Mexico cartel dominates, torches western state

Photo: Brian Griffin Associated Press, 5/22/2013

The farm state of Michoacan is burning. A drug cartel that takes its name from an ancient monastic order has set fire to lumber yards, packing plants and passenger buses in a medieval-like reign of terror. The Knights Templar cartel is extorting protection payments from cattlemen, lime growers and businesses such as butchers, prompting some communities to fight back, taking up arms in vigilante patrols.

Lime picker Alejandro Ayala chose to seek help from the law instead. After the cartel forced him out of work by shutting down fruit warehouses, he and several dozen co-workers, escorted by Federal Police, met on April 10 with then-state Interior Secretary Jesus Reyna, now the acting governor of the state in western Mexico. The 41-year-old father of two only wanted to get back to work, said his wife, Martha Elena Murguia Morales.

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Mexico’s Self-Defense Squads Refuse To Disarm Despite Army Presence In Michoacan

m16 gun closeupAgence France Presse, 5/23/2013

Farmers wearing bulletproof vests and toting assault rifles ride in pick-up trucks emblazoned with the word “self-defense” to protect this rural Mexican town from a drug cartel. The government deployed thousands of troops to the western state of Michoacan this week, but in some towns like Coalcoman, population 10,000, vigilantes are wary of putting down their weapons until they feel safe again. “We won’t drop our guard until we see results,” Antonio Rodriguez, a 37-year-old avocado grower and member of the community force, told AFP.

Authorities detained four members of a self-defense group in another town called Buenavista on Wednesday, angering about 200 residents, some wielding sticks, who surrounded some 20 soldiers to demand their release. The situation was defused about five hours later, when two of the detainees were released, according to an interior ministry source. Local media reported that all four had been released. Interior Minister Miguel Angelo Osorio Chong said earlier that the soldiers were merely having a “dialogue” with the residents to resolve the dispute, but he insisted that the authorities would disarm and detain anyone with a weapon.

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Mexico to send in more troops in drug war

San Francisco Chronicle, 11/25/2010

Mexico will send more troops and federal police to fight drug violence that has spiraled out of control this year in northeastern Mexico along the U.S. border, the federal government said Wednesday.

The goal of Coordinated Northeast Operation is to reinforce government authority in the two states most heavily affected by fighting set off earlier this year by a split between the Gulf and Zetas drug gangs, federal police spokesman Alejandro Poire said.

The new effort also will to keep the cartels from regrouping after the takedown of key leaders, he said.

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Senators take their concerns to the border

Los Angeles Times, 3/31/2009

The United States does not need to send troops to the border in response to Mexico’s drug war, nor is Mexico in danger of becoming a failed state, law enforcement officials told a congressional panel Monday.

Witnesses testifying before members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in El Paso urged the lawmakers to bolster law enforcement in the region, increase aid to Mexico and push to reform institutions whose weaknesses had been exposed by the struggle with drug trafficking gangs.

Experts and members of Congress likewise said Mexico had not become a failed state despite corruption and intimidation that had weakened local control in some areas.

“Cartels are primarily interested in fighting each other,” not in challenging for political control, Howard Campbell, an anthropologist at the University of Texas, El Paso, where the session was held, told senators.

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Mexico troops enter drug war city

cuidad-juarezBBC News, 3/4/2009

Soldiers moved into Ciudad Juarez to try to regain control of a city in which more than 2,000 people have been murdered over the past year. Officials say they intend to have 7,000 troops and police in position by the end of the week. Rival gangs are battling for control of the city, which is a key entry point for drug smuggling into the US.

Last month, the police chief in Ciudad Juarez, Roberto Orduna, stepped down after drugs gangs threatened to kill at least one police officer every two days until he quit.

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Guatemala deploys troops to the border (in Spanish)

El Universal, 12/17/2008

Hundreds of Guatemalan soldiers and police were deployed to the area by the Mexican border, in search of arms and drugs, at the same time as Mexican troops in military region 7 (which covers the Mexican states of Chiapas and Tabasco) were patrolling in search of cartel members that participated in an attack on November 30.

Guatemalan personnel were searching in at least 10 tracts located by the Mexican border as part of the Operación Agua Zarca. Drug traffickers from both countries attacked each other in this zone at the end of last month, leaving a death toll of 17.”

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