Tales of the Crypt: REAL TALES OF THE MX DRUG WAR..eg those Zs know how to ruin things

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Tales of the Crypt: REAL TALES OF THE MX DRUG WAR..eg those Zs know how to ruin things

This post was updated on .
Remember that celebration planned in N Laredo to depict how safe things were to travel there?  Washingtons Bday?  Except those damn cartels never seem to want to get with the program, evident by the major gunbattle that commenced......this CNN report eludes to that, at the bottom I have attached the cable in reference to the gunbattle for your perusal.   Paz,  Buela

The drug war is made up of hundreds of incidents and decisions, both public and behind-the-scenes, that the media dutifully reports, unless, as in the case of some Mexican media, there is self-censorship out of fear.

But even beyond what the media reports, there are nuances, context, and even facts that are not widely known outside privileged circles
State Department cables recently made pubilc through WikiLeaks include detailed accounts of some of the smaller events in the drug war, providing a glimpse of successes and failures rarely revealed by officials.

A CNN review of all the WikiLeaks documents pertaining to Mexico highlights some of the highs and lows of the drug war, as well as some of the daily frustrations and big ideas that have surfaced in its execution.

The drug war creates both heroes and villains. The marines take down a drug kingpin. Cartel members mow down 15 at a house party.

If you scratch below the surface, sometimes you can reveal shades of both.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations demanded Mexican action in the wake of the January 2010 killing of activist Josefina Reyes in her hometown near Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Reyes was an outspoken critic of the army's presence in Juarez. She sought to shed light on abuses at the hands of the military.

But a State Department cable shows there is more to her story.

Reyes, according to the cable, was the mother of an alleged Juarez cartel hitman and drug trafficker. U.S. officials concluded that information available to them "suggests that Reyes' murder had more to do with her ties to organized crime than her work with human rights organizations."

In fact, Reyes became an activist against the military only after her son was detained by the army in 2008, the cable states. She considered his detention a kidnapping
Sinaloa cartel gunmen were behind her killing, the cable states. Her son, Miguel Angel "El Sapo" Reyes Salazar, is a suspected hitman for the rival Juarez cartel.

More than a year later, the bodies of three of Josefina Reyes' relatives were found dumped near a gas station.

Aldo Fasci, a top security official in Nuevo Leon state in 2007, had an idea for overcoming the rampant corruption that handicaps Mexican police forces.

According to his calculations, 40% of the state police force was corrupted by the drug cartels. What if, he told U.S. consular officials, he separated his department into two "parallel" forces? He would place the 60% of officers who were clean in task forces with added responsibilities, and place the corrupted 40% in menial administrative jobs.

He pictured it as two trees: one that would be cultivated to bloom, and another that would be allowed to wilt.

It was the most ambitious of his ideas, one which the U.S. worried would in effect create a police force under cartel control. The plan never came to fruition.

At least he was thinking outside the box. A State Department cable from when Fasci assumed his post in 2007 gives him credit for proposing novel ways to overcome what are entrenched problems in Mexican law enforcement.

Among other of Fasci's ideas was to increase officer pay by having universities hire their spouses, and to raise morale by buying new uniforms.

When American kidnapping expert Felix Batista was himself apparently kidnapped in Saltillo, Mexico, in December 2008, it made international headlines. Authorities said Batista had been at a restaurant when he went outside to receive a message, entered a vehicle, and was never heard from again. But who took him? And what kind of message was he hoping to receive?

Authorities in the Mexican state of Coahuila told U.S. consular officials that they believed the Zetas cartel took Batista, a lead that they didn't share with the public. At the time of his abduction, Batista was working on getting the release of a friend who was kidnapped, according to a confidential State Department cable.

Batista's friend, Pilar Valdez, was kidnapped the morning of December 10. That night, Batista was at dinner with Valdez's son when his cell phone rang. He left his laptop, credit card and documents at the table. He handed his dinner companions a number to call in case he didn't return. Outside, he entered a vehicle, apparently on his own accord, and that was it. His friend was released about an hour after that.

Despite the suspicious circumstances around Batista's disappearance, Mexican investigators looked at it as only a missing persons case, because he had allegedly entered the vehicle willingly. Meanwhile, his family pleaded for authorities to take the case seriously.

Without further clues, it may never be known why Batista was taken.

Coahuila and U.S. officials privately discussed a number of theories.

First, it was possible that Valdez was kidnapped in order to get to Batista, and that the American had been using his friend to send cartel information to authorities. A second theory was that Batista offered too much information in a PowerPoint slide show about cartel leaders and activities during a local presentation. Finally, though less likely, was the possibility that Batista's kidnapping was meant to send a message that no one is safe from the cartel's reach.

The lesson the United States took from the incident was that the cartels were not afraid to target Americans. Batista's kidnapping was a game-changer, the cable states.

Grenades are small, powerful, but unfortunately, don't always end up where you intend them to.

During a span in early 2009, there was an uptick of grenade use by Mexican cartels. In the Monterrey, Mexico, area, a series of grenade attacks hit a television station, Mexican law enforcement, and even the U.S. consulate there.

Drug cartels have a knack for procuring military weapons.

These particular grenades may have originated in the United States, according to a secret State Department cable. Other ordnances with the same lot numbers as the one used in the attack against the Televisa television station in Monterrey and others may have been sold by the United States to El Salvador in the early 1990s.

At least one grenade may have made a round-trip journey back to the United States.

According to the cable, U.S. authorities linked a grenade tossed inside a night club in Pharr, Texas, on January 31, 2009, to that same batch. That one did not explode. Three off-duty police officers inside the club may have been the targets, the cable states.

In late 2009, Mauricio Fernandez was sworn in as mayor of San Pedro, an upper-class suburb of Monterrey, Mexico. Kidnappings were a problem at the time, and Fernandez boasted to U.S. authorities of his oversight of what he called an off-the-books "bad boy" squad that would return tranquility to the city.

American authorities believed that the squad was actually linked to the Arturo Beltran Leyva drug cartel, and that the mayor had basically negotiated with organized crime in an effort to restore peace. Fernandez told U.S. consular officials that the Beltran Leyva cartel had agreed to help him get rid of kidnappers in San Pedro, and acknowledged taking phone calls from representatives of Arturo Beltran Leyva himself.

He criticized other mayors for not taking the bull by the horns, as he had.

According to a State Department cable, the U.S. saw Fernandez as both foe and friend of the cartels. His behavior and public comments were also seen as erratic.

On the day of his inauguration, he announced the death of four suspected drug traffickers. But their bodies weren't discovered until four hours after his speech.

Then, just 15 days into office, Fernandez and a female companion were denied entry into the United States at the Brownsville port of entry.

Customs authorities found six grams of marijuana and 209 pills believed to be "ecstasy" in the woman's purse, and a pipe filled with marijuana in Fernandez's suitcase, another cable states.

Fernandez remains mayor of San Pedro, and according to local media, dissolved the bad boy squad under pressure in April 2010.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has used Mexico's military to combat the drug cartels in part because of corruption in the various levels of police departments. But the military's role has not always been welcome by the public, and there have been reports of abuses on the part of the military.

But Calderon insists that the military is the least corrupt force he has, and a State Department cable from April 2010 backs him up on this.

In the northern state of Nuevo Leon, for instance, there was a spike in the number of human rights complaints in 2007, mostly of arbitrary detention. But the U.S. defends the army: "The alleged abuses appear to be perpetrated by state and local police, not the Mexican military pursuing the cartels."

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a surprise visit to the border city of Laredo, Texas, in February 2010 to attend the city's colorful Washington's Birthday celebration.

The event was a chance for neighboring Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to show that it had put its reputation as a violent place behind it, and one of highlights was a show of solidarity between the two cities and the two countries.

The drug cartels will ruin your fun every time.

If Pelosi had been near the river on the eve of the celebration, she would have heard a noisy gunbattle that lasted for hours across the Rio Grande in Nuevo Laredo.

As Mexico fights drug cartel violence, gunbattles are not rare. But a State Department cable provides a closer look at what's behind one of these violent firefights, as well as the confusing aftermath

In this case, the gunbattle appeared to be an unplanned run-in between the army and the Zetas drug cartel. According to the cable, the army bumped into a heavily armed Zetas convoy four blocks south of the international bridge. For hours, the two sides exchanged fire on the streets of Nuevo Laredo's historic district. Zeta scouts moved stolen cars into the streets, trying to block the army's advance. The shootout was described like "the finale of a fireworks show," according to the cable.

The car of one American citizen on the international bridge was riddled with bullets. Suprisingly, there were no reports of civilian casualties.

One theory for the heavy shootout was the army had inadvertently come across a high-value target. After the incident, the army initially denied that it had been involved in a shootout.

The next day's event -- a ceremonial "hug" that takes place on the international bridge between the countries -- went ahead as planned. There was debate about moving the ceremony, but authorities on both sides were aware that such a change would make Texas headlines and bring attention to the shootout. There wasn't the same concern in the Mexican media, which ignored the incident.

The ruthless Zeta drug cartel was founded by ex-members of Mexican special forces. Part of their lore is that some of them received training from the United States that they now used against civilians and the Mexican state.

But a secret State Department cable from August 2009 sets the record straight for U.S. officials. The embassy cross-checked a list of known Zetas compiled by the DEA against a list of all Mexican special forces trained in or by the United States since 1996. There were no matches.

From other sources, the embassy was aware of one possible match, a former Mexican lieutenant in special forces who received counter-narcotics training at Fort Bragg. This possible match, Rogelio Lopez Villafana, was allegedly forcibly recruited into the Zetas after he retired from the military. According to the cable, he was arrested and implicated in a plot to assassinate a Mexican official.

Mexican officials have made some very high-level arrests of drug cartel leaders in recent years, but those protected by Mexico's power brokers still enjoy a certain level of impunity.

One example of how state police forces are uneasy about going after those in the circles of the powerful comes from Tijuana, according to a confidential State Department cable.

In June 2009, consular officials in Tijuana alerted Mexican authorities that an American citizen wanted for drug trafficking in the United States would appear at the consulate to renew his passport. Would the state police come arrest him, the U.S. asked?

The suspect came as scheduled, and an unmarked state police car awaited him. But, according to the cable, the man walked out of the consulate, got into a car with bodyguards, and drove across the street to a racetrack owned by the powerful former mayor, Jorge Hank Rhon.

As soon as the man's car entered the racetrack, the police's half-hearted pursuit ended. They told U.S. officials that they "could not enter" the racetrack. And that was that, the cable notes.

Rhon, 55, is the owner of a soccer team and a chain of casinos, and was the mayor of Tijuana between 2004 and 2007.

He was arrested on June 4 of this year with 10 others on suspicion of illegal weapons possession. He was released for lack of evidence 10 days later.


And the cable re: when cartels ruin your celebration of peac:

Reference id

 aka Wikileaks id #249996  ? 


Major Gun Battle Between Mexican Army And Zetas At International Bridge


Consulate Nuevo Laredo (Mexico)

Cable time

Mon, 22 Feb 2010 15:38 UTC






First published on Wed, 15 Jun 2011 21:15 UTC (original)
Modified on Fri, 26 Aug 2011 02:34 UTC (diff from original)
Modified on Thu, 1 Sep 2011 23:24 UTC (diff from original)


‣ Nuevo Laredo, campo de batalla entre cárteles — Wikileaks en La Jornada‣

DE RUEHNL #0044/01 0531539
R 221538Z FEB 10
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL [External Political Relations], PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], ASEC [Security], CASC [Assistance to Citizens], MX [Mexico]
SUBJECT: Major Gun Battle Between Mexican Army and Zetas at
International Bridge
¶1.        SBU - entire text.
¶2.       SUMMARY:  A major gun battle, clearly audible from the
Texas side of the river, rang out at approximately 2130 hours
February 19.  Though Mexican sources are being vague about some of
the details, it appears clear that this was another unplanned
run-in between the Army and the Zetas.  There are no known civilian
casualties, which is mainly a result of luck.  The shootout
happened as VIPs, including Speaker of the House Pelosi, gathered
in Laredo for the Washington's Birthday festivities, and it deals
yet another blow to Nuevo Laredo's fruitless attempts to attract
tourists.  END SUMMARY.
¶3.       ARSO AND DEA RAC were just entering the approaches to the
northbound lanes of International Bridge 2 when a heavy firefight
broke out just behind them.  The noise was described as being like
the finale of a fireworks show, and included heavy thumps from
grenades or similar weaponry.  Authorities on the bridge swiftly
moved the traffic across and out of harm's way.  ARSO talked to an
Amcit whose car was riddled with bullets; the several occupants
were luckily unharmed.
¶4.       ARSO immediately alerted PO, who initiated post's phone
tree and informed Department and Embassy.  Post followed up with a
warden message, advising Amcits to shelter in place and avoid the
bridges (thanks to Ops Center and OCS for assisting us with this,
as it was inadvisable for our dutyoff to travel to office).  One of
post's ELOs and EFM sheltered in place in Laredo rather than return
through the battle zone (COMMENT:  This is same couple who heard a
firefight break out within a block of their house within days of
arriving at post in December.  END COMMENT.)
¶5.       Confusion reigned for several hours, with the Army denying
involvement at first, and officials on both sides of the river
unclear as to what was happening, while ARSO worked the phones well
into the night to track down details.  Local and Federal law
enforcement deployed to the U.S. side of the bridge, to prevent the
violence from spilling over.  There were rumors of a curfew in
Nuevo Laredo and closing of the bridges - indeed, Nuevo Laredo
police initially informed Laredo police that this was the case,
then retracted - but neither appears to have taken place.  (In
fact, authorities apparently let traffic flow on the southbound
bridge right into the area of the firefight while it was going on.)
Narco convoys were reported in several areas of the city, including
near the Consulate, probably as decoys.  A local hospital reports
treating Army soldiers, but Army will not confirm or deny.
¶6.       What now appears clear is that the Army bumped into
heavily armed Zetas four blocks south of the bridge.  An internal
GOM report says that a 50cal weapon, mounted in an SUV, was found.
An immediate firefight broke out, then moved south and west through
Nuevo Laredo's historic center, lasting several hours.  Several
sources report that Zeta scouts, who have been thick on the streets
lately, were moving stolen cars into the streets, then abandoning
them, frustrating the Army's efforts at pursuit.  This pattern
suggests to post that the Army inadvertently bumped into the
security cordon for a high value target, triggering a response
(though the presence of an HVT so close to the POE gives pause for
thought).  A GOM source confirmed to PO that this was not a planned
operation by the Army.
¶7.       On  February 20, PO kept a breakfast date with civil
leaders at a well-guarded City Hall.  The usually unflappable Mayor
was clearly concerned, confirming that the situation had been very
confused well into the night.  At first he had been worried that it
had been cartel on cartel violence, which Nuevo Laredo hadn't seen
in recent years.  He was keenly aware that such an event taking
place when Federal and Texas officials (including a surprise visit
by Speaker Pelosi) and the media were in Laredo for the culmination
of the month-long Washington's Birthday celebration gave Nuevo
Laredo a black eye.
NUEVO LARE 00000044  002 OF 002
¶8.       The City Hall group then moved to International Bridge 2,
which was heavily guarded by the Army and the Federal Police.
Laredo officials had considered moving the yearly abrazo ceremony
away from the bridge, which would have made headlines in the Texas
media, but allowed it to proceed.  Later on Saturday, there was
still heavy security on both sides of the border, including boats
and helicopters on the U.S. side.
¶9.       The Laredo Morning Times reported the shootout in its
electronic edition February 20, and the print edition February 21,
while noting that no Mexican authority would confirm details on the
record.  Post found blog entries by Times readers helpful in
corroborating elements of the story.  Thus far, Mexican media has
ignored the event.
¶10.   COMMENT:  This is the fourth gun battle in four months
involving the Army in a heavily travelled area frequented by post
personnel and other Amcits.  One was near the Consulate, one near
our residences, and two at the bridge.  Three involved the Zetas.
With that many shots fired in a busy area at mid-evening, it's a
miracle that innocent bystanders were not wounded or killed in this
latest incident.  The timing could not have been worse for Nuevo
Laredo's attempts to rehabilitate its image.  None of these
shootouts were planned by the Army, and none of them have resulted
in the apprehension of high value targets.  Zeta scouts have
clearly been nervous for at least two weeks, deployed on many
streets, including quite close to one of our residences a block
from the Consulate.  Their tension level rose when Laredo media
reported the arrival of a heavily guarded GOM airplane on February
¶13.  The Zetas appear to fear an operation launched from Laredo,
and have deployed accordingly.  As an alternative to our theory
about a high value target, it's also possible that the Army bumped
into the Zeta front lines near the bridge.  END COMMENT.
¶11.   Post will continue to seek information about this latest
shootout, and share same with the Department.

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The way I see it.... the more people that don't like me, the less people I have to please