Mexico’s Cartel-Fighting Vigilantes Get Closer to Texas Border

July 9, 2014

07/09/14 NBC News

machine gunThe gunmen nabbed watermelon farmer Jesus Manuel Guerrero as he drove from his ranch to buy supplies and held him for five painful days in the trunk of a car.

When family members finally paid a $120,000 ransom and they released him, he was urinating blood.

He’s just one of hundreds of victims of a wave of kidnapping that’s swept this once peaceful farming town, about 130 miles south of Texas.

But almost three years after his brutal abduction, Guerrero, who is now the mayor, says his town has become safer, the kidnappers scared to enter.

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In life, Mexican cartel boss was revered as a saint

March 12, 2014

jesus_malverdeLos Angeles Times, 03/10/14

If nothing else, the slaying of cartel boss Nazario Moreno Gonzalez by  Mexican soldiers may have burst the bubble of mysticism that had made him one of  the stranger figures to emerge in the country’s drug war. Moreno, whose nicknames included “El Mas Loco” (“The Craziest”), was a  founder of Michoacan state’s La Familia drug cartel and its offshoot, the Knights Templar — groups that have moved massive amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs north to the United States.

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Legal U.S. Pot Won’t Bring Peace to Mexico

January 22, 2014

marijuana leafBloomberg, 01/21/2014

Since Jan. 1, Colorado has had a legal marijuana market. The same will soon be true in Washington State, once retail licenses are issued. Other states, such as California and Oregon, will likely follow suit over the next three years.

So does this creeping legalization of marijuana in the U.S. spell doom for the Mexican drug cartels? Not quite. The illegal marijuana trade provides Mexican organized crime with about $1.5 billion to $2 billion a year. That’s not chump change, but according to a number of estimates, it represents no more than a third of gross drug export revenue. Cocaine is still the cartels’ biggest money-maker and the revenue accruing from heroin and methamphetamine aren’t trivial. Moreover, Mexican gangs also obtain income from extortion, kidnapping, theft and various other types of illegal trafficking. Losing the marijuana trade would be a blow to their finances, but it certainly wouldn’t put them out of business.

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Mexican militia leader vows to continue battle with drug cartels after plane crash

January 16, 2014

youth with handgunThe Washington Post, 01/14/2014

More than a week after surviving a plane crash, the injured Mexican militia leader Jose Manuel Mireles rejected the government’s call for his movement to disarm, vowing to fight on until the drug cartel leaders in his area have been arrested and the state of Michoacan establishes the rule of law.

Mireles, a 55-year-old surgeon who leads the militia movement that has spread rapidly over the past year across Michoacan and seized territory from the Knights Templar drug cartel, spoke to reporters late Monday from a safe house after being treated at a private hospital in Mexico City.

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Mexico seminary joins list of extortion callers’ targets

December 3, 2013

cell-phone-imgaeThe Los Angeles Times, 12/2/2013

It is a distressingly common part of life in modern Mexico: the bullying phone call demanding that the person who answers pay up — or else. Businesses get the extortion calls. Families get them.

And now, apparently, so has the country’s main Roman Catholic seminary.

In a sermon Sunday, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera announced that a vice rector at the Conciliar Seminary of Mexico received a number of threatening phone calls Nov. 20-21. The callers, the cardinal said, demanded 60,000 pesos — about $4,500 — “in exchange for respecting the lives of the superiors of that institution,” according to a statement issued Sunday evening by the Archdiocese of Mexico.

“Last week we were meeting in the seminary; they called numerous times, and identified themselves as La Familia Michoacana,” Rivera said, according to the news service Milenio, referring to a drug cartel based in Michoacan state. “But who knows?”

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Vigilante groups seize control of towns in western Mexico

November 20, 2013

hands in handcuffsThe Wall Street Journal, 11/19/2013

Rogelio Valencia peered out from a sandbag bunker outside Tepalcatepec in a fertile region of Mexico’s Michoacan state, keeping an eye cocked for marauding gangsters.

“They might come in 10 or 12 pickups. But we are prepared,” says Mr. Valencia, a civilian with a pistol tucked in his waistband and a two-way radio at hand.

Tepalcatepec is in a “liberated” region of Michoacan state, where an armed uprising of civilians has succeeded in lifting a yoke imposed by a crime group with a feudal-sounding name, the Knights Templar, which keeps a searing and heavy hand on the majority of Michoacan’s 113 municipalities.

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Mexican cartels abet heroin and meth surge in U.S., DEA study says

November 20, 2013

heroin_powderThe Los Angeles Times, 11/19/2013

The availability of heroin and methamphetamine in the U.S. is on the rise, due in part to the ever-evolving entrepreneurial spirit of the Mexican drug cartels, according to a new study released by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The report, which analyzes illicit drug trends through 2012, also notes that cocaine availability was down across the United States. It offered various possible reasons for the decline, including cartel versus cartel fights over drug routes in Mexico, declining production in Colombia and various anti-narcotics strategies that have put more heat on the groups that control production and shipment of the product.

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The Current State of Mexico’s Many Drug Cartels

September 30, 2013

Mexican Police catch drug dealer photo by Jesús Villaseca P Latitudes PressInSight Crime, 9/25/2013

It is tempting to separate Mexico’s drug cartels into six hierarchical groups, each competing for trafficking turf. The reality, however, is that the Sinaloa Federation, the Gulf Cartel, the Tijuana Cartel, the Juarez Cartel, the Zetas and La Familia, not to mention several new offshoot organizations, are fluid, dynamic, for-profit syndicates that sometimes operate under the umbrella of what are effectively conglomerates but more often than not operate as independent, smaller-scale franchises.

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In Mexico, self defense groups battle a cartel

September 10, 2013

The Washington Post, 9/10/2013
m16 gun closeup

An audacious band of citizen militias battling a brutal drug cartel in the hills of central Mexico is becoming increasingly well-armed and coordinated in an attempt to end years of violence, extortion and humiliation.

What began as a few scattered self-defense groups has spread in recent months to dozens of towns across Michoacan, a volatile state gripped by the cultlike Knights Templar, a drug gang known for taxing locals on everything from cows to tortillas and executing those who do not comply.

The army deployed to the area in May, but the soldiers are mostly manning checkpoints. Instead, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is facing the awkward fact that a group of scrappy locals appears to be chasing the gangsters away, something that federal security forces have not managed in a decade.

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Mexico Media Roundup: Politics, Economics And Drug War Violence

July 31, 2013

newspapers bwForbes, 7/30/2013

July has been an interesting month for Mexico watchers. The country started the month with local elections, captured a major cartel boss, faced a series of tough losses on the futbol pitch, and experienced a series of violent attacks by organized crime groups.

Here are some articles from this past month.

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