Shadow of Organized Crime Hovers over Wave of Mexico Journalist Killings

3/24/2017 InSightCrime

gun - crime sceneThe murder of a Chihuahua-based correspondent marks the third killing of a journalist in Mexico this month, a wave of targeted violence for which organized crime may be responsible that also reflects more general trends of rising insecurity.

Miroslava Breach Velducea, the Chihuahua correspondent for the national Mexican news outlet La Jornada, was gunned down in her car on March 23 by unknown assailants as she exited her house to drive her son to school, reported Proceso.

Breach was struck by eight 9 mm bullets at close range, according to La Jornada, suggesting an execution-style killing.

During her career, the journalist had spoken out against human rights violations and the negative impacts of drug trafficking. Among the most recent subjects she investigated was the displacement of hundreds of families by drug trafficking organizations in Chihuahua, and organized crime’s infiltration of local elections.

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Meet the Little-Known Mexican Cartel Operating in California

3/24/2017 InSightCrime

drugsA little-known drug trafficking group in Mexico called “Las Moicas” has not only successfully defended its foothold in the US heroin market for years against Mexico’s most powerful cartels, but recent reports suggest that it might be expanding.

In an interview with BBC Mundo published on March 15, a spokesperson for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said that the Moicas had been expanding their territory in Mexico and that the little-known group had come into conflict with some of Mexico’s biggest criminal organizations, including the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (CJNG).

According to a July 2015 report from the DEA, eight major Mexican transnational criminal groups were known to be operating in the United States. Alongside prominent players like the Sinaloa Cartel and CJNG, appeared a trafficking organization called Las Moicas.

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Rising Violence in Chihuahua, Mexico Points to Homegrown Disputes

3/22/2017 InSight Crime

chihuahua-mapThe border state of Chihuahua, Mexico is confronting a resurgence of violent crime, but the fight seems more about local revenue streams than international trafficking routes.

Data from the Mexican government shows that Chihuahua logged a total of 791 gun murders in 2016, a 40 percent increase over the number of gun murders recorded in the state in 2015.

The violence has continued in 2017. According to statistics obtained by InSight Crime from Chihuahua’s Attorney General’s Office, the state logged a total of 321 murders during the first two months of 2017.

Many of these killings appear to be hits targeting individual victims. And in many cases there are signs that the recent wave of attacks is tied to organized crime and local level retail drug dealing.

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Mexico Seizes 4th Drug Flight This Year in Baja California

3/22/2017 New York Times

drug dog sniffing suitcaseMEXICO CITY — Mexico’s federal police and army have seized a small airplane carrying nearly 700 pounds (315 kilograms) of cocaine, about half that much meth and 93 pounds (42 kilograms) of heroin in Baja California state.

It is the fourth such drug flight caught since the beginning of the year in the border state, where law enforcement personnel have disabled eight clandestine landing strips.

The army said Wednesday that the Cessna was intercepted by a military aircraft and landed in a sparsely populated area west of the city of Ensenada.

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Mexico’s mass graves illustrate a horrifying norm for those living in cartel-land

3/22/2017 Business Insider

cemetery-cross-in-graveyard-1398971336pwPEarlier this month, authorities in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz confirmed that they had recovered 253 skulls from what is believed to be a cartel burial ground.

“Veracruz is an enormous mass grave,” state prosecutor Jorge Winckler said. “It is the biggest mass grave in Mexico and perhaps one of the biggest in the world.”

While its size may distinguish it, it is not the first such discovery in Veracruz. Mass graves have been found in the state for years.

Nor is it the most recent one discovered. Just a few days later, 47 more skulls were unearthed at a site farther south. The remains are thought to be the grisly work of organized-crime groups, which have fought for control of Veracruz for much of the last decade.

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US Prosecutors Oppose Easing Jail Conditions for El Chapo

3/22/2017 New York Times

elchapoU.S. prosecutors and lawyers for Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman are sparring over jail conditions that the lawyers claim are so stressful he’s hallucinating about music.

The claim was contained in a defense filing last week that asked U.S. District Judge Brian Cogan to order Guzman released from an ultra high-security wing of a Manhattan jail that’s housed alleged terrorists and mobsters, and be allowed in the general inmate population and receive more visitors.

The government fired back on Tuesday by arguing that the tough conditions — known as Special Administrative Measures — are appropriate for someone who escaped twice from prison in Mexico, including once through a mile-long tunnel dug to the shower in his cell. Prosecutors said that even while he was behind bars in Mexico, Guzman used coded messages, bribes and other means to control his Sinaloa cartel and orchestrate his breakouts.

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At Least 7 Killed in Drug Gang Shootouts in Northern Mexico

3/22/2017 New York Times

crime sceneMEXICO CITY — Mexican officials say at least seven people were killed in a series of shootouts between drug gangs in the northern border state of Chihuahua.

The state prosecutor’s office says the dead were found Monday at several points along highways west of the state capital.

The office says one of the dead has been identified by relatives as a local drug gang leader known as Cesar Gamboa Sosa. It says he had been implicated in drug trafficking and several homicides.

Seven deaths were linked to the shootouts. An eighth body found in the same area remains under investigation.

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