Category Archives: Drug wars

Poll shows strong public support for using Army and Marines to fight organized crime

A poll carried out by the Chamber of Deputies, which is currently debating the new internal security law, showed that almost 80% of those surveyed supported giving legal authorization for the Army and the Marines to fight organized crime.

Milenio poll 1

The survey of 900 persons carried out by the Chamber’s Center for Social Studies and Public Opinion also showed some clear limitations on the powers they approved the military having.

Those surveyed said the military should:

  • Be able to put down demonstrations using force: 74% NO
  • Be able to carry out communications surveillance or collect personal information: 55% NO
  • Be able to carry out criminal investigations: 61% YES
  • Be able to take criminal complaints and testimony of criminal acts: 62% YES

 

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The poll also showed in stark terms the difference between public confidence in the Army and the Marines lack of trust in local and state police forces, and even the Federal Police.

Reported in Milenio.

 

Another drug kingpin escapes from prison

Juan José Esparragoza Monzón, aka “El Negro,” escaped from a prison in Culiacán in a mid-day jailbreak.  He was on the Justice Ministry’s list of 122 top targets; his capture on  January 19  was announced in a press conference by Mexico’s national security commissioner, Renato Sales.  El Negro was being held pending extradition to the U.S.  He is believed to be one of the top financial operators of the Sinaloa Cartel.  His father “El Azul,” is one of the cartel’s top leaders–perhaps the top leader after El Chapo’s recapture last year.  “El Negro” is also married to the youngest daughter of the former head of the Beltran Leyva cartel, who was killed in a high profile military operation in 2009. Source: López-Doriga.

Veracruz boneyard rekindles anxieties about killings, insecurity and corruption

The disclosure that more than 250 skulls have been discovered just outside the port district of Veracruz has once more reminded Mexicans of how poorly their government functions in terms of providing security and solving crimes.

Veracruz fosaThe remains were found by a human rights group over many months, acting on a tip from traffickers. A spokesman for a group of mothers searching for missing children said:

“What we have found is abominable and it reveals the state of corruption, violence and impunity that reigns not only in Veracruz, but in all of Mexico,” Ms. Diaz said.

“A reality that speaks of the collusion of authorities with organized crime in Veracruz, for it is impossible to see what we found without the participation of authorities,” she said.

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What the U.S. says vs what Mexico hears

Even when President Trump and senior U.S. officials go out of their way to say positive things about cooperation with Mexico, their manner of expression reinforces negative interpretations of their intentions.  Two current examples from Trump’s interview before the Super Bowl and Secretary Kelly’s testimony in Congress together with Mexican columnist reactions:

What the U.S. says:

Trump: We have to do something about the cartels. I did talk to [Peña Nieto] about it. I want to help him with it. … He seemed very willing to get help from us because he has got a problem, and it’s a real problem for us. … We get along very well. But they have problems controlling aspects of their country.

Kelly: If the drugs are in the United States, we’ve lost. … I think a huge partner here is Mexico. If we can help them get after the poppy production, … if we can help them get after the production labs, if we can help them get after the heroin, the methamphetamine … before it gets to the border.

What Mexican commentators hear: 

Alejandro Hope: The “aid” that Trump is supposedly offering isn’t aid:  it is war. … There isn’t … a recognition of the co-responsibility of the two countries with the problem of transnational organized crime.  … Trump’s offer is … bullets for the narcos in Mexico – period. If this is aid, I prefer open threats.

Salvador García Soto: What Trump suggested and Kelly confirmed is to take the Merida Initiative to the next level and relaunch it as a new “Plan Mexico,” similar to “Plan Colombia.” … a military assistance plan … which the Americans would coordinate and execute–with the Mexican army and police as “allies” and subordinates.

Raymundo Riva Palacio:  This plan would signify the end of the ability of Los Pinos [the Mexican White House] to take independent and autonomous decisions, through a monumental qualitative change in the bilateral cooperation over the past 10 years: the fight against drugs would depend strategically and tactically on the United States.

More extensive quotes are below.

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Killings rise 22% in 2016

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 2.25.39 PMThe government reported that wrongful deaths rose 22% to 20,789 in 2016.  This is the highest level of the Peña Nieto government, and the third highest recorded (after 2011 and 2012, during the height of the Calderón drug war.)  The states with the highest homicide rates were Colima (82 per 100k!!), Guerrero, Sinaloa, Baja California, and Chihuahua.  More detail here from Reforma.

Restarting the blog: Why now?

After a long hiatus, I’ve decided to restart this blog on Mexican politics. 

Why now?  The current moment in Mexico is the most critical in decades: 

  • Weak, lame-duck President without a game plan for final two years of his term;
  • Political fragmentation, with the next president likely to be elected with under 30% of the vote;
  • Inability of the political system to address drug violence and public corruption;
  • Country’s (and government’s) financial position still solid, but slipping;
  • Chronic slow economic growth;

And, of course,

  • Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on NAFTA, Mexican migrants in the U.S., and—indeed—the dignity of the Mexican people.

While I am an optimist at heart about Mexico, today for the first time in many years the risk exists that the country will take a sharp turn in the wrong direction, putting at risk decades of progress in economic modernization and integration into the world economy, tens of billions of dollars of investment, the advent of democratic governance, and close, constructive relations with the United States.   

 

Government data shows 15,000 organized crime-related homicides in 2010

The government released for the first time comprehensive data (Mexico Segob homicide database) on killings related to organized crime. Ministry of Government spokesman Alejandro Poiré said the disclosure was “an exercise of transparency without precedent in Mexico, and with few precedents in the world.” The database includes killings month by month from December 2006 (when Felipe Calderón took office) through December 2010 for more than 1,100 municipalities across the country.

Some highlights from the government data:

  • Overall killings spiked to more than 15,000 in 2010, an increase of 59% from 2009. The government’s figures are significantly higher than those compiled (and published weekly) by the major newspapers. Reforma for example, recorded 11,583
  • On a quarterly basis, the peak was 2Q and 3Q 2010.  The rate of killings was down 10% in 4Q10, though the government was unwilling to say this was the beginning of a trend.
  • Since December 2006, 70% of the killings have been concentrated in just 85 municipalities, concentrated along the U.S. border and the Pacific coast.

Poiré’s presentation is here: SEGOB Presentation on Organized Crime Killings, Jan 11