tour and replaced them with an additional stop in Cabo San Lucas on the Baja California peninsula.
"Safety is very important to us and we believe this change is necessary to provide the best family vacation experience for our guests," Company spokeswoman Christi Erwin Donnan said in an e-mail Wednesday.
Cruise line officials did not provide details on the crime or say whether its passengers had been the target.
A person who answered the phone at the Mazatlan port authority office said nobody was available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Holland America Line replaced a Jan. 26 Mazatlan port call with one in the Pacific port of Manzanillo.
"The revision to the itinerary was made in response to recent incidents of violence in Mazatlan," the company said in a statement.
Carnival Cruise spokesman Tim Gallagher said the company is deciding whether its ship the Spirit will make a Feb. 2 stop in Mazatlan.
He said there will be a meeting between cruise line security people and Mazatlan authorities next week about recent crimes against cruise tourists in Mazatlan.
"There have been some recent security incidents that that have made cruise lines concerned about the safety of their guests," Gallagher said.
Mazatlan officials had touted Disney's decision last year to resume stops at the port as a sign of growing confidence in the city. The Disney Wonder had planned 27 port calls in Mazatlan in 2011, according to the Mazatlan port authority web site.
Mazatlan has continued to thrive as a tourist destination despite drug-gang violence in other parts of Sinaloa state, where it is located. The state is the cradle of several Mexican cartels and has one of the highest homicide rates in the country.
The industry magazine Seatrade Insider quoted Mazatlan Port Director Alfonso Gil Diaz as saying the incidents causing concern were minor, such as one passenger whose necklace was snatched.
"Mazatlan is very, very safe," the magazine quoted Gil Diaz as saying. "It's a shame because last year we had 526,000 passengers with no incidents ... This year there were three very minor things outside the terminal."
Mexico's all-important tourism industry has been surprisingly resilient in the face of drug gang violence that has claimed nearly 35,000 lives in the past four years.
Tourism revenue was up 7.1 percent in the first 10 months of 2010, compared to the same months of 2009, with visitors spending $9.8 billion, according to the Mexican Tourism Ministry. The resort of Cancun in the Yucatan peninsula and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast, for instance, have been largely untouched by the violence.
But cruise ship industry officials say headlines about beheadings and massacres are taking a toll.
Carnival's 2,500-passenger Spirit is moving from San Diego to Australia by 2012 because of economic woes and increasing fears over traveling to Mexico. However, the company has said that if it looks like the market in southern California is rebounding by the time the Spirit moves to Australia, it will be replaced in San Diego with another ship.
Carnival also has two year-round ships docked in Long Beach that will continue their itineraries to Ensenada, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.
Gallagher said Carnival Cruise ships still sail full, but the decline in business to Mexico is shown in the drop in cruise prices to fill the ships.
"In the bigger picture, crime overall in Mexico has had an impact on business from southern California because drug crime happens a lot in border communities and that gets a lot of coverage," Gallagher said. "While it may not be happening in Puerto Vallarta, Americans see stories on crime in Mexico and that influences their travel decisions."
Another blow to the cruise ship industry in Mexico came Nov. 8 when the Carnival Splendor caught fire off Baja California, leaving about 4,000 passengers stranded. The ship was towed to San Diego after the engine-room fire cut off power. http://news.yahoo.com/s/a...exico_cruise_ships;_ylt=
Donaldm, who is currently sailing aboard Sapphire Princess, posted the following this morning on the Cruise Critic boards: "The official announcement says in part: 'There have been recent incidents of violence in the Mazatlán area. As the safety and security of our passengers and crew is our priority, we reviewed our call to Mazatlán with our Security Department shoreside. Based on information provided, Princess Cruises, along with a few other cruise lines made the decision to cancel our call to Mazatlán this week.'" Sapphire Princess is in the midst of a weeklong cruise in the region. Instead of its previously scheduled half-day call in Cabo on Thursday, the ship will stay for a full-day on Wednesday (when it would have called in Mazatlán) and spend a full day in Ensenada on Thursday.
However, the Princess change may not be permanent. According to line spokeswoman Karen Candy, "We have not made itinerary changes to future Mexican Riviera cruises for Sapphire Princess. Our next Mexican Riviera cruise will depart Los Angeles on February 12, 2011 and we will continue to monitor the situation and communicate any new developments or itinerary change."
Holland America's Oosterdam, which embarked on Jan. 22 for a seven-day Mexico cruise, has replaced today's scheduled port call in Mazatlán with a call in Manzanillo. According to a statement from the line, the change was made "in response to recent incidents of violence in Mazatlán. Discussions will be occurring with local authorities to determine what steps are being taken to address this issue."
Like Princess, Holland America has only confirmed the Mazatlán cancellation for the current sailing. The line said it will make decisions regarding future calls on the basis of developments in Mazatlán and discussions with local authorities.
These changes come in the wake of a string of violent crimes in Mazatlán, including an incident in which a 68-year-old man from British Columbia was shot in the leg during an alleged gang shooting on Jan. 17. Furthermore, the Mazatlán Messenger, an online newspaper that covers Mazatlán and surrounding areas, reported on Monday that in January alone, "31 people have been killed in violent incidents, three of which occurred last Thursday."
"The areas of concern are not the beach resorts or historical sites that visitors come here to see," the statement continued, "but rather the northern border towns far from the city. Reports of visitors being accosted or injured in the destination are extremely rare. Mazatlán will continue to ensure that travelers here find a warm, welcoming destination in which their comfort and security is, as always, top priority."
In the past few months, a string of other cruise lines — including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Lines — have announced departures from the region, citing decreased demand, possibly due to health and security concerns.
Carnival and NCL, both of which currently have ships sailing in the region, have not reported any itinerary changes. Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer De La Cruz said yesterday that the line has "not made any itinerary changes at this time but are carefully evaluating the situation." However, we're awaiting word as to whether the cancellations announced by HAL and Princess have swayed Carnival's decision. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...ns/travel-cruise_travel/
Feb 27 11 6:36 PM
MEXICO CITY – At least 14 people were killed in three separate attacks in bars in northern Mexico, authorities said Sunday.
In Coahuila state, across the border from Texas, nine men died late Saturday when gunmen opened fire inside two bars in separate attacks, state prosecutors said in a statement. Eleven others were wounded.
Assailants killed another five men late Saturday in a bar in the cartel-plagued border city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state prosecutors' spokesman Arturo Sandoval said.
In other drug violence in Mexico, at least 14 people were killed in three Pacific coast states.
Police in the resort city of Acapulco found the bodies of four men inside a trash container, all had been shot and three of them had their throats slit. The body of a fifth man was found alongside a highway, prosecutors in the state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, said in a Sunday statement.
Also Sunday, soldiers killed four alleged drug traffickers in a clash in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit, the Defense Department said in a statement.
The troops were on patrol along a river in the town of Santiago, Nayarit when assailants opened fire, the department said.
Soldiers seized a car, 12 fire weapons, 12 grenades and radio communication equipment, it said.
Meanwhile, in the Pacific coast state of Michoacan, police found the bodies of five men in different areas of the capital of Morelia, state prosecutors said in a statement.
All the victims had been shot in the head, prosecutors said.
More than 35,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against the country's drug gangs shortly after taking office in December 2006.
Mar 2 11 9:19 PM
March 02, 2011
In the minds of most college students, spring break means excessive binge drinking, the occasional blackout, and sex with strangers.
That’s scary enough for some on U.S. soil.
But what happens in a foreign country, where spring-breakers can easily get mixed in with common drug violence, or be abducted? According to the State Department, about 100,000 spring breakers will travel to Mexico and “the vast majority” will enjoy their vacation at the destinations listed here.
But perhaps not everyone.
“Several may die, hundreds will be arrested, and still more will make mistakes that could affect them for the rest of their lives,”according to the State Department.
Jamaica: The two international airports in Jamaica, Kingston and Montego Bay, have experienced regular violence, including shootings. In many popular resort areas, such as Negril, you should be safe as long as you are on resort soil. But once you step off resort property lines, all bets are off. According to a spring breaker who traveled to Negril in March 2010, “there is literally a line where you can see the sand changes color. Once you go into that different color, you are off the resort property and locals can come up to you and offer you drugs and other services.” Even on resort property, there have been instances of sexual assault on U.S. tourists, some by resort staff. It is important to keep in mind that law enforcement is understaffed and ineffective in most areas of Jamaica, so sexual assault, drug trafficking, theft and violence receive little to no attention.
Cancun, Mexico: A typical spring break hot spot, Cancun attracts more than 100,000 U.S. college and high school students, not only for its beautiful beaches and world-class resorts, but because MTV began filming annual spring break shows there. “We get a lot of people traveling to Cancun, but Mexico is the place with the most [safety] uncertainty,” said Tom Crosby, AAA's vice president of communications. Because of Cancun’s growing population, crime is becoming more prevalent. Ross Thompson, co-founder of travel safety company Mayday360, says that the biggest danger for spring-breakers in Cancun is that they “act like they are still in the U.S. and that the U.S. law will protect them. That’s wrong and that can add up to disaster,” said Thompson. According to the U.S. State Department, “rape commonly, but not exclusively, occurs at night or in the early morning hours, and often involves alcohol and the nightclub environment.” Aside from violence and crime, Cancun’s strong undertow presents another danger. The undertow stretches along the beach from the Hyatt Regency all the way south to Club Med and, already this season, several U.S. citizens have drowned because of the ocean conditions.
South Padre Island, Texas: Right here in the U.S., South Padre Island is a relatively safe vacation destination, provided you don’t stray too far south. Just 30 minutes away are two major Mexican drug trafficking hubs, Matamoros and Nuevo Progresso. Gangs are constantly competing for control of narcotics smuggling routes, which can be very dangerous for U.S. tourists traveling just south of South Padre Island. It long has been the practice of adventurous vacationers on the south end of South Padre to take advantage of the inexpensive alcohol and lower drinking age south of the border. Ongoing gang wars and firefights are expected to persist in the Matamoros area, into and beyond the spring break season.
Mazatlan, Mexico: Mazatlan, located just a few hundred miles north of Puerto Vallarta, has been perhaps the most consistently violent of Mexico's resort cities during the past year. It is located in Sinaloa state, home of the country's most violent cartel, the Sinaloa Federation, and bodies of victims of drug cartels and kidnapping gangs appear on the streets there on a weekly basis, according to global intelligence firm STRATFOR. “Underestimating the violence in Mexico would be a mistake for parents and students," said McCraw. "Our safety message is simple: avoid traveling to Mexico during Spring Break and stay alive."http://www.foxnews.com/us...-dangerous-destinations/
Mar 7 11 10:47 PM
CULIACAN, Mexico – Gunbattles between rival gangs killed 18 people in a northeastern Mexican town Monday, a day after seven police officers and an inmate died in an ambush of a convoy transporting prisoners in western Mexico.
The fighting in the town of Abasolo erupted Monday morning and left at least 18 people dead, the Tamaulipas state government said in a three-sentence statement that offered no details. It said state and federal security forces had arrived in the town to restore order and investigate.
The shooting came a month after shootings in the nearby town of Padilla also killed 18 people, several of them innocent bystanders.
Tamaulipas has been wracked by a turf war between the Zetas and Gulf cartels, and information on violence in some of the smaller towns is notoriously scarce. Often official confirmation does not come for hours or days, leaving residents to cower in their homes and communicate through social media.
Tamaulipas residents sent Twitter messages about Monday's shootings hours before the government confirmed the bloodshed. Some tweets warned people to stay indoors and others demanded official information. Under constant threat from drug gangs, the Tamaulipas state media often ignore drug-gang violence completely.
In northwestern Sinaloa state, meanwhile, gunmen swarmed a convoy transporting two prisoners, shredding three police vehicles with bullets and killing seven officers and one inmate, Sinaloa state Attorney General Marco Antonio Higuera said Monday. Six officers and the second inmate were wounded.
Attackers traveling in about 20 vehicles caught the police convoy in a crossfire Sunday near the city of Guasave, Sinaloa state Attorney General Marco Antonio Higuera said.
"The patrol vehicles were destroyed. It was practically a massacre," Higuera said. "Initial reports indicate there were 1,200 shell casings at the scene."
The three state police patrol vehicles were traveling to the state capital of Culiacan when they came under fire from attackers who apparently lay in wait on a highway. Higuera said the officers fought off a first attack but were later caught in concentrated fire from a larger number of vehicles.
Federal police, meanwhile, said a newly captured leader of the Zetas drug cartel revealed it has a non-aggression pact with three other gangs — the Juarez, Beltran Leyva and Arellano Felix organizations. While the four gangs are not known recently to have been fighting major turf wars with each other, it was the first mention of a formal truce between them.
The alleged Zetas leader, Marcos Carmona Hernandez, was arrested Monday in the southern state of Oaxaca, said Ramon Pequeno, the federal police anti-narcotics chief.
Hernandez, 29, allegedly took over command of Zetas operations in Oaxaca after the Jan. 17 arrest of his reputed predecessor, Flavio Mendez Santiago. Pequeno said Hernandez is suspected of several kidnappings and murders and allegedly had the collaboration of corrupt state and municipal police.
Pequeno said Hernandez revealed the non-aggression pact to police, the latest insight into Mexico's drug underworld of shifting alliances.
The agreement, however, appeared to be confirmation of reality more than a game-changer. The four gangs in the pact have a common enemy: the powerful Sinaloa cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, one of the world's most-wanted drug lords.
Jorge Chabat, a Mexican expert on the drug trade, said the pact would be difficult to corroborate but was not surprising.
"It's normal that the cartels seek at certain times to ally themselves because it would be irrational to fight against everybody," he said.
Pequeno did not say when the gangs reportedly agreed to their truce.
The Zetas, once a group of hitmen, have become a potent gang in their own right, their reach extending from northeastern Mexico to Central America.
Mexican authorities say the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels made a pact last year to destroy the Zetas.
Sinaloa, meanwhile, is fighting the Juarez cartel in the northern state of Chihuahua, a war that has turned the border city of Ciudad Juarez into one of the world's deadliest.
Both the Beltran Leyva and the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix gangs have been on the decline since the arrest or killing of most of their top leaders. U.S. and Mexican officials say the splintering of the Arellano Felix gangs has allowed Sinaloa to make significant inroads in the border city of Tijuana.
The Beltran Leyvas were once part of the Sinaloa cartel and bitter enemies of the Zetas. Since splitting off from Sinaloa in 2008, however, the Beltran Leyva gang has struggled to survive.
Its remnants are believed to be fighting in several states south of Mexico City, including Guerrero, home to the resort city of Acapulco.
Three severed heads were found Monday in plastic bags outside a tunnel that connects central Acapulco to the outskirts of the city.
The victims were all male, the Guerrero state Public Safety Department said in a statement.
A note left at the scene said the beheadings were revenge for the killing of a man who was shot dead during an attempted kidnapping.
Police also announced the capture of a suspected prominent drug gang member who allegedly oversaw kidnappings, extortion, bribery and local drug distribution for the "independent cartel of Acapulco," a group that splintered from the Beltran Leyvas.
Benjamin Flores Reyes, alias "The Godfather," was arrested Sunday after a six-month investigation, the federal Public Safety Department said in a statement.
Flores studied criminal psychology for a time during 15 years he spent living in the United States, the statement added. He returned to Mexico about three years ago and allegedly signed up with the organization formerly led by Edgar Valdez Villarreal, known as "La Barbie," who was arrested last year.
The government of President Felipe Calderon has brought down an unprecedented number of cartel bosses since launching a military offensive against drug traffickers in December 2006.
However, violence has soared as Mexico's drug cartels have become increasingly splintered and aggressive. More than 35,000 people have been killed nationwide in the past four years. http://news.yahoo.com/s/a...lt_drug_war_mexico;_ylt=--
Mar 9 11 2:53 PM
MEXICO CITY – Federal police have arrested another suspected drug cartel member for alleged links to last month's attack in Mexico that killed one U.S. agent and wounded another, authorities said Wednesday.
In the Pacific coast resort city of Mazatlan, meanwhile, gunmen sprayed the crowded parking lot of a bar with bullets, killing at least six people, including the grandson of one of the state's best-known musicians, authorities said. Twenty one people were wounded.
The suspect in the U.S. officer's slaying, Mario Jimenez Perez, 41, alias "El Mayito," oversaw finances for the Zetas gang in the northern state of San Luis Potosi, the Public Safety Department said in a statement. He allegedly ran payroll for cartel assassins, managed income from drug sales and acquired properties and communications equipment for the gang.
Federal police arrested him March 5 along with 16 other suspects who purportedly worked for the Zetas.
This "heavily armed group provided protection to leaders of the criminal gang ... and presumably worked as extorters, kidnappers and killers in addition to transporting, buying and selling drugs," the statement said.
Four of the suspects were hospitalized immediately, but officials did not say whether there was a shootout or provide information on their condition. Police seized firearms, drugs, vehicles, cell phones and radios.
The Public Safety Department did not give any details on Jimenez's alleged involvement in the Feb. 15 killing of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata, who was killed by gunmen after they stopped his vehicle on a highway in San Luis Potosi. A second agent, Victor Avila, was wounded.
Mexican authorities have previously arrested a number of purported Zetas operatives allegedly involved in the attack. One of the suspects who allegedly took part in the shooting said gunmen mistook the agents' SUV for a vehicle used by a rival gang, the Mexican military said.
San Luis Potosi borders two northern states where the Zetas and the Gulf cartel have waged bloody turf wars. Zapata and Avila were temporarily detailed to the ICE attache office in Mexico City and were driving from the northern city of Monterrey to the capital when they were attacked.
Though it is rare for U.S. officials to be attacked, the U.S. government has become increasingly concerned about the safety of its employees in Mexico amid soaring drug violence.
In March, a U.S. employee of the American consulate in Ciudad Juarez, her husband and a Mexican tied to the consulate were killed when drug gang members fired on their cars after they left a children's party in the city across from El Paso, Texas.
In all, more than 35,000 people have died nationwide in drug violence since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched an all-out offensive against cartels.
In Mazatlan, in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, a crowd was listening to traditional "banda" music following a performance at a popular bar Tuesday night when two vehicles pulled up. An undetermined number of masked men got out and opened fire, state Deputy Attorney General Martin Robles Armenta said.
Authorities said six people ages 19 to 34 were killed, and two of the wounded were in serious condition. Among the dead was a grandson of Don Cruz Lizarraga, founder of "El Recodo," Sinaloa's best-known banda group, state prosecutors' spokesman Martin Gastelum confirmed.
Alberto Lizarraga, also a musician, was playing with the band "La Sinaloense" the night of the shooting, Gastelum said.
Authorities recovered more than 100 assault-rifle shells.
The attack took place during Mazatlan's Carnival celebrations along a seaside street in a neighborhood popular with travelers. It was not immediately clear whether any tourists were among the victims.
Several cruise lines have recently canceled stops in Mazatlan citing violence there, though no tourists have been killed. Sinaloa is the cradle of several drug cartels and has one of the highest homicide rates in the country.
To the south in the state of Guerrero, the military reported that soldiers killed six suspected drug gang members in a shootout at their cave hide-out.
Troops came under fire Tuesday while patrolling in Buenavista de Cuellar and responded in kind, killing all the occupants of the roadside cave, the Defense Department said in a statement.
The department said the cave was equipped with blankets and cooking utensils. Authorities seized nine rifles.http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110309/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_drug_war_mexico;_ylt=AhI._MeZktvjRm_EAUoZ4wpnhVID;_ylu=
Apr 8 11 6:13 PM
April 07, 2011
Feb. 27: State police guard the site where at least five bodies were found in a clandestine grave in Santa Mara Tlalmanalco on the outskirts of Mexico City.
MEXICO CITY -- Mexican security forces searching for abducted bus passengers in a violent northern state bordering Texas have stumbled on a collection of pits holding a total of 59 bodies. Authorities said the first victims to be identified are Mexicans, not migrants from other countries headed to the U.S.
Investigators made the grisly find early Wednesday near the ranch where drug cartel gunmen less than a year ago massacred 72 migrants from Central and South America.
Tamaulipas state investigators and federal authorities went to the site about 80 miles south of the border at Brownsville, Texas, to investigate reports that gunmen had begun stopping buses and pulling off some passengers in the area.
The first report came March 25 from a woman in the border city of Matamoros whose husband failed to arrive from the northern state of San Luis Potosi, said Tamaulipas state Interior Secretary Morelos Canseco. There were reports of at least two other buses stopped since then, he said.
The first three bodies identified are those of Mexicans, said Tamaulipas state prosecutor Hernan de la Garza.There may have been an attempt at forced recruitment by a drug gang, Canseco said. Though two of the dead were women, Canseco said, witnesses told authorities that the bus attackers abducted only young men and allowed the remaining passengers to continue on their way.
State and federal investigators and soldiers conducted the raid, but differed on what exactly happened.
The federal Interior Department said the first pit was discovered Saturday and soldiers detained five suspected kidnappers. Tamaulipas officials said the pits were found Wednesday, and a total of 11 suspected kidnappers were captured and five kidnap victims were freed. The reason for the discrepancy was not clear.
But the security forces agreed that a series of eight burial pits had been found, one of which contained 43 bodies and the others 16 corpses.
Many of the victims found in the pits appeared to have died 10 to 15 days ago, dates that would roughly match the bus abductions, Canseco said.
A statement from the Tamaulipas government, which "energetically condemned" the killings, did not say what drug gang, if any, the suspects belonged to.
President Felipe Calderon's office issued a statement saying the find "underlines the cowardliness and total lack of scruples of the criminal organizations that cause violence in our country."
While there was no immediate confirmation that a drug cartel was involved, officials refer to the cartels as "criminal organizations."
The pits were found in the farm hamlet of La Joya in the township of San Fernando, in the same area where the bodies of 72 migrants, most from Central America, were found shot to death Aug. 24 at a ranch.
Authorities blamed that massacre on the Zetas drug gang, which is fighting its one-time allies in the Gulf cartel for control of the region.
The victims in the August massacre were illegal immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and Brazil. An Ecuadorean and Honduran survived the attack, which Mexican authorities say happened after the migrants refused to work for the cartel.
Mexican drug cartels have taken to recruiting migrants, common criminals and youths, Mexican authorities say.
But drug gunmen also operate kidnapping rings, and erect roadblocks on highways in Tamaulipas and other northern states, where they hijack vehicles and rob and sometimes kill passengers.
San Fernando is on a major highway that leads to the U.S. border, but it wasn't immediately known whether the victims found in the mass grave had been kidnapped from that road.
Drug gangs across Mexico also sometimes use mass graves to dispose of the bodies of executed rivals.
The wave of drug-related killings -- which has claimed more than 34,000 lives in the four years since the government launched an offensive against drug cartels -- drew thousands of protesters into the streets of Mexico's capital and several other cities Wednesday in marches against violence.
Many of the protesters said the government offensive has stirred up the violence.
"We need to end this war, because it is a senseless war that the government started," said protester Alma Lilia Roura, 60, an art historian.
Several thousand people joined the demonstration in downtown Mexico City, chanting "No More Blood!" and "Not One More!" A similar number marched through the southern city of Cuernavaca.
The marches were spurred in part by the March 28 killing of Juan Francisco Sicilia, the son of Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, and six other people in Cuernavaca.
"We are putting pressure on the government, because this can't go on," said the elder Sicilia. "It seems that we are like animals that can be murdered with impunity."http://www.foxnews.com/wo...-grave-holding-5-bodies/
Apr 8 11 6:36 PM
By KATHERINE CORCORANApr 8, 2011
The buses crawled to a halt to obey roadblocks manned by armed men, who boarded like military or police doing an inspection. One by one, they tapped certain passengers, all men, mostly young, to get off: "You. You. You."
Relatives and travel companions watched in horror as the buses pulled away without them, Tamaulipas officials quoted surviving bus passengers as saying. Less than two weeks later, security forces following reports of abducted passengers in violent Tamaulipas state bordering Texas stumbled on a collection of pits holding a total of 59 bodies.
Federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire announced Thursday that a total of 14 suspects linked to the killing had been arrested between Friday and Wednesday. Those arrests apparently led authorities to the pits.
Poire said the suspects belonged to a "criminal cell," but did not specify which gang or cartel they may have belonged to. He said the government is now placing a special emphasis on dismembering "the most violent gangs," but did not specify who they were.
The grisly discovery this week came in virtually the same spot near the town of San Fernando where 72 migrants were murdered in August and on the same day several thousand people across Mexico took to the streets to say they were fed up with the violence. The United States' top drug enforcer said in Mexico a day earlier that the violence means authorities are winning.
By Thursday, investigators had identified a few victims of the latest massacre as Mexicans, not transnational migrants trying to reach the U.S. They did not say if they were connected to 12 official missing-person reports from the buses. Authorities interviewing witnesses calculated that from 65 to 82 people went missing, Tamaulipas state Interior Secretary Morelos Canseco said.
They were kidnapped on one of Mexico's most dangerous stretches of highway that runs along Mexico's Gulf coast to the border with Texas, an area where federal authorities launched a major offensive in November seeking to regain control of territory from two warring drug gangs, the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas.
Despite an estimated 1,000 soldiers in Tamaulipas, criminals have become so brazen they apparently kidnapped dozens of passengers in a stretch of open desert that locals say lay between two military checkpoints. The Mexican military would not comment on the location of roadblocks for security reasons.
Authorities speculate the men pulled off the buses fell victim to ever more brutal recruiting efforts to replenish cartel ranks. But one local politician, who didn't want to be identified for safety reasons, said there were rumors that the Gulf Cartel was sending buses of people to fight the Zetas, who control that stretch of road and who began boarding buses in search of their rivals.
The Zetas are blamed for the migrant killings last August as well as the death of U.S. Immigration and Customs Agent Jaime Zapata in neighboring San Luis Potosi state.
Whether they are innocents caught up in the violence, mirgrants or drug traffickers executed by rivals, there are many more missing in San Fernando, the politician said, adding, "if they keep looking they'll find more and more mass graves."
More than four years and tens of thousands of troops into Mexico's crackdown on drug trafficking, authorities say they have the cartels encircled. More than 34,600 people have died in drug violence. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart told an international drug conference in Mexico's resort city of Cancun this week that the violence is an unfortunate symptom of success.
In addition to the migrant massacre, Tamaulipas has been the scene of all-out drug battles that have nearly emptied border towns and led to the creation of Mexico's first displacement camp for victims of drug violence. A gubernatorial candidate was assassinated last year and a U.S. missionary was murdered in January as her husband tried to evade an illegal road block on the same road where the passengers went missing.
Cartels such as the Zetas, started by elite military deserters, are turning more and more to common criminals for their assassins, Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna said at the drug conference this week.
Now their recruits may even include innocents who have never handled a gun. Survivors of the August massacre said the 72 illegal migrants from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Ecuador and Brazil were killed for refusing to work for the Zetas.
Tamaulipas state investigators and federal authorities found the pits at the site about 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the border at Brownsville, Texas, to investigate reports that gunmen had begun stopping buses and pulling off passengers.
The first report came March 25 from a woman in the border city of Matamoros whose husband failed to arrive from San Luis Potosi, Canseco said. There were reports of at least two other buses stopped since then, he added.
State and federal investigators and soldiers conducted the raid, finding a series of eight burial pits had been found, one of which contained 43 bodies and the others 16 corpses.
The wave of drug-related killings drew thousands of protesters into the streets of Mexico's capital and several other cities Wednesday in marches against violence.
The marches were spurred in part by the March 28 killing of Juan Francisco Sicilia, the son of Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, and six other people in Cuernavaca outside Mexico City.
As of Thursday, the elder Sicilia had taken up camp outside the governor's office in central Cuernavaca, saying he would give Gov. Marco Adame and President Felipe Calderon a week to produce those responsible for his son's death before calling for Adame's resignation and a national march to end an "absurd war."
"We are putting pressure on the government, because this can't go on," Sicilia said. "It seems that we are like animals that can be murdered with impunity."
Jun 4 11 4:56 PM
The Federal Police present members of the criminal organization and drug gang "Los Zetas" arrested in the state of Quintana Roo, in Mexico City May 28, 2011. According to the Federal Police, three AK-47 rifles, five AR-15 rifles and one gun 38 caliber were seized during the arrest. Juan Jose Heredia Moreno (C), alias "El Guason", was presented as the leader of this group.
MEXICO CITY — Mexican federal police say they have detained the man who leads the Zetas drug gang for the Caribbean coastal state where resort city of Cancun is located.
Federal police say Victor Manuel Perez Izquierdo was also in charge of kidnappings, extortion and killings for the Zetas in Quintana Roo state.
They announced Saturday that he was picked up Thursday in Cancun after he tried to escape in his car.
Police say information gleaned from the arrest of other Zeta members in Cancun led to his capture.
While Quintana Roo has not seen the levels of violence plaguing Mexico's northern border, the region is a major drug trafficking zone.http://beta.news.yahoo.co...ng-caught-194501630.html
Jun 10 11 5:20 PM
MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Mexican judge has ordered an alleged U.S.-bred drug gang leader to stand trial on charges of organized crime and kidnapping in connection with more than 250 killings in a northern Mexico border state.
The federal Attorney General's Office said Friday that Martin Estrada Luna and three other men will be tried in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.
Estrada Luna was arrested in April. Investigators say he masterminded the killings as head of a cell of the Zetas drug gang.
They allegedly killed 72 migrants last August and 193 people months later in Tamaulipas state.
The 34-year-old was born in Mexico and grew up in the U.S. He was deported to Mexico in 2009.http://beta.news.yahoo.co...al-mexico-190606721.html
Jun 17 11 12:16 AM
June 16, 2011
Not even the "Ocean's 11" bandits could save him now.
The Mexican cartel kingpin nicknamed "El Brad Pitt" won't be starring in any blockbusters - or seeing anyone that even vaguely resembles Angelina Jolie - anytime soon, following his arrest by federal authorities on Wednesday.
Alleged doppleganger Marco Antonio Guzmán, an ex-police officer, is accused of heading the armed wing of the Juárez cartel in northern Mexico known as La Linea.
Guzmán was captured Wednesday in the U.S. border state of Chihuahua along with two alleged accomplices. Guzmán is known by several aliases, including "El Brad Pitt."
"It's a name given to the man by his associates. I guess they think he looks like him," a spokeswoman for federal police said to Reuters.
He was brought to the Mexican capital Thursday and paraded before the news media.
Police say Guzmán was involved in the car bombing of a Ciudad Juárez federal police station in July.
They also accuse him of being involved in drug-trafficking operations across Chihuahua. The state is one of the areas most affected by the drug war, with an estimated 3,000 people killed in 2010 alone.
No word on whether "El Brad Pitt" was inspired by the real Pitt's roles in "Ocean's 11," "The Fighter," "The Mexican," or any combination of these aforementioned titles.
Jun 22 11 5:58 PM
June 22, 2011.
Jose de Jesus Mendez, aka "El Chango", member of 'La Familia' (The Family) drug cartel, is presented to the press at the Mexican Federal Policer headquarters in Mexico City. US law enforcement agencies aided the capture of the leader of Mexico's notorious La Familia drug cartel, the head of Mexico's national police force said Wednesday.
MEXICO CITY (AFP) – U.S. law enforcement agencies aided the capture of the leader of Mexico's notorious La Familia drug cartel, the head of Mexico's national police force said Wednesday.
"The battle against this group was made possible in collaboration with various US agencies, including the US Drug Enforcement Agency," said Federal Police Commissioner Facundo Rosas.
His remarks came a day after Mexican police arrested infamous drug outlaw Jose de Jesus Mendez Varga, 50, who was captured Tuesday thanks to "intensive intelligence work that has been ongoing since the end of May," said Rosas.
Mendez, who hailed from Tepalcatepec in Michoacan state, was seen as the brains behind La Familia, one of Mexico's most violent drug cartels.
Mexican officials said Mendez's arrest has decapitated the feared drug cartel, in what has been hailed here as a major breakthrough in Mexico's ongoing war against the narco-traffickers.
US drug czar Gil Kerlikowske also praised the arrest during a news conference in the Mexican capital.
"This important arrest shows yet again how President Calderon's heroic efforts to directly confront violent criminal elements are leading to real results in disrupting transnational crime," said Kerlikowske.
Ranked among Mexico's seven major drug cartels, La Familia is considered the country's top producer of synthetic drugs and has its stronghold in Mendez's home state of Michoacan.
The cartel came to international prominence in October 2006, when some of its members walked into a bar and rolled five severed heads onto a dance floor.
In another notorious incident, the gang challenged the federal government with a grenade attack in September 2008 that killed eight people during celebrations marking Mexico's independence day.
In July 2009, its members killed 16 police officers, and left 12 of the bodies piled by the side of a road.
The toll in suspected drug-related violence in Mexico has surpassed 37,000 since Calderon launched a military crackdown on organized crime in 2006.
Since 2006, authorities have killed or arrested several top cartel leaders, including Arturo Beltran Leyva, head of the cartel bearing his name, in December 2009; and Gulf cartel chief Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, alias "Tony Tormenta."
The arrest of Mendez, government security spokesman Alejandro Poire said Tuesday, had "destroyed the remaining command structure" of the Familia cartel.http://news.yahoo.com/s/a...p/mexicocrimedrugscartel
Jun 26 11 5:05 PM
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's federal police agency says the Michoacan-based La Familia drug gang extorts a wide variety of industries, including avocado and lime farmers, miners, ranchers and even bullfighting organizers.
The Public Security Secretariat says that in order to supplement its income, La Familia forces miners to pay $1.50 per ton of metal sold to China and cattle ranchers to pay $1 per kilogram of meat.
The secretariat details the extortion racket in a report Sunday about the cult-like cartel that has terrorized western Mexico.
The report comes five days after federal authorities apprehended La Familia's alleged leader, claiming a debilitating blow against the organized crime group.http://beta.news.yahoo.co...ces-224154102.html;_ylt=
Jul 9 11 4:43 AM
Local police stand outside the home of Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco in the Gulf port city of Veracruz, Mexico.
Lopez Velasco, 55, wrote a regular column for the newspaper Notiver, one of the largest in Veracruz state, and served as a top editor. His columns frequently highlighted government corruption or detailed matters involving drug trafficking and other crimes and violence. He often skewered politicians, police and criminals, whoever he thought deserving of criticism, colleagues said."Everyone knew him or knew of him," Gerardo Perdomo, head of the Veracruz Commission to Defend Journalists, said by telephone from the city. "He was very critical. He told the truth."Despite the frequency with which journalists are slain in Mexico, it is highly unusual for their families to be targeted. Lopez Velasco was killed with his wife, Agustina Solana, 53, and 21-year-old son, Misael, a student, state government officials and the newspaper said. Another of Lopez's sons, who lived elsewhere, worked as a photographer for the same newspaper as his father.The family's home is two blocks from a police station, Notiver said.Veracruz Gov. Javier Duarte went to the Notiver newsroom later Monday and condemned the "cowardly" attack that "harms all society.""This is not an isolated act," he told assembled editors and reporters. "This is linked to the presence of criminal groups [and] reflects what is occurring in the entire country."Duarte promised an investigation "to the last consequences." However, few crimes against journalists, which also include kidnappings, torture and intimidation, are ever solved.The newspaper, in a note published on its website, demanded that those responsible for the triple murder be punished with the full weight of the law, "fall who may."Journalist safety groups rank Mexico as the deadliest country in the Americas for the exercise of the profession, and one of the most dangerous in the world.Mexican news media said the gray-haired, bespectacled Lopez Velasco was the author of an early book on drug trafficking in Mexico, an account written in the 1990s detailing a deadly skirmish between army and police over drug shipments.http://www.latimes.com/ne...-20110621,0,511653.story
Jul 11 11 1:58 AM
Mexican soldiers stand outside the El Sabino Gordo bar securing the area.
Mexican authorities sent in an extra 1,800 police Saturday to fight the country's gruesome and deadly drug war, with at least 41 people slain over the weekend including 10 who were decapitated.
Fully 1,800 federal agents were sent into Michoacan state on Saturday, in a battle there mainly with the Knights Templars, a splinter group of the La Familia drugs cartel.
The reinforcements were backed by 170 vehicles, 15 ambulances and 4 MI and Black Hawk helicopters, the Public Safety office announced.
National Security Council spokesman Alejandro Poire called it a "reinforcement operation faced with the possibility of greater mobilization by organized crime groups."
"They are waging an absurd war, to the death, for control of criminal turf and drug trafficking routes to the United States," he stressed.
The federal government already has about 50,000 army troops and thousands of federal police in its fight against drug cartels. It blames the groups for most of the 37,000 people killed since it started a military offensive against the cartels in December 2006.
And this weekend was no exception to the staggering degree of fearsome bloodletting, at times meant to intimidate and also often inflicted when groups of people refuse to cooperate with drug traffickers.
Police in the northern city of Torreon said Saturday they found the headless bodies of seven men and three women in the back of an abandoned pick-up truck.
Police chief Guillermo Flores told AFP that only one head, belonging to a woman, was found on site, and that the killers had placed it on the truck's hood.
The pick-up truck was parked on a highway that goes around Torreon, a city of some 650,000 where two major highways heading north to the United States converge.
The victims had apparently been executed "several days ago" in disparate locations, and their bodies were piled up in the abandoned pick-up truck "in an attempt to sow terror among the citizens of Torreon," the city municipal police said in a statement.
Police have not said if they have suspects yet, but Coahuila state, where Torreon is located, is a battleground for two powerful Mexican drug cartels: the Zetas, founded by former Mexican special forces soldiers, and the Pacific cartel, headed by Joaquin "Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman.
The decapitated bodies were discovered hours after 20 people were killed late Friday when gunmen attacked a local bar in the northern city of Monterrey, Mexico's third most important city.
The attackers, who arrived in two pick-up trucks and a car, stormed into a bar in Monterrey's busy nightlife district and opened fire on the patrons.
Separately, 11 people were shot dead Friday afternoon in Chalco, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City.http://news.yahoo.com/lea...-drug-war-233113497.html
Jul 31 11 2:26 PM
MEXICO CITY - Mexican police have arrested an alleged leader of the Juarez drug cartel's armed wing linked to a deadly car bomb last year, local media reported on Saturday.
El Universal daily, quoting government sources, said Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez -- also known as "El Diego" and reputed to be one of the bosses of the La Linea hitmen -- was captured in Ciudad Juarez on Friday.
The media reports said Acosta Hernandez was behind a cell phone-detonated car bomb that killed four people in Ciudad Juarez in July of 2010, the first attack of its kind in Mexico's drug war, and ordered the killing of at least a dozen more.
Formed by renegade police officers in the northern state of Chihuahua, La Linea act as enforcers for the Juarez cartel, a group based in the border city of Ciudad Juarez which controls some of the main drug trafficking routes into the United States.
The Mexican government had offered a 15 million peso reward for the capture of Acosta Hernandez, a former security chief who worked for a now-extinct Chihuahua state attorney's office, El Universal added.
A spokeswoman for the federal police in Mexico City on Saturday said she was aware an arrest was made but could not confirm it was Acosta Hernandez.
Since President Felipe Calderon sent the army to fight the drug cartels in late 2006, some 40,000 people have died.http://news.yahoo.com/mex...der-media-185552632.html
Aug 18 11 3:44 PM
MEXICO CITY — The Mexican navy said Thursday it found bodies in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz that could include those of three marines and a naval cadet kidnapped by suspected drug cartel gunmen earlier this month.
Mexican drug cartels have kidnapped and killed military personnel before, but it remains a relatively rare occurrence.
The navy said in a statement that objects belonging to the kidnapped servicemen were found in a raid on a warehouse Sunday and that investigators later found the four bodies in four pits on the outskirts of the state capital.
The raid also resulted in the capture of five people suspected of participating in the abductions, authorities said.
Neither the navy nor federal security spokesman would say which cartel the suspects allegedly worked for, but the Zetas gang is known to be active in the area.
The statement said the bodies were being examined to determine whether they were the servicemen, who went missing in the first week of August. Three of them went missing while driving in a civilian car and the fourth one disappeared while off duty.
At the time, authorities said that a drug cartel was suspected in the abductions.
Two other navy personnel also disappeared earlier this summer in Veracruz. Their whereabouts remain unknown.
Elsewhere in Mexico, police in the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco reported Thursday finding two ice chests, one of which held a man's head and the other containing what appeared to be his leg and right foot.
Guerrero state police said three other coolers were found in another part of the city with other body parts. Police were trying to determine if all five coolers contained parts of the same person.
Several other coolers containing body parts were found at other points in the city, and police were investigating whether they were all from the same body.
In addition, three men were found shot to death in city buses, including one driver.http://news.yahoo.com/bod...d-marines-191619710.html
Sep 26 11 5:59 PM
The gruesome killing may be the third so far this month in which people in Nuevo Laredo were killed by a drug cartel for what they said on the internet.
Morelos Canseco, the interior secretary of northern Tamaulipas state, where Nuevo Laredo is located, identified the victim as Marisol Macias Castaneda, a newsroom manager for the Nuevo Laredo newspaper Primera Hora.
The newspaper has not confirmed that title, and an employee of the paper said Macias Castaneda held an administrative post, not a reporting job. The employee was not authorized to be quoted by name.
But it was apparently what the woman posted on the local social networking site, Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, or "Nuevo Laredo Live," rather than her role at the newspaper, that resulted in her killing.
The site prominently features tip hotlines for the Mexican army, navy and police, and includes a section for reporting the location of drug gang lookouts and drug sales points — possibly the information that angered the cartel.
The message found next to her body on the side of a main thoroughfare referred to the nickname the victim purportedly used on the site, "La Nena de Laredo," or "Laredo Girl." Her head was found placed on a large stone piling nearby.
"Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I'm The Laredo Girl, and I'm here because of my reports, and yours," the message read. "For those who don't want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for believing in the army and the navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl...ZZZZ."
The letter "Z'' refers to the hyper-violent Zetas drug cartel, which is believed to dominate the city across from Laredo, Texas.
It was unclear how the killers found out her real identity.
By late Saturday, the chat room at Nuevo Laredo en Vivo was abuzz with fellow posters who said they knew the victim from her online postings, and railing against the Zetas, a gang founded by military deserters who have become known for mass killings and gruesome executions.
They described her as a frequent poster, who used a laptop or cell phone to send reports.
"Girl why didn't she buy a gun given that she was posting reports about the RatZZZ ... why didn't she buy a gun?" wrote one chat participant under the nickname "Gol."
Earlier this month, a man and a woman were found hanging dead from an overpass in Nuevo Laredo with a similar message threatening "this is what will happen" to internet users. However, it has not been clearly established whether the two had in fact ever posted any messages, or on what sites.
Residents of Mexican border cities often post under nicknames to report drug gang violence, because the posts allow a certain degree of anonymity.
Social media like local chat rooms and blogs, and networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are often the only outlet for residents of violence-wracked cities to find out what areas to avoid because of ongoing drug cartel shootouts or attacks.
Local media outlets, whose journalists have been hit by killings, kidnappings and threats, are often too intimidated to report the violence.
Mexico's Human Rights Commission says eight journalists have been killed in Mexico this year and 74 since 2000. Other press groups cite lower numbers, and figures differ based on the definition of who is a journalist and whether the killings appeared to involve their professional work.
While helpful, social networking posts sometimes are inaccurate and can lead to chaotic situations in cities wracked by gang confrontations. In the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, just south of Tamaulipas, the state government dropped terrorism charges last week against two Twitter users for false posts that officials said caused panic and chaos in late August.http://news.yahoo.com/wom...o-posting-012958564.html
Oct 17 11 8:09 PM
Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told Reuters the drug gangs have a chilling name for the young Texans lured into their operations.
"They call them 'the expendables,'" he said.
McCraw said his investigators have evidence six Mexican drug gangs -- including the violent Zetas -- have "command and control centers" in Texas actively recruiting children for their operations, attracting them with what appears to be "easy money" for doing simple tasks.
"Cartels would pay kids $50 just for them to move a vehicle from one position to another position, which allows the cartel to keep it under surveillance to see if law enforcement has it under surveillance," he said.
"Of course, once you're hooked up with them, there's consequences."
McCraw said 25 minors have been arrested in one Texas border county alone in the past year for running drugs, acting as lookouts, or doing other work for organized Mexican drug gangs. The cartels are now fanning out, he said, and have operations in all major Texas cities.
This month, "we made an arrest of a 12-year-old boy who was in a stolen pickup truck with 800 pounds of marijuana," he said. "So they do recruit our kids."
McCraw says the state of Texas is joining a program initiated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection called "Operation Detour," in which law enforcement officers meet with children and their parents in schools and at community centers to warn them about the dangers of what appears to be the easy money the Mexican drug gangs offer.
Law enforcement officers say children are less likely to be suspects than adults, are easily manipulated by relatively small sums of money, and face less severe penalties than adults if arrested.
Last month, Texas officials released a report indicating Mexico-based drug gangs are intent on creating a "sanitary zone" on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande, and are "intimidating landowners" in south Texas into allowing them to use their property as "permanent bases" for drug smuggling activity.http://news.yahoo.com/mex...-children-173402030.html
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