Mexico's Drug Cartel Violence is This...

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#885 Jun 19, 2010
Cancun police find 12 decomposing inside caverns

CANCUN, Mexico (AP)— Police in Cancun found 12 decomposing bodies in four caverns and were searching for more cadavers in violence blamed on drug gangs in the popular resort city, officials said Friday.

Earlier this month, police discovered six other bodies, three of them cut open and their hearts removed, in a similar cavern near the Mexican resort. Three of the bodies had the letter “Z” carved on their abdomens — a possible reference to the Zeta drug gang.

Police say detained gunmen have led them to all the clandestine graves — dried up sinkhole caves, known as cenotes.

Quintana Roo state Attorney General Francisco Alor said Friday that nine alleged hit men detained three days earlier led police to the 12 bodies.

Alor said three of the sinkholes are in an area covered with scrub vegetation near a residential area and the fourth on the outskirts of Cancun along a highway leading to Merida. None of the bodies have been identified.

Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located, is a transshipment point for cocaine being smuggled from Colombia to the United States.

In 2009, prosecutors arrested Cancun’s police chief, Francisco Velasco, to investigate whether he protected the Zetas drug gang. A former governor of the state was sentenced to 36 years for money laundering and helping a cartel smuggle narcotics.

More than 22,700 people have died nationwide in drug violence since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon sent soldiers and federal police to battle the cartels.

Cartel hit men have been know to use mass dumping sites to dispose of their victims. In late May, police in the colonial tourist town of Taxco discovered 55 bodies in an abandoned silver mine.

Meanwhile, Mexican soldiers seized more than $1 million in cash from a house in a northern state that is the home base of the country’s most powerful cartel, authorities said Friday.

Soldiers acting on an anonymous tip raided three houses Thursday in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa, the Defense Department said in a statement.

They found $1 million in cash, four guns and $80 in fake cash in the first house, the department said. In a second, they discovered $28,400, cocaine, a gun, expensive watches and other jewelry. Drugs were found in the third house.

The department did not say what cartel might have owned the money. There were no arrests.

Sinaloa state is a stronghold of the cartel with the same name, led by kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

In the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, two 15-year-old girls were among 15 people killed in a 24-hour period, said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office.

The girls were riding in a car with three men Thursday night when assailants opened fire. The girls were killed inside the car, while the men tried to flee and were shot dead on the street, Sandoval said.

Police had no immediate suspects.

Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, is one of the deadliest cities in the world because of a turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels.

http://www.svherald.com/content/associatedpre...

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#886 Jun 19, 2010
'Very violent week' in Juárez logs 60-plus slayings

Aileen B. Flores
El Paso Times
06/19/2010

Chihuahua state police reported more than 60 murders in Juárez this week.

"This has been a very violent week," said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general's office, on Friday.

Sandoval said eight homicides occurred on Monday, 11 on Tuesday, 22 on Wednesday and about 15 on Thursday. As of Friday afternoon, five people had been killed, he said.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Mexico since the beginning of June in what Mexican authorities say will be the deadliest month since President Felipe Calderón began a war against drug cartels in late 2006. More than 180 people have been killed in Juárez since the beginning of June.

http://www.elpasotimes.com/juarez/ci_15330909

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#887 Jun 19, 2010
In brief: Juárez buries 16 unclaimed bodies

Times staff, wire reports
06/19/2010

Juárez buries 16 unclaimed bodies

Authorities buried 17 unclaimed bodies Friday afternoon at the San Rafael Cemetery on the outskirts of Juárez.

The bodies were those of 16 men and a woman who were killed during attacks or accidents at the beginning of 2010.

Every three to four months, Juárez officials bury unclaimed bodies. A genetic map is performed on each body in case relatives come forward later.

Aileen B. Flores

Police: Teen tossed pot during car chase

EL PASO -- Police arrested a teenager on suspicion of evading arrest and chucking handfuls of marijuana out of his car when police tried to stop him.

Police said Elijah Munn, 18, was booked into the El Paso County Jail on investigation of possession of marijuana over 4 ounces but under 5 pounds. His bond was set at $1,500, police said.

Police tried to stop Munn on U.S. Highway 54 about 11 p.m. Thursday after he passed a police car on the right shoulder with its emergency lights on. An officer saw it and tried to pull Munn over when he turned west on Hondo Pass, but Munn refused to stop, police said.

The officer saw Munn throw three handfuls of marijuana out the driver's side window as he drove west on Hondo Pass. Munn was stopped in the 3700 block of Hondo Pass, police said.

A drug-sniffing dog located marijuana in the vehicle, officials said. The combined weight of the marijuana dropped onto the road and inside the vehicle had a weight of 4.21 ounces, police said.

Maggie Ybarra

Man sentenced to 3 years for molestation

LAS CRUCES -- An elderly man was sentenced to three years in prison Friday for making a neighbor touch him inappropriately when she was 5.

Bernardino Romero, 76, was sentenced to the maximum time by 3rd Judicial District Court Judge Lisa Schultz, who denied the defense's request to give Romero probation and counseling because of his age and lack of criminal background.

"He's not somebody that poses a risk to the community at all," said Beth Hubbard Bramblett, of the Las Cruces Office of the Public Defender.

But Assistant District Attorney Roxanne Esquibel countered that Romero, who did not address the court Friday, "apparently still accepts no responsibility" for the crime.

Las Cruces Sun-News

http://www.elpasotimes.com/juarez/ci_15331448

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#888 Jun 19, 2010
Two arrested after 20 pounds of cocaine found in truck

Chris Roberts
El Paso Times
06/19/2010

EL PASO -- More than 20 pounds of cocaine was seized when investigators searched a truck parked outside a home near Horizon City, police said.
Rogelio Martinez, 33, who lives in the 13000 block of Alarcon in San Elizario, and Adelaida Trejo, 42, from the 500 block of Agua De Brisa, were arrested Thursday afternoon for investigation of possession of a controlled substance.

The cocaine, estimated by police to have a street value of more than $1.5 million, was wrapped in eight bundles in the truck parked in front of the home on Agua De Brisa.

Martinez and Trejo were booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility on bonds of $250,000 each. They were still being held this morning.

The arrests were made by the West Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Stash House Unit. The investigation continues, officials said.

http://www.elpasotimes.com/newupdated/ci_1533...

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#889 Jun 19, 2010
Suspected Arms Smugglers Released

Reported by: Farrah Fazal

ZAPATA - Zapta County Sheriff's Deputies say they intercepted the largest arms seizure in their history.

Investigators say they pulled over a vehicle with three people inside. During a search they found night vision goggles and 3,500 of 50 caliber ammunition.

"Fifty caliber is a very very large round, the type you see on machine guns and tanks," says Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez Junior.

The suspected smugglers were released because all of the items found in the car are legal in the United States.

The ammunition was seized as part of the investigation. Sheriff Gonzalez says he's sure this load was headed to Mexico.

http://www.krgv.com/news/local/story/Suspecte...

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#890 Jun 20, 2010
Mexico ruling party: Federal police for elections.

MEXICO CITY (AP)— The leader of President Felipe Calderon’s conservative party said Saturday he wants federal police to patrol 14 Mexican states that are holding local elections this year.

National Action Party leader Cesar Nava charged that state governors from the old ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party are planning to use local police in favor of their candidates.

“Recent history shows us that some PRI governors are preparing to use police to make it easier to round up voters for their party and impede the free movement of our supporters,” Nava said at a gathering of his party’s leadership in Mexico City.

He said such acts suggest “the lack of conditions for free and genuinely democratic elections.”

Nava said he will ask the federal Interior Department — which oversees domestic security — to consider the dispatch of federal forces to the states with elections scheduled. Local police usually provide security for local elections.

Nava’s comments were some of the harshest criticism yet aimed at the old ruling party, known as the PRI. It still holds a majority of Mexican governorships, and other parties have accused the PRI of using vote-buying and other questionable tactics.

PRI leaders have denied the allegations, saying their rivals are frightened by polls showing the PRI leading most state races.

The PRI held Mexico’s presidency without interruption from 1929 to 2000, when it lost the presidential election to the PAN.

The power of the governors of Mexico’s 31 states has grown since the PAN partly dismantled the far-reaching, centralized authority of the presidency that had been built up under the long reign of the PRI.

Ten states are holding elections for governors, mayors and other local posts July 4, and four other states will hold votes for governors or other posts later in the year.

Nava also condemned a series of attacks with small incendiary devices on the offices of PRI, PAN and the third main party, the Democratic Revolution Party, in the northern state of Sinaloa last week. The offices in each case were only slightly damaged and no injuries were reported.

Nava called them “cowardly acts of vandalism” and said some people “are trying to destabilize the pre-electoral climate and spread fear among the population.”

http://www.svherald.com/content/associatedpre...

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#891 Jun 20, 2010
Mayor of Valley of Juárez town is shot dead

By Aileen B. Flores
El Paso Times
06/20/2010

The Valley of Juárez, which has been struck by drug violence recently, was dealt another deadly blow Saturday.

The mayor of Guadalupe Distrito Bravo was shot and killed in Juárez, said Chihuahua state police.

Jesús Manuel Lara Rodríguez, 48, was killed about noon in a home in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Juárez.

Chihuahua state police said Lara Rodríguez was shot several times in the back. At the scene, investigators found 14 bullet casings from a .223-caliber weapon, police said.

Lara Rodríguez took office in 2007. His term was to end this year after the July 4 elections.

Guadalupe Distrito Bravo is a community south of Texas' Hudspeth County with a population of 9,000.

In February 2009, gunmen also killed two members of the town council of Guadalupe.

Juárez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz on Saturday condemned the murder of Lara Rodríguez.

Reyes Ferriz said Lara Rodriguez was a leader committed to serving his community's needs.

"This is a great tragedy for the municipality of Guadalupe, the state of Chihuahua and Mexico because, as a public servant, Jesús Manuel was a role model," Reyes Ferriz said.

Reyes Ferriz said Guadalupe has been affected by the continual attacks by organized crime.

Since March, arsonists have destroyed houses and shops, and gang members have forced residents out with threats of violence.

"The organized crime has escalated to levels of terrorism because of the attacks of innocent people and has attempted to destabilize the
government by killing public servants. We have to form a common front to shut them down," Reyes Ferriz said.

Reyes Ferriz said he had already contacted members of the Border Mayoral Committee to create a plan and help the community of Guadalupe.

He said Lara Rodriguez was an active member of that organization.

Many people have fled the Valley of Juárez and have moved to U.S. towns including Fort Hancock, Tornillo and Fabens, officials said.

http://www.elpasotimes.com/newupdated/ci_1533...

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#892 Jun 21, 2010
Catholic Church warns of cartel control in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP)— Mexico’s Roman Catholic Church says drug cartels now control parts of some cities and warns that the gangs may be trying to influence this year’s state elections.

The Archdiocese of Mexico says in an editorial that organized crime groups may try “to impose candidates” in the July 4 elections that will decide 12 of Mexico’s 31 governorships. I

It says cartels may also try to impede voters from going to the polls.

The editorial posted Sunday on the archdiocese’s website says drug gangs are intimidating governments in some states and “control entire neighborhoods in some cities.”

More than 22,700 people have died in drug-related violence since Mexico launched an anti-drug offensive in late 2006.

http://www.svherald.com/content/associatedpre...

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#893 Jun 21, 2010
In brief: Mexican army seizes 1.6 tons of marijuana
Times staff, wire reports

06/21/2010

Mexican army seizes 1.6 tons of marijuana

The Mexican army seized 1.6 tons of marijuana in the southern part of the state of Chihuahua, military officials said during the weekend.

The marijuana was seized June 14 during a patrol by the First Mechanized Regiment near the town of Guadalupe y Calvo.

There were no arrests.

In Juárez, the violence continued with at least five homicides Sunday, including an unidentified man found wrapped in a bedspread in colonia Parajes de Oriente. Chihuahua state police said the man had a white string around his neck and a towel and plastic bag over his head.

Daniel Borunda

Boys recovering from NM plane crash

ALAMOGORDO -- The two brothers who survived Thursday's plane crash at Sierra Blanca Regional Airport in Ruidoso are doing better.

Five people, including the boys' parents, were killed in the crash.

Alexander Richey, 16, is now coherent after having surgery Saturday at an El Paso hospital, reported WFAA-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth. Kristopher Richey, 12, is out of bed.

The boys are from Granbury, Texas.

Alamogordo Daily News

http://www.elpasotimes.com/juarez/ci_15340857

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#894 Jun 21, 2010
Mexican newspapers: Rocky Point police chief shot multiple times

Posted - 6/21/2010

TUCSON- Mexican newspapers are reporting Rocky Point's police chief is seriously injured after being shot multiple times Saturday night.

"El Reportero" and "RockyPoint News Online" report the chief and his escort were attacked with AK-47s while they were riding in a pickup.

Both are reported to have been shot at least six times.

http://www.kvoa.com/news/mexican-newspapers-r...

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#895 Jun 21, 2010
Fears for Mexico’s State Elections

MEXICO CITY (AP)- Mexico's Roman Catholic Church says drug cartels now control parts of some cities and warns that the gangs may be trying to influence this year's state elections.

The Archdiocese of Mexico says in an editorial that organized crime groups may try "to impose candidates" in the July 4 elections that will decide 12 of Mexico's 31 governorships. It says cartels may also try to impede voters from going to the polls.

The editorial posted Sunday on the archdiocese's website says drug gangs are intimidating governments in some states and "control entire neighborhoods in some cities."

More than 22,700 people have died in drug-related violence since Mexico launched an anti-drug offensive in late 2006.

http://www.krgv.com/news/local/story/Fears-fo...

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#896 Jun 22, 2010
Chihuahua state homicide investigator shot to death in Juárez

By Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times
06/21/2010

A Chihuahua state homicide investigator was shot and killed today outside a home in east Juárez.
Jose Luis Rey Macias, 49, had been with the ministerial investigative police for nearly 18 years, officials said. He was fatally shot about 4:30 a.m. at a home on Congreso Nacional Constituyente and Tepalcingo streets in colonia Morelos III. No bullet casings were found.

The homicide took place the same day as the funeral for Juárez police officer Jazmin Mota Chavez, who was shot and killed when she arrived home Friday on her day off. Two other people were killed and three were wounded in that attack.

http://www.elpasotimes.com/juarez/ci_15344685

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#897 Jun 22, 2010
Drug Cartel Activity Threatens Texas Water Supplies, Lawmaker Says

By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published June 21, 2010
FOXNews.com

Drug cartel activity along the Mexican border presents serious security threats to the area's water supply system, particularly on federally-owned lands in southern Texas, a U.S. lawmaker says.

Members of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing Thursday on H.R. 4719, a bill that would create a Southwest Border Region Water Task Force to monitor and assess the water supply needs of the area.

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., ranking member of the House subcommittee, told FoxNews.com that the situation needs immediate attention, particularly in light of reports that a Mexican drug cartel -- the Los Zetas -- unsuccessfully plotted to blow up the Falcon Dam along the Rio Grande last month.

"If the plot against Falcon Dam had succeeded, it would have affected more than 4 million residential customers," McClintock said Monday. "We need to focus our attention on securing these border water systems from attack by Mexican drug cartels, but also their use as a conduit for the illegal importation of drugs and people."

McClintock said he will seek to amend H.R. 4719 to alter its focus toward border security issues. As it currently stands, the legislation would establish a task force that would submit a report on the region's water supplies to Congress and would be comprised of representatives from the Department of Agriculture, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Southwest Border Regional Commission and others.
(continued)

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/06/21/dr...

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#898 Jun 22, 2010
Gunmen kill 15 Mexican officers in 2 attacks

By E. EDUARDO CASTILLO
Associated Press Writer
June 21, 2010

MEXICO CITY — Gunmen killed 15 federal police officers Monday in separate attacks in two drug-plagued states, marking one of the bloodiest days for security forces since the government stepped up its fight with drug cartels.

Twelve officers died in an ambush near a high school in the western state of Michoacan, while assailants killed three more officers in a northern border state.

The latest in a series of mass slayings came as President Felipe Calderon defended his crackdown on traffickers in an essay on his office's website. He vowed he won't back down despite criticism that violence has only surged since he deployed thousands of troops and federal police in late 2006 seeking to crush the cartels.

"I'm clearly convinced that we would be in a much worse situation if we hadn't decided to fight criminals," Calderon wrote in the 5,000-word essay, which was published by several newspapers.

"If we remain with our arms crossed, we will remain in the hands of organized crime, we will always live in fear," the president said in the essay, which also blames Mexico's violence on the United States' voracious appetitive for illegal drugs.

In the ambush in Michoacan, Calderon's home state, officers riding in four pickup trucks were returning from a patrol when they came under fire in the city of Zitacuaro, the federal Public Safety Department said in a statement.

Ten officers died on the spot and two more on the way to a hospital. Thirteen other officers with wounds were taken to hospitals in Mexico City, the nearby city of Toluca and to the Michoacan state capital, Morelia, the Michoacan Public Safety Department said in a statement.

The federal safety department said several assailants were also killed or wounded, but officials did not provide a number.

In a separate statement, the department said gunmen killed three federal officers patrolling in the northern city of Chihuahua. One officer was wounded, the statement said.

Also Monday, three gunmen were killed in a clash with soldiers in Michoacan. Two soldiers were wounded, the state attorney general's office said. It said one of the attackers was detained.

Brutal drug-gang violence has swept Michoacan, a state known for its picturesque colonial capital, beaches and Monarch butterfly sanctuary, and as the place where Calderon first launched his crackdown. The state is a stronghold of La Familia, a cartel known for beheading its rivals and making bold attacks on government security forces.

Among attacks on law enforcement, the bloodied and tortured bodies of 12 federal agents were found last year dumped along a highway in Michoacan.

Police did not immediately identify attackers involved in Monday's ambush or indicate whether they were suspected of being gunmen for La Familia. But the Public Safety Department did say the assailants picked up their wounded and dead and fled with them, a tactic often used by drug cartels.

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning urging U.S. citizens "to exercise extreme caution when traveling in Michoacan."

Nationwide, more than 22,700 people have been killed in drug violence since Calderon ordered the government offensive against cartels when he took office in December 2006.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/al...

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#899 Jun 23, 2010
Gunmen fire on Mexican town hall; kill 3 police

MEXICO CITY (AP)— Authorities in northern Mexico say assailants sprayed a town hall with gunfire, killing at least three police officers.

The Nuevo Leon state attorney general’s office says police found 200 shell casings from assault and semiautomatic rifles outside the Los Herreras municipal office, which also houses the town’s police force.

Such weapons are often used by drug cartel hitmen. Prosecutors said Tuesday a vehicle found at the scene had “Z-40” and “Z” painted on its windows — apparent references to the Zetas drug gang.

Authorities blame fighting between the Gulf cartel and the Zetas for a recent surge in violence in Nuevo Leon, which is close to Mexico’s border with Texas.

The attack happned around midnight Monday.

http://www.svherald.com/content/associatedpre...

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#900 Jun 23, 2010
Mother Blames Police For Son's Death In Mexican Violence

Reported by: Lisa Cortez

REYNOSA - Maria Jesus Mancha recently buried her 27-year-old son.

Miguel Angel Vasquez was caught up in gunfire as he drove through Reynosa one night.

"They took my son. The thing I most loved in this life," says Mancha.

Vasquez is just one of more than 20,000 people killed in the cartel border battles since 2006.

His mother says the drug traffickers aren't the only ones to blame.

"I blame the authorities, our bad government and the police," she says.

She knows speaking out could lead to her death. But Mancha says they've already taken the only thing she had to live for.

http://www.krgv.com/news/local/story/Mother-B...

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#901 Jun 24, 2010
Suspect in 62 homicides in Juarez arrested

By Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times
06/24/2010

Mexican federal police arrested a man suspected in at least 62 homicides after a shooting in Juárez, officials said Wednesday.

Two other alleged hit men were also arrested.

The arrests were made Tuesday after police on patrol west of downtown heard gunshots, found a young man shot in the chest and soon stopped the attackers' car as they tried to speed away.

Police found two .45-caliber handguns in the car.

The shooting victim, identified as 17-year-old José Contreras Hernández, died that afternoon at a hospital.

Police arrested Jesús Enrique Murillo García, 18, Luis Adrián Fernández Mercado, 20, and Sergio Estrada Estrada, 24.

Federal police officials said that intelligence reports show Murillo, nicknamed "El Piwi," could be associated with La Linea, or Juárez drug cartel.

Murillo is suspected of being linked to at least 62 homicides since July, including 47 this year.

According to police, Murillo worked for the cartel for 3,000 pesos a week (about 240 U.S. dollars).

The shooting was part of another violent day in what has been described as the world's most dangerous city.

Also Tuesday, a 2-year-old girl and a 45-year-old man were wounded in the crossfire of what was reportedly a shootout between robbers and federal police in east Juárez.

Kimberly Nataly Baeza and Carlos Rios Alvarado were riding on a bus when the robbers allegedly started firing at police, the Norte newspaper reported.

Kimberly was shot in the right shoulder, and Rios was shot in a leg.

They were hospitalized in stable condition.

Juárez is averaging 10 murders a day this month, with about 230 homicides in June. The city has had more than 1,310 killings this year.

http://www.elpasotimes.com/juarez/ci_15363789

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#902 Jun 24, 2010
Flea Market Stand to Profit Drug Cartels

by: Erica Proffer

DONNA - Stacks of DVDs loaded in a van and truck. It is too many to count and overflowing the cargo area. Authorities say the disks were created to profit drug cartels.

Hidalgo County Constable and Sheriff's deputies raided a flea market off Business 83 and Val Verde Road in Donna.

No one was arrested. The sellers ran away. Authority’s say those selling the merchandise were likely here illegally. They are allegedly sending the profit across the border.

"A lot of these are from the drug cartels in Mexico. They have these individuals selling the tapes. They're the ones that are profiting," said Constable Celestino Avila, Precinct One.

Authorities estimate $70 thousand worth of pirated movies was taken off the market.

"You can pick these up right away and before you know it they'll be out again," said Avila.

We saw that, first-hand. Two hours later: another stand in business. When we showed up, people spread out.

"It doesn't matter because they're not ours. I don't know where the owner is," said Martha Lopez, who was standing nearby.

Lopez told us she was just shopping. She wanted to get her daughter a new movie.

We told shopper Sara Martinez what happened, what the constable said, and where he says the money is going.

"Everything is frightening at this time. I guess you just have to be on the lookout," said Martinez.

Then, we noticed it. People were on the lookout. They were looking at us. There were about seven men, watching what we were doing.

"Why you want me? Why out of everybody?" said one man we approached.

We started to leave. Then, more people came. This time to clean up the table.

When we tried to follow them, we had a familiar interruption. This time, she wasn't friendly.

"You don't have to follow me. They're not his. They’re not mine. They belong to the owner, but the owner isn't coming," said Lopez.

Lopez says people were trying to steal the merchandise. She didn't want the owner to get upset. She wouldn't tell us who the owner was.

Constable Avila wants to find out where the bootlegged DVDs originate.

"We'll be hitting these locations a little more frequently," said Avila.

He says he wants to stop the flow of cash to the cartel.

http://www.krgv.com/news/local/story/Flea-Mar...

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#903 Jun 24, 2010
Cartel deals drugs, violence - and religious advice

by Tim Johnson
Jun. 24, 2010
McClatchy Newspapers

APATZINGAN, Mexico - As the leader of one of Mexico's most ruthless criminal gangs, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez is the mastermind of hair-raising brutality in his native Michoacan state. He also would like the world to know that he has a pious, loving and huggy-kissy side, and so he's penned a booklet titled "Thoughts."

"If you want to say I love you!' to those who surround you and to your friends, say it today," the drug lord exhorts his readers.

In the 104-page booklet, which was published this year, he offers advice on personal empowerment, Christian living and proper deportment.

"Manners are a way of showing respect for others," he writes. "If you don't have them, don't expect to be respected."

If it seems bizarre for the leader of a drug gang that beheads or quarters its enemies to offer advice on Christian living, well, it may be. However, the criminal gang known as La Familia Michoacana is a pseudo-Christian posse that mixes zeal and inspiring slogans in its pronouncements. Its members are ordered to study the Bible and pray the rosary, even as they gun down police, dismember their opponents and manufacture highly addictive crystal methamphetamine.

Unlike other Mexican drug cartels, La Familia portrays itself as religious and patriotic, and deeply tied to the mountain ranges and plains of Michoacan state along the Pacific coast. The group has a distribution network in the U.S. and funnels marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine to more than a dozen cities. A Mexican army general said La Familia has particularly strong distribution channels in California.

La Familia's thousands of members are often recruited from drug and alcoholism rehabilitation centers and sent to special training courses at secret safe houses in Michoacan.

"They bring in motivational speakers to their indoctrination sessions. Again, it's the U.S. Army be-all-you-can-be,' you can take your life in your own hands,' you can chart your future,' " said George W. Grayson, a scholar of contemporary Mexico at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., who's written about the group.

Grayson said the religious aspect of La Familia "is all propaganda."

"Nazario touts the Bible-pounding and often excuses their savage acts as being the work of the Lord, but I don't think there is an iota of religious conviction."

One might gain a different idea upon reading "Thoughts," which is filled with images of the Bible, crosses and Jesus. "If you want, you can become a good Christian," it says on one page. "Remember not to build walls or barriers but instead build bridges to unite people."

Like most of the short essays, it's signed "El mas loco," or "The Craziest One," a nickname often used by Nazario Moreno, who's also known as "El Chayo," a common nickname for people named Nazario.
(continued)

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/0...

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#904 Jun 24, 2010
Mexico's Meth Warriors

By Tim Padgett
Apatzingan; Ioan Grillo
Jun. 28, 2010

Mexico's newest drug cartel, and certainly the most bizarre, is La Familia Michoacana, a violent but Christian fundamentalist narco-gang based in the torrid Tierra Caliente region of western Michoacan state. The group is infamous for methamphetamine smuggling, lopping off enemies' heads and limbs, and massacring police and soldiers.(Most recently, on June 14, a band of Familia gunmen ambushed a federal police convoy in Michoacan, killing 12.) Yet La Familia's leader, Nazario Moreno — aka El Mas Loco, or The Craziest One — has written his own bible, and his 1,500 minions hold prayer meetings before doing their grisly work.
(See pictures of meth gang wars.)


La Familia, which has started to expand beyond Michoacan, poses more than theological problems for Mexican President Felipe Calderon. His 3½–year-long military offensive against drug traffickers, a period that has seen 23,000 gangland-style murders in Mexico, looks increasingly on the ropes. And amidst it all, investigators tell TIME, La Familia is establishing a troubling new narco-business model: It doesn't merely buy off officials, it puts its own candidates in power. "Other cartels just pay off the political structure in order to be able to do their business," says a Michoacan investigator, who estimates the group controls 83 of the state's 113 municipal governments. "La Familia is making itself the political structure."
(See pictures of Mexico City's police fighting crime.)


U.S. law may have inadvertently aided La Familia's sudden surge. In 2005, Congress curbed over-the-counter sale of pseudoephedrine, methamphetamine's main ingredient, causing the number of U.S. meth labs to plummet. But La Familia also controls smuggling at Michoacan's main port, where massive amounts of illicit pseudoephedrine regularly arrive from Asia. As a result, the cartel could fill the void in the U.S. market for meth, which is the most popular illegal drug in the West and Midwest. La Familia now exports about 100 tons of meth to the U.S. each year, with a street value of as much as $10 billion.

The Obama Administration has designated La Familia "a significant foreign narcotics trafficker," and Attorney General Eric Holder calls its "depravity" among the worst of Mexico's cartels. Last fall, a Drug Enforcement Administration-led operation collared more than 300 Familia operatives in U.S. cities. But the war against these criminal Christian soldiers may have just begun.

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9...

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