Hunger for drugs brings torture and death to Mexico City

November 12, 2013

mexican drugsAl Jazeera, 11/12/2013

A silver sedan sits in front of Bar Heaven in the Zona Rosa here, the nightclub district that serves the rich locals and foreign tourists. Inside is an investigator from the attorney general’s office, asleep with a clipboard on his chest. It’s not clear why he’s there, since the club has long been shuttered with police tape, the walls covered with memorial photos of the 13 young people who were abducted there five months ago, their decapitated remains found later in a grave some 30 miles away.

“Confidential,” the investigator growled when asked why his presence was required at the spot, which now serves as a landmark for the sadism and kidnappings that have long been associated with other areas. Drug-related violence that has claimed perhaps 70,000 lives nationwide over seven years has now arrived 15 minutes from the seat of the federal government.

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13 federal police among 18 arrested in Mexico kidnapping probe

October 9, 2013

Los Angeles Times, 10/8/2013

Mexican Police catch drug dealer photo by Jesús Villaseca P Latitudes PressThirteen Mexican federal police officers are among 18 people arrested last week on suspicion of being part of a deadly kidnapping ring operating in the troubled Pacific resort city of Acapulco, government officials said Tuesday. The arrests on Wednesday and Friday probably will do little to improve the reputation of the federal police, an agency that former President Felipe Calderon, who left office in December, had hoped in vain to transform into Mexico’s most trustworthy crime-fighting force.

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Mexico Rescues 73 Suspected Kidnap Victims Near U.S. Border

October 1, 2013

marijuana bustThe New York Times,9/30/2013

Seventy-three suspected kidnap victims were rescued in northern Mexico near the border city of Reynosa after police followed their alleged captors to a house and heard frantic calls for help, authorities said on Monday.

Of the victims, 37 were Mexicans, 19 were from Honduras, 14 from Guatemala and another three from El Salvador, federal police said in a statement. Among the victims were women and minors, some of whom reported having been sexually abused.

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Police find body of suspect in Mexico kidnappings

July 3, 2013

crime sceneUSA Today, 7/2/2013

Police found the burned body of one of the main suspects in the abduction a month ago of 12 young people from an after-hours bar in Mexico City, prosecutors said Tuesday. The body of Dax Rodriguez Ledezma was found along with his girlfriend and another person in the town of Huitzilac in Morelos state. All had been burned, Mexico City prosecutors said in a statement.

Officials said he was identified through DNA compared to his brother, Mario Rodriguez Ledezma, who was arrested and charged in the kidnappings. Authorities didn’t say when the bodies were found or give any other details, but 10 days ago local media in neighboring Morelos state reported police had found the burned bodies of two women and a man in an empty lot in Huitzilac.

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Mexico Pursuing Vanished Victims of Its Drug Wars

June 24, 2013

Monterrey-Nathaniel C. SheetzThe New York Times, 6/22/2013

Rosa González cannot shake the memory of the state investigator who was too afraid of reprisals to take a full report, the police officer who shrugged when the ransom demand came, the months of agonizing doubt and, most of all, the final words from her daughter before she disappeared. “I am giving you a hug because I love you so much,” her mentally disabled daughter, Brizeida, 23, told Rosa hours before she was abducted with her 21-year-old cousin after a party more than two years ago.

In thousands upon thousands of cases, the story may well have ended there, adding to the vast number of Mexicans who have disappeared. Unlike those in other Latin American countries who were victims of repressive governments, many of Mexico’s disappeared are casualties of the organized-crime and drug violence that has convulsed this nation for years. But here in Nuevo León State, prosecutors, detectives, human rights workers and families are poring over cases together and in several instances cracking them, overcoming the thick walls of mistrust between civilians and the authorities to do the basic police work that is so often missing in this country, leaving countless crimes unsolved and unpunished.

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Mexico City mayor under fire over disappearances of 12

June 20, 2013

Mexico City - nunavut (Flickr)Los Angeles Times, 6/19/2013

Miguel Angel Mancera, the former top prosecutor in Mexico’s capital, rode his crime-fighting reputation to the mayor’s office, promising voters a superior level of safety as the cornerstone of a revitalized metropolis. But six months into his term, Mancera, is fighting accusations that he has mishandled the highest-profile case of his mayoral career: the disappearances last month of 12 people from a bar in the heart of Mexico City.

The case remains unsolved, and the criticism of Mancera, a potential presidential candidate for the left-wing Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, has been withering. Mancera suffers from “political autism,” wrote a columnist on the website Sin Embargo. The mayor has not proved to be “a distinct or distinguished head of government,” declared a writer for Proceso newsmagazine.

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Mexico bar kidnap ‘linked to gang’

June 10, 2013

mystery manBBC, 6/8/23013

Prosecutors say they think the disappearance of 12 youngsters from a Mexico City bar two weeks ago was linked to gang rivalry. The 12 were reported missing after they failed to return home from a visit to the Heaven bar on 26 May. Surveillance footage shows a number of them being led from the bar by men in civilian clothes and getting into cars. Relatives say the police have turned a blind eye to the case because the missing come from a rough area.

The surveillance footage, screened by prosecutor Rodolfo Rios at a news conference, shows several small cars pulling up outside the Heaven bar in Mexico City’s popular Zona Rosa entertainment district. Some of the missing can be seen being led to the cars two at a time. There is no obvious sign of force and the men are not masked and do not seem to be carrying weapons. The footage contradicts a statement given by one man who claimed to have been at the bar with the youngsters. The man said masked gunmen stormed into the Heaven bar at 10:00 on Sunday, seized the group of 12 youngsters at gunpoint and bundled them into SUVs.

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Mexico Soldiers Free 165 Kidnapped Migrants

June 7, 2013

soldiersThe Wall Street Journal, 6/6/2013

Mexican soldiers stormed a residence near the U.S. border and rescued 165 migrants, mostly Central Americans, who had been kidnapped by criminal gangs and held for ransom for up to three weeks, a Mexican official said Thursday. The rescue occurred Tuesday in the northern town of Díaz Ordaz, Tamaulipas—near McAllen, Texas—after authorities received an anonymous tip that armed men had been seen guarding a house in the town, said Eduardo Sánchez, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, which coordinates public security. Mr. Sánchez said soldiers detained one gunman, who ran inside the safe house on seeing the arrival of the army. Authorities didn’t offer any details on who might be behind the mass kidnapping.

The state of Tamaulipas where the migrants were held is home to drug cartels and organized-crime groups, including the Zetas group that authorities blamed for massacring 72 migrants from Central and South America in 2010 after they refused to work for the gang, which in addition to running drugs is involved in kidnapping and extortion. U.S. and Mexican officials say the criminal gangs often work with corrupt authorities, discouraging citizen complaints against the houses. There have been reports in Mexican media of criminal gangs brutally executing citizens suspected of providing such tips.

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3 detained in Mexico disappearances

June 6, 2013

federal police mexicoCNN, 6/5/2013

Police in Mexico City have detained three people in the mysterious disappearance of 12 people from a nightclub, the city’s attorney general said. And for the first time since the disappearance, Attorney General Rodolfo Rios confirmed there is evidence showing that the people who are missing had indeed been at the club.

The names of the detainees — one woman and two waiters from the Heavens After bar — were not released. Officials said they are looking at the link between the woman and the waiters, but did not say what charges, if any, they might face. Before Tuesday’s announcement, the relatives of the missing people — one of them only 16 years old — insisted that they had been kidnapped from the after-hours bar in Mexico City’s Zona Rosa entertainment district. But police had said there was no proof that that the 12 had even been there.

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Housing Woes, Immigration Reform & #LadySenadora – Weekly News Summary: May 31

May 31, 2013

Coffee by Flikr user samrevelThe Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English-language press had to say…

Mexico’s economic performance was once again the focus of much media attention, though the press offered a less optimistic and more nuanced view than in recent weeks. The Wall Street Journal and The Economist, for instance, both reported on the crisis affecting three of Mexico’s leading homebuilders. Government subsidies that fueled the construction of at least 2 million low-income homes since 2000 have stopped, prompting homebuilders to miss debt payments. Many homes built far from urban centers remain empty, and the government has announced its policy will now favor vertical (i.e. high-rise) construction in cities.

On a more positive note, the Journal reported that foreign clothing retailers, motivated by relaxed tariffs and youthful demographics are now flocking to Mexico. In a survey of foreign and domestic firms conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Mexico, 42% of respondents said they believed the country’s security situation had improved, and almost half of the firms surveyed said they expect additional improvement over the next five years. The same survey, however, suggested extortion has become a problem for more companies, with 36% of respondents reporting it in 2012 compared to only 16% in 2011.

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