Osiel Cardena’s lawyer, Juan Jesús Guerrero Chapa, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday afternoon by an armed man after shopping in a local mall. He also defended other drug kingpins such as Gilberto “El June” García Mena, Juan García Ábrego, and his brother Humberto.
Sandra Avila Beltran, the dark-haired Mexican beauty dubbed the “Queen of the Pacific,” has pleaded guilty to a drug-trafficking charge in Miami, closing the curtain on the once celebrity-like role of the reputed cocaine smuggler.
Avila, 52, admitted Tuesday in federal court that she helped her former boyfriend, a one-time Colombian cartel boss, evade prosecution for cocaine importation and distribution charges in the United States. She pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to his conspiracy crimes, for which the ex-boyfriend, Juan Diego Espinosa Ramirez, was ultimately convicted.
One of the top priorities for Enrique Pena Nieto, Mexico’s new president, is tackling violence. His predecessor tried going after the leaders of drug cartels, but that had only limited success. Now Pena Nieto’s promising to employ a new strategy, by creating a new national police force made up of former military troops.
Op-ed, Ravi Agrawal, CNN, 11/27/2012
Here’s some trivia. Which of these countries has the highest average income: India, China, Brazil or Mexico? If you guessed Brazil, you’d be wrong. And if you guessed India or China, you’d be way off: even if you combine the incomes of the average Indian and Chinese you wouldn’t reach the $15,000 annual purchasing power of the average Mexican.
These numbers don’t fit with many people’s perception of America’s southern neighbor. Mexico, you see, has a PR problem. A quick Google search for news from Mexico throws up a set of results that usually includes the words violence, drugs, cartels, and migrants (or the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico). But it’s not just the international media that seems to have it in for Mexico’s reputation. Mexicans themselves seem woebegone.
It can be a little deceiving to think of Mexico’s drug cartels as simply gangsters. Instead, they’ve blurred boundaries between organized crime and quasi-military insurgents, seized swathes of territory and become some of the world’s most dangerous criminal gangs. They’ve also acquired plenty of firepower to back it up.
The Zetas are one of the most disruptive and aggressive of them all. Formed by ex-military men who became armed enforcers for the Gulf Cartel, the Zetas split with their former patrons nearly three years ago and have since become one of Mexico’s largest and most dangerous cartels. While most of those ex-military founding fathers of the cartel are now dead or in prison, they’ve retained a culture of military loyalties, if not so much the discipline and hierarchy. Or much in the way of taste. In September, Mexican police arrested Ramiro Pozos, the alleged leader of drug gang “The Resistance” and Zeta ally — with his gold- and silver-plated AK-47. Meanwhile, coming up on Saturday, incoming president Enrique Pena Nieto takes office, the first change in the presidency since the drug war exploded across the country more than six years ago. Aside from reducing the level of violence, one of his priorities will be wrenching back control of cartel territory, and putting it back under the control of the state.
Much has been written in recent months about this border city’s comeback. Businesses are reopening in Ciudad Juárez; the city’s vibrant nightlife is returning. Juan Gabriel’s concert celebrated the opening of a brand new baseball stadium named “Juárez Vive”: Juárez Lives. His homecoming was for many the clearest sign yet that Juárez is indeed moving forward, that Juárez has bounced back.
However tenuous, the improved security conditions in Juárez offer some hope for a country uneasily awaiting the swearing-in of Enrique Peña Nieto as president this Saturday. Just how much has Juárez really changed—and for that matter, Mexico? What does it mean that Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, will come back to govern the country it imperiously ruled throughout much of the 20th century? Has the PRI changed? Will Peña Nieto continue the Drug War with the same zeal as outgoing President Felipe Calderón? And would that be good or bad?
Los Angeles Times, 11/28/2012
In the six years of outgoing President Felipe Calderon‘s war against drug gangs, the U.S. became a principal player in Mexico, sending drones and sniffer dogs, police trainers and intelligence agents to a country long suspicious of its powerful neighbor.
Calderon, who steps down Saturday, essentially rewrote the rules under which foreign forces could act here in matters of national security. There has been relatively little public protest, reflecting the severity of a conflict that has killed tens of thousands nationwide and spread violence south into Central America — without significantly reducing the flow of drugs.
Ioan Grillo, op-ed, The New York Times, 11/1/2012
Even though they have described to me such unfathomable actions as hacking off the heads of still-living victims, it is something other than mental illness that drives their violence. Their sanity is disconcerting because, if they were simply mad, it would be easier to accept horrific actions like leaving piles of headless corpses in town squares.
Instead, we have to face up to the hard reasons why thousands of young men (and some women) with full mental faculties have become serial killers. These reasons should be taken into account by residents of Colorado, Washington state and Oregon when they vote on referendums to legalize marijuana next Tuesday.
The U.S. media always focuses on the U.S.-Mexico border. With an estimated 325,000 illegal crossings, the brutal violence from drug cartels, the militarization by U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. military, and the wacko militias around Arizona, Mexico’s 2000-mile border with the U.S. gets all the attention.
But Mexico is facing it’s own crisis in its southern frontier with Guatemala. The Guatemala-Mexico border is a porous border that feels more like a no-man’s land than an international crossing. It’s a place that is also violent and more dangerous for migrants than anything that exists along the northern border.