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Feds seize marijuana, cocaine and heroin at Guadalajara airport

October 31, 2014
Sniffer dogs led federal agents to the illicit shipments.

Sniffer dogs led federal PGR agents to the illicit marijuana shipment that was en route to the US.

Federal agents have seized illegal drug shipments at the Guadalajara International Airport for the last two Fridays in a row.

Following a public tip off, on October 24, agents from the federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) seized ten packages containing 2.58 kilos of cocaine and 1.69 kilos of heroin that were on their way to Houston, Texas.

The following week, agents accompanied with sniffer dogs found seven packages containing 9.43 kilos of marijuana hidden in secret compartments inside wooden tables and chairs. All of the shipments were en route from Morelia, Michoacan, to the United States. They were being shipped by a courier company that operates out of the Guadalajara airport.

Sending drugs by courier is not a new method of trafficking. Infamous Sinaloa Cartel kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is said to have sent shipments via Fedex in the past.

The PGR did not comment on who was behind these drug shipments, but it is most likely to be the work of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which has grown in influence in recent years and now controls most of Jalisco state and parts of neighboring Michoacan.

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The marijuana was hidden in secret compartments in the wooden furniture being shipped by courier.

Conflicting stories and more mass graves, but still no sign of Mexico’s missing students

October 31, 2014

Five weeks since they disappeared, the fate of Mexico’s 43 missing students remains a mystery. The investigation has been characterized by a lack of urgency and transparency, while a whirl of rumors and contradictory statements have left the public with little sense of what to believe.

One of the only constants has been the seemingly endless stream of mass graves uncovered in the southern state of Guerrero. Thirteen corpses were exhumed from the most recent site in the town of Ocotitlán on Wednesday.

The reaction in Mexico has been one of overwhelming public anger. Meanwhile, the story continues to make waves around the world, with Pope Francis praying for the missing students and the White House declaring this week that “reports of the situation are worrying.”

President Enrique Peña Nieto met for five hours with the parents of the missing students at Los Pinos, his official residence in Mexico City, on Wednesday evening.

We’re living a nightmare,” one of the parents told the press after the meeting. “We’re desperate but we’re not going to tire until we find them.”

Click here to read this story in full at Latin Correspondent.

The Perfect Dictatorship will make Mexico’s politicians sweat

October 24, 2014
La-Dictadura-Perfecta

The content of The Perfect Dictatorship will feel familiar to anyone who follows Mexican current affairs.

For Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto it must feel like an eternity since he basked in the glory of capturing the nation’s most wanted drug lord, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, and the front cover of TIME magazine declared he was “saving Mexico” earlier this year.

Peña Nieto’s approval ratings have since collapsed as Mexico’s economy has stumbled, while the recent disappearance of 43 students in Guerrero has destroyed his efforts to draw attention away from the nation’s problems with organized crime. To make matters worse, a major new movie that lampoons Peña Nieto, his party and their powerful media allies is currently taking Mexico by storm.

The fourth film by controversial Mexican director Luis Estrada, La Dictadura Perfecta (The Perfect Dictatorship) is a scathing satire that lays bare the cozy relationship between Mexico’s media barons and the political elite. It takes its name from the famous phrase coined by Peruvian intellectual Mario Vargas Llosa to describe the way the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) governed Mexico throughout most of the twentieth century.

The movie’s content, which entails crooked politicians mixed up in sex scandals, kidnappings, murders and organized crime, plus a healthy dose of political manipulation by the nation’s most powerful broadcaster, will feel instantly familiar to anyone who follows Mexican current affairs…

Click here to read this article in full at Latin Correspondent.

Mystery of Mexico’s missing students is symptomatic of nationwide crisis

October 18, 2014

The mass graves near Iguala are not unique in Mexico. And the whereabouts of 43 male students who disappeared in the south-west state of Guerrero three weeks ago remains another mystery in a country where the missing often do not return.

It is still unclear why or under whose orders the students were abducted, but the case has heaped pressure on the government not only to solve the crime but also address the wider problem of forced disappearances that affects great swathes of Mexico.

The students were ambushed outside the town of Iguala on 26 September. The attacks left six civilians dead, at least 25 injured and 43 students missing. Many of them were last seen being driven away in a police car. The authorities have now arrested 48 suspects, including 40 police officers and several alleged members of local drug gang Guerreros Unidos (Warriors United), a splinter group of the infamous Beltran Leyva cartel. On Friday, officials said they had captured the group’s leader, Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, along with a collaborator, weapons and vehicles.

The series of mass graves was discovered near Iguala. But the attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, announced last week that the 28 charred bodies found in the first set of graves were not those of the missing students. “Whether these corpses are those of the students or not, the situation is grave,” Mexican journalist Sanjuana Martinez told The Independent on Sunday. “If they aren’t the students’ bodies it’s just as bad, if not worse, because before there were 43 people missing in the state and now there are another 28 cases to be resolved.”

Click here to read this feature in full at The Independent on Sunday.

Mexican parents wait for news of 43 missing students following mass graves discovery

October 12, 2014

Mario Cesar Gonzalez found out that his son was in danger when he received a midnight phone call from one of his classmates. They had been attacked in the state of Guerrero, in the south-west of Mexico. Mr Gonzalez immediately made the 11-hour journey to the town of Iguala, where the incident had occurred.

“I arrived that morning. It was a really ugly situation and I felt shattered. Three students had been killed and several others were injured, some of them in a very grave condition,” he told The Independent on Sunday.

In total, six civilians died and at least 25 were wounded. One student was found with the skin stripped from his face and his eyes gouged out. Another 43 remain unaccounted for, including Mr Gonzalez’s 22-year-old son, Cesar Manuel, who was last seen being bundled into a police car.

The entire country, if not the world, watched with mounting horror and dread last week as investigators uncovered mass graves, one filled with 28 charred remains. Four more mass graves containing burned bodies were found on Thursday…

Click here to read this future in full at The Independent.

Global outrage grows over Mexico’s missing students

October 10, 2014

United in horror and rage, thousands of students, academics, human rights groups and other elements of civil society came together this week to condemn the disappearance and likely murder of dozens of students in Mexico.

As previously reported, 43 students went missing after police attacked them two weeks ago, killing six unarmed civilians and wounding another 25 just outside the town of Iguala, in the southwestern state of Guerrero.

After a week-long search, using information given by detained suspects linked to local organized crime, state authorities exhumed 28 bodies from six freshly covered graves near Iguala last Saturday.

Forensic experts said it could take weeks or even months to identify the badly burned bodies, but several members of the local Guerreros Unidos drug gang who are now in custody confessed to taking 17 of the students to the site where the graves were found.

Dismayed by the government’s inability or unwillingness to locate the missing students, hundreds of unarmed vigilantes swarmed into Iguala on Tuesday to help look for them. The vigilantes, who banded together last year to defend their rural towns from drug cartels, said they would do a door-to-door search of the area.

But on Thursday, Mexico’s Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam announced the discovery of four more mass graves filled with charred bodies, likely those of the other 15 students…

Click here to read this story in full at Latin Correspondent.

Illicit arms factories busted in Guadalajara

October 8, 2014
Along with the AK-47, the AR-15 assault rifle is the weapon of choice for most Mexican cartels.

Along with the AK-47, the AR-15 assault rifle is the weapon of choice for most Mexican drug cartels.

Mexican authorities have shut down two clandestine weapons factories in Guadalajara, in what is thought to be the first instance of criminals producing their own firearms in the country.

A joint investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office (PGR) and the Jalisco state police led to the discovery and dismantling of the labs where criminals were assembling AR-15 assault rifles.

The authorities arrested four men and decommissioned 18 firearms at two properties in Guadalajara’s Villa Guerrero and Antigua Penal neighborhoods, revealed Jalisco Attorney General Carlos Najera in a press conference on Tuesday morning.

“This group is dedicated to sending arms to Michoacan and we also believe that they are selling arms to the local cartel, the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion,” Najera said. “This is a strong blow against organized crime.”

The suspects are believed to have manufactured around 100 assault rifles in recent months, using parts imported from the United States, Najera said. They were equipped with highly sophisticated machinery and advanced software that enabled them to make precise incisions and finish assembling the weapons, he added.

The AR-15 is a semi-automatic version of the M-16 assault rifle used by the U.S. armed forces. Along with the AK-47, is the weapon of choice of most Mexican drug gangs. Such arms are typically smuggled into the country from the United States or Central America, but the existence of assembly plants within Mexico is another indication of the sophisticated nature of today’s cartels.

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