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Mexico Drug War Update

by Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations make billions each year smuggling drugs into the United States, profiting enormously from the prohibitionist drug policies of the US government. Since Mexican president Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006 and called the armed forces into the fight against the so-called cartels, prohibition-related violence has killed more than 45,000 people, including more than 15,000 in 2010 and approximately 12,000 last year. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrests or killings of dozens of high-profile drug traffickers have failed to stem the flow of drugs -- or the violence -- whatsoever. The Merida initiative, which provides $1.4 billion over three years for the US to assist the Mexican government with training, equipment and intelligence, has so far failed to make a difference. Here are a few of the latest developments in Mexico's drug war:

Thursday, January 12

In Nuevo Leon, military personnel captured a high-ranking Zeta boss. Jesus Sarabia Luis Ramos, "El Pepito," was considered by authorities to be the fourth most important leader in the organization. He was known to operate in Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas.

Sunday, January 15

In Culiacan, a Canadian national was gunned down. Salih Adabulazizz Sahbaz, 35, was apparently of Iranian or Iraqi origin and was carrying a large amount of cash on his person when he was murdered. The motive remains unknown. He is the third Canadian known to have been killed in Mexico so far this year.

Monday, January 16

In Cuernavaca, seven gunmen were killed in a fire fight with federal police. One officer was wounded in the clash. The gunmen were traveling in three stolen vehicles when police intercepted them.

In Zacapetec, Morelos, the local police chief was shot and killed by three men on motorcycles while he was at a gas station. He survived the initial shooting but later died in a local hospital.

Tuesday, January 17

In Little Rock, Arkansas, authorities indicted 22 individuals on trafficking charges for being part in a meth operation with links to Mexican cartels. Seventeen of those are now in custody. Police also seized 13.3 pounds of "ice" meth and seven vehicles, five weapons and $163,590.

In Ciudad Juarez, gunmen stormed a home and killed four individuals inside. Three of the dead were found in a bathroom where they had attempted to hide. Local media reported that at least some of the men had been released from prison six months ago.

In Nayarit, police arrested a local cartel boss. Benigno Ibarra Valle, 30, "El Guero Pelocho," was the head of the "Pelochos," a local branch of the Sinaloa Cartel. He is suspected in the deaths of at least five police officers in recent weeks. Nine other individuals were also taken into custody.

In Lazaro Cardenas, authorities seized 194 tons of meth precursor chemicals on a ship from China. The containers were all headed for Guatemala or Nicaragua.

[Editor's Note: We are no longer going to keep a running tally of the death toll; the figures are too unreliable. The latest figures below were released by the Mexican government in January.]

Total Body Count for 2007 (approx.): 4,300

Total Body Count for 2008 (approx.): 5,400

Total Body Count for 2009 (approx.): 9,600
 
Total Body Count for 2010 (official): 15,273

Partial Body Count for 2011 (official): 12,093*

Total Body Count (official): 47,705*

* Official figures through September 30, 2011. Unofficial estimates put the entire year's death toll at around 16,000, meaning more than 50,000 people have been killed.

Mexico
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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agents

The 'War on Drug' is nothing more than a revenue tool for the agents of government. (judges, cops, lawyers and jails). tania

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