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Dec 5, 2012 | 11:05 GMT

Mexico Security Memo: Coahuila and Zacatecas States See Sustained Violence

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Intensifying Conflict Due to Gulf Resurgence

Violence between the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas continues in Zacatecas and Coahuila states. On Dec. 2, seven dismembered male bodies packed in six plastic bags were found on an abandoned property in the Obispado neighborhood of Torreon, Coahuila state, and another male body was found on Revolucion Boulevard. Additionally, attacks in Torreon against law enforcement have been increasing since October. The most recent incident occurred Nov. 30, when armed men killed two municipal police officers in the Jardin neighborhood.

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On Dec. 1 in Zacatecas, Zacatecas state, authorities discovered five male bodies in two separate locations along with messages at each location allegedly authored by the Gulf cartel, claiming responsibility for the homicides and threatening members of Los Zetas. While the Gulf cartel has suffered significant losses in 2012 through military operations and Los Zetas assaults in states such as Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon, the Gulf cartel has had a resurgence farther west in Coahuila and Zacatecas states. This resurgence was due in part to its alliance with former Los Zetas' regional plaza boss of Zacatecas, Ivan "El Taliban" Velazquez Caballero, and probably the support of the Sinaloa Federation.

It is not likely either state will see a reduction in the current level of violence in the short term, since rival groups maintain their numbers of gunmen capable of carrying out violent acts. At the moment, it is not certain if either group has achieved the upper hand. Neither Coahuila nor Zacatecas state has been entirely controlled by one criminal organization before, so recent violence does not reflect an incursion by a criminal organization as much as an increased focus for control by one side.

New Police for Monterrey

Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, a city valued by drug traffickers as a transportation hub and source of local revenue, experienced a sharp increase in violence when Los Zetas split from the Gulf cartel in 2010. As the two organizations became rivals, Monterrey became a frequent battleground resulting in inter-cartel violence and increasing pressure on law enforcement. In addition to this pressure, law enforcement is also subject to corruption efforts by the two competing cartels.

On Nov. 29, Monterrey Mayor Margarita Arellanes announced the "new" municipal police in Monterrey, with freshly acquired recruits beginning operations. The existing municipal police force is simply undergoing new recruitment and competency exams and changing its name from "Police Regia" to "Police Municipal de Monterrey." Mexico's navy trained approximately 500 recent police recruits, none of whom were from Monterrey, for introduction into Monterrey's police department.

Reforming Monterrey's police body will likely have some drawbacks for security in the city. Since the incoming recruits are intended to replace existing police in the city, many current police officers will become unemployed, presenting opportunities for both the Gulf cartel and Los Zetas to recruit new gunmen as part of their ongoing turf war. Additionally, the same environment that can corrupt active duty police, will exist for any incoming recruits. Given the organization's jurisdiction, any benefits of the reformation would affect only the Monterrey municipality and not the remaining municipalities of the greater metropolitan area.

Editor's Note: We now offer the daily Mexico Security Monitor, an additional custom intelligence service geared toward organizations with operations or interests in the region and designed to provide more detailed and in-depth coverage of the situation. To learn more about this new fee-based custom service, visit www.stratfor.com/msm.

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