Mexico's Drug Cartel Violence is This...

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#1275 Oct 29, 2010
9 policemen killed in ambush in western Mexico

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP)— Unidentified gunmen ambushed a convoy of five police vehicles in the western Mexico state of Jalisco on Thursday, killing nine officers and leaving one missing.

The 20 officers in the convoy were outnumbered by the attackers, who were riding in about ten sport utility vehicles, the Jalisco state public safety department said in a statement.

The ten officers who survived the attack fought an hours-long battle with the gunmen, and several were wounded.

The attackers used grenades and assault rifles before fleeing into neighboring Michoacan state.

Michoacan is home to the violent La Familia cartel, which has been known to launch fierce attacks on police convoys.

Jalisco authorities complained that Michoacan officials had not joined in the search for the attackers.

And in Zapopan, a suburb of the Jalisco state capital of Guadalajara, two 2-year-old boys and three other people were wounded by grenade fragments during an attack on a private home.

The Zapopan municipal police department said the toddlers, a 17-year-old girl and two adults were all were bystanders on a street outside the home, and said none of the wounds appeared life threatening.

Witnesses said men in a pickup fled after two explosions were heard. The attack appeared directed at a house located about a block from the local church.

Mexico’s drug gangs frequently use grenades in such attacks, and several high-level drug traffickers have been known to reside in the upscale suburb of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city.

Also Thursday, the United States delivered three mobile X-ray inspection vehicles to Mexico as part of the Merida Initiative anti-drug aid plan.

Mexico’s tax agency said the vehicles will be used to inspect freight and merchandise shipments to detect irregularities.

The United States will deliver 10 more of the vehicles, worth $1 million apiece, over the next two months as part of the multiyear,$1.4 billion Merida Initiative that the U.S. Congress approved to aid Mexico and other countries fight the drug war.

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#1276 Oct 29, 2010
6 young men killed in shooting in Mexican capital

MEXICO CITY (AP)— Gunmen killed six young men Thursday in a gritty neighborhood of the Mexican capital, an alarming attack in a city that has largely been spared the kind of mass shootings common in drug trafficking hot spots.

Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Angel Mancera said he did not know if drug gangs were involved in the middle-of-the night shooting in Tepito, a working-class neighborhood just north of the colonial center. Drug dealing is rampant there, but Mancera said there also have been problems with disputes among carjacking gangs.
Still, the attack fueled fears of cartel-style violence reaching Mexico City.

“Massacres have arrived in the Federal District,” declared El Universal newspaper, counting the shooting as the latest in a string of massacres that have occurred across the country over the past week.

Another attack occurred near the border city of Ciudad Juarez early Thursday: a gang opened fire on two passenger buses carrying factory workers, killing four people and injuring more than a dozen.

The two attacks raised to five the number of major shootings in Mexico in less than a week. All have occurred in different parts of the country and appear unrelated.

In the capital, the men in their late teens and early 20s were hanging out together on a street when the gunmen arrived, Mancera told the Televisa network. He said angry words were exchanged, and the gunmen opened fire.

Bullet casings of two different calibers — 9 mm and .223 mm — were found at the scene, Mancera said, suggesting there were at least two gunmen. Police were interviewing relatives and witnesses to determine the background of the victims and a possible motive.
“It is a complicated zone, a very delicate zone,” Mancera said.“We would like to reassure the population that we are going to find those responsible.”

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#1277 Oct 29, 2010
Gunmen shoot up maquila worker buses near Juárez; 4 die, 15 hurt

By Adriana Gómez Licón
El Paso Times
Posted: 10/29/2010

JUAREZ Y REFORMA, Mexico - Gunmen opened fire on three buses carrying maquiladora workers early Thursday, killing three women and a man and injuring 15 others.

The buses were traveling about 1 a.m. from an industrial park in Juárez to the rural Valley of Juárez, a region under siege by drug cartels.

Between 30 and 40 people were in each bus after working the night shift for Eagle Ottawa Co., a leather factory. The buses typically make several stops between Juárez and El Porvenir, a town near Fort Hancock, Texas.

Police said they had found no motive for an attack on these employees, who were among some 200,000 who work in the Juárez region's factories, a critical component of the border's economy. A number of the 343 plants in Juárez contract with bus companies to transport workers to and from work.

An unspecified number of gunmen launched the attack during a stop in Juárez y Reforma, a small, sparsely populated area in the municipality of Guadalupe Bravos, about 30 miles southeast of Juárez. Bullets left holes the size of quarters in the buses. More than 20 rounds hit each bus, police said.

The burst of gunfire woke a man in a house along the two-lane highway where the violence occurred. He did not want to be identified, but said the gunshots lasted for perhaps 10 minutes.

"We heard many desperate cries," the man said.

Killed were Rosa Escajeda Galindo, 23; Rosalía Ester Vázquez Holguín, 24; María del Rosario Luna, 38; and Genaro Vega Ceballos, 20.

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#1278 Oct 29, 2010
Video: Looks like an Islamic terrorist video: Armed gang members in Mexico interrogate Ex-Politician’s Kidnapped Brother

Do we need any more reasons to SEAL our border with Mexico?

posted by : Nancy Kennon
October 29, 2010

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#1279 Oct 30, 2010
Cartels rule town's residents by fear

By Adriana Gómez Licón
El Paso Times

JUAREZ Y REFORMA -- Armed gangs have terrorized and scared away residents of the Valley of Juárez. One of the small towns along the dangerous highway resembled a ghost town Thursday after gunmen killed four people in buses carrying maquiladora workers.

In this land of cotton and alfalfa fields, residents live terrified by the drug cartels. People living in Juárez y Reforma have gotten used to seeing killings, kidnappings, houses and shops on fire, and the constant presence of the Mexican army.

Drug cartel violence sparked an exodus out of the valley this year.

"Many people have left this town," said a lifelong resident of Juárez y Reforma who did not want to be named for security reasons. "The only ones left here are the natives."

The man and his family live in one of the few houses on the two-way highway that connects Juárez to El Porvenir, a town opposite Fort Hancock, Texas.

The bus shooting was tragic, they said, but deadly attacks are not rare in this town populated by only a few hundred.

A day earlier, gunmen gunned down Edgar Daniel Delgado Gómez, 32.

Few commercial buildings are left in Juárez y Reforma. A hardware store and an auto repair shop stand on each side of the highway.

Many homes were destroyed by arsonists. Almost nobody drives the dirt roads, even during the day, and no children play outside in the parks.

Juárez y Reforma is part of the municipality of Guadalupe Bravos, which is neighbor to El Paso and
Hudspeth counties on the U.S. side.
Guadalupe Bravos has no police chief or department. The only one responding to police calls is an armed 28-year-old woman. Her name is Erika Gándara.

Gándara is not the only young woman policing the Valley of Death, as people have nicknamed it. In the municipality adjacent to Guadalupe Bravos, 20-year-old Marisol Valles became the police chief of Praxedis G. Guerrero this month.

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#1280 Oct 30, 2010
College student shot by federal police at Juárez protest

By Adriana Gómez Licón
El Paso Times

Two federal police officers shot and injured a college student in Juárez when they fired their guns in the air trying to scare away protesters, officials said today.
Students were marching for peace Friday outside a medical school in north Juárez when the shooting occurred.

Federal police said agents were coming from a murder scene where they were attacked by criminals. A chase followed and federal agents arrested two suspects in the killing. As they were traveling to the courthouse, police said, they found masked people on the streets, and they decided to get out of the police units and fired their guns in the air as a "warning."

After a short investigation, the two federal police agents who opened fire were placed under custody, officials said.

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#1281 Oct 31, 2010
I know this is not Mexico,but the same kind of violence, and drug cartels.

At least 14 massacred on Honduras soccer field

Oct. 30, 2010
Associated Press

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - A carful of attackers armed with assault rifles drove up to a soccer field in a poor Honduran neighborhood Saturday and opened fire, killing at least 14 people.

Armando Calidonio, vice minister of security, said the gunmen shot from point-blank range at the victims, who were known to gather there to play soccer.

Ten were killed at the scene and four died as they were being taken to the hospital. More were wounded - some gravely, Calidonio said, though the number was not clear.
The attackers numbered about five, but police did not have any gunmen.

"We still do not know the motive of this tragedy," Calidonio told reporters.

The massacre took place in Colonia Felipe Zelaya, a crowded, violent neighborhood in the northern city of San Pedro Sula that is home to hundreds of gang members.

Mass shootings are not uncommon in Honduras. Maras - street gangs that grew out of Los Angeles and spread to Central America - are blamed for rampant violent crime, extortion and more recently acting as enforcers for drug cartels.

In September, gunmen mowed down 18 shoe-factory employees in San Pedro Sula in a shooting blamed on gang rivalries.

Six youths were slain in a home last month, also in San Pedro Sula. Authorities linked that massacre to the drug trade.

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#1282 Oct 31, 2010
Bus attack that killed 4 not aimed at Juárez maquiladora

By Diana Washington Valdez
El Paso Times

The maquiladora that employs the Juárez workers attacked by gunmen on Thursday was not a target of the shooting, said Janine Krasicky Sadaj, spokeswoman for Eagle Ottawa LLC.

"At this point, we have no indication that the attack was directed at Eagle Ottawa," Krasicky Sadaj said. "We sympathize with the good people of Mexico, our employees included, who are doing their best to cope with these trying times. We will do everything we can to support them in their time of need."

Gunmen fired on three maquiladora employee buses in an attack that killed four people and wounded 15 others in Caseta.

Mexican police said the shooters kidnapped one or two men.

Eagle Ottawa will continue to work with a local security firm and is reviewing its security procedures, the spokeswoman said.

The company employs 2,075 people in Juárez.

"Our entire Eagle Ottawa family is deeply saddened regarding our friends and co-workers who were attacked while traveling in buses to their homes after serving a late shift.

"We extend our sincere condolences to all of our employees, families and loved ones of all those affected by this tragic event. To support all of our employees and their families, we will be providing counseling and financial assistance as a result of this event," Krasicky said.

Eagle Ottawa, based in Auburn Hills, Mich., is an automotive leather supplier serving automotive clients worldwide.

Mexican authorities continue to investigate the attack.

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#1283 Oct 31, 2010
Gang cuts off swath of the north in effort to starve out rivals; 'our town is dying'

Cartel siege in Sonora largely hidden

Richard Marosi
Los Angeles Times
Arizona Daily Star
October 31, 2010

ALTAR, Mexico - The police chiefs met in the dusty plaza with a federal official clutching a black bag filled with pesos:$40,000 in government pensions for the senior citizens living in the pueblos of the nearby foothills.

A convoy of seven vehicles rumbled into the plaza, the trucks squeezing between taco and T-shirt vendors who gawked at the 60 or so federal and state police officers toting assault rifles.

The crack squad had captured drug-cartel kingpins and battled gangs from Baja California to Michoacan. On this day they slipped on their ski masks to escort the police chiefs on a mission of mercy to a lost corner of Mexico.

They would be heading deep into the scrublands of the Sonoran Desert, where hundreds of cartel gunmen controlled the pueblos and ambushed intruders on hillside roads that have become blood-spattered shooting galleries.

The convoy was outmanned, outgunned and probably didn't even have the element of surprise. Cartel lookouts - they could be anybody: taxi drivers, store owners, fellow cops - had no doubt already tipped off the organized-crime groups. Cell-phone conversations were routinely intercepted.

"I'm talking here and the mafia is listening," said one commander who, like many police, residents and officials, spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns. "They already know we're coming."

The convoy turned past the small church and the local newspaper office, its windows blasted out, and ran every red light and stop sign leaving town.

This is Mexico's hidden drug war.

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#1284 Nov 1, 2010
Mexico police find Canadian's car; a body in trunk

CHILPANCINGO, Mexico (AP)— A missing Canadian businessman’s rental car was found completely burned with a corpse in the trunk on Sunday, police in southern Mexico reported.

Investigators are working to determine if it is the body of Daniel Dion, who was last seen about a week ago in the Pacific coast resort city of Acapulco.

One of the vehicle’s license plates was not burned in the fire, which allowed police to identify it as Dion’s white Jetta, according to Guerrero state Investigative Police director Fernando Monreal.

The car was discovered on a road in Zumpango del Rio, just north of the state capital of Chilpancingo. The town is about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from Acapulco, also in Guerrero state.

Mexican authorities say Dion has worked in Acapulco for several years with a company that employs inmates making bags from recycled materials.

He is reportedly from the Ottawa area, though Canadian officials previously declined to confirm the missing man’s name or hometown.

While Acapulco remains a popular getaway for Mexico City residents and foreign tourists, it has been hit by drug-gang violence in recent years.

Fighting between two rival factions of the crumbling Beltran Leyva drug cartel has resulted in shootouts and deaths, and Mayor Jose Luis Avila Sanchez recently warned people to stay indoors after dark — an extraordinary pronouncement for a city whose economy depends deeply on nightclubs, restaurants and bars.

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#1285 Nov 1, 2010
50 bullets hit car with Texas plates in Juárez; 3 slain

By Daniel Borunda
El Paso Times

Three people riding in a BMW with Texas license plates were killed in a shooting during the weekend in Juárez.

Chihuahua state police identified the victims as Guillermo Araiza Hidalgo, 23, Luis Carlos Araiza Hidalgo, 15, and Giovanna Herrera, 26.

A spokesman for the Chihuahua attorney general's office on Sunday did not have information on whether any of the victims were El Paso residents or U.S. citizens.

Police said shooters fired 50 rounds from 9 mm and .223-caliber weapons, peppering the black 2001 BMW X5 with bullets during an assault late Saturday morning on the Juárez-Porvenir road. The vehicle was being driven by Guillermo Araiza. All three died at the scene.

In other news, a Juárez university student is in stable condition and expected to recover after being shot in the abdomen by Mexican federal police during a protest Friday, university officials said.

Jose Dario Alvarez Orrantia, 19, is in his first semester studying sociology at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez.

The shooting occurred during the "March Against Death" to protest the violence and the "militarization" of Juárez.

University officials condemned the shooting in an open letter to Mexican President Felipe Calderón and other government leaders.

"At this time, the university community is offended by these acts of violence that are in addition to other acts in which we have been victims. In none of these cases have the corresponding authorities made significant advances in their investigations," the letter stated.

Federal police said in a statement that the shooting occurred when officers -- who were responding to a shooting nearby -- fired warning shots into the air after running into protesters, some of whom were masked. Two police officers were detained. An investigation continues.

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#1286 Nov 1, 2010
Mexico needs more U.S. help in drug wars

October 31, 2010

TIJUANA, one of Mexico's violence-racked border cities, was supposed to be getting better. A drug kingpin notorious for dissolving his enemies in acid was arrested; a record cache of 134 tons of marijuana was seized and burned. President Felipe Calderon said the city was a "clear example that the security challenge has a solution." Then came the massacre. On Oct. 24, gunmen attacked a drug rehabilitation center, slaughtering 13 men. That brought this year's death toll to 639 in a city of 1.5 million.

The mass slaying was one of three recorded in Mexico in just five days. On Oct. 22, a gang attacked a teenager's birthday party in Ciudad Juarez, killing 14; the youngest was a 13-year-old girl. On Oct. 27, shooters appeared at a carwash in the Pacific state of Nayarit, where clients of a drug rehabilitation center were working. Some of the workers were wearing T-shirts bearing the words "Faith and Hope." At least 15 were killed.

The larger message here is that Mexico is still embroiled in a desperate fight to save its liberal democracy. Mr. Calderon, who courageously launched a war against the traffickers shortly after taking office nearly four years ago, has been experimenting with new tactics: After another massacre of teenagers in Juarez earlier this year, he launched a "surge" of social programs and shifted lead security duties from the army to the police.

So far, however, there has been little improvement. Each time the government declares a corner turned, as in Tijuana, the killers strike again. Official spokesmen used to argue that most of the more than 28,000 people killed since late 2006 were members of cartels fighting each other. But in Juarez and other cities, the innocent increasingly are targeted, sometimes indiscriminately.

This doesn't mean that Mr. Calderon's crusade is doomed. As Colombia has demonstrated, it can take many years of patient effort to defeat the traffickers. But to persevere, Mexico needs more help than it is getting from the United States, which does far more to help the traffickers - through demand for drugs and supply of guns - than it does the government.

Congress has approved $1.3 billion in drug war aid to Mexico - about a third of what it has wasted on a border fence. But it has been deaf to Mr. Calderon's pleas to restore the ban on sales of assault weapons, tens of thousands of which have been trafficked from the United States to Mexico. Next week California will vote on a measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana, a measure Mr. Caldern believes will undermine his fight against the traffickers politically without significantly harming their business.

Border cities such as El Paso and San Diego are fortunate that Mexico's massacres and car bombs have not - yet - spilled across the border. But Mexicans might be excused for wishing that something would wake Americans up.

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#1287 Nov 2, 2010
Mexico: 4 US citizens killed in separate attacks

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP)— Four U.S. citizens were shot to death in separate attacks in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexican authorities said Monday.

Chihuahua state prosecutors’ spokesman Arturo Sandoval said Edgar Lopez, 35, of El Paso, Texas, was killed Sunday along with two Mexican men when gunmen opened fire on a group standing outside a house.

On Saturday, a 26-year-old U.S. woman and an American boy were slain shortly after crossing an international bridge from El Paso. Giovanna Herrera and Luis Araiza, 15, were shot to death along with a Mexican man traveling with them just after 11 a.m., Sandoval said.

Sandoval said authorities also identified a 24-year-old woman killed Friday inside a tortilla shop as Lorena Izaguirre, a U.S. citizen and El Paso resident. A Mexican man was also found dead in the store.

Sandoval did not provide any information about possible motive in any of the slayings.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed three of the killings but did not have any information about Izaguirre. He said officials had been in touch with the victims’ families but offered no other details.

Ciudad Juarez has become one of the world’s deadliest cities amid a turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez drug cartels. More than 2,000 people have been killed this year in the city, which is across the border from El Paso.

Also Monday, federal police said they arrested a U.S. man accused of being a member of the Aztecas gang, whose members work as hitmen for the Juarez cartel and operate on both sides of the border. Angel Martinez, 24, was arrested Saturday in Ciudad Juarez when he was traveling with another gang member, the department said.

Elsewhere, three city police officers were gunned down early Monday in a drive-by shooting as they patrolled the heart of Acapulco’s upscale tourist district, authorities said.

Another officer was wounded, according to a statement from the Public Safety Department in southern Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located.

The officers were patrolling the Puerto Marques area around 1 a.m. when they were ambushed by suspects shooting assault rifles from inside a car, police said.

Violence continues to escalate in the Pacific resort city, days after Mayor Jose Luis Avila Sanchez warned people to stay indoors after dark. Ten other people were killed between Sunday and Monday around the area. Authorities also were trying to determine whether a burned corpse found in a car was the body of a Canadian businessman who disappeared last week.

Meanwhile, the remains of seven people were found Sunday in a mass grave in Nogales, on the Arizona border. Mayor Jose Angel Hernandez said a family walking near the site noticed what appeared to be part of a body sticking up in a riverbed. Officers recovered six bodies and a severed head in the grave. A seventh headless body was found nearby.

In the border city of Tijuana, state police seized more than 14 tons (13 metric tons) of marijuana in two vehicles at a house in the same neighborhood where gunmen killed 13 people at a drug rehab center 10 days ago.

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#1288 Nov 2, 2010
Expert Says Suspected Hartley Shooter Is Dead

by: Erica Proffer

ZAPATA - Border violence analysts say the man responsible for David Hartley's murder has been killed.

Fred Burton, the vice president of intelligence for Stratfor says the rookie Zeta who killed Hartley thought he was a spy for the Gulf Cartel.

That shooter died for his mistake.

"If you look at that organizations track record there is a consistency of them policing their own and making individuals pay," says Burton.

Burton says breaking the chain of command cost the Zetas a lot of money. He says because of Hartley's murder Falcon Lake is too saturated with law enforcement to move drugs.

Burton says with the execution of the shooter, the Hartley case will likely be closed.

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#1289 Nov 3, 2010
Tunnel, 20 tons of pot found at California-Mexico border

Associated Press
Posted: 11/03/2010

SAN DIEGO -- U.S. authorities have discovered 20 tons of pot near a tunnel connecting warehouses on either side of California's border with Mexico.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Lauren Mack says today that the tunnel ran 600 yards under the border near San Diego. It had lighting, ventilation and a rail system for sending carts of drugs into the United States.

Mack says the tunnel ended close to California's Otay Mesa port of entry.

Officials have found 125 tunnels since they started recording them in the early 1990s. Of those, 75 have been found in the past four years, most along the California and Arizona border with Mexico.

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#1290 Nov 4, 2010
18 dead found in Mexico mass grave shown in video

Posted 11/4/2010
By Sergio Flores,
Associated Press

ACAPULCO, Mexico — In another grisly turn in Mexico's drug war, police have recovered 18 bodies from a mass grave announced in a YouTube posting -- a video saying the victims were from a tourist group kidnapped in Acapulco a month ago.
Authorities said they would resume their search Thursday for more remains at the burial site in Tres Palos, a town just south of the Pacific resort city.

Police did not yet know if the bodies found were from the 20 men abducted at gunpoint Sept. 30 while visiting Acapulco from neighboring Michoacan state, Fernando Monreal, investigative police chief for Guerrero state, said Wednesday night.

Officers began digging at the site early Wednesday after receiving an anonymous phone call alerting them to two bodies dumped on an empty lot.

Hours earlier, a video appeared on Youtube in which two men -- their hands apparently tied behind their backs and answering questions from an unseen interrogator -- say they killed "the Michoacanos" and buried them in the area.

The two bodies reported in the tip were found wearing the same clothes as the pair seen in the video and were lying on top of the mass the grave.

A sign left between the two men read: "The people they killed are buried here." It was signed by Acapulco's Independent Cartel, or CIDA -- a little known drug gang that has been claiming responsibility for killings in the area over the last two months.

Monreal said authorities had not confirmed the identities of the bodies dumped on top of the grave.

In the video, the two men say they killed the "Michoacanos" in an act of revenge against La Familia, a powerful drug cartel based in Michoacan state.

The families of the 20 missing men, many of them related to each other, have said they were mechanics in the state capital of Morelia who each year saved up money to take a vacation together. Among those abducted was the 17-year-old son of one of the mechanics.

Guerrero state investigators say they corroborated that the men worked as mechanics and had no criminal records. Investigators also say they could find no evidence linking the men to any gang and have speculated the group may have been targeted by mistake.

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#1291 Nov 4, 2010
Explosion Reported in Reynosa

REYNOSA - Reynosa officials asked people to stay away from a busy shopping center after an explosion of some sort.

It was first reported to be a car-bomb, but officials later said it was just some kind of explosive device that had gone off.

No reports of any injuries.

Meanwhile, authorities have identified an American student killed in Cuidad Juarez.

Officials say Eder Diaz, a student at the University of Texas at El Paso was killed along with a classmate Tuesday night when gunmen opened fire on their car.

Further south into Mexico police have recovered at least nine bodies in a mass grave identified as the burial site for 20 men kidnapped in Acapulco.

The Guerrero state investigative police chief says at least six more bodies could be seen in the grave.

The men were kidnapped back in September.

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#1292 Nov 7, 2010
Drug cartels disrupt basic services in Mexico

Associated Press Writer
Nov. 06, 2010

Five Pemex workers went to their jobs at a government-owned gas compression plant near the Texas border six months ago and never returned. Masked men, apparently members of a drug cartel operating there, had warned employees of Petroleos Mexicanos that they were no longer allowed to enter the area.

Around the same time in May, three inspectors for Mexico's Environment Department headed into the wooded mountains west of Mexico City to investigate a pollution complaint. Their tortured bodies were found the next day. Authorities said they stumbled onto a drug lab.

With killings and disappearances to assert their authority, Mexico's drug cartels are beginning to interfere with everyday government activities in pockets of the country, keeping workers off their turf and interrupting some of the most basic services.

Not only do they maintain checkpoints and kill police or mayors to control territory, they now try to keep everyone from midlevel officials to delivery truck drivers and meter readers out of rural areas they use to transport drugs, stash weapons and kidnap victims, and hide from authorities. In the process, they are blocking deliveries of gasoline, pension checks, farm aid and other services to Mexicans.

Cartels also rob or extort people receiving government checks, as organized crime branches out from drug running into other illegal businesses.

These interruptions have even affected the U.S., as agricultural inspections at the border have slowed. The recent search for the body of a missing American tourist on a border lake was suspended under threats of drug-cartel violence and the assassination of the police commander in charge of the search.

"Everything's stopped," said Maria Luz Hopkins, a 69-year-old retiree in Tubutama, south of the Arizona border city of Nogales. "There's no construction. Nobody is working the fields because they don't have gasoline or diesel. The people that used to bring gasoline, they don't come. How can people work?"

Hopkins complained to officials in the Sonora state capitol, Hermosillo, when the government stopped delivering pension checks. She said they came last month in a convoy of about 20 heavily armed trucks after missing a bimonthly payment over the summer.

Federal officials say these are isolated incidents, and deny there is any area of the country where the government can't operate; as evidence, they point to the 2009 congressional elections and the 2010 census.

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#1293 Nov 7, 2010
Death toll mounts in Matamoros shootout as sporadic fighting continues

November 06, 2010

Gunfire continued to be reported in Matamoros Saturday, a day after firefights rocked the city and Mexican authorities announced the death of Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, whom they described as a leader of the Gulf Cartel.

Several people reportedly were killed Saturday in Matamoros, and four others died in Valle Hermoso to the south.

Friday’s exact toll is unknown, but well-placed sources put the number of dead at 55 or more. Official statements from the Mexican government acknowledged 10 deaths, while one law enforcement officer, speaking on condition that he not be named, told The Brownsville Herald that the two-day toll “easily” passed 100.

The death of Cárdenas Guillén, 48, known as “Tony Tormenta” or “Tony the Storm,” came Friday after hours of armed confrontations throughout Matamoros.

On Saturday, sources confirmed more shootouts and grenade explosions with several casualties in Matamoros. Plumes of smoke could be seen from Brownsville. A Mexican law enforcement official confirmed the four deaths in Valle Hermoso.

Since Friday, phone service — both land lines and cellular — in Matamoros has been sporadic, with residents unable to make calls at certain times.

The law enforcement official confirmed that gunfire broke out Saturday in the Ejido Las Rusias neighborhood between members of the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas. Shootouts between armed civilians were reported on Lauro Villar and Roberto Guerra avenues.

Sources said the Mexican military had surrounded the headquarters of the Tamaulipas State Police.

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#1294 Nov 7, 2010
Expert: Younger drug cartel hit men to blame for more Mexico massacres

By Vic Kolenc

A fellow with the Brookings Institution said Friday that younger, more out-of-control hit men working for Mexican drug cartels are one reason more massacres are taking place, including a recent attack on buses carrying maquiladora workers in Juárez.

Vanda Felbab-Brown, a fellow in foreign policy at Washington-based Brookings, was the luncheon keynote speaker at a conference about manufacturing ties between Mexico and the United States hosted by the El Paso branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Drug cartels are employing younger hit men than before, Felbab-Brown said after her speech. They are "less trained and have less capacity to conduct hits in a more professional manner," which used to mean going after only selected targets, she said.

Jose Ramon Salinas, a spokes man for the federal police in Mexico City, said later that Felbab-Brown's contentions were too simple, and that it would be difficult to identify the source of this type of violence. He said many factors could contribute to attacks on low-income maquiladora workers.

"Who's to say why this is happening?" he said. "Without us looking at the information that this expert has, it's tough to decipher her theory."

Felbab-Brown said drug cartels also are being managed by younger people. The leaders used to be in their 50s. A decade ago, they were in their 30s, and today they are in their 20s, she said. Hit men can be as young as 18, she said.

These younger leaders are not as hesitant as their
predecessors to resort to extreme violence, she said.
The Mexican government does not have adequate policies to "suppress the violence," she said.

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