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Dec 13, 2010 | 21:50 GMT

7 mins read

Mexico Security Memo: Dec. 13, 2010

Mexico Security Memo

A Near Miss for El Chapo?

Mexican media reported Dec. 13 that Sinaloa Federation leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera may have narrowly escaped a Mexican army raid on a party the night of Dec. 10-11 in the Campestre neighborhood of Delicias, Chihuahua state. El Diario cites unofficial, unidentified sources as saying Guzman was attending the party, and El Digital reports the operation was targeting him but that units from the 5th military zone that first arrived on the scene were ordered to wait for backup from the 42nd military zone before they could initiate the raid. This hesitation may have allowed Guzman to flee, though there also is no confirmation, only statements by unnamed sources, that he was even present at the party. The El Digital sources said the order to wait was given so the 42nd zone could share credit for the capture, which indicates that the hesitation was not due to lack of firepower — making it an unusual order, given the target's value. The raid did lead to the wounding and capture of Enrique "El Cumbias" Lopez Acosta, the head of Sinaloa's Gente Nueva enforcement arm, who has been heavily involved in Sinaloa's battles against the Juarez cartel's La Linea group. After the raid, Lopez was taken to a Delicias hospital, which military forces locked down during his treatment (all patients were temporarily denied access to the hospital, and Rio Conchos Avenue was closed down), a standard procedure for Mexican security forces attempting to prevent counterattacks by drug-trafficking enforcement arms. He was released from the hospital later the same day and taken to a prison in Delicias. Mexican authorities have had few opportunities to apprehend Guzman since he escaped from prison in 2001. This lack of security attention, coupled with comparatively debilitating government pressure on other drug-trafficking organizations such as Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, has led to the theory that the Mexican government has chosen the Sinaloa Federation as the base for an alliance of cartels with which it can negotiate. If Guzman's presence at the party is confirmed, the assessment of this theorized tacit agreement with Sinaloa could come into question. Conversely, if the report of the military's being forced to wait before conducting the raid is true, it could provide evidence of such favoritism.

Another Blow to La Familia Michoacana

Mexican national security spokesman Alejandro Poire confirmed Dec. 10 that the spiritual leader of La Familia Michoacana (LFM), Nazario "El Chayo" Moreno Gonzalez, was killed in a Dec. 9 clash with security forces in Apatzingan, Michoacan state. Moreno's death came amid a two-daylong firefight that began Dec. 8 when Mexican security forces began moving into the city. At least two to three civilians were reported killed in gun battles on the night of Dec. 8-9, and one of these battles is believed to have killed Moreno. LFM retaliated Dec. 9 by closing five roads in the state's capital, Morelia. Mexican security operations continued Dec. 10, with authorities announcing that five members of its security forces had been killed. Following the announcement of Moreno's death, the government of Apatzingan called for its citizens to march for peace and protest against the presence of federal forces in the area. The march essentially turned into a rally in support of Moreno, complete with pro-Moreno signs, banners and chants. The marches continued into the evening of Dec. 12. Mexican authorities have previously — and apparently erroneously — reported Moreno's capture, in both 2008 and 2009, but the public response to this most recent operation suggests that this time Mexican security officials got their target. Moreno's purported death is yet another blow to the struggling LFM. Between government security operations targeting its leaders and attacks from rival cartels such as Los Zetas, LFM has seen its power wane over the past year. (click here to view interactive map)

Dec. 6

  • Police in Tepeji del Rio, Hidalgo state, seized a suspected methamphetamine lab and arrested six suspects.
  • The dismembered body of a woman was discovered in the Valle de Los Reyes neighborhood of Los Reyes de la Paz, Mexico state. The victim's body was discovered in several plastic bags and a box.
  • Unidentified gunmen shot and killed two people in the Burocratas Municipales neighborhood of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state. A third person was injured in the attack.

Dec. 7

  • A decapitated body bearing a message from an unidentified criminal group was discovered in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico state.
  • Soldiers arrested three suspected criminals during a patrol in Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo Leon state.
  • Soldiers arrested two police officers in Tepoztlan, Morelos state, for allegedly spying on military activities at the behest of drug-trafficking cartels. The two officers were later freed.

Dec. 8

  • Soldiers arrested eight suspected members of Los Zetas at an unspecified location in San Luis Potosi state.
  • Two people, including an infant, were killed in a firefight between police and suspected gunmen from LFM in Apatzingan, Michoacan state.

Dec. 9

  • Unidentified gunmen set a truck on fire near a military garrison in Zitacuaro, Michoacan state.
  • Police seized 97 kilograms (about 210 pounds) of marijuana from a packing firm in the municipality of Zapopan, Jalisco state.
  • The body of an unidentified man was discovered in Ecatepec, Mexico state. The victim had been shot in the head and chest, and his hands and feet were bound.
  • Unidentified attackers set a gas station on fire in the Manantiales neighborhood of Morelia, Michoacan state.

Dec. 10

  • Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a teacher from his house in Sonoyta, Sonora state.
  • Soldiers seized approximately 1.2 tons of marijuana from a residence in Tijuana, Baja California state.
  • Thirteen people were killed and approximately 30 were injured during a firefight between two groups of suspected criminals in Tecalitlan, Jalisco state.

Dec. 11

  • Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a policeman as he drove a patrol car in San Nicolas de los Garza, Nuevo Leon state.
  • Security forces searching for a kidnap victim in Sonoyta, Sonora state, discovered five bodies.
  • Authorities announced the arrest of Rene Aranda Reynol Rodriguez, the chief of Los Zetas for the municipality of Guadalupe, Nuevo Leon state. The suspect was arrested at a residence along with eight suspected associates. Four kidnap victims were freed in the operation.

Dec. 12

  • The decapitated and dismembered bodies of three men were hung from a bridge in Tunzingo, Guerrero state. The victims' arms and the skin from their faces were discovered on the roadway of the bridge.
  • Two men were shot and injured by an unidentified gunman at a bar in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
  • The bodies of four men were found along a road in the municipality of Tepecoacuilco, Guerrero state. The victims had been shot to death.

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