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Aug 9, 2010 | 22:05 GMT

6 mins read

Mexico Security Memo: Aug. 9, 2010


IED in Ciudad Victoria

At around 5:20 p.m. on Aug. 5, an improvised explosive device (IED) inside a Nissan sedan parked between two rural patrol trucks detonated at a Tamaulipas state police facility in Ciudad Victoria. The two patrol trucks were damaged in the blast and the vehicle containing the device was completely destroyed. No injuries were reported. Mexican law enforcement authorities reported that two individuals were seen driving the Nissan and parking it between the two patrol trucks before exiting the vehicle, which reportedly detonated moments afterward. It was the second IED attack against Mexican security officials in as many months. On July 15, an improvised explosive device inside a vehicle was detonated after federal police were lured in by an anonymous caller. While the targets of the two attacks were similar, the attacks themselves were different in terms of motive and the nature of the conflicts in their respective regions. The exact composition of the IED used in the attack in Ciudad Victoria is not currently known, but photographic evidence from the scene indicates that the device was relatively small; damage to the surrounding patrol vehicles was minimal, and the chassis, motor block and hood of the white vehicle were intact and recognizable. While damage from the Ciudad Victoria blast and the Juarez attack appear to be similar, STRATFOR sources say the construction of the device used in the Ciudad Victoria attack was crude and rudimentary compared to the more sophisticated construction of the device used in Juarez. However, the former device did detonate successfully, indicating some technical competence on the part of the bombmaker. Many press reports have tried to link the two attacks simply because they both involved IEDs and were targeting Mexican security forces. However, the situation in Ciudad Victoria is very different from the situation in Juarez. Though Los Zetas and the Gulf cartel operate in the region, Ciudad Victoria is not under the control of either one, and the attack was likely fallout from the current conflict between the two groups. A video surfaced on the Internet several hours after the bombing, presumably from the Gulf cartel, claiming that the attack in Ciudad Victoria was a warning to police that they must stop cooperating with Los Zetas or tactics will escalate. While both the Juarez cartel (also known as the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization, or VCF) and the Gulf cartel have similar interests in targeting Mexican police officers known to work for their rivals, these two incidents are not necessarily related. The VCF has said that its escalation in tactics and targeting is an attempt to draw U.S. law enforcement into the cartel-government conflict in Mexico while the Gulf cartel has no such motive in its conflict with Los Zetas. And while cartel alliances have been known to span the country, the groups that are thought to have used this tactic in Juarez and in Ciudad Victoria (VCF and Gulf) are on opposing sides. The VCF is currently fighting the Sinaloa cartel in Juarez and Chihuahua state, and the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels have formed an alliance (New Federation) against Los Zetas. Despite these differences between the two incidents, the tactic of using IEDs and other explosive devices (such as hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades) appears to be on the rise in the Mexican cartel war. Commercial-grade explosives are widely used throughout Mexico for mining and construction and have been showing up in cartel weapons seizures for several years. With information on IED construction readily available on the Internet and with the long involvement of international trainers in Mexico, it was simply a matter of time before these devices found their way into cartel arsenals. Before these last two attacks, Mexican cartels were reluctant to use IEDs because of the increased likelihood of civilian casualties. The reckless use of the tactic by the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar eventually led to his death and the downfall of the Medellin cartel. However, the smaller and more precisely targeted IEDs used in July and August suggest the tactic may be gaining popularity among the cartels for use against Mexican security personnel and facilities, an approach that minimizes the likelihood of civilian casualties.




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Aug. 2

  • The bodies of three men were discovered in an abandoned vehicle in the Guamuchil neighborhood of Mazatlan, Sinaloa state.
  • Two suspected gunmen from La Familia Michoacana (LFM) and three minors were arrested in Colima, Colima state. One of the suspects is believed to have been the head of a local LFM cell.

Aug. 3

  • Soldiers freed eight kidnapping victims held in a warehouse in the March 10 neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
  • A kidnapping victim was found abandoned by her captors in the Venustiano Carranza neighborhood of Mexico City. The woman had been kidnapped in Cuernavaca, Morelos state.
  • Three bodies were found in an abandoned vehicle in the Gonzalitos neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.

Aug. 4

  • Local residents discovered the body of an unidentified man in Aquila, Michoacan state. The victim had been tortured and shot four times.
  • Soldiers arrested 13 suspected members of Los Zetas in Veracruz, Veracruz state. The suspects were holding Clemente Pacheco Mora, the head of a sugar cane union, at a local motel.
  • Authorities discovered the body of Jose Antonio Aguirre Bastidas, a former legislative candidate with the Democratic Revolution party, in San Ignacio, Sinaloa state. Aguirre Bastidas had been strangled to death and appeared to have been beaten.
  • Three men suspected of participating in the kidnapping of several journalists in Durango state were arrested in Gomez Palacio, Durango state. The suspects are believed to members of Cartel Pacifico Sur.

Aug. 5

  • Security forces in Manzanillo, Colima state, seized 18 shipping containers holding approximately 200 tons of chemical precursors for methamphetamines.
  • Two people were killed and one man was injured in a suspected drive-by shooting in Ecatepec, Mexico state.
  • Soldiers in Tecalitlan, Jalisco state, seized several firearms, more than 600 rounds of ammunition and two vehicles during a raid on a local ranch.
  • Four suspected members of Los Zetas were killed in a firefight with naval troops in the municipality of San Fernando, Tamaulipas state.

Aug. 6

  • Fourteen prisoners were killed in a riot at the Tamaulipas state prison in Matamoros.
  • Soldiers in the municipality of Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state, freed two kidnap victims and recovered an unidentified body from the trunk of a vehicle after a brief chase. No arrests were made.
  • Police discovered the body of a police commander in Culiacan, Sinaloa state. The victim had been kidnapped in Los Mochis, Sinaloa state, and bore signs of torture.

Aug. 7

  • Suspected drug-cartel members blocked traffic with stolen vehicles at several locations in the municipalities of San Nicolas and Apodaca, Nuevo Leon state.
  • A group of 40 gunmen surrounded the town of Tanhuato, Michoacan state, and reportedly kidnapped five people.

Aug. 8

  • Soldiers freed four kidnapping victims and killed an unidentified person during a raid on a house in the Sierra Ventana neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
  • One policeman was killed and three people were injured during a firefight at a regional fair in Cuautitlan Izcalli, Mexico state.

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