El Diario (Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua) 12/8/09
“Analysts: narcos challenge soldiers as if they were another army” [full transl.]
Various analysts agreed that Mexican drug cartels challenge officials openly with armed activities more proper for a private army than those by a traditional drug trafficking organization. Last Friday in Nuevo Leon, twelve hired killers and two civilians died in a confrontation between criminals and the Mexican Army in broad daylight on the streets of the township of Juarez, a suburb city of Monterrey. [Note: not to be confused with Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.] The events took place when a numerous group of presumed organized crime killers had a death face-off against a unit of military at a ranch believed to be used as a hideout for kidnap victims. Upon arrival, the soldiers were fired upon by around fifty criminals who were armed to the teeth. At that place, seven of the presumed criminals died and nine others were detained. Another group of tens of criminals was able to escape on some 15 light trucks, with long barrel rifles in hand and out the windows, and during their flight they ran into a group of 30 soldiers who had been sent to assist the others, which caused a new firefight and the death of five more thugs and that of a civilian struck by a stray bullet.
This event is only an example of the methods of Mexican narcotraffic, which attacks police facilities, ambushes convoys of federal agents and soldiers, makes bloody, armed breaks into jails to liberate their accomplices, and rides around the cities in caravans of luxurious SUV’s, with assault weapons, bazookas, grenades and anti-aircraft weapons. Jorge Chabat, an expert in drug traffic and national security, and an academician at the “Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas” [sic] believes that the enormous financial power of the Mexican narcos and the continued attacks by government forces explain why these groups challenge officials directly in field operations. During an interview with Efe [a Spanish news agency,] Chabat pointed out, “They answer an organized force, such as the army, with another force: they are private armies and with a firepower capacity that aims to be their equal.”
The Mexican government has deployed 45,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police to combat narcotraffic in the states with the highest conflict. Chabat recalled that some Mexican drug organizations have recruited military deserters. The expert said such is the case with the Zetas, founded by ex-militaries and considered by the Mexican authorities as the armed enforcers of the Gulf cartel, who “actually have the training, military discipline, and experience in handling high power weapons”, although, he stated, this is not the case with all the organizations dedicated to drug traffic in the country. The Sinaloa cartel and the Zetas have even recruited some Guatemalan elite ex-soldiers known as “kaibiles.” (Chabat) explained, “There are other, more traditional cartels, with less military capability, who, granted they have high power weapons, do not display such a sophisticated logistic.”
Jose Luis Pineyro, a sociologist at the Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana (UAM) [sic], pointed out, however, that the “from you to you” attacks by narcotraffic against the armed forces are a recent phenomenon of just the last year. The expert told Efe that the narcos’ intention is to show that they can carry out this type of activity and to lay bare the government’s weakness. He pointed out that there is “an open and almost systematic challenge against the armed forces; we respond to violence with more violence, we reply to group arrests with group liberations, an action and reaction that did not exist in Mexico before.” Regarding the attacks against prisons to liberate criminals, he deemed that there is consideration about a matter of prestige by the drug trafficking organizations, who want to send this message to the police: “If you are captured, you’ll be rescued.”
El Universal (Mexico City) 12/8/09
About Mexico’s death toll
On Monday, December 7, the killing of 31 persons in Chihuahua caused this year’s death toll from the war between drug cartels to surpass 7,000 victims in Mexico. This paper has been keeping a record of these events since 2005; it reports that Chihuahua is the bloodiest of all the states, with 2,991 homicide victims this year alone. Mexico’s national homicide victim tally increased from 6,000 to 7,000 in only 45 days, and the daily average is now 21.3. Homicides linked to drug traffic have reached 15,507 during Pres. Calderon’s term in office.