January 18, 2010

Photos from the Mexican Museum of Drugs.

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Samuel Logan seems to be one of the most forward-thinking people covering Latin America and the drug wars and drug politics. He’s a journalist with the mind of a policy analyst and security specialist. This essay, “The Reality of a Mexican Mega-Cartel” has a lot to do with what we see happening today, the speculation that the government is selectively pursuing enemies of the older, stronger Sinaloa cartel in order to quell turf violence and consolidate the industry. It’s a fantastic essay.

Mexican Forces Seize El Teo

January 12, 2010

Calderon is on a roll. Apparently the Navy caught El Teo, the spinoff former Tijuana cartel enforcer operating out of Baja. Another big catch, although Teo represents the ‘new wave’ of Mexican drug trafficker, part of the younger, more ruthless generation of smugglers.The Tijuana cartel is fractured these days, and Teo was warring with them for turf. Some say he was aligned with the Sinaloans, but regardless this is another positive development for the Sinaloa cartel. Teo’s turf in Baja and the border to the east of Tijuana is up for grabs.

CS Monitor.

January 11, 2010

The banners are placed by rival drug mobs. But they hint at a paradox. The Sinaloa organisation (named after a north-western state) is responsible for around 45% of the drug trade in Mexico, reckons Edgardo Buscaglia, a lawyer and economist at ITAM, a Mexico City university. But using statistics from the security forces, he calculates that only 941 of the 53,174 people arrested for organised crime in the past six years were associated with Sinaloa.

The Economist.

Finally, this is a news story.

You can’t wipe out the drug trade in Mexico; economically, politically, and physically it’s not possible. So you quietly sanction the strongest one. They help you get rid of their smaller competitors through intelligence. Violence stops. Politically it looks like you’re winning a war.

Killing Arturo BeltranIt’s wild how openly he lived in Cuernavaca. In addition to bribing everyone in power in every level of government there, he had two teams of people roving the city constantly, day and night, keeping track of police and army movements. The first drove around and kept tabs while the second guarded houses and was ready as hired guns to be called in by the first team should they ever need as a distraction or to start a fight. His soldiers even had special flak jackets emblazoned with FEDA, the spanish acronym for “Special Forces of Arturo”.

But should we really think of him as a solitary kingpin, the owner of an empire? Couldn’t Arturo Beltran have been anyone? What does it really mean for Mexico that he’s dead?

January 5, 2010

Arturo Beltran Leyva made a pact with municipal, state, and federal authorities in Morelos to eliminate common criminals (such as muggers, carjackers, thieves, kidnappers, and rapists) in exchange for letting his organization traffic drugs without interference.  The idea was to keep Morelos safe and to continue attracting both national and international tourists. Morelos, has become an important enclave in the transportation of drugs.

From Stratfor. This kind of thing points to how instituionalized organized crime is in Mexico. While cities like Juarez and Tijuana, contested turf between rival cartels, are seeing incredible violence as well as police and military attention, other border crossings like Nogales and Mexicali (plazas in the middle of Sinaloa territory) have very little violence AND very little attention from Calderon’s “drug war”. Are we to believe cartels aren’t active in these places? It’s easy to say that these places aren’t ‘urgent problems’ and that other areas require the majority of resources, but Mexicali and Nogales haven’t been problems for decades really. It’s also a sign that the drug trade itself isn’t really the problem for Mexico, it’s the violence associated with it.