Mazatlan Restaurant Burned Down By Armed Men

The popular restaurant “El Habaleño” in the heart of the tourist zone of Mazatlan was burned down Sunday morning, June 12, by masked men who came as the employees showed up to open the restaurant. The men doused gasoline and set fire to the restaurant, while the employees ran away.

Two months ago gangsters left the mutilated body of a man in front of the restaurant along with the carcass of a pig.

Link to article in Spanish.

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“Let Those Sons of Bitches Threaten Me:” Julián Leyzaola Pérez

“Let those bastard sons of bitches threaten me, if they can,” was the response of the Chief of Police of Ciudad Juarez, Julián Leyzaola Pérez, after learning of the assassination of one of his newly appointed captains, José Manuel Rivas Lopez.

Rivas Lopez was assassinated after being on the job one week in his new position as precinct captain of the Benito Juárez police station. He was murdered at his home. Leyzaola said he will not replace Rivas Lopez, instead he himself will take over his duties at the precinct station.

Leyzaola was the former police chief of Tijuana.

Link to article in Spanish.

Julián Leyzaola Pérez
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Short Interview With An Assassin Working for Shorty Guzman

You may not want to watch this video.

This man being interviewed says he works for Chapo Guzman (real name Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, “Chapo” means “shorty”) in Santiago Papasquiaro, Durango where he makes 8,000 pesos per month (about $680) working for the Sinaloa Cartel. He says he also kills people to steal their money and forces people to work with them.

El Chapo escaped from a high security prison in Mexico on January 19, 2001. Since the death this month of Osama Bin Ladin, El Chapo became number one on the FBI’s most wanted list.

Makes you want to run right out and buy some fish tacos, eh?

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Mayor of Santee Declines Invite to Tijuana Due to Cartel Violence

Santee’s Mayor Randy Voepel has declined an invitation to the upcoming Seventh Binational Mayors Summit with a letter explaining Mexican drug cartel violence as the reasoning for his absence.

“I do not visit Mexico for ANY reason, as I perceive the risk of personal assault from the drug lords that rule the country to be greater than any good my risk of personal safety would garner,” wrote Mayor Voepel.

Link to article in Spanish.

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Five Women Brutally Murdered in Acapulco

Five women, all apparently connected to a beauty parlor, were found brutally murdered in the Mexican beach resort of Acapulco on Saturday morning, state police said.

The semi-naked and bound bodies of two women and a 14-year-old girl were discovered in the salon in the early hours of Saturday morning. All three had their throats slashed.

Police later found the corpses of another two women with cut throats dumped in the streets. Mexican media said both victims worked at the beauty parlor. No motive was given for the killings.

Acapulco, famed in the 1960s as a glamorous haunt for Hollywood stars, has been convulsed by drug violence in recent months as powerful cartels battle for smuggling routes, prompting the United States to warn tourists against visiting the downtown center of the resort.

Mexican officials have been anxious to downplay the impact of the violence on tourism, one of the country’s main foreign exchange earners, pointing out that the number of visitors arriving in Mexico has continued to rise in recent years.

Link to article.

[Fulano’s comment: While “no motive was given for the killings” these types of crimes are almost always done by organized crime gangs to people who refuse to pay “protection” money extorted from businesses.]

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Mexican Mayor Survives Attack By 40 Gunmen

Jaime Rodriguez (L) with Nuevo Leon
Governor Rodrigo Medina

About 40 gunmen attacked the mayor of Garcia, a city in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, killing a bodyguard, wounding four others but failing to kill the municipal official.

Mayor Jaime Rodriguez survived the attack, which was the second attempt to kill him in just over a month.

Rodriguez described the attack in an interview with a television station in Nuevo Leon, a crime-ridden state located on the border with the United States.

Gunmen traveling in several vehicles opened fire on the SUV that was carrying eight bodyguards, Rodriguez said.

The gunmen were apparently trying to neutralize the bodyguards so they could kill the mayor, who was in an armored SUV.

The mayor’s vehicle was hit by gunfire, but none of the rounds penetrated the armor.

The attack occurred Tuesday night on Abraham Lincoln avenue in Garcia, a city in the Monterrey metropolitan area.

The mayor’s bodyguards killed three gunmen who tried to kill him on Feb. 25.

Link to article.

One week prior to the attack, Mayor Rodriguez told the press that the town of Garcia was a great place to come spend Easter Week. Here’s a link to that article in Spanish.

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Eight More Killed in Acapulco

ACAPULCO, GUERRERO – Eight people in 3 different areas of the city have been killed by cartel gunmen. These included a 70 year old grandmother protecting her grandchildren, that were killed anyway. They were 6 and 2 years old. Two other children there were wounded, including a 20 day old infant. Homes, business and vehicles were burned, while schools and businesses closed due to the violence.

Link to article in Spanish.

Fulano’s note: According to the Mexican federal authorities, drug cartel murders in Acapulco rose to 370 in 2010, up 147 percent from 2009. The population of Acapulco is 652,136, making the homicide rate 57 per 100,000, just for drug cartel murders. Mexico reports the non-drug murders as a separate number.

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No Good Deed Goes Unpunished – Part 1

Last January 23, three burglars broke into the home of Alvaro Sandoval, 50, in the town of Puerto Palomas, Chihuahua, Mexico. Puerto Palomas is a small town across the border from Columbus, New Mexico.

Sandoval had a legal pistol and killed all three of the burglars. He was hailed as a hero by residents of the violence-plagued state.

Late Tuesday, Alvaro Sandoval and his wife, Griselda Alvarado, 33, were killed by hitmen who broke into their home. The couple’s daughter was locked into the bathroom by the gunmen before they murdered the child’s parents.

Link to article.

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US Consulate in Guadalajara Restricts Travel of US Citizens and Staff

Spanish version, English translation below:

Alerta consulado de EU en Guadalajara a funcionarios sobre violencia

Prohíbe a sus funcionarios y ciudadanos salir por las noches y llevar a cabo viajes interurbanos ante la inseguridad.

La Jornada en línea

Publicado: 04/02/2011 11:58

México, DF. El consulado de Estados Unidos en Guadalajara emitió una alerta en la que prohíbe a sus funcionarios y ciudadanos salir por las noches y llevar a cabo viajes interurbanos ante la violencia registrada en el estado en los últimos días.

Por medio de un comunicado, las autoridades diplomáticas hacen referencia a la serie de bloqueos en carreteras que se registraron el martes pasado, donde integrantes del crimen organizado prendieron fuego a vehículos.

El consulado refiere que “uno de los bloqueos se instaló en la carretera Chapala entre Guadalajara y el aeropuerto, en el mismo punto que fue atacado en la noche del sábado 15 de enero”.

“A la luz de la cambiante situación de seguridad” el consulado pide a sus funcionarios y ciudadanos tomar precauciones al viajar por la noche entre Guadalajara y el Aeropuerto Internacional de la ciudad, así como realizar viajes interurbanos en Jalisco.

Link to article in Spanish.

U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara alerts officials on violence

Prohibits its officials and citizens go out at night and carry out long-distance trips due to the insecurity.

Mexico, DF. – The United States consulate in Guadalajara issued an alert that prohibits public officials and US citizens from going out at night and carrying out long distance trips due violence in the state in recent days.

Through a statement, the diplomatic authorities refered to the number of road blockades that occurred last Tuesday, where members of organized crime set fire to vehicles.

The consulate states that “one of the blockades was on the Chapala highway between Guadalajara and the airport, at the same place that was attacked on the evening of Saturday, January 15th.”

“In light of the changing security situation,” the consulate asks its officials and citizens to take precautions when traveling at night between Guadalajara International Airport and to avoid intercity trips in the state of Jalisco.

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Monterrey, Nuevo Leon Falls To The Cartels

Link to Reuters article.

By Robin Emmott
MONTERREY, Mexico | Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:24am EST
(Reuters) – Drug gangs fighting over Mexico’s richest city have launched a wave of attacks against police and rivals since New Year’s Eve, crushing hopes of a fall in violence and alarming business leaders.

Firing automatic weapons and grenade launchers, brazen hitmen in Monterrey have killed at least 10 police officers and shot up police stations, attacked a prison, killed bystanders, and threatened local journalists in a burst of violence across the city that was once known as one of Latin America’s safest.

In a sign that a two-month period of relative calm has ended in the city that has close U.S. business ties, drug gangs hung the half-naked body of a woman from a bridge on December 31, the most gruesome act since 51 bodies were found in a mass grave just outside the city last July.

“We’re on alert, we’re ready for these kind of criminal attacks against the authorities,” Nuevo Leon state Governor Rodrigo Medina, the top regional official, told reporters this week. “We have to be ready for a difficult scenario.”

The jump in violence in Monterrey, where annual income per head is double Mexico’s average at $17,000, is a major worry for President Felipe Calderon as foreign companies question the safety of doing business in the area.

A U.S. executive was abducted, beaten and robbed of his armored car in Monterrey last week, U.S. security consultancy Stratfor said, although police declined to comment.

Home to global cement maker Cemex, top Latin American drinks company Femsa and foreign factories including General Electric and Whirlpool Corp, the region generates 8 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product.

Monterrey’s slide into violence is one of the most dramatic developments in Calderon’s war. The city and the surrounding state of Nuevo Leon reported 610 drug killings in 2010, by far the worst ever for the region, although national security spokesman Alejandro Poire said on Monday violence was systematically falling due to government efforts.

More than 30,000 people have died in drug violence across Mexico since Calderon sent the army to fight the cartels in December 2006. The government says the bloodshed is a sign the gangs are weakening, but business leaders and rights groups worry the strategy has backfired, sparking an endless stream of revenge killings that is spilling out across the country.

EXODUS

Lauded by then U.S. President George W. Bush in 2002 as a model for poor countries, Monterrey is seeing business and tourism suffer while some investors are freezing investment.

Some wealthy residents have fled to cities such as Houston, and while no exact figures are available, demand for so-called U.S. immigrant investor visas, which require Mexicans to make up to $1 million investments in the United States, are surging. “We are talking about an exodus,” said Jose Cornide, a private wealth advisor who helps applicants with the process.

No big foreign companies have pulled out of Nuevo Leon because of the violence, but some executives are holding back on investments and companies are spending 5 percent of cash flow on security, a cost that was nonexistent a few years ago.

Monterrey, a city of around 4 million people some 140 miles from the border with Texas, is prized by drug gangs as a money laundering center, as a strategic hub for narcotics distribution and for its kidnapping rackets. With its sleek highways, posh restaurants and private universities, it is a place for drug capos and their families to live unnoticed.

A cartel alliance wants to flush out the Zetas gang, led by former elite soldiers who switched sides to join organized crime in the 1990s, and argue this would end the violence.

[Fulano’s note: See Fulano’s earlier blog on Monterrey here.]

Here is the Stratfor report on the kidnapped American executive in Monterrey:

A heavily armed group kidnapped a U.S. citizen early the morning of Jan. 4 in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, in an incident apparently not yet reported in open source media in Mexico. The victim, who reportedly worked for a U.S.-based company with operations in Monterrey, apparently was driving a company-issued armored luxury vehicle at the time of the kidnapping, according to STRATFOR sources. 

The victim was traveling through Monterrey when up to three vehicles blocked his passage. The attackers’ first vehicle, which had local Mexican law enforcement markings and lights, cut the victim off from the front, while a second vehicle blocked the victim’s vehicle from the rear. According to STRATFOR sources, a third vehicle then blocked the victim’s vehicle from the side, leaving him boxed in against the curb.

At this point, an unknown number of heavily armed assailants emerged from the vehicles and approached the victim. The victim was quickly removed from his vehicle and placed in one of the attacker’s vehicles. 

The victim was severely beaten during the ordeal, and was released later in the evening in the nearby city of Escobedo, Nuevo Leon state, just north of Monterrey. No ransom was demanded, indicating that the attackers’ main objective was stealing the armored luxury vehicle. 

Armored cars are especially sought-after items by organized crime elements, who see them as offering safety. Multinational corporations sometimes share this view of armored cars, despite problems emerging from a lack of training in their use. As with any luxury vehicle, driving an armored luxury vehicle significantly raised the U.S. citizen’s profile, thereby making him or her a target for such an operation. 

This operation demanded at least minimal pre-operational surveillance of the victim’s routes and routine. The tactics the kidnappers demonstrated show that they were highly trained. 

Initial reports indicate that at least some, if not all, of the assailants involved in the Jan. 4 incident were members or former members of the local municipal police departments in Escobedo or San Nicolas. Los Zetas have routinely employed municipal officers in these areas for this type of activity.

STRATFOR has been anticipating an escalation in kidnappings in the Monterrey area. This is due to the large concentration of wealth in the region and to the defensive posture the Zetas have had to assume due to their ongoing conflict with the New Federation in the Monterrey area.

The rise in kidnappings in Monterrey over the past six months has alarmed the U.S. diplomatic community there, forcing the departure of all minor dependants of all U.S. diplomatic personnel from the region. 

The incident shows the Zetas are in fact focusing on kidnapping operations in the region. With an apparent new push by the New Federation to target Los Zetas’ support network (mainly local police and journalists working for the Zetas), a continuation of this trend is likely, as Los Zetas seek additional funds and resources to combat the New Federation offensive. 

This attack also underscores the need to maintain a minimal profile in contested criminal environments in Mexico such as Monterrey and to employ the use of countersurveillance techniques such as surveillance detection routes and varying routines and routes, as the attacker likely keyed in on the victim’s daily routine.

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