Mexico's Drug Cartel Violence is This...

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#947 Jul 24, 2010
Missing El Paso woman found dead in Juárez

By Maggie Ybarra
El Paso Times
Posted: 07/21/2010

A missing El Paso woman was found in dead in Juárez, police said.
Family members reported Erica Isernia, 28, missing when she did not return home on July 9. Isernia was last seen leaving the Whatever Bar, 701 E. Paisano, with a man in a white Ford Explorer at about 6 p.m. on July 9, police said.

Police said her body was brought to a Juarez morgue on July 10. Juarez officials said there was no indication of foul play, police said.

Isernia's relatives said that in the past, Isernia would disappear for a few days. But she always maintained contact with her relatives via telephone.

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#948 Jul 24, 2010
Mexican military burns over 7 tons of seized marijuana

By Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times
Posted: 07/22/2010

A pillar of smoke rising from the south end of Juárez this morning was from 7.5 tons of marijuana the Mexican military destroyed by burning.
Officials said the pot, plus 1.5 pounds of cocaine, came from various seizures by the Mexican army and federal agents.

The smoke could be seen from El Paso.

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#949 Jul 24, 2010
2 men shot to death in Pronaf district bar in Juárez

By Adriana Gómez Licón
Posted: 07/23/2010

EL PASO - Two men were shot dead inside the only bar left in what used to be the popular hangout area in Juárez.
Chihuahua state police said Walter Octavio Varela Vega, 30, and Miguel Ángel Muñoz Belmonte, between 20 and 25, died in an attack late Thursday at the San Martín bar.

Five other people were injured in the shooting and taken taken to hospitals.

The bar is in the Pronaf district on Abraham Lincoln Avenue. The area is right across the Bridge of the Americas known among college students and young adults in both El Paso and Juárez.

About 1,600 people have been murdered in Juárez this year, and more than 5,800 homicides have occurred since 2008.

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#950 Jul 24, 2010
U.S. charges top leaders of Tijuana-based drug cartel

July 23, 2010

Federal authorities announced a wide-ranging criminal complaint Friday against top leaders of a Tijuana-based drug cartel that ran much of its operations from the San Diego area, allegedly ordering murders, kidnappings and the torture of rival traffickers in Mexico.

The racketeering conspiracy case charges 43 people, among them high-ranking lieutenants, Mexican police officers and a top official in the Baja California attorney general's office who allegedly passed along information obtained from U.S. law enforcement sources to cartel operatives.

The organized crime group, an offshoot of the Arellano Felix drug cartel, moved some operations to San Diego in recent years, seeking a safe haven from gang wars and law enforcement crackdowns south of the border, said Laura Duffy, the U.S. attorney in San Diego.

Through the use of undercover agents and surveillance, authorities prevented most of the violence in San Diego County, including six attempted murders and an attempted kidnapping, Duffy said. In Mexico, cartel members kidnapped and killed several people, and tried to shift responsibility to rival gangs through corrupt Mexican law enforcement.

By shifting management to San Diego, cartel leaders hoped to operate more freely, authorities said. Such strategies have occurred in the past, most notably in the mid-1990s, when leaders of the Arellano Felix drug cartel moved north to avoid arrest by Mexican authorities.

The 20-month investigation, handled by the multiagency San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force, was able to use investigative tools often unavailable in Mexico, such as telephone wiretaps and informants.

"The presence of foreign-based drug-trafficking organization members and associates in San Diego will not be tolerated," Duffy said.

Thirty-one of the 43 defendants are in custody, authorities said. Twenty-seven were arrested in the San Diego area and four in Mexico. A top lieutenant, Armando Villareal Heredia, nicknamed Gordo, remains at large. Authorities also seized 1 ton of marijuana, 15 pounds of cocaine and 30 pounds of methamphetamine during the 20-month investigation.

The arrest of the Baja California official, Jesus Quinones Marques, after a traffic stop Thursday in San Diego was a setback for U.S. law enforcement agencies that work closely with counterparts in Mexico to hunt down U.S. fugitives and build cases against powerful drug-trafficking organizations.

Jesus Quinones Marques, director of international liaison for the Baja California attorney general's office, tried to plant stories in Mexican media outlets that placed the blame for killings on a rival gang, according to the 79-page indictment filed in San Diego federal court.

U.S. officials said that some information shared by U.S. liaison officers with Quinones was compromised, but that nobody's safety was put at risk. U.S. agencies, after arrests in recent years of corrupt Mexican liaison officers, usually limit information-sharing to the whereabouts of fugitives wanted in the United States.

-- Rich Marosi in San Diego

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#951 Jul 26, 2010
Mexico: Prison guards let killers out, lent guns

MEXICO CITY (AP)— Guards and officials at a prison in northern Mexico allegedly let inmates out, lent them guns and sent them off in official vehicles to carry out drug-related killings, including the massacre of 17 people last week, prosecutors said Sunday.

After carrying out the killings the inmates would return to their cells, the Attorney General’s Office said in a revelation that was shocking even for a country wearied by years of drug violence and corruption.

“According to witnesses, the inmates were allowed to leave with authorization of the prison director … to carry out instructions for revenge attacks using official vehicles and using guards’ weapons for executions,” office spokesman Ricardo Najera said at a news conference.

The director of the prison in Gomez Palacio in Durango state and three other officials were placed under a form of house arrest pending further investigation. No charges have yet been filed.

Prosecutors said the prison-based hit squad is suspected in three mass shootings, including the July 18 attack on a party in the city of Torreon, which is near Gomez Palacio. In that incident, gunmen fired indiscriminately into a crowd of mainly young people in a rented hall, killing 17 people, including women.

Police found more than 120 bullet casings at the scene, and Najera said tests matched those casings to four assault rifles assigned to guards at the prison.

Similar ballistics tests linked the guns to earlier killings at two bars in Torreon, the capital of northern Coahuila state, he said. At least 16 people were killed in those attacks on Feb. 1 and May 15, local media reported.

Najera blamed the killings on disputes between rival drug cartels.“Unfortunately, the criminals also carried out cowardly killings of innocent civilians, only to return to their cells,” he said.

Coahuila and neighboring Durango are among several northern states that have seen a spike in drug-related violence that authorities attribute to a fight between the Gulf cartel and its former enforcers, known as the Zetas.

Mexico has long had a problem with investigating crimes, catching criminals and convicting people. Reports estimate less than 2 percent of crimes in Mexico result in prison sentences. But Sunday’s revelation suggests that even putting cartel gunmen in prison may not prevent them from continuing to commit crimes.

Interior Secretary Francisco Blake said the revelation “can only be seen as a wake-up call for authorities to address, once again, the state of deterioration in many local law enforcement institutions … we cannot allow this kind of thing to happen again.”

Also Sunday, Mexican federal police announced the arrest of an alleged leading member of a drug gang blamed in recent killings and a car-bombing in the violence-ridden border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas.

Police described Luis Vazquez Barragan, 39, as a top member of La Linea gang, the enforcement arm of the Juarez cartel, saying he received orders directly from cartel boss Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.

Vazquez Barragan allegedly organized payments, moved drugs and oversaw a system of safe houses in and around Ciudad Juarez.

Police said he held the same rank as fugitive gang leader Juan Pablo Ledezma, though Vazquez Barragan is not named on reward or most-wanted lists published by the Attorney General’s Office, as Ledezma is.

La Linea has been blamed for a car bomb that killed three people July 15 in Ciudad Juarez and for two separate shootings March 13 that killed a U.S. consular employee and two other people connected to the consulate.

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#952 Jul 26, 2010
DA unit scours Mexico to find suspects in US crimes

By Adriana M. Chávez
El Paso Times
Posted: 07/26/2010

EL PASO -- For years, San Elizario resident Ana Guillen lived in anguish after the murder of her 18-year-old sister.
On Valentine's Day 1999, Veronica Guillen was found strangled on the floor of her friend's Lower Valley home. She was nine months pregnant with her baby girl, who also died.
Police suspected Veronica Guillen's boyfriend and father of her baby, Lorenzo Palacios Lechuga, in her murder, but he fled to Mexico.

Guillen's family waited, desperately hoping someday he would be caught.

Investigators with the District Attorney's Office foreign prosecutions unit tracked Lechuga down in Torreón, Coahuila, where he was working for an air conditioning company.
Officials with Mexico's Federal Investigations Agency, known as the AFI, arrested Lechuga in February 2008.
Lechuga, 33, is now back in the United States, awaiting trial on a murder charge.

"I knew justice was going to be served," Ana Guillen said. "Mexico is so big, I really didn't think they were going to catch him."
The foreign prosecutions unit, which caught Lechuga, was started in late 2005 by District Attorney Jaime Esparza as a way of devoting a full-time staff to seeking extraditions or Article 4 prosecutions.

Article 4 is a section of the Mexican federal penal code that allows Mexican citizens who commit crimes in the U.S. to be prosecuted in Mexico.

"With an office of our size and with our proximity to the border, we require a unit to have the expertise to either extradite or prosecute in Mexico," Esparza said.

The unit is headed by Assistant District Attorney Roberto Ramos and is staffed by a paralegal and an investigator. Since the unit was formed, it has been responsible for 22 arrests. It is currently reviewing 83 cases, and also working to locate witnesses.
Last week, Ramos was prepared to try 44-year-old Antonio Monreal for the 1992 murder of his wife, Aida Chavez Monreal, and the attempted murder of the couple's maid, Susana Vela.

Antonio Monreal pleaded guilty minutes before his trial had been scheduled to start in the 210th District Court.

Following the murder of his wife, Monreal fled to Mexico. He was arrested by Mexican officials in 2009 at the bed-and-breakfast he owned in San Miguel de Allende with his new wife.
Ramos hunted Monreal and searched for Vela, who had seemingly disappeared after the shooting.

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#953 Jul 26, 2010
Reputed Juárez cartel leader arrested

By Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times
Posted: 07/26/2010

Mexican federal police arrested a man described as one of the main leaders in the Juárez drug cartel.

Police alleged Luis Carlos Vasquez Barragan, alias "El 20," supervised cartel operations in the northwestern part of Chihuahua and took direct orders from reputed cartel boss Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.

Vasquez's arrest was announced Sunday by Mexico's Ministry of Public Security even as the bloodshed continued in Juárez.

In the cartel's hierarchy, Vasquez was at the same level as reputed cartel lieutenants Juan Pablo "El JL" Ledezma and Armando Corral, police said.

Vasquez, 39, allegedly supervised the trafficking of marijuana and cocaine in the region of Palomas, Casas Grandes, Namiquipa and his hometown of Madera as well as shipments of cash proceeds coming from the United States.

Vasquez is accused of overseeing alleged cartel leaders Jose Antonio Acosta "El Diego" Hernandez, Juan Pablo "El Monico" Guijarro Fragosa, Jose Borunda and Oscar Carrasco Celis, alias "El Gallo" or the Rooster.

It was not disclosed when Vasquez was arrested but police said he was in possession of a handgun, a rifle and what appeared to be cocaine. Police said he ran a cell of at least 30 people, including 10 bodyguards.

Due to Vasquez's arrest, federal police said they gained information that on Sunday morning led to the rescue of a kidnapped 45-year-old woman being held by a gang of juvenile Azteca gang members at a safe house in Juárez.

During the weekend, the violence continued to rage in Juárez, including a mass shooting in a barbershop that left five men dead.
The men were inside Fredys barbershop when they were shot multiple times, Chihuahua state police said Sunday. A sixth man wounded in the shooting was taken to a hospital.

Those killed were Juan Rodríguez Ramos, 21, Hugo Alberto Hernández, 20, Eduardo Quiñones Acosta, 17, Javier Hernández Gamiño, 19, and an unidentified man in his 30s.

The attack occurred about 4 p.m. Saturday in the barbershop on Himno Nacional and Jose Cervantes streets in San Felipe del Real area in west Juárez.

About 20 minutes later, three men and a teenager were fatally shot in a home near the intersection of Magensio and Ignacio Mejia streets also in west Juárez.

Police said three of the victims died at the scene and the fourth person later died at a hospital. Police identified the victims as Roberto Manuel Rivera Garcia, 25, Javier Rivera Garcia, 16, Manuel Rivera Tarin, 48, and Juan Jose Delgado Rodriguez, 24.

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#954 Jul 26, 2010
Concerns in Juárez climb as bombing threat grows

By Daniel Borunda
Posted: 07/25/2010

The threat of more deadly car bombings like the one earlier this month has forced Juárez authorities to take measures to protect police stations, and authorities reported finding more explosives in Chihuahua on Wednesday.

The car bombing that killed three people apparently was ordered because law-enforcement agencies are perceived to be siding with either the Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels, which have unleashed a wave of violence in the city that has claimed the lives of nearly 6,000 people since 2008.

The July 15 bombing killed a Mexican federal police officer and a paramedic responding to a call about a wounded police officer laying on a sidewalk. The police officer, who also was killed, was a decoy who lured agents to the scene before the blast.

The bomb, made from about 22 pounds of Tovex, a water gel explosive commonly used as a replacement for dynamite in mining, was detonated by remote control. Authorities on Wed nesday found 55 pounds of the explosive in the mountains between Chi huahua and Sonora states following a shootout with gunmen.

Officials did not say if the explosives were bound for Juárez.

In response to the bombing, Juárez officials last week increased security at police stations and prohibited parking next to the buildings.

A police spokesman said the identifications of people are checked and vehicles are inspected when entering the parking lots of stations, some of which have sandbags piled outside like bunkers.

"It is due to the situation in the city and the threats against members of police agencies," police spokesman Jacinto Segura said. "There is a brief revision (search) of the vehicle and the identification of the person, including staff and workers."

Threats against police are no idle matter in Juárez.

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#955 Jul 26, 2010
Mexican law enforcement official nabbed for aiding drug cartel

July 25,2010
Law Enforcement Examiner
Jim Kouri

43 defendants with ties to a Mexican organized crime charged by Feds.

A federal criminal complaint alleges that Mexican government official Jesus Quiñones Marques, the Director of International Liaison for the Baja California Attorney General’s Office, was aware of the Fernando Sanchez Organization's illegal activities and used his position to provide confidential law enforcement information to members of the dangerous crime gang.

According to the complaint, Marques was heavily involved in making arrangements to have rival gangs of the Fernando Sanchez Organization arrested and detained by Mexican law enforcement officials.

Federal authorities in San Diego on Friday also charged 43 defendants with participating in a federal racketeering (RICO) conspiracy that included murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, drug trafficking and money laundering.

According to a report obtained by the Narcotics & Dangerous Drugs Committee of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, the suspects are members and associates of the Fernando Sanchez Organization (FSO), an offshoot of the powerful and deadly Arellano-Felix drug-trafficking cartel.

The charges stem from a long-term investigation, entitled “Operation Luz Verde”(green light), conducted by the multi-agency San Diego Cross Border Violence Task Force (CBVTF), which was created to target individuals involved in organized crime-related violent activities affecting both the United States and Mexico.

Law enforcement personnel assigned to the CBVTF made extensive use of court-authorized wiretaps and other sophisticated investigative techniques to develop the body of evidence that led to the charges in this case.

“The San Diego Police Department is proud to have participated in such a successful operation. The message that San Diego law enforcement is sending to organized crime is clear: cross border violence and cartel activities will NOT be tolerated in the City of San Diego,” said San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne.

“Any portion of a criminal enterprise that is planned, coordinated, or conducted in San Diego will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, maintaining San Diego as one of America’s safest cities for our citizens and visitors. Cartels should make no mistake: our business is to end their business,” said Chief Landowne.

"While the news media and some law enforcement officials are downplaying the corrupt actions of a Mexican law enforcement official -- Mr. Marques -- this case points to the difficulty of dealing with corruption within the Mexican government," added former NYPD detective and military intelligence officer Mike Snopes.

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#956 Jul 27, 2010
Mexico investigates new gang

by Sergio Flores
Jul. 27, 2010
Associated Press

ACAPULCO, Mexico - Mexican authorities are investigating the possible emergence of a new drug gang that appeared to take credit for six killings through a message left with the bodies Monday, officials said.

The six men were found inside a car in the southwestern city of Chilpancingo, Guerrero, state police said in a statement. Next to them lay a message reading: "This will happen to all rapists, extortionists and kidnappers. Attentively, the New Cartel of the Sierra."

Authorities are investigating the authenticity of the gang, said an official with the state prosecutor's office, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. The official said authorities had no previous knowledge of such an organized crime group.

The car was reported stolen hours before the bodies were found, according to the police statement. The owner told police that armed men intercepted him on a highway and forced him out of the car.

At least seven major drug-trafficking cartels operate in Mexico, but there are many smaller gangs throughout the country, often affiliated with one of the bigger groups.

The cartels have increasingly splintered since President Felipe Calderón launched an intensified crackdown after taking office in late 2006, deploying thousands of troops and federal police across Mexico.

Mexican authorities have blamed the infighting for a surge of gang violence that has killed nearly 25,000 people in less than four years.

Violence has surged this year along Mexico's northeastern border with the U.S. since the Gulf cartel split with its former gang of enforcers, the Zetas.

In that region, the bodies of four men were found dumped in a plaza Monday in Nuevo Laredo, a city across the border from Laredo, Texas, the Tamaulipas state police said in a statement.

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#957 Jul 27, 2010
Men Suspected of Trying to Take Ammo to Cartel

Reported by: Farrah Fazal

BROWNSVILLE - Two men suspected of trying to take drugs and ammunition to the cartels are in jail.

Brownsville police stopped Hector Castillo and Fernando Gonzalez Alvarez for speeding near Expressway 83 and FM 802 last night.

Officers found 25 pounds of crystal meth hidden in the 2007 Nissan Altima the men were in. Police say the meth has an estimated street value of a quarter of a million dollars.

The two men then lead police to another 46 pounds of cocaine, worth about one million dollars, and almost 600 assault rifle magazines that were stashed in a storage area.

Investigators tell CHANNEL 5 NEWS they believe the ammunition was headed to one of the cartels in Mexico. The drugs were supposed to go north.

Police are now trying to figure out how the two men are connected to the cartels.

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#958 Jul 28, 2010
4 journalists reported missing in northern Mexico

The Associated Press
Posted: 07/27/2010

MEXICO CITY—Mexico's National Human Rights Commission called on the government Tuesday to find four Mexican journalists reported missing in or near the violence-wracked northern state of Durango.
The journalists include two cameramen from the Televisa network, a reporter for Multimedios television and a reporter for the newspaper El Vespertino.

"The lack of investigation into attacks on journalists has made them more vulnerable in doing their work," the government's rights commission said in a statement.

The four disappeared Monday in the Laguna region, which includes Durango and areas of the neighboring state of Coahuila.

The commission said three of them were "picked up"—a tactic frequently used by drug gangs in which victims are forced into waiting vehicles—around noon Monday, and the fourth was snatched that night.

The area has been wracked by drug gang violence. Prosecutors say officials at a prison in Gomez Palacio—the Durango city where some of the journalists are based—allowed drug cartel gunmen to leave the penitentiary temporarily and provided them guns and vehicles to carry out executions.

At least seven journalists have been killed in Mexico so far in 2010. Many more Mexican reporters have received threats from drug gangs.

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#959 Jul 28, 2010
Police find 8 severed heads in northern Mexico

The Associated Press
Posted: 07/27/2010

MEXICO CITY—The severed heads of eight men were found left in pairs along highways in the northern Mexico state of Durango, state prosecutors said Tuesday.

The bodies had not yet been located, but the victims appeared to have been between 25 and 30 years old, officials said.
Durango has been the scene of brutal turf battles between drug gangs. Prosecutors said over the weekend that officials at a Durango prison let drug cartel gunmen to leave penitentiary and lent them guns and vehicles to carry out executions.

Also Tuesday, prosecutors in the central state of Puebla reported that three federal police agents were shot to death on a highway in a confrontation with gunmen. The assailants escaped.

In the northern border state of Chihuahua, prosecutors said a second cousin of Gov.-elect Cesar Duarte was shot to death by attackers in the city of Parral. The victim, lawyer Alberto Porras Duarte, was slain while waiting in a vehicle outside his office.
One of Duarte's nephews was killed earlier this month in the Chihuahua state capital in what appeared to be a failed kidnapping attempt. The state has been the scene of some Mexico's bloodiest drug violence.

In the border state of Tamaulipas, army officials reported Monday that they had captured nine Guatemalan citizens during patrols against drug trafficking organizations and seized seven grenades and two guns from the suspects.

A day earlier, troops in Tamaulipas detained 11 people believed to work for the Zetas drug gang and seized five rifles.
Almost 25,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in late 2006.

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#960 Jul 28, 2010
AP Impact: Mexico justice means catch and release

Associated Press Writers
Posted: 07/27/2010

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP)- It's practically a daily ritual: Accused drug traffickers and assassins, shackled and bruised from beatings, are paraded before the news media to show that Mexico is winning its drug war. Once the television lights dim, however, about three-quarters of them are let go.
Even as President Felipe Calderon's government touts its arrest record, cases built by prosecutors and police under huge pressure to make swift captures unravel from lack of evidence. Innocent people are tortured into confessing. The guilty are set free, only to be hauled in again for other crimes. Sometimes, the drug cartels decide who gets arrested.

Records obtained by The Associated Press showed that the government arrested 226,667 drug suspects between December 2006 and September 2009, the most recent numbers available. Less than a quarter of that number were charged. Only 15 percent saw a verdict, and the Mexican attorney general's office won't say how many of those were guilty.
The judicial void is a key reason why Mexican cartels continue to deliver tons of marijuana, methamphetamines, heroin and cocaine onto U.S. streets.

"It in effect gives them impunity," U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual told the AP, "and allows them to be able to function in ways that can extend themselves into the United States.

Mexico's justice system is carried out largely in secret and has long been viciously corrupt. Add a drug war that Calderon intensified, and the system has been overrun. Nearly 25,000 people have died in the war to date, and the vast majority of their cases remain unsolved.

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#961 Jul 29, 2010
Police capture drug lieutenant in northern Mexico.

TIJUANA, Mexico (AP)— A suspected drug cartel lieutenant with a quarter-million-dollar reward on his head was captured in the border state of Chihuahua, where rival gangs are waging a bloody turf war, police said Wednesday.

Rogelio Segovia Hernandez, who reputedly helped lead the La Linea gang that worked for the Juarez cartel, was detained Tuesday in the state capital of Chihuahua.

Federal police in a statement claimed that Segovia Hernandez was in charge of killings, drug distribution, extortion and kidnappings for the cartel in the areas around Ciudad Juarez, which lies across the border from El Paso, Texas, as well as in the city of Chihuahua.

Police allege Segovia Hernandez participated in five killings at a ranch in Chihuahua state in 2008.

There was a 3 million peso ($237,000) reward for his capture.

Police said they seized a pistol, a grenade and envelopes of cocaine from Segovia Hernandez when he was arrested.

The Juarez cartel and La Linea, whose members act as enforcers for the cartel, are fighting the Sonora cartel, led by Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, for control of the lucrative Ciudad Juarez drug-smuggling route.

Also in Ciudad Juarez, police found three decapitated bodies in two different spots.

Chihuahua state prosecutors’ spokesman Arturo Sandoval says one body was found on a street Wednesday morning. Sandoval says two other decapitated bodies were found hours later along with messages saying the men were members of La Linea and the Aztecas. Both groups are linked to the Juarez drug cartel.

Also Wednesday, authorities said gunmen shot to death a police commander in the border city of Tijuana and wounded his partner.

Baja California prosecutors say in a statement Wednesday that state police commander Antonio Sanchez and another officer where in an unmarked car outside the state police office in Tijuana when assailants drove up and opened fire.

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#962 Jul 29, 2010
Juárez officer held in arms dealing

By Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times
Posted: 07/29/2010

EL PASO -- A Juárez city transit police officer is in custody at the El Paso County Jail on suspicion of arms-trafficking, authorities said.

Donaldo A. Lopez-Castro had an initial appearance Wednesday in U.S. Magistrate Judge Norbert J. Garney's court.

The judge informed him that he is charged with unlawful possession of ammunition in the United States, and set his bond hearing for June 2.

Officials with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives said Lopez-Castro, 44, was detained Tuesday at the border.

They said only that the investigation is continuing.

During the hearing, Lopez-Castro told the judge he did not need a public defender because his family was going to hire a lawyer to defend him.

No one at Juárez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz's office was available for comment Wednesday. The mayor has complained publicly that the flow of U.S. weapons into Mexico is fueling drug violence.

Mexican authorities said Juárez transit police haverecently come under attack from organized crime.

Juárez police said Martin Lopez-Castro, the suspect's brother and a Juárez TV Channel 44 newsman in Juárez, was threatened recently in a banner that one of the drug cartels allegedly left in a public area.

Donaldo Lopez-Castro is a former Chihuahua state police agent who worked under Alejandro Castro-Valles, a former Chihuahua state first commander whom U.S. federal agents had linked to the Carrillo Fuentes drug cartel.

As state law enforcement officers,Lopez-Castro and Castro-Valles achieved notoriety when they took part in a high-speed chase that resulted in the death of lawyer Mario Escobedo Anaya in 2002.
Escobedo was shot and killed; police claimed he fired at them first.

At the time, the lawyer was defending a bus driver whom Chihuahua state police accused of killing eight women in a cotton field in 2001, and was representing the mother of a man suspected of trying to assassinate then Chihuahua Gov. Patricio Martinez.

Authorities said Castro-Valles, 45, died July 19 in Chihuahua City after an armed group of men shot him in front of his family.

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#963 Jul 29, 2010
One of kidnapped Mexican journalists had worked in Juarez

By Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times
Posted: 07/28/2010

EL PASO - One of the four Mexican journalists who are being held hostage formerly worked in Juárez.
Héctor Gordoa, a TV cameraman for the Televisa network in Mexico, was abducted Monday in the Laguna region, which straddles the states of Durango and Coahuila. He used to be a news director for Televisa's Channel 2 in Juárez.

Carlos Lauría, senior program coordinator the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) in New York, called on Mexican authorities to investigate.

Lauria said the Laguna region has been troubled by violence between Los Zetas criminal group and the Sinaloa cartel.

Kidnappers reportedly want a Mexican media company to broadcast three videos about the Zetas in exchange for releasing the journalists.

The other three journalists held hostage are Jaime Canales, a cameraman for the TV station Multimedios; Oscar Solís, a reporter for newspaper El Vespertino and Alejandro Hernández, another cameramen for Televisa.

The Zetas, once considered the enforcers for the Gulf drug cartel, have branched off on their to fight against other drug cartels.

"We urge state and federal authorities to do everything in their power to locate the four missing journalists and bring them to safety," said Lauría, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator.

Solís was abducted Monday night, and the other three journalists were reported missing Monday afternoon after covering protests organized by prisoners and their families at a detention center Gómez Palacio,Durango, where prison officials were accused of allowing prisoners out of the prison to commit killings.
One of the prison officials implicated used to be a penal judge for the Cereso prison in Juárez.

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#964 Jul 29, 2010
Juarez cartel leader arrested in Chihuahua City

By Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times
Posted: 07/28/2010

Mexican federal police arrested a reputed boss in the Juárez drug cartel accused of running cartel operations in Chihuahua City, Villa Ahumada and Aldama, Chihuahua.
Rogelio Segovia Hernandez, alias "El Royser," was arrested on Tuesday in Chihuahua City allegedly in possession of a grenade, a handgun, 200 envelopes of crack cocaine and 100 envelopes of powder cocaine.

Segovia is in the custody of federal organized crime investigators. Last May, Mexico's attorney general's office offered a reward of three million pesos for information leading to the capture of Segovia.

Police alleged Segovia received direct orders from Juan Pablo "El Monico" Guijarro Fragosa and Jose Borunda Cardenas, who allegedly fall under the command of reputed cartel lieutenant Juan Pablo Ledezma, alias "El JL."

"Intelligence reports place El Royser as the principal operator of drug trafficking and distribution, kidnappings and homicides in the cities of Aldama, Villa Ahumada and Chihuahua," federal police said in a statement Wednesday.

Segovia is accused of being a member of the "Chavez Arevalo Brothers" organization and is suspected of extortion large sums of money from business owners.

Authorities seek brothers Manuel Chavez Arevalo, Pablo "Pablito" Chavez Arevalo, Heriberto "El Flaco" Chavez Arevalo and Socorro Chavez Arevalo, aka "El Burro Güero" or the blond donkey.

Police said the Chavez Arevalo Brothers are suspected of being behind the killing of 20 people at the Fe y Vida (Faith and Life) drug rehab center in Chihuahua City on June 10. The attack targeted members of the Mexicles gang working for the Sinaloa drug cartel.
For more than two years, the Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels have been involved in a conflict that has turned Juárez, Chihuahua City and other parts of the state of Chihuahua into a war zone.

Segovia is the latest of several alleged leaders of La Linea, or Juárez drug cartel, to be arrested by federal agents in recent weeks.

The Juárez drug cartel earlier this month used a car bomb to attack federal police and has publicly claimed federal police are working for rival Sinaloa cartel reputedly led by Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman. Federal officials have denied allegations of favoring any criminal group or another.

“Enforce our Immigration Laws!”

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#965 Jul 29, 2010
Fears Over Violence in Mexico Send People to Buy Guns

WESLACO - Store owners say the violence in Mexico has many people in the Valley looking to arm themselves.

Nelda Gonzlez runs a concealed weapons class in Weslaco. She says the class is full.

"We had to expand because of the vast amount of people trying to get their concealed handgun license," she says.

Gonzalez says her customers are scared, looking for ways to defend themselves from heavily armed criminals.

“Enforce our Immigration Laws!”

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#966 Jul 30, 2010
Troops kill senior 'capo' of mighty Mexico cartel

MEXICO CITY (AP)— Soldiers killed a top leader of the Sinaloa cartel in a raid on his posh hideout, dealing the biggest blow yet to Mexico’s most powerful drug gang since President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against organized crime in 2006.

Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, a reputed founder of Mexico’s methamphetamine trade, was gunned down trying to escape soldiers in the western city of Guadalajara. Mexican authorities says he fired on soldiers as helicopters hovered overhead and troops closed in.

Coronel was a close associate of Mexico’s most wanted man, Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and was No. 3 in the organization after Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

“Nacho Coronel tried to escape, and fired on military personnel, killing one soldier and wounding another,” Gen. Edgar Luis Villegas said at a news conference in Mexico City.“Responding to the attack, this ‘capo’ died.”

The raid “significantly affects the operational capacity and drug distribution of the organization run by Guzman,” he added.

Coronel’s downfall came amid persistent allegations that Calderon’s administration appeared to be favoring the Sinaloa cartel, or not hitting it as hard as other drug gangs.

Those allegations have drawn angry denials from the president and his top law enforcement officials, who point to the 2009 arrest of Vicente “El Vicentillo” Zambada — the son of Ismael Zambada — as proof they were going after the gang.

Coronel’s death was also the biggest strike against Mexican cartels since drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva and six of his bodyguards were killed in a Dec. 16 raid by Mexican marines in the central city of Cuernavaca. Beltran Leyva, whose gang was once allied with the Sinaloa cartel, had become an enemy of Guzman’s organization by the time of his death.

The mysterious Colonel was believed to be “the forerunner in producing massive amounts of methamphetamine in clandestine laboratories in Mexico, then smuggling it into the U.S.”, according to the FBI, which offered a $5 million reward for the 56 year old.

Coronel allegedly controlled trafficking through the Mexican states of Jalisco, Colima and parts of Michoacan — the “Pacific route” for cocaine smuggling.

“The scope of its influence and operations penetrate throughout the United States, Mexico, and several other European, Central American, and South American countries,” according to an FBI statement.

Colonel ran his criminal cell out of Zapopan, according to the Mexican government, an upscale suburb that has been the scene of previous cartel arrests. Guzman’s son was accused of killing two people outside a bar there in 2004.

In 2006 raids on four Zapopan homes, federal police arrested five of Colonel’s lieutenants and seized more than $2 million in cash, along with expensive watches and jewelry — but failed to find Coronel himself.

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