June 16, 2015
06/16/15 The Washington Post
MEXICO CITY–It started with 27 rail cars full of ammunition rolling down the tracks into Mexico.
That load of 30 million bullets was soon followed by fleets of Black Hawk helicopters and thousands of Humvees: in all more than $1 billion of American military equipment sold to Mexico within the past two years.
In a security relationship between Mexico and the United States often described as standoffish, foreign military sales have lately become a big exception. Admiral William E. Gortney, the commander of Northern Command, the U.S. military headquarters that deals with Mexico, testified to Congress earlier this year that Mexico’s buying binge represented a “100-fold increase from prior years.”
September 29, 2014
09/26/14 The Wall Street Journal
Mexico’s army has detained eight soldiers it says were involved in the June shooting deaths of 22 civilians in a remote town in the nation’s southwest. In a statement late Thursday, Mexico’s Defense Ministry said the seven soldiers and one officer were in a military prison, but gave no details as to what role they had allegedly played in the killings. The defense ministry said the men had been detained “for breaking military discipline.” The detentions came after reports earlier this month in the Spanish-language version of Esquire magazine and the Associated Press—both citing an unnamed woman claiming to be a witness—saying 21 of the dead had been killed after surrendering to the soldiers.
November 5, 2013
The New York Times, 11/05/2013
Mexico’s military has taken control of one of the nation’s biggest seaports as part of an effort to bring drug-cartel activity under control in the western state of Michoacan, officials said Monday.
Federal security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said soldiers are now responsible for policing duties in the city of Lazaro Cardenas as well as in the Pacific seaport of the same name. The port is a federal entity separate from the city.
July 8, 2013
Associated Press, 7/4/2013
A Mexican judge on Thursday ordered the release of five high-ranking army officials accused of aiding a drug cartel after federal prosecutors dropped organized crime charges against them citing a lack of evidence. It’s the latest drug trafficking case against military officers started during former President Felipe Calderon’s administration to fall apart.
Judge Raul Valerio Ramirez said he ordered the immediate release of Gen. Roberto Dawe, Gen. Ricardo Escorcia, Gen. Ruben Perez, Lt. Col Silvio Hernandez and Maj. Ivan Reyna from a maximum security prison in Mexico state where they have been held since their arrest last year. The officers were charged with protecting members of the Beltran Leyva cartel. Federal anti-drug prosecutor Rodrigo Archundia Barrientos dropped charges in the case after concluding that witness testimony was not enough to sustain the case, Valerio Ramirez said in a statement.
July 2, 2013
The Washington Post, 6/28/2013
The border security plan the Senate approved last week includes unusual language mandating the purchase of specific models of helicopters and radar equipment for deployment along the U.S.-Mexican border, providing a potential windfall worth tens of millions of dollars to top defense contractors.
The legislation would require the U.S. Border Patrol to acquire, among other items, six Northrop Grumman airborne radar systems that cost $9.3 million each, 15 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters that average more than $17 million apiece, and eight light enforcement helicopters made by American Eurocopter that sell for about $3 million each. The legislation also calls for 17 UH-1N helicopters made by Bell Helicopter, an older model that the company no longer manufactures.
June 24, 2013
From the day the first bullet was fired all the way until the day the flag was passed to the next administration, Calderón’s War failed to address the direct needs of Mexico’s population. The multibillion dollar market for illicit drugs in the United States continues to be fed by shipments from Latin America and other parts of the globe. Calderón’s mistake is that he adopted a unilateral response to an international problem and failed to take sufficient measures to adequately protect his own country’s population from the unintended side effects of his strategy. Given the scope and the magnitude of the underlying economic mechanisms which fuel the drug trade, other governments in the region, such as Costa Rica, are choosing to focus on protecting their own citizens and working to promote law and order by implementing effective community policing.
The central criticism of Calderón’s strategy is that he embraced a macro military solution and allowed troop movements to take precedence over effective local policing. The result has been six years of reputation-damaging violence, a re-organization of the structure of Mexico’s organized crime, and almost no disruption whatsoever of the connection between cocaine suppliers in Colombia and consumers in the United States. The drug trade is an international problem that requires an international solution. Crime and violence, on the other hand, are national and local problems that can be addressed by local policymakers.
May 22, 2013
Los Angeles Times, 5/21/2013
The Mexican government poured army troops — and high-level delegations — into western Mexico on Tuesday in a bid to take back control of a region long besieged by a deadly drug cartel. The operation in the Pacific state of Michoacan is the first major military deployment targeting drug traffickers to be ordered by the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto, which is still struggling to publicly define its security strategy six months after assuming leadership of this violent country.
Michoacan was probably chosen because it was fast spiraling into chaos. Parts of the state were awash in lawlessness, crippled by a cartel calling itself the Knights Templar, which in recent weeks blocked roads, torched businesses that refused to pay protection money and killed resisters. Entire villages were cut off, some reported to be desperately short on supplies. In response and feeling abandoned or ignored by authorities, groups of armed citizens attempted to fight back. But they often proved no match for the Knights Templar and were eager to see the army arrive.