Mexico Imposes Military Control Over Major Seaport

November 5, 2013

Army detentions MichoacanThe New York Times, 11/05/2013

Mexico’s military has taken control of one of the nation’s biggest seaports as part of an effort to bring drug-cartel activity under control in the western state of Michoacan, officials said Monday.

Federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said soldiers are now responsible for policing duties in the city of Lazaro Cardenas as well as in the Pacific seaport of the same name. The port is a federal entity separate from the city.

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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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Immigration deal would boost defense manufacturers

July 2, 2013

Border fenceThe Washington Post, 6/28/2013

The border security plan the Senate approved last week includes unusual language mandating the purchase of specific models of helicopters and radar equipment for deployment along the U.S.-Mexican border, providing a potential windfall worth tens of millions of dollars to top defense contractors.

The legislation would require the U.S. Border Patrol to acquire, among other items, six Northrop Grumman airborne radar systems that cost $9.3 million each, 15 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters that average more than $17 million apiece, and eight light enforcement helicopters made by American Eurocopter that sell for about $3 million each. The legislation also calls for 17 UH-1N helicopters made by Bell Helicopter, an older model that the company no longer manufactures.

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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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Mexico launches military push to restore order in Michoacan state

May 22, 2013

ArmyLos Angeles Times, 5/21/2013

The Mexican government poured army troops — and high-level delegations — into western Mexico on Tuesday in a bid to take back control of a region long besieged by a deadly drug cartel. The operation in the Pacific state of Michoacan is the first major military deployment targeting drug traffickers to be ordered by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, which is still struggling to publicly define its security strategy six months after assuming leadership of this violent country.

Michoacan was probably chosen because it was fast spiraling into chaos. Parts of the state were awash in lawlessness, crippled by a cartel calling itself the Knights Templar, which in recent weeks blocked roads, torched businesses that refused to pay protection money and killed resisters. Entire villages were cut off, some reported to be desperately short on supplies. In response and feeling abandoned or ignored by authorities, groups of armed citizens attempted to fight back. But they often proved no match for the Knights Templar and were eager to see the army arrive.

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A Drug War Informer in No Man’s Land

April 29, 2013

DEA badgeNew York Times, 4/29/2013

Mr. López played a leading role in what is widely considered the biggest drug-trafficking case in Mexican history. The episode — which inspired the 2000 movie “Traffic” — pitted the Mexican military against the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Throughout the 1990s, Mr. López worked closely with them both. He served as a senior adviser to the powerful general who was appointed Mexico’s drug czar. And he was an informant for the D.E.A.

His two worlds collided spectacularly in 1997, when Mexico arrested the general, Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, on charges of collaborating with drug traffickers. As Washington tried to make sense of the charges, both governments went looking for Mr. López. Mexico considered him a suspect in the case; the D.E.A. saw him as a potential gold mine of information.

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Mexico’s ‘Crisis Of Disappearance’: Families Seek Answers (Audio)

February 21, 2013

people waiting - out of focusNPR, 2/21/2013

Maximina Hernandez says she begged her 23-year old son, Dionicio, to give up his job as a police officer in a suburb of Monterrey. Rival drug cartels have been battling in the northern Mexican city for years. But he told her being a police officer was in his blood, a family tradition. He was detailed to guard the town’s mayor.

In May 2007, on his way to work, two men wearing police uniforms stopped Dionicio on a busy street, pulled him from his car and drove him away. That same day, the mayor’s other two bodyguards were also abducted. Witnesses say the kidnappers wore uniforms of an elite anti-drug police unit. The three men haven’t been seen since.

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Human Rights Watch Faults Mexico Over Disappearances

February 21, 2013

Mexican Police catch drug dealer photo by Jesús Villaseca P Latitudes PressThe New York Times, 2/21/2013

Nearly 150 people and possibly hundreds more have disappeared at the hands of Mexico’s police and military during the drug war with little or no investigation of the cases, a human rights group said Wednesday, as it called on the new government to account for the country’s missing. The organization, Human Rights Watch, said in a report that Mexico has “the most severe crisis of enforced disappearances in Latin America in decades.” The group found a litany of cases in which witnesses reported people had been abducted or were last seen with the military or the police, never to be seen again.

Altogether the group documented 149 such cases in the past six years, after the previous president, Felipe Calderón, began his term with heavy deployments of military and federal police to combat exploding violence. The group’s investigation found 60 cases in which witness testimony and other evidence demonstrated that local police officers had colluded with cartels in abductions.

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A quieter drug war in Mexico, but no less deadly

February 4, 2013

drug warThe 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.

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Northcom Pursues Closer Engagement With Mexico

January 22, 2013

ArmyAmerican Forces Press Service, 1/22/2013

With a U.S. defense strategy focused heavily on the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, officials at U.S. Northern Command here are enthusiastically advancing engagement to the United States’ immediate southern border.

Mexico, which has long focused its military internally, is increasingly receptive to building a closer bilateral relationship with the U.S. military, Army Maj. Gen. Francis G. Mahon, Northcom’s director for strategy, plans and policy, told American Forces Press Service.

“During the past two to three years, as the Mexican army and Mexican navy have taken on a larger role beyond internal security issues, our relationship with them has really grown and expanded through security cooperation,” Mahon said. “They have opened up to us and said, ‘Let’s start working closer and closer together.’”

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