Posts Tagged ‘ drug trafficking ’



Mexico’s Hidden Drug War

May 3rd, 2011 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime

THE BORDER REPORT

The following story was produced for the Fronteras Desk, public radio, Arizona. Click here for the audio version.

Long known as Arizona's beach town, tourists and business owners in Rocky Point, Mexico, say a recent State Department's travel warning about this place is unfair. Victims say otherwise. They say cartel violence in Mexico has quietly crept in and goes mostly unreported. Last year the chief of police of this quiet resort town on the Sea of Cortez was gunned down. Since then, the stories of violence here are barely mentioned. Business owners and the town's mayor prefer to keep it that way.   But for people like Veronica, the stories of violence are hard to ignore. Veronica is a waitress in a tourist bar here. She doesn't want her last name used; she's afraid she'll be murdered for talking. She says her boyfriend was a Rocky Point cop kidnapped from their home at gunpoint a few weeks ago. "I have to be careful, I saw the people who did it, so did my son," she says. Police found his body the next day. Noone can agree as to why the killers had ripped his fingernails out and shot him one time. The story barely made the Mexican press and it was never mentioned north of the border. There's other stories. Last week, sources gave a Fronteras Desk reporter a video of a Mexican Marine being accosted in his home by the Rocky Point police chief's bodyguards while the chief stood by watching. In the final moments of the video, his face is shown, beaten. He shot the video on his cellphone. He filed a complaint in court. He was beaten last March. Veronica's boyfriend's was killed in early April. Two weeks later, nearly the entire force held a protest, demanding the chief resign. Rocky Point mayor Alejandro Zepeda dismisses these issues. He's speaking through his translator, Mónica Castro. The mayor says his new chief is staying put. "The commander is ex-military, so he's a little bit more stricter so they have to acknowledge that change and maybe some people don't like the changes but it's gotta be done in order to provide better service for everybody." Over 35,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug wars since 2006. Fewer than three hundred were Americans. Now The State Department's travel warning cautions visitors to Rocky Point. It's Washington's broadest alert yet. It advises people to stay away from entire states in Mexico and includes small towns like Rocky Point it had never mentioned before. Steve Holder's been coming to Rocky Point with his friends for nearly 20 years. "I'm going to Turkey next week and there's a travel warning there too so what can you do," he says as he smokes a cigar and orders another beer on the patio. No American has been killed in Rocky Point as a result of the drug violence in Mexico. But fear has driven the tourists away. On a beautiful day in April, it takes eight hours to find a single American. Rafael Noriega gave up on American tourists. The restaurant owner tried running a swank Italian place in the Old Port. Now he caters to the Mexican crowd with cheap, good red wine and five dollar pizzas. "Only Mexicans now. Mexicans from all over around. There's no Americans, well." Like the mayor, he says the little bit of violence that hit Rocky Point is the kind of sporadic violence that can hit any town in the world. "Nothing special. There's not violence in Puerto Peñasco," he pauses. "Not really." That same afternoon, the Mexican Army storms through downtown.. Fifty-cal rifles are mounted on rotating turrets on the soldiers' Humvee. Those soldiers had just shot a man in a white SUV. This is the problem with reporting on the violence in this town. Two soldiers threatened to arrest me when I tried to photograph the crime scene. The story didn't appear in the town's two major papers the next morning. The Mexican Army never admits publicly to the shooting.


3 Accused of Trying to buy Stinger Missiles, Anti-Tank Weapons for Sinaloa Cartel

Mar 24th, 2011 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime
TUCSON – Three people are accused of trying to buy anti-tank weapons in Arizona for a drug cartel in Mexico. Federal indictments were recently unsealed  in Phoenix. Court documents show the three also tried to buy a Stinger missile. Click here to download the Indictment. The accused were trying to buy the military weaponry for the Sinaloa Cartel.  Court documents show they used pounds of crystal meth for a down payment on the weapons. The case started in 2009 in Phoenix. One of the accused, David Diaz, approached a confidential informant working for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. They delivered nearly five pounds of crystal meth and $139,000 in cash. Then they brought ten more pounds to finish the arms deal. Robbie Sherwood is the spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona. “These are very serious charges, as the indictment that has been unsealed indicate. We will be proceeding to trial soon and we look forward to presenting our case at that time.” From the indictment: A Dragon Fire Anti-Tank Weapon, a Stinger Missile, (a surface-to-air missile like those used by Afghan fighters in the eighties to defeat the Soviets), two AT-4s, a shoulder-fired light anti-tank rocket, a variety of grenade launchers, two M-60 machine guns and three cases of hand grenades. Court records show that Diaz was trying to buy the weapons for the Yucatan Peninsula. They were destined for druglords Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán and Ismael El Mayo Zambada, the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel. The cartel is battling not only every other cartel in Mexico, but also the Mexican Army. John Bailey, a Georgetown University professor who worked in Mexico most of his career, says this level of weaponry was likely designed to take on the Mexican government itself. “It’s the kind of weaponry that you’d expect to be used against the Army. These groups are willing to up the ante.” The trial begins in April in Arizona.


Nine Arrested in ICE Agent’s Killing, but Questions of Torture Persist

Feb 25th, 2011 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime, Politics
THE BORDER REPORT

The Mexican Army arrested nine suspects in the murder of an American federal agent working in that country. Officials are calling the shooting a case of mistaken identity. The Obama Administration has lauded the Mexican government for its fast work.  But some are suspicious of the arrests. Six of the nine suspects were paraded in front of the media early Thursday. In this photo from El Universal, Jesus Iván Quezada Peña, number three in the lineup, has both eyes swollen shut, his mouth bleeding and bruised. Another's face was splotched in purple and black.



Dedos Muertos?

Jan 26th, 2011 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime

THE BORDER REPORT

This State Department cable out of Wikileaks caught my eye. 51 FBI informants and 10 DEA "liaison officers" were murdered in Mexico between 2007-09.

When we talk about American law enforcement in Mexico, we generally view the Americans as not being part of the game; for the most part, this has held true since the wars began.

But I wonder about these 61 informants and liaisons. Were the 51 also Mexican informants and therefore murdered for that connection or were they killed because of their ties to the Americans? Same for the 10 liaisons. Were they killed because they were Mexican intelligence officers or because they were working with the Americans?



Hundreds Gather to Honor Murdered Border Agent

Jan 21st, 2011 | By Michel Marizco | Category: General News, Organized Crime, Politics
The U.S. Border Patrol held a memorial service in Tucson on Friday morning, paying homage to one of its elite agents, Brian Terry, who was killed during a gunbattle with bandits in a canyon along the Arizona-Mexico border. He was a man who friends called "Super-Cop." (Click inside for slideshow of images.) This is a story I produced for KJZZ's Fronteras Desk, public radio, Arizona. TUCSON – Hundreds of Border Patrol agents filled part of the baseball stadium in a sea of olive green. A line of riflemen stood at attention as the American flag and the agency's own flag fluttered in the cool morning air. They were here to honor an elite Border Patrol agent murdered last month. Brian Terry was a former Marine and cop who became an agent in his late thirties. Agent Jose Verdugo had known Terry since their days in the Border Patrol Academy. They they ran into each other in a hall recently and Verdugo says he wasn't surprised to see Terry in the uniform of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit. "Brian, your work ethic, your integrity and your sense of honor were infectious and inspirational. Rest in peace, super-cop," he said. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin addressed the agents, telling them the murderers will be captured. "The reason why he was in those canyons west of Nogales and the reasons why our Border Patrol agents go out on the line and stand between harm and the American people is because we are determined to restore the rule of law to the United States Mexico border. And this sector in Tucson is the last place where it must happen," Bersin said. Four Mexican men have been arrested as part of the investigation into the murder. Nobody has been charged.
Created with flickr slideshow from softsea.


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