Is the Godfather of Mexico’s Drug Trade Back in Business?

07/25/16 InSight Crime 

5582822219_182abf7ec5_oThe founder of Mexico‘s notorious and now defunct Guadalajara Cartel, Rafael Caro Quintero, has been linked to two recent events that have raised alarm among authorities three years after a controversial court ruling freed the veteran drug lord and current fugitive from prison.

Caro Quintero, now in his mid-60s, has been dubbed the “narco of narcos” and the godfather of Mexico drug trafficking. After establishing himself as one of the country’s most powerful drug lords in the 1980s, he was imprisoned in 1989 for drug trafficking, murder, and perhaps most importantly, for the abduction, torture and killing of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, an agent for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Read more…

Violence is rising in Mexico’s heroin capital, and it’s a sign of how ugly the fight against crime has gotten

08/07/16 Business Insider 

guerreroHomicides in Mexico hit a four-year high  in May, reaching 1,746, the most in a month so far during President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term and the most since September 2012.

While Mexico has felt the rising violence, some areas have been beset by more intense bloodshed.

Guerrero, the southwest state regarded as the capital of Mexico’s heroin trade, recorded the second-highest number of homicides in the country through May this year, and the state’s 163 organized-crime-related homicides in June were almost double what was recorded in other high-homicide states.

Read more…

Mexico judge grants El Chapo temporary stay of extradition to US

06/28/16 The Guardian

elchapoA judge in Mexico has granted a temporary stay of extradition for the Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán until arguments can be heard on two appeals filed by his lawyers.

Guzmán’s lawyer, José Refugio Rodriguez, said one of the appeals argued that the statute of limitations has run out on some crimes Guzmán is accused of in the United States. The defense also argues that some of the accusations against Guzman are based on hearsay, not direct evidence.

Rodriguez said the appeals were filed late Monday in courts in Mexico City.

Read more…

U.S. transfers imprisoned drug lord Hector ‘El Guero’ Palma to Mexican custody

06/15/2016 Los Angeles Times

detentionHector “El Guero” Palma, once among Mexico’s most notorious drug lords, was returned to Mexico on Wednesday by U.S. authorities and immediately arrested on homicide charges, Mexican authorities said.

His prompt detention averted for now the prospect of Palma going free in Mexico, an outcome that Mexican authorities were keen to avoid.

Palma, a former accomplice of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel, had served almost a decade in U.S. custody on drug-related charges after being extradited to the United States in 2007.

Read more…

US to turn drug cartel founder over to Mexico

6/9/2016  The Washington Post 

MEXICO CITY — The U.S. Embassy in Mexico says Sinaloa cartel co-founder Hector “El Guero” Palma will be turned over to Mexican authorities after his release from a U.S. prison.

The U.S. bureau of prisons says Palma will be released Saturday. Palma served five years in a Mexican prison before being extradited to the United States, where he was sentenced to 16 years for transporting 50 kilograms of cocaine.

It is unclear whether Palma still faces any charges in Mexico.

Attorney General Arely Gomez says prosecutors are looking through files for any remaining criminal cases. She said that in some cases the statute of limitations has expired.

Read more…

Zetas drug gang ‘used Mexico prison as extermination camp to kidnap and kill 150’

6/9/2016 The Telegraph

Coahuila_en_México.svgMembers of the Zetas drug gang used a prison in northern Mexico as their private house of horrors where they tortured and killed kidnapping victims and underworld enemies, public prosecutors in the state of Coahuila have said.

Between 2009 and 2012, Piedras Negras prison became a virtual extermination camp, ruled with impunity by the notorious crime cartel as an operational base for their reign of terror in the US-Mexican border region.

After an investigation into the three-year period, authorities estimate that around 150 people were murdered inside the prison, with their bodies being burnt or broken down in acid-filled tanks before the remains were disposed of in a river some 20 miles away from the jail.

It is not clear to what extent the prison’s official guards actively cooperated with gang members or whether they merely allowed them to act with impunity in exchange for keeping order among inmates.

Read more…

Ballots and Bullets in the Heat of Mexico’s Drug War

6/1/2016 Foreign Policy

SONY DSC

REYNOSA, Mexico — A Mexican Navy helicopter pursues two SUVs carrying armed suspects through the outskirts of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas. Schools and local businesses are placed on lockdown as marines arrive to secure the area. Finally cornered in a public plaza, the eight suspects abandon their vehicles and take aim at the chopper with automatic weapons. The marines aboard quickly return fire, killing eight gunmen.

Such a dramatic showdown would make headlines almost anywhere else in Mexico, yet in Tamaulipas state, which lies across from southeast Texas on the country’s oil-rich Gulf Coast, it was just another April afternoon. The Tamaulipas Coordination Group, a joint security body composed of local and federal forces, released a single official statement to confirm the incident took place. In recent years, Tamaulipas has earned a bloody reputation as one of Mexico’s deadliest and most politically opaque states, where information regarding law enforcement and military operations is closely guarded and the media is cowed by threats from organized crime.

Read more…