Mexican drug lords executing more police

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Mexican drug lords executing more police

Unread post by thewestside » May 8th, 2008, 7:52 pm

Mexican drug lords executing more police, despite increased army patrols
Thursday, May 8, 2008


CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — The lights of the bullet-ridden sedan were still shining when the investigators arrived. Police Capt. Saul Pena Lopez had been rushed to the hospital by then, but the blood-soaked pavement suggested he wouldn't be there long.

Under the guard of machine-gun-toting Army soldiers — sent here to quell a record outbreak of mafia shootouts, kidnappings and unsolved murders — the father of four died in the hospital from multiple gunshot wounds before midnight Tuesday. He was being buried Thursday.

Pena's murder made him the 15th law enforcement agent to be slain in violence-wracked Ciudad Juarez since the beginning of the year, city police officials said. The 14th, a state prosecutor, died 24 hours earlier in a pool of blood in front of her home, where authorities retrieved 32 shell casings fired from AK-47 rifles.

In both cases, the armed assailants got away.

More than a month after Mexican President Felipe Calderon dispatched more than 2,000 soldiers to the troubled border city, execution-style murders remain commonplace — and usually unsolved — as heavily armed drug cartels battle for control of lucrative drug-smuggling routes into the United States.

“Even for a violent city like Juarez, this is pretty amazing,” said Tony Payan, a drug cartel expert in El Paso, Texas, and author of the book “The Three U.S.-Mexico Border Wars: Drugs, Immigration, and Homeland Security.” “It's unprecedented.”

Authorities already were grappling with record violence in 2007, when Calderon sent more than 20,000 troops throughout the country to battle the cartels. The response from the mafia kingpins was spectacularly swift and bloody.

Suspected drug traffickers gunned down a senior federal investigator in charge of gathering intelligence on drug traffickers in May 2007 and knocked off a federal police commander last September. They also were blamed for the beheadings of two Mexico City customs officials in December — presumably revenge-killings stemming from a cocaine bust. All told, the death toll eclipsed 2,500 last year. And 2008, with more than 1,000 killed so far, is on track to match or surpass that record, according to published reports.

At least 10 federal police officers have been killed in the past three weeks, and pitched shootouts have raged from the Pacific Coast to central Zacatecas, where three died in clashes Wednesday morning, including a young girl believed to have caught a stray bullet, authorities said. The latest to die was the acting chief of federal police in Mexico City, slain in front of his home on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

It's been a particularly violent year in Ciudad Juarez, the gritty and sprawling metropolis across the Rio Grande River from El Paso. Once the undisputed turf of the Juarez Cartel, the city of 1.3 million people has become the scene of an epic turf battle, as elements of the powerful Sinaloa Cartel try to muscle their way in.

Nearly 300 have died in the violence so far this year, some of their bodies dumped in mass graves. Among the dead are at least 11 city cops, three state-level officers and one member of the Mexican military, according to published accounts.

The first police official to die in the violence this week was Berenice Garcia Corral, a state criminal investigator, who was killed execution-style Monday night. Before Garcia's family could bury her, word came of the second police slaying.

Saul Pena Lopez was shot four times with an AK-47, a favored weapon of mafia hit men, as he pulled onto busy Manuel Gomez Morin Avenue about a block from his Cuauhtemoc police station. Across the street, the owner of an ice cream shop, afraid to give her name for fear of retribution, said she hid under a rack of display freezers until the shooting subsided.

“Panic,” she said, when asked to describe how it felt. “I don't think I'm going to be able to sleep well anymore.”

Authorities say the shift that Pena supervised ended at 2 p.m. They were at a loss to explain why he left the office at about 8:30 p.m. That's when the assailants, reportedly waiting outside for him in a red pickup, riddled Pena with bullets before fleeing into the night.

His wife, Gloria Zuniga de Pena, said her husband called at about 2 p.m. to say he expected to be elevated to station commander and would be coming home late.

“I never thought anything like this would happen. He's never done anything bad,” she said, holding her hands to her face. “He's been a police officer for 21 years, and nothing has ever happened to him.”

Police spokesman Jaime Torres said no evidence had emerged suggesting that the slain officer had any connection to drug trafficking, which often goes hand-in-hand with the low-paid gig on the city police beat. He said he had no information about any promotion that might have been coming Pena's way.

The violence hasn't been contained to the Mexican side of the border. Ralph Basham, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told a congressional committee in Washington this week that assaults against Border Patrol agents had tripled since 2001 as authorities clamp down on the southern border.

“Our success is putting pressure on smugglers of illegal aliens and drugs,” Basham said. “They, in turn, are becoming frustrated, and unfortunately, more violent.”

http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/200 ... despite-i/

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Mexico’s War Against Drugs Kills Its Police

Unread post by CrimeStart » May 25th, 2008, 6:16 pm

Mexico’s War Against Drugs Kills Its Police

MEXICO CITY — The assassination was an inside job. The federal police commander kept his schedule secret and slept in a different place each night, yet the killer had the keys to the official’s apartment and was waiting for him when he arrived after midnight.

When the commander, Commissioner Édgar Millán Gómez, the acting chief of the federal police, died with eight bullets in his chest on May 8, it sent chills through a force that had increasingly found itself a target.

The police say the gunman had been hired by a disgruntled federal police officer who worked for a drug cartel in Sinaloa State, and the inside nature of the killing underscored just how difficult it is for President Felipe Calderón to keep his vow to clean up police corruption and end the drug-related violence racking Mexico.

Since coming to office in December 2006, Mr. Calderón has sought to revamp and professionalize the federal police force, using it, with the army, to mount huge interventions in cities and states once controlled by drug traffickers.

The result has been mayhem: a street war in which no target has been too big, no attack too brazen for the gangs.

Opposition politicians and even some police officials have begun to question whether the president’s ambition has exceeded his grasp, with dangerous and destabilizing consequences for a country that shares a 2,000-mile border with the United States. Bush administration officials have said Mr. Calderón’s efforts might founder unless the United States Congress approves a $1.4 billion package of equipment and training over three years for Mexico’s police.

Top security officials who were once thought untouchable have been gunned down in Mexico City, four in the last month alone. Drug dealers killed another seven federal agents this year in retaliation for drug busts in border towns. Others have died in shootouts.

Drug traffickers have killed at least 170 local police officers as well, among them at least a score of municipal police commanders, since Mr. Calderón took office. Some were believed to have been corrupt officers who had sold out to drug gangs and were killed by rival gangsters, investigators say. Others were killed for doing their jobs.

The president has vowed to stay the course, portraying the violence among gangs and attacks on the police as a sign of success rather than failure. The government has smashed the cartels, he says, forcing a war among the splinter groups. The killing of Commissioner Millán, he has said, was “a desperate act to weaken the federal police.”

“What it signifies is a strategy of some criminal organizations who seek to terrorize society and paralyze the government,” he said last week. “The question is, should we persevere and go forward or simply hide in our offices and duck our heads. No way is the Mexican government going to back down in such a fight.”

The violence between drug cartels that Mr. Calderón has sought to end has only worsened over the past year and a half. The death toll has jumped 47 percent to 1,378 this year, prosecutors say. All told, 4,125 people have been killed in drug violence since Mr. Calderón took office.

But the steady drumbeat of police killings has caused more shock here. On Wednesday, for instance, the second in command of the police in Morelos State and his driver were found dead in the trunk of a car. A placard on the bodies warned against joining the Sinaloa Cartel.

Several terrified local police chiefs have resigned, the most recent being Guillermo Prieto, the chief in Ciudad Juárez, who stepped down last week after his second in command was killed a few days earlier.

“It is not just happening in Ciudad Juárez,” Mayor José Reyes Ferriz, said at the funeral for the deputy commander, Juan Antonio Roman García. “It’s happening in Nuevo Laredo, in Tijuana, in this entire region. They are attacking top commanders to destabilize the police.”

One reason for the surge in violence is that Mr. Calderón and his public security minister, Genaro García Luna, have upset longstanding arrangements between the police and drug traffickers at every level of government, several experts on crime in Mexico said.

Last year, Mr. García Luna removed 284 federal police commanders across the country, replacing them with his own handpicked officers, many from outside the force, who had been trained at a new academy and who had been closely vetted for signs of corruption.

He has also restructured the department, demoting dozens of career officers and putting in command people he trusts — a small circle of highly educated outsiders, most with a background in the military or in Mexico’s espionage service.

Most of these commanders also served under Mr. García Luna in the previous administration of President Vicente Fox as part of the Federal Investigation Agency, or A.F.I., an elite force modeled on the F.B.I.

The agency showed results. President Fox’s government arrested several of the country’s most notorious drug kingpins, among them Osiel Cárdenas, leader of the Gulf Cartel, and Benjamín Arellano Félix, who controlled Tijuana. The arrests caused turmoil inside the cartels and turf wars among them.

When he took office, President Calderón merged the investigative agency with the existing federal police force and put Mr. García Luna in charge. Over the past 18 months, the new force has recruited heavily among college students and former soldiers. The government has raised the starting pay for officers and greatly improved training.

But even with about 3,000 new recruits, the Calderón administration has yet to purge the force of thousands of career officers with roots in the old force, which was rife with corruption. Many of these officers have dubious loyalties and made money from graft, especially those assigned to highways, ports and airports, according to criminologists and police officials.

“To train these people and get them out on the streets is going to take at least a couple of years,” said Bruce Bagley, a professor at Miami University who has studied drug trafficking throughout Latin America. “That leaves much of the rotten core of the police still in place.”

At the same time, Mr. Calderón and his predecessor have largely dismantled the state security apparatus that kept an iron grip on Mexico for decades when it was ruled by a single party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party. The Intelligence Agency and the Interior Ministry have been stripped of their extensive networks of informants.

As a result, some critics say, the new federal police force not only lacks the intelligence it once had, but is full of disgruntled officers and commanders who have lost their positions or, in some cases, their sources of graft.

One of those officers was José Antonio Martín Montes Garfias, the man whom investigators accuse of hiring an assassin to kill Commissioner Millán. Officer Montes Garfias had long worked at Mexico City’s international airport, one of the main entry points for cocaine and chemicals used to make methamphetamine, and he was suspected of protecting shipments for the Sinaloa Cartel. Commissioner Millán had him transferred.

The police also say Mr. Montes Garfias had a hand in the killing of Roberto Velasco Bravo, the chief of the organized crime division in the public security department, on May 1. When he was arrested, Mr. Montes Garfias had documents from several cars used by other top-ranking federal police officials, showing names, license plates and models.

Prosecutors say corrupt officers also tipped off gunmen who killed Omar Ramírez, a high-ranking A.F.I. commander, last September as he drove on a busy street in downtown Mexico City. Mr. Ramírez had left his office for an urgent meeting at an unusual hour, yet the gunmen knew his route. Prosecutors say he was killed for making too much progress in investigating the Gulf Cartel.

Yet some police commanders say corrupt officers are less of a problem than the lack of information about drug dealers. They also complain that the intelligence arms of the military and the police do not share information until they are on the point of making a raid, for fear of leaks.

Commissioner Javier Herrera Valles oversaw President Calderón’s efforts to restore order in various states for 10 months until he was demoted last February after openly criticizing the operations in a letter to the president.

Mr. Herrera maintains that the federal police are acting on wisps of information, like tips from anonymous callers. They have very little hard evidence from undercover officers, wiretaps or surveillance. The operations consist mostly of stopping trucks at checkpoints and endless patrols through neighborhoods, he said.

“They don’t have any good intelligence gathering,” he said in an interview. “We were patrolling without any direction. Going in circles, nothing else.”

Mr. Calderón and his top security officials disagree. They point out that the government has made record seizures of cocaine, marijuana and caches of arms over the last year and a half. They have also arrested scores of people alleged to be hired guns for the cartels, along with a handful of high-level drug dealers.

Antonio Guzmán, who commands the 640 federal agents sent in recent weeks to Sinaloa to hunt the gang leaders believed to have been behind Commissioner Millán’s killing, denied that the killings of police officials had dampened his officers’ spirits.

“It hasn’t affected morale,” Mr. Guzmán said as he patrolled the streets at the head of a column of four pickups full of heavily armed officers in black garb with machine guns and flak jackets. “We know what we are getting into here. If anything we have more desire to win, because we cannot permit this to continue.”

He acknowledged the leaders of the Sinaloa gangs were probably long gone, having fled to the mountains or to other states. He said the real reason his force had been sent in was to instill confidence in residents that the government could protect them.

Yet residents said the patrols and checkpoints only helped as long as they were there. Several said that the drug dealers in the neighborhood were well known, but that no one dares name them to the police. “We don’t mess with them,” said Wilfredo Valenzuela, 35, a mechanic.

Alma Rosa Camacho López, 42, the janitor at a local grade school, said that as soon as the federal officers leave, the drug dealers come out of hiding. “We need the government to be on top of these people all the time,” she said. “When they leave the same problem will come back and we will be in the same fix as before.”

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/26/world ... exico.html

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Unread post by SpotRusherACE » June 1st, 2008, 7:57 pm

Man all this violence over blow is sad. :(

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Unread post by paingod » June 1st, 2008, 9:30 pm

The headline in The New York Times that morning in 1984 was macabre, if unintentionally hilarious: "Unknown Arm of Sicilian Mafia Is Uncovered in the United States."

The arm in question was not a body part but rather an overseas cell of the Italian criminal underworld operating alongside its better-known American counterpart — the Bonanno family in Brooklyn. Through neighborhood fronts around the country, the Italians had been masterminding the billion-dollar heroin pipeline that became known as the Pizza Connection.

What Americans didn't know at the time was that five years earlier a pair of FBI agents operating out of a hole-in-the-wall on Queens Boulevard had stumbled on the trail that led to the cell — and to a storied Italian-American law enforcement partnership that eventually destroyed the invincibility of the Mafia on both sides of the ocean and built a sturdy alliance that continues to this day.

Now, law enforcement experts wonder if there are lessons that can be applied to the escalating crisis in Mexico, where close to 500 police officers and soldiers have died at the hands of warring drug gangs since 2006. Is there something in the way the Americans and Italians worked together that could be applied to a partnership with the Mexicans? Certainly it is in the interest of the United States to seek such an alliance to stop the flow of drugs, guns and crime across the border, just as the Italian alliance helped stop that flow across the Atlantic. Indeed, President George W. Bush has been pushing Congress to approve the first $500 million installment of a crime-fighting aid package to Mexico. Last week, American border governors met in Mexico with President Felipe Calderón to rally support for the effort and praise him for focusing on the drug lords.

And for its part, Mexico, struggling with a problem that seems to get bloodier and more intractable with each passing week, might well benefit from the expertise and experience of American law enforcement.
the hurdles are high. Trust was a cornerstone of the American-Italian collaboration, and as hard as that trust was to gain, it could be even harder to achieve closer to home. With the trust built, though, the Italian collaboration thrived. For a start, investigators on both sides shared crucial intelligence. Equally crucially, Americans conducted operations that the Italian police lacked the legal authority to do in their own country — making drug buys, for example, and eavesdropping and conducting electronic surveillance. Perhaps most important, the Americans were able to guard endangered informers in the Federal Witness Protection Program.

In some ways, the Mexicans are ahead of where the Italians started, said Pino Arlacchi, an Italian sociologist and former senator who devised Italy's most effective weapon against the mob, the DIA, or Direzione Investigativa Antimafia. Even into the 1980's, Arlacchi said, the Italian government knew little about the shadowy Cosa Nostra. The enemy the Mexicans are fighting is not so entrenched and impenetrable as the Sicilian Mafia was, said Arlacchi, who served in the 1990's as United Nations under secretary general for drug control. Rather, he said, the Mexicans face a fragmented and loose confederation of heavily armed feuding gangs with a propensity for public killings unmatched by the Mafia. That makes them more dangerously unpredictable, yes, but also, in theory, easier to overcome.

"The things we're seeing in Mexico today, we saw the same glimmers in Italy" — the beginnings of a crusade — said Charlie Rooney, recalling the days when he and his FBI partner, Carmine Russo, puzzled over the brazen assassination of the fearsome Bonanno family boss Carmine Galante, in the backyard of an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn's Bushwick section in 1979.

Five years and millions of agent-hours later, the trail had led to a worldwide money laundering empire; a fugitive Sicilian boss of bosses, Gaetano Badalamenti, in Spain; one of the largest drug trafficking rings ever exposed; and the discovery of the franchise of the Sicilian Mafia in America.

It would take similar patience also in Mexico, said Rooney, now a private investigator in Virginia. "You have to have the will to fight and identify those you can work with."

The last was a tall order at the time, particularly when it came to partnerships in Italy, said Tom Sheer, who as assistant FBI director in New York was Agent Rooney's boss. Italian officials, with some reason, were widely distrusted as corrupt. And the FBI was not known for its generosity with colleagues, acknowledged Sheer, now a security consultant in Florida. "We were the catchers," he said. "They pitched, we caught."
The Americans were indeed difficult partners, said Arlacchi, then an academic studying the Mafia and later an Italian government adviser. "We considered the Americans arrogant," he recalled. "They just wanted to get information, not give. We gave them everything and they said, 'Thank you very much.' "

The resentment turned to alarm, Arlacchi said, when American agents started operating in Italy, making undercover drug buys — forbidden to the Italian police. At one point, he said, Giovanni Falcone, Italy's leading investigative magistrate and anti-Mafia champion, threatened to arrest the Americans. But relations turned around after Judge Falcone and his wife, who was also a judge, and three bodyguards were assassinated in the bombing of their motorcade near Palermo in May 1992. Weeks later, his successor, Paolo Borsellino, was blown up.

"We told the Americans there was no reason not to trust us," Arlacchi said. "We were risking our lives."

Soon Italian and American investigators were working hand in hand, and the FBI was protecting the most valuable Sicilian Mafia boss ever to turn snitch, Tommaso Buscetta, who became a star witness in New York.

In Mexico, a collaboration of sorts, albeit a looser one, already exists, which is a good start. Mexican officials say they enjoy their highest level of cooperation ever with the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration. Like the Italians, they say, they have created new legal tools patterned on American statutes to seize criminal assets, and they have asked the Americans to help protect crucial witnesses and extradite drug lords.

And like the Italians who sought to insulate the police from retaliation and corruption by flooding Sicily with outsiders, police officers from the north, the Mexicans have replaced local officers with 27,000 federal police officers and 30,000 troops. And they too have paid a price: of the 4,402 deaths from the violence since late 2006, at least 449 have been officers and soldiers, says the Mexican attorney general, Eduardo Medina-Mora.

Some experts, however, question whether the two nations have shed enough of their suspicion to reach the cohesion achieved by the United States and Italy. Calderón has bridled at American conditions that would tie aid to greater transparency on the Mexican military's human rights record.

The Americans, in turn, the Mexicans say, need to do more to control their drug demand and the gun traffic across the border — weapons that are killing their police officers.

Some wonder too whether Mexico, struggling with poverty, can bring to bear the resources mobilized by a wealthier nation like Italy.

The way Medina-Mora, sees it, Mexico has no choice. "If we do not win it together," he said, "we will lose it together."

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Re: Mexican drug lords executing more police

Unread post by Vincetheprince » July 3rd, 2008, 1:38 pm

This stuff is crazy and sad

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