Drug Violence Crimping Economic Growth, Mexican Central Banker Says

October 21, 2014

10/20/14 Bloomberg 

mexico law enforcementMexican central bank Governor Agustin Carstens said drug-related violence is damping growth, hours after federal police took over security in 13 towns following the alleged massacre of students in Guerrero state. “There is no doubt that violence has been a negative factor,” Carstens, 56, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s Mexico City office. “This is a problem that Mexico has been tackling for the last few years. It’s a deeply-rooted problem.” Carstens cited a central bank analyst survey published Oct. 3 that showed public security problems as the top obstacle to Mexico’s economic expansion, followed by fiscal policy, weak domestic demand and international financial instability.

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In Mexico, lopsided death tolls draw suspicion

July 8, 2014

7/8/14 The Washington Post

crime sceneBullet marks and blood spatters on the walls inside a grain storage warehouse deep in the mountains of southern Mexico tell a grim story of death involving soldiers and alleged criminals. It may not be the same story officials tell, however.

Mexico’s Defense Department says soldiers were patrolling in one of the most violent, lawless corners of the country on June 30 when they came under fire from a warehouse where a gang of 21 men and one woman were hiding. One soldier was wounded, but all of the suspects were killed.

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How Safe Is Mexico? President Enrique Peña Nieto Says Violence Fell 25 Percent Last 4 Months, Public Disagrees

June 10, 2014

Latin Times, 06/09/14

youth with handgunMexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said at a forum in Madrid organized by several Spanish corporations and newspaper El País on Monday that although insecurity and violence remain serious problems in Mexico, especially the states of Michoacán, Tamaulipas and Guerrero, his government has made considerable progress on the issue. Between 2012 and 2013, Peña Nieto told the audience, violence and insecurity fell 12 percent, and 25 percent in the first four months of 2014. “They’re encouraging numbers,” he said before cautioning against early celebrations. “The issue hasn’t been resolved.”

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México: emboscan vehículo militar y matan a cuatro soldados

May 14, 2014

Latitudes Press.El Comercio, 5/13/14

Un comando integrado por unos 30 hombres armados emboscó un convoy militar en una carretera de Jalisco, oeste de México, causando la muerte de cuatro militares e hiriendo a otros dos, informó a la AFP una fuente castrense.

El grupo de civiles armados se posicionó en la vía que conduce al municipio de Guachinango, en la Región Sierra Occidental de Jalisco, para esperar que pasara el vehículo militar, informó un mando del ejército bajo el anonimato.

“Sabemos que fueron más de 30 hombres armados a bordo de ocho camionetas de lujo, atacaron a los elementos con granadas y se suscita el tiroteo”, precisó la fuente a la AFP, que confirmó el deceso de cuatro soldados y el estado grave de otros dos como consecuencia de sus heridas.

Según algunos testigos, los sicarios chocaron intencionalmente una camioneta contra el vehículo oficial y lanzaron granadas contra ambas unidades, que se calcinaron mientras la balacera se extendía durante algunos minutos.

“Yo estaba en el remolque cuando se estacionaron las camionetas, los esperaron unos cinco minutos y empezó la balacera. Yo me resguardé en el piso de la unidad”, dijo a AFP un empleado de la Secretaría de Agricultura, desplegado en el lugar para realizar revisiones zoosanitarias.

Sobre el camión militar fallecieron dos soldados, el cuerpo de otro quedó bajó el vehículo pesado, y el cuarto en el fondo de un barranco de unos 20 metros, constató la AFP.

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Mexico Deploys Troops to Take Over Unruly Cities

May 14, 2014

armyThe Wall Street Journal, 5/13/14

Mexico’s government began dispatching federal police and troops on Tuesday to take over the northern border state of Tamaulipas from local forces after a wave of violence between rival drug gangs flared in recent weeks.

The initiative came after dozens of people have been killed across the energy-rich state as rivals from the local Gulf Cartel and Zetas gang fight one another for control of drug-trafficking routes as well as extortion, kidnapping and human-smuggling rackets, officials say. Federal troops in recent weeks have clashed with gang gunmen in the border cities of Reynosa, Matamoros and Tampico.

With both its long coastline and border with Texas that allows access to U.S. markets, Tamaulipas has been a prime drug-trafficking region for decades. It was ground zero to the wave of extreme drug-related violence that engulfed the country over the past seven years, leaving about 100,000 people dead or missing.

“We are going to re-establish the conditions that permit the state’s people to recover the tranquillity they deserve,” Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio-Chong told state and federal officials in Reynosa, in announcing the surge.

Mr. Osorio-Chong said federal forces would set up command in four regions in the state to close off smuggling routes and go after crime bosses. He didn’t specify how many forces were involved, but similar previous operations involved thousands.

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Violence erupts again in Mexican state where drug wars began

May 12, 2014

The Guardian, 5/9/14

A spate of extreme violence in Mexico‘s north-eastern Tamaulipas state has ended the relative calm in the region where the country’s drug wars began.

Officials say about 80 people have been killed in almost daily street battles. This week the state’s top detective, Salvador de Haro Muñoz, was among five people killed in a shootout. Ten police officers have been arrested for allegedly leading him into an ambush. Fourteen people were killed in one day this month in a string of gun battles between federal forces and unidentified gunmen in the city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas.

“It’s worse than ever,” said a local woman who saw three shootouts on three consecutive days while visiting relatives in Tampico in early April. The woman, who asked not to be identified, said authorities did nothing to intervene beyond advising people to stay off the streets. “This is a failed state with no law and no authority.”

Tamaulipas has been a focal point in the drug wars as one of the busiest places on the border for northbound drugs and migrants and southbound weapons and cash. But the latest outbreak of bloodletting has prompted fears that the region is set for a return to the worst days of 2010, when entire populations fled towns in the region to escape the violence.

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In Mexico, Ciudad Juarez reemerging from grip of violence

May 5, 2014

cuidad juarezLA Times, 5/4/14

Angel Corral is in many ways the new face of a city long known for its criminal gangsters and one of the world’s highest homicide rates. At 29, with pale green eyes and a can-do spirit, Corral is riding Ciudad Juarez’s return to life, running three nightclubs and investing in a gym. Where all his money comes from is not exactly clear, but no one seems to be asking questions.

The reasons for the border town’s revival are also unclear, and the uplift could well prove short-lived. But there is no question that homicides have declined precipitously and that shuttered businesses are reopening. As the city climbs out of the depths of despair, Corral and a host of other residents — including returning exiles — are jumping aboard.

Just a couple of years ago, Gomez Morin Boulevard, at the commercial heart of Juarez, had become a ghost town, like much of the city just across the Rio Grande from El Paso. Drug, extortion and kidnapping gangs ran amok, fighting turf wars and terrorizing rich and poor. Today, much of the city, including the boulevard where the bar is located, is bustling, replete with signs saying “Now open” outside restaurants, casinos, spas and yoga studios.

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