Drug Cartel Kills American While He Jet Skied with Wife on Falcon Lake, Texas

Tiffany Hartley and her husband David Michael Hartley

BROWNSVILLE — Gunmen presumed to be Mexican drug operatives opened fire today on a couple riding water skis on the binational Falcon Lake reservoir, possibly killing the husband and sending the woman fleeing frantically to the U.S. side.

Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said the couple — believed to be from McAllen — had crossed to the Mexican side when they came under a spray of bullets by two boatloads of men. The man, 30, was shot in the head and his wife said she fears he is dead.

“They saw them approaching and started revving it up back to the U.S. side,” Gonzalez told the Associated Press. “The guys just started shooting at them from behind.”

According to unconfirmed reports, the woman circled back to get her husband but the gunmen continued shooting, even after she crossed back to the U.S. side.

Gonzalez said he had contacted the Mexican consulate for help finding the husband. As of late Thursday afternoon, he was tracing down leads with the FBI, said Mary Pulido, a dispatcher fielding a barrage of press calls.

“I do know that it happened on the Mexican side, that’s what’s making the investigation very difficult,” she said.

The shooting follows reports in May that boaters in the famed bass fishing oasis were at risk of being shaken down by “pirates” lurking on the Mexican side.

The 60-mile long Rio Grande reservoir is shared by the United States and Mexico, and due to its location along sparsely populated Starr and Zapata counties is believed to be a favorite location for trafficking drugs.

Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, who along with state Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, recently traveled to the area for a briefing by the Texas Department of Public Safety on Falcon Lake dangers said that any gunfire that took place on the U.S. side of the lake — in some places demarcated by floating markers — would represent a serious step over the line for a drug war that’s “getting out of hand.”

“These guys are getting very aggressive,” he said. “It’s a significant incident, but it has international ramifications if the shots continued into our side. This was just a couple of people having a good time.”

Peña, as chair of the emergency preparedness committee, said the incident strengthened his resolve to fight budget cuts for DPS, who along with Border Patrol agents patrol the lake.

“They’re essentially the Texas marine force,” he said. “We need them to protect our citizens and keep our lakes safe.”

Thursday’s reported shooting comes during what may be the most deadly and prolonged streak of Mexican drug cartel violence in memory.

In May, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported several incidents of pirates shaking down U.S. boaters. The robbers in at least one case posed as Mexican federal law enforcement, searching fishing boats for guns and drugs and then demanding cash at gunpoint.

The DPS issued a statement warning people not to cross to the Mexican side of the lake. Boaters were encouraged to file a float plan with family members.

“The robbers are believed to be members of a drug trafficking organization or members of an enforcer group linked to a drug trafficking organization who are…using AK-47s or AR-15 rifles to threaten their victims,” it said. “They appear to be using local Mexican fishermen to operate the boats to get close to American fishermen.”

The warning came as the county of Zapata geared up for a summer of fishing tournaments, prompting the chamber of commerce to say that the warning was drastic and that people were safe if they stayed in U.S. waters.

Falcon Lake was formed by a dam in 1953 to conserve water for agriculture and control downstream flooding.

http://oneoldvet.com/?p=23289

David Michael Hartley riding his Jet Ski at home in Colorado

Mexican Pirates Attack US Couple on Falcon Lake; Husband Missing, Feared Dead

Mexican pirates operating on Falcon Lake, which is shared by the United States and Mexico, on Thursday shot an American tourist who had crossed the border on a Jet Ski.

Tiffany Hartley, 29, said her husband, David Michael Hartley, 30, was shot in the back of the head as they tried to escape an ambush on the lake, The Associated Press reports.

Hartley tried to turn around to save her husband but said she had to continue to retreat when she heard bullets whizzing by. Today, search teams continue to comb the Texas side of the lake for David, who is presumed dead. Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said he had asked the Mexican consulate to conduct a search on his country’s side of the lake as well.

Falcon Lake pirate gangs in May after a spat of robberies prompted the Texas Department of Public Safety to issue a bulletin warning Americans to stay in U.S. waters. Authorities believe the pirates are offshoots of Mexican drug gangs operating in the area.

On April 30, five American fishermen crossed the border to explore Guerrero Viejo, a town that was abandoned and flooded when the Rio Grande was dammed to create Falcon Lake in 1953. The Americans’ boat was boarded by four men who said they were federal police but were not wearing uniforms.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said the men demanded to know if the fishermen had drugs before making off with $200. They also had several tattoos of the letter “Z,” raising suspicions that they were members of the Zetas drug cartel, which controls territory in northern Mexico.

Like the fishermen, the Hartleys had crossed the border Thursday to see Guerrero Viejo. Gonzalez said today that the gunmen chased the couple into American waters, according to the AP. He also said he suspects they returned for Hartley’s body or let it sink to the bottom of the lake in the hopes of destroying evidence of his murder.

Falcon Lake, which is approximately 50 miles south of Laredo, Texas, is a water sports and fishing destination, making it a prime target for an unusual brand of piracy. There have been at least five reported attacks on the lake this year, although none of them was deadly.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Mike Cox told the AP that the last reported sighting of the pirates was on Aug. 31, when boaters reported seeing gunmen in a small craft with “Game Wardin” spelled out in duct tape on the side of the boat.

http://www.aolnews.com/surge-desk/article/falcon-lake-pirates-ambush-american-couple-shoot-husband-in-head/19657660

Search resumes for US man shot in Mexican waters

SAN ANTONIO — Texas officials planned Friday to renew warnings about pirates marauding on a U.S.-Mexico border lake after a Colorado tourist was gunned down in Mexican waters while his wife dodged bullets and raced her Jet Ski back to American soil.

Search teams combed the U.S. side of Falcon Lake for David Michael Hartley, 30, whose wife told police he was shot in the back of the head Thursday after being ambushed by gunmen on boats.

The gunmen are suspected pirates who have turned Falcon Lake, a waterskiing and bass fishing hotspot down the border from Laredo, into uneasy waters for fishermen and boaters. There have been at least five reported run-ins with pirates on the lake this year, though prior holdups had never been deadly.

Hartley’s fate was unclear. Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said 29-year-old Tiffany Hartley fears her husband is dead. She circled back on her Jet Ski to rescue him but had to retreat when she heard bullets whizzing by.

Gonzalez said he had contacted the Mexican consulate to ask them to search for Hartley on its side of the lake.

“I’m not trying to place the blame on her or him,” Gonzalez said. “But we’ve told people not to go over there, and now this happens.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department spokesman Mike Cox said Friday that the state planned to issue a fresh warning to boaters about staying on the U.S. side of the lake. The last warning came in May, and some campers on the lake have taken to arming themselves.

Falcon Lake is a dammed section of the Rio Grande that straddles the border. The border is marked by 14 partially submerged concrete towers that mark the Rio Grande’s path before the lake was created in 1954.

According to Gonzalez, Tiffany Hartley told police that the couple rode their Jet Skis for sightseeing and to take pictures of a famous church in Old Guerrero. They were riding back when they saw the armed gunmen on the boats, and immediately began racing back to U.S. waters.

David Hartley didn’t make it. His wife told authorities he was shot in the back in the head; Cox said one of the boats may have crossed into U.S. waters briefly while trying to run down Tiffany Hartley.

Cox said Tiffany Hartley estimated that the shooting took place about five to six miles from the Texas shoreline where she parked and called for help.

In April, pirates robbed another group of boaters who also went to Old Guerrero to see the church. Cox said the most recent reported pirate sighting had been Aug. 31, when boaters saw gunmen riding a small skiff with “Game Wardin” misspelled in duct tape on the side of the vessel.

Cox said it appeared the pirates were trying to imitate state game warden boats they have seen patrolling the lake.

Gonzalez has previously chalked up the dangerous waters as the product of fighting between rival Mexican drug gangs.

Violence on the Mexican side of the lake has been climbing for several months, as a fractured partnership between the region’s dominant Gulf Cartel and its former enforcers, the Zetas, plunged many of the area’s Mexican border cities into violence.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5haMJhn6enRPZBA8z3GreQPLl8SMQD9IJ0RLG0?docId=D9IJ0RLG0

Agents feared Mexican drug cartel attack on border dam

Falcon Lake Dam

An alleged plot by a Mexican drug cartel to blow up a dam along the Texas border — and unleash billions of gallons of water into a region with millions of civilians — sent American police, federal agents and disaster officials secretly scrambling last month to thwart such an attack, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

Whether or not the cartel, which is known to have stolen bulk quantities of gunpowder and dynamite, could have taken down the 5-mile-long Falcon Dam may never be known since the attack never came to pass.

It may have been derailed by a stepped-up presence by the Mexican military, which was acting in part on intelligence from the U.S. government, sources said.

The warning, which swung officials into action, was based on what the federal government contends were “serious and reliable sources” and prompted the Department of Homeland Security to sound the alarm to first responders along the South Texas-Mexico border.

Mexico’s Zeta cartel was planning to destroy the dam not to terrorize civilians, but to get back at its rival and former ally, the Gulf cartel, which controls smuggling routes from the reservoir to the Gulf of Mexico, said Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez, head of the Southwest Border Sheriff’s Coalition, as did others familiar with the alleged plot.

But in the process, massive amounts of agricultural land would stand to be flooded as well as significant parts of a region where about 4 million people live along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The dam along the lower Rio Grande was finished in 1954 as part of a joint U.S.-Mexico project to collect water for flood control, hydroelectric power and water for drinking and agriculture.

Gonzalez’s agency was among many that responded, as did the U.S. Border Patrol, the Texas Department of Public Safety and even game wardens, who put more boats on the water.

Citing security concerns, neither Homeland Security nor DPS commented.

“We trust that DPS and their federal and local law enforcement partners are constantly collecting intelligence and monitoring all threats to Texas and taking the appropriate action to protect our citizens from those who would do us harm,” said Gov. Rick Perry’s deputy press secretary Katherine Cesinger.

Varying credibility

Law enforcement officials huddled at the dam, near Rio Grande City, to discuss the threat and how to stifle it, said an officer who attended the meeting.

Officers interviewed by the Chronicle gave the warning varying degrees of credibility. They noted that among the Zetas ranks are Mexican military defectors who were trained in special forces tactics, including demolition.

Special cameras were set up along the dam, which has six 50-foot-tall steel gates, and lawmen hid in brush.

A Mexican military spokesman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he had not heard of any threat to the Falcon Dam and expressed doubt that the Zetas would try such an attack.

“This isn’t the way these groups operate, they have never attacked installations like that,” he said.

Rick Pauza, a spokesman for Customs and Border Protection, in Laredo, said the port of entry at the dam had been at a heightened alert due to violence in Mexico.

Residents warned?

The attack may have been thwarted in Mexico. It raises the fear of what the powerful cartels could do.

“It would have been a hell of a disaster,” said Gene Falcon, director of emergency preparedness for Starr County, site of the dam. “There was plenty of concern.”

With handbills and bullhorns, members of the Zeta cartel are said to have warned the civilian population on the Mexican side of the river near the dam to get out of the area, according to residents and intelligence information from law enforcement officials.

A border law enforcement official told the Chronicle the warnings originated in part by the seizure of small amounts of dynamite near the dam, and the discovery of a copy of the alert on the Mexican side of the border.

Capt. Francisco Garcia, of the Roma (Texas) Police Department, said there was no way to know what the traffickers were capable of doing, but bringing down the dam would require nearly a tractor-trailer full of dynamite.

“As far as blowing it up — making it fall apart completely — it would have to be something like 9/11,” he said. “By the time they’d start to do something, there will be so much law enforcement there it’d be ridiculous.”

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7033818.html

A 4th Mexican Mayor Slain By Drug Cartels this Fall as the Cartel violence escalates …

State Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza

MONTERREY, Mexico – Gunmen killed a town mayor near the drug-plagued industrial city of Monterrey, authorities said Friday, the fourth mayor in northern Mexico to be murdered in little more than a month.

Prisciliano Rodriguez Salinas was gunned down late Thursday along with one of his personal employees in the town of Doctor Gonzalez, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Monterrey, the Nuevo Leon state Attorney General’s Office said.

Eliseo Lopez Riojas was killed as he was picking up equipment from the mayor’s house, and a white car waiting outside started firing. Investigators found 19 shells from two different weapons at the scene.

Drug gangs warring for territory and smuggling routes in northern Mexico have increasingly targeted political figures in the region, though the attorney general said there were aspects of the crime uncharacteristic of gangs.

“The act, in terms of waiting for the mayor outside his house … is not a very common tactic for organized crime,” state Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza. “So we’re not ruling out any line of investigation.”

Garza Y Garza said he was unaware of any threats against the mayor.

Two police officers had been taken in for questioning about the killings, though Garza y Garza said they were not under arrest.

Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina

In a short press conference Friday, Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina said soldiers stationed in his state had achieved some successes combating organized crime.

“We will not give up this fight,” Medina said.

President Felipe Calderon condemned the attack and sent his condolences to the family as his government reiterated its commitment to the security of all Mexicans. The government has attributed the spike in violence in the border states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas to a breakup between the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas.

Monterrey-area mayor Edelmiro Cavazos

Monterrey-area mayor Edelmiro Cavazos was kidnapped in August and his body dumped three days later. Seven police officers who authorities said were paid monthly salaries by the Zetas gang were arrested in connection with that killing.

It was followed two weeks later by a fatal attack on Mayor Marco Antonio Leal Garcia in Hidalgo, a town in violence-plagued Tamaulipas.

Hooded gunmen shot to death Mayor Alexander Lopez Garcia in the town of El Naranjo in San Luis Potosi state on Sept. 8. The methods used in all three slayings were similar to those used by Mexico’s drug cartels.

In June, gunmen killed the leading gubernatorial candidate in Tamaulipas state.Mayor Marco Antonio Leal Garcia in Hidalgo

More than 28,000 people have been killed by drug-related violence since Calderon launched his attack on drug cartels in late 2006.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=11715222

Nuevo Leon, Mexico: 8 Hours, 13 Executed, 6 Kidnapped from Hotels, and 18 Injured

Despite the unanimous demand of citizen leaders urging the Governor of Nuevo Leon to act after Wednesday’s wave of narco violence left a record of 13 dead, six people kidnapped from two downtown hotels and 18 people injured, the State Government of Nuevo Leon recommended: Carry on, Go about with life as Normal. Perhaps he should have added: And try not getting shot while doing it.

http://jacqui.instablogs.com/entry/nuevo-leon-mexico-8-hours-13-executed-6-kidnapped-from-hotels-and-18-injured/#ixzz10SfVePlr

Army soldiers walk by the body of a man lying in the street in Acapulco, Mexico, Thursday Sept. 23, 2010. Authorities say seven people were killed in a shootout between rival drug gangs. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez)

Cartel Shootout Leaves 7 Dead in Acapulco

Mexican authorities say seven people were killed in a shootout between rival drug gangs in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.

Guerrero state investigative police director Fernando Monreal says gunmen used grenades and automatic rifles to attack a house in a residential area of Acapulco on Thursday.

The state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, has become a drug cartel battleground.

Authorities on Wednesday found the decapitated bodies of two men inside a car abandoned in the community of Kilometro 30, near Acapulco.

Nationwide, more than 28,000 people have died in drug violence since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown against drug traffickers.

Mexican Police Chief DECAPITATED By Drug Cartel

11 of 16 Bodies Dumped By Cartel At Side Of Road In Tijanana

MONTERREY, Mexico — The decapitated body of the police chief of a northern Mexico town and the body of his brother were found inside the chief’s patrol truck Friday, authorities said. Hours earlier, gunmen killed a deputy police chief and his bodyguard in another part of Mexico’s north.

The body of Heriberto Cerda, the police chief in Agualeguas, was found on the bed of a patrol pickup truck, which was left on a dirt road in the nearby town of General Trevino. His head was on his lap, said a spokesman for Nuevo Leon state prosecutors who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

The body of the chief’s brother, Jesus Cerda, was found inside the truck, the official said. He didn’t say how Jesus Cerda was killed.

Nuevo Leon state secretary general Javier Trevino told reporters that Cerda and his brother had been reported missing Thursday.

The windshield and driver’s door of the patrol car had “C.D.G.,” an acronym for the Gulf drug cartel, written in blood, photos showed.

Drug Cartel Violence. Young Woman Murdered - Mutilated By Cartel

The border state of Nuevo Leon, where Agualeguas and General Trevino are located, has seen an upsurge in violence that authorities say is the result of a turf battle between the Gulf cartel and the Zetas, the cartel’s former hit men.

The slayings came a day after Mexican marines on patrol in the Nuevo Leon town of Cerralvo came under fire after ordering a convoy of gunmen traveling in six vehicles to stop. Six of the assailants were killed.

Nearly 18,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon launched an assault on cartels after taking office in December 2006.

In the northern state of Sonora, gunmen in a pickup truck fatally shot the deputy police chief and his bodyguard in the city of Nogales, which sits across the border from the Arizona city of the same name, authorities said Friday.

Mexican Army Kills 25: Army’s Firefight with Zetas Cartel in Monterey, Mexico

Former Presidential Candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio: Assassinated 03/24/1994, Tijuana, Baja California

MONTERREY, Mexico — Soldiers killed at least 25 suspected cartel members Thursday in a raid and gunbattle in a Mexican state near the U.S. border that has become one of the most dangerous battlegrounds in the country’s drug war.

A military aircraft flying over Ciudad Mier in Tamaulipas state spotted several gunmen in front of a building, according to a statement from Mexico’s Defense Department.

When ground troops moved in, gunmen opened fire, starting a gunbattle in which 25 suspected cartel members died, according to the military. The statement said two soldiers were wounded.

Authorities rescued three people believed to be kidnap victims in the raid, according to the statement. The military said troops seized 25 rifles, four grenades, 4,200 rounds of ammunition and 23 vehicles.

Earlier, a military spokesman said the gunmen were believed to be on a property controlled by the Zetas, who started out as a gang of drug assassins but have since evolved into a powerful cartel.

Some local media reported 27 suspected cartel members were slain, citing unnamed police officials.

Violence has surged in northeastern Mexico this year since the Zetas broke ranks with their former employer, the Gulf cartel, resulting in a flare-up of drug violence in Tamaulipas.Last week, marines discovered the bodies of 72 Central and South American migrants believed to have been gunned down by the Zetas after refusing to work for the cartel, in what may be the deadliest drug gang massacres to date. The migrants’ bodies were discovered at a ranch about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from the U.S. border in Tamaulipas.

Five days later, the mayor of the Tamaulipas town of Hidalgo (Marco Antonio Leal Garcia), bordering Nuevo Leon state, was ambushed and killed in his car in an attack that also wounded his four-year-old daughter.

In June, gunmen ambushed and killed the leading candidate for state governor a week before regional elections. And in May a mayoral candidate in Tamaulipas was assassinated.

Drug violence has claimed more than 28,000 lives since President Felipe Calderon intensified a crackdown on cartels after taking office in late 2006.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/03/AR2010090300773.html

Hidalgo Mayor Mayor Marco Antonio Leal Assassinated by Cartels 08/30/2010

Cartel Member Killed in Firefight

Over the weekend, 17 people were injured in four separate bomb attacks in Tamaulipas in just 24 hours.

The explosions appeared to target places connected with an investigation into the killing of 72 foreign migrants whose bodies were found on a ranch in the state on 25 August.

The 58 men and 14 women were from South and Central America. They had been trying to reach the US, and were believed to have been killed by members of the Zetas gang.

Shortly after the grim discovery of their bodies, Roberto Suarez, the detective leading the investigation into the mass slaying, went missing, along with a police officer he was travelling with.

The rising violence has led to growing criticism of President Felipe Calderon’s military crackdown on Mexico’s drug gangs. Opposition groups say the crackdown, which began three and a half years ago, has done nothing to stop the flow of drugs to the US.

In his state of the union address on Thursday morning, the president admitted the violence was worsening but defended his approach, saying the cartels were being weakened.

“The capture or killing of important criminal leaders has made the crime organisations more desperate,” Mr Calderon said.

“It is an ever more bloody war between organised crime groups fighting for territory, markets and routes.”

Mr Calderon insisted the fight had to go on.

Rodolfo Torre Canto: Gubernatorial candidate assassianted by cartels

“If we want a safe Mexico for the Mexicans of the future, we must take on the cost of achieving it today,” he said.

More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since Mr Calderon ordered the army and federal police to fight the cartels in 2006.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11173279

 

 

List: Mexican Election Campaign Killings

June 28, 2010

Rodolfo Torre Cantú – Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate for governor of Tamaulipas.
Enrique Blackmore Smer – local representative and general coordinator of Rodolfo Torre Cantú’s campaign.
Rubén López – member of Rodolfo Torre Cantú’s entourage.
Gerardo Sotero – escort for the gubernatorial candidate.
David Castelo – escort for the gubernatorial candidate.
Dante Quiroz – escort for the gubernatorial candidate.
Aurelio Balleza – escort for the gubernatorial candidate.
Alejandro Martínez – Rodolfo Torre Cantú’s private secretary.

Mayor Edelmiro Cavazos of Santiago Kidnapped & Murdered 08/18/2010

June 26, 2010

Pedro Brito Ocampo – National Action Party (PAN) manager in the Guerrero state municipality of Heliodoro Castillo. His body, found in an abandoned house, had 40 gunshot wounds.

June 19, 2010

Jesús Manuel Lara – 48 year-old Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) mayor of Guadalupe Distrito Bravo, Chihuahua, died in a house in the Santa Teresa neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez when a group of gunmen burst in and shot him.

May 21, 2010

Jorge Rogelio Ortega Ortega – Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) associate helping with the political campaigns, gunned down by heavily armed men riding in a Ranger pickup.

May 13, 2010

Mario Guajardo Varela – National Action Party (PAN) candidate for mayor of Valle Hermoso, Tamaulipas, his son, Luis Mario Guajardo Adame, and an employee named Fernando Treviño, were executed by three hitmen inside an agricultural supply store.

March 17, 2010

Sótico Silvestre López – Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) manager in San Andrés Huaxpaltepec, a municipality on the coast of Oaxaca, was gunned down by a group of assassins.

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/2010_06_01_archive.html

Former Senator & Mexican Presidential Candidate Fernández de Cevallos Kidnapped from his home 05/15/2010

 

Juan Antonio Guajardo Anzaldua, Former mayor of Rio Bravo, 2 AFI Agents assassinated 

A memorial of flowers and candles took up yards of sidewalk Friday near the bullet-riddled cafeteria where a former mayor who had promised to rid this city of drug corruption was gunned down the previous day. Juan Antonio Guajardo Anzaldua, a father of four, would have turned 49 on Friday. He was shot dead at 5:38 p.m. Thursday at his family-owned restaurant, along with two bodyguards and three other people.

Mexican Prosecutor, Roberto Jaime Suarez, Assigned to Investigate 72 Murdered Immigrants Disappears, 2 Car Bombs Exploded

2 Cars Bombs Explode in Mexico Where 72 Bodies Were Found

REYNOSA, Mexico – Two cars exploded early Friday in a northern state where officials are investigating the killing of 72 Central and South American migrants, and a prosecutor investigating the massacre has disappeared.

The prosecutor, Roberto Jaime Suarez, vanished Wednesday in the town of San Fernando, where the bodies of the migrants were found, the Tamaulipas state attorney general’s office said in a statement. A transit police officer in the town was also missing.

President Felipe Calderon, speaking during a forum on security, said Suarez, a Tamaulipas state prosecutor, was involved in the initial investigation into the massacre, which authorities have blamed on the Zetas drug gang. The federal attorney general’s office has since taken the lead in the case.

SEE: Mexican Drug Cartel Violence: Mexican Marines arrest presumed leader of Beltran Leyva Cartel – Sergio Villarreal Barragan taken into custody

The two car explosions occurred less than 45 minutes apart in Ciudad Victoria, the Tamaulipas state capital, theattorney general’s office said. The first exploded in front of the offices of the Televisa network and the second in front of transit police offices.

There were no injuries, though both blasts caused some damage to buildings and knocked out the signal of the Televisa

Cartel Victims Executed With Hands Tied Behind Their Backs

 network for several hours. The explosion outside Televisa was felt for several blocks.

The network described the explosion as a car bomb, but the state attorney general’s office said the cause of the explosions had not been determined.

If confirmed, it would mean a total of four car bombs in Mexico this year , a new and frightening tactic in the country’s escalating drug war.

The first exploded July 5 in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, killing a federal police officer and two other people. The second, which caused no injuries, happened just two weeks ago in front of police headquarters in Ciudad Victoria.

Just north of Ciudad Victoria, heavily guarded investigators working at a private funeral home in San Fernando identified 31 of the 72 massacred migrants, whose bodies were discovered on a ranch Tuesday, bound, blindfolded and slumped against a wall.

Multilated Corpses of Cartel Victims

Those identified included 14 Hondurans, 12 Salvadorans, four Guatemalans and one Brazilian, according to the state attorney general’s office.

The government’s chief security spokesman said the migrants were apparently slain because they refused to help the gang smuggle drugs.

“The information we have at this moment is that it was an attempt at forced recruitment,” Alejandro Poire told W radio. “It wasn’t a kidnapping with the intent to get money, but the intention was to hold these people, force them to participate in organized crime , with the terrible outcome that we know.”

The victims of what could be Mexico’s biggest drug-gang massacre were traversing some of the nation’s most dangerous territory, trying to reach Texas.

Zetas Insignia

The lone survivor, an 18-year-old Ecuadoran who managed to escape and alert marines at a checkpoint, said the killers identified themselves as Zetas, a drug gang that dominates much of Tamaulipas.

The Ecuadoran, Luis Freddy Lala Pomavilla, has been offered a humanitarian visa that would allow him to stay in Mexico, Immigration Commissioner Cecilia Romero said during a conference call with reporters in Mexico City. Lala, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the neck, has not decided whether to accept, she said.

Romero said Mexico offers a humanitarian visa to any migrant who has been the victim of crime in its territory.

It is one of the many measures Mexico has taken to help migrants who increasingly are being kidnapped, killed and exploited by gangs as they travel toward the United States, Romero said, disputing allegations from human rights activists who say corruption and indifference by Mexican authorities are letting abuse of migrants escalate.

Romero said most migrants decline the visa, preferring to return to their home countries, but Mexico has granted at least 436 since 2007.

Mexican immigration agents have rescued 2,750 migrants this year, some who were stranded in deserts and others who were being held captive by organized crime gangs, Romero said.

In Tamaulipas alone, agents rescued 812 migrants kidnapped by drug gangs, she said. Many of those migrants told authorities the cartels tried to force them into drug trafficking.

“We perhaps saved them from being massacred like the 72 that we lost this time,” Romero said.

The National Human Rights Commission estimated in a report presented last year that nearly 20,000 migrants are kidnapped each year in Mexico based on the number of reports it received between September 2008 and February 2009 , numbers the federal government disputes.

Mauricio Farah, who coordinated the report, said government corruption is at the heart of migrant abuse in Mexico.

“We are talking about the complicity of several authorities along the migrant route,” Farah told MVS Radio on Thursday. “Forty, 80, 100 migrants inside trucks or on the trains cannot pass unnoticed by the authorities … on the contrary what happens is that they are in collusion with drug gangs.”

Cartel Beheadings In Baja, Mexico

Commission president Raul Plascencia said Thursday that authorities never responded to its recommendations or demands for greater security for migrants.

Romero acknowledged widespread corruption among police and immigration agents. She also said she could not rule out the possibility public officials were involved in the kidnapping and massacre of the 72 migrants.

But Romero insisted the Calderon government is aggressively rooting out dishonest officials. She said 30 immigration officials had been convicted of corruption and 350 agents fired since Calderon took office in December 2006.

http://www.philly.com/philly/wires/ap/news/world/20100827_ap_2carsexplodeinmexicowhere72bodiesfound.html#ixzz0xqYCjHE2

Drug cartel suspected in massacre of 72 migrants – Bodies of 58 Men and 14 Women Found Stacked Atop One Another

Ecuadorean Survivor Luis Fredy Lala Pomavilla

A Mexican drug cartel massacred 72 Central and South American migrants within 100 miles of the U.S. border that they were trying to reach, according to an Ecuadorean survivor who escaped and stumbled wounded to a highway checkpoint where he alerted marines, official said Wednesday.

The marines fought the cartel gunmen at a ranch in the northern state of Tamaulipas on Tuesday, a battle that left one marine and three suspects dead. They found the bodies of 58 men and 14 women in a room, some piled on top of each other.

The Ecuadorean migrant told investigators that his captors identified themselves as members of the Zetas drug gang, said Vice Adm. Jose Luis Vergara, a spokesman for the Mexican Navy. Authorities believe the migrants were from Honduras, El Salvador, Brazil and Ecuador.

It is the biggest massacre to date in Mexico’s drug war and the most horrifying example yet of the dangers faced by immigrants trying to get to the U.S.                      

Cartel Beheadings In Baja

“It’s absolutely terrible and it demands the condemnation of all of our society,” said Alejandro Poire, the government’s security spokesman.

Authorities did not say why the gang killed the migrants. Mexico’s drug cartels frequently kidnap migrants and threaten to kill them unless they pay fees for crossing their territory. Sometimes, gangs contact relatives of the migrants in the U.S. and demand they pay a ransom.

The bodies were discovered Tuesday when Marines manning a checkpoint were approached by a wounded man who said he had been attacked by gang gunmen at a nearby ranch. Officials said he identified himself an illegal migrant and said that he and other migrants had been kidnapped by an armed group and taken to the ranch in San Fernando, a town about 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Brownsville, Texas.

11 of 16 Bodies Dumped In Tijanana By Cartek Killers

The scale of the massacre of migrants appeared to be unprecedented even by the gruesome standards of Mexican drug cartels.

It was unclear if all 72 were killed at the same time — or why. A federal official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said investigators believe the victims were killed within recent days.

The Navy said it dispatched aircraft to check out the man’s report and when the gunmen saw the marines, they opened fire and tried to flee in a convoy of vehicles. One marine and three of the suspects were killed in the shootout.

Navy personnel seized 21 assault rifles, shotguns and rifles, and detained a minor.

The youth, who was apparently part of the gang, was handed over to civilian prosecutors.

It was the third time this year that Mexican authorities have discovered large masses of corpses. In the other two cases, investigators believe the bodies were dumped at the sites over a long time.

The Massacre of Gubernatorial Candidate Rodolfo Torre

In May, authorities discovered 55 bodies

in an abandoned mine near Taxco, a colonial-era city south of Mexico City that is popular with tourists.

In July, investigators found 51 corpses in two days of digging in a field near a trash dump outside the northern metropolis of Monterrey. Many of those found were believed to have been rival traffickers. But cartels often dispose of the bodies of kidnap victims in such dumping grounds.

The region has been besieged by a turf battle between the Zetas and their former ally, the Gulf cartel.

Mexico’s drug violence has surged since President Felipe Calderon dispatched soldiers and federal police to root out drug traffickers from their strongholds in northern Mexico and along the Pacific coast.

More than 28,000 people have been killed in drug-gang violence since the offensive.   http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/08/25/international/i124927D76.DTL&tsp=1#ixzz0xfC1J6eD

19 Dead In Mexican Drug Violence

19 Dead In Mexican Drug Violence

Five severed heads left on disco floor

The latest spate of drug-related violence in Mexico left 19 people dead, including five factory workers near the US border and four police officers in Acapulco, officials said.

The Chihuahua state prosecutor said the workers were gunned down when armed men burst into a party at a house in Ciudad Juarez late Friday.

Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas, is a key battleground for drug traffickers seeking routes to the United States. It is also home to many factories, called maquiladoras, for US firms that can use Mexican workers.

Six other violent deaths were recorded in Ciudad Juarez, including a man and his daughter, who were shot by gunmen who entered his home early Saturday, authorities said.

In other municipalities of Chihuahua, which shares a long border with Texas, there were four killings late Friday, prosecutors said.

Separately in Acapulco, four policemen were shot dead Saturday by unknown assailants on a rural road near the port in the Mexican resort, state officials said.

The port of Acapulco and the surrounding area and other regions of the state of Guerrero, have been caught in a spiral of violence linked to turf battles of drug cartels.

Bullet hole in door of ambushed police car

Violence linked to drug cartels has left 7,000 people dead so far this year in Mexico, compared with 9,000 killed in all of 2009.

Nearly 25,000 people have died in suspected drug violence since President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on organized crime three and a half years ago, according to official figures released Friday.

http://www.france24.com/en/20100718-drug-violence-kills-19-mexico

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