Mexican Drug Kingpin, El Chapo, Escapes Prison Through Tunnel

07/13/15 The New York Times

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán

Shortly before 9 p.m. on Saturday, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, the Mexican drug kingpin whose capture last year had been trumpeted by his country’s government as a crucial victory in its bloody campaign against the narcotics trade, stepped into the shower in his cell in the most secure wing of the most secure prison in Mexico.

He never came out.

When guards later entered the cell, they discovered a 2-by-2-foot hole, through which Mr. Guzmán, known as El Chapo, or Shorty, had disappeared.

The prison break humiliated the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, which had proclaimed the arrest of Mr. Guzmán and leaders of other drug cartels as crucial achievements in restoring order and sovereignty to a country long beleaguered by the horrific violence associated with organized crime.

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Op-ed: Use Brains, not Brawn, to Handle Migrant Crisis

By Christopher Wilson and Eric L. Olson

The Hill, 7/14/14

FBchildren-northern-mexico-credit-kelly-donlan2The huge wave of families and unaccompanied children arriving in South Texas from Central America has ignited a debate on how to best dissuade the influx.

Many have proposed managing the problem at the border by beefing up the Border Patrol with more agents. Some have even called for the National Guard to be sent in as a stopgap measure. A case could be made for modest staffing increases to the Border Patrol in the Rio Grande Valley, where the number of overall unauthorized migrant apprehensions has more than doubled since 2011, but it is important to note that adding more boots on the ground would do little or nothing to stem the flow of children across the border.  The real solutions lie in addressing the push factors in the source countries.

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Mexico’s Drug War Made Crisis Worse, Pena Nieto Administration Says

Fox News Latino, 12/19/2012

While the approach was praised by some, it’s a far cry from the 80,000-member  corps he promoted on the campaign trail, said Eric Olson, a México analyst at  the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“It reflects that reality is setting in that they don’t have people sitting  idly to join these forces,” he added.

Despite his promises of reform, some human rights experts worry that Peña  Nieto has not been transparent enough with his plans and needs to reveal more  details of his new strategy

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Mexico’s Drug War Takes New Direction

Wall Street Journal, 12/17/2012

Olson_EricEric Olson, a Mexico analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington-based think tank, said Mr. Peña Nieto’s emphasis on building Mexico’s institutions over battling drugs could cause concern among U.S. lawmakers who still see stopping the flow of drugs as a primary objective for Mexico. However, he said many policy makers are coming around to Mr. Peña Nieto’s diversified approach.

“It’s not bad idea and frankly more realistic,” he said.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Monday that it was natural for Mr. Peña Nieto, as an incoming president, to revise security plans.

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Mexico Says Prints Identified Zetas Boss Before Body Disappeared

Bloomberg, 10/9/12

Mexican authorities said fingerprints confirmed that a suspect killed in a gun battle two days ago was the top leader of the Zetas cartel before his corpse was stolen from a funeral home by armed commandos…

“It’s a very bizarre situation, so it will raise questions in some people’s minds about what really happened,” said Eric Olson, associate director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. While a significant blow for the Zetas, Lazcano’s death may lead to more violence in the short-term as the remnants of the group “fight for their own survival and control,” he said.

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Costa Rica: Narco-families emerge as traffickers [in Spanish]

Infosurhoy, 9/21/12

Out of the 619 groups distributing drugs in Costa Rica 27.5% of them are made up of families in which all generations distribute drugs.

According to Eric L. Olson, Assistant Director of the Mexico Institutue at the Woodrow Wilson Center, this is similar to what happened in Mexico, for example with the Arellano-Felix and Beltran-Leyva Organizations.  Olson says that he thinks that this is because people are loyal to family and trust them.

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U.S. Shifts Mexico Drug Fight

The Wall Street Journal, 9/17/12

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets her Mexican counterparts at a security summit in Washington Tuesday to discuss the next phase in the drug war: how to train the judges and prosecutors that will be trying suspected drug lords.

The Merida Initiative, the U.S.’s $1.9 billion assistance program to Mexico, began mostly as a means to buy military hardware like Black Hawk helicopters for Mexico. But over the past two years, it has entered a new phase, in which purchases for the Mexican military are taking a back seat to measures to mend the branches of Mexico’s civilian government…

Despite the collaboration, one reality can’t be avoided when the leaders meet Tuesday: Mexico still has a long way to go in this second phase of the drug war.

Eric L. Olson, a Mexico expert at Washington think-tank the Wilson Center went to an oral trial in Morelos, one of the first adopters of the new system, and says the hearings reached an awkward moment where a judge was scolding the attorneys for wanting to read from sheets rather than argue properly.

Mr. Olson says the proceedings were a step in the right direction, even if there are missteps. Still, he says: “Both sides have always had difficulty defining what the criteria for success are,” he says. “That has not happened yet.”

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