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 28,000 people, the government reported in August. The increasing militarization of the drug war and the arrest 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.
In Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrerro, Chihuahua, a 20-year old criminology student was sworn in as police chief. Marisol Valles Garcia, who studies in Ciudad Juarez, plans to use an all-female, unarmed force of 13 people to fight crime in the town of 8,500 residents. The position has been open since the previous police chief was assassinated in July 2009.
In Tijuana, Mexican soldiers seized 134 tons of marijuana in a series of raids. Eleven individuals were also taken into custody. The marijuana was wrapped in an estimated 10,000 packages with various labels, including Homer Simpson saying "Let's get high, dude" in Spanish.
Friday, October 22
In Ciudad Juarez, at least 24 people were murdered in several incidents across the city. In one incident, 14 people, mostly teenagers, were killed when gunmen stormed a house where a birthday party was taking place. Among the dead was 13-year old girl. The gunmen arrived in three cars and told the victims that they were looking for "El Raton," who Mexican media sources have reported is a member of the Sinaloa-cartel allied Artist Assassins gang. In other incidents, a municipal police captain was gunned down, and two women were shot point blank and tossed from a vehicle.
Sunday, October 24
In Tijuana, 13 people were killed at a drug rehabilitation center when presumed cartel gun men opened fire. There is speculation the killings could be linked to a massive, 135-ton pot seizure in the city last week.
In Saltillo, Coahuila, a woman and her two children were killed after being caught in the middle of a firefight between a convoy of police and soldiers and unidentified gunmen. Maria Angelica Galindo Sanchez, 47, was a daughter of the former mayor of the city, which is the capitol of Coahuila. The two children were aged 14 and 18.
Monday, October 25
On Youtube, a video was posted in which unidentified gunmen interrogate the kidnapped brother of Patricia Gonzalez, the former head prosecutor for the state of Chihuahua, in which Ciudad Juarez is located. In the video Mario Gonzalez is seen surrounded by five heavily armed men, and claims he took bribes from the Juarez Cartel and ordered several killings.
Tuesday, October 26
In Nuevo Leon, the mayor of a small town near Monterrey announced that his entire police force quit after their headquarters was attacked with automatic weapons and grenades the night before. Nobody was injured in the attack, in which six police officers hid as the building came under heavy fire for approximately 15 minutes.
Wednesday, October 27
In Tepic, Nayarit, 15 people were killed at a car wash when three SUVs full of gun men pulled up and began indiscriminately shooting at employees and customers. The unemployed young men who work informally washing cars sometimes work as street level spies for warring drug gang factions.
Total Body Count for the Week: 199
Total Body Count for the Year: 8,707
Read the previous Mexico Drug War Update here.