Slain Lawyer for Mexican Drug Cartel Apparently Was U.S. Informant

4/26/16 Wall Street Journal

mexican drugsFORT WORTH, Texas—A lawyer for a powerful Mexican drug cartel was cooperating with law enforcement and allowed to live legally in the U.S. before being gunned down in a posh Dallas suburb, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The revelation that Juan Jesús Guerrero Chapa, a prominent member of the so-called Gulf Cartel, worked as an informant before his killing in 2013 came during opening statements in a closely watched murder trial federal court here. Mr. Guerrero Chapa’s role was earlier reported by the Dallas Morning News.

Two men, Jesús Gerardo Ledezma-Cepeda, 59, and his cousin,  José Luis Cepeda-Cortés, 60, are accused of stalking Mr. Guerrero Chapa and arranging his killing by hit men outside a shopping center in the small city of Southlake. The slaying shocked North Texas.

According to a defense lawyer for one of the defendants, the hit men were from a rival cartel. Both defendants pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit murder for hire and interstate stalking, which could lead to life in prison.

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Parents lead protest of probe into missing 43 students in Mexico

4/27/16 Reuters

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Thousands of protesters gathered in Mexico City on Tuesday, angered by the government’s handling of an investigation into 43 students who apparently were massacred in 2014 and the government’s alleged treatment of international experts who have cast doubt on the official account.

The case of the 43 trainee teachers, who were abducted in September 2014 in the violent southwestern state of Guerrero, has tarnished the reputation of President Enrique Pena Nieto and highlighted the scale of human rights abuses in Mexico.

The parents and relatives of the abducted students led what appeared to be more than 2,000 protesters along the main thoroughfare of the Mexican capital, Paseo de la Reforma, carrying small torches along with large black and white photographs of the missing students.

Blanca Luz, the mother of one of the 43, said she wants to meet with Pena Nieto to discuss the investigation, a request frequently echoed by the parents.

“My heart can’t take anymore,” she said, standing near the main building of Mexico’s attorney general’s office. “I want my son back by my side.”

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

4/22/16 The New Yorker

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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.

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Mexico: Arrest Warrants for 5 Agents in Torture Video Case

4/20/16 ABC News

15425770747_dd7a4b3a8f_mAuthorities issued arrest warrants for five security agents in connection with the torture of a young woman that was caught on video, Mexican federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

The Attorney General’s Office said the warrants target three Federal Police officers, two of whom were taken into custody the same day, and two soldiers who were to be served at a military prison where they were already being held. The third police officer had not yet been detained.

The Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that the five are suspected of torture committed against the woman after she was detained Feb. 4, 2015, in Ajuchitlan del Progreso, in the troubled southern state of Guerrero.

The warrants came from a civil court judge in the city of Iguala.

The video circulated on social and traditional media in recent days and prompted both widespread condemnation and apologies from Mexico’s defense minister and national security commissioner.

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State Department Prohibits U.S. Diplomats From Traveling To Acapulco Due To Increased Violence

4/19/16 Forbes

Acapulco LA QUEBRADA

The U.S. Department of State toughened its travel alert for Acapulco, a port in the Mexican Pacific coast state of Guerrero which the agency said has been Mexico’s most violent city for the past three years.

The new warning, which was issued Friday and replaces the one from January 19, 2016, prohibits U.S. Government personnel from traveling to the state of Guerrero, including Acapulco, a major tourist destination.

The only exception to the new travel rule for Guerrero is Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, a tourist resort 152 miles northwest of Acapulco, where American diplomats nevertheless are advised to exercise caution and remain in tourist areas.

While the  travel warning for parts of Guerrero, one of Mexico’s poorest states, has been in effect for several years, this is the first time Acapulco—not long ago a favorite destination for celebrities, foreign leaders and American honeymooners–has been included in the ban.

In a statement Friday, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged the legal requirements of the U.S. and other countries to issue travel warnings.  In 2015, a total of 20 million Americans visited Mexico via all forms of transport, of this  8.4 million American tourists traveled to Mexico by plane, a 17% increase over 2014, the Foreign Ministry said.

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Torture of ordinary Mexicans may be shocking, but it’s not surprising Daniel Peña

4/19/16 The Guardian

Mezcala_(or_Balsas)_River_in_Guerrero,_MexicoThe now-infamous video of Mexican soldiers helping a federal police officer torture and interrogate a female suspect in Ajuchitlán del Progreso, Guerrero, this past February seems to be another confirmation that there are two classes of Mexicans. There are those who are exempt from consequences (politicians and the wealthy, including Mexico’s military elite) who operate with impunity in Mexico. And then there are the rest of us, regularly policed by force with the active participation of Mexico’s military and federal police in intimidation tactics and the violation of human rights.

The world might rightly be shocked by the way the woman in the video was asphyxiated with plastic bags, by the way she screamed as the muzzle of a gun was pressed to her skull, but every Mexican knows that this single story of torture is part of a pattern.

Just last week, Mexico’s Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos confirmedthe involvement of two Mexican federal police in the disappearance of the 43 students in Ayotzinapa. In the 2014 Tlatlaya massacre, Mexican soldiers were allegedly ordered by senior officers to murder 22 civilians who had already surrendered to Mexican forces. Also that year, National Autonomous University of Mexico student and poet Sandino Bucio was arrested by plainclothes federal police, presumably for having participated in the 20 November march in Mexico City in support of the then recently disappeared Ayotzinapa students.

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Mexico governor floats idea of medical opium growing to reduce drug violence

3/15/16 Reuters

Afghanistan_16A senior Mexican official has said legalizing cultivation of opium poppies for medicinal purposes might help reduce violence in one of the regions most affected by brutal drug gangs that have ravaged the country for years.

Hector Astudillo, governor of Guerrero, one of the most violent states in Mexico, told Milenio television it was worth at least exploring the possibility of allowing cultivation.

“Let’s do some sort of pilot scheme,” Astudillo, a member of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, told Milenio in an interview recorded last week but broadcast on Monday.

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