Texas Murder Trial to Shed Light on Mexican Drug Cartels

4/24/2016 The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Guerrero Chapa had just finished shopping for shoes with his wife, but moments later the 43-year-old Mexican lawyer was dead, struck by multiple shots from a 9-millimeter pistol. The gunman and an accomplice drove away, the brief early evening encounter caught on a surveillance camera.

The 2013 slaying stunned this upscale North Texas city of 29,000, which hadn’t seen a murder since 1999. But that wasn’t all: the man killed was allegedly a prominent member of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel drug trafficking organization, according to U.S. federal officials. His assassination brought that country’s drug war to the doorsteps of the serene American neighborhood where the Guerrero Chapas lived.

[…]”Spillover violence…is not widespread,” said Christopher Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Based on 2014 FBI crime data, Mr. Wilson calculated that the murder rate in U.S. border states with Mexico was 4.4 per 100,000 residents, less than the national average of 4.5 per 100,000 residents.

Read the full article here.

The Missing Forty-Three: The Mexican Government Sabotages Its Own Independent Investigation

4/22/16 The New Yorker

Oaxaca por Ayotzinapa

The official scenario, according to the Mexican government, of what befell the forty-three students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Normal School, in Ayotzinapa, in Guerrero state, on the night and morning of September 26 and 27, 2014, is generally referred to as the “historical truth.” Say those words anywhere in Mexico, and people know what you mean. The phrase comes from a press conference held in January, 2015, when the head of the government’s Procuraduría General de la República (P.G.R.) at the time, Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam, announced that the forty-three students had been incinerated at a trash dump near the town of Cocula by members of the Guerreros Unidos drug-trafficking gang, after being turned over to them by members of the Iguala municipal police. This, he declared, was the “historical truth.”

As had already been widely reported, the forty-three students were among a larger group of militantly leftist students who, that night in Iguala, had commandeered buses to transport themselves to an upcoming protest in Mexico City. They’d driven from Ayotzinapa that afternoon in two buses they’d previously taken, and then, the government said, they took two more from Iguala’s bus station. Three other people were killed in initial clashes with the police, and most likely with other forces, in Iguala that night; many more were injured. According to Murillo Karam, the “historical truth” was partly drawn from the confessions of detained police and drug-gang members, including some who admitted that they had participated in the massacre of the students at the Cocula dump, and claimed to have tended the fire and disposed of the remains afterward. Some of those remains had allegedly been deposited by gang members in a nearby creek. Nineteen severely charred bone fragments had been sent to a highly specialized lab in Innsbruck, Austria, which had yielded one positive DNA identification, of a student named Alexander Mora Venancio. That identification seemed to support the P.G.R.’s story that the students had been killed at the dump.

Read more… 

Mexico’s president says he is open to legalizing medical marijuana

4/19/16 Reuters

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto and first lady Angelica Rivera salute during the military parade celebrating Independence Day at the Zocalo square in downtown Mexico CityMexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Tuesday he is open to the legalization of medical marijuana in Mexico and that his government would announce new measures in the coming days.

“I am giving voice to those who have (in public forums) expressed the necessity of changing the regulatory framework to authorize the use of marijuana for medical and scientific purposes,” Pena Nieto said in a speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Speaking at a special session where world leaders gathered to rethink global strategy in the war on drugs for the first time in two decades, Pena Nieto said drug use should be addressed as a “public health problem” and users should not be criminalized.

Pena Nieto, who has traditionally been a vocal opponent of drug legalization, also called for a global shift in dealing with drug consumption while continuing to fight organized crime.

“We should be flexible to change that which has not yielded results, the paradigm based essentially in prohibitionism, the so-called ‘War on Drugs’ … (which) has not been able to limit production, trafficking nor the global consumption of drugs,” he said.

Read more…

Missing Mexico students: Police involvement possible

4/15/2016 Al Jazeera

16351122146_4433fe03f6_mFederal police may have been involved in the abduction and murder of 43 students in Guerrero state two years ago, Mexico has said for the first time.

The admission comes after its national human rights commission found a witness who came forward with evidence.

The witness reported that two federal police and a third municipal police force were present when the students were taken off a bus and may have even participated in their disappearance, Jose Larrieta Carrasco, the commission member leading the case, said.

Thursday’s announcement added a new twist to a probe that has come under fire from international human rights groups and independent investigators.

Mexico federal police ‘saw Iguala students being taken away’

4/14/2016 BBC

15425770747_dd7a4b3a8f_mAn unidentified witness said the federal officers were present when 15 to 20 youths were taken off a bus and led away, the commission said.

Local police told them they were taking the students away for “the boss” to decide their fate, the commission said.

The government says corrupt local police handed them to a drugs cartel.

The criminals then killed the students and incinerated their bodies, the government says.

Read more…

Los Porkys: The Sexual-Assault Case That’s Shaking Mexico

4/14/2016 The New Yorker

2000px-Veracruz_en_México.svgFor several centuries, the port city of Veracruz, located in the Mexican state of the same name, was known for its carnival. Now, though, it’s known for corruption and terror. The state has become territory for the fearsome Zeta drug cartel. According to a study by Mexico’s bureau of statistics, eight out of ten people in the state say they live in fear. At least fifteen journalists have been killed in Veracruz since 2011. During the same period, hundreds of other people have vanished. Father Alejandro Solalinde, one of Mexico’s leading human-rights advocates, has called Veracruz “a factory of forced disappearances.” To many citizens, there is little difference between the rich and the government, and between the government and the criminals.

In this climate, most people don’t come forward when crimes are committed. In fact, in 2014, only one in ten was reported to local authorities, according to Mexico’s National Institute of Statistics and Geography, also known as INEGI, after its Spanish-language acronym. But in recent weeks, a man named Javier Fernández, whose daughter Daphne Fernández has accused a group of well-to-do young men of sexually assaulting her, seems to have sparked a mini revolt against the status quo. (Her name has been published in numerous Mexican media outlets and she gave us permission to use it here.) In seeking vengeance and denouncing the authorities for their handling of the case, Fernández has turned the story into a national outrage.

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There’s a terrifying reason people stay inside at 5:45 p.m. in parts of Mexico

 

4/13/2016 Business Insider

AerialViewMexicoCityBesides their ostentatious displays of wealth, the activity that has earned Mexican drug cartels the most notoriety is the immense bloodshed they’ve caused throughout Mexico.

On first glance, the bloodletting cartels engage in — against each other and against law enforcement and civilians — is just a cost of business, necessary to ensure the cartels’ ability to operate.

Over time, however, the cartels have turned killing into a means to build their reputation, playing on the public’s fear and fascination with violence — and on the media’s desperation for compelling content.

Read more….