Cartel Gunman Kill 17 At Private Party – Cartel Violence Continues Unabated

The gunmen did not say a word as they jumped from their cars and stormed the private party. They simply opened fire. When they were done, 17 people lay dead and 18 wounded.

Sunday’s massacre in the city of Torreon was ghastly, but no longer unprecedented in northern Mexico, a region that is slammed day after day by gruesome slayings that authorities attribute to an increasingly brutal battle between drug gangs feuding over territory.

Investigators had no suspects or information on a possible motive in the attack, but Coahuila, where Torreon is located, is among several northern Mexican states that have seen a spike in drug-related violence as the Gulf cartel and its former enforcers, the Zetas, fight for control of drug-trafficking routes.

The attack on the party came just three days after a car bomb killed several people in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez — and a little more than a month after assailants raided a drug-rehab center in the northern city of Chihuahua, killing 19 people in cold blood.

Television footage showed the patio of the house in Torreon streaked with bloodstains and white plastic chairs overturned beneath a party tent decorated with pictures of snowmen.

Several of the victims were young and some were women, police said, but their identities and ages had not yet been determined.

The assailants arrived in a convoy of vehicles, the Coahuila state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement. Police found more than 120 bullet casings at the scene, most of them from .223-caliber weapons.

Torreon is no stranger to violence.

In May, gunmen killed eight people at a bar in the city, while later that month a television station and the offices of a local newspaper came under fire. A pregnant woman was wounded in the attack on the offices of Noticias de El Sol de la Laguna.

Across northern Mexico, there have been increasing reports of mass shootings at parties, bars and rehab clinics.

In January, gunmen barged into a private party in the border city of Ciudad Juarez and killed 15, many of them high school or university students. Relatives say that attack was a case of mistaken identity, while state officials claim someone at the party was targeted, although they have not said who it was.

On Thursday, drug-gang members set off their first successful car bomb. They lured federal police and paramedics to an intersection in Ciudad Juarez by calling in a false report of a wounded police officer, and when the authorities were in place at the scene, they detonated the explosive. Three people were killed, including a federal officer and a private doctor who had rushed to help.

The FBI has sent a small team to the crime scene to offer technical assistance to the Mexican investigators, FBI spokeswoman Andrea Simmons said. She did not immediately offer more details. Mexican investigators have not said what type of explosive was used.

Officials say 24,800 people have been killed in drug-gang violence since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in December 2006, deploying soldiers and federal police to fight traffickers.

On Saturday, four municipal police officers were ambushed and killed in the Pacific coast resort city of Acapulco, state police said.

The government attributes much of the rise in violence to infighting among drug gangs, whose leadership has been splintered after the arrest of kingpins.

Federal police said in a statement Sunday they have arrested 1,626 people suspected of belonging to the command structures of Mexico’s drug gangs since Calderon launched his offensive. They said 622 of the detainees belong to the Gulf cartel and 304 to the Sinaloa cartel.

On Sunday, a judge formally charged an alleged leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel, Jose Gerardo Alvarez, with organized crime. Alvarez, who had a $2 million U.S. bounty on his head, was captured in April in a wealthy neighborhood on the outskirts of Mexico City.

The federal government has steadily wiped out the leadership of the once-powerful Beltran Leyva cartel. In December, cartel boss Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed in a gunbattle. Two of his brothers are behind bars.

A fourth brother, Hector Beltran Leyva, remains at large and is believed to be battling for control of the cartel against Edgar Valdez Villareal, a U.S.-born suspect known as “La Barbie.”

Mexican authorities say Alvarez partnered with Valdez in his quest for control of the gang.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2010/07/15/international/i162557D96.DTL#ixzz0u8cei3te

Drug Cartels Kill 4 in Nuevo Leon, Mexico – Decapitated Body Dumped in Guerrero

5 severed heads left on disco floor after Cartel attack

The four men had their hands bound with tape and were blindfolded, the state prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Nuevo Leon has seen an increase in drug violence that authorities say stems from a fight between the Gulf cartel and its former ally, the Zetas gang of hit men.

Mexican and U.S. officials say the Gulf cartel has aligned itself with the Sinaloa and La Familia gangs, which are seeking to wipe out the Zetas in northeastern Mexico.

In the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, police said that they found the body of a man Thursday whose head and fingers had been cut off.

The body was found in a plastic bag in the state capital, Chilpancingo, and the head was found next to it.

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

In the coastal resort city of Acapulco, also in Guerrero state, drug traffickers left a banner on a boulevard accusing local police of protecting Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a U.S.-born enforcer known as “La Barbie.” The banner was signed “B.L.,” an apparent reference to the remnants of the Beltran Leyva cartel, which split with Villarreal.

Also Thursday, the Mexican navy reported it found 8 metric tons of a precursor chemical used to make methamphetamines in shipping containers at the Pacific coast seaport of Manzanillo.

Drug traffickers have turned to phenylacetic acid after Mexico effectively banned imports of another precursor, pseudoephedrine.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/latinamerica/7110849.html

Review of Judge Bolton’s Decision: The Immigration Debate: The Arizona Law – Judge Bolton’s Decision (Part 1) 

A comprehensive review and analysis of Judge Bolton’s erroneous decision.

Read why the Judge was wrong – compare “Congressional intent” with the Judge’s reasoning.

With these PDF documents:

Bolton’s Decision

DOJ Memo 04/02/2010

Links to:

DOJ Complaint

Arizona Law

The actual Immigration Statutes that should have “controlled” the Judge’s decision.

Official Web Sites of: DOJ/DHS/LESC/NSEERS/FBI

What does Congress “mandate” be done and by whom.

 https://mcauleysworld.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/the-immigration-debate-the-arizona-law-judge-boltons-decision-part-1/

Mexican Drug Cartel Kills Governor-Elect’s Nephew In Botched Kidnapping

Mario Medina, nephew of Governor-elect Cesar Duarte, was shot in the back Wednesday as he tried to escape from his assailants in the state capital, also named Chihuahua, state prosecutors’ spokesman Eduardo Esparza said.

Medina, 42, was at his parents’ business when the assailants tried to kidnap him, Esparza said. Police had not discovered a motive.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/latinamerica/7110849.html

More than 1,400 people have been killed in drug violence in Chihuahua state, most of them in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas. There have been more than 23,000 killings throughout the country linked to drug violence since President Felipe Calderon deployed thousands of soldiers and federal agents to drug hotspots in late 2006.

Mexican Drug Cartel Uses Car Bomb To Attact Police Patrol – 3 Dead, 9 Wounded

3 killed in drug gang attack on police in Mexico

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Members of a northern Mexico drug gang rammed a car bomb into two police patrol trucks Thursday in the border city of Ciudad Juarez on Thursday, killing two officers and a medical technician, and wounding nine people.

Federal police said the attack — which may be one of the first uses of an explosive-packed car in Mexico — was in retaliation for the arrest of a top leader of the La Linea drug gang, Jesus Acosta Guerrero, earlier in the day.

Seven officers and two civilians were wounded in the attack, said a state police source who was not authorized to be quoted by name. He said the compact passenger car had apparently been carrying some kind of explosive or inflammable device when it rammed the police pickup trucks.

Federal police confirmed in a statement that the car rammed the patrol vehicles, but were not immediately available to confirm what, if anything the car was carrying.

Police said the man arrested Thursday, Acosta Guerrero, 35, was the “operations leader” of the la Linea gang, which works for the Juarez drug cartel.

It said he was responsible for at least 25 executions, mainly of rival gang members, and also ordered attacks on police.

Drug gangs have previously attacked Mexican soldiers and law enforcement officers with grenades and powerful rifles, but seldom have been known to use explosives.

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/latinamerica/7110849.html

Update:

Mexico blames explosion in border city on car bomb

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (Reuters) – An explosion that killed at least three people in Ciudad Juarez was a car bomb set off by a cell phone, a Mexican military spokesman said on Friday.

The blast tore through an intersection in Ciudad Juarez across the border from El Paso, Texas, late on Thursday in what the security ministry said was retaliation for the arrest of a drug cartel boss.

“There were 10 kilos (22-pounds) of explosives, activated from a distance by a cell phone,” Enrique Torres, spokesman for the army in Ciudad Juarez, told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear what kind of explosive was used in the blast, or who was responsible.

It is the first attack of its kind since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, launching a war to crush powerful drug cartels that are vying for lucrative smuggling routes to U.S. markets.

http://au.news.yahoo.com/a/-/world/7598103/mexico-blames-explosion-in-border-city-on-car-bomb/

Immigration Officials Arrest 18 Illegal Alien Gang Members In Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota

UPDATE: Review of Judge Bolton’s Decision begins here: The Immigration Debate: The Arizona Law – Judge Bolton’s Decision (Part 1) 

Immigration officials have arrested 18 men during a weeklong operation that targeted gang members in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Homeland Security investigations say 15 of the men are known gang members or associates of the Vatos Locos street gang.The others are members or associates of the Sureno-13 Gang.ICE officials say gangs like Vatos Locos are becoming more involved with illegal drugs in Minnesota.

http://www.keyc.tv/node/39373

The Sureno-13 Gang is an international drug gang with ties to the Mexican Drug Cartels.

This is the type of ICE support Mr. Morton is denying to the State of Arizona. Stop the boycotts, secure our borders. 

**************************************

Review of Judge Bolton’s Decision: The Immigration Debate: The Arizona Law – Judge Bolton’s Decision (Part 1) 

A comprehensive review and analysis of Judge Bolton’s erroneous decision.

Read why the Judge was wrong – compare “Congressional intent” with the Judge’s reasoning.

With these PDF documents:

Bolton’s Decision

DOJ Memo 04/02/2010

Links to:

DOJ Complaint

Arizona Law

The actual Immigration Statutes that should have “controlled” the Judge’s decision.

Official Web Sites of: DOJ/DHS/LESC/NSEERS/FBI

What does Congress “mandate” be done and by whom.

 https://mcauleysworld.wordpress.com/2010/07/30/the-immigration-debate-the-arizona-law-judge-boltons-decision-part-1/

Palomas, Mexico, Mayor Estanislao Garcia Santelis – Kidnapped and Murdered By Drug Cartels

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Unidentified assailants kidnapped and killed the top official of the border town of Palomas, across from New Mexico, on Thursday.

Town Mayor Estanislao Garcia Santelis had long complained about the drug traffickers and migrant smugglers active around Palomas.

Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in northern Chihuahua state, said Garcia Santelis’ bullet-riddled body was found near a burned-out pickup truck and bore signs of torture.

The death of Mayor Estanislao García Santelis, 37, marks another violent chapter in the border region, where fighting among drug mafias, police and the military has left thousands dead this year, including elected officials and police officers, and turned thriving frontier towns like Palomas into no-go zones for U.S. visitors.

Palomas made headlines in 2008 when its police chief sought asylum in the U.S. after his deputies abandoned him and he received death threats. The Mexican army subsequently took over law enforcement in the tiny town.

Garcia Santelis gained notoriety when he led protests against high electricity rates. His success in that endeavor led to his election as Mayor.

Grissly Slayings Announce Mexican Cartel Violence In U.S.

Shipment of Cartel Drugs

Five men dead in an apartment.

In a county that might see five homicides in an entire year, the call over the sheriff’s radio revealed little about what awaited law enforcement at a sprawling apartment complex.

A type of crime, and criminal, once foreign to this landscape of blooming dogwoods had arrived in Shelby County. Sheriff Chris Curry felt it even before he laid eyes on the grisly scene. He called the state. The FBI. The DEA. Anyone he could think of.

“I don’t know what I’ve got,” he warned them. “But I’m gonna need help.”

The five dead men lay scattered about the living room of one apartment in a complex of hundreds.

Some of the men showed signs of torture: Burns seared into their earlobes revealed where modified jumper cables had been clamped as an improvised electrocution device. Adhesive from duct tape used to bind the victims still clung to wrists and faces, from mouths to noses.

As a final touch, throats were slashed open, post-mortem.

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

It didn’t take long for Curry and federal agents to piece together clues: A murder scene, clean save for the crimson-turned-brown stains

Cartel Victims Executed At Drug Rehab Facility

 now spotting the carpet. Just a couple of mattresses tossed on the floor. It was a typical stash house.

But the cut throats? Some sort of ghastly warning.

Curry would soon find this was a retaliation hit over drug money with ties to Mexico’s notorious Gulf Cartel.

Curry also found out firsthand what federal drug enforcement agents have long understood. The drug war, with the savagery it brings, knows no bounds. It had landed in his back yard, in the foothills of the Appalachians, in Alabama’s wealthiest county, around the corner from The Home Depot.

One thousand, twenty-four miles from the Mexico border.

Forget for a moment the phrase itself – “War on Drugs” – much-derided since President Richard Nixon coined it. Wars eventually end, after all. And many Americans wonder today, nearly four decades later, will this one ever be won?

The Mutilated Corpes Cartel Victims

In Mexico, the fight has become a real war. Some 45,000 Mexican army troops now patrol territories long ruled by narcotraffickers. Places like Tijuana, in the border state of Baja California. Reynosa, across the Rio Grande from Texas. Ciudad Juarez, next door to El Paso. But also the central state of Michoacan and resort cities like Acapulco, an hour south of the place where, months ago, the decapitated bodies of 12 soldiers were discovered with a sign that read:

“For every one of mine that you kill, I will kill 10.”

Some 10,560 people have been killed since 2006, the year Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office and launched his campaign against the organized crime gangs that move cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin to a vast U.S. market. Consider that fewer than 4,300 American service members have died in the six-year war in Iraq.

The cartels are fighting each other for power, and the Calderon administration for their very survival. Never before has a Mexican president gone after these narco-networks with such force.

“He has deployed troops. He has deployed national police. He’s trying to vet and create units … that can effectively adjudicate and turn back the years of corruption,” says John Walters, who directed the Office of National Drug Control Policy for seven years under President George W. Bush. “These groups got more powerful, and when there was less visible destruction, it was because they were in control; they were stable. Now, he has destabilized them.”

Walters sees this as an “opportunity to change – for better, or worse – the history of our two countries fundamentally.”

And now the cartels have brought the fight to us: In 230 U.S. cities, the Mexican organizations maintain distribution hubs or supply drugs to local distributors, according to the Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center.

Places like Miami and other longtime transportation points along the California, Arizona and Texas borders. But also Twin Falls, Idaho. Billings, Mont. Wichita, Kan. Phoenix. St. Louis. Milwaukee.

Even Shelby County.

The quintuple homicide occurred just outside the Birmingham city limits and a half-hour’s drive north of Columbiana, the county seat.

“We became a hub without knowing it,” Sheriff Curry says. “We’ve got to wake people up because we’re seeing it all over the place. It is now firmly located throughout this country.”

The talk of the day is “spillover” violence – at once the stuff of sensationalism but also a very real concept.

In Phoenix, the nation’s fifth-largest city, police report close to 1,000 kidnappings over the past three years tied to border smuggling, be it human or drugs or both. The rise parallels a shift in illegal immigrant crossings from California and Texas to the Arizona border, where many of the same gangs transporting people transport drugs. The perpetrators are often after ransom money, for a drug load lost or from a family that paid to have a relative brought over.

The problem has earned the city the unfortunate distinction of “America’s kidnapping capital” in some media accounts, even though the incidents are mostly out of sight and out of mind for law-abiding residents and overall crime, including homicides, was down last year.

In Atlanta, which has grown into a major distribution hub for the Gulf Cartel, trafficker-on-trafficker violence has become more common as the cartels, in the face of Calderon’s crackdown, impose tighter payment schedules and grow less tolerant of extending credit, says Rodney Benson, chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration there.

Benson blames that, in part, for the much-publicized kidnapping last summer in the middle-class Atlanta suburb of Lilburn, not far from Stone Mountain Park. Acting on a tip, agents found a Dominican man chained to a wall in the basement of a house, severely dehydrated and badly beaten. He had been lured from Rhode Island because he apparently owed $300,000 in drug debts.

“Money wasn’t paid,” Benson says. “They were going to kill him.”

Greg Borland heads the DEA office in Birmingham. Since the murders last August, he’s seen the fear in his neighbors’ eyes, and faced their questions: How did this happen? Why here? Why now?

“They’re absolutely shocked. To me it’s like: Why? It’s everywhere. Unless you have a 50-foot wall around your town, no one should feel immune from this. The citizen in me says, I can’t believe this is happening in my town.’ But the cop in me says, Well, it’s only a matter of time’ … because there are high-level drug traffickers in the area.

“Maybe,” he says, “it was only by the grace of God that it hadn’t happened already.”

13 Men, executed with hands tied behind their backs, San Ignacio, Sinaloa, Mexico

Those in the know understand that this kind of violence is nothing new. In border communities that have long been trafficking hubs it’s uncommon not to hear of a drug-related crime on the evening news.

What’s new is where that violence is erupting, where distribution cells and hubs and sub-hubs have surfaced. How an apartment in Alabama became the site of a drug hit in many ways tells the story of the narco-trade in America in 2009, and of the challenges we face in combatting a blight that has spread to big cities and small all across the land.

Before Aug. 20, 2008, when the five men were found, the assumption had been that the big drug hauls were passing through Shelby County and on to cities with larger markets.

Alabama had long had its share of street dealers. Homegrown pot passed hands. Then powder cocaine and crack. Soon meth labs cropped up here and there. “Just a local issue,” says Curry.

“There weren’t really any traffickers in our county. But over time it’s escalated into a sophisticated transportation structure that moves marijuana, moves powder cocaine and now moves crystal meth.”

First came the rise of the Mexican cartel, brought about in the late 80s and early 90s after authorities cracked down on Colombian traffickers and choked off routes along the Caribbean and in South Florida. The Colombians aligned with the Mexicans for transportation, then began paying their Mexican subcontractors in cocaine.

As more Colombian traffickers were brought down, the Mexicans took over both transportation and distribution. A decade ago, 60 percent of the cocaine entering the United States came through Mexico. Today that figure is 90 percent.

Texas and other border states become primary distribution hubs. Greg Bowden, who heads the FBI’s violent crime task force in Birmingham, worked four years in the Texas border city of Brownsville. He remembers cases involving Alabama dealers who would fly into Houston, rent a car, pick up loads at a warehouse or mall parking lot and drive back home.

“(Distributors) felt comfortable in Texas. That was their home base, and has been for a long time. Now,” says Bowden, “they’re comfortable here, in Memphis, in Atlanta. They moved their home bases to these little pockets.”

One reason for that shift is the ability these days to “blend in in plain sight,” as the Atlanta DEA chief puts it. The flood of Hispanic immigrants into American communities to work construction and plant jobs helped provide cover for traffickers looking to expand into new markets or build hubs in quiet suburbs with fewer law officers than the big cities.

Shelby has long been Alabama’s fastest-growing county, with its proximity to Birmingham, good schools and a growing corporate corridor along Highway 280. The number of Hispanics grew 126 percent from 2000 to 2007. It was once rare to see a Latino face at the local Wal-Mart or gas station. Now, dozens upon dozens of Hispanic day laborers line Lorna Road in the northern part of the county.

As Bowden says, “You don’t stand out.”

But there is another reason this area, and others, have become what some agents call “sub-hubs.”

With some 4.9 million trucks crossing into the United States from Mexico every year, tractor-trailers have become a transportation mode of choice among traffickers. Drugs head north, but weapons and cash also head back south – like the $400,000 Border Patrol agents found on April 2 near Las Cruces, N.M., stashed in the refrigeration unit of a semi.

Shelby County is a trucking mecca, with highways 65, 20, 59 and 459 running east to Atlanta, north to Nashville, south to New Orleans, west to Dallas. Once reluctant to haul drug shipments too far beyond a border state, drivers are willing to take more chances now, because there are so many trucks on the road, Bowden says.

Since January, 27 people were sentenced in Alabama federal court in just one case for using tractor-trailers to transport cocaine and marijuana from Mexico across the border to Brownsville, then up through Birmingham on I-65 to northern Alabama for distribution. Investigators seized 77 pounds of cocaine during the investigation – more than the DEA seized in the entire state of Alabama in all of 1999. The scheme, according to an indictment, had operated since 2004.

Amid all of this, an operation moved into Shelby County, leading to the call on Aug. 20.

A simple welfare check brought deputies to the Cahaba Lakes Apartments off Highway 280, down the road from upscale Vestavia Hills, whose motto is “A Better Place to Live.”

The victims were Hispanic, all illegal immigrants. Interviews with family members and associates helped investigators piece together a sketchy portrait of what happened.

Agents described it as friendly competition turned deadly among a group of distributors from Atlanta and Birmingham that often sold and shared drug loads when one or the other group was running low. At some point, about a half-million in drug money went missing. One group suspected the other of taking it, and went after the five men at Cahaba Lakes.

The money was never found.

Whether an order came directly from Mexico, or the decision was made down the food chain, investigators don’t know.

The DEA’s Borland notes that making a direct connection between the street level distributors charged in the killing and a specific cartel boss back in Mexico isn’t easy in a business with so many players at various levels.

“We don’t have canceled checks of their dues payments to the cartels. But we know that they were moving large quantities of drugs, which are probably brought in here under the supervision of the Gulf Cartel, because the Gulf Cartel is the dominant one here,” he says.

“That money was supposed to be moving … and it disappeared. So the attempt was to locate where was the money and who took it?” Curry says. “It was a contract hit, ordered to be carried out and paid for.”

Since then, Curry has pushed aside concerns about resources and assigned one deputy to a DEA task force, another to work with the FBI. At the behest of the Department of Homeland Security, he joined in a conference call with police chiefs and sheriffs in border states to discuss what he now calls “a common problem.”

And he answers, as candidly as possible, his citizens’ questions when they ask him about this “new” threat.

“People want to have a comfort zone, and if they have to confront the realities of how rough life really is, that doesn’t sit well,” he says. “It scares them. And they don’t want to be scared. South of our border: gunfights, violence – it is a normal, accepted, expected behavior. That has now moved into our borders.”

Ask just about any DEA agent or expert who keeps a close watch on drug trafficking, and they’ll cringe at the use of the word “war.” They’ll tell you, flat out, that no, it’s not likely ever to be won. Just as there will always be robberies and rapes and homicides, there will always be narcotrafficking.

So they take their victories where they can. And there have been victories.

Heads of cartels have been toppled. Juan Garcia Abrego, former chief of the Gulf Cartel and once on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, is serving 11 life terms in a Colorado federal prison after his 1996 arrest in Mexico and extradition to the United States. His successor, Osiel Cardenas, awaits trial in Houston after his 2007 extradition from Mexico.

These handovers have become almost routine under Calderon, who reversed long-standing practice and allowed more Mexicans to be tried in the United States. Last year, he extradited a record 95 wanted criminals, including several high-ranking members of the Tijuana-based Arrellano-Felix cartel.

Arrests were swift in this murder, six suspects now are held without bond in the Shelby County Jail charged with capital murder. One owned a tire shop, another was a barber – more evidence to authorities of how bad guys can blend in.

Still, it is a victory without call for celebration, because Curry wonders when and where it will happen again.

“This is not an isolated incident. It is a standard business practice with this group of people, and it is simply going to be repeated,” he says. “I can’t predict whether it’s going to be repeated here or not, but it’s going to be repeated in communities throughout the United States whenever these disagreements occur.”

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/04/18/20090418drugwar-fightathome18-ON.html#ixzz0sopGikpQ

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