May 16, 2013
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s approach to combating Mexican drug cartels has been a much-discussed topic since well before he was elected. Indeed, in June 2011 — more than a year before the July 2012 Mexican presidential election — I wrote an analysis discussing rumors that, if elected, Pena Nieto was going to attempt to reach some sort of accommodation with Mexico’s drug cartels in order to bring down the level of violence.
Such rumors were certainly understandable, given the arrangement that had existed for many years between some senior members of Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party and some powerful cartel figures during the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s long reign in Mexico prior to the election of Vicente Fox of the National Action Party in 2000. However, as we argued in 2011 and repeated in March 2013, much has changed in Mexico since 2000, and the new reality in Mexico means that it would be impossible for the Pena Nieto administration to reach any sort of deal with the cartels even if it made an attempt.
May 8, 2013
Associated Press, 5/7/2013
The Obama administration has levied financial sanctions against eight drug gang bosses accused of working for Mexico’s powerful and violent Sinaloa Cartel. The government accused the eight regional bosses of managing drug smuggling operations for Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the purported head of the Sinaloa Cartel, the Treasury Department announced Tuesday. By declaring the men specially designated narcotics traffickers under the Kingpin Act, Washington has made it illegal for U.S. citizens to do business with them and freezes any assets they may have inside the U.S.
Seven of the men — Armando Lopez Aispuro, Guillermo Nieblas Nava, Felipe de Jesus Sosa Canisales, Raul Sabori Cisneros, Ramon Ignacio Paez Soto, Jesus Alfredo Salazar Ramirez and Jose Javier Rascon Ramirez — are believed to run smuggling operations in the Mexican state of Sonora, which borders Arizona. Cenobio Flores Pachecho is accused of being in charge of smuggling efforts in Mexicali, across the border from California.
April 2, 2013
Associated Press, 4/1/2013
Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States – an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world’s most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
If left unchecked, authorities say, the cartels’ move into the American interior could render the syndicates harder than ever to dislodge and pave the way for them to expand into other criminal enterprises such as prostitution, kidnapping-and-extortion rackets and money laundering.
March 29, 2013
In case you thought Mexican drug cartels had sunk as low as they could get, a new report details how they use children as young as 11 years old to do their murderous bidding. In the last decade, the cartels “have recruited thousands of street gang members, school drop-outs and unskilled workers,” the International Crisis Group recently reported. The ICG, a non-government organization that seeks to prevent conflict, notes many of these “recruits” — to use a clumsy term — are younger than 18, considered expendable, and deliberately ordered to attack superior Mexican military forces.
According to military officers interviewed by the organization, the “cartel bosses will treat the young killers as cannon fodder, throwing them into suicidal attacks on security forces.” First, the children are enticed or manipulated into joining the cartels, and given basic weapons instruction at training camps, many of which have been discovered in the jungles along the Guatemalan border. The weapons are varied, ranging from AR-15 rifles to Uzi submachine guns, and .38 and 9-mm caliber pistols. Next, the kids are put into cells led by experienced cartel soldiers, who have some prior training with the military or police.
March 22, 2013
Nuevo Leon will not release detainees’ nicknames nor the names of the cartels they worked with.
The state government will suspend the old practice that publicly presented detainees to the press as trophies. Instead, they will now release newsletters and photographs to news outlets.
February 19, 2013
The New York Times, 2/18/2013
The new Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, campaigned on a promise to reduce the violence spawned by the drug trade and organized crime, and to shift the talk about his nation away from cartels and killings. But even as he rolled out a crime prevention program last week and declared it the government’s new priority, a rash of high-profile mayhem threatened to undercut his message and raise the pressure to more forcefully confront the lawlessness that bedeviled his predecessor.
The southwestern state of Guerrero, long prone to periodic eruptions of violence, has proved a challenge once again. Gang rapes of several women have occurred in and around the faded resort town of Acapulco, including an attack this month on a group from Spain that garnered worldwide headlines, and an ambush killed nine state police officers in a mountainous no-man’s land. Out of frustration that the state was not protecting them, rural towns in Guerrero have taken up arms to police themselves.
February 15, 2013
In Sight Crime, 2/13/2013
The following is an excerpt from Steven Dudley’s latest report for In Sight Crime: Organized Crime in the Americas, titled Juarez After the War.
For many crime watchers, the fighting in Juarez that cost nearly 10,000 people their lives over a four year stretch was a battle of the titans: the Juarez Cartel versus the Sinaloa Cartel. But beneath that analysis is the deeper question of who pushes the levers of power in Mexico.
The question is even more complicated in Juarez, a border city where several layers of power brokers are still seeking to impose their will on one another and control this lucrative plaza. These include large criminal groups, local and federal police, the army, the state Attorney General’s Office, politicians, and street gangs.
Read full report here…
February 4, 2013
The Washington Post, 2/1/2013
As a tactical matter, the gangsters and government security forces fighting Mexico’s drug war have typically opted for the spectacular over the subtle. Massacres, beheadings and other unspeakable cruelties became cartels’ preferred form of violence. In response, the government sent masked troops with machine guns to patrol Mexico’s streets and paraded its captured drug suspects on television like hunting trophies.
But in the past few months, that has changed. Mexico’s drug war has gone quiet. Not less lethal. Just less loud.
October 17, 2012
The Coahuila attorney, Homero Ramos, unveiled the body of Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, alias “El Lazca,” on Tuesday morning. Lazcano’s body was stolen by an armed group from the funeral home…
“It’s a very bizarre situation, so it will raise questions in some people’s minds about what really happened,”
said Eric Olson, associate director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.
October 17, 2012
The Texas Tribune, 10/11/2012
Despite uncertainty south of the Rio Grande in the aftermath of the killing of one of Mexico’s most brutal warlords, recent successes against organized crime suggest military intervention remains the best option there, according to the former deputy director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement….Eric Olson, a senior associate at the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., said Peña Nieto has acknowledged that there is no “magic wand” solution, but that the president-elect continues to search for alternatives.
“He has said all along that, in the short run, the military will continue to play a role but they seemed to be engaged in an search for an alternative,” he said. “One of the alternatives that they have floated is the creation of this militarized civilian force, this police militia force that would combine military [personnel] into a civilian police force.”