Cartel Censorship Reaches Mexico City

January 16, 2014

newspapers thumbnailNewsweek, 01/16/2014

Like an unstoppable tsunami, the wave of drug-related censorship that has enveloped thousands of journalists in Mexico has reached the capital city, long a bastion of relatively open crime reporting, according a report released Wednesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Since former President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s criminal syndicates seven years ago, reporters in the provinces have adapted to the new rules of the game: no detailed reports on cartel activity, no mention of top echelon drug leaders, no serious investigations into executions. In hundreds of towns and cities across Mexico, journalists can do little more than regurgitate vague official press releases. For those who stray, threats, kidnappings, beatings and murder are not uncommon. According to Article 19, a press freedom group, 50 reporters have been killed since Calderon took office on December 2006.

But until recently, Mexico City-based journalists had largely been spared from the cartel demands that created a self-imposed censorship for most of the country. They often wrote about criminal organizations without fearing for their lives and the city itself was a bubble of relative calm. Now that’s changed. One of Mexico’s strongest cartels, the Familia Michoacana, has descended on Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl at the edge of Mexico City and silenced the press there, according to the report.

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Op-ed: Less Noise, Same Fury (In Spanish)

July 12, 2013

Enrique PeñaNieto 2By Alejandro Hope, Nexos, 7/1/2013

Felipe Calderón es hombre de detalles. De obsesiones, dirían sus críticos. Como presidente, podía disertar al vuelo, sin notas, sobre las bandas criminales, su genealogía, su estructura. Tenía en las yemas de los dedos los datos, las cifras oscuras, el número de policías que no habían aprobado el control de confianza en Tamaulipas, el promedio de homicidios en Juárez en las últimas cuatro semanas. Poseía un asombroso mapa mental de la ruta de la sangre y la geografía de las reformas institucionales. Su gusto por las minucias de la guerra se desplegaba en cada discurso y cada conversación.

Enrique Peña Nieto es hombre de conceptos. De lugares comunes, dirían sus detractores. Sus afirmaciones sobre seguridad se ubican en la estratósfera, lejos de las definiciones concretas. El tema no le encandila y tal vez le aburra. Parece acomodarle más la frase hecha que el dato puntual, más los compromisos genéricos que las estrategias detalladas. La intensidad de Calderón ha sido sustituida por una parsimonia que quiere cambiar de tema.

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Op-ed: New Coordinates of Violence (In Spanish)

July 12, 2013

security mexicoBy Eduardo Guerrero Gutiérrez, Nexos, 7/1/2013

Durante los primeros seis meses del gobierno de Enrique Peña Nieto los homicidios vinculados con el crimen organizado mostraron, a nivel nacional, una tendencia moderada de disminución. Dicha tendencia había comenzado durante el último año del gobierno de Felipe Calderón, cuando se registraron 13 mil 371 ejecuciones, 17% menos que el año previo. Si se comparan los dos primeros trimestres del gobierno de Peña Nieto con los últimos de Calderón, la disminución fue de 9%.Esta tendencia, sin embargo, ha perdido fuerza recientemente: durante el trimestre que comprende de marzo a mayo de 2013 el número de ejecuciones fue prácticamente igual al del trimestre previo.

La violencia no ha descendido de modo significativo desde la llegada al poder de Peña Nieto, pero sí ha ocurrido un cambio notorio en el ámbito de la comunicación social. El gobierno dejó de anunciar arrestos, decomisos, operativos y pormenores de la política de seguridad, e impulsó otros temas en la agenda pública. La medida provocó que la prensa internacional dejara de enfatizar la presencia del ejército en las calles, las masacres y las violaciones a los derechos humanos, y diera mayor resonancia a notas positivas, como el auge del sector exportador (incluso se ha llamado a México “el nuevo Detroit”, por el dinamismo de la industria automotriz).

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Mexican judge orders release of 5 high-ranking army officials accused of aiding a drug cartel

July 8, 2013

justice - gavel and bookAssociated Press, 7/4/2013

A Mexican judge on Thursday ordered the release of five high-ranking army officials accused of aiding a drug cartel after federal prosecutors dropped organized crime charges against them citing a lack of evidence. It’s the latest drug trafficking case against military officers started during former President Felipe Calderon’s administration to fall apart.

Judge Raul Valerio Ramirez said he ordered the immediate release of Gen. Roberto Dawe, Gen. Ricardo Escorcia, Gen. Ruben Perez, Lt. Col Silvio Hernandez and Maj. Ivan Reyna from a maximum security prison in Mexico state where they have been held since their arrest last year. The officers were charged with protecting members of the Beltran Leyva cartel. Federal anti-drug prosecutor Rodrigo Archundia Barrientos dropped charges in the case after concluding that witness testimony was not enough to sustain the case, Valerio Ramirez said in a statement.

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Mexico elections, like weird ‘Wild West’

July 8, 2013

election's guide vote imageGlobal Post, 7/5/2013

Candidates have been gunned down, gangster cash alleged in campaigns, governors accused of corruption and a cat, dog and donkey nominated for municipal office. Mexico’s democracy is dancing dirty once again.

On Sunday, voters will elect one governor, 13 state legislatures and hundreds of city councils and mayors. Voters yawn, but politicians have been scratching at one another like bobcats. Economically crucial tax and energy reforms hang in the balance. “This is a setback in terms of elections,” says political scientist Sergio Aguayo, a longtime democracy activist and sharp critic of the country’s modern politics. “It’s the Wild West.”

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INFOGRAPHIC: Money Laundering (Part 2)

July 1, 2013

Prepared by Constance McNally

Money Laundering - Part 2

The Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE) is a system by which drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) both move and launder earnings from drug sales.[1] This is traditionally accomplished by a broker selling U.S. located proceeds from DTO sales to foreign importers who need U.S. dollars to purchase American goods.[2] It was originally used by Columbian DTOs,[3] but has been adopted by Mexican DTOs. [4]

As depicted above, traffickers located in the United States drop off U.S. dollars they receive from drug sales with a peso broker. This broker usually makes small deposits under the $10,000 limit at which banks must report the transaction. The broker also has a contact or broker with whom they have a partnership in their home country, in this example Mexico, who handles delivery of the equivalent peso amount to the DTOs in Mexico. The broker in Mexico uses pesos obtained by Mexican importers looking to purchase American goods with U.S. dollars for the delivery to the DTOs. The broker in the U.S. then uses the U.S. dollar denominated drug proceeds deposited with him by the DTOs to pay for the goods purchased by the Mexican importer. [5]  The broker makes a profit on the exchange rate spread and also charges a small fee. [6] DTOs are able to launder their profits, legitimate U.S. companies knowingly or unknowingly are able to increase sales and profits, and importers save money on exchange rates and fees.[7] The system has proven so successful that it was identified by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a division of the U.S. Treasury Department, as “the single most efficient and extensive money laundering “system” in the Western Hemisphere.”[8] The simplicity of the system and its potential variations makes it difficult to disrupt. Future tools for disrupting certain aspects of it, such as tightened currency transaction limits, may prove to be useful in combatting its success.

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Mexican Drug Violence

July 1, 2013

The following video was part of a presentation by UCLA Masters in Public Policy students and their faculty mentor, Mark A.R. Kleiman, titled “Reducing Drug Violence in Mexico: Options for Implementing Targeted Enforcement.”

The video was produced by Brad Rowe and edited by Jacob Strunk.


Mexico Sees Decline in Drug-Related Killings

July 1, 2013

crime sceneThe Wall Street Journal, 6/28/13

Drug-related killings that turned parts of Mexico into the bloodiest spots on the globe appear to have decreased in recent months—a welcome trend in a nation exhausted by years of violence associated with organized crime, even if the reasons behind it are hard to pin down. President Enrique Peña Nieto entered office Dec. 1 promising to continue the U.S.-supported fight against drug kingpins that he inherited, but to reduce the bloodbath by focusing on solving crimes like kidnapping and extortion that affect ordinary citizens.

The bloodshed is still alarmingly high, as the northern border and even the Acapulco beach resort continue to suffer from cartel turf wars. In his first six months in office, around 6,300 people died in killings seen as linked to organized crime. But that is a drop of about 18% compared with an estimated 7,700 in the previous six months.

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STUDY – Reducing Drug Violence in Mexico: Options for Implementing Targeted Enforcement

June 24, 2013

crime scene“Reducing Drug Violence in Mexico: Options for Implementing Targeted Enforcement,” a study by a group of recent UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs Masters in Public Policy graduates led by renowned criminologist Mark A.R. Kleiman, looks into the possibility of utilizing existing U.S. law enforcement capabilities to reduce the violence in Mexico by targeting the revenues of Mexican trafficking organizations in U.S. markets. The policy suggestions are modeled after violence reduction models that have proven effective at a smaller scale in the U.S. and elsewhere.

To read the study, click here…

Investor Insight: Is Mexico’s Drug War Doomed To Failure?

June 24, 2013

calderonForbes, 6/24/2013

From the day the first bullet was fired all the way until the day the flag was passed to the next administration, Calderón’s War failed to address the direct needs of Mexico’s population. The multibillion dollar market for illicit drugs in the United States continues to be fed by shipments from Latin America and other parts of the globe. Calderón’s mistake is that he adopted a unilateral response to an international problem and failed to take sufficient measures to adequately protect his own country’s population from the unintended side effects of his strategy. Given the scope and the magnitude of the underlying economic mechanisms which fuel the drug trade, other governments in the region, such as Costa Rica, are choosing to focus on protecting their own citizens and working to promote law and order by implementing effective community policing.

The central criticism of Calderón’s strategy is that he embraced a macro military solution and allowed troop movements to take precedence over effective local policing. The result has been six years of reputation-damaging violence, a re-organization of the structure of Mexico’s organized crime, and almost no disruption whatsoever of the connection between cocaine suppliers in Colombia and consumers in the United States. The drug trade is an international problem that requires an international solution. Crime and violence, on the other hand, are national and local problems that can be addressed by local policymakers.

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