Vanished

January 10, 2014

 

hands in handcuffsForeign Policy, 01/06/2014

On Dec. 1, 2012, Enrique Peña Nieto was inaugurated as Mexico’s 57th president in the midst of a horrific wave of drug violence. More than 100,000 people had been killed in the six years since his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, had declared a “war on drugs” and deployed the Mexican Army to tackle the country’s powerful drug cartels.

Peña Nieto’s victory marked the return of Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which had governed uninterrupted for over 70 years until it was unseated in 2000. During its reign, the PRI had perfected a model for controlling virtually every aspect of Mexican life, including drug trafficking. Peña Nieto — young, polished, and Ken-doll handsome — pledged to end Calderón’s war without returning to the PRI’s old “pact,” which had allowed Mexico’s cartels to operate as long as they played by certain rules and gave the government its cut. Yet Peña Nieto offered few details, during his campaign and his first months in office, as to how his approach to the cartels would be different.

Nor did Peña Nieto offer a plan for dealing with one of the most nefarious aspects of Mexico’s drug war: disappearances. This omission was particularly troubling given that, on Nov. 29, 2012 — two days before Peña Nieto was sworn in — a government list had been exposed showing that more than 25,000 people had been disappeared or had otherwise gone missing during Calderón’s term. (The list was leaked to the Washington Post by a government analyst who suspected that neither Calderón’s nor Peña Nieto’s administration would ever release the staggering number.)

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Count of bodies in Mexico mass graves rises to 42

November 26, 2013

crime sceneThe Washington Post, 11/26/2013

The number of bodies found in almost two dozen clandestine graves in western Mexico has risen to 42, after five more corpses were discovered over the weekend.

Many of the bodies were bound or gagged. Some showed signs of torture, according to a federal prosecutor who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the news media.

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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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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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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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Monterrey emerging from shadow of drug violence

October 23, 2013

Monterrey, NLThe Los Angeles Times, 10/23/2013

It is one of those small, hopeful signs that this traumatized city may be awakening from the nightmare of Mexico’s drug wars: Armando Alanis once again feels safe enough to stop off for a late-night nosh at Tacos Los Quiques, a beloved sidewalk food cart.

“We couldn’t have done this two years ago,” Alanis, a 44-year-old poet, said recently as he chowed down on tacosgringas in the dim glow of inner-city streetlights. “It would be wrong not to recognize what we have regained.”

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Mexico captures third man linked to killing of U.S. border agent

September 17, 2013

Border patrol agent by Flickr user °FlorianReuters, 9/17/2103

Mexico has arrested a third man wanted over the 2010 murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent whose death drew attention to a botched operation to track guns smuggled to Mexico that embarrassed the U.S. government.

Mexican police in the northwestern state of Sinaloa said they had captured Ivan Soto Barraza, suspected of participating in the murder of U.S. agent Brian Terry, who was killed in a shootout in the Arizona borderlands in December 2010.

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