Les anglonautes

About | Search | Vocapedia | Learning | News podcasts | Videos | History | Arts | Science | Translate and listen

 Previous Home Up Next


Vocapedia > Drugs > Mexico > Cartels > War on drugs



 warning: graphic / disturbing
























A body lies

on a stainless steel table waiting for an autopsy

at the morgue in Tijuana, Mexico,

Monday, Jan. 19, 2009.


Photograph: Guillermo Arias



Boston Globe > Big Picture

Mexico's drug war    25 March 2009

http://archive.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/03/mexicos_drug_war.html - broken link



















The corpses of a woman and her granddaughter

lie on the floor after being shot by gunmen

in Acapulco March 15, 2011.


Another granddaughter

was also killed in the assault.


Photograph: Pedro Pardo

AFP/Getty Images


Boston Globe > Big Picture

Mexico's Drug War        8 April 2011



















Military and forensic experts

inspect the body of a man who was killed

outside a nightclub

in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

on August 31, 2009.


A man was handcuffed to a fence

and shot several times

by drug hitmen outside a nightclub,

according to local media.


The assailants also left a warning message,

known as "narco mensaje",

at the site of the shooting.


Photograph: REUTERS/Alejandro Bringas


Boston Globe > Big Picture

2009 in photos (part 1 of 3)

December 14, 2009



















The body of an unidentified man hangs from his neck

under a bridge on the old Rosarito highway

as authorities stand by

in Tijuana, Mexico, Friday, Oct. 9, 2009.


Authorities found the dead man beaten, naked and castrated,

and have not identified him but believe he is Rogelio Sanchez,

a Baja California state government official

who went missing this week.


No suspects were named.


Photograph: Guillermo Arias



Boston Globe > Big Picture

2009 UN World Drug report        October 21, 2009


















The severed head of an unidentified man

lies on the hood of a car

as police work the crime scene

on the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009.


According to police,

the rest of the victim's body was found in the trunk.


Photograph: Reymundo Ruiz



Boston Globe > Big Picture

2009 UN World Drug report        October 21, 2009































































































































What It's Like to Grow Up in the Narco Zone

NYT    21 December 2018





What It's Like to Grow Up in the Narco Zone

Video        Op-Docs        The New York Times        21 December 2018


This week we continue with “A Moment in Mexico,”

our special series of six Op-Docs by Mexican directors.


The second film in the series

is Everardo González’s haunting “Children of the Narco Zone,”

which is a companion piece to his stunning feature documentary,

“La Libertad del Diablo” (or “Devil’s Freedom”).


















Mexico, USA > drug kingpin / drug lord / cartel boss / cartel chief        UK / USA





mexico-drug-cartels-cienfuegos-case-dea - December 8, 2022

































































mexico-drug-cartels-cienfuegos-case-dea - December 8, 2022








drug clan








drug gang














Mexican states > Jalisco > New generation cartel        UK / USA









drug feud






gun battle






Mexico > drug-gang shootout        UK












drug smuggler
















drug violence






drug raid        UK / USA







smuggling ring
















Tijuana > tunnels

























Mexico > Mexico drug war  / Mexico's Drug War / Mexico's war on drugs /

drug-related violence in Mexico / Mexican drug war        UK / USA


























































Mexico's failing war on drugs        UK










Boston Globe > Big Picture

Mexico's drug war        8 April 2011










Mexico drug war:

the new killing fields        3 September 2010        UK


In the first of a three-part investigation,

Rory Carroll reports

from the gateway to America,

at the centre of drug cartel violence

that has claimed 28,000 lives










Mexico's drug wars: interactive map        2010        UK


Soon after taking office

in December 2006,

President Felipe Calderón

launched a military offensive

against Mexico's drug cartels.


Between then

and the end of July 2010,

28,353 people were killed

in fighting between state forces

and the traffickers,

and in turf battles

between rival criminal groups










Mexico > war on drugs        UK / USA












Mexico > Mexican drug cartels        UK / USA









mexico-drug-cartels-cienfuegos-case-dea - December 8, 2022




























watch?v=jsOHr0aBIvU - NYT - Dec. 21, 2018




























































Mexico's "Zetas" drug cartel        UK / USA






















cartels > narconomics        USA










Juárez Cartel        USA










Gulf cartel        USA










Mexican drug trafficking (Mexico's drug war)        USA










drug trafficker












mass kidnappings


















Karla Johnson looks at the border between the U.S. and Mexico

near El- Paso and the Mexican city of Juarez April 6, 2009.


Photograph: Nadav Neuhaus


Boston Globe > Big Picture

Mexico's Drug War

8 April 2011
















Nuevo Laredo:

the border town

on the frontline of the drugs trade        UK


The US-Mexico border

runs for nearly 2,000 miles.


Last year

Observer writer Ed Vulliam

travelled its entire length.


In this extract from his new book, Amexica,

he tells the incredible story of the town

that doubles as the world's

largest transport hub for narcotics -

UK    September 2010

nuevo-laredo-mexico-usa-drugs - broken link










cartel hitmen





Mexico's missing        USA






Mexico, USA > mass grave        UK / USA








organized crime        USA
















Merida Initiative:

Proposed U.S. Anticrime

and Counterdrug Assistance

for Mexico and Central America


Colleen W. Cook, Rebecca G. Rush,

and Clare Ribando Seelke


Analysts in Latin American Affairs

Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division




Increasing violence perpetrated

by drug cartels, youth gangs,

and other criminal groups

is threatening citizen security and democracy

in Mexico and Central America.


Mexican and Central American government efforts

to combat drug trafficking and organized crime

have been hindered by inadequate resources,

corruption, and weak judicial systems.


On October 22, 2007,

the United States and Mexico issued a joint

statement announcing the Mérida Initiative,

a multi-year plan for U.S. assistance

to Mexico and Central America aimed

at helping those governments

combat drug trafficking

and other criminal organizations.


The Administration requested $500 million

for Mexico and $50 million for Central America

in the FY2008 supplemental appropriations request.


For more information,

see CRS Report RL32724,

Mexico-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress,

and CRS Report RL34112,

Gangs in Central America.

http://fpc.state.gov/documents/organization/103694.pdf - broken link















heroin        UK






Boston Globe > Big Picture

Mexico's drug war        USA        25 March 2009






street value
















Mexico, USA > launder        UK / USA














Corpus of news articles


 Drugs > Mexico > Drug cartels >


War on drugs




Mexico Seizes

Record Amount

of Methamphetamine


February 9, 2012

The New York Times



MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities announced their largest methamphetamine seizure ever late Wednesday: 15 tons, found in pure powder form at a ranch outside Guadalajara. It was about 13 million doses worth $4 billion — more than double the size of all meth seizures at the Mexican border in 2011.

But while the authorities proudly showed off the seizure to local reporters, the sheer size of the find set off alarm among experts and officials from the United States and the United Nations. It was a sign, they said, of just how organized, efficient at manufacturing and brazen Mexico’s traffickers had become even after expanded efforts to dismantle their industry.

“The big thing it shows is the sheer capacity that these superlabs have in Mexico,” said Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “When we see one lab with the capability to produce such a mass tonnage of meth, it begs a question: What else is out there?”

Methamphetamine is difficult to produce in large quantities. Unlike marijuana, which can be grown almost anywhere, meth requires international connections to suppliers of precursor chemicals, which are tightly regulated in the United States and Mexico, as well as manufacturers with a degree of chemistry expertise.

The Sinaloa cartel is believed to be Mexico’s main producer, partly because it has a reputation for being the world’s most multinational and sophisticated cartel. And some experts say that the seizure, along with increased seizures of meth, cocaine and marijuana at the Mexican border, suggests that Sinaloa is producing more than ever before, despite five years of increased Mexican and American efforts to defeat the Mexican cartels.

“Sinaloa has been hit hard in the past four to six months, but they are clearly operating at a volume they were not able to do 5 or 10 years ago,” said David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego. With methamphetamine, he added: “There is really not much competition. They are probably the only ones with the organizational and logistical capacity to move this kind of product.”

United Nations figures suggest that the supply of meth in the United States has been growing, with seizures at the Mexican border increasing 87 percent in 2011. At the same time, demand in the United States has been falling. According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the number of Americans 12 and older who said they had used methamphetamine in the past 12 months declined 46 percent from 2002 to 2010, to 954,000 from an estimated 1.8 million.

But just as Mexican and Colombian drug traffickers are increasingly focused on the market in Europe, experts said that the meth not sent to the United States might be heading to other parts of the world. Sinaloa’s tentacles have been found on nearly every continent.

Over all, experts said, meth appears to be providing an increasingly important revenue stream for the cartel, and the seizure this week is likely to have little long-term impact.

“It’s important to keep the seizure in perspective,” said Eric Olson, a security expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “It’s huge. Eye-popping. But seizures, even huge ones, don’t generally change the demand for the drug in the long run. If a seizure of this magnitude raises the street price, consumption may go down for a time, but it is only a matter of time until the market adjusts and the supply comes back up.”

Mexico Seizes Record Amount of Methamphetamine,






Raids Don’t Keep Tunnel City

From Humming Underground


December 1, 2011
The New York Times


TIJUANA, Mexico — Squatting and sweating inside the latest drug tunnel found here in this Pacific border city, it was easy to understand the amazement expressed by Mexican and American officials. This one was a stunner.

The tunnel ran for almost half a mile, with wooden planks holding off the earth on all sides. Energy-saving light bulbs illuminated the route. A motorized cart on metal rails ensured quick passage, while a steel elevator hidden beneath the floor tiles in a warehouse made the 40-foot descent to the tunnel’s entrance feel like the slow drop into an unregulated mine shaft.

And yet, here is the simple fact obscured by superlatives like “the most elaborate” and “the most sophisticated,” which officials seem to lather on each new find.

Tunnels are Tijuana. They have become an inevitable, always-under-construction or always-operating part of city life, as entrenched as cheap pharmacies and strip clubs.

Residents now shrug them off. “If you have a lot of money, you can do anything,” said Blanca Samaniego, 36, as she walked by the warehouse where Mexican officials unveiled the tunnel on Wednesday. “It will never change. It will never stop.”

The ground beneath her neighborhood in the hills — near the airport and the upgraded, shimmering border fence patrolled 24/7 by American agents — has been punched full of holes for years. Almost every kind of building has been used to hide a logistical operation that is as much about the American taste for a high as it is about the low-down removal of dirt.

Just a few weeks ago, below a more rudimentary warehouse nearby, the authorities found a different tunnel with an elaborate ventilation system. A few blocks from that, there sits an empty flophouse, where thick concrete now caps a passageway discovered by the authorities last year. Farther east, residents note a tunnel found in 2008, and just past the next major intersection, there are two more: one under a small home and the other below a bodega across from a factory.

Other tunnels have been found downtown, near the main border crossing. Wherever there is a border fence climbing high, there seems to have been an attempt to burrow below, usually to a parking lot in California where drugs can be hauled through a manhole cover, or to a business that almost looks legitimate.

In the latest case, the tunnel ran to Hernandez Produce Warehouse, a fruit and vegetable company in California whose only product seemed to be green and best when smoked.

Luis Ituarte, 69, an artist who runs a gallery here called La Casa del Túnel — where a tunnel was found about decade ago — said that Tijuana officials would be smart to move beyond publicizing their subterranean finds and then shutting them down. He argued that Tijuana should capitalize on its historic identity as a city that has been serving up vice since 1907, when President Porfirio Díaz legalized gambling, or 1920, when the United States made alcohol illegal.

“Las Vegas, Tijuana and Havana were all built by the same kind of people,” Mr. Ituarte said. “Only Vegas has taken on its bad reputation.”

Not that this is the direction things are heading. The mayor here recently rejected demands from cultural groups asking to take over La Ocho, a notorious prison that had been decommissioned.

Mexican Army officials, during a tour of this week’s elaborate tunnel, mostly focused on the triumph of the discovery.

“These are achievements that increase public security,” said Gen. Gilberto Landeros, standing at the tunnel entrance as local reporters took snapshots of one another in front of the long, dim hole. “We’re pounding at the economy of narcotrafficking.”

At the very least, he had a lot of marijuana to point to. Hefty bricks of the stuff, wrapped tightly in orange and green plastic, surrounded him when he announced the discovery of the tunnel inside the empty warehouse here in Tijuana. The total haul, from both sides and a truck driven from the site in San Diego, was 32.4 tons, with a street value of about $65 million — a new record for a tunnel-related seizure, according to American officials.

Harder to see, unmentioned, but easy to imagine: how many tons moved across before that load was found.

The evidence around the tunnel — worn-out soccer cleats, dusty oscillating fans, empty water bottles — suggested that the operation had been going for months, a supposition Mexican officials did not deny. At that rate, hundreds of tons of marijuana worth hundreds of millions of dollars would have moved through this one tunnel during its life span.

Most likely somewhere nearby, in another tunnel, the flow continues. The next announcement and news tour may be only weeks away.

Raids Don’t Keep Tunnel City From Humming Underground,






U.S. and Mexico offer rewards

over shooting of U.S. agents



Wed Mar 30, 2011

2:44pm EDT



WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. and Mexican governments on Wednesday announced multimillion dollar rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the shooting of two U.S. immigration agents.

The United States issued a statement saying it offered a reward of up to $5 million while the Mexican government offered 10 million pesos ($839,000). Both countries set up telephone hotlines for individuals to call if they have information.

In February, two unarmed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were driving in an armored vehicle on a highway from San Luis Potosi to Mexico City when they were ambushed in broad daylight by suspected drug gang members.

One ICE agent, Jaime Zapata, was killed and another agent, Victor Avila, was wounded in the leg in one of the more brazen attacks by drug cartels as they battle with authorities who are trying to crack down on drug and weapons trafficking.

Mexican authorities have already detained more than 30 people in connection with the shooting, including a suspected money man for the Zetas drug cartel arrested earlier this month.

U.S. authorities have traced one of the weapons used in the shooting back to a Texas man who bought the gun last year. He and two others have since been charged by prosecutors for illegally buying guns for others, though they have not been charged for anything related to the shooting in Mexico.


(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Deborah Charles)

U.S. and Mexico offer rewards over shooting of U.S. agents,






21 Die in Gun Battle

Near U.S. Border


July 2, 2010

The New York Times



Nearly two dozen people were killed in a Mexican border area on Thursday during a fierce gun battle between suspected members of rival drug gangs, Mexican authorities said.

The bloodshed took place only 12 miles from the U.S. border, in Sonora, a state that is a popular tourist destination famed for its beaches but whose interior has increasingly been consumed by drug violence. Prosecutors said the battle was a showdown between two rival drug and migrant-trafficking gangs, who sprayed gunfire at one another in a sparsely populated area near a dirt road between the hamlets of Tubutama and Saric, an area frequented by traffickers, the Associated Press reported.

The shooting culminated in the deaths of 21 people, with Mexican authorities taking another nine people into custody, including six with bullet wounds.

The Sonora state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that nine people were captured by police at the scene of the shootings, six of whom had been wounded in the confrontation, according to the A.P. Eight vehicles and seven weapons were also seized. All of the victims were believed to be members of the gangs.

For several years now, Mexico has been gripped by violence as warring drug cartels battle over lucrative drug routes through border regions like Sonora, Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. The heavily armed and ruthless cartels have murdered wantonly, killing hundreds of police, military officers, top officials and politicians.

In the last year, the rate of killings has only surged, and this year is already on track to become the deadliest in half a decade. More than 5,000 drug-related killings have occurred thus far in Mexico, eclipsing the totals in 2007 and 2008 and nearing the 6,500 killed in 2009 alone.

21 Die in Gun Battle Near U.S. Border,






Obama to Send

Up to 1,200 Troops to Border


May 25, 2010

The New York Times



LOS ANGELES — President Obama will send up to 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwest border and seek increased spending on law enforcement there to combat drug smuggling after demands from Republican and Democratic lawmakers that border security be tightened.

The decision was disclosed by a Democratic lawmaker and confirmed by administration officials after Mr. Obama met on Tuesday with Republican senators, several of whom have demanded that troops be placed at the border. The lawmakers learned of the plan after the meeting.

But the move also reflected political pressure in the president’s own party with midterm election campaigns under way and with what is expected to be a tumultuous debate on overhauling immigration law coming up on Capitol Hill.

The issue has pushed Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, into something of a corner. As governor of Arizona, she demanded that Guard troops be put on the border. But since joining the Obama administration, she has remained noncommittal about the idea, saying as recently as a month ago that other efforts by Mr. Obama had made the border “as secure now as it has ever been.”

The troops will be stationed in the four border states for a year, White House officials said. It is not certain when they will arrive, the officials said.

The troops will join a few hundred members of the Guard already assigned there to help the police hunt for drug smugglers. The additional troops will provide support to law enforcement officers by helping observe and monitor traffic between official border crossings. They will also help analyze trafficking patterns in the hope of intercepting illegal drug shipments.

Initial word of the deployment came not in a formal announcement from the White House — indeed, it was left to administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity to fill in some details — but from a Democratic member of the House from southern Arizona who is running in what is expected to be a competitive race for re-election.

“The White House is doing the right thing,” the congresswoman, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, said in a statement announcing the decision. “Arizonans know that more boots on the ground means a safer and more secure border. Washington heard our message.”

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican whose opponent in a coming primary has relentlessly criticized him on immigration, said Tuesday that he welcomed Mr. Obama’s move but that it was “simply not enough.”

Mr. McCain called for the introduction of 6,000 National Guard troops to police the Southwestern border, with 3,000 for Arizona alone. In a letter to Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, two Obama administration officials said that the proposal infringed on his role as commander in chief and overlooked gains in border security.

Calls for sending the Guard to the border grew after the shooting death of an Arizona rancher in March that the police suspect was carried out by someone involved in smuggling. Advocates of the controversial Arizona state law giving the police a greater role in immigration enforcement played up what they described as a failure to secure the border as a reason to pass the law.

Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, a Republican who is running for a full term, has requested Guard troops at the border but decided not to use her authority to do it herself, citing the state’s tattered finances. The governors of New Mexico and Texas also pleaded for troops.

From 2006 to 2008, President George W. Bush made a larger deployment of Guard troops under a program called Operation Jump Start. At its peak, 6,000 Guard troops at the border helped build roads and fences in addition to backing up law enforcement officers.

Those Guard troops contributed to the arrest of more than 162,000 illegal immigrants, the rescue of 100 people stranded in the desert and the seizure of $69,000 in cash and 305,000 pounds of illicit drugs.

The soldiers will not directly make arrests of border crossers and smugglers, something they are not trained to do.

Rick Nelson, a senior fellow who studies domestic security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that the additional spending could improve security over the long term but that the National Guard deployment was not sufficient for “an overwhelming change that will change the dynamics on the border.”

“This is a symbolic gesture,” he said. “At the end of the day, the face of border security is still going to be Customs and Border Protection, the law enforcement community. It’s not going to be the National Guard.”

Democrats and Republicans who agreed with the move rushed to take credit for it, including Ms. Brewer, who said her signing of the new Arizona law had pushed the administration.

“I am pleased that President Obama has now, apparently, agreed that our nation must secure the border to address rampant border violence and illegal immigration without other preconditions, such as passage of ‘comprehensive immigration reform,’ ” she said.

Terry Goddard, the Arizona attorney general and a Democrat running for governor, released a statement with the headline “Goddard Secures Administration Commitment for $500 million for National Guard, Border Security.” In an interview, Mr. Goddard said, “I think it is a good indication that the administration is taking us seriously.”

But some Democrats were skeptical.

Representative Harry E. Mitchell of Arizona, a Democrat facing re-election in a Republican-leaning district, said it was “going to take much more to secure the border.” He proposed a minimum of 3,000 troops.

Some Republicans said the deployment of the troops should not overshadow the need for a comprehensive approach to the illegal immigration problem.

“Arizona and other border states are grateful for the additional resources at the border,” said Representative Jeff Flake of Arizona. “But I hope that this is merely the first step in a process that culminates in Congress passing comprehensive immigration reform.”

Obama administration officials had resisted sending Guard troops to the border but had never ruled it out. They pointed to a variety of improvements at the border, including a record seizure of drug-related cash and guns, falling or flat rates of violent crime in border towns, and record lows in the flow of illegal immigrants across the border. Analysts give the dismal economy much of the credit for that.

In his meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said improving border security alone would not reduce illegal immigration and reiterated that a reworking of the immigration system could not be achieved without more Republican support.

Carl Hulse contributed reporting from Washington.

Obama to Send Up to 1,200 Troops to Border,






Drug Slayings in Mexico

Rock U.S. Consulate


March 15, 2010

The New York Times




CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico — The married couple gunned down Saturday as they drove back from a children’s birthday party with their infant daughter in the back seat were concerned about the violence plaguing this border town, but they never believed they could be its next targets, the husband’s brother said in an interview on Monday.

The couple, Leslie Enriquez, 35, a pregnant American consulate worker, and her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs, 34, an officer at the county jail in El Paso, were within sight of the bridge leading to the United States border crossing when gunmen said to have links to drug traffickers drove up to their car and opened fire, killing them both.

“He was a wonderful man,” said the brother, Reuben Redelfs. “We just regret this as a senseless act of violence.”

Gunmen also killed the husband of another consular employee and wounded his two young children in a near-simultaneous shooting elsewhere in the city, in what appeared to be coordinated assaults on American officials and their families. The killings provoked outrage from Washington and raised new questions about whether employees of the United States and their family members were increasingly at risk of being swept into the cross-fire of Mexico’s bloody drug wars.

The couple had been married for a couple years and lived in El Paso, where they were raising their 7-month-old daughter, who was unharmed in the shooting. Mr. Redelfs said he was now caring for the girl.

Despite concerns about the security in Ciudad Juárez, the couple traveled frequently between Texas and Mexico, where they had friends and Ms. Enriquez worked in the section of the American Consulate dealing with complaints or concerns of Americans in Mexico.

“They weren’t worried as targets,” Mr. Redelfs said.

Asked if he believed the couple were targets because of Ms. Enriquez’s consular job, Mr. Redelfs chose his words cautiously, saying, “I find it more than a coincidence that two separate incidents involving consular employees who were shot and killed occurred on the same day.”

Silvio Gonzalez, a spokesman for the United States Consulate in Ciudad Juárez, said the agency would be closed Tuesday “as we mourn the loss in our community.” The consular office was closed Monday for a holiday.

On Sunday night, staff at the consulate in Juárez held a meeting in which they vented their fears and discussed ideas for improving security.

State Department officials said concerns about security were not new along Mexico’s northern border, long the scene of some of that country’s worst violence. But as levels of drug violence soared in recent years, the State Department has looked at ways to tighten security at its border consulates.

Unlike other consulates around the world, those along Mexico’s northern border have their own diplomatic security officers assigned to oversee the security at the consulate and at the homes of all foreign service officers. Security at most other consulates is managed by regional officers that oversee the safety of consulates in various countries.

Diplomats at border consulates receive hardship pay to compensate them for the increased risk they assume by accepting assignments at those posts. And they are eligible for special antiterrorism training — known in State Department as “crash-bang courses” — meant to teach them how to respond to robberies, shootings and kidnapping attempts.

The killings came during a particularly bloody weekend when nearly 50 people were killed nationwide in drug-gang violence, including attacks in Acapulco as American college students began arriving for spring break.

The killings followed threats against American diplomats along the Mexican border and complaints from consulate workers that drug-related violence was growing untenable, American officials said. Even before the shootings, the State Department had quietly made the decision to allow consulate workers to evacuate their families across the border to the United States.

In Washington, President Obama denounced the “brutal murders” and vowed to “work tirelessly” with Mexican law enforcement officials to prosecute the killers. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the killings underscored the need to work with the Mexican government “to cripple the influence of trafficking organizations at work in Mexico.”

In a sign of the potential international reverberations of these killings, President Felipe Calderón of Mexico similarly expressed his indignation and condolences and said he would press forward with “all available resources” to control the lawlessness in Ciudad Juárez and the rest of the country.

The F.B.I. was sending agents to Ciudad Juárez on Sunday to assist with the investigation and American diplomats were en route to meet with their Mexican counterparts, said Roberta S. Jacobson, the American deputy assistant secretary of state who handles Mexico.

The coordinated nature of the attacks, the automatic weapons used and the location in a city where drug cartels control virtually all illicit activity point toward traffickers as the suspects, said Mexican and American officials, declining to be identified. Officials with the state of Chihuahua issued a statement Sunday night saying that initial evidence, corroborated by intelligence from the United States, pointed to a gang known as Los Aztecas, which is linked to the major drug cartel in Ciudad Juárez.

American interests in Mexico have been attacked by drug traffickers before but never with such brutality. Attackers linked to the Gulf Cartel shot at and hurled a grenade, which did not explode, at the American consulate in Monterrey in 2008.

The shootings in Ciudad Juárez took place in broad daylight on Saturday as the victims were en route home from a social gathering at another consulate worker’s home. The first attack was reported at 2:32 p.m.

Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, 37, the husband of a consular worker, was found dead in a white Honda Pilot, with bullet wounds to his body, the authorities said. In the back seat were two wounded children, one aged 4 and one 7. They were taken to the hospital.

Shell casings from a variety of caliber weapons were found at the scene.

Another call came in 10 minutes later, several miles away. This time it was a Toyota RAV4 with Texas plates that had been shot up, with Mr. Redelfs and Ms. Enriquez dead inside and their baby crying from a car seat in the back. Mexican officials initially gave Ms. Enriquez’s age as 25. Ms. Enriquez, an American citizen, was shot in the head. Her husband was shot in the neck and left arm. A 9-millimeter bullet casing was found at the scene.

Mr. Calderón is scheduled on Tuesday to make his third visit to Ciudad Juárez in the last five weeks as he tries to contain the disastrous public relations fallout from the killing of 16 people in January that Mr. Calderón first brushed off as “a settling of accounts” between members of criminal gangs.

It turns out the victims of the massacre were mostly students celebrating a birthday. By all accounts, they were just young people from a rough neighborhood trying to steer clear of the drug gang violence that has turned Ciudad Juárez into Mexico’s deadliest city. More than 2,000 people were killed there last year, giving it one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Elisabeth Malkin reported from Ciudad Juárez,

and Marc Lacey from La Unión, Mexico.

Ginger Thompson and Helene Cooper

contributed reporting from Washington,

Antonio Betancourt from Mexico City,

and Jack Healy from New York.

Drug Slayings in Mexico Rock U.S. Consulate,






War Without Borders

How U.S. Became Stage

for Mexican Drug Feud


December 9, 2009

The New York Times



CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Eduardo Tostado was a prosperous man whose businesses and pleasures straddled the coastal border. He owned a big house and a used-car lot in the San Diego suburbs, and a seafood restaurant in Tijuana.

He was also part of the border underworld, the authorities say — a high-ranking member of the Mexican drug cartel driving much of the United States’ illegal marijuana trade and the cascade of violence in a 40-year drug war. Some evenings, Mr. Tostado drank tequila at the Baby Rock club in Tijuana or sipped Scotch at the Airport Lounge in San Diego. He socialized mainly with men he knew well and women he knew not at all.

His wife, Ivette Rubio, was aware of this, and they were having problems in their marriage. So when Mr. Tostado called her in June 2007 to say he had been kidnapped and needed her to sell their house to pay a ransom, she did not believe him.

“You got drunk,” she said, “and you went out, and you didn’t come to sleep in the house.”

Click, the phone went dead.

Mr. Tostado was in the hands of Jorge Rojas-López, a former member of the cartel, the Arellano Félix organization, who had turned on it. Based in the San Diego suburbs, Mr. Rojas-López was running a renegade squad of kidnappers and hit men, fighting for a piece of the marijuana market.

Across the border, the Mexican government, with $1.5 billion from the United States, is battling its drug cartels, and the cartels are battling one other. The Arellano organization has borne the brunt of these drug wars, and has fragmented into smaller crews spinning across the border like shrapnel.

“We believe there has been a splintering of the A.F.O. and that it has lost the power that they once wielded,” said Keith Slotter, the agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s office in San Diego.

The illegal drug market has never been so unsettled, drug enforcement experts say, with small elite killing squads like the one Mr. Rojas-López was running — Mr. Slotter identified three in San Diego alone — operating on both sides of the border. For three years, Mr. Rojas-López’s rogue squad, a mix of United States citizens and Mexicans, used houses in tract developments as roving bases, hunting cartel members and imprisoning their prey along bland residential streets. They secured ransoms worth millions. Payment, however, did not guarantee that the victims survived.

At stake were billions of dollars in profits from tons of smuggled marijuana, and other drugs, and the precious control of Mexican border cities like Ciudad Juárez; Nogales; and Tijuana. Those cities are thoroughfares to the world’s most lucrative drug market: the United States.

The authorities in Kansas City, Mo., and Miami are also investigating the Mr. Rojas-López’s squad for drug trafficking and killings in their cities.

Mr. Rojas-López and eight other members of the squad, called Los Palillos, are now on trial in San Diego, charged with kidnapping 13 men and killing 9 from 2004 to 2007. Seven other co-defendants are fugitives. Since the investigation began, three more fugitive squad members have been killed.

This account of Los Palillos in Tijuana and San Diego, based on more than 6,000 pages of court documents, testimony from 175 witnesses and co-defendants, and interviews with law enforcement officials, offers a window into how Mexico’s drug wars are playing out on American soil.

Mr. Rojas-López’s ambitions were fueled by more than just desire for a piece of the marijuana trade. He also wanted revenge for the death of his brother, Victor, a cartel enforcer, who was killed by the Arellanos organization in 2003 for insubordination. Mr. Rojas-López’s squad eluded the Arellanos cartel and law enforcement officials in San Diego for three years. Investigators heard whispers of a mutinous enforcement squad operating in the area but were unable to put the pieces together.

Relatives of the kidnapping victims either avoided the police or withheld crucial information about their loved ones. Instead, they quietly sold assets on both sides of the border, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of days.

Some victims were released unharmed. Others were smothered with masking tape, shot in the stomach or pulverized with a police battering ram and dumped on a suburban street. Or they were boiled down in acid and never seen again, a technique known in Mexico as “pozole,” or Mexican stew.

Mr. Tostado, the kidnapped businessman with the big house here, and his wife were among the pawns in this underworld, with Mr. Rojas-López demanding $2 million from Ms. Rubio for her husband’s life. The next call she received that day was not from her husband.

She did not recognize the voice that said, “Hey, you want me to send your husband in pieces or what?”


Call to Police Pays Off

At the time of his abduction, Mr. Tostado, a legal resident of both the United States and Mexico, was helping the Arellanos cartel “pass tons of marijuana” across the United States border, according to the federal agents and José Olivera-Beritan, one of the nine suspected members of Los Palillos who is on trial in San Diego Superior Court for murder and kidnapping. “He knew in advance which trucks will be searched,” Mr. Olivera-Beritan said of Mr. Tostado in a jailhouse interview. “He told us he was giving cops money under the table.”

Mr. Tostado has offered contradictory statements to agents regarding his cartel affiliation.

His wife, Ms. Rubio, took a risk that night in June 2007 by calling the police. Investigators say that it made the difference between Mr. Tostado’s survival and the stories of less-fortunate kidnapping victims.

The event that led to the renegade squad occurred in 2003, when Victor Rojas-López crossed the cartel.

One evening at Zool, a nightclub in Tijuana, members of his enforcement squad got in a fight with members of another Arellano squad over a woman. A member of Victor Rojas-López’s team pushed a gun into the face of a man who happened to be the brother-in-law of the cartel leader, according to grand jury testimony.

The bosses ordered Victor Rojas-López to kill the underling. He refused and was shot to death.

His younger brother, Jorge, then took over the squad, called it Los Palillos — “the toothpicks,” after Victor, who was skinny but tough — and fled to San Diego.

Mark Amador, a San Diego County deputy district attorney who is the lead prosecutor against Los Palillos, said that much of the evidence about what happened next came from an insider, Guillermo Moreno, an American citizen and the member of Los Palillos who had pulled the gun at Zool.

“He is the witness that pulls all the pieces together,” Mr. Amador said. Mr. Moreno, who was arrested after Mr. Tostado’s kidnapping, ultimately led investigators to rental houses around San Diego used by Los Palillos. In a deal with prosecutors, he agreed to a minimum 25-year prison sentence, rather than life. At some houses, forensic investigators found DNA from victims.

When members of Los Palillos first arrived in San Diego, they lived quietly off earlier spoils. Then they went back to the work they knew best: killing and drug trafficking.

The first corpses were found on Aug. 15, 2004, decomposing in a Dodge minivan.

The police said the bodies belonged to three drug smugglers who had crossed the border to do a deal with the squad members.

The squad used safe houses with attached garages so they could move drugs or bodies in and out without being seen, Mr. Moreno, the witness, said. In many neighborhoods, the real estate bubble created a constant churn of new faces, so it was easy to go undetected.

The three smugglers expected to drop off several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of marijuana, sleep over and leave for Mexico in the morning. Instead, Mr. Moreno said, the squad waited for the men to fall asleep, then shot one of them in the stomach.

“Someone said, ‘Quit crying, you,’ ” Mr. Moreno told the grand jury. The man bled to death.

The other two smugglers were suffocated. Mr. Rojas-López is accused of stealing their marijuana and ordering Mr. Moreno to dump the bodies.

The Arellanos cartel, meanwhile, ordered a former Baja California police officer named Ricardo Escobar Luna, 31, who was working for the cartel, to hunt down Los Palillos in San Diego.

But members of the squad learned that Mr. Escobar was after them and abducted him from his home in Bonita, Calif., according to testimony from Mr. Moreno. The kidnappers disguised themselves as police officers and drove up in a BMW with flashing lights.

Mr. Escobar’s wife called the police but never mentioned that her husband worked for the Arellanos cartel, said Steve Duncan, an investigator for the California Department of Justice.

Testifying before the grand jury, Mr. Moreno described how he had overheard a discussion among squad members before the kidnapping: “Well, he’s here to kill us; we might as well kill him.”

On Aug. 20, 2005, Mr. Rojas-López took a police battering ram into the bedroom where Mr. Escobar, the former police officer, was tied up, according to testimony by Mr. Moreno.

Meanwhile, Mr. Moreno went outside to water the lawn and keep an eye on the neighbors, he said. When he went back inside, he saw blood on the walls.

Victor Escobar, the former officer’s brother, told investigators that he had paid the squad $600,000 for his freedom, but he never had much hope. “Yeah, I knew they’d kill my brother,” he said. “But what else could I do?”

By September 2005, the police were beginning to understand that the killings around San Diego were related, but they still did not know how. The case began to unfold when two squad members with automatic rifles and pistols bungled the kidnapping of an Arellanos cartel trafficker in a cul-de-sac in Chula Vista, in broad daylight.

A police cruiser chased the gunmen to a strip mall parking lot and was barraged by bullets.

The gunmen were caught later that day and eventually convicted for attempted kidnapping and the attempted murder of a police officer.

Within a few years, Los Palillos had become a minicartel with a drug trafficking network that snaked through the Mexican cities of Ensenada and Tijuana, San Diego and on to Missouri and Florida, according to federal agents.

Two Cuban nationals ran Los Palillos operations in Kansas City, Mo., Mr. Moreno, the witness, told federal officials.

In September 2006, a woman in the small farming community of Jameson, about 50 miles north of Kansas City, heard gun shots and then found two bodies near a barn. Deputies discovered a 47,000-square-foot marijuana garden behind rows of corn stalks. Members of Los Palillos were arrested on suspicion of killing local rivals, the authorities said.

By 2007, the authorities said, the renegade squad had made millions of dollars. Mr. Rojas-López wore Rolex watches. Photographs on MySpace showed his squad members hoisting drinks at trendy San Diego bars.

In May 2007, two more drug smugglers, both 33, were kidnapped, and they were never seen again. Mr. Moreno told federal agents that their bodies had been dissolved in a vat of acid.


Beer, Soccer and Arrests

Before he was kidnapped, Mr. Tostado was worried. A man had left an extortion note at the front door of his home, recorded by his security camera. Armed with a picture of the man, Mr. Tostado drove down to Tijuana to find some answers.

Mr. Tostado, an avid off-road racer, who admitted in court that he had socialized with members of the Mexican underworld and had accepted a $200,000 race car from the Arellano family, learned that the man in the photo was a member of Los Palillos.

A few weeks later, an acquaintance introduced Mr. Tostado to a Tijuana woman named Nancy. On June 8, Nancy invited Mr. Tostado to her home in Chula Vista. Mr. Tostado walked in carrying bottles of Cognac and whiskey. Hands grabbed him from behind in the darkened room. Someone fired a Taser, immobilizing him.

Mr. Tostado was held for eight days while Los Palillos negotiated by phone with his wife. He said that he drank beers with his abductors, who watched soccer on television and smoked marijuana.

Occasionally, Mr. Rojas-López would vent angrily about the Arellanos cartel.

“They have killed my family and my brother,” he told him. “I had to do something, and I have the nerve to do it over here.”

By June 16, Mr. Rojas-López had agreed to accept $193,000 in cash. Wiretapped calls recorded the kidnappers directing the dropping off of the ransom money.

On June 16, 2007, federal agents arrested the squad leaders, Mr. Rojas-López and Juan Estrada-Gonzalez, the second-in-charge, after they dropped the money off at a motel. Another team of agents stormed the house where Mr. Tostado was being held and freed him.

Later that day, as Mr. Tostado recounted his experience to federal agents, he pledged to leave the underworld behind.

“I think I need to start over again,” he said. “I’m reborn right now.”

Mr. Tostado is keeping a low profile these days. He sold his house in Chula Vista and no longer races the off-road circuits in Mexico.

He sold his restaurant in Tijuana, too, after someone left three barrels in front of it in 2008. They were full of bones and acid.

How U.S. Became Stage for Mexican Drug Feud,






U.S. Arrests Hundreds

in Drug Raids


October 22, 2009

Filed at 12:17 p.m. ET

The New York Times



WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Eric Holder calls it the largest single strike at a Mexican drug cartel operating in the U.S. -- the arrest of more than 300 people in a series of drug raids across the country.

Holder said at a news conference that the arrests over the past two days were aimed at the U.S. operations of the La Familia cartel. Holder said La Familia is the newest and most violent of Mexico's five drug cartels.

More than 3,000 federal agents and police officers made the arrests in more than a dozen states. The raids are part of a long-running anti-drug operation that has led to nearly 1,200 arrests over almost four years.

A New York grand jury has indicted alleged cartel leader Servando Gomez-Martinez.


On the Net:

Justice Department: http://www.usdoj.gov/

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Attorney General Eric Holder calls it largest single strike at a Mexican drug cartel operating in the U.S. -- the arrest of more than 300 people in a series of drug raids across the country.

Holder said at a news conference that the arrests over the past two days were aimed at the U.S. operations of the La Familia cartel. Holder said La Familia is the newest and most violent of Mexico's five drug cartels.

More than 3,000 federal agents and police officers made the arrests in more than a dozen states. The raids are part of a long-running anti-drug operation that has led to nearly 1,200 arrests over almost four years.

A New York grand jury has indicted alleged cartel leader Servando Gomez-Martinez.

U.S. Arrests Hundreds in Drug Raids,
us/AP-US-Drug-War-Arrests.html - broken link










Related > Anglonautes > Vocapedia





violence, abuse, prostitution,

sexual violence, rape, harassment,

kidnapping, crime, police,

arrest, investigation, custody,

police misconduct / brutality / violence > USA



gun violence > USA




home Up