Mexico arrests three Yemeni men sought by the United States

5/25/2017 Reuters

handcuffsThree men from Yemen, wanted by U.S. law enforcement, were arrested in Mexico City this week, at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a spokesman for Mexico’s National Security Commission said on Thursday.

The three men, who were in Mexico without proper migration documents, were still being held in Mexico City, the spokesman said. A U.S. law enforcement source in Mexico City said U.S. Marshals were involved in the detention of the men.

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Mexican Journalists Caught in Crossfire of Rival Cartels

5/25/2017 New York Times

journalist-armando-rodriguez-murderMEXICO CITY — Just as each batch of the weekly newspapers was dropped off at newsstands around Culiacan men quickly bought them up as they followed the delivery trucks along their routes.

It occurred twice during one week in February, first with Riodoce, a paper known for its investigations into the dark corners of Sinaloa state’s criminal underworld, and two days later with the upstart La Pared (The Wall). Both papers carried cover story interviews with a drug lord. The men politely scooping up the papers after paying for them allegedly worked for the drug lord’s rivals.

La Pared has since closed shop. Riodoce’s editors continue fighting, though more carefully in the belief that the incident foretold the May 15 murder of the paper’s co-founder Javier Valdez.

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US Announces Sanctions on Alleged Mexican Heroin Trafficker

5/24/2017 New York Times

heroin_powderMEXICO CITY — The U.S. government is imposing sanctions on alleged Mexican drug traffickers described by the Treasury Department as “major contributors to our nation’s heroin epidemic.”

The Treasury Department says the sanctions target Jose Luis Ruelas Torres and 10 members of his family-based Ruelas Torres organization. It calls the gang “an independent opium and heroin production and distribution organization that smuggles multi-kilogram heroin quantities into the United States.”

The sanctions announced Wednesday freeze any assets held by those on the list that are under U.S. jurisdiction and bar Americans from entering into transactions with them.

The gang allegedly has shipped heroin from Sinaloa state to cities ranging from Los Angeles to New York for “well over two decades.” Those cities include Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque, Sacramento, Milwaukee, Columbus and Detroit.

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Mexican authorities urged to boost security after indigenous activists killed

5/25/2017 Reuters

mexican-securityNational, state and local officials warned the Mexican government of increasing violence and the need for extra security in the state of Jalisco, where two indigenous brothers were shot dead last week.

The double homicide of the brothers, both members of the Huichol tribe and leaders in a battle for restitution of indigenous land from local ranchers, comes amid a resurgence in violence from drug cartels and follows a spate of killings of journalists and activists this year..

One of the dead men, Miguel Vázquez, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation last October tensions over a century-old land dispute and the growing presence of drug cartels had been a serious concern for some time.

His brother Agustin died in hospital after armed men shot him on Saturday evening, while Miguel was gunned down as he was leaving the hospital that night.

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US Bank Admits Criminal Failure to Stop Money Laundering to Mexico

5/23/2017 InSight Crime

banamexA subsidiary of one of the largest banking corporations in the United States has admitted to engaging in criminal behavior by failing to properly investigate tens of millions of dollars in suspicious money transfers to Mexico, highlighting the important role US financial institutions play in laundering money for Latin American criminal organizations.

Banamex USA, a subsidiary of the US banking conglomerate Citigroup, accepted responsibility for “criminal violations by willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program … and willfully failing to file Suspicious Activity Reports,” according to a May 22 press release from the US Department of Justice.

In exchange for cooperating with the government’s investigation, paying a $97 million fine and admitting wrongdoing, the bank will not be formally prosecuted for breaking the law.

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Crime Groups Control 65 Percent of State Prisons in Mexico: Report

5/23/2017 InSight Crime

prison cell blockOrganized crime groups control 65 percent of state prisons in Mexico, according to a government report about prison conditions in the country published this week. The figure reaffirms the poor conditions of Mexican prisons, which have long been plagued by corruption, escapes by top criminal suspects, and the participation of prison officials in various crimes.

A video made public in early May serves as the most recent example of the lack of control prison authorities have in Mexico.

The recording shows a party held in Puente Grande, one of the country’s maximum-security prisons. Various members of the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation (Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación – CJNG) are shown celebrating José Luis Gutierrez Valencia, alias “Don Chelo,” who is suspected to control the penitentiary. Tellingly, there is no discernible presence of security officials in the video.

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ARTICLE | Mexico and the U.S. Agree on a Vision for Fighting Drugs

5/23/2017 The Mexico Institute

34353446110_c9b4d9c552_z.jpgMexico and the United States appear to have reached broad agreement on a framework for fighting the organized criminal groups that are responsible for much of the drug trade in the two countries. May 18 meetings between the lead ministers for each government seem to have yielded consensus to take a “fresh” approach to a set of challenges that have vexed both neighbors for decades. The U.S. is facing an epidemic of opioid overdose deaths fueled increasingly by drugs smuggled from Mexico, and Mexico is facing a new surge in violent homicides fueled by criminal groups, many involved in drug smuggling to the U.S.  The task ahead is to turn this broad agreement among government ministers into a coherent set of policies and protocols that—if implemented well—will produce improved results against the drug cartels, their production, distribution, financing and arms networks, and the violence which they generate (especially in Mexico), along with improved programs aimed at addressing U.S. demand for drugs. These are big tasks, but the agreement on the analysis of the problem and on a vision for cooperation between the foreign and homeland security cabinet members from both countries is an encouraging step ahead for these two key North American neighbors.

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