Leader of Tijuana Drug Cartel Captured in Northern Mexico

Newsweek, 06/24/14

prisonMEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican soldiers have captured the leader of the Tijuana cartel in the northern border city, government officials said on Tuesday, in a fresh blow to the once powerful drug gang.

Luis Fernando Sanchez Arellano, known as ‘the engineer’, was arrested in an army raid on a house in Tijuana on Monday afternoon, shortly after Mexico qualified for the last 16 of the soccer World Cup by beating Croatia, the officials said.

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Juarez: The sequel

ciudad juarezThe Global Post, 11/1/2013

Thousands of matchbox houses once ranked among Earth’s deadliest patches through years of criminal war in Ciudad Juarez, an industrial and narcotics corridor bordering America’ssafest large city El Paso, Texas.

More than 10,000 people were murdered across the Mexican city of 1.3 million in less than five years. Many were young men gunned down on streets like these.

But the fever has broken. At fewer than two a day, murders citywide likely will finish the year at about a seventh (14 percent) of those three years ago.

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Tunnel for Smuggling Found Under U.S.-Mexico Border; Tons of Drugs Seized

mexicos-war-on-drugsThe New York Times, 11/1/2013

A deep tunnel snaking nearly 600 yards from Mexico under the border and into a San Diego warehouse is one of the most sophisticated underground drug smuggling passageways ever discovered, complete with electricity, ventilation and an electronic rail system, federal authorities said Thursday.

The tunnel, which was shut down Wednesday night after several weeks of surveillance, took about a year to build, the authorities said. Three people were taken into custody, and federal agents seized eight tons of marijuana and 325 pounds of cocaine they said was connected to the investigation.

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Mexico ‘clown’ gunmen kill ex-drug chief Arellano Felix

BBC News, 10/19/2013

gun - crime sceneThe authorities in Mexico have said gunmen dressed as clowns have shot dead a former leading member of a once-powerful and violent drug cartel. Francisco Rafael Arellano Felix, 63, was killed in a beach resort in Baja California in north-western Mexico. He and his brothers controlled the drug trade on Mexico’s border with the United States in the 1990s. But their Tijuana cartel was gradually weakened by the capture or killing of other leading members.

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In Mexico, Extortion Soars Amid Crackdown On Drugs

gun - crime sceneThe Huffington Post, 10/14/2013

When the threatening phone calls demanding $20,000 in protection money began in December, Dr. Roman Gomez Gaviria shrugged them off, believing his clinic on the outskirts of Mexico City couldn’t possibly be of interest to criminal gangs. A few months later, his sense of security was shattered when three armed men barged into his office screaming “Dr. Ramon, you bastard, where are you?”

“They tried to tackle me, to take me out of the clinic, when I saw that each one had a pistol tucked into his belt,” said Gaviria, recounting the ordeal. “They thought that, because I’m a doctor, I wasn’t going to resist.”

Such shakedown rackets have long targeted businesses in the most violent corners of Mexico. Now the practice is spreading. One anti-crime group estimates that kidnapping across the country has jumped by one-third so far this year compared to 2012. And as the extortion industry expands, it has drawn both experienced criminals and imitators.

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Mexico City Mulls Legal Marijuana Clubs

The Huffington Post, 9/6/2013

marijuana leafThe Mexico City council is considering the legalization of cannabis plants and the creation of private marijuana smoking “clubs” as it mulls controversial legislation to liberalize consumption, lawmakers said.

The capital hosted a three-day forum on drug policy amid a growing debate in Latin America over the course of the region’s deadly struggle against narcotrafficking, with President Enrique Pena Nieto taking a stance against legalization.

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Obama’s Mexico Visit: Not Just About the Drug War Anymore

obamaTIME, 4/30/13

When former Mexican President Felipe Calderón waged his war on drug cartels, the media were guaranteed a crime photo op every few weeks. Alleged gangsters were thrust before the press along with heaps of guns, money and narcotics. These narco-perp walks were often accompanied by videos in which heavy-breathing suspects confessed how they had committed hundreds of murders and smuggled tons of cocaine to American users. And the parades often coincided with top U.S. officials visiting Mexico and trumpeting how the two nations stood shoulder to shoulder in their joint fight against cartel crime.

However, it is unlikely that U.S. President Barack Obama will be shown any such displays when he visits Mexico this Thursday. Since President Enrique Peña Nieto took power in December, the parades have stopped as part of an overhaul in the government’s security strategy. (Human-rights defenders also decried these staged pantomimes of justice.) Peña Nieto has shifted focus from fighting cartels to modernizing the economy and has encouraged media outlets to dedicate less coverage to decapitations and shoot-outs. In the run-up to Obama’s visit, both governments have emphasized trade and immigration reform over the battle with the cocaine kings. “The Peña Nieto administration has made it clear it wants to reduce the emphasis on violence and wants to talk about other things such as its reform agenda,” says security analyst Alejandro Hope, a former official of Mexico’s intelligence agency, CISEN. “It wants to change the conversation.”

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